SMART, A way to manage your time
Oct 03,2023 | joulebody
Creating action plans to achieve your goals is a crucial step in turning your aspirations into reality. An action plan provides a structured roadmap that outlines the specific steps and tasks required to reach your objectives.
Never underestimate the power of lifestyle when it comes to time management. For instance, if you are eating processed foods, sugar
Here are tools and techniques to help you develop effective action plans:
Goal Breakdown: Start by breaking your larger goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals or milestones. This makes the goal less overwhelming and enables you to track your progress more effectively. For instance, if your goal is to start a small business, sub-goals might include market research, business plan development, funding, and marketing.
Task Lists: Create a detailed task list for each sub-goal. List all the individual actions that need to be taken to achieve the sub-goal. Use simple to-do lists, whether on paper, a digital note-taking app, or a project management tool like Trello or Asana.
Time Blocking: Time blocking involves allocating specific time slots in your calendar for dedicated work on each task or sub-goal. This technique helps you prioritize tasks and ensure they are completed. Calendars, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, can be used for time blocking.
Priority Matrix: A priority matrix or the Eisenhower Matrix -
Choosing what is urgent and what isn’t
can help you categorize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This can aid in deciding which tasks to tackle first.
Checklists: Use checklists to track your progress and completion of tasks within each sub-goal. This is a simple but effective way to stay organized. Tools like Todoist or Wunderlist are excellent for creating checklists.
Action Plan Templates: Pre-designed action plan templates can provide structure and guidance. Many project management software tools offer templates, or you can find various templates online that suit your specific needs.
Mind Mapping: Mind mapping tools like MindMeister or XMind can help you visualize the relationships between different tasks and sub-goals, making it easier to see how they connect and influence each other.
Regular Reviews: Periodically review and adjust your action plan to ensure it remains relevant and adaptable to changing circumstances. Ongoing reviews help you stay on track and make any necessary course corrections.
SMART Criteria: Ensure that the tasks and sub-goals within your action plan adhere to the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
Accountability Partners: Share your action plan with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor who can help hold you accountable for completing tasks and achieving your goals.
When using these tools and techniques, remember that an effective action plan is not just a list of tasks; it's a dynamic document that evolves as you make progress and encounter new challenges. It should keep you focused, motivated, and adaptable to the ever-changing landscape of goal pursuit. For this blog we are going to use SMART as a time management tool.
The process of setting SMART goals involves breaking down your objectives into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound elements to increase the likelihood of success. Here's a more detailed discussion of each of these elements:
Specific (S): Specificity is the foundation of a SMART goal. A specific goal should answer the "W" questions - Who, What, Where, When, and Why. It needs to be clear and unambiguous. When setting a specific goal:
- Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
- Identify who is involved in the goal.
- Specify where it will take place.
- Determine the reasons and motivations behind the goal.
- Ensure that the goal is detailed enough to leave no room for interpretation or confusion.
For example, instead of saying, "I want to improve my career," a specific goal would be, "I want to earn a promotion to the position of Senior Project Manager within my current company within the next year."
Measurable (M): A measurable goal provides a way to track your progress and determine when the goal is achieved. It involves quantifying or using observable indicators to measure your success. When creating a measurable goal:
- Establish specific criteria for success.
- Determine how you will measure your progress.
- Use metrics, numbers, or tangible evidence to track your achievements.
For instance, rather than stating, "I want to get better at managing my finances," a measurable goal would be, "I want to save $5,000 in the next six months by setting aside $800 from each paycheck."
Achievable (A): An achievable goal should be challenging but realistic. It ensures that the goal is attainable and that you have the necessary resources, skills, and support to achieve it. When setting an achievable goal:
- Assess your capabilities and available resources.
- Ensure the goal is challenging but within reach.
- Identify potential obstacles and how to overcome them.
For example, instead of setting an unrealistic goal like, "I want to become a millionaire in a month," an achievable goal would be, "I want to increase my monthly income by 20% through a combination of working overtime and pursuing a part-time freelance job."
Relevant (R): A relevant goal aligns with your personal or organizational values, needs, and long-term objectives. It should be meaningful and contribute to your overall mission or purpose. When making a goal relevant:
- Assess the importance of the goal to your larger vision.
- Ensure the goal is in harmony with your other goals and commitments.
- Determine how the goal fits into your personal or professional development.
For instance, instead of setting an irrelevant goal like, "I want to learn how to knit," a relevant goal would be, "I want to improve my public speaking skills to advance in my career."
Time-bound (T): A time-bound goal includes a clear deadline by which it should be achieved. It creates a sense of urgency and helps prevent procrastination. When incorporating a time-bound element:
- Set a specific date or timeframe for goal completion.
- Consider breaking the goal into smaller milestones with deadlines.
- Ensure the timeline is reasonable and realistic.
For example, instead of leaving the timeframe open-ended with a goal like, "I want to write a book," a time-bound goal would be, "I will finish writing my 200-page novel by December 31st of this year."
By following the SMART framework, you can transform vague aspirations into well-defined, actionable goals that increase your focus, motivation, and accountability. SMART goals are instrumental in improving your chances of achieving your objectives in various areas of life, including personal development, career advancement, and financial stability.
Here are examples of both SMART and non-SMART goals to illustrate the key differences:
Non-SMART Goal 1: "I want to be healthier."
SMART Goal 1: "I will lose 10 pounds in the next three months by going to the gym for 45 minutes, three times a week, and following a balanced diet."
- Specific: The SMART goal specifies the exact weight loss target and the actions to achieve it.
- Measurable: Progress can be measured in pounds lost and adherence to the exercise and diet plan.
- Achievable: Losing 10 pounds in three months is a reasonable and attainable goal for most people.
- Relevant: Improved health is relevant to overall well-being and personal goals.
- Time-bound: The goal has a clear three-month deadline.
Non-SMART Goal 2: "I want to earn more money."
SMART Goal 2: "I will increase my monthly income by 15% over the next year by taking on additional freelance projects and investing in professional development."
- Specific: The SMART goal outlines the specific ways to achieve the income increase.
- Measurable: Progress can be measured by tracking monthly income and the completion of freelance projects.
- Achievable: A 15% increase is a realistic target and can be reached through additional work and investment.
- Relevant: Earning more money aligns with financial goals and career aspirations.
- Time-bound: The goal sets a clear one-year timeframe for achieving the income increase.
Non-SMART Goal 3: "I want to travel more."
SMART Goal 3: "I will take a two-week vacation to Japan in May 2024 by saving $3,000 by the end of December 2023."
- Specific: The SMART goal specifies the destination, duration, and financial requirements.
- Measurable: Progress can be measured by tracking savings and ensuring it reaches $3,000.
- Achievable: Saving $3,000 in eight months is attainable with proper financial planning.
- Relevant: Traveling to Japan fulfills a specific travel aspiration.
- Time-bound: The goal has a clear deadline for the trip and for saving the required amount.
Non-SMART goals are often vague and lack the clarity, accountability, and direction needed for success. SMART goals, on the other hand, provide a structured and goal-oriented approach that significantly improves the likelihood of achieving your objectives.