When you open the OKR spreadsheet, the overview page contains all objectives, sorted into four tabs with objectives and Key Results per quarter. This overview page refers to all the different tabs within the spreadsheet. When you start filling in the tabs, the overview page updates automatically.
The overview page is there to give you insight into your progress — displayed in the column showing a summary of the underlying Key Results for that Objective. The next column shows the ideal progress (comparing the target date of completion with the objective creation date).
Objectives are not literal copies of your one-year goals. A goal can also be split up into different objectives, and spread out over different quarters, if the goal is big. For example, in my case, I set a goal to sell at least one copy of my book — but I’ve never written a book before! With this goal comes a lot of new things I have to learn and figure out.
I broke down this goal down into multiple objectives, spread out over several quarters. In the first quarter, an objective was to to complete research on how to write a book; in the second quarter, to have my book ready to publish. I set objectives to build a personal website for promotion and a marketing action plan.
Writing, publishing, and eventually selling a book is a totally new experience for me. My goal to make a sale can only be achieved if I break the process into milestones, entered in the OKR spreadsheet as Objectives.
Other goals, like “participate in a team sport for the entire year” can be achieved with one simple Objective, like “register for the new football season.” Simple goals can be encompassed in a single objective, and more complex goals can be split up into separate objectives.
Key Results in the Quarterly tabs
A major part of your OKR efforts should go into the separate quarterly tabs. Setting Key Results can be challenging at first — the trick is to start writing down everything you can think of. Editing is always an option, and some prefer to start this exercise with a pen and paper, as it is easier to cross out things you are unsatisfied with.
When filled in, the list should show you an overview of the objectives you set for yourself throughout the year. When all objectives are met, your one-year goals should be met — or surpassed!
When you’ve completed your OKR, you’ll probably notice that you set more objectives early in the year, rather than 6 to 12 months out.
Because you will most likely not succeed in every objective (remember, you set “stretched” objectives!), some of them will move back a quarter — or two. By not putting many objectives in more distant quarters, you give yourself freedom to complete earlier objectives.
The OKR quarterly tabs have six Objectives, and four Key Results per Objective by default. This does not mean that you have to fill in all the fields — or even half of them. The space is there if you need it!
Be critical about the Key Results you set. Are they necessary for achieving the Objective? The fewer Key Results, the better — this lets you focus on the ones you have.
After your Key Results are recorded, you’re ready to begin. Check out the column with a Progress field. Here you fill in how far along you are toward achieving that Key Result.
Remember, the progress of the Objective does not have to be updated — this is done automatically as the spreadsheet calculates the average progress of the underlying Key Results.
You don’t have to update progress of individual Key Results daily or weekly — more like bi-weekly, or even monthly. This is personal — it’s up to you. Just take some time to sit down, look at the one-year goals you have set for yourself, and check your progress on your objectives and Key Results.
If at that point, if you see yourself falling behind on some Objectives, you’ll be encouraged to shape up. Or you can choose to focus on other Objectives.
It can be tough to figure out what to record as “progress” for Key Results. If you do a 10-week online course, and you have completed seven weeks, you can see that you are 70% done. But a Key Result like “wedding location and date confirmed” is hard to put into an exact figure. It’s helpful to record progress for these less-specific Key Results as 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%.
So be fair and honest with yourself — don’t enter a higher progress just because it might boost your number.
Keeping the spreadsheet alive
This OKR spreadsheet is a good tool to figure out what Key Results you need to accomplish on the road toward achieving personal goals. It’s a great starting point to put target dates on the necessary steps.
It’s a good idea to periodically update the OKR sheet to see how you are doing — especially for Objectives that might be falling behind. You may notice that you forgot to update on crucial Key Results, and can easily find your way back on track with some adjustments.
Spreadsheets are not always the most user-friendly method for tracking Key Results, as they are relatively static. Appendix C lists apps you can use to help you after you complete the OKR spreadsheet. These apps range from simple to-do list apps to more complex OKR tools, which can help you by making your progress more visible and keep Key Results deadlines top-of-mind.