I think you will agree with me that it is very difficult to see the value of investing in a planner every year when you only use 50% of all the different pages and sections that it offers.
The problem is that many planners tend to be very generic and/or geared to the person who made it.
The truth is it took me years of completing planners to realise that what I need this year would be different from what I needed 2 years ago.
Once I started getting results and fully utilising daily, weekly and monthly planners did I realise that it is very possible that every person will set goals differently and will have a different way of using planners.
The impact of using a planner really increased my success rate of accomplishing projects over and over again. It saved me a lot of time and moved me by leaps and bounds in my blog and business.
In this post, I am going to teach you how to use 15 different planner features that will not only save you time but take you from procrastinating to goal achievement.
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Project Based Planning
One of the ways I was able to achieve my goals quickly is by using my planner to achieve goals based on projects rather than looking at it from a monthly goal.
At first, this may not seem to make sense but look at it from this perspective. Say I wanted to launch a podcast I know I would need content and technology as well as listeners to get me there.
I would first look at the content that I am comfortable at producing together with my passion. I will work on my mindmap to produce the skeleton of the content for 3-6 months.
When I do that I have not set any deadlines yet as I want to not feel too pressured to launch until I get the technology arranged.
I look at all the technology available from microphones to podcast hosting to available budget and even podcast coaching.
I wait until I am 50% or more of the way there and then I start entering things into my planner. One main reason that I use this approach is that many times I have to wait for other people to switch on the technology before I go live.
We all live in a society where we are dependent on other people to do their part in order for us to take us to the next stage of our project.
For example, I needed a logo and social media images that were made by other people. I also needed to use podcast editing software to get me through post-production.
There are other things like getting accepted into iTunes and other podcasting directories that can take some time. As I decided to do guest interviews I needed to wait for other people’s diaries to get the perfect timing.
In some cases, the technology does not work the way you want it to so you may need to record the show again or higher someone else to make it sound good.
It has been a year since I started my podcast and it is shocking that I got this far but I have to say it is because I treated it like a project rather than the normal to do list.
Monthly Goal Planner
Everyone works differently and are more productive at different times of the day compared to other people.
When it comes to monthly goals my preference is to work on one or two projects a month.
The reason why I limit myself so much is that life still needs to happen in the background.
Stuff like eating sleeping, doing the laundry, cleaning up the house, working, grocery shopping, etc., still needs to get done.
In my monthly goal planner, I will batch my work by the week leaving sufficient room for life emergencies like when my children have unexpected things like a toothache and earaches.
Just because I am sitting in a doctor’s office or on the bus does not mean I have lost time, in fact, it means that I can make a list of things I want to check on or podcast topics I may want to consider for future shows.
My monthly goal could be to set up a marketing plan or outsource a daily, weekly or monthly task or even add a new tool to my regular tasks for one month.
If you plan goals monthly then be sure the planner you choose has this included.
While planning all these projects it is normal for us as humans to have a few personal goals that we are working on in the background.
If you are a fitness or health coach then having physical fitness as a personal goal would be front and centre.
We are social beings so we have the desire to develop friendships or get an accountability partner or better yet a coach who will take us to a new level of personal development.
Being an entrepreneur could be lonely especially if you are an extrovert. Networking events are the prime places to find that needed human contact.
Introverts, on the other hand, thrive in an environment where there are a computer and sufficient silence to get work done and creative juices gushing all in a nice stream.
If you plan to accomplish personal goals this year then ensure you planner has this incorporated as standard or that you can add it on.
When was the last time you spent some time journaling events in your life? Do you remember what you had for breakfast 3 months ago on a Thursday?
It is really scary when you sit down and think how fast life flies. The last 10 years of my life is but a distant memory and as you grow older you will find it harder and harder to remember everything.
I am currently not journaling as much as I use to probably because I started a new blog and podcast that closely align with my thoughts and emotions.
Many times I refuse to write things down on paper because I am afraid that someone will find it and have a proper laugh.
Other times I feel that if I journal my thoughts I will be able to look back on my progress and smile.
There was a time when I got new business ideas every day and it was crazy I wrote down a good number of them but I cannot find the book where I wrote it.
A planner is normally good for only a 12 month period so how does one journal all these feelings, emotions and ideas and keep them in a safe place?
If you are one for journaling you may consider including it in your planner or having a separate secret journal.
I use the Day One app on my phone for journaling because I can easily add a photo or image.
I currently have over 200 entries of bits and pieces that I did when writing in my electronic journal. Some things I included were the first time I hit the explore page on Instagram.
Others include my daughter’s graduation from elementary school. When I travel overseas I do a journal entry for each hotel I stay in and sometimes the seat on the aeroplane, lol!
