Plan for the Future & Review your Year at a Glance

We all love the feeling of a fresh start, so when the 1st of January approaches each year there’s a scrambling frenzy to set New Year’s Resolutions and plummet on what ‘three words‘ or ‘one word‘ will encapsulate one’s hopes, dreams and aspirations for the year ahead.

I love this concept in theory, but in practice how many people give their ‘One/Three word focus‘ a second thought once January’s dreamy long summer holidays (down here in Oz!) fades into February and the real work of the year gets under way?

Plan for the Future

Last year I attended my third ProBlogger conference on the Gold Coast –
Darren Rowse talked of how he had mapped out a time chart to ensure all bases of his hectic schedule were covered, with appropriate allocations made for the Creation of fresh content alongside spending time with his young family..

Weekly calendar schedule to aid workflow

Click on this image to hear Darren’s podcast on productivity

I’ve tried drawing up similar charts in the past, where blocks of time are allocated out, but somehow my days don’t ever pan out into such neat 2 hour chunks like his!
Do yours?
I’ve therefore put these chart creation efforts down to just another sneaky procrastination technique that have me thinking I’m being busy organising myself when in fact it’s just another case of theory not matching up to the practice 🙁

The thing is, as every small business owner knows, demands on one’s time gets busier and more manic as the number of plates one has to keep up spinning on sticks increases; so one races ever faster and more frantically from one end to the other endeavouring to save each plate before it topples.

Yet, there is one plate that quietly and gently swirls, never vying for your attention or making a fuss that it may fall –
It is the one plate that holds your really important work –
The core of your business, without which you’d just have an admin department.

Aware that those noisy urgent plates about to clatter together were keeping me away from the succulent plate of important work, I knew deep down a schedule was the answer, but how to devise one that would work for me and… not turn out to be just another distraction that looked perfect on paper but the practice was simply not going to happen.

One word for 2016 - Schedule

Schedule – My action word for 2016

Reviewing your Important Work

So I took all the plates down and put them on the table to see what exactly I was doing with my time?

And I came up with this list.
I have five main business areas that all need my attention in equal parts – on top of caring for my mind, body and soul.

How to divide my time so the important work gets done

My business has 5 areas that vie for my attention – over and above caring for my mind, body and soul

Having ascertained that blocking off hours in my day for tasks doesn’t work because pulling me out of the zone to focus on Peter when I was making good headway attending to Paul wastes more time than it gains while making the switch, not to mention the clock watching or listening to the sound of my timer ticking –
So, I’ve chosen to apply a day a week to each sector so even when life gets in the way of my well laid out plans there’ll still be time to get back on track and get some real work ticked off on my focus area for the day.

Maybe its a case of as you get older and time goes quicker having a solid focus for the day as a whole is more productive than switching between five fragmented shards?

Breakdown your Work into 5 Groups – One for each day of the week.

My 5 main groups each cover a large area –
I therefore created sub groups under those headings, which will mean focusing on each on alternate weeks –

Such as:

Production – The Important work

  • There’s the checking of stock levels and re-ordering of the 68 products we currently retail, as well as
  • Working on fresh ideas and the design and development of new lines.
Diagram showing my focus to plan for the future

Production and Sales are two major segments of my working week

Sales:

  • There’s our wholesaling and distribution to retailers, as well as
  • Our end-users – the customers who are travelling and want to keep that holiday smile on their face, forever, so need to buy direct when they get home. 😉

Marketing:

  • Blog posts that need to be written for SEO, and
  • Social Media posts for connecting with customers and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Image: Behind the scenes of running a business

I allocated 2 days to Marketing – One for my blog stories, and one for social media

Accounts & Admin

  • Reviewing figures to ensure we’re heading forever upwards!
  • And the admin, which is all the bits that fall down the cracks and I drawstring together in a net – fish out and file.

The Importance of Mind, Body and Soul

While I don’t have a specific time each day to nurture my mind, body and soul – I allow my natural rhythm to guide me –
Mornings – well first thing – are not my most productive when it comes to work! So I’m much better off using this time in a way that feeds my creative well, so I’ll often start out with some mindfullness –

Doing a morning sketch down in the mangroves

Mindfullness in the mangroves

We have such interesting sculptural mangroves near our island office so I love spending half an hour or forty minutes observing the intricacies of their root details and conveying my observations to paper, which focusses my attention and reminds me to stay in the moment when I get back to the office.

Image how I care for my mind body and soul

How I nourish my mind and body, satiating my curiosity while saturating my soul

Then in the afternoons, about an hour before I know it’ll be dark and I’ll have missed my window of opportunity I’ll either head out in my kayak (if the tide is right), on my bike (if its not too hot), take a walk on the wild-side (if the first two are not applicable) or stretch and flow with an evening yoga class on the deck with Yogi Nora directing me by video 😉

How to Plan for the Future - SCHEDULE

And when the Day is Done

I read an end of year newspaper piece by a journalist who was taking down last year’s wall calendar to replace it with this year’s and his heart sank as he observed all the vacant empty squares and he was left pondering –
“What did I do on those unmarked days? Where did the time go?

While formulating a plan for the future keeps us (hopefully) heading purposefully towards our vision over there on that horizon –

Diagram showing my schedule for this coming year

My Plan for the Future – Mapping out my Intentions and Objectives for 2016

Acknowledging the progress we’re making – however minuscule, or seemingly insignificant is motivating –
So I love to keep a Year at a Glance!
Where at the end of each month I reflect on a highlight – or appreciate an advancement of some form, and record it in one of the 11 boxes that surround one of my pictorial maps of Australia – a symbol of my journey through life.

