A Peek Into My Planning System!
Hello Horacio Printing Family!
I have been perfecting my personal planning system for quite a while. I have developed a slight obsession with taking classes and reading books on productivity, planning, goals, dream casting, and vision planning. As a relatively new business owner, I have to protect my schedule and live intentionally. I know that life is messy, and I have learned that great planning leads to more freedom, flexibility, and reduced stress. The link to all of these resources is here. Below is a detailed tutorial of how I plan my big picture, year, quarter, month, week, and days! I hope something I share will help you simplify your life and bring you more joy!
Big Picture – Focusing On The Important
To plan for success, you must start with the big picture. What is your big picture? Not exactly sure? Don’t worry. I am going to walk you through the mental process necessary to formulate your big picture. Then, I will show you the method I use to take that big picture plan and translate it into yearly plans, quarterly plans, monthly plans, and ultimately daily plans. Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires, thinking of all the things that must get done, and simply praying for the strength to get it all handled? We have all been there. This is called living in the world of “urgent.”
The ‘world of urgent’ is describes a world where every task or errand you are working on needs to be completed urgently -- leaving you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Sound familiar? When you feel this way, you don’t necessarily treat everyone you live with or encounter with the joy of the Lord, do you? We ALL find ourselves in the world of urgent sometimes, but that is not the way God intended for you to live. He wants you to live in the important, but not the urgent. When you are accomplishing something that is important but not urgent, you are more creative and more powerful. You end up solving problems and addressing issues before they become a fire that you must urgently extinguish.
With proper planning and quiet time with the Lord, your life can quickly transition from the world of the urgent to the world of the important! The first step towards living in the world of the important is to ask yourself this critical question: what is important to you? For example, if you are not watering an important relationship at your job or in your home because other things are too urgent and time consuming, this relationship will not grow, but will wither. Sadly, you will be so focused elsewhere that you will not recognize that you are neglecting this important relationship until a major problem develops or the relationship is severely damaged. Once you are living in the ‘world of the important,’ you can plan out how you want to water this relationship often so that it continually grows and does not suffer. I can't promise that you will never deal with urgent matters or emergencies anymore -- that is inevitable. However, this does not have to be, and should not be, your lifestyle. Let's travel to a less stressful life together. Are you on board? Grab some paper and your planner!
What is Important?
What is important to you? What matters? We might think something is important, but if we are not spending time working on it or focusing on it, then our actions are not consistent with our beliefs.
[Note: You might be thinking of someone else right now that needs to hear this message, but keep in mind you can only truly change yourself. Keep your focus on YOU and becoming the best YOU!]
You must define what is important to you and who you are becoming before you write down your big goals and dream plans! Now is the time for you to create that list of what is important.
ACTION: Take time to list out what is important to you.
Do not rush through this step. Close your eyes and visualize what really matters to you. Need some help getting started? Perhaps my list can assist you..
Important for me:
- quality time for relationships (family/friends)
- spiritual health
- quality time with God
- health for my body
- budgeting for generosity with time and resources
- creative expression
*tip: If you want to make a list for your business or career, go for it! This planning works for both your personal and professional lives.
Yearly Planning - Who Am I Becoming?
Who am I becoming this year? This is the most important question to ask yourself. Everything in your goals, plans, and day to day life should circle back to this question of who you are becoming. If you do not define this for yourself, your current habits will define this for you. Your actions dictate who you become, which is why you must be intentional with your schedule. If you want to become a pilot, you must plan time to take the classes, log the necessary flight hours, and pass all the tests. If you want to become an involved, loving parent, you have to build into your schedule time with your kids, and then step into those moments with the intention of being a loving parent. Your life is your canvas, and you have the ability to grow into the person you want to become this year.
ACTION: Reflect back at what is important to you and then ask yourself “Who am I becoming?” Come up with 5-10 answers to that question!
ACTION: Put these answers on your bucket list and add more things in your bucket list that are related to who you are becoming this year.
*tip: A great sermon to watch on this topic is 'The Chair.' I would recommend watching it if you haven't already!
Your bucket list should bring you joy and inspiration. I highly recommend taping it up in a prominent location to ensure you see it daily. I keep this list nearby and look at it often so that my vision continually re-energizes me. Our planner has a great place to keep this bucket list, and it also has a place to write your top 3 dreams for 2017. Click here to watch and learn more about Dream Planning!
