By learning the language of abbreviation, you can become more efficient at setting goals.

Rube Goldberg machines make for some great YouTube videos. They’re fun to watch and entertaining. But in real life, the are exactly the opposite of what most of us want in our lives: simplicity. It’s a crowded world and unless you learn the art of abbreviation, it can get complicated.

I’m all about making things simple and any chance I get to save a little time or make a process more efficient, I’m in. And when it comes to writing down your goals and daily action items every night, it can become tedious.

Unless, that is, you use the language of abbreviation. Likely you’re already doing it. When you text, you write IDK (I don’t know), LOL (laughing out loud) and IMHO (in my humble opinion). There’s an entire library of phrases. But also, think of how search engines work: keywords and long-tail keyword phrases.

Now let’s apply this to your goal cards…

Think of your goal cards in the same way: they’re reminders of what you already know you need to do. If you have a weekly meeting with yourself, you get a pretty good idea of what you need to do each day. And when you sit down each night to fill out your 3×5 card, you simply need to be reminded of that. There’s no point in rewriting it.

For example, let’s say one of the habits you’re trying to develop is making ten sales calls a day. Rather than writing, “Make 10 sales calls to prospective customers,” you just write “10 calls” on your card. Your memory fills in the rest. Abbreviation is how you make your five-minute meeting each day actually last five minutes or less.

The same principle applies to the rest of the card. Your one main goal or habit, your monthly and weekly focus and even your three checkins on the back can all be abbreviated. For example, when writing what you’re thankful for, it’s not important to write in full sentences. Far more important to acknowledge the thing you’re thankful for and jot it down. The mindfulness is what counts most.

The Thinkubator (my favorite section) is no different. As ideas come to you, jot them down in as few words as possible and type them in longer form later when you journal your cards.

If you feel the need to write in long form, the 3×5 card system is not the place for it. Pull out your journal or open a Word doc. And certainly, there is a time and place for writing and journaling. But when working on your goals, to do lists and other elements of the system, use abbreviations where you can. You’ll save yourself valuable time as you rely more on your brain to fill in the gaps.