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SMART Goals and Why You Need Them

More on being productive when you work from home

Last time I mentioned the importance of creating some kind of schedule if one wishes to be productive when working from home. I called it “office hours”. This includes creating SMART goals for various projects. More on those in a bit. Today I am focusing mostly on my writing, but you can apply the principles to any type of work done from home.

I recommend blocking out time that is specifically for writing – not social media, not marketing, not checking emails… Just writing. Period. If writing is important, make the time for it!

Of course, there are all those others things that need to be done, too, like marketing and the like, so those also need to be scheduled in. I currently use an amazing organizational tool called Asana. It has literally changed the way I organize my writing life! Check it out for yourself here: http://app.asana.com Within the app, I have created separate ‘projects’ for all of my books and WIPs which include everything from writing 1st drafts, to editing, to formatting, to promoting and so much more. The app also allows you to schedule when you want to accomplish each task, so it is super slick in terms of creating a plan that works. Of course, good old fashioned day-planners and calendars work, too.

Whatever your preference, start setting some SMART goals. Some of you already know what these are, but for those who don’t, let me break it down. S stands for Specific, M for Measurable, A means Achievable, R stands for Relevant, and T stands for Time Sensitive.

First of all, be specific. Think about what you actually wish to accomplish, not something too broad. For instance, “Finish writing XYZ by the end of the month,” is a much more specific goal than, “Spend more time writing.”

You should also think about how you will actually know when you have achieved your goal. “Become a better writer,” is neither specific nor measurable. How will you know when you’ve become a better writer? How much time is “more”? There needs to be a way to measure your progress. Perhaps, “Finish the writing course I purchased by the end of the school year,” is a better goal.

Goals should also be achievable, as in realistic. “Sell a million copies of my book,” or “Become a famous author,” although nice to dream about, aren’t really realistic, at least not right away and certainly not without a solid game plan in place. For those who enjoy the challenge of Nanowrimo, writing 50,000 words in a month is achievable for some, but it is unlikely that you will be able to write it, revise it, edit it, submit it and/or format it, and have it published in that amount of time. (Unless you are a super-hero and don’t believe in sleep!) Get real, people!

Relevance, the R in our acronym, is also an important factor to consider. I know of some authors who want to gain followers or likes on a certain social media platform, when in fact their audience isn’t on those platforms. Should your goal be to get speaking engagements in elementary schools when your book is for senior citizens? Probably not. Relevance is often forgotten when setting goals, but if it’s not worth doing, why spend time doing it? Do what is relevant to your unique situation.

Speaking of time, T is the final letter in our SMART acronym. Goals need to be time-sensitive. Put a time limit on your goals. If you don’t, then they will stretch into eternity, no matter how specific, measurable, achievable or relevant.

With these five points in mind, start setting goals for yourself and then put these goals into a tangible schedule. I create writing goals, publishing goals, marketing goals… even household chores and other tasks go into my schedule! Tools like Asana make it easy, or use whatever method works best for you. No matter the method, a little bit of forethought goes a long way to increasing your productivity and thereby your satisfaction.

This article originally appeared on InScribe’s professional blog in May, 2021.

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