Picture this: you’re grappling with multiple tasks and goals and trying to keep track of everything using sticky notes and checklists.
Because the notes are disorganized, you end up losing sight of your goals. Important tasks are forgotten. This causes a surge of overwhelm—or even panic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s 2024, and goal tracking has never been easier. From replicating how experts track their goals to using top-of-the-line digital goal trackers, you have multiple options to choose from.
In this article, we’ll talk about what goal trackers are, strategies to help you track your goals, and some of the best goal-tracking tools available.
What are goal trackers, and do they make a difference?
Goal trackers are like personal assistants—but for your goals. They help you organize your tasks and keep you on track as you work towards achieving what you set out to do.
Whether it’s a DIY method or a digital tracker, they’re all about making tasks easier and helping you reach your goals smoothly. Digital trackers especially help you visually represent your objectives, dependencies between those objectives, and progress, resulting in increased productivity and better overall performance.
People have always relied on simple methods like keeping journals and checklists to monitor their goals. However, technology and digital goal-tracking tools make monitoring and achieving your goals more efficient.
For instance, there are dedicated goal trackers like Sunsama, specifically designed to help you and your team members set, track, and visualize goals. Alternatively, you can craft your own goal-tracker using Google Sheets by creating columns for specific goals, setting due dates, and updating progress regularly.
Goal trackers make a difference by helping you:
- Stay accountable and on track with your goals
- Share your goals and schedule with your team
- Use your time and efforts more efficiently
- Visualize your goals, increasing the chances of achieving the most important objectives
A study published in the American Psychological Association's journal found that individuals who regularly monitored their progress toward goals experienced improved behavioral performance and a better chance of achieving them.
Statistics reinforce the impact of goal trackers. According to a 2022 survey, marketers who actively set goals are nearly four times more likely to have success than those who do not set goals.
4 ways to track your goals for best results
1. Set clear and specific goals
Before you actually set your goals, you have to ensure they’re specific and measurable, which makes them easy to track.
One popular framework for setting such goals is the SMART framework, which stands for:
These goals are quantifiable and precise, so you can track your goal’s progress objectively.
For example, a vague goal like “get healthier in 2024” would be more challenging to track than something more specific and measurable, like “run a 5k race in 10 months.”
2. Use a goal tracker app or tool
From ancient civilizations using stone tablets to modern-day goal trackers, we’ve come a long way.
New-age project management and goal-tracking digital tools not only help you track your goals but also help you streamline, prioritize based on urgency and relevance, and monitor them in real time. No wonder the global project management software market is slated to reach $15.08 billion by the end of 2030.
Take Sunsama, for instance. The daily planner is designed to help you strike a work-life balance by setting realistic goals and monitoring them to ensure you’re on track. Tracking your goals also becomes easier because you get to manage your tasks, goals, and calendar in one place.
Within Sunsama, the goal-tracking feature lets you set goals, break them into smaller tasks, and monitor habits and goal completion from week to week. This gives you a visual insight into your daily routine and optimizes your daily schedules.
You can also integrate Sunsama with other digital tools like Trello and Asana to centralize your goals and create a more structured workflow.
Sunsama is just one example of how digital tools can help you improve your productivity by tracking goals. The market is inundated with numerous digital tools designed to help you track and achieve your goals.
3. Create a visual representation
The Journal of Neuroscience shows that our brain processes and values visual information significantly more than other stimuli. This clearly indicates just how important visual representation is, especially when you set out to track your goals.
Visual representation of your goals is not only more memorable but also more motivating and clear to comprehend. Considering the impact of visual cues on our brain, here are some common ways you can visually represent your goals:
- Goal charts or progress bars: These visually display progress toward a goal. This gives you a better indication of progress with each milestone or achievement represented by a mark or color.
- Mind maps or flowcharts: These show you how different goals or tasks relate to each other, helping you organize thoughts and identify dependencies between them.
- Gantt charts or timelines: Useful for tracking progress over time, Gantt charts outline tasks, deadlines, and the overall project timeline. They offer a comprehensive view of goal completion stages.
For task and goal tracking, you can use tools like Sunsama, which offer visual Kanban boards you can use to move your goals through different stages. This gives you a complete overview of your weekly objectives, completed goals, and current objectives.
4. Implement the Seinfeld Strategy (Don't break the chain)
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most prolific comedians of our time. Yet, beyond comedic timing and the ability to enrapture the crowd, it’s his consistency and dedication to follow through with the goals that propelled him to the acclaimed status he holds today.
What helps him stay consistent with his goals is the goal-tracking technique often attributed to him: the Seinfeld Strategy.
Also known as “Don’t Break the Chain,” it’s a straightforward technique that helps you remain consistent and on track with your goals.
The strategy revolves around the simple act of marking an "X" on a calendar each day one works towards a specific goal. The objective is to maintain a continuous chain of X's, encouraging consistency and warding off the bad habit of procrastination while also tracking your goals.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the Seinfeld Strategy:
- Decide on your goal—the more specific, the better.
