SMART Goals for Time Management: Examples & Tips to Actually Achieve Them

Aleksandra Doknić, May 9, 2024

SMART goals for time management

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans (not SMART goals).”

Have you ever heard of this Woody Allen quote? It’s a rephrase of an old Yiddish proverb, “We plan, God laughs.”

If you have, you’ve probably lived it, as well.

Generally speaking, the sentence reminds us that we are not in control of our lives as much as we’d like to think we are. It’s a humbling message that life's full of surprises and compromises and on one can stop the inevitable.

But here’s the thing: during my six-year-long journey in the business world as a writer, my impression is that “God laughs” at plans that aren’t actually plans.

What I mean by that is that if you don’t have clearly defined objectives (and plans) that are also realistic and deadline-driven, you won’t achieve your goals. No matter how hard you try.

And I know一my views on this topic sound like I’m a TikTok manifestation coach or a metaphysical woo-woo guru. In reality, neither of those things, and I base my views on business data and proven science.

I firmly believe that SMART goals are the ones that’ll help you stay the course and be on top of your tasks, especially when it comes to time management. When defining these goals, you clarify your ideas (by putting them into words), focus properly, and use your resources effectively, ultimately increasing your chances of achieving anything you want.

Setting SMART goals for time management

So, in this article, we’ll explore the idea of using SMART goals for time management and how you can actually achieve all your goals; examples included, of course.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART in SMART goals is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

The term was first used in a paper titled “There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives” in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Doran was a consultant and a Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company.

Since then, professor Robert S. Rubin has written about SMART goals in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Furthermore, the SMART goals concept is attributed to Peter Drucker, an Austrian-American management consultant, and the author of Management by Objectives.

But what’s so special about this method for setting goals?

Well, by using this approach to define objectives, you are focusing on attainable goals with a clear timeline.

How do you write a SMART goal?

You start by going through each component of a SMART goal.

S.M.A.R.T. acronym

First, there’s the “S”, for specific. If you want to set a pragmatic goal, you need to know what you want. The Specific in SMART goals answers these questions:

  • Who is responsible for achieving the objective?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?

Then, there’s the “M”, the measurability of a goal. It’s necessary to quantify your goal so you’ll know when you’ve reached your destination. Use these questions when defining measurability:

  • How much/how many?
  • How will I know when the goal is accomplished?

Subsequently, move onto “A” for achievable. The “A” is there to remind you that goals should be reasonable to accomplish; there’s no reason to set a goal so high you won’t be able to reach it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I accomplish the goal?
  • What resources should I use to achieve the goal?

Moving onto “R”, which stands for relevant. At this point, try to see the bigger picture when setting a goal. Ask yourself these questions when contemplating a goal’s relevancy:

  • Why am I setting this goal?
  • Does the goal seem worthwhile?
  • Does the goal complement my other efforts and needs?

And finally, there’s “T” for time-bound. The “T” reminds you to add a time aspect, like time-related parameters, so you know you’re working with a predefined time frame. Ask yourself these questions when defining time parameters:

  • When should the goal be achieved?
  • What can I do today to get closer to the goal?

So, it’s safe to say that setting goals with the SMART framework can help you attain all your objectives, no matter how large or small.

Now that you know what SMART goals are and how to define them, let’s talk about SMART goals for time management and how you should set them.

What are time management goals?

Time management goals are targets you set to be more effective at managing your time.

That being said, time management is more than just a skill.

It’s a way to improve your performance and manage stress, as stress at work highly influences and decreases your performance.

Time management as a skill

It’s a way to achieve everything you wish for without losing balance or feeling burned out. Moreover, effective time optimization should help you tackle tasks easily and efficiently, teaching you how to distribute your time and where there's room for improvement.

Now, if you want to improve your time management, we recommend that you view time through a SMART lens.

Your time organization goals should be specific (what should be accomplished), quantifiable or measurable, attainable, relevant (plus, aligned with your professional or personal goals), and have a clear deadline.

You’ll see that when you incorporate SMART time management goals into your life, you’ll get better at organizing, be more productive, have a healthier work/life balance, and won’t feel frustrated due to not meeting deadlines. Moreover, you’ll know how many minutes or hours you set aside for each task and what should be accomplished daily.

Benefits of defining time management goals

Setting SMART goals for time management is beneficial in multiple ways.

Promotes purpose and focus

When you have a clear sense of why you are doing something, it is much easier to focus on what you should be doing, avoiding distractions. You’ll be able to focus your energy on tasks aligned with your goals, minimizing time spent on sidetracking activities.

Boosts productivity

When you set SMART time management goals, you won’t need an energy drink or a quick bite of a sugar-filled snack to keep you focused and awake. You’ll do that by yourself by setting goals that are broken down into small tasks, which you’ll complete effortlessly.

Embodies the saying “Success breeds success”

Success in one endeavor can lead to creating success in the future.

The positive energy that success creates can motivate you to achieve further achievements. With SMART time management goals, this momentum of happiness is increased. Constantly tracking your progress and milestones empowers you with the energy to keep going and attain what you’ve imagined.

Reduces stress and hinders burnout

SMART goals for time management are all about avoiding unrealistic deadlines. And when you have a balanced approach to meeting deadlines, you won’t feel overwhelmed. You’ll know you can keep up with the predefined time frame, allowing you to approach each task with ease and joy.

So, as you can see, when you start incorporating SMART goals to improve time management, your sense of time, priorities, and balance will change一there’ll be no more wasted time, abandoned tasks, and put-on-pause goals; you’ll tackle each task with focus and devotion.

