For many years, my life was a blur. I had many aspirations and spent a lot of time dreaming but wasn’t good at turning them into a reality. Why? Because I didn’t follow through with planning.
Dreams remain dreams unless you take the time to plan and review often.
I started looking into how other people planned their days to achieve their big-picture goals and tried out many systems and methodologies, like bullet journaling and Asana. After many attempts, I’ve finally found a process that works for me. It is far from perfect and often getting tweaked as I try out new methods. Regardless, I’m so happy to be able to proclaim that I’ve already met several significant milestones using these methods. Here are the two systems I use in conjunction with one another to organize my life:
Overall Yearly & Monthly Planning
I’ll be frank with you: I’ve purchased this workbook for three years in a row now, but it wasn’t until the last half of 2020 that I really started to make decent strides toward my goals. Despite that, I wouldn’t say the first year and a half were wasted. If anything, filling out the workbook each year showed me reoccurring themes of what I desired, helped deepened the why’s behind my goals, and forced me to reflect on my past habits.
I wanted to put my backstory out there because it always seemed like everyone got their life together just by following one system correctly on the first try. I’ve tried SO many strategies and started over many times. And it’s okay; what’s important is you keep trying until something works for you. You only fail when you stop trying.
What I love about this workbook:
- I love how the goals are structured in the following categories: career, personal growth, relationships, health, spiritual, creative.
- The various exercises in the workbook help build your foundation of why’s and how’s. Without a solid foundation, you will quickly run out of steam.
- Breaking down your main goals into quarterly and monthly tasks, so you set action items to reach those goals.
- Quarterly and monthly reviews, so you can track how you’re doing.
- It is SO essential to track your wins, big or small. This will help you keep going on days where you feel like you aren’t making any progress.
You can view a flip through of the workbook here.
Overall Daily Planning
Things I love:
- A section dedicated solely to to-do lists. I usually write my most important tasks of the day in the first three lines on the left column and highlight them. The right column is reserved for my reoccurring daily tasks.
- I use the ‘memorable moment’ to write something I’m grateful for that day. Gratitude is so important during your lifelong journey! It is a habit I believe everyone should practice.
- I love the paper quality! It’s thicker than your standard printer paper, and the BIC pens I use don’t bleed through.
- I love how hidden coil binding, which gives the planner a streamlined look.
When I’m planning my weekly spreads, I’ll have my Artist of Life workbook opened to the goals section so I can schedule them into my STIL planner. Doing so gives me an idea of how much free time I actually have available for other people. Before the pandemic, I always said yes to every social event because I was lost and had no goals for myself. Bettering myself was definitely not at the forefront of my life.
Back then, my schedule consisted of work and not work. So it seemed like I had a lot of time for events that weren’t work-related. It wasn’t until I started thinking about what I wanted for myself and time blocking my goals into my planner that I realized how much time needed to be allocated to them. It didn’t leave much free time socializing, but it forced me to prioritize who was most important to me and help cut-out the lukewarm areas of my life.
Time blocking helps protect your time. We get caught up in the daily conundrums that we often forget about the larger picture. Before you know it, months and years will have flown by without you moving forward.
I highly recommend that you also do a weekly review at the end of the week to set intentions for the week after. I review my goals along with the work I’d done that week every Sunday afternoon. It takes around 10 minutes at most. I got the weekly review inspiration from STIL’s ‘Get It Done‘ planner.
Here are the things I review from my week:
- My weekly accomplishments (again, it’s so important to track your wins, no matter how big or small they seem to you)
- Tasks that were not completed this week so I can allocate them to the week after
- What I learned this week
- What I will keep, improve, start, or stop doing
Because the 2021 STIL planner doesn’t have a section for weekly reviews, I write them in the weekly planning pages in my Artist of Life workbook. That way, I have it in a place that I’m always checking weekly.
Because of the pandemic, I’m home most of the time and always have my planners on hand. I realize this may not always be the case in the future. One of the methods I want to try with time blocking is doing it digitally in my Google Calendar. That way, I’ll always have access to it.
While it may seem very tedious to time block in my Stil planner AND a Google calendar, it actually doesn’t take too much. Most of my goals and tasks are the same each week, making digital planning even more effortless with reoccurring events. I also find the process of using washi tape and stamps to plan my week in my STIL planner to be very meditative. This process with an analog planner makes me more in tune with what’s going on in my life.
What tools do you use to plan your life? Do you prefer digital or traditional methods?