How To Measure Your Progress Effectively in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 15, 2021

Setting personal and professional goals can increase your productivity and provide you with a sense of gratification, especially since the goal may be important to you. Measuring your progress is an essential part of setting an effective goal because it can help you prioritize tasks and estimate the amount of time it may take to complete each task. Measuring your progress can also help you identify how to adjust your plan of action, which may speed up your progression.

In this article, we address why it's important to measure progress, explain how to measure your own progress and provide examples of how to implement progress measurement.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

Why is it important to measure progress?

After setting a goal, measuring your progress can guide you to achieving it. It can help you understand what types of actions contribute to your progress and which methods are most effective. Then you can incorporate these methods into your overall strategy for accomplishing a particular goal. Measuring progress can also reveal how close you are to accomplishing a goal. This may remind you of what you're working to achieve and give you the motivation to keep going.

Related: How To Monitor Progress

How to measure progress

To measure your progress effectively, consider the following steps:

1. Identify what you want to achieve

To develop long-term and short-term goals, it's important to identify what action you want to accomplish and what type of outcome you're seeking. To do this effectively, consider measuring the current status of an aspect of your company you plan to improve. Then set a specific goal related to that information.

For example, a company may identify its goal is to have a million followers on social media and determine it currently has 200,000 followers. Then the company's marketing team could develop specific short-term and long-term goals related to gaining 800,000 followers, such as implementing an ad campaign that targets prospective followers.

2. Set a deadline

Creating a deadline for achieving long-term goals can help you refine the process you follow to accomplish short-term tasks. To create a thorough plan, consider writing each step of your process, along with the time you expect to spend on completing each step. While planning, consider reviewing the steps to anticipate potential problems and prepare solutions. This can help improve your time management skills, which may make it easier to meet deadlines.

You can also develop a timeframe by tracking when and how you complete a task. This can allow you to reevaluate and improve the methods you use to complete tasks, which can help you accomplish your long-term goals. For example, if a writer signs a 100,000-word book deal with a publishing company, the company might request that the writer finish the project within two years. To measure their progress toward their two-year goal, the writer may set short-term goals, such as a specific number of words to write per day.

Related: The 8-Step Career Planning Process

3. Set milestones

A milestone is a minor achievement that you can use to measure the progress you've made toward an overall goal. Milestones might help increase your focus since they allow you to envision each step in your plan and can produce a sense of accomplishment once you achieve them. To set an effective milestone, consider choosing a minor goal, such as completing a task by a specific date or finishing a number of tasks by a particular time.

For example, if a college student intends to pursue a career in teaching marine biology, completing all of their courses each semester could be a milestone. This can help them measure their progress toward their long-term career goal and help them understand the amount of time they need to reach it.

4. Turn your goals into SMART goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Developing SMART goals can help you measure your progress by:

  • Providing specific tasks to track: Creating specific goals and separating them into tasks can help you understand the steps you need to take to accomplish long-term objectives. This can also assist you with making a realistic estimate of how much time it may take you to reach your goals.

  • Identifying if your goals are measurable: To ensure your goal is measurable, consider using time as a metric. You can do this by establishing a timeline, which can help you determine how many tasks to complete, how much time to spend on each task and how much time it may take to achieve your overall goal.

  • Making sure your goals are achievable: Since some tasks are easier to accomplish over a longer span of time, setting long-term goals and using milestones may help you ensure your goals are achievable. Determining whether your goals are achievable can also help you identify whether it's necessary to gain additional skills. Then you can measure your progress by tracking the skills you've learned and each milestone you've reached.

  • Identifying if your goals are relevant: When developing goals, it's helpful to evaluate them to ensure they're relevant. This can help you change, update or refine your goals to make sure they apply to your needs. This can also improve your time management, which can help you measure your progress more efficiently.

  • Creating time-based outlines of your plan of action: Developing a timeframe can help you measure your progress by making it easy to visualize the progress you've made toward a particular goal. This can help you set realistic deadlines and update unrealistic ones.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

5. Document and review progress

An effective method for measuring progress is documenting it. Consider recording your overall goals, tasks, milestones and deadlines. Then you can use a calendar or a planner to help you track your progress by checking off tasks as you complete them and milestones as you achieve them. The information from your planner may help you understand if you need to adjust your timeframe or add a new task.

For example, if a test taker has the goal of passing a certification exam with a high score, they may use a calendar to clarify the test date and establish a study deadline. Then they might outline which topics they need to study, estimate how much time to spend studying each day and set milestones to help them stay focused on their long-term goal.

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