Use This SMART Goals Formula to Be More Productive

Use This SMART Goals Formula to Be More Productive

SMART goals are typically associated with teams, as managers set them for subordinates, but you can implement this productivity-boosting strategy for yourself on an individual level, too. Try defining SMART goals before jumping into a project to make sure you stay on task and focused on what is important in the outcome.

What are SMART goals?

If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, let’s start with the most basic fact: I’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It was conceptualised by George T. Doran in 1981, who took to the Management Review to criticize what he saw as many companies’ poor goal-setting. He suggested goals should be specific to those five characteristics—though in his original version, the “A” stood for “assignable,” not “attainable”—so workers could have more direction. He was all about having clearly defined objectives so every person in a workplace was on the same page, but SMART goals can be helpful for you, too, even if you’re working alone, because they help you identify exactly what your goals need in order to be met.

How do you implement SMART goals in your life?

According to Atlassian, you should be writing SMART goal statements, making sure your statement contains all five of the criteria. For example, if you’re a freelance photographer working on a big wedding, you could write, “My goal is to have all the wedding photos edited and sent to the clients by next Friday. I will do this by setting aside time every day of the week to edit them in batches. Accomplishing this goal will keep me ahead of schedule, ensure I am paid on time, and earn me a positive customer review.”

It’s specific because it’s related to one well-defined goal, manageable because you’re committing to setting aside time to take it on, achievable because you gave yourself enough time to get it done, relevant because it’s related to a photoshoot you just completed, and time-bound because the schedule and deadlines are clearly laid out.

Productivity guru Brian Tracy says you should think of your SMART goals like a personal mission statement, using them to outline precisely what you need to do, how you’ll do it, and when you’ll have it done. The beauty of using these parameters to set goals is that anything that falls outside of the five guidelines can be disregarded so you can focus on the most important elements.

Use SMART goals to start new habits—like eating a healthy breakfast every morning or having no-phone time for an hour before bed—or to tackle big projects. Write them in your planner or on your phone, so you can always see them, and refer to them in all their straightforward simplicity when you need a reminder of what your priorities should be.

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