Usually, we set vague, unspecified, open-ended goals but setting the right goals is essential for technical writers since it’ll help to write clear and user-friendly content step by step. In this post, I want to tell you about SMART goals that will work well for technical writing.
What SMART Goals are
Its criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Since then, Professor Robert S. Rubin (Saint Louis University) wrote about SMART in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
So, SMART is an acronym, standing for goals that are:
These points are still not so obvious — what they mean and how to set them right. Keep reading!
How to Set SMART Goals
Here are explanations and examples of how to use these SMART goals for your needs.
First of all, you should find answers to these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Who is involved?
- What tools will I need?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
Your answers will look probably like this:
- I need to write new 10 topics.
- I’ll need to interview some support, doc team members, and an SME.
- I will need my technical writing tool, a tool for making screenshots and videos.
Of course, this is just an example and your answers will be completely different but the main idea is to describe thoroughly what do you need on the first step to be proactive further and don’t miss something.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Why should you ask these questions? Measurable goals help to track your progress. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel motivated to getting closer to achieving your goal.
This step is may be used to check how many topics you’ve written and how many you should write to meet your deadline.
Set realistic goals that you’re prepared to pursue. Let’s say, 1 help topic a day. Is it achievable for you? If not, be truthful with yourself — set a goal that you will definitely achieve.
This point says ‘set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life’. Of course, writing documentation is the relevant goal for you, it’s your job. However, everyone needs motivation more than ‘it’s my job’, so you may track how many topics you’ve written or something like that that will inspire you.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
Writing documentation is not limited by written and published content. You should always update your documentation, track statistics to learn how users like it, and so on.
As you can see, SMART goals help not only achieve your goals but also create a clear plan how to write great documentation and be motivated during this process.