Ultimate Guide To Creating SMART Goals for Time Management

Time management is a crucial practice to be productive, whether for professionals, students, employees, or managers. 

It is also an essential aspect for businesses where the time accounts for the money, sometimes even more. 

SMART Goals For Time Management is important to ensure you know what you want to achieve by managing your time. 

More importantly, setting SMART goals increases its chances for accomplishment or success a hundredfold. 

When you set a SMART goal for your time management strategies, ie. having a specific goal within a given reasonable time frame that is also measurable, you tend to get better results. 

So anyone with time management aspirations can apply this guide to direct their plan through actionable steps using the SMART goals. 

So even if you haven’t set a SMART goal or are new to time management, here’s how you create SMART goals for your time management. 

What Is A SMART Goal? 

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. 

A SMART goal simply means that you are optimizing your goals on the basis of these given five parameters. 

This means when you set a goal which stands upon the different functions of SMART goal such as : 

  • Specific:  Your goal needs to be well-defined, detailed, and precise. It must focus specifically on a particular area in a certain direction.
  • Measurable:  Your goal must be quantifiable and can be measured with facts, figures or etc., to determine your progress throughout the duration of the goal.
  • Attainable:  The goal you set must be realistic, and you should have reasonable means, resources, and time to achieve it, along with relevant skills.
  • Relevant:  You also check the relevancy of the goal, which means it must be signed in your life, and you can define its implications or results.
  • Time-based: The goal you set must be time-based, i.e., restrained within a time limit or has a specific deadline to finish the goal. 

smart goal for improving time management example

When you establish SMART goals, you are inherently managing your time in terms of goal setting as well as the very execution of it. 

Setting SMART goals itself helps in time management; however, when it comes to achieving the maximum time management optimization in your life, you need to do more than that. 

And then comes setting SMART goals, particularly to achieve time-management aspirations and goals in your day-to-day life. 

But what happens, and what benefits do you get set up SMART goals for your time management? 

Well, here are the benefits you get : 

  • You will have a defined deadline to achieve your time management goals. 
  • You will become more productive and efficient. 
  • You will be able to track the progress of your time management goals throughout the journey or process. 
  • You will have more time to focus on other goals. 
  • You will be able to become proactive and avoid procrastination. 

Why Are SMART Goals For Time Management Important? 

You know the benefits of setting SMART goals for time management, but more than that, it is also crucial to know its significance. 

Why is it important to set SMART Goals For Time Management?  

You can just begin with time management strategies, tips, and tricks as whatever suits you and fits you the best. Well, definitely no! That’s a grave mistake. 

Goal setting itself is crucial for time management. And that too must be SMART and done strategically as per your situation. 

Here’s why it is important : 

  • It helps you eliminate procrastination and complete your projects timely. 
  • It improves your time management skill. 
  • It reduces distractions and also helps you to deal with them. 
  • It helps you achieve your time management goals that give a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. 

Time Management and Goal Setting -Explained Using Examples

To set a SMART goal for time management, here are a few examples and explanations of how they are SMART goals. 

“I will give myself seven days of observation and note down how much time it takes me on minimum, maximum, and average to do everything that I do throughout the day/week. I will do this before creating my time management strategy starting from this Monday.” 

How does this goal help in Time Management? 

The first step in initiating a time management strategy for yourself is creating a schedule or timing yourself for every task. Right? 

Well, wrong! This is a classic mistake. Because when you set a time-limitation to your every task or schedule block your whole day for different tasks, you actually don’t know how much time it practically takes you to do this. 

And that’s why most of the time management strategy based on schedule blocking fails! 

So, the first step needs to be monitoring and assessing how much time exactly it takes you to complete a particular task. 

And this is everything right from your morning meditation tonight reading before bed. 

What to do? 

Take seven days or less to only monitor and write down the time you spend on your usual tasks, work, daily chores, and everything, actually. 

Note down the minimum, maximum, and on average or set time you know can do that task easily.  

