Tracking your goals with Google forms

Mission accomplished.

In a world inundated with goal setting apps, sometimes a good ol’ pen and pad is best.  But I’m all about finding new uses for old software and it turns out Google Drive makes a great goal setting app.

The great thing about Google Drive, more specifically, Google Forms, is that it’s:

  • Affordable
  • Customizable
  • Accessible
  • Visual

It’s affordable because nothing beats free.

It’s customizable because you can choose exactly what you want it to do.

It’s accessible because you can access it from your phone, phablet or tablet and it’s visual because of the graphical charts that track your progress.

You can also choose exactly who sees your goals.  For example, you can make the form private and keep all your triumphs to yourself.  Or you can disclose your goal setting universe with a trusted coterie of friends who can hold you accountable.

Going for the Goal

Go to and click Change theme in the options bar directly under the File, Edit, View etc.. menu list.

Change Theme in Google Forms

Find a tantalizing theme in the preview pane and click it.  You can always swap your theme for more mouthwatering designs later so don’t spend too much time finding the perfect look.

Now hit the Customize button to see all the things you can tweak.

Customize your Google Forms Theme

You can change virtually every element you need.  From uploading a new header image to changing the page background.

Spend a few minutes exploring the stuff here so you can get a feel for what you can do.  Almost everything is adjustable.

You can set the colors, fonts and images in the right pane and edit the text content in the larger left pane.

Customize your Google Forms

Now have fun.  Fill out the form based on the stuff you want to track.

You can add as many checkboxes, text boxes, grids, scales and images as you want by going to the Insert menu option.  Try out a form control and if it doesn’t work, throw it out for something else.  You can always go back and make adjustments whenever you want.  You aren’t confined to anything.

And everything is draggable and droppable.  Try clicking and dragging a few controls to see what I mean.

To edit the form fields, just hover your mouse over the pencil icon.  In addition, if you mouse over the loose leaf paper icon next to it you can duplicate the page so you can make everything uniform. That way you can make minor adjustments in the duplicate page while preserving the overall look and feel of your form.

Editing your Google Form

Once you have everything the way you want it, click View responses in the options bar so you can choose your response destination.

I’m going to leave the defaults because I want a new spreadsheet in Google Drive called “My Goals (Responses)”.

Google Forms change response destination

Make sure your popup blocker blocker isn’t blocking anything

Internet Explorer blocking a valid popup

and then click View live form to marvel at your workmanship.

View live Google Form

To make sure you actually stick to your form you’ll need to copy the URL and put it in a convenient location.  I suggest changing the homepage on your smartphone to your Google Form URL.  That way whenever you try to browse the web you’ll be forced to wrestle with your goals for the day.

Google Forms URL

By default, you’re the only one who can access the form but you can easily add a list of collaborators by clicking the File menu option and choosing Send Form…

By the way, if you don’t see the menu bar press Ctrl + Shift + f to toggle the view.

Google Forms Sharing Settings

Once you’ve collected a list of data, click Responses in the menu and pick Summary of Responses.

Google Forms Response Summary

The Bottom Line

Google gives you 15GB of space to stash your stuff (well technically 17GB if you use this trick for snagging 2 extra gigs)  This should give you plenty of room to record all your accomplishments.

The real trick is to stay consistent.  It only takes a few minutes to set it up so you have no excuse buddy!

So what creative uses are you using Google Forms for?  How are you currently tracking your goals?  I’d love to hear what’s working for you.

Share the gold in the comments.

Photo credit courtesy of Tim Pierce.



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