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  5. Breaking a Sub-goal into Tasks

After you Create a Timeline for your Goal you can now move on to creating specific tasks and scheduling them.

Sub-goal vs. Tasks

Goals and sub-goals define what you want to achieve. Tasks are well defined concrete action that you take to achieve your goals. In order to achieve a goal you need to break it into individual tasks which can be scheduled and completed. After you have broken a goal into tasks you no longer need to think about how you are going to achieve it — you just need to complete the tasks you have set out for yourself.

When you review your goals at the beginning of the week fill in your calendar with the necessary tasks needed to achieve your goals for the week. Each morning look at your planner to get an idea of what tasks you have to achieve during the day. Make sure to check your planner regularly to not forget what you have scheduled.

Defining tasks

The first step in working on a sub-goal is to divide it into individual tasks and schedule them. When breaking a sub-goal into tasks think about the concrete and specific steps that are required to achieve the sub-goal. When defining tasks it is important to identify those activities that bring you towards your goal. You don’t want to be distracting yourself by working on activities that don’t help you achieve what you want. Finally, as with sub-goals, be sure to regularly review you tasks and make appropriate adjustments.

For example, imagine you have a goal of increasing your pay at work. This goal can be broken into sub-goals such as talk to the boss about taking on extra responsibility, increasing your sales volume by 10%, or implementing new quality control measures. These are good sub-goals but they don’t tell exactly what to do and when. Take the first sub-goal — talking to your boss about taking on more responsibility. This can be broken down into the specific tasks of:

  • Monday, 9:00-10:00 am: make a list of things that you are qualified to do, need to be done, and can be added to your responsibilities
  • Monday, 10:00-10:30 am: plan agenda for meeting with boss to discuss taking on extra responsibilities
  • Monday 10:30 am: send email to boss requesting a meeting
  • When the boss replies to your email, mark the actual meeting time in your calendar. Block out the fifteen minutes before the meeting to give yourself time to review your plan and prepare for the meeting.

Finite Tasks

Some goals are finite and easily lend themselves to being broken down into subtasks and scheduled until you achieve your goal. The example given above illustrates this kind of goal.

Ongoing Tasks

Some goals are ongoing — for example keeping the house clean or exercising. These kinds of tasks you can block out time in your schedule on a recurring basis. Since housework is never ending, you can do housework for the scheduled amount time then stop.

However, even if a task is ongoing, it can still be helpful to break it down. Consider housework — you may schedule an hour two times a week but you can increase your productivity by defining what you will spend your time cleaning during that hour (say, which rooms to clean) and schedule different parts of the house on different days.

Related Pages

Record Your Goals
Prioritize Your Goals
Break Large Goals into Sub-Goals
Create a Timeline for your Goal
Breaking a Sub-goal into Tasks
Following Through