Personal Leadership and SMART goal setting

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree,
I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe”
said Abraham Lincoln

That’s exactly how successful people think about goal setting.
They work smarter. Not harder.
Successful people set SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?
Having SMART goals means you know what you want.
And you have a plan on how to get it.
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Specific
You start by clearly defining the goal you want to accomplish.
You need to know the why, who, what, where.
(Who is involved? What needs to be done?)
It’s important to know the WHY behind your goals — that’s what makes them come alive.
That’s your motivation.
It’s the fuel that takes you from where you are to where you want to go.

Measurable
Whatever your goal is make sure you have a way of measuring its progress.
Keeping track of your progress helps you stay motivated.

Example:
Let’s say you want to go on an “electronic diet.”
Tracking how much time you spend looking at various electronic screens will tell you if you are moving into the right direction. Or you need to adjust course.

Attainable
This means setting realistic goals.
Ask yourself, “Do I have the necessary resources to reach my goal?”

Example:
A high school student loves two things: math and playing sports.
Enjoys playing basketball — and is really good at it (in spite of being only five-foot tall).
A future mathematician or a professional basketball player?
The answer is obvious. Student’s efforts are best directed toward a career in mathematics.
That’s far more attainable than the alternative.

Relevant
Is this goal worth your time and effort? Is it in alignment and /or will it bring success to your other goals?
Another key question to ask yourself: is this goal really important to you?
Or you chose it because someone else thought this would be good for you?
Make sure you have the right answer.
Goals need to be relevant and in sync with the big picture of whatever it is you want to achieve.

Timely
This answers the WHEN question.
You have a specific period of time allocated to achieve this goal.
“I want to be in shape, I want to be fit” is not specific enough.
Say this instead, “I want to do 10 one-arm push ups by the end of this month.”
(That’s my utopian dream  : )
Goals need to have a time frame in which they are to be achieved.

To recap:
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
SMART goal setting will transform your vision into reality.

Start today. And don’t hold back.

As Mark Twain said:

Throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore.
Dream.
Discover.

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Time Management – Why Do We Procrastinate?

Some say the surest way to avoid success in life is to PROCRASTINATE.

Occasionally we all do it. We underestimate how long a project will take to finish.
Then we end up doing things the last minute!

But for some, being a procrastinator is a way of life. It has a negative impact on their health, on work as well as on their social relationships.

Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastinators often tell themselves, “I work best under pressure” or any other rational lie.
There are many reasons to procrastinate. Including fear of failure, being tired, and overworked – just to name a few.

Some psychologists even say procrastination ca be a form of rebellion.

Finding out why you procrastinate is the first step to help you conquer this destructive habit.

Let’s discuss two major reasons why most of us procrastinate. One is when we do not want to do the task. Another is when working on big projects, many times we don’t know where to start or how to do it.

Don’t like doing the job
Sometime the reason is plain and simple: you just don’t want to do the job. It may be something you really don’t like doing – yard work, house work, etc.
When that’s the case, and if possible, have someone else do it. Even if you have to pay for it. If you can’t pay, maybe you can barter.

If you can’t do either one then just buckle up and do it. I’ll give you an example from my personal life. I don’t like taking Sunny and Flipper to the vet. Not even for grooming. I can clip Flipper’s wings but not Sunny’s. But since I really have no choice – I make the appointment and go. When we are at the vet I’m not sure which one of us is having a “worser” time. Yes, I know, there is no such word : )

Working on a Big Project and feeling overwhelmed
When they need to work on big projects, procrastinators generally start focusing on ALL that needs to be done.

If that’s what you do, either one or both of the following things will happen:
1. Your stress level will be sky-high
2. You’ll feel overwhelmed – so much so that you may even freeze yourself and won’t be able to take any action

Filing taxes is a great example (especially with April 15th just around the corner). A procrastinator would wait until the last minute then try to tackle a whole year worth of paperwork at once.

A much better course of action would be to have a monthly or a quarterly plan – time set aside – to work on the paperwork. And that’s the smart way of doing it – breaking a big project like that in small, manageable chunks.

My friend Donna Erickson adds a tip from Richard Wiseman’s book The “What If” Principle , no matter what the cause, you can overcome this heinous habit by using the “One foot in the door” technique. Make yourself do just a few minutes of the task. Give yourself permission to quit after five or ten minutes. Be sure to schedule that ten minutes at the start of the part of the day when you are at your highest energy level.

Effective Time Management Strategy
We all know what is the essence of procrastination – putting off things that you SHOULD be doing in favor of things that you ENJOY doing.

The truth is our health suffers from the added stress we place unnecessarily on ourselves. At work as well as in personal life, procrastination extracts a high cost.
You can change your behavior by adopting better working habits.

Next time you are on the Facebook (or elsewhere on the digital media) doing your favorite thing, maybe watching videos of cute puppies and kittens, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?”
Of course, after your work is done, that could be your reward : )
Same goes for you gamers : )

Finding out WHY you procrastinate will get you to a good start on the road to have an effective time management strategy and be more productive.

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/Comments/in Leadership,Productivity,Time Management/by Mariana Fieraru

Time Management and Productivity

The value of our time is far more critical than ever before.
That means concentrating our efforts on those activities that leads us to achieving our goals.
In an article in Harvard Business Review, Carson Tate writes this about productivity, “there is no one-size-fits-all approach…”
Tate includes an assessment to help you discover whether you are a prioritizer, a visualizer, an arranger, or a planner. And to help you discover your personal productivity work style.

I know I’m a proritizer.

How do I prioritize?
(Glad you asked : )

I start my day by asking Flipper and Sunny what’s their schedule for the day.
Then I adjust mine accordingly : )

On a more serious note:

  • Effective time management: know how to pace yourself.
  • Increased productivity: choose your work projects wisely.

As Peter Drucker said:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”

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/Comments/in Productivity,Time Management/by Mariana Fieraru

Time Management – Making the Most of Your Day

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, time management is a continuous struggle for many of us.
There are days when I do “Project Hopping” starting many things without seeing a significant progress at the end of the day. Or I spend a big part of the day putting out “fires” – maybe a call from client on an urgent matter, or having to take a friend to the doctor. Other days are full of interruptions: phone calls, friends visiting, my parrots wanting attention.

(About that last one – I’m not so sure who is interrupting whom – but it’s my favorite interruption of all! Sunny and Flipper call out to me wanting to play and I’m only too happy to oblige.)

For me, the most productive days start the day or the evening before.

At the end of the work day, I start planning the next day’s work. After putting down all I want to accomplish for the next day I can then relax and call it a day.

In the morning I get up very early and start working. There are no interruptions then (most people aren’t working yet so the phone is not ringing) and my family is happily snoring away.

Throughout the day I focus and work my plan. I do take short breaks when I need to. Also, I ask for help when necessary. And there are some tasks which I delegate, like errands to the post office, data entry, etc.

We all dream of a perfect, productive day. But it will remain a dream if we don’t take action to make it happen. To make the most of your day and reach your goals, whatever they may be, you need to:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Work the plan
  3. Ask for help when needed

Have a good and productive day!

/Comments/in Productivity,Time Management/by Mariana Fieraru