Establishing Goals and Weekly Habits for Success: How I use Opus One for Long-Term Planning

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I use Opus One for daily and weekly planning and today I want to highlight two of the less basic features which I use for my long term planning and to make sure I stay on track and working towards my goals: the compass and goal tabs!

Photo by Peter Olexa on

I think that one of the biggest productivity traps and planning mistakes many people make is to fill their days with meaningless tasks that can be easily checked off, giving a false sense of accomplishment. It is very easy to look back at our day, see a pile of scratched-off items and classify that day as successful where in reality you were going nowhere fast. This is not to say that there is any shame and assigning easy-to-check items. As a matter of fact, seeing a few items checked off can be a huge productivity and motivational booster but striking a balance between meaningful tasks and not so meaningful ones is important to ensure you are working towards your goals. 

The most challenging part of long-term planning and goal setting is that they often require new habits to be formed to ensure we are consistently progressing to where we want to be. This is where having a system in place becomes helpful. I recently completed my mid-year reset, a process where I evaluated the goals I established at the beginning of the year (that I mostly carried over from the previous year) and adjusted my planner accordingly to make sure they are still relevant and if so, still on track. I was very pleased to be able to complete one goal and move it to the compass section to maintain it as a habit! Here is how I use Opus One to track my goals and habits to ensure I am always working towards being the person who I want to be and as James Clear would say in his amazing book Atomic Habits, casting a vote for the person I want to be. 

The Goal System

The goal system in Opus One is not a complicated one. You add a new goal directly on the app and then are prompted to defining that goal using the SMART goal system. You can also select which one of your values this goal supports, if any and add the completion date to your calendar.

Setting SMART Goals

SMART goals are the backbone of every productivity theory I have encountered so far. The acronym SMART means your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Relevant. The benefit of this system is that it allows you to think critically about your goal to avoid vague goals like “run a marathon” or my very own “get a Master’s” which I have been editing for the last two years to be realistic. I have previously mentioned how vague goals, and to-dos for that matter, are one of the biggest productivity killers and procrastination sources.

When we know exactly what needs to be done, we can visualize the action and are more likely to actually do it.

Pick Up Limes – Time Management Tips

The benefit of goal setting through Opus One is that it makes you evaluate the goal as you are creating it, which ideally means you can avoid the trap of vague goals and implement a plan of action from the start.

Working on your goals

After you have created a SMART goal, you can begin creating tasks that directly work towards that goal. This will be your plan of action. Keep in mind these will not be recurring tasks as these will be more fit to the compass system as discussed below. I like to add my bite-sized pieces as “master tasks” first because that way I can break down the project into manageable, achievable bits, and while I do my weekly planning I can select the tasks that I want to complete this given week to work towards that goal. 

As you complete items from the goal list, you will see the progress bar update next to it, which is very satisfying! Once you mark a goal as “complete” it transfers to the achievements list below which is a wonderful resource to reference how far you have come and how much you have accomplished.  

Tracking goals and achievements with Opus One.

As you can see from my image, I have some pending goals, some in which I am behind, and some that are ahead. You can also see how long certain things took to complete, which is also a wonderful reference. I think it is completely normal to sometimes see these goals on paper and feel anxious about them, but the reality is that what matters is that you make steady progress while taking care of yourself. Goal systems are great to keep track of progress and growth when approached correctly and not viewed as do or die. It is completely normal to adjust goals along the way, eliminating non-relevant ones, and even add new ones before the new year.

We are human and we are growing! It is only natural that our goals do so with us.

This brings me to the compass system!

The Compass System

I must admit for the longest time I did not use this feature at all. I am not sure if the developers intended for this feature to be used like this and considering they have a habit tracker on the backlog it is quite possible I just got creative and made it work for me, which by the way is totally acceptable and ok. 

Creating the Compass

The compass has by far become one of my favorite features of Opus One as of late. The software does have a compass wizard that you can use to create your compass. I, however, took it the extra mile by turning the backbone the wizard gave me into affirmations. These affirmations are daily reminders of the person I want to be casting votes for daily. I add recurring tasks to each item, assigning the frequency I desire and these are my habits. You can also create new compass items beyond the ones that the wizard creates for you and this is highly recommended! These can be used to further support your values and mission which you also create with the wizard. Together, they ensure that you are always working towards your best self. 

Tracking habits with the Opus One weekly compass.

For me, the most important items – at this time – are listed in the compass and as you can see, I can use the progress bar to see how far I have come this week. Within each compass item, you can add recurring weekly tasks (and new tasks that you come up with during the week). This amazing feature makes it so that you can have the list of your daily tasks pre-loaded with your habits and you can go checking them off as you go through the day. For me, one of the most satisfying things is to wake up, complete my morning journal, then head off to Opus One and check it off my to-do list. This is the first thing I do in the morning and that sense of accomplishment ripples throughout the day motivating me to be more productive and filling my weekly mindfulness habit bar. 

One added bonus is that at the beginning of the week, before I have loaded in my assignments and work tasks, half of my work is already done for me. This is important for me because minimizing repetition and automatizing tasks is the main reason why I chose digital planning over paper planners and the BuJo system. Recurring tasks give me more time to work on what I really want to be doing, which is not spending hours each week manually preparing spreads. I know that I am actively accomplishing daily things that bring me closer to where I want to be. 

Pre-loaded spread for the new week before weekly planning.

This is the system I use to track my goals, habits, and ensure I am always working towards being my best self. Do you have any long term planning and habit tips? Feel free to share with me!

Published by L. Leal

Productivity enthusiast, dog mom, and post-graduate student conquering the pitfalls of procrastination.

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