Episode 24: My Go-To Productivity Tool

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hello and Happy New Year, everyone! The start of the new year is always so exciting for me. I love how it feels fresh and new and filled with infinite possibility. But this new year is especially exciting because, as you may have already heard, this year I’ll be writing the DIY MFA book! I am so thrilled to be able to share this book with you in 2016. And as an added bonus, I will be able to share my writing process with you in real time, as I’m writing. We’re all sure to learn a lot this year.

Taking on big goals like writing a book means figuring out how to fit your work and personal life around your project. You have to stay focused and keep track of all the steps you need to stay on track and turn your dream into a reality. In today’s episode, I wanted to share with you my go-to productivity tool, my favorite way to keep track of all the moving pieces that go into writing a book.

I want to give a special shout-out to Jane Friedman, too, for sharing her version of this highly effective goal sheet on her website a few years ago. I have modified it to fit my own style and the DIY MFA mindset, but the idea was sparked by her original goal sheet. Thanks so much for sharing, Jane!

The DIY MFA Goal Sheet


I use this goal sheet regularly to track my big goals for the year, and create actionable “baby steps” that get me to those goals. I love looking back on previous goal sheets to see how far I’ve come, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I check something off of the Action Steps section.

You can download a copy of the Goal Sheet PDF here. Use it to follow along as you listen to the episode audio. In the section below, I give you a run-down of the different sections of the goal-sheet and how to make it work for you.


First, put a starting date on the sheet, and then when you’ve completed it and you’re moving on to a new goal sheet, add the ending date and save the sheet in a file or folder somewhere. Saving and dating your goal sheets will help you honor your achievements by celebrating the progress you’ve made toward your goals and giving you insight into your process.

Top Priorities

This is where you put your three big goals for the year. These goals don’t all have to be writing related, although if you are serious about completing your manuscript at least one of the should be. But even non-writing big goals (like completing a course or having a baby) will have an impact on your productivity, so it’s important to list them.

Action Steps

These are the smallest, most immediate next steps to help you reach your goal. What do you need to do right now to get closer to your end goal? List it here. Anything that you can’t control or impact right now goes in the next section.

On the Radar

This section is closely related to the Action Steps section, because as you mark action steps off your list, the items that you have On the Radar will move in to take their place. The On the Radar section is broken down into three subsections:

  • Write with Focus: This section is where you would list anything that you’re creating, even if it’s not technically writing related. Whatever you are putting out into the world goes in this section.
  • Read with Purpose: This section is for anything that you are consuming, or taking in, in regards to your creativity (i.e. books read, art galleries visited, movies viewed, courses taken).
  • Build Your Community: This section is for the connections you make with experts and with your peers in your areas of interest.

The idea is to recognize the ideal balance for you between these three subsections and then maintain the balance through your action steps. Balance does not mean that each section has to receive equal focus. Find out what works best for you and what helps you meet your goals and then maintain that balance.

Power Tip: Make sure you list out all the itty-bitty steps and mark them off as you complete them. This will ensure that you don’t miss any steps along the way, and it will help you build that sense of mastery and success that is so vital to staying motivated!

Finally, hop onto the DIY MFA mailing list so that you can keep current with our updates and awesome new content as soon as it’s available!

Link to Episode 24

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


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