There’s a lot going on right now.
How to prepare for a new year
I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.
My to-do list grows every day, and I continue to Boomerang things that should be taken care of right now – not in 2 days.
I feel like this happens to me about once per quarter.
I love being organized, having a clear picture of what’s on my plate any given week, having time to put a plan in place to carefully execute the projects we’re working on, and ultimately, ending my day knowing that I’ve completed certain things.
And all of this is especially important to me when I’m looking to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for a new year.
So, how do I actually make sure it happens?
That’s what this post is about – I’m going to share exactly how you can make sure it all happens through using careful preparation and planning.
These are super simple steps, so no need to get nervous or anxious over anything I’m about share.
Creating space for yourself in order to have things in place that help you work most efficiently and feel accomplished is important.
It’s actually the most important thing we can do once we know what our goal is: schedule the time to make the steps we need to take in order to accomplish that goal a reality.
But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves – what if we’re not sure what our goal is yet?
What if we don’t know what is going to help us work most efficiently and feel accomplished?
Ok – let’s start there.
Create space for yourself to follow the next 5 steps I’m about to share, and I can assure you that the overwhelm and disorganization you’re feeling around your schedule and your productivity (or lack thereof) is going to disappear.
Step 1: What are you working on right now?
This is how I started my prep for the new year: I sat down and I took inventory of everything I’m working on right now.
This not only helps me feel a lot more organized and a lot less overwhelmed, but it also helps me take my first step.
Knowing what you’re working on right now, help you be able to make decisions around:
- What you want to continue working on (things that are productive for you and your business)
- What you don’t want to continue working on (things that aren’t productive for you and your business)
So spend a few days just recording what it is you’re currently working on.
You can get started right now – today – by just giving yourself a 15 minute time window (space) to think about the things you’re working on right now, like your:
- email list
- online course
- webinar outline
You can check out a single section of my Workflowy in the image below.
Workflowy is an online tool I use for a lot of things, one of which is keeping track of the things I’m working on. When I take inventory of the things I’m working on, I might either organize it by category (Infusionsoft Projects), or I might organize it by frequency (recurring things vs. 1-time projects).
Click here for a user case from Workflowy – it will show you just how powerful it truly is.
I also love sticky notes, so if you want to go that route, then your list might look something like this (the vertical lines represent breaks for tasks that are “recurring”, “1-time”, or ones I want to “delegate”):
Step 2: What should you be working on right now?
This is where we get to start thinking about our goals.
Once you’ve taken inventory and you have in front of you all the things you’re working on right now, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions – the first being:
Of the things you’re working on right now, what should you be working on right now?
The things you should be working on are the things that are going to get you 1 step closer to your goals.
And just because you might find some things on your list you shouldn’t be working on right now doesn’t mean you can’t put them to the side and pick them back up later.
As an example, if your goal is to grow your email list by 50% in the next 3 months, then starting to write a new book probably shouldn’t be on your list of things right now.
If you don’t know what your goals are yet, then can try:
- Writing out your “perfect day” (once you know what your perfect day looks like, you can start to back into the things that will help you get there);
- Creating a vision board (again, if you can see where you want to be, then it’ll be easier to back into the things that will help you get there);
- Making another list of the things you want to accomplish in the next year (simple – want to write a book? launch a podcast? guest post on 5 blogs? land a speaking engagement? – write it down!)
So, now that you have a list of all the things you’re working on right now, and you have a pretty good – if not great – idea of what you want to accomplish in the new year, ask yourself:
What should you be working on right now?
Step 3: Prioritize
By this step, I’m feeling organized and a lot less overwhelmed, because I no longer have a ton of ideas floating around in my mind, or an unrealistic picture of what I’m currently working on (along with a new understanding of what I should be working on).
But I still have several things on my list – I might have 10-15 recurring tasks that I work on weekly, along with 2 or 3 major projects I want to focus on that will help me get 1 step closer to my big goals.
So now, it’s time to prioritize.
Of my recurring tasks, which need to be done daily? weekly? every other week? every month?
Of my major projects, which one will be my priority – I want to put them in order so if I’m ever in a position where I have the option to work on something, I know what I’m going to chose first.
Step 4: Schedule it
So far we’ve:
- Taken inventory of everything we’re working on,
- Established / declared our SMART goals so we can easily separate those tasks we should be working on from those we should not be working on (not right now, anyway), and
Now, it’s time to create a schedule for ourselves that we can stick to; a schedule that’s going to help set us up to work most efficiently AND feel accomplished.
I like to “theme” my days, and it’s typically in this step that I’m going to review the themes I have set and make any revisions or updates necessary.
For example, when I recently went through all of these steps, I decided that instead of using the first half of my Thursday for my “interview” theme, I was going to cut that in half.
Based on the things I want to get accomplished, and where I know I can make the biggest impact with my time, I moved my “interview” theme so that it’s only taking up 1/4 of my Thursday instead of half, freeing up 1/4 of my time to work on another theme.
Theming your days can be quite powerful because it allows you to focus on a single theme in order to batch like-tasks and get a lot more done in less time. Here are details on how you can set up theming in your business.
Step 5: Follow your plan
Sometimes it’s not so much choosing a goal, or even taking the time to get organized that keeps us from accomplishing what we want most.
It’s actually following through with the plan we’ve just put in place that crumbles around us.
So the final step is to actually follow the plan you’ve just created.
If you’ve done each of the previous 4 steps, then you literally have a plan in place to help you achieve your goals heading into the new year.
Now, it’s time to take action and hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you want to do.
This is the hardest part.
But I do have a resource that can help: The Freedom Journal.
The Freedom Journal
John started working on The Freedom Journal in January 2015 when he realized that the biggest differentiator between successful entrepreneurs and not-so-successful entrepreneurs was that successful entrepreneurs SET and ACCOMPLISH goals.
To be successful, you have to be able to not only set your goals, but actually follow the plan you’ve put in place in order to accomplish them.
The Freedom Journal is your guide to accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days.
The Freedom Journal is your accountability partner, and ask long as you use it, it will help you.
Each day and each night The Freedom Journal will be there for you, so you can set mini-goals that will help you get 1 step closer to your #1 goal. It will follow along with you on your 10-day sprints, it will remind you of your quarterly reviews, and it will help you recognize the things you’re doing that are helping you move forward, and the things that aren’t helping you move forward (time to pivot!)
So if you’re as serious as I am about not just setting goals, but actually accomplishing them, then join us on The Freedom Journal interest list! We’ll keep you posted on all of our progress as we create – from scratch – your accountability partner.
The Freedom Journal launches January 4, 2016.