GET MORE STUFF DONE! How to Track Your Goals
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A lot of you guys already know that I'm really big on time management and productivity. I kind of have to be if I want to juggle writing books, making videos, being a caregiver, managing a business, and running a house. Because my time is my most valuable resource and I need to get a lot of shit done, I have a super detailed and super effective goal-setting process.
I started working toward setting quantifiable, attainable goals when I was nineteen. Over the last decade, I have since refined this process. And now per your request, I am breaking it down for you today. On to the goal setting! I'm first going to explain my goal-setting method, and then go over how I track my goals.
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Number 1: What Type of Goals Do I Set?
I set quarterly goals, which are goals that you set every three months. You may be familiar because I talk about quarterly goals all the time on my channel and because quarterly goals are very common in corporate America. It's very common for corporations to set company-wide quarterly goals. It's also common for them to make their employees set their own quarterly goals.
The reason it's so common is that it’s very effective. Yearly goals don’t usually work because you've got too long of a timeframe there. You have 365 days to dick around. On the flip side, monthly time frames are too short. An unexpected bump in the road can completely destroy your productivity, and if that happens, it's more of a stressor than it is a motivator. Quarterly goals tend to be the perfect amount of time. It's short enough where the pressure’s on, but there's some wiggle room just in case life gets in the way.
The biggest benefit of quarterly goals is that they allow you to break up your major goals into smaller parts. Say your goal is to write a book. That can be really daunting, and it's hard to know where to start. With the quarterly goal method, you can instead say that you want to write 100 pages in 3 months. That's still a challenging goal, but it's not too overwhelming. And on top of that, it’s quantifiable, attainable, and trackable.
Number 2: How Are My Quarterly Goals Different From the Standard or Corporate Quarterly Goal Method?
The first thing is the criteria. Some people only create writing-specific goals, or they only create business goals, or they only create personal goals. My quarterly goals are all of the above. I do not set limitations regarding what can or cannot be a goal. I want to improve all facets of my life, and thus my quarterly goals are very eclectic.
The second thing is the cap. Most people only create a handful of goals, whereas I create a lot. I make sure each quarter consists of about 15 to 25 goals, though I usually settle for around 20 goals.
Lastly, we've got the concept of winning or losing. It's not enough to create a list–you have to create an incentive for following that list. Because of this, I decided to create the idea of winning a quarter or losing a quarter.
“But Jenna, it's obvious what would constitute a win! You have to complete all the goals on your list, right?”
Wrong. Like I said, my list can contain anywhere from 15 to 25 goals, and requiring yourself to complete all of those goals is setting yourself up for failure. I found that a much more realistic system is to require yourself to complete at least half the goals on the list. That means if you got 20 goals, you have to complete at least 10 goals that quarter. This is still challenging, but it's not unrealistic. It comes out to about one goal a week at a minimum, and it gives you wiggle room to shift focus between your goals.
If you want to give yourself some extra incentive, make your quarterly goals public. I share mine on social media, and with each new quarter, I announce whether I've won or I've lost. This lights a major fire under my ass because I do not want to announce to thousands of people, “Hey, guess what guys? I'm a loser!” Since I made my quarterly goals public about six years ago, I have only lost one quarter. This shit works! Now that you know all about my quarterly goal method, let's move on to setting the goals.
Number 3: What Do I Use When Setting and Managing My Goals?
Number one is the Notes app on my phone. You don't have to use the Notes app, but I do recommend you keep your goals on your phone. That way they're on you at all times.
Number two is a planner. I personally use the Clever Fox Ultimate Achiever’s Goal Planner. It is a quarterly planner and it's specifically for people who set quarterly goals, so it is perfect for this method. If you're interested in getting a quarterly planner, or any of the planners that Clever Fox has, I do have an affiliate link where you can get 10% off. Please be aware that an affiliate link means I receive a small commission per sale. If you're not comfortable with that, you don't have to click the affiliate link. You don't have to use the discount. You don't have to buy anything from Clever Fox at all! But please know I do not affiliate myself with companies that I do not personally use or recommend. I paid for my planner myself, and yeah, I use it.
Number 4: The Notes App
For now, we’re gonna put the planner aside and focus on the Notes app. All right, I've got my document open. It's time to set some goals! I go about this by asking myself five questions.
The first and most obvious question is: What are my writing goals? Now remember, our goals need to be quantifiable and challenging but attainable. So I'm going to start with "write 100 pages of TSA."
Goals need to be quantifiable and challenging but attainable.
Now I move on to the second question: What are my business or platform goals? As you guys know, writing is a business, so you're gonna have some author platform and marketing, or accounting, or business goals in the mix. I want to update my mailing list. I’ve got a lot of business goals ahead of me, and all of these are trackable.
