I love words, word games, puzzles and … to create acronyms. Acronyms help me to memorize complex ideas, procedures while at the same time focus my attention to the tasks derived by the framework an acronym express.

One of my most lasting and useful acronyms reads as GOAL. It stands for Gaining Objective Action List(s) and provides an umbrella term or an all catch up word if you prefer for a framework I use for setting goals in my daily life and working workflow.


A Personal Workflow!

A goal is:

a desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development (WikipediaGoal).

But how you can achieve it, effectively? In everyday working and life tasks, I usually use a modified (!!!) GTD methodology as my main methodology for processing “stuff”. But when start to study the methodology and implementing in my workflow I found that it lacks a main, for me, component. i.e Goal-Settings. Yes, GTD had to do with action, tasks and lists, context and content and describes a way of organizing and processing (features that I was like very much) all these in a coherent and easily manageable framework of actions.

In its main approach, GTD is alike to some similar methodologies, such Covey’s approach, McGhee’s, Michael Linenberger, Autofocus, etc. And its beauty, for me, lays in his simplicity and in its easiness of implementation in many tools analogous or digital. In this sense, it is a methodology that “work with technology-agnostic and lofi tools” as Merlin Mann put it.

But despite its undoubted usefulness, I kept missing the first ingredient for the start-up of the process, which was the goal set for the stuff to be processed. Usually, I need a framework to work on specific actions. I use Covey’s philosophy for the long term and addressing vital areas of my life goals and actions, GTD for everyday processing, but I had no linkage for their between relation. Something that was a bit problematic for me.

My Productivity Philosophy!

My procedural philosophy comprises of:

  • My Requirements
  • General Life Goals
  • Analysis
  • Planning
  • Short to medium range goals
  • Organize/Processing
  • Implement Actions
  • Evaluate

For each one of these, I use:

  1. My requirements – Covey for analysis.
  2. General Life Goals – I follow a kind of project management methodology, trying to establish SMART Goals, Timetables, strategies of implementation, etc. (depends on 1).
  3. Analysis + Planning – Again I use Covey’s approach.
  4. Setting short to medium range goals (?)
  5. Organize/Processing – I use a modified version of GTD.
  6. Implement Actions – Again GTD.
  7. Evaluate – Covey’s approach!!!

As you can see I lacked #4. Even though there is a large amount of literature, to help you to establish goals I was unable to find something, that suit my needs and my framework of reference.

GOAL or Gaining Objective Action List(s)

For this reason, I develop the GOAL acronym to help me in starting up the everyday procedures and stands as “liaison” between the methodologies I favor (and use). GOAL or G.O.A.L. acronym to be more accurately stands for Gaining Objective Action List(s). It originates as the result of my work and experience with many analogous procedures (Covey & GTD among them!), and I find it to help me effectively in integrating all the relative procedures.

The GOAL word implies that before you start an organization & processing procedures you should first:

  • Gain the required short-to-middle term objectives, you want to achieve. Those can be ranged from the tasks of a day to a task of a month or a 3 month period and related to your life goals and the priorities you set in your life. These are the ones to be importantly served and these are the main one you should concentrate your focus. These also should be aligned with your long-term objectives, goals, and visions for your personal and business life.
  • Objective(s) – Based on the Gain activity you should filter only the important ones (the objective one, the ones you can actually achieve in a desired frame of time), check alternatives and find the best solutions for the objectives you have selected, reaching and tending to win-win situations.
  • Action(s) – Build solid, measurable actions and tasks based on the objectives selected and set the priorities based on the above. Treat the rest ones as procedural ones following GTD for clear up the “fog” and the unimportant tasks.
  • List – Put the action and task in Calendar, in a reference system, etc. Employ and Implement the important ones, providing limited time to the unimportant ones. Process the rest in a procedural way using automated procedures, etc. if you can or provide limited time for their completion.

The result is a filtered goals list of important tasks to be served by importance and priority. These become the base input for the continuing GTD action procedure, having eliminated the unrelated to my personal goals ones.

In this way, I don’t start even to bother with the tasks that do not comply with my goals. I use templates, tools, and other tricks to handle the urgent and not important ones.

Question: Do you find this approach, useful? Do you think, you can use it effectively in your personal and professional life? GOAL can help you reach your goals more effectively, or not?