Provide enough detail so that there is no indecision as to what
exactly you should be doing when the time comes to do it. A goal
of: "Study biology" is poor. Should you be reading your text? If
so, what pages? Or should you be looking over your lecture notes?
A much better goal would be: "Read pp. 12 - 35 in biology text,
write questions in the margin of text, and practice answering
those questions after reading."
Your goal should be such that when you are through you have some
tangible evidence of completion. It feels good to see something
there in front of you indicating a job well done. Equally
important, you will be able to prove to yourself that you were
successful and your time wasn't wasted. The end result of a goal
such as "Read Chapter 3" cannot be reliably assessed. Did you
fully understand the words when you looked at the pages? A much
better goal would be: "Read Chapter 3 and then write a summary
from memory." The summary would indicate that you in fact did
read the chapter and would allow you to evaluate your degree of
understanding. Producing tangible evidence requires ACTIVE
studying on your part, which research clearly suggests will
produce superior learning and retention.
Your goal should be set by you rather than by someone else. You
know best your strengths and weaknesses, and can use this
information to maximize your chances of success.
Don't plan to do things if you are unlikely to follow through.
Better to plan only a few things and be successful rather than
many things and be unsuccessful. Success breeds success! Start
small, with what you can do, experience the joys of meeting your
goal, and only then gradually increase the amount of work that
you ask of yourself. Setting goals in which every minute in the
day is accounted for is unrealistic; unplanned events will crop
up and wreak havoc with your schedule. Give yourself some
Say when you plan to work at your goal, e.g., between 4:00 - 5:00
p.m. Anything that will take you more that two hours to complete,
break into smaller, more manageable chunks.