(Insert standard statement about the time between blog posts, along with inevitable apology, here.)

I’m reading about goals for a leadership and organizational behavior course I’m taking.  The reading is a little academic in nature, which I really appreciate.  Some of the important things I’ve learned (that are borne out by actual, peer-reviewed research):

  • People tend to set higher goals for themselves in the workplace than their supervisors would have set.
  • Higher goals lead to higher achievement.
  • Goals that are shared are more likely to be accomplished.
  • The process of setting and working on goals, not the prospect of reward, is what actually improves performance.

So what personal goals am I working on?  I’ll share a few.

  • To study 64 hours for each of the two classes I’m taking this semester.  It should probably be more, but this is the amount I feel I can actually achieve.
  • To exercise at least 5 days per week.
  • To be consistent with reading the Bible.
  • To avoid checking my e-mail (and looking at Facebook) before 1pm.

Lofty goals, you say? Aye, say I.  They wouldn’t be worthy if they weren’t.  So what am I doing to achieve these goals?  Well, setting them was a good start.  But I didn’t stop there. Measuring them is the next step.  Here’s where to tech comes in.  I use a series of specialized iPhone apps to record my progress. (Click on each app name for a link to the Apple App store.)

I use iGoal Pro 2 to track my study progress.  It allows you to easily set time-based goals, then run a timer track your progress.  It allows for pretty-looking  charts and graphs, which are all-important to a data hound like me.  Progress so far? I’m 6% of the way finished with my study goal for one class, and 4% of the way toward my other class.  Not bad so far, but I need to pick it up if I’m going to hit 128 hours.

I use iFitness to track my exercises.  (This has since been removed from the iTunes App store, but I still use it.)  iFitness is great for tracking both which days I make it to the gym and what I do while I’m there.  Again, it has pretty charts and graphs.  Pretty is important, and it helps me to make sense of the data.  How am I doing so far?  Well, I’ve been to the gym 29 times (and I’ve been running twice) since January 1st.  If you include the running, that’s just barely more than 5 days per week.  Besides tracking, I also set out my gym clothes next to the bed before I go to sleep.  Help me to actually get up and get it done in the morning.

I use the great Bible app from YouVersion.com to both read the Bible and track my progress.  They have pre-built reading plans to help you set and achieve goals with your Bible reading.  There’s also a feature that will actually read the Bible to you, and this is what I use.  I have a set time every day when I listen – it’s first thing in the morning.  I listen while I get dressed, get to the gym, and warm up.  My only beef with this app is that the audio tends to cut out about 2/3 of the time if you change internet sources (ie move from wi-fi at the house to a 3G connection as you travel.  How am I doing on progress toward this goal? Well, this measure is a little more tricky.  I’ve started and re-started this goal several times.  But I CAN tell you that I’m 24% of the way through the Bible.  In the books of Judges and Luke, specifically.

I’m using Evernote to track my fourth goal.  Evernote is actually a note-taking program, but I’m using it because of it’s ubiquity.  It has free apps for the Mac, iPhone, and the web. So I can pretty much always  able to log my progress, no matter where I happen to be working.  This one is a little less automated, but it’s still working.  I use Text Expander and a keyboard shortcut to automatically insert a datestamp and timestamp. (The keyboard shortcuts are ‘ddate’ and ‘ttime’.)  How am I doing with this goal so far?  I’ve only been tracking this since the beginning of February, but here’s a screenshot of my log.  This goal might bear some explaining.  I’ll keep it short: I get more work done when I’m not living or working out of my e-mail inbox.  Hence the goal.  (Also, don’t expect a reply from me on anything first thing in the morning.)

That’s long enough, but I hope you picked up a tidbit or two about goals.  And feel free to ask me how I’m doing with any of my goals.  That’s part of the reason I’m sharing them!