How to make successful daily steps forward using good habits with your planner

Let’s break the title of this article down into manageable sections.

“How to…” – I do not claim to be an expert at productivity.  The opposite is true, actually. I am very well versed in the art of failure and as a result, have learned numerous ways of how to and how not to do things.  My aim is to show you how to move forward with your goals using a planner.

“…successful…” – After much trial and error, I have learned that the first step to success in setting and reaching goals is identifying the end result.  I set values-based SMART goals which allow me to able to focus in on the tasks I set for myself.  Who am I?  What do I believe?  What do I stand for? Hopefully, you have identified those values for yourself.  Assuming you have, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?”  Be specific. How will you know when you have achieved it? Set a standard by which you will measure your progress. Document your starting point. Once you have identified your starting point and your end goal, ask yourself, “Is this attainable?” Are you able to reach this goal in one effort or do you need to break it down into smaller goals? Is this a realistic goal to work towards? Or do you need to gain additional skills or resources before you can start working towards it?  What is the timeline for reaching this goal? When do you want to reach this objective? Remember, a goal without a deadline is a daydream.

“…daily…” – Repetition is key.  Once you have established your goals it is easy to determine if you should begin a certain project or not.  Will it help you reach your values-based goals? If yes, it is time to identify the daily tasks that will create momentum and do them.

“…steps forward…” –  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

“…good habits…” – Whether you realize it or not, you are already engaged in habits.  And while they may not be BAD for you, they may or not be serving your purpose of helping you achieve your goals.  Each time to watch television or eat a meal or sit down at your computer, ask yourself, “Is this helping me reach my goal?”  If the answer is yes, repeat it daily. If the answer is no, stop doing the thing that is standing between you and your goals and replace it with one that will help you reach them.  

“…planner.” – Show me your calendar and I will tell you what your values are.  A planner is more than a calendar. A planner houses your calendar, for deadline specific events and tasks, and your project management system.  Project management can be as simple as a list of to-dos for your annual spring cleaning or as elaborate as a forecast and analysis of your instances of headaches to days of rainfall.  Planning systems and styles are unique to each individual, but I have identified the two major categories of planners based on learning styles: left and right brain. Most people are either a logical list-making, left-brain planner or an intuitive, creator-designer, right-brain planner. Some are a combination of the two and utilize what I call a “Bilateral Planning” approach.  I use this style of planning and it has revolutionized my life…this is not an understatement! Seems simple, but you would be surprised how many people struggle with using a planner to organize their hopes, dreams, and wishes into actionable projects. If you think you would benefit from bilateral planning, check out my YouTube to learn more.

For the sake of this article, let’s set a SMART, values-based goal.

“I will let ten pounds go by summer.”  

One of my values is to be healthy, strong and flexible. The goal is specific.  It is measurable, as I can stand on my scale and record my starting weight and in 3 months, at the end of my timeline I will stand on the scale again and record my progress.   Since summer is 3 months away, this is an attainable goal and realistic because I do have ten pounds I could give to the universe. (Notice I didn’t say lose, because I have no intention of finding these ten pounds after they’re gone.)  Now what? Pray that the scale moves in three months? No! I must set a plan of action in place and create tasks to help me in my endeavor. I will call this my Summer Body Project (“Body”).

Within the project section of my planner, I will have a section tabbed “Body” in that section I will list out all the actions that will need to take place in order to reach my goal.  

  • Diet – What kinds of food will I/won’t I eat?  How often will I eat? Will I intermittently fast?
  • Exercise – What kind of physical activity will I participate in? How many days a week?
  • Rest – When will I schedule my body time to recover?

Once I have determined all the components necessary to reach my stated goal, I will add at least one task to my calendar, daily.  At the end of each day, I will review how I did and what worked for me/what didn’t and either repeat the days action or make an improvement.  At the end of each week, I will gauge the outcome of my efforts and decide how I can improve for the following week. When I reach my deadline, I will evaluate my progress.  Did I reach my goal? Did I fall short? Did I surpass it? What will I do moving forward?

What planning and organizational style do you employ to manage goals in your planner?  Tag me (@theorganizedmiss) on social media with your goal planner and use the hashtag #bilateralplanning!  

