Setting goals is hugely important if you’re looking to be more productive. Having something to aim for gives you direction and purpose in your work. But it can be hard to know what goals to set and how to achieve them. These are all of the things I’ve learned about setting good goals that increase productivity. I’ve even included 2 versions of a work sheet I use to help you get started and put this post into practice.
When I’m deciding my goals I generally follow the SMART method. SMART sets out a framework of 5 elements which help you shape your goals into the best form to make you more productive. SMART breaks down as:
Specific – Your goals need to be something tangible.
Measurable – You’ve got to be able to know when you’ve achieved your goal, and ideally be able to track your progress as you go.
Attainable – Your goal should be something you can reasonably achieve. This is the one element of the 5 I don’t wholly agree with, for me, goals should be just beyond your reach so you stretch yourself further than you thought you could when you set the goal.
Relevant – There has to be a reason why you’re setting yourself the goal, otherwise you’ll never put in the effort to achieve it.
Time Bound – Set yourself a deadline.
TURN BIG GOALS INTO LOTS OF LITTLE ONES
Setting your self a huge task with nowhere to start can be really daunting and mean that you never even get going. Every time you set yourself a goal you should break it down into more manageable stages. Personally I break a goal into 4/5 big chunks and I write a list of things I can do immediately, or in a day, so then I can get started straight away. Plus the more you break down a goal the more things you get to cross or tick off, and who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing something off their to so list?
MAKE YOUR GOALS THINGS YOU CONTROL
Goals that depend on someone else doing something are really hard to achieve and even harder to control. Setting a goal of something like I will have X number of followers on Instagram by next month isn’t something you can completely control. Yes, you can work on increasing your followers but ultimately its out of your hands. Your goals are your responsibility and they should be things you can achieve. A better version of that Instagram goal would be I will post quality content to Instagram and engage with someone on my feed everyday. A goal like that means you will work on doing the best work you can, and will hopefully lead to other people reacting kindly.
USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE
Goals should be about what you can do rather than what you can’t. Negative language, leads to negative feelings, which leads to not working on your goals. Try rephrasing any negative goals (I won’t eat chocolate after dinner) into more positive ones (I will choose healthy snacks) and see the difference it makes
MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Making yourself accountable for working towards your goals makes you more likely to do actually achieve them. There’s even science that says so. There are 2 ways I like to do this. The first is I pin any big goals up on my wall, that way I see them everyday and I’m reminded that I should be working towards them. (FYI – the printout I’ve included is perfect for this) The second is to tell someone else what I’m doing, and make them check up on me. The second is the most effective, but also the scariest. My advice is to tell someone you trust and speak to regularly, this second bit is key. They don’t need to be following you around with a clip board but having someone who knows what you’re aiming to achieve, and will ask you about it now and again, really does put the pressure on.