Now, we move on to the third question. This is a very important one that a lot of people overlook. What are things I'm prone to forgetting? I'm a really busy person and sometimes I develop tunnel vision and completely forget about activities that need to get done. Thus, I add those activities to my quarterly goal list. That way, there's a constant reminder.
Okay, now it's time for the fourth question. What are some habits I'd like to adopt? This is where I think about ways I want to improve my life. Things I’m either not already doing or I'm not doing to the level I'd like. So a good one is getting into the habit of exercising more regularly.
And lastly, the fifth question: What matters to me in my personal life? This is when I think about my home, my family, and my friends. Things that would make me happy, or improve my overall life.
All right. I've created my quarterly goals. At this point, I read it over and check to see if any of my goals overlap, or if maybe some are better suited for a later quarter. When I’m pretty happy with my list, I will put it on my phone so I can track my goals throughout the quarter.
Number 5: But Wait! There’s More!
Now that I've created my list, it's time to move on to my Clever Fox Ultimate Achiever’s Goal Planner.
“But Jenna! Why do I need a planner if I've already made my list on my phone?”
For starters, the planner is way more in-depth. It not only lists your goals–it also helps you plan your life down to the month, week, and day. It allows you to group your goals into categories, and it makes it much easier for you to track your progress. I used to do my goal-setting exclusively through the list on my phone, and it did work. However, once I added the planner into the mix, my productivity skyrocketed. I was getting 80% of my goals accomplished as opposed to the usual 50%. Thus, the list on my phone exists so I can refer to it if I’m out and about. Otherwise, if I'm at home, I use the planner.
Number 6: The Quarterly Goals
Let's switch over to updating my planner and get this shit started. Cracking open the planner, the first thing you'll see are the quarterly goal pages. Clever Fox divides them into categories where it's four goals to a page. I like to take my existing quarterly goal list and lump the goals into like categories. Once you’ve finished, you do the same thing on the other quarterly goal-setting pages.
Number 7: The Monthly Calendar
Now, this is the least useful part of the planner in my opinion. I don't think it’s super important to my personal goal-setting method, so I just like to label the existing appointments or events that I already have going on within the month. I usually label them with the corresponding stickers.
Number 8: The Weekly Calendar
Next up is my favorite part, which is weekly planning. This is where I reference my quarterly goals and decide what I'm going to tackle in a particular week. In my world, all my weeks begin on Sunday, so I plan the following week every single Saturday. I do not skip ahead and plan weeks in the distant future. This is because I’m not only a writer and business owner, I’m also a caregiver. My fiancé suffers from CRPS, and his health is very fickle. I don't know how he's gonna be feeling in the next two weeks or three weeks, thus I plan each week as it comes based on how he's doing right now and what I can realistically fit into my schedule.
So, in this section, you've got a few tasks. You list your week's milestones, which is where I reference which quarterly goals or major tasks I want to focus on this week. Then you've got a work to-do list where you list the different work-related items you're going to be doing this week. We have the personal to-do list I use to mark any appointments or events that are going down, and then the habits and skills list. This is where I list anything that I want to make a recurring task throughout my week like exercising, walking the dog, Cliff’s physical therapy, and so on.
The right-hand page is where you track your goals throughout the week, so throughout the week I’m going to be listing whether or not I reached my milestones, what my three biggest wins were, what made me happy, what I learned, and so on. It is super helpful for tracking your goals throughout the week.
Number 9: The Daily Planner
Lastly, we have the daily planner. I plan each day the night before, and again I look at my weekly plan and goals, and any appointments I have going on when considering what I'm going to tackle that day. And of course, you can decorate your planner with stickers which is super fun–just don't get so into it that you end up wasting hours planning your day as opposed to actually accomplishing the things in your planner. This usually only takes about 10 minutes every night, tops. It's super easy to do and it sets you up for success!
As the day goes on, I track my accomplishments. If I accomplish something from my weekly list, I flip back to that section and mark it as done. And of course, if I accomplish something from my quarterly goals, I mark it as done both in my planner and on my phone.
So that's all I've got for you today!
Wasn't that fun? Like I already mentioned, I was doing just fine with my goal setting when I was just referring to a list on my phone. However, now that I’ve included the planner, I'm slaying shit! I'm averaging 70% to 80% of my goals completed every three months. I am much more productive, plus I have a lot more free time that I can spend with Cliff and Buttercup!
Again, this is my personal method. You don't have to adopt it. Do whatever you want. But if you take one thing away from this, please note that your quarterly goals should be attainable and quantifiable. Do not simply say “exercise,” or “write a book.” Give yourself smaller, digestible goals that you can track. “Exercise three times a week.” “Write 50 pages.” “Go out with friends once a week,” and so on. This will not only make it easier for you to follow your goals, it'll also make it easier for you to achieve them.
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