You can make journal writing as fun as you need it to be and include as many details and emojis as needed. An event with friends, having the first ice cream of the summer, etc.
A photo of a begging dog at an outdoor restaurant in Bangkok is in there as well as afternoon tea with friends.
What I have come to realise is that some years are more exciting compared to others.
Whatever you decide to do when it comes to journal writing is to decide why you want to do it so that you can at least decide to use a journal app or a physical book or both. One for pleasure and the other for business.
After several surveys conducted in women’s business groups, it was discovered that over 80% of them preferred a physical planner.
However, as I mentioned at the start it is pretty difficult to find that perfect planner.
Planner printables can be a bit too flimsy to last a whole 12 months unless you decide to do them monthly. So what is the middle ground?
Well, you can decide to have a physical planner for the 10,000-foot view of goals and projects. Use printables for daily, weekly or monthly goals.
What do you think? I personally would prefer to have a homemade version of a planner printable because I do a lot of doodling which does not necessarily have a due date until I execute it.
I invest in my self regularly and take notes from the courses and these notes again do not have due dates until I decide to apply what I learn.
The application of what I learn is normally completed in segments. What do I do? I transfer the segment to another book or to my trusty mindmap then I execute it from there.
All these projects that I execute are part of a bigger business plan. One of the big reasons to invest in a good planner is to see your business from a bird’s eye view.
When you are down in the weeds executing each smaller project it can be difficult to catch a glimpse of the bigger plan especially when you are just starting your business.
When I think of business planning here are a few things that come to mind:
- The impact to the world
- Operating procedures
- Unique Selling Point
Just these 6 things give me a good reason to invest in a planner every year. What I would need to consider is the layout of the planner and its ability to cater to the dynamics around these 6 things.
When it comes to business take the time to consider if the planner on your shortlist can accommodate flexibility in planning.
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Every new year there are a large number of people who have a list of things that they want to accomplish for the year.
Some of these include personal, business, professional, social, emotional, physical, financial and mental goals.
As the year progresses these goals either increase or diminish based on that person’s circumstances and/or priorities.
The planner they secured at the end of December is no longer as useful due to these changes.
I wanted to include some standard planner ideas here so that you can be more prepared for whatever life throws at you.
- Professional investment
- Meal planning
- Sleep routine
- Kids schedule
- Business goals
- Cleaning schedule
- Project planning
- Financial planning
- Maintenance + repair planning
- Pleasure planning
- Social interaction planning
- Family events
- Special occasions
- Big life event
- Quit a bad habit
- Spiritual enrichment
- That one thing
As you can see I wanted to ensure that all the broad areas of the vast majority of most people’s lives are included in that list.
You may want to ensure that the planner on your short list is able to handle the scenario for when life throws you lemons.
In order to make the whole planning process more enjoyable, you need to decide what you enjoy doing with your planner.
I really like using different colour pens to write, highlight and circle stuff as I am taking notes. Here are a few things that you can include to make it worth your while.
- Coloured paper
- Sticky notes
- Reward pages
- Ruler with stencil
- An app to scan notes to a mobile device
- Adult colouring patterns
- QR codes
This whole idea of investing in a planner requires a planner in and of itself, lol!!
Social Media Business Planning
As a business in today’s world, you have no choice but plan to use social media in your marketing strategy. The truth is that social media platforms are always on 24/7 so it should always be on your radar as well.
How does one effectively plan for social media without losing hair or running out of a budget? The truth is that it can be as simple as you want it to be.
One of the best places to start is knowing who your ideal client is and which platform they use the most. If you have not done this exercise yet, take some time to understand who is your ideal client.
After understanding your ideal client in great detail you will get the opportunity to find out where they spend most of their time.
I personally would prefer to start with the platform that will give me the greatest results. The top 3 platforms for finding clients are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
It could be totally different for you as there are many potential clients hanging out on LinkedIn as well. So take the time to do some research in this area.
Start with one platform, master it then move to the next one. Whichever platform you decide to use first ensure that you have objectives and campaign goals before you kick-off.
Remember to measure your return on investment as well. A good planner will be able to help you see these statistics at a glance.
Business Planning Worksheet
Your business is not a static piece of furniture that you prop-up in the corner of a room. It is a dynamic entity that has many moving parts.
Take some time to consider the most dynamic parts of your business. The first few items that come to mind for me are customers, partners, suppliers, marketing and products/services.
Because these are so dynamic it would make sense to have separate worksheets on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that will help you work through the planning of these key elements.
Two other items that are intangible are goals and achievements. They may be intangible but they are vitally important to business growth.
