The SMART framework is frequently mentioned in management literature. It’s a goal-setting framework used by organizations and individuals based on Peter Drucker’s concept of management by objectives. Often, the acronym stands for different things depending on the author. For our purposes, it stands for:
That’s how you should be able to define your goals and key objectives.
In this post, we’ll look at how you can utilize Sendtask to make the most out of the SMART framework (and vice-versa). If you’ve struggled with getting the right things done on time, this post will help you manage your time and goals better. We’ll look at five steps you can take today in order to reach your biggest objectives. Let’s dive in.
#1. Establish a specific goal or outcome
The first step you need to take when defining your goals or objectives is to determine your end destination. There are many ways to do this but one of the most efficient ones is visualization.
As the name suggests, visualization requires you to imagine where you or your organization stand some time in the future. A good way to make visualization easier is to write down the current state of affairs for a single or a number of different areas – either in your life or your business. This could be things like your Health or Profitability. Once you write down the current status for each area, ask yourself how you’d like this area to improve after a given amount of time. This could be a week, a month, a year or more, depending on the goal you’re after.
Once you have a clear vision of the outcome, make sure it’s something specific. For example, “Improve profitability” is a vague description of a goal. “Improve men’s bicycle margin by 10% before year-end” is a better example of a specific objective. It identifies a single area to focus on, provides a deadline and identifies a metric to keep an eye on.
Sendtask tip: Sections and Projects are a great way to set long-term goals for yourself or your organization. Short-term goals can normally be set using tasks. Learn more.
#2. Choose the one metric that matters
The one metric that matters (OMTM) is the “guiding star” of your objective. It’s a (usually) numeric expression of your concrete vision. From the example above, men’s bicycle margin is our OMTM.
Among other things, the OMTM helps you stay on focus and never lose sight of your goal. It also lets you track your progress against a benchmark which provides greater motivation. Having a series of little wins along the way to a bigger goal can be the difference between success and failure. The momentum gives you a great boost and makes hard times easier to handle.
So, how do you choose the OMTM? First, you need to take into account the context you operate in. This could be your industry if you run a business or it could be your life-stage if you want to change something personal. The OMTM can influence your end goal because you may find you were going after the wrong thing initially. This is why it’s important to remain flexible when setting goals and objectives. Think deeply about the OMTM before jumping into action as it may just save you a ton of time and resources.
Sendtask tip: When setting up high-level projects and sections, it’s a good idea to include the one metric that matters in the title. This way you will always have it in sight and stay on focus when creating tasks and subtasks. Learn more.
#3. Make sure action steps are within your control
Even if you choose a specific and measurable goal, it’s easy to focus on an extrinsic goal. When you choose an extrinsic objective, often you don’t have enough control over the outcome. Going back to our bicycle example, if you’re the receptionist you will have little to no influence over sales margins.
Instead, you should only focus on goals you have control over. You need to be able to perform or control the action steps directly, without depending too much on external factors. For example, if your aim is to become a better programmer, an action oriented goal would be to spend 1 extra hours per day coding. That’s within your control and impacts your outcome directly.
Sendtask tip: If an end goal is dependent on many people, not just yourself, tasks and subtasks are a great way to delegate work. Even if the bigger objective is extrinsic, individual tasks or subtasks should be action-oriented. Learn more.
#4. Make sure the goal or outcome is realistic
Another mistake people often make is setting unrealistic goals. Sometimes, the timeframe is unattainable while other times the goal is beyond our current abilities. It’s important to make an objective evaluation of where you stand right now and where you want to go.
#5. Set a concrete deadline
Finally, if you want to get something done, make sure it’s on the calendar. A goal without a deadline is just a dream. A concrete date can push you so you don’t waste time and take consistent action.
When setting a goal deadline, allow yourself more time than you expect the goal to take. We tend to underestimate how much time or money projects will take so it’s always good to have a buffer. This will help prevent demoralization and it will give you something to look forward to.
Sendtask tip: It’s easy to set a due date in Sendtask. Some careful evaluation and a few clicks will let you make substantial progress with your goals. Learn more.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned manager or someone who’s just getting into the productivity space – the SMART framework is always a good way to ensure you’re on track and achieving the right goals.
So the next time you step back to establish your new goals, spend that extra time and make your goal Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. The bigger the goal, the bigger your return on your time invested will be.