Happy Planning!  

Need a way to track your health and wellness goals? Check out how I track my fitness goals!


Goals – How to set and reach them

Ask people closest to me and they will tell you that I am a highly creative person and have a ton of great ideas.  In fact, someone very close to me, my brother-in-law, made the following statement yesterday. “This is the first time I have ever known you to complete something you have started and you have been staying on task for the past year now.”  True statement. Starting one project after another is not a challenge for me…it never has been. What has been a challenge in the past was completing those projects and accomplishing those goals. So what is different now?

One word…organization!

I have found the organizational system that works for me.  Oh, I have tried so many ways (think Franklin Covey) to stay organized in the past but to no avail.  Why? Because I was trying to think the way someone else thinks and therefore I failed every time. I didn’t fully understand how my brain worked and as a result felt I like a failure.  My daughter pointed out that I have taught her how to fail and keep trying again. Each failure was a lesson in what doesn’t work for me.

The challenge then became about learning what would work for me.  We are all different but there are some similarities we can focus on when determining how to set and reach goals.  I am a highly creative individual who thinks outside the box and needs an organizational system that works with my thinking style. My brain vacillates between a left and right brain thinking styles so I am not predominantly a left brain, list making planner, nor am I predominantly a right brain, visual planner – rather I am a mix of the two and fluctuate on a daily basis and therefore need to have separate systems set up to help me stay on task when my brain changes gears.  ←- This was a HUGE “aha” for me!

Because I didn’t understand that I needed the two different styles, I would fail to reach objectives when using a left brain, list-making logic-based approach and my brain starting thinking in its creative right hemisphere.  Now, I have a planning system, Bilateral Planning, that allows me to alternate between the two formats as quickly as my brain shifts gears…that can be pretty fast…and I am able to stay on task and reach my goals.

Are you a predominantly left brain, list maker who needs to see everything, structured and in black and white, or in digital form?  Are you predominantly a right brain, creative who needs a lot of real estate on your paper to doodle, draw or color code? Or, are you like me and need a combination of the two?  Knowing this one aspect of yourself, how you think, will help you tremendously in your goal setting process.

Learn more about Bilateral Planning and receive a FREE printable to help you start designing your own organizational system!

What’s in my Toolbox

What comes to mind when you read the words, tools and toolbox?  Perhaps images of hammers, wrenches, stud finders and other construction related equipment?  What I am referring to when I mention tools are skills to aid you in times of stress or other emotional difficulty.

None of us are issued a toolbox full of tools when we enter this life but have the opportunity to gain and learn how to use them as we grow.  We gain our initial toolset from our family.  They could have a highly developed set of tools and therefore pass those on to you…kind of like a super computer.  They may have antiquated tools that no longer serve you well…kind of like an abacus.  It was highly sophisticated instrument when it was first developed but if you need to solve a difficult problem, using the abacus will keep you in the dark ages.

Some tools are literal, like planner/organizer, pens, paper, laptop, iPad, and cell phone.  Other tools are more abstract like prayer and meditation, choosing to love unconditionally, nonjudgmental listening, seeking to understand so you can then be understood, being intentional, looking for the positive perspective, making the next right decision…the list goes on and on.

The tangible tools I keep in my “Go Bag” to help me get unstuck can vary but the consistent items are my bible, a pencil bag filled with various pens, pencils, highlighters, page flags, washi tape, and scissors, at least one planner (usually my goal planner to help me focus on what’s important), an iPad or laptop, a protein bar, an essential oil or fragrance that is relaxing to me, CBD oil & lotion, TENS unit, list of self-care strategies, and Altoids…you’d be surprised at how centering it can be to take a moment and enjoy a peppermint!

The intangible items are always with me.  It takes intention to focus on and use them but the more I do, the more readily available they are to me.   Using them, refining them, and replacing when I find a new one that serves me better, helps me to reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm and allows me to focus on implementing the techniques to help me get unstuck.

This list is no by means exhaustive, as the items do change from time to time, but this is a very representative list of what I like to keep on hand when I need to change my scenery and get a fresh persepective.  I hope they have given you insight into some “tools” you can gather for your Go Bag.

