Perhaps it is my inability to focus, but despite my love for all things planning and productivity, it can also be super overwhelming. Setting goals is key to planning, because it sets your trajectory.
What do I want to do within my career? What do I want within my personal life? When do I want these things to happen?
This can be a bit daunting, especially when it's hard to decide what I want for dinner, much less for my entire life!
Being able to review and revise my goals consistently is helpful, but when there are so many time periods to have in place, and many different areas in my life that I'd like to have somewhat organized, my thoughts tangle together.
In concept, planning is the intersection of all of the "areas" in your life and different time periods. This new method of mine is nothing special, but sometimes us planning enthusiasts need to be brought back to the basics.
When creating a personal system, it's important to know what issues you run into in the first place. For me, these are a few necessary features :
1. I want to be able to see every aspect of my life at a bird's eye view.
I've realized over time that remembering to do certain things isn't really in my DNA. It's easy to get caught up in completely the tasks you see as more important (school or career) but be running on empty physically and mentally.
I find it comforting to have a list of every nook and cranny of my life.
It's like a family with a ton of kids. You probably want a checklist for every time you pack them into the van. No, you don’t think you‘ll forget Jimmy, but suddenly, you're in Florida and he's not there.
2. I want to be able to visualize multiple time periods.
(yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily)
It's nice to be able to access your goals and plans for different time periods and be able to contextualize all within one space.
3. I want to set goals, create projects, tasks, and habits within one space.
It is important to able to see goals and break them down into actionable steps.
With all that being said, here is my little planning table :
As you can see, I made use of the columns feature in order to create a table visual. Each color represents a different general area of my life. The cool thing about this table is the ability to toggle information, but on the surface it's relatively simple to look at. Everything is compartmentalized.
Column 1 : Areas (Mental Inventory)
The areas column is also referred to as mental inventory.
I don't trust my brain to remember anything, so I free up my mental space by placing things here.
Vitamins? Under the "health" toggle. You can place toggles within a toggle, so you can continuously break down areas of your life if need be.
Even if you don't utilize this system, I strongly suggest creating a mental inventory list.
Column 2 : Dreams & Goals
These don't necessarily have to be specific.
We've all heard it : goals need to be specific and measurable, but sometimes it's easier for me to know what I'd like out of life when I'm dreaming. Be passionate here, and allow anything and everything out of your brain.
Don't sell yourself short. The point is to set the framework of what you would make happen in a perfect world.
"Shoot for the moon, land among the stars"
Column 3 : Yearly Goals
In relation to my DREAM goals, what is feasible to make happen this year? This is when we begin moving towards actionable goals.
If I want to build my business on social media, perhaps I should make it a goal to reach out to 10 different influencers to send them PR.
If I want to build my blog following, my goal should be to post regularly.
If I want to lose weight, I should specify the amount I could realistically and healthily lose.
If you'd like, you can break the yearly goals down by quarter. This can sometimes makes the year seem more tangible.
Column 4 : Projects / Tasks
Now it's time to get very specific. These items will end up on your
to-do list or calendar.
You achieve big goals by breaking them down further and further, until you get a "bite-sized" task. You can use additional toggles within this column to aid in breaking down the tasks.
For example : if I want to list a certain amount of items on my online store this quarter, I need to figure out how many that is per month, week, etc. I know exactly what to do and when in order to achieve that specific goal.
I like to think about this table as a goal setting machine which churns big goals into actionable chunks.
If you like this method and would like to try it for yourself, I have this template here for $0.99!
Save yourself the time of dealing with the columns, toggles, and colors. Easily duplicate the template and get to work!