Gavin Kenny, a life coach at The Sunflower Organisation, offers the following five S.M.A.R.T steps to be more productive.

1. Specific
The starting point is always “begin with the end in mind.” What specifically is it that you’re aiming to achieve? If you don’t have a clear and specific image of that, how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Or whether you’re moving towards or away from it? Setting a goal like “I want to process more application forms this week” is not good enough, as simply doing one more this week than last week might be “more”, but is it enough? Push yourself and set a challenging, meaningful yet specific goal. For example: “I want to process 20% more application forms this week”.

2. Measurable and Meaningful
Make your outcome measurable and meaningful to you. It’s hard to be productive and stay motivated by something that has no real meaning to your own life.

3. Achievable
Ensure that your goal is achievable. An acorn cannot become an apple tree. If it’s only possible to do twice or three times as many forms in a week, then don’t set a goal of twenty times more, as you will be setting yourself up for failure.

4. Realistic
Be realistic in setting your goal. Even the acorn needs a certain amount of time to become a mighty oak tree. Make your short-term goal to do a certain amount more each week as steps towards a bigger medium-term goal over several months.

5. Time
It’s also very important that you have a completion time as part of your goal. You’ll remain frustrated and unproductive if your goal is “process more application forms sometime”, instead of “my goal is to process double the weekly number of application forms within six months”, which is far more meaningful and helpful.