First, let me say that I think planning ahead is great. You should not be riding along by the seat of your paints hoping everything will fall into place. But I want to help you learn how to manage your time well by planning ahead with intention.
I think we should be laying out the year ahead for our business and life goals in the big picture sense but also leave room for things to change.
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And be ok if it does. There are things that will happen six months from now that you have no way of knowing will happen. Both good and bad things can come along and will change your goals or make you not want the same things in six months.
There could also be something that comes along that will speed the process and help you reach your goals even faster which would be awesome.
How Planning Ahead Helps You
Planning ahead might seem restricting to some people but it will help prepare you so you can respond to what comes. Not react. If you are able to look and see where you stand with your work, home, or business. You can go on that sure of the moment trip without any guilt or worrying about how you will have to make up for the lost time later.
It will keep you from getting overwhelmed and see when you should say no to things if you have a busy week. I don’t like to back out of things once I have already committed. It’s rude to do that and I look at this as a preventative measure instead of a restricting thing.
Before I was blogging and creating weekly content I would have a cheap two-year calendar you can find at Walmart. With these, you can look at the whole month at one time. I don’t spend much on this one so I can write all over it and really get messy with things. If something gets scribbled over or scratched out that’s ok.
Once things are a little more set in stone I would add them to my nicer planner I now use the Living Well Planner that is great for my goal-oriented mind that is not to mention beautiful. (Find it here)
Read more about: setting a purposeful to-do list here
If you are not a paper person Google calendar is a great tool so you can have your dates across all devices. This is helpful when you have multiple people in your family and helps with the coordination with your spouse. We now have a shared calendar that we can both add things too if it involves the other person. Like Church events or commitment and holiday get-togethers.
Start With The Non-Negotiables
Whether you run an online business or your home. (I never say “just” because we all know running a home is no easy task.) Everyone has those things they know are going to happen and you can’t change the date. These are your non-negotiables. Things like birthdays, holiday events with family, etc… Start marking those down first.
Here is a list of things that you should consider adding to help you get started.
- School holidays
- Christmas events
- Thanksgiving events
- Days off work
- Local Fair 4-H events if your family is involved.
- School game seasons
If you live in the country or raise animals and have a garden, below are some other seasons to think about…
- Starting seeds
- Tilling the garden
- Raising chicks
- Planting the garden
- Breeding seasons
- Best sale times
Another post that would be helpful is (planning your breeding season) even if you don’t breed you will still be caring for babies. This would help you layout the best time to get them.
Dates For Bloggers And Business Owners
If you run a business or blog there might be launches or affiliate product sales you can not change so you should mark those down as well. I still write down the ones that I might participate in even if I know I won’t do both because they are so close together.
- Affiliate Sales.
- National Holidays
- Fun social holidays to help you plan content. – These are great to introjecting yourself into that conversation so other people will find you in those funny national holidays.
- Launch of your own products.
Two Planner System For Content Creators
Using two planners helps me think clearly and set the path I want to take my readers on and not be distracted by tasks. It also helps me save space in my personal planner and not have blog titles and email topics that need to go out to my readers cluttering up that planner.
Related Post – The power of planning your content.
Plan The Details In Short Batches
I am sure you have heard the 90 day year or other planning methods like that. You have to do what works for your brain first but the whole idea behind this is that you only plan in detail three months ahead because there is so much that can happen and change your trajectory.
90 days in the life of a business is like a year in real-time. Social media platforms might change or not be as popular when you laid out that launch plan. Life might be different for your family, I could go on.
So have an idea of where you are going but don’t plot the exact course just yet.
The point is to be flexible with the time that is way out in front of you and only be focusing on the tasks that are within that 90-day mark. Can you layout launces and rough guidelines? Absolutely. Just be willing to move things around if you need to.
When a new year rolls around, focus more on your goals and setting benchmarks that you can hit rather than specific goals that must be reached by X date. It removes so much stress.
Planning ahead will help you manage your time well, be more present, and be able to shut off work when the time is up. If you are a true bread entrepreneur and creator it is extremely hard to get your mind to shut off. Clearing the slate will help you do that.
Remember that there is no one right way to do things so mix it up to see what is best.