Showing you how to record a highlight at the end of each month - See more at: http://journeyjottings.com/blog/2016/02/plan-for-the-future/#sthash.NOjZyjN4.dpuf

My Year at a Glance for 2015

 

Where, at year’s end I relish the reward of seeing my year laid out before me – simply summarising on a single sheet all my victories, so I can celebrate my advancements.

I’ve kept a Year at a Glance for many years –
Being able to visualise my hard earned efforts makes it all so satisfying and worthwhile.

If you’d like a Journal Map to summarise your year as it unfolds –
Grab one here 🙂

Then tell me –
Do you have a schedule to keep you on track to ensure you keep all your important bases covered
(and not just the noisy ones?!)

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22 thoughts on “Plan for the Future & Review your Year at a Glance

    • My effort to organize, Jackie – is generally way more robust than what actually eventuates! LOL
      Having a ‘One Thing’ focus for the day means that even when daily distractions divert me there’s still enough time scheduled to get the task ticked off 😀

  1. I like your approach of blocking off days to concentrate on one area. I keep trying different ways to allocate and prioritize my time. Blocking off the day into two hour chunks wouldn’t work for me either. I agree it is a good idea to acknowledge the progress we’re making. Last year I took time at the end of each month to look at and record progress in a number of areas. It was encouraging and motivating.

    • Snap!
      Great to hear from a fellow ‘focus for the day’ advocate!
      And a monthly review to gloat over not only does wonders for motivation – It is also highly rewarding to be able to look back on it 5 years later and say – Wow – just look how far I’ve come 😀

  2. I stay pretty well organized, but nowhere near as detailed in organization as Darren seems to be. Although my past includes many years in business, sales, and management, we can all use refreshers on good practices. Thanks for those in this post. Glad you included emphasis on mind, body, and soul — all too often overlooked in our busy lives.

    • Maybe as we get older the realisation of making everyday matter – making everyday special and rich and rewarding beyond merely performing the day’s tasks becomes so significant that we finally have the sense to incorporate into our daily practice those elements that enrich our mind body and soul – rather than waiting for those far off distant holidays, that are never long enough to replete such a drained resource 😉

  3. I really like the idea of segregating into five areas. And I do believe wholly in the holistic view: balancing mind, body and soul. I think, actually, if you take care of the soul first, the rest comes naturally.

    • That is so true – but you know what it’s like when you get wound up in a project that blinds you into believing that its the be all and end all 😉
      That is where I find slotting in some mindfullness first thing in the morning – even when my logical brain is pulling me into the office, saying don’t “waste time” on that fluffy stuff – it is always the best spent time in the day!

    • Awwww – Thank you so much Irene 🙂
      I think the trick is quashing that chattering left side of one’s brain so one can see the world and what one has to do to be the most enriched through our resplendent right side of the brain LOL

    • Go and sit in the mangroves for half an hour first thing and observe the details of the bark and the entwining roots – and you’d be amazed what you can pull off 😀

  4. As always your creativity and gorgeous art work are inspiring. I’m glad that you’ve added body and soul into the mix of must-do’s as it’s all too easy to watch that side of things flounder – I know I do, although this year, my aim is to look after myself first because as you say if you don’t look after the creativity (and self) side of things, then there’s no work for the admin department! I think you’ve just made more work for yourself though because how about creating a bloggers’ creativity /organisation map? I reckon it would be well received.

    • Yes – spending 30%+ of the week replenishing one’s well of creativity is essential –
      I’ve been loving the look of those bicycle rides you’ve been doing early in the day down to the beach of late!
      And thanks so much for the suggestion for expanding my range 😀

  5. I keep trying to come up with a way to be more productive but not really succeeding. The day of focus on one area idea is well worth trying out. Thanks for the idea and I loved your drawings!

    • Try breaking down the things that demand your time into 5 groups and then allocate a day to each so everything – including the Important work that tends to be put off for another day as it’s not Urgent and making the most noise – and focus just on that one area throughput the day – Even with interruptions, headway will be made, which is very motivating and… productive!
      Happy you liked the drawings – Maybe creating a visual story-map of what needs to be done would help?! 😉

  6. I agree with you on creating mindfulness in the mornings. I need to have a cup of coffee and gather myself by doing something creative before I even start to think of working on business matters. Your illustrations are wonderful!

    • On days that my logical brain barges in and says – ‘No, you’ve got way too much to do to go fluffing about down in the mangroves, just get on with it’ – It always ends up with me fluffing about clicking keys and shuffling papers with nothing to show for it other than frustration!
      There is nothing more moving (and ultimately motivating) than quietly noticing the details on the trunk of a tree and jig-sawing its flakes of bark together into a scrawly sketch that simply shows time well spent 🙂

  7. Yes I have a schedule but often don’t adhere to it. My first priority is to exercise then work for about 3-4 hours s day, leaving afternoons for social, meetings, shopping, housework, etc. however quiet often I spend my entire day on my laptop getting distracted by Facebook or Instagram! I need someone to watch over me crack the whip! Great ideas here Linda. Wish I could get organised.

    • Digital distractions can be a major hiccup I have to agree!!
      For all the time our computers save us I too wonder how much time do they in fact waste? 😉
      I have to say – the scheduling of a whole day to an area has been the most successful to date for keeping me on task – rather than hopping about on the mish-mash mix of a To Do list!
      But that sounds very organised to me the fact you exercise first – And isn’t it great getting that first item ticked off so early in the day 😀

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