Camels and Crowns?

It’s Wednesday and that means “hump day” for many people. For me, it includes looking to God in my planning. I need Him to help me get through the week…and that means trusting Him.
So, I am meditating on the camel today as a visual reminder to trust Him. Why, the camel? Think about it.  God made everything with a plan; you, me and even the camel.
His plan of equipping each of His unique creations with everything needed to face their day, week, month (even difficult seasons of life) is observable in their physical characteristics.  These unique features help us adapt to a sometimes changing environment.  All we need to do is trust that we have been or will be provided with everything we need.
Have you ever felt as though you were going through a desert…perhaps a drought?  How does the camel respond to such situations? Do they worry? Do they stress about crossing a hot, dry land with no relief in the foreseeable future? No. They just keep moving forward. But how?
They can survive in a desert because of physical features, such as:
Large feet that help them to walk on sand without sinking in.
Nostrils that they can open and close to keep out blowing sand.
Long eyelashes to protect its eyes from blowing sand.
They store fat in their hump, not water. If they cannot find food, they use this fat to produce energy. When full of fat, the hump stands up. But when empty, it is just a loose flap of hairy skin.
Unlike most mammals, the body temperature of a camel changes during the day. As a result, the camel doesn’t sweat as much when the temperature rises. Sweating causes water loss, so the camel’s temperature changes help it to conserve water.
Camels have thick lips so they can eat the prickly desert plants with out being injured.
The color of their bodies helps them to blend into their environment. This protects them from predators, such as wolves.
Camel’s ears are covered with hair, even on the inside. The hair helps keep out sand or dust that might blow into the animal’s ears.
The protruding bone on their forehead acts much like a sun-visor, which helps to keep sunlight out of their eyes.
So, next time you are facing a desert, drought, or simply struggling to get through the week, look to the camel and be encouraged knowing if God provided the camel with everything he needs, He has done the same and more for you. Remember, you are a child of the King and wear an invisible crown.

The SetUp

After initial research into how I am going to structure my planner for One Book July 2017, I have decided to transfer all of my necessary planning and project management into a pocket-sized TN (traveler’s notebook) from The Planner Society.  


Behind the scenes of my YouTube setup video

The OnebookJuly2017 Challenge is to use One Book and One Pen for One Month.  However, there are no rules save for the rules you may set for yourself.  The goal, as I understand it, is to “get back to basics” and streamline or in some cases, learn what you need to be successful in your planning routine.  

Since I am a goal planner, I have included my current projects in each area (Being, Body, Brain) to help me reach my goals.  My goal for One Book July is to streamline all of my planners into one carry along planner/wallet that I can have to track EVERYTHING!  In order to keep moving forward, I need to assess where I am in any given project, once I evaluate my progress I can decide if I need to make changes or not.   

What I have learned so far:

  • Sometimes, I can not focus and am easily distracted.  When this happens I need to step away and do something else, usually a craft project, like mixed media to help my mind get clear and refocus.  Then I can come back to the task at hand.  It is helpful to know this about myself because I don’t get as discouraged and take a long leave of absence from my goals.
  • When I am riding the struggle bus, I need my planning system to have a structure and functional form to help me stay focused and follow my plan.
  • When I am hyperfocused, I need the real-estate that white space provides.
  • Having this self-knowledge is helpful in knowing which system to work out of at a given time to help me keep moving toward my goals instead of getting frustrated and giving up.

Knowing how you operate and researching the tools to help you is key to setting yourself up for success.  

Visit my Resources page to find the inserts I am testing as well as other valuable information I will add from time to time.

See you next week for an update to One Book July 2017 !!

One Book July 2017

Organizing thoughts into SMART actionable goals and planning them can be a daunting task for some…I know because it can be for me.  So, when I learned of the ‘One Book July’ challenge from Carie of Paper Planning Magazine I knew I had found a challenge that would help me accomplish my goal of streamlining the systems I use for project tracking.

