This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission to help keep my blog up and running, but it won't cost you a penny more). For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
We know that time management and success go hand in hand, but is your current system really working for you?
Does your weekly schedule system feel like a too-tight girdle?
Or is it a bunch of pretty planner pages with intimidatingly blank spaces daring you to fill them in?
Time management systems tend to fall into one of two camps.
Those that are rigidly strict, with rules and guidelines on how to prioritize every aspect of your life and make it fit into its many boxes.
Those pretty flowery planners that assume you know all about time management and have at it. You can lump Bullet Journals in that category too.
I am a sloth.
I work hard but I don’t want to work any harder than I have to, so I feel the pull and push of both types of systems and planners. I love being organized but I always buck against any “system” that requires a book, a video and youtube tutorials to understand.
That’s why I created my own. It’s got the easy instructions you need to get you going in creating goals and tasks. It’s clean and unfussy because that’s the way I like it, but no one is going to take away your colored pencils and stickers if you want to decorate it to be more you.
It’s simple and easy to understand and I think it’s the perfect way to start going after your big dream. Interested?
Find out more here.
Not ready for that right now?
That’s perfectly ok. Let me walk you through how to set up my system with your own materials or planner.
Before you implement a system to set goals and schedule the tasks you need to complete to make your dream a reality, you need to do just a little advance work. I promise, everything gets easier after this.
Know your why.
This is the most important thing you can do.
Your WHY is the reason you want to pursue your dream, not the dream itself. It’s your core belief, the reason why you dream the dream. You need to understand it and you need to keep it front and center at all times. It will feed your motivation and it will energize your transformation.
You don’t need to share the why with anyone else, but you need to know what it is.
Write your why down in your planner, or on a piece of paper you hide somewhere, or just use it as a daily mantra to remind you that all this hard work is for a good reason.
Print out a free daily calendar page (I googled free ones and found tons ). Print 7, one for each day of a week.
Without changing anything about your daily activities, write down everything you do throughout the day.
Don’t edit yourself! No one will ever see this but you. Binge watching The Kardashians on Saturday afternoon? Write it down. Worked through your lunch three times this week and spent 5 minutes wolfing down a sandwich? Put it in there.
Just get everything down for one week. This is going to be your baseline.
Make yourself an Eisenhower matrix. (the link has an example and a clear explanation). A blank sheet of paper divided into 4 quadrants will do the job too.
Now look at all of your activities for the week and place them into the priority boxes as if you were starting out the week (instead of things you’ve already done). Everything falls into Urgent/Important (do), Not Urgent/Important (plan), Not important/urgent (delegate) and not urgent/not important (delete).
You might want to fit everything you do in the top two boxes, but stop yourself.
There are tasks you can delegate, even if you don’t know how yet. Some are tasks that you already know can be streamlined. Check out my posts on meal planning and cleaning to get you started.
And there are things you are filling hours doing that you know you can cut out. Or at least cut down on.
Once you’ve done that, take out a new daily calendar sheet and fill in your daily schedule with only the items in the two top boxes in the matrix. The urgent and important and the non-urgent and important. This is going to be your weekly template with all the important things in your life accounted for.
You’ve got the hard part down. Now it’s time to take out your planner, your schedule, or even a notebook if that’s what you prefer. Most planners in stores don’t have goal planning sheets so you might need to create your own and keep them in a ring binder as a companion to your planner.
Choose the Focus Goals for the upcoming month.
Limit yourself to no more than 3. Write your goals clearly and with as much detail as you need. Make sure your goals are realistic and that they can be completed in a month.
If you are using the 12 Week Year planning, create goals that will be completed over a 12 week period instead of only one month, then break the 12 week goal into smaller, one month goals.
2. List the steps you need to take to accomplish your monthly goals.
What actions will you commit to in order to move yourself forwards towards your goals.
Think through what you need to do, listing the steps and the time you think each will take. Describe them carefully so that you’ll understand what you mean once these tasks are in your daily calendar.
3. Yay, It’s finally time to get out your planner!
Get that weekly template out again, the one where you listed all the important actions of your typical week.
Now you are going to review those again and transfer them into your daily planner pages. Work with only the first week for now.
By eliminating the tasks that you can delegate, streamline or delete altogether from your schedule, you’ve “rescued” time that now is available for your goal tasks.
In these found time slots, enter your goal tasks. Give yourself a little extra time so that you can have a cushion in case other priorities start crowding your dream work but remember that these are now priorities too.
My planner has an Eisenhower Matrix on the weekly page so that you can prioritize on the go. Something comes up at work or home that needs to be dealt with? Urgent and important require immediate attention, non urgent and important can be added and planned for in your schedule. Delegate and Delete are also decisions you can make on the fly.
4. Establish a Weekly Review and a Weekly Planning meeting with yourself.
At the end of your work week, Friday afternoon for most people, review your week.
What worked? What didn’t and why? How could you make it better next week? Is there something wrong with your system? Your focus? Your task?
Review your calendar for next week. Are there tasks that need to be done, calls that need to be made, to be ready for something early in the following week?
Clear your inbox, reply, delegate or delete. Clear your computer screen and tidy your desk.
Clear your head by filling out your weekly brain dump page (more on this below)
Plan small changes to next week’s schedule to make it more efficient and easier for you to follow.
Sit down on the weekend (preferably Sunday afternoon or evening) and prioritize your week with work & family responsibilities.
Seed goal tasks from your monthly planning sheet into your schedule and daily to-do list.
If the tasks are going to take more than an hour, break them down further. Remember, your plan is to dream BIG and work SMALL. If the tasks are too big, they might not get completed.
Prioritize these tasks and set end dates for them.
Create a daily to-do list. Prioritize list items.
5. Use a Brain Dump Journal
When your mind fills up with ideas and things you should do and you can’t sleep at night because your brain is on overload, you need a brain dump journal.
A brain dump journal is simply a place you get all those nagging (and sometimes brilliant) ideas out of your head and into a safe place.
RELATED: What Can You Do In A Year?
The stress you feel about a head filled of ideas is that you might forget a particularly great one. By putting it safely in a journal, your overwhelm is instantly relieved.
You can can do this in a notebook, or you can get a journal specifically designed for this task.
And yes, conveniently enough, I have one of these too.
Mine is beautiful with instructions, pages to write down and prioritize your ideas, pages to turn your viable ideas into goals and tasks that you can add to your planner at the appropriate time or delegate, note pages and a monthly calendar to plan out these ideas, and pages to classify non-urgent ideas that you might someday want to pursue into home/family, work/career, spiritual and personal categories.
You can check out my Brain Dump Notebook here and you’ll also find it in the sidebar to your right. It’s pretty nifty and it’s only $7.
6. Follow your plan and guard your priorities.
Remember that saying no to other people’s demands for your time is saying yes to your dream.
Make your dream tasks a priority.
Time management and success. Also known as cause and effect. If you take the time to plan your goals and then do them, you will get across the finish line!