See-through the layered sub-tasks and other things it requires. Time them as well. After seven days, use this data to create a much more practical schedule time blocking of your day. 

How It is a SMART Goal? 

Let’s break it down to the set parameters of a SMART Goal : 

Specific 

You are taking seven days before planning your time management strategy with a deadline next Monday. 

The goal tells you to monitor and write down the time it takes to do your daily tasks so it is as detailed as it gets. 

Measurable 

Since you are given seven days for monitoring and writing down, you can track whether you are time-tracking or not and how much you have done so far. 

You can actually also check progress by noticing whether you are tracking every task of yours in the day or not. 

Attainable 

You need to make this practical. So it is better that you don’t take some extra work or try any other time management strategy this week. 

Hava time-tracking sheet or an app, or you can also have a notebook with you all the time to note down. It is definitely achievable. 

Relevant 

Since this is what lays the foundation for your time management strategy for your day-to-day life and helps you become more efficient and productive in general, it is a relevant goal. 

Time-based 

You have been given seven days to track your time, and you need to start this from the upcoming Monday, so this goal does have a starting and finishing point, hence time-based. 

“ I will delegate the task whenever possible. I will create a system by next month  to give me the ability to delegate tasks much more efficiently.” 

How does this help in time management? 

Delegation helps you save up your important time for those works which only can be done by you or have more value and return. 

With delegation in place, you will be able to achieve more in your limited time. 

For example. If you are a business owner and have been managing your social media accounts so far, now there are opportunities to grow your business and work on your product or service. 

This will ask for your attention and expertise, whereas social media, even though you enjoy it, it is not your expertise, and you can delegate it. Get better returns on it. 

So, perhaps, in this case, you will hire a social media marketing person, maybe just an intern who will work or a freelancer. 

How is this SMART goal? 

Specific:  You are very specific about which task to delegate and creating the system to do so next month. 

Measurable: You can check the progress of your system creation in place throughout the month. But you can make it more measurable by adding more tasks and detailing to it, for sure. 

SMART Goals For Time Management 

Taking Regular Breaks in Inbetween Working Sprints 

When you don’t take adequate breaks from your work, the general productivity of a person goes down. 

Well, it might sound a bit counterintuitive that in order to increase productivity and efficiency and hence manage time, you need to take a break as “not work.” 

According to a study, the human brain is capable of focusing not more than 20 minutes on any task; after that, they are bound to distract. 

Also, working in a pattern continuously creates monotony, making it harder to focus and work efficiently, hence taking more time and fewer results. 

It also impacts the mental well-being of the person and their overall or long-term performance quality as well.  

So breaks are encouraged, especially if you take short breaks strategically between every 20-minute or 40-minute working sprint. 

Pomodoro is a great method that allows you to take breaks in between the working sprints and boost your productivity, managing your time for better returns through extreme focus. 

So how do you set a SMART goal in taking regular breaks 

Well, here is an example : 

“ I will take five working sprints of 40 minutes followed by a 10-minute break for each to complete my daily work/project”. 

Or 

“ I will take 5 minutes to break after every 25 minutes of work to do some stretching, drinking water, meditate or just walk around a bit until my work is done for the day.” 

Both of these examples are SMART goals for taking breaks and better managing your time. 

Here’s how you make sure they are SMART goals using these parameters

Specific 

Make sure your goal is detailed and customized as per your requirement and situations if you are working on a particular project that would take three months to finish. 

Maybe break it down to the daily tasks and sub-tasks. Specify what kind of task you are going to spend how much time and then how much time in breaks. 

So another example : 

“ I will spend 2 hours in researching, prepping & brainstorming along with 3 hours in writing for my book with a goal to finish the first draft in six months. I will take a 10-minute break to freshen up after every 40 minutes of writing hours, whereas only 5 minutes of break after every 30 minutes of researching/prepping hours. I will also have one breakfast break for half an hour and an afternoon lunch break for an hour.” 

