Calendars and planners.
Probably a topic you’d expect more at the beginning of the year, instead of mid-february, and yet, here we are. See, the thing is, I really didn’t expect the response I received to my planner when I shared it on Instagram stories. Quite a few of you have since told me you purchased it and love it (which makes me overjoyed to hear). So, I figured it would be fun to dive into the topic a little more and share how I utilize my planner to plan my goals for success. After all, as a self-professed lover of all things planners, planning and lists (I’m slightly OCD about it, tbh), I will never shy away from a chance to dish on the topic and encourage everyone else to jump on the planner train in the process. Also, I figured, life is hectic, we’re all busy, so I can’t possibly be the only one who hasn’t finished mapping out their 2019 and filling up their planner (Please tell me this is true.).
Keep reading below for a full breakdown on how I use my planner to map out my goals, business, days, weeks, months, year, and, let’s be real, basically every aspect of my life for success.
Once you have your goals written out, continue working backwards to break down each one into manageable tasks + steps. And when I say manageable, I truly mean break it down into the smallest tasks possible. Most big projects consist of tens, if not hundreds, of steps to complete, but if you only write down a few large steps, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure and will find it impossible to ever complete anything.
Example: For a book, don’t just say “Write a book”. Instead, you might write out things like “Develop an outline”, “Work on a title”, “Write a page”, etc.
Tip: I break down each goal in a separate notebook so I have plenty of room to write every single step out. It’s also helpful to have these breakdowns in one spot so you can reference them at any later point in planning.
I keep a separate notebook going to jot down any unexpected tasks that come up, as they always do. These tasks could include anything from doing laundry to running a specific errand to buying a gift for someone to sending an invoice. Then, as I’m going about planning my weeks and days, I make sure to sprinkle these tasks into my schedule, along with whatever tasks I’m tackling towards my bigger goals.
Keep a page or two going in the back of your planner, highlighting bigger, fun goals for each month, i.e. classes you’re taking, trips you’re going on, etc. This gives you something to look forward to, and is especially helpful when you need a little extra motivation to get through all those other tasks you’ve set up for yourself.
I also use a large wall calendar, as well as the monthly breakdown pages in my planner, to highlight important things such as meetings, events, trips, due dates, sponsored content going live and blog posts. It’s helpful to be able to see the big stuff in one glance when going about planning the smaller stuff, or as quick reminders in the middle of a busy week.
While this might sound counter-intuitive, I promise you it is not. Looking at where you want to be at the end of a time period, changes the entire way you approach a goal. Instead of looking at it as something you want or hope to do (read: your mind thinks there’s a possibility it might not be possible), you’re looking at it as something that is definitely, without a doubt, happening. And, as many of us know, half the battle of achieving anything, is having the right (positive) mindset.
Example: Instead of saying “I hope to publish a book this year.” you say “When I look back on 2019, I will have published a book.”
Tip: Use the back page of the planner to brain dump all the things I want to have achieved at the end of the year.
Once you have each goal broken down into smaller tasks, start adding things to different blocks of time to determine what to do when. Remember to keep things manageable and only assign a few big goals for each time frame so as to set yourself up for success. You can always add more tasks if you complete everything else first, but you’ll feel much worse about yourself and your mindset, and a lot less motivated, if you bite off more than you can chew and can’t get everything completed in the allotted time.
Example: In quarter one, your goal might be to come up with a book outline, in quarter two, you might say you want to write chapters 1-5, etc.
Tip: I like to use a huge sheet of blank paper, broken down into 4 areas (one for each quarter). Then, I start assigning tasks to different quarters, but I use a pencil, so I can re-arrange them as needed. Once I have everything set up in a way that I think is best, I add the tasks to their respective quarter’s pages that I have in the back of my planner.
Understand that, despite all your best laid plans, things might not always work out the way you have them planned. Sometimes, in fact, they work out even better. Due dates may change, projects may no longer be deemed important, something may be cancelled, you may be approached with an opportunity you can’t say no to. It’s just part of life. So for this reason, I fill out much of my planner in pencil. It allows me to easily adjust, erase and re-write things without ever feeling like my planner (and consequently my brain and life) is becoming a mess of crossed-off or uncompleted tasks that are no longer serving any purpose other than as a distraction from the real goals.
Once you have your tasks assigned to their time frames, focus only on the present and put everything else out of sight (and out of mind). After all, you can’t get to your tasks in quarter three if you don’t even complete the ones in quarter one. Take things one quarter at a time, one month at a time, one week at a time, one day at a time.