Read any book about self-improvement or listen to any podcast about improving your life and eventually the author or speaker will talk about goals. I love setting goals for myself and I love using incentives like trackers to do it. While setting the goals is the fun part, the actual system of sticking to the goals is not as easy. For any big task, I’ve started using S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. goals to help break down my goals into achievable chunks. In this article, I will explain what S.M.A.R.T. goals and D.U.M.B. goals are. I will then specifically break down how to use SMART and DUMB goals for organization.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals Vs. D.U.M.B Goals
If you do a little research on the internet, people have REALLY strong opinions about S.M.A.R.T. goals vs. D.U.M.B. goals. Usually these two concepts are pitted against each other in some eternal competition. I’m not really sure WHY people feel so strongly either way, but you know… the internet. This video from Brendon Bruchard goes a little deeper into the controversy of S.M.A.R.T. goals vs. D.U.M.B. goals and I really like his overall sentiment. However, I think there can be a place in the world for BOTH S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. goals and they don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive.
I like to think of S.M.A.R.T. goals and D.U.M.B. goals as one tool in the goal setting toolbox. If you have found another method that works well, by all means do that! Ha! But, if you are looking for a strategy for goal setting, using S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. goals together is a great way to start working toward your organizational goals.
What Does S.M.A.R.T. Stand For?
So what in the world do S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. stand for? Again, if you search the internet, you’ll find a myriad of versions of these. But here’s how my brain likes to think of them:
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
What Does D.U.M.B. Stand For?
D.U.M.B. goals are:
How To Create Your D.U.M.B. Goal For Organization:
I like to start with the D.U.M.B. goal and then break it down into smaller parts. For instance your D.U.M.B. goal could be
“I want to get my entire house organized.”
This is an amazing goal! But, that goal by itself could be a bit overwhelming especially if you feel overwhelmed by your stuff already. YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE is a big place made up of lots of smaller components. So let’s take the dream, “I want to get my entire house organized” and break it down further. Here’s how I would break this down into a D.U.M.B. goal (which is not really dumb at all!) 🤩
D- Dream Driven: What is your ultimate dream with this goal?
For this one, feel free to daydream. Write down everything that an organized house would do for you.
- I dream of having an organized, efficient house with systems that work for my entire family.
- I want my house so organized that everyone in my house can find things without asking me.
- I want everything in my house to serve a purpose and have a “home” within my home.
- If something happened to me, I want my house so organized that friends and family could come in and run it.
- I want my belongings strategically organized for PCS and military moves.
U- Uplifting: What inspires you about this goal?
Write down ALL the positive things that your goal will bring you. Remember, keep it positive. This is not a place for insecurity or doubt.
“If my entire house were organized I would…”
- Feel calmer and less anxious
- Spend less time trying to find things
- Spend less time trying to find things for other people
- Hear the phrase, “MOOOOOOM…where is my” (I told you this was daydreaming, y’all!)
- Be less stressed during upcoming PCS moves.
- Love and appreciate my “stuff” more
M: Method-Driven: How are you planning to achieve this goal?
Write down what method you plan on using to achieve your goal. Or if you don’t really know yet, write down a couple of things even if they seem ridiculous. Don’t worry about time or money yet, remember this is the dream!
- Hire an organizational expert to come in and organize.
- Spend a little time each day on different areas of my home
- Spend every weekend on big projects that I would like to accomplish
- Teach my family how to keep up the different systems that I am putting in place (It’s a dream, remember?)
B- Behavior-Triggered: Find a behavior that you are already doing and attach a good organizational habit to it.
According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, stacking a new behavior on a behavior that is already a habit is the quickest way to form a new habit. Instead of making an entirely new habit, you just fold a new habit into something that you are already doing.
Here are a few examples that you could implement towards “I want to organize my entire house:”
- Every time I shower, I’m going to clean up the bathroom and wipe down the counter.
- Before I sit down at my computer, I’ll make sure the “catch-all” spot for papers is cleared.
- After my family finishes dinner, I’ll tidy up the kitchen and write my to-do list for the next day.
In my opinion, the D.U.M.B. goal is the fun part. This is not the time to think of all the reasons why your goal won’t work. If your goal is “to lose 20 pounds” that’s GREAT! Don’t sabotage yourself with all the limitations or the impossibilities. Take this time to dream and write down all the good things that will come as a result of reaching your goal.
How To Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Organization
While the D.U.M.B. goal is the fun part, the magic comes in making the S.M.A.R.T. goals. So now, I’ll break down what this would look like for our original BIG D.U.M.B. goal of “I want to organize my whole house.” Let’s see how using SMART and DUMB goals for organization together can be really beneficial!
Remember the M in D.U.M.B. stands for Method-Driven. Basically, your S.M.A.R.T. goals are defining that method. So if your big D.U.M.B. goal is “to organize my whole house.” you need to break that down and into manageable chunks. I WOULD NOT SUGGEST YOU START TRYING TO ORGANIZE YOUR WHOLE HOUSE ALL AT ONCE. I’ve tried, I’ve failed. There were tears. Don’t do it!
An Example of a SMART Goal for Organization
So let’s set one S.M.A.R.T. goal to see how this would work. Pick one area of your whole home and focus there. If it were me, I’d start with an “easy” part of my home and work from there. Let’s start with a junk drawer. Here’s what that goal might look like:
- S: Specific- I want to organize my junk drawer.
- M: Measurable- It will be organized when everything has a specific home.
- A: Actionable- I can take action on this immediately.
- R: Realistic- Yes, this goal is not out of reach.
- T: Timely- I will organize my junk drawer by the end of this week; total organizing time will be an hour.
I’ve broken this goal down into a very doable, actionable goal. I might need to purchase a few things like organizers or a nice drawer liner, which is why I gave myself until the end of the week. I also specified the time (one hour) I will spend on actually organizing. But, now I have set a doable goal for the week and I’m not overwhelmed thinking I need to “organize my whole house.”
Break down Your Big D.U.M.B. Goals in to Lots of Little S.M.A.R.T. Goals
If I continue making Achievable S.M.A.R.T. goals for all the areas in my home, little by little, I would actually reach my BIG D.U.M.B. goal! In my opinion, using SMART and DUMB goals for organization together is a great way to take overwhelming projects and make them more manageable.
If you’d like to download a free S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. goal planner, sign up for my email list and download it today!
For some other articles about productivity check out: 5 Tips for How to Get Things Done Faster, The 7 Day Digital Declutter Challenge, and How to Declutter and Organize Your Digital Photos. Happy Organizing!