January Goals Checkin and My New Geeky Spreadsheet

by Lisa Call on February 10, 2011

in Goals and Intention

Tracking the progress on my goals through the year with Excel
How Am I Doing?

Tasks from Goals

I wrote some BIG goals for 2011 and I have every intention on completing most of them as I’ve made art a top priority for the year.

To keep me on track, I took all of my goals for 2011 and divided them up into months. Calculating how many hours in my studio, how many blog posts, how much art work, etc, that I need to produce each month to stay on track.

I then broke that down into weeks and have a template for the basic tasks I’d like to complete each week. I sit down sunday evening or monday morning and fill in the specifics for the week.

Each morning I then write my todo list for the day, based on this weekly plan. I used to write my todo list in the evening but I found I usually forgot stuff so I just do it in the morning now. I usually have a few notes from the day before so it goes quickly.

Staying On Track

I’ve been doing something similar to this for years, breaking down the bigger work into smaller pieces, starting with the big picture and working towards the smaller tasks.

Yet something still felt missing. And that was a way to look at the big picture to see where I was for the year.

So I’ve added a new tool to my goal arsenal this year – a spreadsheet to track my progress. This spreadsheet can tell me at a glance which goals are on track and which I’ve fallen behind.

Each goal is on a separate line with the final target at the end (for my big new goals, like designing a workshop, this final target is usually 1 – as in I complete the goal).

I add up how much I’ve done each month, and compare it to where I should be for the year. If I’m on track, I leave the line white. If I’ve fallen behind, I turn the line yellow. Once the goal is completed, I turn the line green.

I use my software project management excel talents to do all of this automagically with formulas and conditional formatting. It’s much to geeky to explain how I do it here, plus I suspect it’s rather convoluted as I think like a computer nerd quite a bit, but the above screenshot gives you an idea of what I have.

My intention is to review my goals once a month. After adding in my progress, I can tell at a glance where I need to put my focus to catch up the following month.


I knew with my trip to Costa Rica and my focus on getting my goals organized, that January would be light in the studio. And it was. I only spend 40 hours creating art, as expected. So I’m on track there.

Where I fell behind is the amount of art I want to create as I didn’t adjust that for the light studio month in January (due to laziness on my part). I’ll catch up on that soon in the coming months.

I also didn’t start any drawings so I’m behind there.

On the art business side, I didn’t get my bookkeeping done or my contact lists updated. I did get started on my first big goal: designing workshops and that is on track.

I wrote just 1 blog post for makebigart in Jan so I have catching up to do there.

For personal goals, all is going great and I have my first goal completed in this area – my vacation to Costa Rica. Yay!

Overall, January was mostly focused on writing goals as I hadn’t done annual goals in a while and I wanted to create a reusable and flexible system. I have now that so in coming years it will be much quicker.

I think I will now add to my list of accomplishments for 2011: create a system for goals.


Louise in SW Saskatchewan February 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

oooh Lisa – I love your keeping track spreadsheet! But, then, I am an Excel fan from way back!

What a concrete way to track and measure your progress. (the lightbulb goes on!) I use Excel ss for lots of things – I will have to ponder this some more to see if it would work for me.

Thanks again

Roxane lessa February 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

Wow Lisa, can I make something like this in Mac. I love it!

iHanna February 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I will be looking forward to more articles on your other site, as well as more articles in your blog. Glad that is on the goal list, hehe, being all selfish here. Love the spreadsheet system from what I can see of it. The problem to me is that I still want to “get more writing done” but not sure how to make that goal SMART. It is difficult when you can’t put a number on it..

liz from ontario February 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I love the spreadsheet idea. as a fellow project manager…i can only imagine that you tried to put this in msproject first!! I’ve been trying to think about how i can take my work skills and apply them to my creative life. I love how you’ve done estimates and are going to be tracking actuals for yourself – talk about taking accountability for your time!! I can’t wait to see how this works for you. And if you start doing earned value against your own creative plans – I want to know how it goes!

Jennie Rosenbaum February 10, 2011 at 7:48 pm

That is a brilliant spreadsheet! And hooray for other geeky artists who think like project managers :) I gantt charted my studio renovation but I didn’t think of doing an ongoing tracking of my goals in a spreadsheet! That meh be just the thing to keep me motivated..

@Roxanne you certainly can! I’m a Mac geek, you can do it in numbers which is apple’s own spreadsheet program, excel for Mac which is part of the office for Mac system, open office which is free, or online on googledocs. I’m probably going to do mine on googledocs, because then I can check in on my iPad – geeky? Moi?

Debbie-Esch House Quilts February 11, 2011 at 6:23 am

My problem with goal setting and tracking (which I try to do) is that I am either incredibly optimistic or naive about how long things take me so I set my goals too high and then can’t reach them. If I try to be more realistic, then I can’t get enough done even on paper.

Do you have/have you had this problem?

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