Setting (and Achieving) Daily Goals Like a Genius – Part 2

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 06, 2010 in: Project Management, Tips in 10, Tools & Resources

In the last issue of Tips In Ten, I showed you how to take 10 minutes each week (okay, a little longer the first time you do it) and determine what your roles are first and then build your goals from that. This will help you to find the balance you want in life and it will also help you to identify some of the priorities that were getting swept under the carpet. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, it will also help you to get more done because you put durations beside each goal.

Now I want to help you achieve your goals even more easily.

I mentioned in the last issue was that smaller goals were better. The goal “implement Twitter marketing plan” isn’t nearly as good as the more granular goals…

  • Open Twitter account. Duration: 5 minutes. Due on the 20th.
  • Download TweetDeck. Duration: 5 minutes. Due on the 21st.
  • Set up TweetDeck columns. Duration: 5 minutes. Due on the 22nd.
  • Tweet 5 times on day 1. Duration: 10 minutes. Due on 23rd.

These smaller goals are more likely to get achieved. The reason is not necessarily because they are smaller but because they are reduced to an achievable and measurable end. When you set a goal like “implement Twitter marketing plan”, it’s hard to know when it starts and when it finishes and what exactly needs to happen in between and what exactly needs to happen first. But when you break it down into the 4 goals mentioned above, it becomes so much easier.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of SMART goals. Using SMART goals can help you accomplish more.

SMART is an acronym which stands for the 5 things that every goal needs to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

(Note: I’ve heard of other alternatives labels for some of these letters but this is the one I tend to use, for no other reason than habit).

If you actually do the work I recommended in the previous issue – create granular goals and add a duration – you’re already filling in some of the blanks.

Every goal needs to be a SMART goal. Here’s what they mean:

Specific: You need to make sure that the goal is specific (which is why we prefer the above-mentioned four Twitter goals to the “implement Twitter marketing plan”).

Measurable: You need to make sure it’s measurable. In other words, you can’t just say “I’m going to jog today”, because you could theoretically jog in place for 30 seconds and cross it off your list. Instead, you need to say “I’m going to jog 20 minutes today”. That’s measurable.

Actionable: You need to make sure that the goal is actionable. That is, it needs to be something that you can actually do. There should be a verb associated with each goal. In other words, your goal shouldn’t be “roses” but should be “buy roses”. With something like roses, it might seem obvious but if your goals get bigger or your list gets longer, those verbs will come in handy (and they’ll also contribute to the measurability of your goals).

Realistic: Your goal needs to be something you can actually do. “Earn $1,000,000” might be specific and measurable (the actionable part is debatable, even if it does have a verb) but it is probably not realistic. Your goals need to be achievable!

Time-sensitive: Your goal needs to have a duration and it should have a deadline. Often, SMART goals are considered time-sensitive if they have a deadline only but I’d strongly recommend a duration because developing a sense of how long things take can help you fit work in where you can and it can also contribute to the sense of whether something is realistic.

So, let’s put the concepts from the last issue and from this issue together:

1.    Start by outlining your roles. (That’s something that you’ll already have and it rarely changes from week to week – it’s a one-time ten minute effort).
2.    Then, list all of the things that will enrich your relationships with those roles (and be sure to include the work you    have to do for your individual clients). This is your list of goals.
3.    In that list of goals, review each one and break it down to a granular level so that complex goals are made up of simpler goals. Make sure each goal is a SMART goal.
4.    Now slot those goals into your calendar around your already-scheduled meetings and appointments.

You should end up with a balanced calendar that includes all of your important activity as well goals that will address other (non-business) relationships in your life as well as personal enrichment and education.

With me so far? Good. Now here are a few tips to help:

  • You’ll probably find that your calendar looks busier than it used to. However, there are a few positive reasons for this: Your personal calendar and your professional calendar are now blended, and have more granular, accomplishable goals, and your calendar includes intentional relationship-building time with the important people in your life. So those are all good things.
  • Make sure you include some extra room for “uh-oh” time.  “Uh-oh” time includes those tiny disasters we face in life or those times when things take longer than they’re supposed to. It’s the unexpected things: Flat tires, a head cold, traffic jams, spills that require a new shirt, you forgot to get milk at the store, or a project needs to be redone. Sometimes it’s a short-term issue or sometimes it might cause delays that last for a week. But if you can build in some uh-oh time – just a little each day – you’ll help to stay saner. It might include adding 10 minutes to your travel time or adding 15 minutes to a large project. You might not need it all but it’s there if you do. (And if you don’t need it all, remember: you have some duration-estimated projects that can probably be accomplished in that time!).

This might seem to take more than 10 minutes so let me point out how this works best:

Toward the end of the week (Thursday or Friday) spend 10 minutes and evaluate how your week went.

  • Did you accomplish the goals you wanted to accomplish?
  • Did you miss anything that can be done in the “uh-oh” time that is still remaining?
  • What needs to be carried over to next week?

Then, after that (Thursday, Friday, or Saturday) spend 10 minutes to create your SMART goals for the week.

Then, after that (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), spend 10 minutes to slot your goals into next week’s calendar around your already scheduled meetings and appointments.

There you go! In just a few ten-minute steps each week, you can increase your productivity by setting appropriate goals and prioritizing them in a way that makes sense.

Heather Recommends:

If you are a coach, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants to succeed like a pro, I can help.