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Jon Douglas
Jon Douglas

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Personal OKRs

What is an OKR? It's known as Objectives and Key Results. It's a framework for an organization or individual to track and prioritize its most important goals.

An objective is the goal (the what) or direction the organization or individual intends to work toward.

Key results are the metrics (the how) used to determine how an objective is met.

Why OKRs?

  • Uses a data-driven approach to optimize costs and measure key result progress against higher-level objectives.
  • Measure how we are progressing and adjust if/when necessary.
  • Continuously raising the bar every time you practice.
  • Prioritize time and energy based on what will move your metaphorical needle.


The goal (the what) and overall direction we are intending our work towards. You should not have more than 3-5 objectives at any time.

You may ask yourself:

  • What are my primary objectives?
  • What value do these objectives bring into my life?
  • What are the things we want to look at ourselves in a mirror and say "I can get this done".

Thus our objectives should be significant, concrete, action oriented, and inspirational.

Key Results

The metrics (the how) used to determine how our objective is met. You should not have more than 3-5 key results per objective at any time.

If you cannot measure it, it's not a key result.

If you cannot measure it yet, make a key result for being able to measure it.

Key results should be specific, time-constrained, aggressive, realistic, measurable, and verifiable.

How do I setup OKRs?

You can follow any cadence you prefer, but I would strongly recommend sticking with a typical quarterly basis. Here's how this might look:

Brainstorm and Define OKRs every quarter

  • November (Quarter 1)
  • February (Quarter 2)
  • May (Quarter 3)
  • August (Quarter 4)

Note: You can set your quarters however you want. These are dates approximately 2 months prior to the start of the quarter.

Grading OKRs every quarter

  • January (Q1)
  • April (Q2)
  • July (Q3)
  • October (Q4)

How do I grade OKRs?

You will grade your OKRs based on your key results progress on a scale from 0.0 - 1.0.

  • 0.0 - You identified a key result but may have not put time and energy into it.
  • 0.1 - 0.3 - You have made initial progress.
  • 0.4 - 0.6 - You have made impactful progress.
  • 0.7 - You have reached your goal.
  • 0.8 - 1.0 - You have crushed your goal and may need to adjust your next goal to be more ambitious.

Sample Personal OKRs

Let's say you have a few objectives that you really want to work on for the next year. Let's take the following areas for example:

  • Learn a programming language / framework.
  • Workout at the gym.
  • Read more books.
  • Land a job as a software developer.

We'll now take each of those items to turn them into concrete objectives:

  • Objective: Create an Android Application.
  • Objective: Build Muscle with a Strength Training Program.
  • Objective: Read More Books.
  • Objective: Become a Software Developer.

Now that we have each of these objectives defined, we will now create key results that measure our objectives.

Objective: Create an Android Application.

Key Results

  • Create a list of 10 app ideas and select one idea by the first of next month.
  • Work on programming the app 3 days a week at 7pm-8pm.
  • Publish to the Google Play Store by 2020.

Objective: Build Muscle with a Strength Training Program.

Key Results

  • Read "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe for beginner workout programming.
  • Go to Gold's Gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm-2pm.
  • Be able to:
    • Squat - Body Weight
    • Deadlift - 1.5x Body Weight
    • Bench Press - Body Weight

Objective: Read More Books.

Key Results

  • Read 50 books by 2020.
  • Read for 30 minutes every night before bed.
  • Write a monthly blog post on the most significant reads that month.

Objective: Become a Software Developer.

Key Results

  • Apply for 5 jobs every Monday.
  • Study for technical interviews every night for 30 minutes.
  • Attend 5 interviews every month.
  • Accept a job offer.

OKRs that define our systems

As simple as it sounds, setting these OKRs create a system for us to follow to be successful in reaching our objective. As these objectives are conquered, you may adjust the objective to be the next item on your list of priorities. For example, if you become a software developer, you might change the goal to be more specific such as getting a promotion, to which you can specify the key results that you will need to measure your progress.

Grading your OKRs every quarter is the most important thing you can do. By grading your OKRs, you are giving yourself insight to where you are focusing your energy and time. This will allow you to adjust your system so you can ensure your true priorities are being accounted for.


  • OKRs can be used as a framework to organize the systems that drive our habits.
  • An objective is the goal (the what) or direction the organization or individual intends to work toward.
  • Key results are the metrics (the how) used to determine how an objective is met.
  • Define and grade your OKRs every quarter of the year.

Jon Douglas writes at, where he writes about better habits, deep work, software development, and improved health for Software Professionals. You can read his articles or join his free newsletter for new content every week.

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