By day, I am an IT project manager. This means I am normally juggling multiple projects in various stages. For each of these, goal tracking is key to success. Right now, I have three major projects going on. One is just starting off (planning), one is midway through the setup and delivery (execution), and the third is just wrapping up (closing).
With multiple projects in different stages, all involving different people, t's necessary for me to keep track of things so that I don't lose track of any key tasks or dates. I have a whiteboard where I write down key tasks. Every day, I'll check against my whiteboard to keep track of things that I might need to do or follow up on that day.
Every once in a while, things will get a little disorganized on my list. One project might need more space, erasing and adding new things may have put things out of order, or a new project might need space. When I do that, I'll often erase the whole thing and start writing it from scratch.
Listing Your Goals
Goals change, and it's important to be able to track these goals and the changes in your goals. A whiteboard gives me the flexibility to track my ever changing goals.
If my list of goals was written in permanent, think about what would happen.
- It would get messy very fast. When something changes, I can update my whiteboard quickly. The bonus is that I can keep my list ‘clean'. Without the ability to make these changes, it would get messy fast.
- My efficiency would suffer. Sorting through unneeded information takes time. If I had a messy list of goals, it would take me time to sort through them.
- I'd run out of room. Right now, I have a whiteboard that takes about half of one of my cube walls. If I didn't have the ability to ‘clean up' but was left with the same space, I'd run out of room very quickly. I'd lose focus quickly.
- Or I'd have to use less effective methods. For my daily task list I print out a sheet of paper with all of the tasks I want to get done for the day. This includes meetings I need to participate in, things I need to do, and recurring tasks. This works because it's day to day, but if I didn't have my whiteboard, I'd have to use this not only for short term tracking, but for long term tracking. What works for a daily tracker would be a nightmare for a long term tracker.
Goals Always Change
The bottom line is that goals change, and whatever your goals are, they are going to change. If your goal today is to get out of credit card debt, hopefully that's still not going to be your goal in five years from now. You need to make sure that however you track your goals will accommodate your progress. Whether you complete a goal, change a goal, or add new ones, you have to be able to track it and align it with your other goals.
I'm not saying that you have to use a whiteboard, but the concept remains the same. Use a tracking method that will allow you the flexibility to make changes, additions, subtractions, and move things around.
Spreadsheets are a great tool. There are apps for mobile devices that allow you to consolidate your goals. This allows you to add, subtract and complete goals with a swipe of a finger. Paper might work for some.
Or, you can always use a whiteboard!
Readers, how do you track your goals in a way that makes it easy to adapt your list to everyday changes? Have you ever missed a goal because it wasn't being tracked properly?