Prior to December of 2016, I had no knowledge of the planner community.  I have used a basic calendar system for scheduling and tracking appointments and events and a plethora of spiral bound notebooks and legal pads for collecting information and (trying to keep track of) projects.  Enter memory loss and accompanying challenges stage right.  Approximately 3-4 years ago, I suffered multiple seizure/stroke-like episodes that resulted in three hospitalizations and many lost memories.  The good news was that I had no idea what I didn’t know, the bad news was that it was reoccurring and lasted for a couple of years.  In addition to losing the ability to read, write, count, cook, and a whole host of other activities that I had previously taken for granted, this left me unable to track time.  Once I started getting some memories back, I struggled with extreme anxiety as one memory at a time would slowly come back. Also, I faced the realization that I did not know how long it had been since the last time I knew what date it was…(does that make sense when you read it?). I would have periods of time, that I could not track or account for. I would wake up some days and have no idea how many days had passed since what seemed to me was yesterday but a year ago to the rest of the world.

As I began being able to consistently keep track of time again, my anxiety about forgetting again increased and I began using a ‘planner’ (read: any notebook I could find that day).  Fast forward to December and my little sister introducing me to the planner world on YouTube!!  Cue: Overhead spotlights and the heavenly choir.

As my brain has continued to heal, I have begun the process of reentering life again, taking on projects with gusto, and spending more hours than seems rational watching YouTube videos.

Follow along on my One Book July 2017 challenge as I create a workable system for me and perhaps pick up a tip or two that you can incorporate into your own goal planning routine.



Turning Goals into SMART Goals

What are your personal goals for participating in a pageant?  Or, why do you want to win the “Miss” title you are competing for?  Is it the scholarships, the personal development, to promote an issue you are passionate about, or all of the above?

Some areas of goal setting to consider for a successful pageant competition can be:

Style: fitness and appearance; how you present yourself and how you may be perceived by others; how you represent the local pageant organization, community, state and national pageant systems as a contestant.

Service: your platform and community service

Scholarship: keeping your grades up and pursuing financial awards for further education

Success: reaching small goals that lead to bigger goals

What are some of the goals you have set for yourself?

Once you have identified your “Why?” It is time to transform your goal into actionable steps that will yield results.  Actionable steps are the daily, weekly and monthly tasks that need to be accomplished in order to achieve your goal.  These tasks are specifically geared toward helping you become your best self in a given area.  The objective is to turn your goals into manageable, realistic steps.  This is done using a method known as SMART goal setting.  SMART goals are short and long term goals that are:

S- specific

M- measurable

A- attainable

R- realistic

T- time bound

An example of a SMART goal is as follows:

Goal: To teach goal setting

SMART Goal: To utilize as an educational platform for young women living the “Miss” lifestyle and to share tools to assist them in setting and achieving their goals.

Hopefully this guideline to SMART Goal setting has given you some new tools to help you reach your goals.  I am including a free printable entitled “Smart Goal Setting Steps” to help you get started.   Good luck and reach for the stars!

Remember: You are your only competition!

Success Tracker

The above quote is one of my favorites and highlights a secret known by many successful individuals.  In order to make progress in life, you must set and work towards goals. Whether you are working on changing a bad habit, acquiring a good one or implementing strategic action to obtain excellence in a specific field, goal setting is crucial to your success.  Just as important as setting goals are to putting you on a path to success, tracking the progress of your goals is a key component to achieving that success.

Show me your calendar/planner and I will be able to tell you what you value and how successful you will be in reaching your goals.  Do you goal plan?  Is your schedule and tasks organized according to your desired outcomes?  Do you track the habits necessary for success?  I can guarantee that if you do, you will make discoveries about yourself and be able to reach success in areas that before were out of reach.

I have designed a monthly calendar and success tracker for use in reaching your goals. This eight-page digital printable has a  monthly (July) view and a week on two pages.  The left side of the page has a weekly with Monday start and the right side of the page has “This week’s focus” and is divided into three categories (Scholarship, Service, Style) so you can easily identify and focus on the tasks to be accomplished.

june wo2p plan


The bottom section of the page has a Success Tracker for you to list the habits/actions you intend to consistently practice and monitor for a successful week.  The last few pages contain a Project Management section for SMART Goal planning and a Task Checklist.  The sooner you start tracking your goals, the closer you will get to reaching them!

Happy Goal Planning!