Tuesday, January 7, 2020

How (and Why) to Plan the Entire Year

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There are few things I love more than total organization.  So naturally, I think the idea of planning your entire year in advance is brilliant.  It's always a more productive yet calm year when I do so.  I get a lot of push back on this idea from people who like to be spontaneous or claim they don't even know what they're doing next week, but trust me, it's the best method.  It's not hard to do either, it just involves a little set up time.  If you're interested, here's how you can sit down today and do the same:

Block out time to make the plan.  This won't get done in a few minutes, so set aside some time to make a plan.  I make it a couple of hours and really enjoy it.  I light a candle, get a coffee, get all my fun planners supplies and get cozy with a blanket.  The more fun you make it, the easier it will be.  But if you have a heart for organizing, you probably won't even need to make it any more enjoyable.

Create a theme of a year.  A word or theme for the year can be incredibly helpful in guiding your goals and dividing up and prioritizing your time.  I consider the previous year, what worked and what didn't, and think about my goals and what I want the next year to look like.  I pick a word based off of that, like 'simplify', 'health', 'organize', etc.  It's nice to keep this in the back of your mind as you're putting things into your calendar, to ensure that your year will feel like a success at the end.

Get a calendar.  I would actually use two: a yearly overview and a monthly calendar.  You can find yearly calendars online and I like the ones with colored weekends so you can see everything clearly a a glance.  Although I love my paper planners, when I'm planning my year at a time I prefer to use a digital one, and Google is free.  Google calendar has a lot of great features with it too, like reminders and color coding options, and can also automatically add in national holidays and sports team schedules.  It's easier to me than flipping pages back and forth.

Put in birthday and anniversaries.  Don't just rely on Facebook to remind you of important events.  Enter in all of the birthdays and anniversaries you'd like to remember.  If you use the digital version of a calendar, you can also put in reminders to remind you a few days or weeks before the event so you can buy a gift or send a card.  You can also set it to repeat it every year, so this is a task you only need to do once.

Enter appointments and reminders to schedule them.  If you have any appointments that you already know are happening, be sure to put those in.  My dentist schedules my appointments 6 months in advance, for example, so I already know when my first one of the year is.  If you don't have them scheduled yet because you generally go to all your doctors later in the year, put reminders in your calendar to call and schedule those appointments.  Convenient appointment slots book up fast!  Don't forget about things like hair appointments and vet visits too.

Put holidays in, including 3 day weekends.  The reason I like the digital calendar is that it can do this for me, but I do like to make sure I note when 3 day weekends are.  Those are fun times to either head out of town or schedule in time with friends, and I hate to forget about them until the last minute.  If you also like making the most of these, set reminders to plan something and mark any days you might like to travel.

Plan vacations.  This is the fun part!  But it's still important to calendar them in.  It can be easy to let potential vacation days pass you by if you don't make a plan for them now.  As you calendar starts to come together, you can see when you have larger blocks of time free that you could potentially take off of work and go on a vacation.  Be sure to note these.  I color code them a different color so I can see at a glance when good vacation times are.

Use your local calendars to find free fun.  I love adding free events to my calendar, like Zoo Lights and movies in the park.  Entertainment does not always have to be expensive!  Local calendars can be found online for the year's events and even if they don't have all the details, you can at least put the general days in the calendar for anything that looks fun for you.

Enter in any goals, both long-term and daily habits.  Use the word or theme of your year to guide you in setting any goals, both ones that you want to implement daily in the form of habits and things you want to work towards in the long-term.  You can set reminders throughout the year as milestones and checkpoints to remind yourself to make steady progress on what's important to you.

Sit down weekly, to enter in details and make changes.  The most important aspect to all this planning though is implementing it.  Don't do all this work and then forget about it!  Sit down with this calendar at least weekly throughout the year and use that time to enter in any specific details and make any changes.

Have you ever planned your year in advance?  Will you, for 2020?

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