Three minutes or three pages? Which is the magic formula to achieving your goal and staying motivated to increase your productivity?

Research supports that writing down your goals, no matter how unrealistic they may seem, gives you a greater chance of achieving them. Except, it's not just simply jotting down some notes.

As entrepreneurs, we're wired to respond and react rather than plan. Every hour, we're getting pinged, Slacked, and emailed--not to mention responding to texts and taking phone calls. Being more productive starts with understanding why and then staying on task to meet those goals.

Here are a few ways to help you meet your goals in the new year and stay motivated to achieve them:

1. Put pen to paper.

Since we're constantly bombarded by digital content from every direction, it's more important than ever to revert back to simple pen and paper on a daily basis.

Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal and author of the new book The Bullet Journal Method, certainly seems to believe it. I recently spoke with another entrepreneur, Habit Nest co-founder Ari Banayan, who believes it too. Both say the act of writing down and re-writing material forces you to focus on the task at hand.

Writing down my goals helps me see patterns that I don't always consider if they're swirling in my head. It also helps remind me what I'm working toward.

2. Develop a plan.

Once you determine why you want to meet certain goals and what you want to take priority in the new year, consider how to meet them and develop an action plan. One thing I find most people seem to forget to include in their action plan is who can help them achieve their goals.

After I write down my goals and I start plotting action steps to meet them, I take a moment to consider who in my network either has the expertise or connections to help make them a reality (or get me closer to meeting my goals). Recently, I wrote a list of prospective clients I wanted to work with since I had expertise in their industry. Rather than cold call or email them, I asked a few of my networks if they knew anyone at those organizations or any insight into how they might work with someone like me. Friends and colleagues knew about six of the 10 on my list.

What doesn't work is putting a plan in place and not including a timetable to help you hit milestones. Reaching out to my network was just one of my action steps--I also put it on my calendar to make sure it got done.

3. Manage your time.

When I was in grad school, one of my management professors was a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix, a time management tool developed by President Dwight Eisenhower and made popular by Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Since then, I've been using it myself and found great success with it. It forces you to consider each action and how it affects your goals (positively and negatively). 

The matrix breaks tasks into four quadrants. The first two are emergencies and working on long-term goals, and the second two are for tasks that may or may not need to be done but have no bearing in moving the needle on your goals. They're basically interruptions and distractions, and should be avoided at all costs when you're focusing on meeting your goals.

4. Avoid procrastination.

This is where busy work comes into play and derails us from meeting our goals. It's when a big project seems overwhelming that I used to think was the best time to schedule a doctor's appointment. Or pay a bill. Or clean my desk. While all of those tasks needed to be done, they didn't need to be done when I needed to get my work done.

I've learned to avoid procrastination by recognizing it and making myself commit to working on it for just 15 minutes. Knowing I have an end time helps me stop procrastinating and get started. Almost always, I stick with it and make some decent progress.

5. Schedule reflection time.

Going back to your goals daily, weekly, and monthly helps you determine what's working and what's not. If you're noticing that you're having a hard time staying on task or trying to juggle too many goals at once so nothing is moving along as it should, adjust accordingly.  

As many of us consider what goals we want to tackle in the new year, this is a good time to assess now only what you want to achieve but also how you're going to get there. A goal doesn't get met without having a solid plan in place.

Published on: Nov 28, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.