This example makes things very specific and detailed as per the individual and their respected project, work, or assignment. 

 Measurable

Taking the same previous example as the following,  you can highlight the parts that make it measurable

“ I will spend 2 hours in researching, prepping & brainstorming along with 3 hours in writing for my book with a goal to finish the first draft in six months. I will take a 10-minute break to freshen up after every 40 minutes of writing hours, whereas only 5 minutes of break after every 30 minutes of researching/prepping hours. I will also have one breakfast break for half an hour and an afternoon lunch break for an hour.” 

All these highlighted parts are basically quantifiable. You can measure it. Also, these are the checklists of your every particular day until six months. 

So, to check the progress of this goal, you can check it daily : 

  • 2 hours researching/prepping 
  • 3 hours writing 
  • All 10-minute breaks 
  • All 5-minute breaks 
  • Half an hour break
  • Hour break 

You can just check the boxes at the end of the day to know that you have done all the things of your goal. 

Or make it more detailed to track the goal along the way and check the boxes as you go and do each of these things one by one. 

  • 30 minutes of researching/prepping hour (I) 
  • 5-minute break (I) 
  • 30 minutes of researching/prepping hour (II) 
  • 5-minute break (II) 
  • 30 minutes of researching/prepping hour (III) 
  • 5-minute break (III) 
  • 30 minutes of researching/prepping hour (IV) 
  • 5-minute break (IV) 
  • Half-an hour break 
  • 40 minutes of writing (I)
  • 10-minute break (I)
  • 40 minutes of writing (II)
  • 10-minute break (II)
  • 40 minutes of writing (III)
  • 10-minute break (III)
  • 40 minutes of writing (IV)
  • 10-minute break (IV)
  • 40 minutes of writing (V)
  • 10-minute break (V)
  • 1-hour break 

This is a more sequential way of tracking this goal as you go throughout the day. Keep check-boxing as you move towards the end of the day. 

This will clearly tell you whether you are able to achieve the breaks and work ratio well or not. 

You can customize this as per your SMART goal and personalized strategy. You can also change the sequence when you want to take short and long breaks. 

This, in fact can go further as a task list of your scheduled hours and be part of your to-do list as well. 

Attainable 

Attainability is about the practicality of the goal. To make it a SMART goal, apart from its specifics, you assure that you can achieve it. 

It must be under your capability and goes with the resources and skills you have. 

With time management, you can achieve mostly all SMART goals; all you have to see is how it plays out throughout your day and how it gives you more freedom to do other things as well. 

Relevant 

If you check the relevancy of this SMART goal, it means to see whether it aligns with your long-term strategy and goals or not. 

And since this will help you to complete your book, manage your time efficiently and achieve your creative goals, this is definitely a relevant goal. 

So, that’s the easy one! 

Time-Restrain

Taking the same goal example again : 

“ I will spend 2 hours in researching, prepping & brainstorming along with 3 hours in writing for my book with a goal to finish the first draft in six months. I will take a 10-minute break to freshen up after every 40 minutes of writing hours, whereas only 5 minutes of break after every 30 minutes of researching/prepping hours. I will also have one breakfast break for half an hour and an afternoon lunch break for an hour.” 

Check the highlighted text this time. 

Well, this depicts what the deadline of the whole project or goal is. In this case, you will continue to do this for six months. 

You can also further set the deadline per day as well. And incorporate it into your goal. 

Here, when you say you need to do 2 hours of research and 3 hours of writing every day to complete that work for the day, it is indeed another deadline or time limit for every day to finish. 

Timeboxing 

Timeboxing is an effective time management strategy, especially for someone who wants to develop a certain skill or work towards growing their skillset. 

For that, you need to spend a significant amount of time consistently practicing and getting expertise. 

It can be anything ranging from learning guitar to learning to code. You can also use time-boxing to complete a long project. 

Now, if you ask why timeboxing works as a time management strategy? 

Well, it gives you a certain time limitation making you proactive to start working and finish it in a given time limit. 

