1. Set Achievable Goals
Goals are necessary to take your business to new levels of success. Without goals, you’ll end up stagnant. The SMART goal setting system is popular for startups and can give you the direction you need to become more productive and focused. SMART stands for the following:
- Specific: Create clearly defined goals rather than vague ideas.
- Measurable: All targets and milestones along your goal path should be tracked and measured.
- Attainable: All goals need to be realistic and attainable.
- Relevant: Each goal needs to relate to your business model.
- Time-Based: Clear deadlines should be attached to each goal.
Every goal you create should have the above characteristics. If even one characteristic is missing, you could easily lose focus and halt your forward progression.
2. Prioritize Your Goals
After you write your goals down, it’s time to prioritize them. Unless you’re exceptionally good at multitasking, it is generally better to work on one goal at a time. Start with the goal that’s most important to you. If possible, make it a short-term goal that you can reach quickly. Then, once you reach the goal and have a taste of success, you’ll have the confidence to make long-term future goals if you wish.
3. Break Goals Into Manageable Tasks
Creating a goal without breaking it into smaller tasks is a lot like driving toward a far-off destination without knowing how to get there. If you want to avoid wasting your time, create small, manageable tasks that will help you get to your main goal. As with your goal list, prioritize your tasks in order of importance. This will help you focus on the most critical responsibilities first, while saving less important tasks for the last minute.
4. Visualize Your Goals Often
Many people start projects but never finish them. It’s easy to become distracted once you’ve been working on the same goal for a while. To keep yourself motivated and focused, visualize your goals frequently. Think about how you will feel when you reach them. Consider rewarding yourself with a nice bonus or vacation once a particularly challenging financial goal is reached. Constantly remind yourself that the hard work you put in now will provide rich rewards in the near future.
5. Show Procrastination the Door
Procrastination seems like a harmless trait, but it has the potential to kill your goals and dreams. Many people don’t even realize when they procrastinate. This common habit comes in a lot of forms, from taking too many coffee breaks to spending excessive time on unimportant projects. In short, any trivial behavior or activity that keeps you from focusing on what is really important is a form of procrastination.
On the other hand, timed breaks can help you relax and unwind so you feel more energized when you return to your work. The key is to make these breaks planned and structured so you don’t let the entire day slip away from you without getting much accomplished.
6. Make a List of All Distractions
Distractions are literally everywhere, and they can rob you of your forward progress if you aren’t careful. If you think you’re immune to them, consider the last time you paused your work to check your Facebook account or catch up on the local news. Before you can remove distractions, you need to identify them. You can do this by brainstorming all the ways your attention gets diverted from your work. Or, you can go about your normal workday and write down distractions as they come up. Either way, you should end up with a healthy list of things that disrupt your workday.
7. Remove Distractions
Now that you know what things distract you from your work every day, you can focus your efforts on removing them. How you remove them is completely up to you, but a few suggestions include
- Keep your smartphone in a separate room and check it only at predetermined times
- Remove unimportant papers and other clutter from your desk
- Close your office door to indicate to others that you are hard at work on a project and shouldn’t be disturbed
- Finish the hardest, most dreaded projects first instead of saving them for last
These are all great suggestions, but what about the biggest, most prevalent distractions of all: social media and the internet? If you work online (which most people do), it’s practically impossible to remove these distractions. However, you can still set rules for yourself. For example, set a rule that you can’t check your social media accounts until you finish a particular task. Or, you might choose to limit your web surfing to a specific time of the day. Giving yourself clear boundaries is a great way to handle distractions that are impossible to remove completely.
8. Track Your Progress
Now that the cumbersome things are out of the way, it’s time for the fun part: progress tracking. Seeing firsthand how your efforts pay off is one of the most effective ways to maintain your motivation. There are a variety of online progress-tracking tools you can use to see how far you’ve come. Tracking your progress can be very enjoyable and exciting. It can also give you a clear picture of how far you have left to go.
9. Save Unrelated Good Ideas for Later
If you’re the type of person who comes up with a lot of good ideas, you should be proud. Some of the most successful business owners are also exceptional idea creators. However, if your good ideas aren’t related to your current goals, it’s best to set them aside for later. Write them down, but don’t let them distract you from what you’re working on right now.
Now that you know how to set business goals and stay focused on them, it’s time to get started. Setting and achieving goals is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. Use Business Pro tools and resources to help you stay on track.