I LOVE planning for a new year. All sorts of projects and plans and shiny Things I Will Do. It feels like anything is possible in January. I get so excited, in fact, that I tend to plan too much. Learn how I corral the Over-planner within me, and get a free 2018 calendar to help you lay out your path this year. There’s a fine line between planning for All The Things I Will Do, and becoming overwhelmed by All The Things Looming Over Me Ready To Suffocate My Dreams Before I Start. Been there? How do you lay out a solid path of action that will take you to your goals, without leaving you burned out on the side of the road before you hit the first mile marker? You need a calendar. And not just an app on your phone – I’m talking a calendar that you actually write on, that’s always in front of you, and that lets you plan out more than one month at a time.
Free 2018 Calendar
When I’m planning, I have to SEE the timeline laid out, and know that my action today will lead to the result I want down the road. I also need to know that I’m not planning too much. I don’t want to get to Week 2 of my grand scheme and discover that I’m already behind because I expected way too much of myself. #recoveringperfectionist A few years, ago, I started making printable calendars for myself. They are an invaluable tool to accomplish both those things:
- Plan out my path so I know what I need to do today
- Make a flexible plan I can actually accomplish, without over-planning
Here’s how I use my calendar:
As I said, I have to see more than one month at a time. But for an over-planner like me, it’s not always good to have the entire year on continual display. So I came up with a way to see my year one quarter at a time. This method lets me have:
- an overview of the entire year
- a detailed plan of the next 90 days
The basic idea:
Using my free 2018 calendar, washi tape and a foam board, I set up a 3-month view. I use sticky note flags to map out my projects and deadlines. I prop this board up on a cabinet next to my desk, so it’s always in view. To add dates or move flags around, I just take it down and put it back in place when I’m done. By the way – I set up 4 foam boards at once, one for each quarter of the year. This lets me map out launches or other dates for later in the year, but I only have to focus on the next 90 days.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Free 2018 calendar
- 4 foam boards
- Washi tape
- Sticky note flags (several different colors)
- Mounting putty (sticky putty for hanging posters)
- Yardstick or ruler & pencil
How to set up your quarterly boards:
1 – Lay out 3 calendars on a board, leaving space to the left side of the calendars. Use a pencil & ruler to mark off the lines where the washi tape will go: horizontally between each calendar and one vertical line to the left side of the calendars. Do this for all 4 boards. 2 – Apply the washi tape. 3 – Attach the calendars with mounting putty (so you can remove them when you set up next year) 4 – On a separate sheet of paper or your computer, list out your goals for the year. Include any other dates you need to keep in mind, like vacations. 5 – Choose one sticky flag color for each of your planning categories. Some categories you may want to include:
- Admin (planning, budget, taxes, etc.)
- Launches / big projects
- Smaller projects / sprints
- Training / course deadlines (like an online course you’re taking)
It helps to make a legend for yourself across the bottom of the board. Write the name of each category on the appropriate color of sticky flag, and attach to the board. 6 – Pencil in any fixed dates, like birthdays, trips or appointments. 7 – Get a bird’s eye view of the year. Lay out all 4 quarters, and decide your big launch dates or goal deadlines. Add those sticky flags. Don’t add smaller projects yet. 8 – Now look at Quarter One, and think about how much you can realistically accomplish. Add any other small projects or other dates.
Using the extra space to the left:
Extra projects you can’t commit to yet or don’t feel comfortable assigning a date to Put these sticky flags in the space to the left of your calendar. You’re not forgetting about them, but they are NOT your focus right now. This works well for tasks you know you need to accomplish in a certain month, but aren’t sure of the date. For example, I like to take one full day off a month to recharge my batteries. But I don’t know in January what day will work best to take off in March. So I write a sticky flag “Day Off” for each month, and put it to the side. At the beginning of the month, I add it to my calendar. Completed projects When I finish a goal, I put a checkmark on the sticky flag, and move it to the left. I can clear my calendar and keep track of what I accomplished. This is a great way to look back over the year and see all of your finished goals.
Congratulations! You’ve planned out your year.
I keep the current quarter in view by my desk, and store the other boards behind a door. They’re easy to get to if I want to adjust some dates, but not at the top of my mind.
Why this works:
It allows for sprints and long-term projects. Some projects I’ll finish in a couple weeks. Others will play out over months. I can plan for both. It’s flexible. I just move the sticky flags around as my schedule changes, so if a deadline starts to look unrealistic, I can easily move it. I know if I’m planning too much. I’m able to see at a glance if my smaller projects are going to choke out my big goals. If so, I just move those projects to the side. With this system, If I get delayed, I adjust the schedule and know that I can still accomplish my big goals. But if I manage to work ahead, I can pick up a few bonus side projects. Either way, I feel good about the work I’m accomplishing.
Bonus page in the free 2018 calendar
The free 2018 calendar includes a bonus page to help you keep track of dates for 2019. When you get to the end of this year and start making appointments for 2019, keep track of them on this extra page so you can start out the new year strong.
Ready to plan out your year?
You CAN make a plan that works with your schedule and goals. Get your copy of my free 2018 calendar and get started! #imaginedesignrepeat and show off your calendar boards!