Q1 is well underway already — hard to believe, I know, but most of us are already feeling the pinch of looming deadlines and approaching milestones. Whether it’s related to the growth of your business or just meeting your daily, weekly, and monthly output at work, staying on track and meeting multiple goals and deadlines is a major challenge for all of us. But, missed deadlines can spell bad news.

As a marketing agency, missed deadlines are totally unacceptable. I’m not saying that we’re perfect here at Scotch & Ramen, but every single one of my team members feels the same way I do. Our clients need to know that we honor our commitments and missed deadlines dishonor that trust. When it comes to my own business and personal goals, I need to hold myself accountable because no one else, aside from my lovely wife, can do that for me.

One trick that I learned a few years ago has really helped me and my team to set goals and project deadlines and then actually achieve them. It’s an easy practice that just takes a few minutes, and it can be applied to really anything you need to accomplish.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THIS:

If you want to set a goal and actually achieve it, you need to break the process down into tiny, structured goals that each move you one step closer to achieving the final objective. You start with creating that final end goal and work backward from there.

Let’s create a business example to illustrate:

Let’s say it’s your goal as a business owner to earn $150,000 this year. You’re a solo interior designer and your business model is retainer work only – you charge $10,000 per client and work with them over a 6-month period to design and decorate their personal or office space. You have no overhead, so your money is basically yours.

Goal = $150,000 in annual revenue

This means you will need 15 new clients each year, or 1.25 new clients each month

So we’re going to take this annual goal and work backward, creating tiny milestones that will move you toward your goal.

In order to meet the annual goal, we’ve established that you need to secure 1.25 new clients each month.

We’ve broken the annual goal into a monthly target — now, we’re going to break it down even further into small, actionable steps to ensure we meet that monthly goal — which is exactly how we position ourselves to meet the final annual revenue goal.

Let’s assume that you’ve done various types of marketing and sales in the past, and you’ve determined that a solid way to attain new clients is to cold-call targeted, local business establishments. It’s not easy, but it works — for every 10 calls you make, you typically land one new client.

Armed with this knowledge, it’s now easy to create an action plan. You need 1.25 new clients each month, and we know that making 12.5 targeted cold-calls should achieve that. We’ll round up to 13 phone calls each month.

This means that you’re going to schedule time every single week for this activity, and most importantly, stick to it. Every Monday, you will block a few hours to do your research and make your calls. You will hold yourself accountable to these small daily and weekly goals, which will ultimately be how you meet your annual revenue goals.  

That’s a very straightforward example of how we can break down an annual goal into a weekly routine to ensure success.

But how can we all apply this to our own jobs and lives?

This methodology works really great when it comes to achieving deadlines, which are essentially the same thing as goals. So whether it’s a live video or major project, the best thing is to start with your completion date and work backward to create yourself a structured timeline of your own personal deliverables and milestones, to position yourself to meet your goal.

Let’s use filming a short video for social media as an example. This is something my team members do regularly — and while it’s only a 90-second recording, there are all kinds of steps we need to take prior to that in order to be prepared.

Each team member has their task deadline in Hive, so that’s the ideal place for them to create their own personal sub-tasks for all the steps they know need to happen before. The objective here is for individuals to set their own personalized and unique deadlines that will facilitate them achieving that end deadline that was assigned to them.

So although the initial goal was simply:
  • Download video by 5 pm Thursday, January 3, 2019
The reality of meeting this goal actually looks something like:
  • Brainstorm ideas 01/01
  • Decide on idea 01/01
  • Create script 01/02
  • Practice script 01/02
  • Prepare backdrop/clean my office 01/02
  • Have a shower and look decent 01/3
  • Film video 01/3
  • Download video 01/3
    

Realistically, if you want to meet that deadline for a Thursday delivery, you should be taking small steps throughout the week to get yourself there. Give yourself realistic dates to accomplish each task, knowing what needs to happen in order to meet that final deadline. If your video is due on the 3rd, the above schedule would ensure you met that goal. It’s small steps throughout the week that are manageable so that you’re not in a panic when Thursday rolls around.  

This structure can be applied to almost anything you need to accomplish. Just take a few minutes to create it, and you’ll position yourself to smash your goals, meet every deadline, and be in control of your time!