SMART Goals – Breaking Down Tasks

SMART Goals are a quick and easy way for you to concentrate your ideas and effort into a real goal.

They allow you to break a task down and approach it productively at a perfect pace.

In general – smart goals are a great way for you track progress!

With clever planning and organisation time can be your friend when you are setting goals.

If you use it as a measurable tool instead of worrying how little of it you have, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.

Having goals means deciding exactly what you’re aiming for and planning timescales to keep yourself on track.

SMART Goals are just more specific and targeted, to help you reach them! If you want someone that can help make SMART goals alongside you, tag along to one of our time management training courses here!

What Are S.M.A.R.T Goals ?

So, what are S.M.A.R.T goals? And what does the SMART acronym stand for?


Know exactly what you want to achieve and what you will need to achieve it whether it is something you will be doing or something you will be handing to your team to accomplish.

Don’t leave things to chance, planning is crucial.

    • Is the goal clearly set out?
    • How important are the results?
    • Who needs to accomplish the goal?
    • How will I know when I hit the goal?

This is the difference between ‘I want to get fit’ and ‘I want to be able to run a mile in under 8 minutes’. When delegating to your team, be sure to ask if they have any questions and be sure that you’ve communicated what you’re looking for very clearly.


If a goal is trackable, you can measure your progress. This helps you to stay motivated and feel the excitement in getting closer to your goal.

    • How do you know you’re on track?
    • What do you need to do to go forward?
    • How often do you need to check progress?
    • If you can’t measure a goal you can’t ever know if you’ve achieved it.

Specific targets are very useful when reviewing team performance in year-end reviews and setting targets for the coming year.


Set realistic goals that you know are achievable while still challenging yourself. If you set the bar too high you’ll give up feeling that the goal is not achievable. Conversely, if you set a goal too low, it doesn’t really offer as much benefit or feeling of achievement if you reach it.

    • Can you get the support you need to achieve it?
    • What resources will help you?
    • Have you set realistic timescales to achieve it?

A goal that’s difficult will take a lot of energy. If you want more information about energy, read our article here on time and energy management.


Think about how relevant the goal is to you. It might be an aspiration, but not relevant to where you are in your career.  You don’t want too many goals, so only take on relevant ones.

    • Why is this goal so important to you?
    • What impact will it have on your work/personal life?
    • Will it make a significant difference if you reach your goal or not?


Deadlines give you something to work towards and keep you focused on getting there! You need to have a target date in mind.

    • Is there a time frame attached to your goal?
    • What can you do today/tomorrow/in 6 months?
    • Do you need to add more time for better results?

Sometimes we run over our schedule due to procrastination. Learn how to get a handle on this and All About Procrastination here!

Mastering each aspect will help you when SMART goal setting!

What Makes a Good Goal?

At heart, a goal is something that you want to achieve over a period of time. You should see having goals as a powerful way to focus your mind on doing something positive.

For example, an agenda is a key part of ensuring that a meeting is an effective use of time. At it’s simplest the agenda for a meeting is a written statement of what you would like to achieve by calling a meeting (assuming that you are the organiser) and so focuses everyone’s mind on the business at hand.

Without challenges, our brains become disengaged, so it’s important to set goals that energise you.

Always think about what the motivation is. Is it the end result, the skills that you’ve acquired along the way or a combination of the two?

There are three types of goals. The type of goal that will work best depends on the situation.

Outcome Goals:

These are results-driven, but provide no direction in how to reach them.

E.g. Your goal is to increase sales by x% by the end of the financial year.

Here, you have a goal for business success, but need to find your own way to get there.

Performance Goals:

These are similar to outcome goals, but include some ‘how’ in the target. These are about setting a measurable standard and detail how that standard should be reached. You are not left to figure out how best to reach the goal.

E.g. Your goal is to increase profits by x% by cutting supplier costs and increasing productivity per employee.

Here, you have a specific strategy with mini-goals that will help you reach the final outcome.

Process Goals:

These are about changing habits and behaviours in order to reach a goal.

E.g. Your goal is to implement sales coaching to increase sales engagement by the end of the year.

Here, you have an idea for best work practices to reach your goal. These are usually components of a larger goal, in this case growing sales, where you want to improve the process to try to ensure that you improve the outcome.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The importance of a goal comes down to what you want to achieve. Whether it’s the outcome, the process or the performance, each needs a structure in order to achieve it.

This is where S.M.A.R.T goals come in. This kind of goal planning is applicable to personal and business lives and is a great way to keep you on track.

It is easy to lose sight (literally) of what you are trying to achieve if you don’t have a plan or think about potential problems you might encounter.

Try and come up with your own examples of smart goals as a helpful exercise!

Final Goal Setting Tips

Now that you have the tools to set you up in planning your goals, it is up to you to make sure you reach them. Use these helpful hints that are proven to work in achieving goals.

  1. Write them down. Goals can stay as ideas if you don’t begin to realise them. The act of writing them down is a great starting point as you begin to plan them out.
  2. Keep your goals visible. If it is a team effort, make the progress visible to keep everyone motivated. Use display boards or email to communicate it.
  3. Be flexible. Goals can change course naturally when a strategy isn’t working. Flex your timescales or resources, it is OK as long as you are still moving forward.
  4. Share your goals. You are more likely to see something through if you tell someone what you want to achieve. Be accountable and welcome support in your ideas.

A goal can be a great way to make sure that you are learning to make the best use of your time, as they ensure that you are focused on the right things and making good progress towards your key goals.

Hopefully this has all been helpful, and will help you with your own SMART goals! Just keep in mind to have relevant goals for your SMART criteria.

Want another quick guide that will help you manage your time? Read our 3 Quick Tips For Time Management here!



About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training. He writes about SQL, Power BI and Excel on a number of industry sites including SQLCentral, SQLshack and codingsight.