Procrastination is not a SMART friend of mine


Time to put out the garbage? Suddenly, doing the dishes seems appealing. Followed up on that job interview yet? Hmm, I wonder what’s stored in the garage. Booked your yearly check up with the dentist? Wow, I had no idea how many cob webs the corners of my house had.

I’ve often wondered if anyone actually shows up for courses on overcoming procrastination. I would certainly sign up for a course like that because, in theory, it would provide me with useful tips. In reality, I would probably come up with an excuse not to attend and then just say the class got cancelled.

Seriously, though. Procrastination for me is intertwined with the depression and anxiety I experience. The more anxious I feel about something, the more depressed I feel about not getting the task done, which results in me going out of my way to avoid doing it.

Yup, putting things off is my forte, which is why the SMART method of goal setting works so well for me.






I try to use this goal setting method in all areas of my life. Sometimes I need to remind myself I can only do one thing at a time. Sometimes, instead of a to-do list, I write an accomplishment list.

Most New Year’s resolutions fail. Why? Because people set vague, unrealistic goals. For example:

This year, I’m going to exercise.

Okay, good for you, but in my mind, this resolution raises more questions.

  • What type of exercise will you do?
  • By this year, do you mean every day or some random day within the next year or once a month or something else entirely?
  • How will you know when you’ve met your goal?
  • How often, what time of day and where will you do the exercise?

And so on. What about saying this instead?

This week, on Monday and Wednesday at work, I’m going to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Much better. You’re Specific about when you’re going to do the activity and what the activity will be. You’re Measuring it by stating how many days you’re planning to follow through on this plan. It’s certainly Achievable and Realistic. Lastly, setting a Time limit completes the statement. SMART.

Some resolutions, however, are too vague and need to be broken down into mini SMART goals to get that one task completed.

From now on, I’m going to eat healthy.

Great plan! Do you know how to eat healthy? What does being healthy mean to you? Mini SMART goals might be:

  • On Monday after school, I’m going to write up my definition of healthy and how it relates to me.
  • On Tuesday before breakfast, I’m going to print a food diary I found online.
  • On Wednesday and Thursday, I’m going to write down everything I eat as soon as I eat it.
  • On Friday before bed, I’m going to review my definition of healthy and compare it to what I’ve been eating for the last few days and find any gaps.
  • On Saturday after my swim, I will plan my meals for the following week by making a grocery list.
  • By the time I go to bed on Sunday, my grocery shopping will be done.

And the next week you start over. By breaking down your goals into bite-size pieces, you’re setting yourself up for success. And if you aren’t able to complete each mini goal by the end of the week, don’t beat yourself up. All that means is either you need to be even more specific or you’ve given yourself too much to do. You could make the above SMART goals more achievable as follows;

  • Monday and Tuesday before bed, I’m going to research online about healthy eating.
  • By 3pm on Thursday, I will have written down my definition of what eating healthy looks like.
  • On Sunday during lunch with my health-conscious friend, I’m going to ask them how I get started.

I use SMART goals to feel good about myself and keep procrastination at bay. Have you turned your New Year’s resolutions into SMART goals yet?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at