I have been working with a client for a while on productivity. He is a writer and editor and, due to a fluid schedule and the grueling demands of writing large quantities of content, he has had difficulty maintaining a productivity level that he and his boss are satisfied with.
I, too, write a bit and I also at times can have a more open, less defined schedule, especially in the summer when many of my clients are away or in slowdown mode. In order to maximize my effectiveness during this time, I have begun to place added emphasis on goal setting. Today’s goals include writing, presentation planning, preparing for an out-of-town conference, networking, and readying for today’s coaching sessions. Each of these goals have quantifiers to help me ensure that I can measure whether or not I properly met my goals.
As I see it, the benefits of goal setting are many, including:
- They help you organize your thoughts – You probably have many things on your unofficial to-do list. Setting goals allows you to select from that list and set some direction. (Note: Daily goals are even more effective when they are developed in the broader context of monthly or long-term goals, such as the need to complete a client project or write a book. When you do this exercise in that context, it produces a broader sense of clarity and direction and can better inform what each individual day should look like.)
- They help you prioritize – Along the same lines, goal setting allows you to look at the list that you’re created and determine what the priorities are within the list. What are your must-haves and what are the things that would be nice to achieve but are less imperative?
- They allow you to better organize your day – Based on what needs to get done and the available time slots (45 before lunch, 20 minutes until carpool, etc.) you can slot things in where they have the best chance of getting done while also factoring in the rest of your agenda.
- They psych you up – A goal list is like setting exercise or other goals. When I tell myself that I will do X pushups during my workout (usually a slight stretch-goal), I summon more strength and focus to the task. The same holds true for work or life goals. When you set them and attach a quantifier (number, duration, etc.) you are likelier to push yourself to complete it.
- They keep you accountable – When you write goals you ought to be checking them off as you go. Unchecked items, in most cases, will need to be addressed at a later point.
- They allow you to celebrate – At the end of the day, you can look back and see all that you accomplished. This should be cause for celebration and motivate you to do more of the same the next day.
Setting daily goals takes time and discipline. But the rewards, in terms of clarity of direction and motivation to complete your goals, more than make up for the effort. That’s why I wrote my goals today and will continue to do so.
What are your goals for today? How do goals help you succeed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or shoot me an email.
Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, became an executive coach and organizational consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Read his blog at impactfulcoaching.com/blog. Get a free chapter of his new book, Becoming the New Boss, by clicking here.