Okay, before I get into the details about how I’m feeling behind – and how I’m tweaking my planning to hit my Q1 goals – I have confession.
I am a total hoarder of information – online content, books, courses, you name it! As a result of this tendency to want to know ALL the things, I have to employ a variety of tactics to dial down my information overload and turn up my focus. For example, I have been
- Unsubscribing. (Repeat, repeat, repeat!)
- Using timers.
- Cleaning up and treamlining my task manager (Asana is my go-to, BTW) & Google calendar.
- Pairing tasks and appointments with my paper planner.
Also, until recently, I’ve also been a huge planner nerd. Every Q4, I’d spend some absurd amount of time researching the perfect planner for the upcoming year. (Key criteria: Has to have ONE page per day because I can’t focus using a weekly spread; Must have space for appointments and tasks; etc.)
A New System for Planning and Reaching Q1 Goals
But I finally developed my very own system that I love, love, love by pairing a TUL Discbound Notebook* and my Frixion Pens*. [*Yes, those are Amazon affiliate links – I just love these things so much!]
Goals – Top of Mind
First of all, you’ll notice that image (showing through the poly cover), which happens to be the mini version of this quarter’s vision board. It’s there so I’ll see it every day, at least once a day. If you peeked inside, right behind the vision, you’d find a mission statement and my goals. So those are also just one flip of the notebook away from me at all times.
Inside, I have a page for each day of the week to capture everything I need for the day. I created a template I print for this because I need it spelled out for me each day, and I’m not artsy/crafty. But you could totally do this in Bullet journal format, if that’s your thing.
My sections include:
- “Massive Action Plan” (MAPs) Tasks – to drive my big initiatives. (There’s space for 4, but I stick to 3 a day with few exceptions.)
- Tiny tasks – all those little things like ‘make hair appointment’ that I like to batch.
- Routine daily tasks (e.g., follow-up).
- End of day reflection and “Done/Wins” list. [I’m going to circle back to this game-changer in a sec!]
In addition to the daily planning pages, the notebook includes plain paper** for capturing my notes on projects and client work throughout the day. That way, I have pretty much everything I need in one place. Juggling fewer notebooks and folders also helps me manage the info overload and distractions! (**I have some lined paper, but I’m currently obsessed with dot-grid pages!)
About Those Pens
Now, why the Frixion pens, specifically? They are erasable. Like for real the ink disappears cleanly. So they’re fabulous because you can color code your appointments – knowing that you can make revisions as things happen – instead of being stuck with using a pencil. BONUS: they happen to write really nicely. (Pro tip: The multi-pack is nice to start, but when you run out of a single color, you can buy the basic colors, individually, at Michael’s.)
Okay, back to the “Done/Wins” list – which has been the game-changer for me.
Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day thinking, “Why didn’t I get more done today?” or “Did I really accomplish a thing today?!”
[What’s that you say? All the time? We’ve all been there, right?]
What’s worse than the thought is how you feel at the end of the day – frustrated, defeated, etc. But the Done/Wins list eliminates that noise!
Focus on the Goals – and the Wins
For one, when you take a moment at the end of the day to write out completed tasks, it gives you space to acknowledge yourself for the things you accomplished that were not on your list. You start your day with a list, but it’s basically a given that other things are going to pop up that you’ll have to address during the day. We typically fail to give ourselves credit for these things.
Also, something amazing happens when you write out the completed items from your task list under “done,” in addition to simply crossing them off your to-do list. Seriously, you have to try it. Rewriting them gives those items more weight – and you a bigger feeling of accomplishment.
[Pro tip: Ask any life coach and they will tell you: The real goal is always about the feeling you’re after, not the thing itself.]
Finally, including “wins” with your done list is magic ingredient to feeling great about your day. Now, when I say “wins,” I’m not referring to the things you’d typically think of like selling a product, finishing a project, or enrolling a new client. (But do you also write those under wins? Absolutely!) Instead, your “wins” are all the things – big and small – that went well for you today.
For example, if you receive a small compliment that you might normally forget by the next day, write it under wins.
Did you have to have a difficult conversation today? Write that under wins. Even if it totally sucked or you really botched it, jot it down because you bit the bullet and f**king dealt with it today. It counts and you get credit!
Or maybe you learned something small and seemingly insignificant today, like a new trick within an app that you use or a tiny tweak to your process. Write. It. Down. It all adds up and helps your momentum.
Get the idea? Give yourself credit for every task and win you had today, big or small.
State of My Q1 Goals
Now what does this have to do with my Q1? Well, 2019 hasn’t been my friend so far in terms of serving up interruption-free weeks, and I’m feeling a little behind. But I have five weeks to go and I’m making the most of them!
I’m leveraging my master task list from Asana to strategically pick my MAPs (that’s ‘massive action plan’ tasks from above) for the day. It’s important to stick to three MAPs a day so that you’ll feel accomplished at the end of the day. Resist the urge to pile on your list! One of the reasons we feel crappy at the end of the day is that we try to do too much, so we end up “failing” day after day. Pick no more than three.
And if you happen to get those three done with time to spare? Then you can add and knock out a fourth. Then you’ll feel amazing times two because you finished your list and completed a bonus round!
And because you simply cannot run your life with your head down in your top priorities 24/7, I batch my tiny tasks to pick ‘em off quickly and then track all of my progress with the daily reflection and Done/Wins list.
You’ll Notice a Difference Right Away
I only added the Done/Wins to my routine recently, but it’s been making all the difference. I encourage you to try it. When you end your day on that positive note, day after day, it really builds momentum. Plus, all the good feels builds confidence for the days ahead.
Which is why I have confidence that I’m to tackle all of my Q1 priorities with just five weeks remaining!
Now, make an appointment with yourself on your calendar – at the end of your workday or little later in the evening – and try it today! I’d love it if you’d share with me how it goes for you!