We all know how frustrating it can be to be late for work in the morning, finally get on the road, and suddenly discover that the fog settled in so thick overnight that you can hardly see the car in front of you. Torn between the need not to be late (again) and the realization that even if you wanted to just go the speed limit, even that is too fast to navigate safely. So in utter frustration, you crawl along, helplessly watching the time tick by.
Living in a constant mental fog can be even more frustrating than a temporary delay on the road. Knowing that you have a hundred things to do, but not being entirely sure what they all are or which ones are most important can disorientate you and descend the whole situation into utter chaos.
While it may seem impossible to find a solution to this massive pile of half-baked ideas and forgotten uncompleted tasks, a simple change in approach can make a world of difference.
Simply work ‘S.M.A.R.T’er, not harder.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based goals that help establish a method of attack for the mess that we call life. It may feel overwhelming or unnecessary at first, but trust the method and you will soon begin to see results. This system is relatively easy to master and mainly consists of setting goals in an organized manner.
This process begins with setting specific goals. Don’t paint in broad brush strokes, instead break big jobs down into smaller sub-tasks that become more specific. These must also be measurable in some way so that you know when you are making progress. Breaking jobs down into these smaller tasks that can be visibly measured allows you to make them attainable.
Each task must also be relevant to the end goal, moving the project closer to completion; and these things must be grounded on a timeline. Tasks without a deadline are less likely to be completed, thus stunting the bigger goal.
By shifting the unorganized fog into a more established set of tasks and goals, the path between you and your goals can be mapped out and brought into reality. It takes time to break things down in this way, but in the end it will be time well spent.
Clearing the fog of life is a bit more complex, however, than just setting SMART goals to move forward on tasks. A second aspect to consider is how to relate to the people you work with as you seek to move toward your goals. An effective mindset to consider ensures that you touch on four key elements anytime you make a request of someone.
These elements include Quantity, Quality, Time, and Resources (QQTR). Similar to SMART goal setting, QQTR is a way of thinking and communicating that brings clarity to tasks at hand. It can be considered the relational aspect of a SMART goal – that is, how to effectively communicate goals to others so they understand how to help move things forward productively.
To utilize the QQTR method of making requests, it is important to clearly identify what the task is that needs completed, specifying the quantity of things you need completed. Tell them how you would like it done, explaining what quality you expect from them when it is complete. Finally, make sure they understand when the job needs completed and offer assistance to acquire the resources they need.
When these things have been clearly communicated, the person you are working with can clearly identify if they are able to take the task on and meet the specifications required. This prevents you from simply projecting your mental fog on others and allows those you work with to feel confident in their role in the larger goal.