- Break your goal down into routines.
- Track your progress by marking your goal with an “X” daily.
- Don’t break the chain.
Jerry Seinfeld used this “don’t break the chain” strategy to write jokes daily. Beyond tracking goals, this strategy helped him remain consistent with his efforts.
The strategy is also a way to represent your goals and daily habits visually—the picture of your visual chain also remains at the back of your head, which becomes a powerful motivator not to break your streak.
Digital vs. DIY goal trackers: Why analytics matter
Long before the internet, people relied on DIY goal trackers. Even now, DIY goal trackers remain popular, especially for simple goal tracking—–think of the Seinfeld Strategy.
But when you have to track multiple goals every other day, you need something more reliable to keep track of your progress.
That’s where modern-day digital goal trackers come into the picture.
While DIY goal trackers are simpler and more affordable, digital goal trackers come with advanced features like real-time tracking, the ability to visualize your goals, and goal-based analytics.
Research in behavioral psychology alludes to the positive impact of this feedback toward achieving your goals. This level of clarity when it comes to goal feedback won’t be possible with DIY, free goal-tracking, giving digital goal trackers a unanimous edge.
Best goal trackers of 2024
Here are our top picks for the best goal tracker apps and productivity apps you can use to track your progress in 2024.
Sunsama stands out as an exceptional goal-tracking app with its focus on realistic goal setting and weekly planning.
Sunsama allows you to set weekly objectives to define your main goals and align your tasks with them. This method of organizing simplifies what would otherwise be a complex to-do list.
The weekly review feature guides you through an evaluation process at the end of each week.
In the first step, you’ll see your progress toward your weekly key objectives and a chart showing how much time you spent on objectives vs. other things.
Next, you’ll get a complete body of work review for the entire week. This includes all of the work you completed or tracked time on and a breakdown of how you spent your time by day.
It gives you a chance to reflect on the overall productivity and effectiveness of your week. You can also write a journal entry to write about your week—it can be anything, from the big wins to the tasks that didn’t work out the way you expected.
Other key features include:
- AI-based time management: Sunsama's AI leverages its data-driven insights to make predictions and recommend reasonable time estimates and channels for your tasks, increasing the accuracy of your time management.
- Collaborative workspaces: Sharing your goals helps you stay motivated, especially if you share them with someone more successful. Sunsama helps you share your goals and progress updates with whomever you want, including your entire team.
- Add subtasks or subgoals to your broader goal/task: Sunsama lets you add subtasks or smaller goals with different due dates to a larger goal. This helps you break bigger, long-term goals down into smaller, manageable tasks and goals, making it easier to track and achieve them.
Pricing: Starts at $16 per month, billed annually after a 14-day free trial.
Trello is a productivity tool famous for its ease of use and intuitive Kanban system for goal tracking and project management.
Its hallmark Kanban boards give you a visual representation of your goals and tasks. You can create boards for different goals, further break them down into cards and lists, and track your progress by moving those cards through different stages.
Aside from setting standard due dates for your goals, you can add labels and color tags to each card based on different priorities. You can also set reminders to ensure you complete your goals on their deadlines.
Trello also comes with built-in power-ups that bring features like time tracking and calendar sync to your dashboard, making it easier to track your goals.
Pricing: There’s a freemium plan for individuals and small teams. Paid plans start from $5 per month (when billed annually).
Todoist is like sticky notes on steroids. As apparent from its name, Todoist helps you create a digital to-do list to track your goals and manage your tasks.
Type your daily goals in Todoist and set a due date or recurring date. Then, add a priority level to your goals or tasks, so you can distinguish which goals are more important from the ones that can wait. You can even share your goals with a friend or colleague to stay accountable and motivated.
Todoist also offers visual analytics displaying daily and weekly streaks, helping you stay on track and make progress toward your goals.
It’s also available as an Android and iOS app, so you can track your daily tasks on the go.
Pricing: Todoist offers a freemium plan for up to five personal projects. Paid plans start at $4 monthly, billed annually for up to 300 personal projects.
Asana is primarily a project management tool that doubles as a goal tracker, allowing you to set goals and key results. You can also prioritize goals based on their importance and connect them to projects that support them.
Another key feature is the ability to instantly update the status as you and your team make progress toward your goals. You can also use a pre-defined goal template to set your goals or OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
Pricing: Starts at US$10.99 monthly (when billed annually). There’s a freemium plan for individuals looking to manage their goals or tasks.
Embrace the evolution: Optimize your time with digital goal trackers
It’s apparent how digital goal trackers not only help you track your goals but also offer analytics and tangible metrics related to your progress, action plans, and previous goals.
While DIY goal trackers have their own appeal and are more suitable for personal goals, digital trackers are the way to go if you have to track multiple business goals simultaneously.
With advanced features like time blocking, visual representation of goals, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with other trackers and task management tools on this list, Sunsama stands out among digital tracking tools. It helps you optimize your time and stay motivated as you work day-to-day. After all, the motive isn’t just to track your goals but, over time, to achieve them as well.