For many businesses, the new year brings new, enthusiastic goals and targets, with companies of every variety setting their new business aims for the year. The SMART goal framework is a good way to approach this. (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.) However there is more that can be achieved, and better ways to keep on target, so here are a few ideas to help you on the way to a better process for managing and achieving this year.
Goals have to be meaningful to people, if they have any chance of achieving them. Having a sales quota for the year is pretty standard, but is it motivating enough? To maximise motivation you need to lay out WHY achieving these goals are important to you. Go beyond your one-year quota focused goal, and set a big picture goal. Define your destination; what do you long to achieve? Now everything that helps you get closer to this goal is meaningful. Set three-year goals that put you on the path to achieving your big picture goal. Perhaps there are two or three steps to take that will get you along this path. Set annual goals, so you have specific targets for this year. These could be a mix of financial and non-financial goals.
Your goals will need to be challenging, despite the A in SMART standing for achievable! Goals that are too achievable are too easy, so having goals a little further out of reach means you’ll get more out of it and get ahead faster.
Next you will need to detail how you plan to achieve your goals. You can do this using worksheets. Breakdown your goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily actions. Annual goals are always going to be a long way off, and will continually be under prioritised as other things get in the way, so making sure that you are going tackle them in a prioritised timescale will make them more achievable. Let’s say for example you have an annual sales goal. Work out how much you need to achieve each quarter, perhaps some quarters are statistically more profitable than other due to renewals, or markets, so take
this into account for each quarter. Then break each quarter into months, then weeks. What are you going to do today to make these sales happen?
At this point in your goal setting process the SMART process finishes, but in order to actualise your achievements, you need to carry the process further.
Change your habits
In order to achieve different results, you will have to change the way you do things. This will mean changing your habits to get rid of old ones that are not hitting the mark, and develop new, better ones.
There are a number of bad habits that many people are frequently exhibiting, that are not helping them achieve productive results: checking emails first thing then getting too involved in them, checking messages as they arrive, leaving your office door open, or being reactive.
A better set of habits for dealing with your workload could include starting your day with your biggest impact activities, saying no to other requests that will set you back too far, and training yourself to ignore distractions.
Spending the right amount of time on the right tasks is key to achieving your goals. Despite sounding easy enough on paper, it is incredibly difficult to focus all our time efficiently, so take it one step further than prioritising your time and learn to managing it obsessively.
Break your daily or weekly time into segments; the most valuable time needs to be treasured, this time is what makes you happy. There will be time you spend doing mundane but necessary things, like brushing your teeth, traveling to work etc. This time needs to be minimised as much as possible, and to be converted into treasured time or investment time. Investment time is the time you spend achieving your goals. The key to achieving is to maximise your
investment time. You will also have periods of time achieving nothing, this can include scrolling aimlessly through social media, or watching repeats on TV. This time needs eliminating. The best way to establish whether you are getting the right amount of time allocated to the right segment is to diarise your actions for a few days, categorising it into the four segments to see really how much time you spend achieving!
Become impossible to distract
It is universally acknowledged that achieving goals means staying focused. However this, like managing your time, is actually hard to action. The trick is to identify your distractions and learn how to avoid them.
The easiest distraction to avoid, courtesy of our mobile phones and technological devises, is alerts. Whether they be texts, online chat, email, social media updates, turn these alerts off!
Consider meetings and their importance to the achievements of your goals. Do you need to attend? If you do, do you need to be there for the whole meeting, or just the section in the agenda that applies to you? Can weekly meetings be made fortnightly? Try to minimise the time you spend needlessly ‘meeting’ in favour of actually ‘doing’.
Close your office door, when you need to concentrate. Operating an open door policy is fantastic for encouraging communication and openness in an office, but making a scheduled time of day when you can close the door, and know you will not be disturbed will help you focus on your tasks. Colleagues will know to avoid disturbing you during this time, as your door will be open again soon. If you work in an open plan office, and find there is much distraction, you may need to find more inventive ways to express your ‘do not disturb’ time, perhaps there are vacant meeting rooms you can utilise for an hour or so.
Don’t just set goals and targets for your business but make a commitment to follow through on them by following these crucial steps