When I plan my month, I use an extra sheet of notebook paper. This is very helpful in organizing and prioritizing my business needs. This step helps me prioritize when I feel a bit overwhelmed.
To plan my month, I ask myself the following questions:
1) What are my major outcomes this month?
2) What are my major focuses this month?
3) What are my future focuses?
I place the major outcomes in a vertical list, and I list both sets of focuses as bubble charts. (See picture below.) Our brains naturally tend to look to the future. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves, and then become overwhelmed. (Wouldn’t you agree?) So if I think of something that I want to focus on next month, I place it around the future focuses bubble and then table that focus until the next month. Doing this gives me permission to quit stressing about future outcomes and to focus on NOW. Moreover, our brains will subconsciously begin to marinate on the future topics, and we will be better equipped for solutions when the time comes to focus on them.
After completing both sets of bubbles, I ask myself which of these will provide the most success. To be successful, you must limit yourself to no more than 3-5 focuses per month -- more than that will be counterproductive. Remember: focuses are not tasks.
After I have determined what my key focuses will be, I list out, under each focus, all the tasks I need to accomplish to achieve results in that area. I use this list to help me plan my weeks.
*tip: You can repeat this exercise twice, once for professional and once for personal, or you can combine them and do the exercise just once. That is up to you.
Weekly planning happens once a week, typically on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. For me, this is an ideal time to map out the upcoming week. I consult my Seasonal Refresh section to remember what my big goals are. Or I consult my monthly sheet so that I know what I need to make time for this week.
I block out time for the major categories and focuses I have listed both for professional and personal. I don’t typically list all my smaller daily tasks in my planner because doing so makes the week seem overwhelming. (I save the list of tasks for the daily planning on my notepad.)
Here are some questions I ask myself:
- Am I setting aside time and activities to help me transform into the person I want to become? (mind, body, soul)
- What are my major appointments/commitments this week? (Do I need all these?)
- What are my big weekly musts? (I put those on the left in the To-Do List)
- What are my overall intentions for this week spiritually/personally? (I put that answer down in the Weekly Intentions section.)
*tip: I do plenty of revising along the way, so I typically either plan in pencil or use stickers to cover up things that I change. For professional tasks, I upload them into Asana and give them specific due dates! (I love Asana!)
You never know what life is going to throw your way, and God tells us repeatedly through Scriptures not to worry about tomorrow. He knows that anxiety and worry tear us down physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and do not benefit us in any way. However, this does not mean that we are to just simply wake up and figure out the day without any plan or direction. Accordingly, I believe that attacking the day with purpose is vital. Of course, daily plans have to be flexible to an extent: we must be ready for unexpected events that may occur and for what the spirit might be stirring within us.
To plan my day I use my daily pad! I take about 15 minutes at the end of the day (around 6:00 PM) to design my day for tomorrow. Why the day before? By knowing what I am going to focus on and accomplish tomorrow, I can rest easy and enjoy my evening!
To plan my next day, I ask myself the following questions:
- What did I not get to today that I need to put first tomorrow?
- What are my appointments and meals tomorrow?
- How can I make my morning beautiful? (How do I create an environment that allows me to be focused in the morning?)
- What tactical work do I need to get done in the afternoon? (The afternoon is typically where I would schedule any meetings and handle routine tasks such as emails, errands, customer service, team check in, and fitness.)
- What passion can I make time for in my evening?
- What are the top 3 things I need to accomplish tomorrow? If I get these three things done, tomorrow is a WIN!
- After the plan is done, I close the book on ‘today’ and enjoy my evening!
I love to create beautiful mornings. My favorite mornings include a SOAP bible study followed by creative writing, editing, and product design. I love to do this mind engaging work right after spending time in the Word. During this time, I do things that, though not urgent, are very important to hitting my goals.
*tip: Be realistic in your daily planning. Also, it is important that you plan for a break in your day! Plan for something fun, even if it is only 15 minutes. Don’t feel guilty -- you need this. By scheduling a break, you will have more passion for your day, and you will be able to handle the other tasks on your schedule more efficiently. Give yourself grace!
I hope you enjoyed this look into my planning system!
I realize that some of these strategies may not work for everyone, but they have certainly helped me stay focused and productive! What are your planning tips? How do you like to set up your year? Please comment below!