Are you looking for a clear path to achieve long-term success? Then, creating a roadmap might be the answer. Think of it as a journey towards your dreams, with a clear goal in mind and a route to get there.
My friend got a kick out of ribbing me the other day, “You still use a paper planner? You living in the 90’s?” I chuckled and fired back, “Hey, don’t diss my trusty planner!” We’re tight like that, so poking a little fun between friends is no biggie. But seriously, I had to sing the virtues of why my paper planner is still the king of the castle when it comes to speed and ease.
Get ready to boost your productivity game with a trusty planner! Here are 5 reasons why printed weekly planners are the secret sauce to success. But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there! Keep scrolling for my tried-and-true process on how to set goals, break them down into bite-sized pieces, and schedule your week like a boss.
Create a Color Key
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. Here’s a sneak 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.
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
Planning out your schedule can be overwhelming, but starting with what you already know can make it easier. Using the corresponding colors, begin by writing down all the appointments, meetings, deadlines, and commitments, as well as important events like birthdays and anniversaries.
Remember to pop in 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. At least they do for me.
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, I 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.
For me, I also highlight days that involve exhibits, festivals, and open studio days, making sure to give these events prominence. Other examples of important dates to highlight might include project timelines, upcoming presentations, or conferences, depending on your individual needs.
This method provides a clear understanding of your obligations and available time, allowing you to arrange and organize your weekly schedule for an upcoming step of the process. Painting a vivid picture of the days I can’t make it to the studio or crucial deadlines helps me visually stay on track.
Determine the Destination
It’s easy to lose focus and commitment when things are too far away. 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 little 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 to five goals for the next 90 days. Make sure they’re specific, narrow, and measurable.
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, it’s possible to realistically adjust how many paintings need to be completed each week to achieve this goal.
Next, break down your list of goals into actionable tasks. What steps do you need to take to achieve each goal? Then, referring to the monthly calendars created in step one, assign due dates to each action item on the list.
Plan the Route
Now that you know where you want to go and the steps required to get there, it’s time to create a route that will take you there. Transfer all the information to the weekly planner pages.
You may continue to follow the color-coded system you established earlier or, like me, reserve red ink for important items, green for exhibits/events, and blue for everything else. I find it easier to work with three colors every week rather than six; these three areas are my most important.
Being able to manage your time properly is crucial to achieving your goals and 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. That was until I started utilizing the method of Time Blocking in my weekly schedule.
I recommend experimenting with different time-blocking techniques to determine what works best for you. Personally, I found that drawing a vertical line with a highlighter to block off a time slot visually is the most effective method.
The key to achieving your 90-day goals is to allocate specific time slots to work towards them. This is where a weekly planner comes in handy – it enables you to remain on track and progress steadily toward your objectives.
It’s essential to be realistic with your time and not overcommit yourself. Allocate uncommitted time slots to return to unfinished tasks and make space for unexpected events or situations that may arise. Additionally, be adaptable and willing to modify your schedule as needed – which is why I usually don’t plan beyond one week at a time.
Enjoy the Trip
All the planning in the world won’t help you achieve your dreams until you take that first step and start your journey. Consistency is the key to success, and that means moving forward steadily, one small action at a time.
To achieve long-term success, it’s crucial to develop a dedicated routine for planning on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Make planning and scheduling a pleasurable and habitual activity that you anticipate with eagerness. What would make the experience special for you? Perhaps enjoying your favorite coffee in a cozy café or sitting near a serene lake?
Here’s a glimpse of my routine that has worked wonders for me: every Monday morning, I head to the studio a little early. I create a soothing ambiance by playing Spotify’s Deep Focus playlist and preparing myself a cup of tea before sitting down to plan. It’s essential to block off this time in my planner and avoid scheduling any other activities during this period. By following this routine and making it special, I’m able to make steady progress towards my goals.
Are you ready to hit the road and create your very 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 is a clear goal in mind and then 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 in action. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey, you’ll be revved up and ready to hit the gas on your own goals and dreams. Sorry, couldn’t help but carry the road trip theme through to the end.