Over the past week and a half, I have done more planning in one stretch than I’ve probably ever done in my entire life. I’m not sure exactly what to attribute this to, but I do have some ideas:
First of all, I’ve gotten out of the habit of planning. It often seems far easier and more productive to just take care of things as they are thrown at you, whether it be emails, auditions, your Facebook feed, or gigs.
Second of all, my life has grown more complicated. I’m aware of what I want, have multiple balls in the air, and have reached the point that it actually requires more careful planning to continue to make forward momentum. When I have a lot going on, I’ve found that I end up neglecting certain things in my life or live in a state of perpetual overwhelm. I get stuck in workaholism instead of balancing productivity with periods of rest.
Finally, I found the most amazing workbook ~ Leonie Dawson’s Life & Business Workbook 2015 – Create Your Shining Year. At 120 pages in length, you’d think I would have gotten bored or started to find the process tedious. Or that I would have given up, as I so often have, but the questions have me thinking deeply, clarifying my desires, and frankly, exploring ideas that I would otherwise have never come up with. I have no idea how long it will take me to finish, but I look forward to sitting down and digging deep 30 minutes – 1 hour at a time, day after day!
This workbook makes me feel so creative which is HUGE!! You may recall me mentioning in previous posts how my type A tendencies and creative self often seem at war with each other. I had actually been looking for a new “planner” for months, but hadn’t found the right solution yet. I wanted to find something that would ignite my creativity, keep me in my right brain, and help me fall in love with planning and organization all over again. When I heard about this workbook from my dear friend and mentor, Jen Mazer, and took a peek, I instantly knew that this would be the magic solution.
What convinced me was Leonie’s beautiful illustrations and the sense of play and joy that she brings to everything that she does. I knew that this beauty and sense of play would infuse my soul and remind me of those essential qualities that make me an artist – a sense of play and the joy, which is the reason I have chosen this path.
In addition, this workbook is not a day-by-day, schedule-based planner (although she does include a calendar in the bonuses). That really appealed to me because I like to keep my calendar digitally. I don’t want to have to carry a book around with me to know where I’m supposed to be and when. And what I really craved was the tools to figure out what exactly should be in that planner and how to move my dreams and goals forward!
It took what seemed like forever for me to actually get my book in hand (Leonie is Australian and there were some snafus with customs and the shipping house), but that only increased my excitement and enthusiasm for this new adventure. And of course she handled the hiccup like a pro, sending all her affected customers the digital product too!
You may be wondering … so this planner is great for figuring out the big picture, but what about the day-to-day? How can I stay on task with implementation?
While the possibilities are myriad, I’ve decided to adopt the Pomodoro Technique, which involves dividing tasks into the time it will take to complete them, usually 25 minute increments. Then you focus on one task at a time – spending 25 minutes of time with no interruptions (yes, that includes Facebook and Twitter) and then taking a 5 minute break. If the task is finished, you move on to a new task. If not, you go back to the same task for however many Pomodoros (25 min increments) it takes to complete them. For example, this post took 1.5 Pomodoros to write + 1.5 to edit and make it pretty with all these cool graphics!!
As I implement the Pomodoro Technique, I’m also using a very cool app called Focus Booster that not only digitally keeps track of those 25 min chunks on your computer (and their website), but you can assign them to clients ~ which for my purpose, I am using to designate tasks. This allows me to see how much time I spend on what. And you can even assign hour rates to your tasks! Super helpful if you have actual clients, but still useful nonetheless. Tasks which are important for me to do, but harder to commit to, I assign a higher value. When I spend more time on these tasks, I get rewarded, virtually!!
So how do you get these oh-so-awesome tools to optimize your planning for 2015?
Click here to buy Leonie’s workbook (both virtual and digital editions are available). Full Disclosure: I am an affiliate and earn a little $ when you buy from my link. Truthfully though, I would recommend it to you regardless.
Click here to find out more about the Pomodoro Technique. There is a book you can buy (and a timer), but it probably isn’t necessary. You can find out most of what you need on their website and even downloaded some of their FREE worksheets (under Get Started) which I’m loving!
Click here to try out Focus Booster. It is FREE for the first 15 days (you don’t even have to enter a credit card no). After that, it is $3 AUD/month or $30 AUD/ year for the full version, which I’ll probably end up paying for, because I love seeing a $ amount attributed to all I’m getting accomplished.
What are your favorite tools for planning your year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Happy New Year!