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Miss Southwest Sierra Marie Bonn sat down with me to talk about her social impact initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” You can listen to my conversation with Sierra on my Podcast. The episode is titled “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!
Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead! is an initiative to promote STEAM education and engagement. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math. Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead! empowers young women to pursue STEAM careers.
On her website, she shares new technological advances, student-friendly STEAM experiments, events in and around the State of Kansas, and highlights inspirational leaders.
Women in STEAM Week is the third week in October, each year. In addition to learning about influential women, you can nominate someone who has made positive contributions to STEAM in your community by visiting her website, LetsGoFullSTEAMAhead.com
A planner is more than a calendar.
A planner is a tool to help manage projects.
Those projects can vary from keeping your house in order, to operating a business from home; from keeping your ministry accountable and out of the red, to balancing school and work life.
To-do lists can be as varied and unique as individuals are, therefore a system for managing those tasks should be designed to meet those needs.
My unique need for a project management system, which I call a planner, came as a result of losing my cognitive abilities. My memory, both short and long term, were affected. Read the story here. As I began the arduous task of rebuilding my life, I quickly realized the need to relearn many skills that had once been second nature.
At that time, my sister introduced me to the creative community of decorative planning and I quickly realized my brain worked differently as it healed. Some days, analytical tasks like reading, list making, and counting were too difficult or incomprehensible and I leaned heavily on the creative skills associated with the right side of the brain and could surround myself with light and laughter. Other days, color and sound were distracting and overwhelming, causing anxiety and sending me into a panic attack so I leaned towards quiet, solitary activities that gave me a sense of calm and order like reading or listmaking.
I began studying how others approached project management for productivity. Soon, I discovered that while humans use both sides of their brain for different tasks, we have a natural bent towards relying on one side or the other. Some of us are more artistic in nature and operate from a right-brained perspective. Others are more analytical in nature and operate from a left-brained perspective.
Before the trauma that led to a cognitive decline and memory loss, I believed myself to favor a left-brain perspective and therefore engaged in traditionally left-brain activities, rarely pursuing those requiring a right-brain nature. During the healing process, I read much on the subject of neuroplasticity and how to “remap” the brain by continually challenging myself to learn new things. I learned, through trial and error, how to work through the anxiety and panic of not being able to think through, and therefore follow through, with simple activities.
Bilateral Planning is HOW to plan for productivity and success.
I needed to have a project management system that worked with my brain whether I was able to think with the right or left side on any given day. I believe this approach helped me heal quicker and regain much of my former cognitive abilities. While experimenting with different ways to “remap” my brain and learn information, I created a project management system called bilateral planning.
Bilateral Planning is a system of task management that allows for flexibility while maintaining efficiency. I utilize a framework for left-brain task and time management in addition to a space for creative thought processing. This system has allowed me to accomplish goals that would have otherwise been out of reach.
Take this quiz to discover whether you are left or right brain dominant.
Pageant Queen Principles are WHAT you plan.
Incorporating Pageant Queen Principles within the Bilateral Planning framework creates a balanced system for efficiency, productivity and ultimately, success – whether your goals include capturing a crown or corraling a kindergarten class.
HIP HIP HOORAY!! If you are not cheering along, it may be because you have no idea what I am talking about…Read this history of One Book July that will get you up to speed with this year.
Whether you are already well ensconced in a system that works for you, or your system is made up of a thousand pieces of paper and post it notes, I believe One Book July will teach you something new about yourself and your planning routine!
I am excited to see what I learn through the experiement of One Book July this year!
Are you planning on participating? Please find me on social media and tag me, I would love to see what you are doing!
You don’t have to be Miss America to use pageant queen principles to prioritize your life. These principles will help you organize your time, manage your business and get things done!
Pageant participants realize that only one girl will walk away with the crown. While it is a competition, the true competition is with themselves; being the best they can be. All the preparation they put into the competition helps them focus on their strengths and passions preparing them to seize all of the opportunities that cross their path whether they are awarded a sash and crown or not. They understand they are always wearing an invisible crown and operate accordingly.
So how do pageant queens manage to juggle school, jobs, oftentimes a small business, community service which can number in the hundreds of hours, family and relationship obligations, all while maintaining a health and wellness routine giving them the confidence to cross a stage in a swimsuit?
Balancing all of their responsibilities requires preparation. They prepare in 4 areas that are pretty consistent across various organizations and I have identified them as Being, Body, Brain, and Success. As a result, I set my planning routine around these major categories and coach others to do the same.
I like to start with Success.
Pageant Queens understand that a “crown” merely provides a platform for delivering their message. In order to have a successful pageant season, they must identify their passion and purpose which will drive and motivate them to reach their goal. Then they envision reaching their goal by employing the strategy of visualization. They dream of seeing themselves standing on stage, hearing their name called out, walking in their evening gown with new sash, crown, and flowers while waving to the audience and thanking the judges. They even practice their “I can’t believe I just won” face…why?
Studies show visualization improves motivation, coordination, concentration and has been understood since Aristotle described the process over 2,000 years ago, “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
Once she has the vision, a Pageant Queen will assess her strengths, weaknesses, and resources. She will create a plan of action to reach the crown and set up a system for tracking her results based on her identified passion and purpose.
Since titles are passed on to a new Queen each year, her deadline is clearly defined and she can set up a timeline for reaching mini-milestones that will all take her to her ultimate goal. Sharing her vision with others…that journey may or may not result in a crown and she knows that. Her actions align with her purpose.
Mini-milestones are defined in three major areas of Being, Body, and Brain. Her planning routine is broken down to reflect this all while moving her towards her intended goal … the coveted crown.
Being covers her spiritual house, so to speak. Her relationships with others and is also known as her network. It includes her platform, also known as her community service, and how she intends to make the world a better place. She will need to track sponsor relationships and fundraising in addition to her volunteer hours.
Body covers her physical house. Her health and wellness, nutrition and fitness routine and trackers for maintaining an appearance ready physique and giving her the confidence to stand tall, smile and shine the light of her crown on what matters most to her: her goal of helping others.
Brian covers her mental house. This is her scholastic focus and personal development and may include entrepreneurial goals.
As you can see, each of the identified areas allows for a framework of creating a self-management system that is flexible enough for Pageant Queens to tailor but structured enough to provide a guide for reaching her potential. This empowers her to prioritize her life, organize her time and manage her business and it can do the same for you.
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 by 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 a variety of habits. And while they may or may not be BAD for you, they may not be serving the 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! It 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 series on 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 day’s actions or make a change. 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!
Need a way to track your health and wellness goals? Check out how I track my fitness goals!
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?
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 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.
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 !!