It is flexible and yet compounds to learning a skill or practicing it inconsistency level. 

Here’s what you can do with your time-boxing strategy to make it a SMART goal using these parameters: 

Specific 

You need to make your timeboxing goal more specific. 

Suppose you are a writer, and you want to improve your skills as a writer. So as a timeboxing goal, you say – 

“ I will write for 2 hours daily as a timeboxing.” 

Now, this is NOT specific as it doesn’t tell you what you will write, how much to write, or anything else about the timing and further specification of the task. 

So how do you add more details and make it more specific? 

Here’s what you can make it to : 

“I will write 1000+ word one short story every day or one 800-1000 words article to publish on Medium.” 

Now it is pretty specific as you know what exactly to write. There is even an option to make you more prone to write a story or a blog. 

If the writer is focused on developing their non-fiction writing skills, then the goal can be simply as follow : 

“I will write 1000+ words every day for my personal blog.” 

Or

“I will write 1500 words in 2 hours as speed writing without thinking too much about it. I won’t edit or think about it while writing as this is just for practice to write daily.”

Measurable 

To make it measurable, you need to see how you can track your goal of writing every day as timeboxing. 

To measure time-boxing, the overall idea is to build consistency over a particular skill, so if that’s what you are focussed on, track. 

Habit-tracking is an excellent method to track whether you are time-boxing every day or not. 

Now, how to measure that you achieved or really did your time-boxing, as what classifies as ‘success’ of this timeboxing period. 

Well, there is nothing much you can do except define the daily ‘success’ such as checking these every time you complete your time-boxing period  : 

  • 1000+ words 

or 

  • One short story completed or one blog 

Any or both of these can be a signifier that tells you that you have completed today’s task, and hence you can also check your progress of it. 

Now when it comes to overall progress, which matters most in this SMART goal, you need to check the habit -tracking of this timeboxing throughout the week and the month. 

Attainable 

When it comes to seeing whether this goal is achievable or not, all you have to see is your schedule or your availability regarding it. 

For time-boxing, you need to have the given hours, whether it is one, two, or three you have set. 

Apart from this, you can also see the skill on which you are giving so much time on a daily basis. Is it your priority skill, is it valuable, or can you earn from it? 

Relevancy 

To make your goal more relevant, make sure you have selected the skill that aids your current career or your future career planning. 

Is it a career that you want to switch to? Is it something that adds more power to your current resume? 

So you really want this to be primarily focused on at this phase of your life? 

If all this becomes true and the goal is still relevant to your overall aspirations in life, then it is a relevant goal. 

Time-bound 

To make it time-limited, you need to add a deadline or time-restraint cap to your time-boxing, which is basically what time-boxing already is. 

So there is not something you need to do here. Because when you set a time-boxing for a skill or work, you are already deciding what to do for a certain hour. 

In this case, you have 2 hours set for writing 1500+ words. However, you can further decide when you are going to start the day. 

So the SMART goal here can be : 

“I will write 1000+ word one short story or write one 800-1000 words article to publish on Medium, every day starting from 5 am to 7 am in the morning.”

You can also set the deadline for the overall goal. Because maybe you don’t want to do this for quite so long. Maybe you want to start writing stories for publishing or write for your own book, which is a different project altogether. 

So here’s the further setting deadline for this goal : 

“I will write 1000+ word one short story or write one 800-1000 words article to publish on Medium, every day starting from 5 am to 7 am in the morning for the next 6 months.”

What additionally you can do is add further specifications and details to make it more specific and measurable. 

Add a review step in your writing which will be for both- your overall quality and writing evaluation, along with reviewing your habit itself as well. 

In that case, your SMART goal will be exactly like this : 

I will write 1000+ words of one short story or write one 800-1000 words article to publish on Medium every day starting from 5 am to 7 am in the morning. I will do a weekly review of the quality of my writing with the help of other writers and then a monthly review to see overall growth in quality. Both reviews will also be to track the habit of writing as well.”

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