Are you looking for a clear path to achieve long-term success? The answer is to create a roadmap to success. Think of it as a journey towards your dreams, with a clear goal and a route to get there.
The other day, my friend teased me for still using a paper planner. “You living in the 90’s?” she joked. I laughed and replied, “Hey, don’t diss my trusty planner!” We’re good friends, so teasing each other is no big deal. But seriously, I had to explain why my paper planner is still the best when it comes to speed and ease. Here are five reasons why I prefer a traditional weekly planner.
But wait, there’s more! Keep reading for my tried-and-true process for setting goals, breaking them down into manageable pieces, and scheduling your week like a boss. In other words, a roadmap to success.
Preliminary Prep: Organizing with Color
Let’s get down to business. Over the years, I have found color coding immensely helpful in organizing everything. If you’re new to this approach, these articles can help you get started and define your categories:
– “How to Color Code Your Planner” by All About Planners
– “How to Color Code Your Planner” by Get Organized HQ
I’m an artist, so it’s no surprise that splashing my schedule with colors made my heart skip a beat. Color coding is not only practical but also visually stimulating. Here’s a peek at the color-coded categories I use, in case you’re curious:
- Appointments (red)
- Deadlines (pink)
- Emails to List (bright blue)
- Blog Posts (purple)
- Exhibits/Shows (green)
- Vacations/Days Off (gray)
Once you have chosen the categories and colors for your planner, it’s time to create a color key. I like to use a larger Post-it® note and stick it to the inside cover of my planner for easy reference.
If you have my Weekly Planner, you’ll notice that the monthly planning pages have an awesome color-coding system. With the preparation out of the way, let’s dive in!
With the preparation out of the way, let’s dive in!
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90-Day Roadmap to Success
Start with What You Know: Building the Foundation
Planning out your schedule can be overwhelming, but starting with what you already know can make it easier. Using the corresponding colors, write down all the appointments, meetings, deadlines, commitments, and important events like birthdays and anniversaries.
Remember to include recurring duties, like regular email blasts to your list and blog updates. Without a spot on your calendar, these little tasks might just slip through the cracks.
I use highlighters to add a visual emphasis to important days on the calendar. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer using pastel-colored highlighters. On days you won’t be available for work, draw a line across or box in the day on the calendar with the corresponding colored highlighter. These could be vacation days, guests in town, medical procedures, caring for a loved one, or kids home from school.
Also, highlight days that involve exhibits, festivals, and open studio days, making sure to give these events prominence in the calendar. Other examples of important dates to highlight may include project timelines, upcoming presentations, or conferences, depending on your individual needs.
This provides a clear understanding of your obligations and available time, allowing you to arrange and organize your weekly schedule for an upcoming process step. Painting a vivid picture of the days I can’t make it to the studio or crucial deadlines helps me stay on track visually.
Determine the Destination: Setting 90-Day Goals
It’s easy to lose focus and commitment when things are too far in the future. That’s why a 90-day or 13-week plan can help you get big things done and feel accomplished. At the start of every quarter (January, April, July, and October), I dedicate an hour to follow the process I’m sharing with you.
Let’s start with a bit of daydreaming. Grab a cup of coffee, your favorite pen, a notebook, settle into a comfy chair, and answer the following prompts:
- At the end of 90 days, I want to have accomplished…
- Having accomplished my goals, I will feel…
Based on your answers, create a list of three goals for the next 90 days. Make sure they’re specific, narrow, and measurable. It can be tempting to list more than three goals; try to limit yourself to three but no more than five at the most. You’d be better off saving them for the next 90 days.
Using myself as an example, I’ve found that a goal like “paint more” is too vague to be effective. Instead, setting a specific and measurable goal such as “Complete XX number of paintings by the end of the quarter” is much more successful. Breaking this goal down further into the number of paintings to finish per month to meet the target is more manageable. Examining the monthly calendars and adjusting how many paintings need to be completed each week to achieve this goal is possible.
After defining your three goals, the next step is breaking them into actionable tasks. These are the specific steps that you need to take to achieve each goal. To proceed, refer to the monthly calendars and what you have already added in step one. Then, assign reasonable due dates to each actionable task on the list. Don’t set yourself up for failure by giving arbitrary due dates or not considering other commitments during the months or weeks.
Planning the Route: Charting a Course
Now that you have identified your destination and the necessary steps to reach it, it’s time to chart a course to get there. Make sure to record all the relevant information in your planning calendars, including the due dates for each task that needs to be completed.
You now have an overview of all your commitments for the next 90 days.
To achieve your goals in 90 days, allocating specific time slots to work on them is essential. A weekly planner can be a valuable tool to help you remain on track and make steady progress toward your objectives.
Managing your time properly is crucial to achieving your goals while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. For a long time, I struggled with feeling overwhelmed and unable to complete everything on my to-do list in a day. However, I found that utilizing the method of Time Blocking in my weekly schedule was helpful.
Experiment with different time-blocking techniques to find out what works best for you. I found that visually blocking off a time slot by drawing a vertical line with a highlighter is the most effective method.
It is essential to be realistic with your time and avoid overcommitting. Also, leave yourself with uncommitted time slots to complete unfinished tasks and make space for unexpected events or situations that may arise. Additionally, be adaptable and willing to modify your schedule as needed. That’s why I usually don’t plan beyond one or two weeks at a time.
You can continue using the color-coded system you have already established for the monthly calendars if you prefer. However, I find it more convenient to work with just three colors instead of all six while planning my weeks. I suggest using red ink for important items such as appointments and deadlines, green for exhibits/events, and blue for everything else that is not urgent.
Enjoy the Trip: Making Planning a Pleasure
You must take the first step and start your journey to achieve your dreams. Consistent, small actions are the key to success. It’s crucial to develop a routine for planning on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Make planning a pleasurable and regular activity that you enjoy. What would make the experience special for you? Perhaps enjoying your favorite coffee in a cozy café or curling up in your favorite chair? Make planning a ritual that sets a positive tone for your journey.
A routine that has proven very effective for me is arriving at the studio a little earlier than usual every Monday morning. I create a calming atmosphere by playing Spotify’s Deep Focus playlist and preparing myself a cup of tea. Then, I sit down to plan. It’s important that I reserve 30 minutes every Monday in my planner and avoid scheduling any other activities during this time. By following this routine and making it enjoyable, I’m able to make steady progress toward my goals.
Hit the Road to Success
Are you ready to hit the road and create your own “Roadmap to Success”? It’s just like embarking on a thrilling adventure, where you set your sights on your dreams and work towards achieving long-term success. All you need are clear goals and then to map a route to get there.
So, to recap…
Keep this in mind: Consistency is the VIP pass to long-term success. So, take baby steps and make steady strides toward your targets. While a planner is a trusty tool, it needs you to put it into action.
Safe travels on your road to success!