How do you write a SMART goal for time management?

It’s quite simple: all you need to know is which time management goal you wish to achieve and go through each of the SMART components. Here’s how you can do so.


When thinking of a goal, go in the direction of defining a clear, well-defined objective you wish to achieve.

“What time management goal do I want to accomplish?” is an excellent question to ask yourself, to avoid using vague goal descriptions.


To ensure you see tangible results, define quantifiable criteria and measures for your goal. Doing this step will help you be motivated throughout. If it helps, ask yourself, “How will I know when I've accomplished the goal?”


Attainability should remind you to be realistic and work with your current circumstances. Basically, work with what you’ve got.

Take into account your current availability, skills, energy and other resources. This is no time to be ambitious; rather, be practical and pragmatic. Ask yourself, “Is this goal achievable based on my current resources?”


Having a relevant goal means that you are headed in the right direction and that it’s in line with your other ambitions and aspirations.

If you need to, step aside to see the bigger picture and how the goal contributes to that picture. Ask yourself, “How is this goal related to my other priorities and goals?”


Setting a time frame for achieving your goal is necessary, as having a defined endpoint will keep you motivated.

Deadlines should be realistic but somewhat challenging. Ask yourself, “When should I complete this goal?”

How to make SMART goals for time management work for you

Just because you’ve set time management goals doesn’t mean they’ll automatically come to life.

You have to be organized and efficient to complete the goals on time.

Here are a few tips that’ll help you focus and achieve everything you have planned.

Achieving all time management goals
  • Create a list of tasks that’ll help you attain each goal timely. It's good practice to write a list of tasks at the end of the day that needs to be completed tomorrow.
  • Block time daily. Blocking time on your schedule will stop you from being distracted by less important tasks. You’ll tackle the more challenging ones at the beginning of your day, leaving less time-consuming and complicated tasks for EOD.
  • Delegate tasks. Delegating tasks isn’t a sign of your inability to be productive and efficient but rather a way to reduce unnecessary stress and help you stay on top of tasks.
  • Start single tasking. Multitasking should be a part of your (unproductive) past; by devoting all your time to one task, you’ll boost your focus and produce high-quality results.
  • Take multiple breaks. Time management is there to remind you it’s okay to take breaks, so don’t be afraid to add time-specific breaks outside of your lunch break.

Time management SMART goal examples

There are many time management goals you can set today.

Here are the two examples that come to mind.

Example #1

Let’s imagine that you want to get a promotion. To improve your chances of getting there, you must complete a three-week course necessary to improve your skills.

Here’s how you can set a SMART time management goal for the mentioned scenario:

  • Specific: Completing the three-week course to improve your chances of career advancement.
  • Measurable: The goal can be measured by showing up each day for the next three weeks for one hour to learn a new skill.
  • Attainable: The goal is attainable because you blocked an hour of your day every day to complete the course. You have the technology, means, and devotion to finish it.
  • Relevant: If you complete the course, you improve your chances of landing a promotion.
  • Time-bound: There is a three-week deadline to complete the goal.

Example #2

Let’s say that one of your goals is to see which tasks take the most of your time.

Tracking time manually

You’re struggling to boost your productivity and efficiency and could use some help to see where all your energy goes. If that would be the case, here’s how you would set a SMART goal:

  • Specific: Understanding which tasks take the most of your time daily.
  • Measurable: Quantifying the goal by measuring how much it takes you to do each task.
  • Attainable: The goal is achievable as you’ll introduce a time tracking tool (like a timer) that you’ll use for each task. You’ll secure the technology and put your mind to it to complete it.
  • Relevant: If you start tracking time, you’ll determine where your resources, time, and energy are allocated. Doing so will help you identify room for improvement, boosting your productivity in the long run.
  • Time-bound: You define that completing this goal should take a month.

While we’re on the topic of time management, you can agree that it would be helpful to use a time tracking tool to see how you spend your working days.

If this sounds like a good idea, perhaps it’s time you give Memtime a shot. 🙂

Memtime works in the background. There’s no START and STOP button you have to press, just start working as you normally do, and the time spent on your tasks will be captured down to the minute.

At the end of each day, you can revisit your captured activities and decide which count as billable and which don’t. What’s even greater is that the billable time can be recorded as your time entries and exported to your company’s project software.

All you need to do is start your free trial (create an account without sharing credit card information) and download Memtime. It’s that quick’n’easy.

Improving your life through time management

Time management is an underrated skill but it’s a necessary one. It’s so undervalued compared to other skills.

The reality is that effective time management can significantly enhance your life by reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Moreover, getting a hold of time management can be a critical factor in achieving success in professional and personal life.

So, if you want to become a “chrono champ”, start by defining SMART goals for time management and take it from there.

And if you don’t know where all your time goes, rely on Memtime to help you. And if you are wondering how much time Memtime can capture, it can capture every single minute of your activity.

It also gets you unlimited historical data, meaning you can go back to any day and see what you've worked on that particular day. By tracking time daily, you'll be able to identify "gaps'' in your focus and improve concentration to achieve goals.

Meet the author:

Aleksandra Doknić - post author

Aleksandra Doknić

Aleksandra Doknić is a copywriter and content writer with six years of experience in B2B SaaS and e-commerce marketing. She's a startup enthusiast specializing in topics ranging from technology and gaming to business and finance.

Outside of work, Aleksandra can be found walking barefoot in nature, baking muffins, or jotting down poems.