Posts in Best Year
Are You Lost at the End of the Year?
Blog post photos (1).jpg

Time moves so fast and yet can drag along in the same instance. Know what I mean? Seems like just last week we were ringing in the New Year and looking forward to all that would be different “this year”. Don’t know why I fall into that trap every year?

Fast forward with me for a moment. When you get to the end of the year and look back, do you have a hard time remembering what happened before November and December? I sure do! How I feel about the whole year gets based on wether the last two months were good or bad. The whole year!

It’s not age related, at least not yet. It’s because I have a hundred different things, going in a hundred different directions bouncing around in my head. Things that happened yesterday, last week, or last month - they’re in the rearview. They’re done, don’t have to keep track or think about them. So what to do?

At the end of each month, I take about 15 minutes to reflect over all that happened. What stands out? What good happened? What were some successes? What would be good to do differently next time? I then take about 15 minutes or so and write up a brief summary in the Weekly Planner. I like to use the notes page opposite the monthly calendar view. Being able to look at the month view helps to jog my memory.

When the end of the year arrives, I Iook back over these monthly summaries and have a much more complete view of the year. And you know what, it’s usually much better than I remembered. :)

Hope this helps you have a better feeling at the end of the year too.

 
Do You Know Where Your Time Goes?

You’ve created your goals for the year, have a list of tasks or To Dos that you’d like to get done and a weekly calendar full of blank pages. Are you feeling a little lost as to how to move forward? Not quite sure how to convert your lists into actions?

Just like a blank canvas, empty pages can elicit the same feelings of doubt or hesitation on taking the next step. For perfectionist like me, the pages are so clean and neat...I don’t want to mess them up. And, that’s why I use Pilot’s FriXion erasable pens. Make a mistake, change my mind...just erase it and start over.

I’m sharing how I schedule and plan my time using the weekly planner. Of course you don’t have to use my method, but I’m guessing your at least curious if your reading this. Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips that’ll help you make the most of the year ahead.


Before the Week Starts

Usually sometime on the weekend, I’ll sit at the kitchen table, watch the birds at the feeder and plan the week(s) ahead. I start by reviewing the Monthly Action Plan worksheet and goals for the year, this helps me reconnect with my long term vision of how I’d like my year to go.

planning your schedule in 2019

Section A – Goals

I start by writing in the tasks for the week that are directly related to my goals for the year. They are often the same each week of the month but may change from month to month. I keep these separate from the To Dos because they are the most important things for me to get done to stay on track with my overall goals for the year.

Section B – To Dos

These are more like a traditional list of items to do for the week. Some of these task will have come from the Monthly Action Plan worksheet, others from the editorial calendar. They may be deadlines, reminders, or just shit that needs to get done during the week. Often this process prompts me to think of things that need be be done, but NOT this week. If I know when they need to be done, I’ll write it on that week’s page or jot it down on a piece of paper I keep to the side..

At the end of the week, any uncompleted tasks are added to the next week’s To Dos section. If you find you keep transferring the same task from week to week, ask yourself questions such as why am I not getting this done? Is it important? Do I need help? Sometimes finding out what the hang-up is with a task, will help in deciding to either get it done or it’s not really important and let it go.

Section C – schedule commitments

The first thing I do to plan my week is to write in any hard commitments. These are usually appointments, webinars, scheduled phone calls, travel, workshops, meetings...I think you get the idea.

I bracket in the approximate duration of time for each using a PaperMate Flair marker. Each year I pick a dedicated color, last year was light blue, this year is yellow. I use a color because at a glance of the week or looking through past weeks/months, I can tell how much of my time was spoken for. Last year I discovered I was over scheduling myself with volunteer work for the building my studio is located in.

It’s also helps me realize some weeks I won’t be able to get much done because three days are committed to a workshop for example. Being able to make adjustments to my Goals and/or To Dos, helps me both be realistic with my time, and to NOT feel like I didn’t get anything done for the week.

Section D – schedule goals

Second thing is to block in the time for Goals. Remember I said these are the most important and get me towards my long term, year end goals. To give them more of a visual priority this year, I’m using a second color (gray) to bracket in dedicated time. These times are sacred, no phone calls, no checking email, looking through social media, no scheduling of other activities.

If there is a lot of scheduled commitments for the week, I may need to look at the goals for the week and make an adjustment. I know that I’m not going to get much painting done the week my sister is in town, I’ll need to schedule more painting time the week before and after her visit.


