Not everyone is smart, but everyone can be S.M.A.R.T.

Over the weekend I was talking about a problem with someone and trying to work out how best to approach it. ‘Approach it the S.M.A.R.T way’ they said and proceeded to explain what S.M.A.R.T. was. I’d never heard of it before and the more it was explained the more I felt like the clouds were parting.

In a nutshell, S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives.

Specific – being specific – who, what, where, when. 

Measurable – making it measurable – how will I know when it’s been accomplished?

Attainable –  how and what can I do to make this start to happen?

Realistic – setting small goals create an objective with which you are willing and able to work at the same time each goal should mark substantial progress

Timescale – by grounding everything within a time frame you set your subconscious into motion.  

It helped me immediately realise my method of trying to deal with most things was by attempting to get it all done in one go and that maybe it was time to try things the S.M.A.R.T. way. So I thought of a fun thing to apply it to which in turn can help address a small problem I have at the same time. 


A part of my massive but lovely notebook problem.

The fun thing I want to do is pick up drawing again, a long dormant past-time I have been trying to resurrect for the last couple of years, not for lack of trying but more for expecting completely unrealistic and immediate results and ultimately instantly giving up in a fug of disappointment.

The small problem I have is my notebook collection is currently out of control. Who doesn’t love a notebook?  I’m always my most optimistic when I’ve a newly acquired notebook, worlds can be conquered within the pages of a notebook. website analysis software A blank one makes me feel like anything and everything is possible. But they stay blank and my current consumption of notebooks might tip the balance of deforestation and cause the worlds end rather than domination.

So why not get S.M.A.R.T. about the two things and get drawing in my notebooks. 

I’m going away for Easter holidays to the perfect place where I’ll be able to draw all day ’till my hearts content but outside of that how do I incorporate it into my everyday life? 


It works! I’ve started drawing already!

Here is what I’ve worked out with S.M.A.R.T.

S – What, pencil and watercolours. Where, in my notebooks. When, during spare time. Why, to reawaken a dormant skill.

M – I can draw 3 – 5 drawings a week and 1 watercolour.

A – Assemble an easily accessible drawing kit. Set aside a time to draw and limit the time per drawing. 

R – I want to do this to reawaken my love of drawing and to remember how much fun it is, nothing more.

T – Ideally it will be ongoing but initially I want to be doing it enough to make it habit forming, so 1 1/2 – 2 hours per week. 

Drawing must also be; 

Enjoyable – I want to remember when I first used to do this, it was pure enjoyment. It could help me with future designs and it is a great way to document things.

Valuable – I must value this time but keep my approach to drawing free and relaxed, otherwise I’ll never start. 

Explorative – Spend the time really getting to know the line of a pencil, ink and qualities of watercolour and question it all the time, is this the right line/medium for me? Do I really want to be using gauche?

I’m going to start by drawing the things that I see, I live with enough ready made still lifes around me I have no excuses about lack of subject matter.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out and how I can begin to apply it to other aspects of my life. This way of working tells me that multi-tasking has a place but is not necessarily the answer. 


5 Comments to “Not everyone is smart, but everyone can be S.M.A.R.T.”

  1. what a brilliant idea. it looks like it could be translatable to almost everything.

  2. Oooh. What a notebook fest. I’ve got a notebook problem myself. I’ve just discovered the joys of the Leuchtturm Academy Pad, and now my woes are really starting!

    You know, this S-M-A-R-T system looks really good. Up ’til now my only goal-setting principle has been, ‘don’t attempt anything a corpse can do better than you’, but SMART is obviously more proactive. Thanks for sharing it and enjoy your drawing.

  3. Mary says:

    This, as the Quakers say, speaks to my condition. Three weeks ago I told an artist friend I wanted to paint the layers of different trees, bushes, walls that lie between me and the horizon. I have not painted for 40 years. ‘Maybe’ she said, ‘one day But today start with onions.’ So I try to paint an onion a day with no thought that it will be judged or stay around to haunt me forever. I am having fun AND using one of my many beautiful but empty notebooks. Thank you Bridie for the mnemonic and the images of your notebooks.

  4. Diane Keane says:

    Hello Bridie,
    Your post struck a chord for several reasons. As an artist (still “aspiring” in my 60s) with a full-time job, I grapple constantly with trying to produce while never being able to achieve a “flow.” I have no lack of ideas, fortunately, but the time to work them out is scarce. Thus, I have a huge stack of sketchbooks (not pretty notebooks, just utilitarian, smudged, worn, spiral-bound sketchbooks) filled with idea sketches, against the day I finally retire. One thing I have learned, though, is that you can never get to the goal (a beautiful, finished piece of art) without first making the journey: keeping the pencils sharp and the brushes wet! Artists need to practice too, just like musicians or dancers. So, enjoy your time with your instruments! I look forward to following your progress.



  5. Peng Hui LEE says:

    S.M.A.R.T. is very popular with managers in the Health Service where I work …

Leave a Reply

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.