The workplace is a goal-oriented environment. At the start of every year, quarter, or even month, business owners everywhere reflect on important goals and analyze their progress in achieving those aims. Goal setting is a ubiquitous business practice, but sometimes tracking productivity can get in the way.
There are several methods for tracking one's progress to solidify the good habits that bring us closer to achieving our goals. From Jerry Seinfeld's chain calendar to journal systems that break down the steps toward a goal by task, there's certainly many ways to stay focused and on track. The tools below, which include such features as reminders, performance analytics and an integrated dashboard, can make tracking goals easier so you can focus on what's important: working toward achievement.
HabitBull is a productivity app that helps you create, manage and track your progress toward your goals. A major feature is the ability to view progress on both specific goals and overall achievement. HabitBull includes several kinds of charts, like bar graphs, line charts and pie charts. The app will send reminders each day and stores your data in the cloud so you can access it from multiple devices. HabitBull also includes a chain-based calendar to encourage productivity. Days on the calendar turn green when a task for each goal is completed and red when they are not. This allows users to create a habit chain, a productivity concept used and talked about by comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
"A good app can help you be accountable, measure your progress and accomplish what you've set out to achieve," said Andrew Snyder, a psychotherapist and executive coach who helps business owners with productivity. Snyder said that he usually points his clients to HabitBull to help instill motivation.
Strides, like HabitBull, features analytics and data on an individual's overall progress toward a goal. With Strides you can add goals, set reminders and analyze your progress. Strides offers four progress-tracking interfaces based on targets, habits, milestones and averages. Each interface emphasizes different types of data to help instill a specific goal. This is a great feature for business owners looking to differentiate between developing good habits and achieving milestone goals.
Sometimes the best way to track your goals is the simplest. With Google Drive, you can use Sheets and Docs to create, manage and track your goals. By creating a folder in Drive dedicated to your goals, you can easily organize and view all your information in one place. While this tool doesn't include reminders, analytics or advanced tracking, it provides you with everything necessary to complete your goals – a platform to create, plan and store your goals.
"For me, there is no better tool for setting and tracking your goals on than the Google Drive," said Steve Pritchard, founder of Cuuver. "You have the ability to break the goals down into various sections, meaning you can measure quarterly, yearly, weekly, or even hourly successes if you wish. It's also an ideal way of sharing your goals with your employees; just put them in a shared folder on the drive and they can have full transparency on what it is the business is trying to achieve, every step of the way."
Way of Life
Way of Life allows for quick goal creation and easy tracking through a color-coded calendar. There's advanced reporting and data delivered daily. Throughout the day, you are prompted to check in and mark whether you have completed a skill for that day. Once recorded, the day will turn green or red. Like HabitBull, Way of Life includes a chain calendar so you can see which days you've completed a task and edged closer to your goal.
This app tracks how you spend your time each day. This works best for creating good habits and understanding what stage you're in. SaveMyTime integrates your habits and time spent into a dashboard that features a pie chart segmented with different activities.
SaveMyTime is also a great tool to analyze work-life balance as well. With more insight on how you spend your time, you can better assess and plan for the right steps to complete your goals. This app is currently only available on the Google Play Store and does not work on iOS devices.
The Bullet Journal is an analog system of planning that tracks short- and long-term goals throughout the year. By using this system, business owners can track goals and plan their to-dos in an effective and mindful way. This system is free and can be used in any notebook.
While it doesn't have built in tracking data, you can download the companion app so you can set reminders to reflect on your daily tasks. Setting up a Bullet Journal is easy, but it may take some time to get used to using it. By prioritizing goals and planning on a daily, monthly and half-yearly basis, you can iron out what's important for your business and schedule when you complete goals. There's also a blog on the Bullet Journal website that features support and feedback from other Bullet Journal users.
Despite all the great tech tools we have at our finger tips, sometimes an old-fashioned pen and paper or white board is the most effective way to record, manage and track our goals. After all, most of your effort should be spent on working toward your goal, not hyper-analyzing data. Many business owners track their goals using a white board or even Post-it notes.
"I use a whiteboard to do high-level planning," said Leigh Espy, project management coach at ProjectBliss.net. "I take my large goal and lay out a timeline, working backwards if I've got a target date I'm working toward. I identify my milestones along the path toward reaching my big goal, and what it will take to accomplish each of them."
There are hundreds of productivity tools to help you achieve your goals. At the heart of goal setting (and achieving) is you – no matter how many different tools you try, nothing will propel you to success if you don't put in the work. These tools shouldn't be the main source behind your motivation. Instead, use these tools to keep you focused on progress.
Remember that, while these tools are helpful, sometimes doing things the old-fashioned way is the most efficient way to accomplish your goals. "There's something more real to me about putting pen to paper than typing a goal into an online system (of which I've used many)," said Ashley Rose Marino, owner and principal of Ashley Marino Designs. "I have a personal weekly calendar for my daily and weekly tasks and goals, and a giant monthly calendar to set out longer goals. Because most of my day designing is spent on a computer, it's refreshing to take a minute or two to look at a physical piece of paper to see what progress is being made."