DURING THE WEEK:

Section E – Record what you do

I leave unscheduled blocks of time in the week to work on items from the To Dos list...or follow where the mood takes me. Oh come on, who hasn’t said “I feel like doing. . . . .”

Example of how I record time spent during the week.

Example of how I record time spent during the week.

I record what I did and draw a vertical line, blocking off the time spent. This is important for two reasons, the first is I start to get an idea how long something might take to do. How long it takes to write blog posts for example.

The second reason is it creates a written record of how I spent my time and what I worked on when. For example in a block of time for painting, I’ll make a couple of notes with either location of plein air painting or the painting I worked on. And that brings me to the last section, F.

Section F – Special Notes

(Refer to first image.) I use the gray area at the bottom of the page to record when a painting is completed, or to make a special note for/or about the day.

In the image at the beginning of the post, I’ve made a reminder note to schedule time with Rachael, who I’ll be seeing at the meeting that night. Other examples are having received a special phone call or shipped a painting. Since I don’t write in this area all the time, it’s easy to look back through to find important dates.

That’s it!

That’s how I use the weekly planner to schedule and plan my weeks. It’s an evolving system, and honestly some weeks I do better than others. Life happens, and that’s why I use the erasable pen. :)

So pick two markers in your favorite colors, erasable pen and find a comfy spot to plan your schedule for the week or weeks ahead. Stop being reactionary to what happens each week, take control and get done what you want. I say this as much for myself as you. :)

I’ll have one more post for you about wrapping up at the end of the month so check back then.

Always open to suggestions so if you’d like to share what works for you, I’d love to read about it.

Resources:

Pilot’s FriXion erasable pens are available on Amazon and come in lots of different colors. Replaceable ink cartridges are also available.

PaperMate Flair marker can be found at drug, grocery, craft, and art stores. Other markers that work well (don’t bleed through the paper) are also available at most craft stores in the scrapbooking section and art stores.

2019 Weekly Planner designed for creatives, is available in the online shop.


 
Let's Get 2019 Started
how to make a goal plan and turn it into action steps

It’s 2 0 1 9! A new year and a new beginning. Ready to make it the best year yet? I sure am.

I often find myself reflecting over the past year, looking for hidden blessings and successes, but also try to review what didn’t work and search for ways to improve in the new year.

One of my affirmations for this year is “I turn my Dreams into GOALS, my Goals into STEPS, and my Steps into ACTIONS.” Last year I had trouble with the “steps into actions” part. This year I’m trying a new approach to achieve my goals and thought I’d share with you.

If you do try it, let me know what you think. If it helps, I’ll probably incorporate it into next year’s weekly planner.

Click on the link below to download a free PDF printable.

NM_MonthlyActionPlan.pdf


The Worksheet

My Focuses this month are...

What are your main focuses this year? What is it that you want to accomplish most? Now write a word or short phrase related to each of the three main goals or areas of focus for the year. For example, I have three main goals this year, they are in a nutshell – produce more artwork, get healthier, and be successful in business. Based on these, my words for this month are Produce, Follow Through, and Commit.

Science has shown that students who took notes by hand, retained the information longer than the students who took notes digitally – voice recorder or on a laptop. So even if you already did your goal planning for the year, write out a word or phrase related to them again. It’ll help cement each one in your brain.

Action steps related to my focuses are...

Expanding on the three main focuses for the month, what are actions or steps you can take to get you closer to your goal? What can you do this month? List just a couple of things for each area of focus.


Additional Actions or To Dos are...

What are some other actions or tasks that you need to do this month, not related to your focus words or goals? o you need to write Blog posts? Craft an email? Contact a gallery? Whatever they are, write them down. In my case, I have to inventory my art supplies and wrap up the 2018 accounting this month.

turning your goals into action

Putting your Plan into Action

Grab a cup of coffee or wine (no judgment here) and sit down with your completed Monthly Action Plan and planner open to the month view. Looking at the appointments and other commitments you have for the month, assign each action step to a week of the month. Be realistic and don’t over schedule yourself. If you have more action steps than you can complete, tackle them next month.

Write each action step in the To Dos section of the planner for the assigned week. You can take it a step further if you want, and block in time during the week to for completing the action step. And for that, you get extra credit! :)

Small steps add up, before you know it you’ve walked a mile. :)

If you feel like sharing your three words for the month, type them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.

PS. There a few 2019 weekly planners available in the Online Shop.