You can put aside two worksheets for these items. Once a goal is met you can move to the next one and so on. As a business, you also need to spend time celebrating the accomplishments.
Some of your goals can include a business related award which you can include as an achievement on your website. You will definitely need a worksheet and a planner to orchestrate the details of achieving that success.
Goal Setting Worksheet
When compared to business planning, goal setting is the ability to get into the nitty-gritty of writing out a SMART goal for each item on your business plan.
Just in case you have never encountered the acronym SMART before here is what it stands for:
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – attainable
- R – relevant
- T – time-based
Specific – To become the number one seller of books in the city
Measurable – The current number one competitor sells 10,000 books a year so I would like to sell 20,000 in order to be #1
Attainable – In order to meet this goal I would need to sell 1,667 books every month or 193 books every week for the next 12 months. I would also need to improve my marketing to get more conversions.
Relevant – Is this in line with the business vision and mission? Are we the company that can do this? How have we performed in the past?
Time-Based – We will achieve it in 12 months. For example 31st December, 20xx.
These should be on all your goal setting worksheets for each department or area of your business. For example, one for customers service, sales, marketing, admin.
A good planner should give you a real opportunity to set and achieve goals or provide a way to add this on to the book.
No business is going to survive for any amount of time without business goals. I am at this point referring to those goals that you find in the scary business plan document.
Some of these goals will include:
- Elevator Pitch
- Go to market strategy
- Exit Strategy
- Short + Long term goals
Whenever I hear the word business plan I think of high level, serious board meeting kind of discussions. Stuff that is set in stone. I know that is not necessarily the case but it sure sounds like that to me.
You will definitely need a planner every year to address these serious kinds of conversations. A planner will give you a bird’s eye view of where you are now and where you would like to be.
Growing businesses need planners.
Goal Setting Planner
We and our business are two distinct identities which mean our personal goals list will differ slightly from our personal goals list.
So we have goals for the business and we also have personal goals. Our business is not a verbal being so we need to verbalise on its behalf.
Are you sick of planning and goal setting yet? The truth is that if we ‘fail to plan then we plan to fail’ and I know that you are going to be successful.
Let’s look at 6 personal goals:
They all overlap into each other so they tend not to be distinctly separate or isolated. Have you sat down to plan your personal goals in the last 12 months?
Does this mean that you need to have two separate planners? Yes, of course! If you sell your business or close it down you continue to be a separate identity.
Goal Setting Printable
Depending on your personal goals you will quickly discover that you actually need printable sheets for the goal-setting exercise.
Just like your business you need to set SMART goals for your personal objectives. We all have emotional needs that are to be met for us to give our best performance each day.
Some of the emotional goals that you may want to consider are:
- Personality traits
- Personal development
- Personal relationships
To be the best person I can be I need to understand who I am, what is my purpose, what gives me the greatest peace, what are my fears, what beliefs are holding me back and how can I be a better person.
Sometimes these questions can be scary, depressing and the can make us feel worthless. However, investing in the right coach we should be able to achieve our goals in spite of the odds.
These goals tend to be dynamic and change so frequently hence having a printable will help you keep track no matter what. You can also use an app and save the trees.
Plan Your Blog Like a Boss, even if you...
Our planning will never be complete until we look at our lives from a 10,000-foot view. Our business is just a mere extension of who we are even though we are separate entities.
Why are you here and who do you want to become are questions that many people face at the start of every year. Have you accomplished what you set out to do 12 months ago?
Welcome to the club of feeling like a complete failure. No matter what we did the previous 12 months we always feel like we could have done so much more.
We give into the statements that include ‘if only’. There is nothing that we can do to change the past but we can affect our future.
It is never too late to make changes. Here are 4 simple things to put in your planner:
- Start a vision board
- Make a 3-5 year plan
- Where are you now
- Where do you want to be in 12 months
Yes, a whole separate section of your planner should be dedicated to life goals. If your life has no direction or meaning all the other goals would be meaningless.
?Stay tuned for the free webinar coming soon. I will cover some traffic attraction hacks across LinkedIn as well as Pinterest, Twitter, SEO and Facebook so get ready to join.
If you need help setting up a marketing plan for your blog feel free to book some time in my calendar and I will be happy to spend an hour with you going over specifics.
If you need help setting up your profile on Pinterest or you need someone to manage your Pinterest account on a monthly basis you can work with me here.
Alvern is an avid blogger for 10 years and the host of the Success Unscrambled podcast.
Read Alvern’s inspiring story from her eye-opening experience 3 years ago to becoming a Blogger and Podcaster with a dream to reduce illiteracy among women.