Make Tangible Progress by Focusing on Concrete Results
Of the hundreds of task choices you have in the day, only a few of them contribute directly to progress. The Concrete Goals Tracker (or CGT) is designed to train you to think in more results-oriented terms by providing a short list of what truly matters; if it’s not on the list, it’s not helping you.
How It Works
There are two parts to the form: your most important tasks list and the weekly tracker.
Your goal is to amass as many points as you can by framing what you’re doing into a number of pre-defined activities that earn points. The list of activities is structured to award the most points to tangible results (example: cashing a check!), with fewer points awarded for tasks that contribute to those top goals (example: showing your work to someone, so they hire you and give you checks to cash!). The list (left) is designed for a freelancer or creative business, but you can download the blank version and create your own.
When balanced correctly, the list should award BIG POINTS on delivery day so it feels like a major win, but the supporting work should also give you points every day for a feeling of progress.
The weekly bubble tracker will give you an easy-to-read visual record of what you got done for the week, and if you keep notes you’ll also remember why. You can tell at-a-glance both the amount and type of effort was expended each day based on the fill-in pattern in the bubble chart. It’s great for reviewing what you got done.
You’ll have this sheet of paper on your desk all week, so you’re encouraged to keep notes on it. I’ve provided space for them.
Improved Thinking about Your Tasks
After a couple days, you’ll stay more motivated and start to think of sneaky ways to get more points out of the day; this is encouraged because this happens to be productive and strategic thinking that relates to your goals. The more you are engaged, the better!
If after a couple of weeks you find you don’t need this form anymore, that’s great! The idea is to reinforce the mindset needed to recognize what was a productive task and what was not; the list + tracker design helps trigger your natural human greed and work with it; people tend to grub for as many points as they can. In this context, it’s entirely OK!
One of the biggest challenges is creating your own point list. Take time to do it, and try to make each “tier” of points support the higher tier. You should keep the task list focused on producing one or two key results that are hard assets, and do not use negative points. They are just demotivational; focus on accruing points, not punishing yourself. Trust me: it is enough.
Who uses it?
The CGT is great for people developing a new business or learning a new skill. It helps them feel they are making progress while conditioning the right kind of thinking.
Which One should I Download?
There are several different sizes available. Start with the Standard version, which is a full-sized sheet. If you are in a creative business, the list I provide works well as-is.
For other businesses, you can modify the list. There are blank versions where you can type-in the list yourself and save it as part of the PDF; you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader for this, which is a free download.
For learning a new skill, you’ll have to come up with your own list. There are a few custom versions online that people have made, such as Lori Linstruth’s ShredTracker for practicing guitar and being awesome just like her!
For more information about the design theory behind the form, read the original post. The thinking about it is described in considerable detail.
Jacek Synowiec has written a Polish translation as well.