How to plan your year in a single day, even if you feel overwhelmed or behind.
The New Year. This phrase can spark joy or concern depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or ‘behind’ in any way, the days might feel like they’re flying by faster than you can say ‘didgeridoo’. But don’t worry. However you’re feeling right now, I want you to feel hopeful and confident about the year that lies ahead of you once you’ve read this post. This year can be your most amazing year ever. And it starts with a plan.
Let me show you how to plan your entire year. And you can do this all in one day. Sounds awesome? Great! Let’s begin:
1. View your entire year at a glance
No matter what kind of planner you use, I always think that it’s beneficial to be able to see your whole year at a glance.
You could use the two-page annual calendar in your paper planner. Or a wall planner like I do. You can even use a chalkboard wall as your calendar or split a sheet of plain paper into 12 boxes – one for each month of the year. Whatever method you choose, give yourself an overview of the entire year at a glance.
When you plan your year, it doesn’t matter how you view it, but that you view it – the whole year – in one view with no page turning or scrolling.
2. Mark important non-negotiable dates
When you can see your whole year at a glance, it’s easier to see when those important dates are, and if you’ve got events coming up that might be close together. As well as other important dates that you know you’ll be occupied with.
Mark off the dates that you MUST be available for IN PEN. These are the dates that are non-negotiable for whatever reason. Don’t worry right now about the hundred other events that you think you’d like to do or would be nice to do.
Some examples of these could be school or university term dates, birthdays and anniversaries, annual celebrations like Christmas, Easter or 4th of July. Any date where you can’t change it and you know you’ll be busy, make a note of now.
3. Plan REST
Yes, rest and relaxation (R&R) are vital to a happy, well-functioning you. This is particularly important if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, and especially important if you’re a parent and spend a lot of time caring for others.
Taking care of yourself is super important if others are relying on you. And that means it’s important for all of us! Don’t skip this step, whatever your situation. I know that whoever you are, someone is relying on you to be the best you there is. And a part of that means looking after yourself.
There are different types of R&R you can plan. I recommend planning all of them if you can!
- Special time with your family
- Time with your spouse
- Time alone
- Special time with a friend (or friends)
Depending on your personality, you might need to plan one particular type of R&R more often than the others.
And if you need to consult someone else’s calendar, as in the case of spending time with your spouse or friends, send them a brief message asking when would be a good time to meet up in the month of _____?
Schedule these R&R times IN PENCIL (or an erasable ink). These times could be just a few hours alone in your own home, at your local cafe or it could be three weeks away with the family.
When you plan your year and can see everything from an annual perspective, it’s helps you to know what’s likely to be possible.
4. Plan your year for productivity
Once you’ve got some rest in your calendar, it’s time to block off time to work towards your goals.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you will be putting down all the action steps for your goals into your calendar for the year. I don’t even know if that’s possible. What it does mean is setting aside time for you to be able to work on your goals.
This could mean making sure you have time each week to work out, or that you’ve blocked off time each month to build your painting skills or declutter your office. Or set aside a month or two for your kitchen remodel. Whatever your goals are for the year, ask yourself how much time you need to set aside to work on them. You don’t need to add any actions to your calendar, you’re just reserving the time in advance for your goals.
Because you’ll find as you start going through the year that your time will be taken up with current responsibilities and other people’s requests. However, when you’ve got this time blocked off, it’s easier to decline other people’s requests because you’re already busy.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll never help other people out. But it does mean that your goals won’t be pushed aside for another year simply because you ‘didn’t have the time‘. Blocking off time for your goals helps you to see when your capacity is full for the week or the month and where you have the space to give more to others requesting your time.
Also, when blocking off time for your goals, you need to bear in mind that you have an existing life with current activities and responsibilities. Your life isn’t a completely blank slate like an empty calendar might suggest!
I like to get creative here and use different colours when blocking off time for different goals or projects. Using erasable coloured pens like these helps!
How much time can you honestly set aside? And give yourself some buffer time to make sure you work at a pace that suits you.
You also need to give yourself some space between large goals and projects when you plan your year – a lot of space if you need to. Don’t try to change the world in a weekend.
5. Step back and review
Now that you’ve got your important dates, R&R and goals or project time blocked off on your annual calendar, how does it look? Have you got some things too close together? Have you allowed enough breathing room between important dates?
The reason why I recommend writing your R&R and projects in pencil when you plan your year is so that you can rub them out or move them around if you have to. Writing these things in pen makes them too permanent.
But if you remember, the only permanent events are those you identified as the ones you absolutely MUST be available for – your non-negotiables.
6. Schedule items for the next three months only
If you use a paper planner or a digital calendar like Google, only put items from the first three months in your diary. Don’t be tempted to get your whole year of events in your diary. The only events that you should put in your diary for the whole year are your non-negotiables because you MUST make sure you don’t double book yourself for any of those.
The reason why I suggest only working with the first three months is that it’s important to stay flexible.
Your plans for certain projects or R&R times might start to look a lot different as the weeks unfold. But because you planned these IN PENCIL you don’t need to sweat or feel guilty if things don’t turn out as originally planned. It’s OK! An eraser is your friend!
And this way, you can be sure that you’re getting some important stuff done whilst also being able to roll with whatever may lie ahead or enjoy life’s little surprises.
So, I hope this post has made you feel like you can plan your entire year even if you currently feel overwhelmed.
Your year is waiting to be conquered! And I’m rootin’ for ya!
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