How to Boost Your Productivity Using SMART Criteria


When it comes to meeting your goals, do you ever consider how feasible and quantifiable they are and how productive you are? Goals are important elements of staying productive and focused on your personal or professional life.

You can use SMART criteria to assess your goals so that you can review your progress and productivity. In this article, we will explain how you can use SMART criteria to benchmark your own productivity.

What Is SMART?

SMART is a mnemonic abbreviation of an objective or goal-setting criteria that your brain grasps effortlessly. The Management Review issue of November 1981 has a research paper by George T. Doran with the first mention of SMART criteria. It uses the words specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound to explain a better way to set objectives or goals.

You can set realistic objectives or goals using the SMART criteria. It is a globally acclaimed technique because of its easy-to-grasp and easy-to-adopt nature.

How to Use SMART Criteria

The SMART criteria are applicable in both professional and personal life. However, the principles of creating SMART goals criteria are similar. Define your goals according to the following sections:

1. Specific

Visualizing Specific in SMART criteria

You need to clearly define your goals and objectives to feel the motivation to accomplish the goals. You could ask the following questions before choosing a goal:

  • What is your expectation as an outcome?
  • Why is the goal important to you?
  • What are the resources that you need?
  • What are the challenges, and how can you overcome those?

ClickUp is one of the best goals tracking app that can help you in defining your SMART goals. Goals by ClickUp is an entire module that lets you do the following:

  1. Assign a name to your SMART goals.
  2. Split a broad goal into small sprints of goals.
  3. Assign owners when using SMART criteria for a team.

2. Measurable

An image showing chart for SMART criteria

Your goals and objectives must be measurable. It helps you to visualize your progress in achieving goals in numerical values. Ask questions like below to understand if your goals are measurable or not:

  • How much is the profit from an investment goal?
  • How many clients will you sign up for your freelance gig?
  • How will you know if you’re ready to deliver the project works to your client?

Strides app can automate your goal's measurement. It also helps you with the implementation of the SMART goals. Strides offers you SMART goals features like:

  1. An automated dashboard to visualize goals and their numbers.
  2. Ready-to-use SMART goals templates.
  3. View bar graph reports, rate of success charts, etc., to stay on top of your goals.

Download: Strides for iOS (Free)

3. Attainable

An image showing someone reaching for achievement

When setting up your SMART goals criteria, make sure you’re choosing realistic and achievable goals. You must find the answers to the following questions to know if you're selecting achievable goals:

  • Do you afford the cost of upskilling?
  • Are you able to allocate enough time for skills training?

You can try out the Weekdone goal-setting app that helps you in choosing attainable goals. The online app offers features like goal dashboard, goal hierarchy, reporting, analytics, etc.

4. Relevant

A visualization of someone focusing on work

This SMART goal-setting criterion ensures that you’re in control of your goals. You might need some external help to achieve your goals but make sure that you own your goals. Your goals will be relevant to you if the answer is Yes to the following questions:

  • Are you sure that it’s the right time?
  • Does this goal match your other responsibilities?
  • Are you the right person?
  • Do you have the skills to achieve this goal?

Joe’s Goals is a free tool that helps you to set relevant goals in your professional and personal life. You don’t need to download any app. Sign-up using your email and start implementing SMART criteria.

5. Time-Bound

An image showing a timer with zeros

This step ensures that you’re allocating sufficient time to long-term goals, short-term goals, and daily tasks. You must set a deadline for goal achievement if you want to stay on the course of productivity improvement. Ask the following questions about your goals:

  • What should you do today about your goal?
  • What can you do three months from now?
  • When will you achieve the goal?

Way of Life is a goal tracking app with a lot of visual and automation features. You can visualize positive or negative goals progress trends with color-coded goals.

Download: Way of Life for Android | iOS (Free)

How Do You Write a SMART Goal?

A visual showing SMART goals example for a blogger

A practical example is necessary when you need to learn a new technique. Following is a practical example that explains the step to implement SMART criteria for blogging:

  1. The specific goal for any blogger is to attract an audience and retain existing ones.
  2. The measurable goals could be smaller daily tasks like looking for engaging content ideas, writing blogs, uploading content to the website, etc.
  3. In the blogging ecosystem, achievable goals are publishing a definite number of articles per day, replying to a number of comments, etc.
  4. Creating a featured image or an infographic for the upcoming article is a relevant goal for a blogger.
  5. Set deadlines for all the above goals and accomplish them on time.

Do’s of SMART Goal Writing

Illustration of Dos in SMART criteria

Your SMART goals setting will help you the most if you follow the following best practices:

1. Give Importance to Yourself

You must select objectives and goals that are within your area of expertise. Also, go for the goals that motivate you.

When you choose the goals that are important to your professional or personal life, there is more chance that you’ll work your way to achieve those goals.

2. Goals Should Be Definite

Try to pick fewer goals and define them as short-term or long-term goals. You can also choose a big goal and divide it into small goals.

You also need to define the time, location, and overall outcome of your life objectives or goals.

3. Set Up an Action Plan

An action plan is essential if you want to pursue goals till the end and achieve a positive outcome.

When the goals are complex, you can draw a flowchart of the entire workflow for effortless visualization.

Don’ts of SMART Goal Writing

Visualization of Dont's in SMART criteria

Your SMART goals criteria will help you boost individual productivity when you avoid the following mistakes:

1. Missing KPIs

You can’t create SMART criteria for personal improvement if you miss actionable and measurable key performance indicators or KPIs.

The examples of KPIs could be spreadsheet knowledge, create professional newsletters, design graphics, make infographics, etc.

2. No Deadline for Goals

Your SMART goals plan could fail if there is no reasonable time frame for meeting goals. If you set broad deadlines, you could find yourself prioritizing elsewhere rather than your SMART goals.

3. Forget Core Competencies

When you start doing well in your professional or personal life, you could upskill yourself in other subjects or professions. New priorities could move you away from minimal practice that keeps core competencies active.

The SMART Way to Set Goals for Better Productivity

When you achieve your professional or personal goals without investing too much time, effort, and money, you’re more productive than others. SMART criteria of setting goals, reviewing progress, and adjusting tactics if you need, is the most easy-to-implement technique to boost productivity. Furthermore, push aside productivity myths that could do you more harm than good.


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