Be smart

I’m a busy person, I like being busy, it keeps me out of trouble. However, being busy and being productive are two very different things. In the beginning when I started being very busy (three jobs, masters study, mom duties) my very organised partner said that I needed to be smart if I wanted to keep my sanity.

All manner of smart responses crossed my mind, none of which were remotely connected to what he meant. But he soon explained himself, you see, smart is actually an acronym for a goal setting technique that helps you to be productive and focus your time and energy.

S – Be Specific

M – Measurable

A – Actionable                       = S.M.A.R.T.

R – Realistic

T – Timely

Each of the letters is a trigger for you to remember what you need to do.


Make a specific goal, choose one and be clear about what it is you want to achieve. You can use the following questions to help you decide:
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it going to take place?
  • Which resources do I need?


Having measurable goals is important because it helps you to stay focussed and keep track of your goals. When identifying measurable goals, you should ask questions such as:
  • Is this goal in my control?
  • How will I know when I have succeeded


Goals that are achievable are realistic and you feel that you can take action. So as much as they are a challenge, they are still possible to reach. The questions you need to ask are:
  • What do I need to do to achieve this goal?
  • How realistic is this goal, based on the constraints I have?


Set realistic goals that are relevant to you and that align with other goals you may have. As much as you need help and support in achieving your goals, you must be able to achieve them on your own. The type of questions you need to ask are:
  • Is now the right time to do this?
  • Am I the right person for this task?


Time frames help you focus on a deadline and give you something to work towards. Setting up a schedule helps to plan and organise your tasks in manageable loads. Questions you need to ask are:
  • When is the deadline?
  • What can I do today?
  • What can I do this week/month etc?

And that is how you teach yourself to work smart. Look, all organisational tools involve a process, and somethings you will find more useful than others. The key to this whole exercise lies in how it breaks down your goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and so that you have a solid framework you can work around.

For a detailed description of the S.M.A.R.T technique, visit:

By Keshina Thaver