1.10 When to take action
Productivity hack no.10 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.
The time to take action is once you are sure the action is related to a smart goal.
You’ve written your Goals down (1.2) and you’ve broken these down into smaller process goals, each one aligned to getting you to success. Each one of these process steps must also be smart, or SMART.
If you’re really new to this sort of thing you might not know what SMART means though I suspect many of you will.
- S = Specific
- Make sure the goal isn’t vague like ‘read around my topic’. How do you know when you’ve achieved that and how do you know that it’s getting you to gold? A goal like “Read academic papers relating to dragonfly migrations during leap years” is much more specific.
- How many academic papers? Not giving something measurable means you don’t know when you’ve completed it. “Read 6 academic papers relating to dragonfly migrations during leap years” is better.
- Are there enough academic papers relating to dragonflies that you can read? If only one has ever been written then setting a goal for reading 6 is unachievable and it fails the SMART criteria test.
- Are you able to do it? Do you have the resources, time, and access to be able to do it? If you were to set a goal of “Pilot a helicopter to Middle-Earth” you’d fail the SMART test (everyone knows Helicopters aren’t allowed there!) You’ll also fail if you don’t have a flying licence.
- What’s the deadline? If your goal of reading the dragonfly papers is open ended then you may never finish it. What’s compelling you to complete it? There really isn’t any point setting a goal without a timeframe. A goal without a due date is just a dream.
Once you know your actions are SMART the time to take action is NOW. We’ll look more at starting in section 4.3.
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