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!

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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!

My Go Bag

… and tools I use to STOP the madness!

Today I found myself walking around the house in circles. By that I mean, I was going from room to room, picking up one thing at a time, then thinking of something else only to change directions and start another task. WHY? First I need to back up.

My plans for the day included another person who had either changed their plans without informing me, had forgot, or was still asleep…during our scheduled time together. As a result, I was filling my time with small, one off tasks, that were not on my daily schedule…basically busy work. I didn’t feel at liberty to engage in an activity that would tie me up if the person I was waiting on finally returned my call…I started to feel anxious.

Has that ever happened to you? You want to be productive with your waiting time but in order to get in the flow, you need to have the time to complete the tasks. If you are like me, while waiting on someone else the thought of starting a project that could be interrupted causes anxiety as does the lack of feeling productive “in the waiting” … so what do you do when you are time dependent on another person who, for whatever reason, does not seem to be respectful of your time?

Unfortunately, my pattern is that I find myself going in circles from small task to small task, not actually feeling accomplished. While yes, those items needed to be taken out of the living room and moved back into the office, I was not planning on doing it at that moment but at a later time … when I could not accomplish the things I had planned. See a theme? PLANS! Making and keeping them.

Eventually I catch myself going in circles and I tell myself to STOP! Take a breath and pray. Once I am in a state of calm…or semi calm, I follow a routine (yes I just said routine) that I created to help me break the pattern of being stuck.

Feeling stuck is a common human condition, but staying that way is not. Being aware of and recognizing your condition is only half the battle, the other half is being prepared with a plan you can implement any time you find yourself stuck, going in circles.

I use a “Go Bag” and have a video telling you how and why it originated and you can watch it here

In my bag are the tools I have collected and developed over the years which help me. Your tools may vary slightly, and if you need to borrow a tool from my bag, feel free. I only gained mine because I had to learn the hard way or, in some cases, someone special introduced me to them along they way.

Before you find yourself going in circles, designate your own “Go Bag” … if you are already feeling anxious or overwhelmed, STOP what you are doing and take a deep breath and say a silent prayer. Then check out my tool box for dealing with anxiety and overwhelm.
Fill it with the items that can help you … see What’s in my Tool Box for suggestions
Create a “get unstuck” routine – Have a go to place that you can go. Take your bag and go somewhere different. Changing your physical environment takes you out of the situation that is either causing or contributing to the feeling of anxiety/overwhelm/stuck and can have a major impact on your perception of events and can help you think differently about a current situation. Some places to consider are your local library, a restaurant or coffee shop, a bookstore or a park.
Pay attention to your body and your thoughts. When you notice you are going in circles, feel stuck, anxious, tense or aggressive, or find yourself having negative thoughts, implement your routine.

I would love to know the tools you put in your “Go Bag” … tag me on social media with #GoBagTools

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.

Bilateral Planning

The brain. We all have one and use it every day. But how often do you actually think about the thing that helps you think?  Aside from an occasional headache, deja vu or perhaps a dizzy spell, you may not give it a second thought.  Instead, allowing your brain to operate and orchestrate the myriad of bodily functions it is in control of. Breathing is the first activity that comes to mind and is an important (dare I say THE most important) function that affects every other aspect of your life.

I admit I didn’t give a lot of attention to my brain health before 2013.  All of that changed in what seems like an instant to me but actually spans the course of approximately 10 years.  I say approximately because I don’t know.  I can not actually recall, in order, many of my life events from 2008 to 2016.  That’s not to say that I don’t remember anything.  I do, actually, and I am remembering more and more as time goes on.

While I have been in the pursuit, along with medical professionals, to determine the cause of the cognitive malfunctions and memory loss resulting from severe headaches (for lack of a better word), I embarked on a brain improvement journey near the end of 2016.

This journey, or science experiment as I like to refer to it, lead me to try many new things as brain exercises during the past year.  After much researching, I discovered I was actually giving my brain the best chance at recovery by aiding in its plasticity.

Enter OneBookJuly2017 and my dive down the rabbit hole of all things planner related, paper organization and habit tracking. Over the course of July, and the ensuing months of 2017, I learned what would work best for me.  While planning and organizing thoughts are unique to individuals, I discovered something about myself and noticed a pattern emerge within the planning community.

I found that part of the time I planned and benefitted from using a traditional, list based, heavily worded system.  The other part of the time, reading and writing words and therefore following the system was overwhelming or just plain difficult due to my struggles with recall and retention. As a result, I began looking for or creating stickers to create word-picture associations in my mind.

I quickly discovered the need to dual plan my time using two weekly spreads and began “Bilateral Planning”.  One weekly spread communicated the information in a language my creative right brain would understand using pictures when the left side was not connecting properly and reading words was difficult.  Another one communicated to my logical left brain, the events and tasks needing my focus when the nerves in my right brain would misfire, and looking at colors and pictures were distracting.

 

Both of these layouts communicate the same information for the week of October 30-November 5, 2017.

This “ah-ha” moment led me to research planning styles and I decided to incorporate both and identify it as “Bilateral Planning”.  For me, the repetition in planning aides in memory recall and improves my retention.

If you or someone you know struggles with completing tasks, whether it results from a memory issue like mine or some other challenge, I believe bilateral planning can help.

Sign up for my Newsletter and receive a FREE printable to start Bilateral Planning.

FACT: Being active is associated with lower risk of brain issues.

Want to track your health and wellness to encourage and promote activities geared toward creating and maintaining a healthy brain?  Check out my Health and Wellness Tracker

 

 

 

Schoolwork Junk Journal

My friend, Katie, shared her dilemma about what to do with all the papers her son brings home from school.  You know the ones. The beautiful works of art and weekly quizzes boasting 100% in red ink across the top.  They invariably find a place of prominence on the refrigerator.

I have a confession.

I have most of my daughter’s graded school work, drawings another other ephemera in storage bins and drawers…she is in college now.

Relating to Katie’s struggle, I decided to pull out my daughter’s papers and create a “Schoolwork” junk journal and I am so glad I did.  Now my treasured bits and pieces are gathered together and displayed on my shelf and I can flip through it anytime I wish, what’s more, I plan to share it with my daughter…one day.

 

How I plan – Weekly Review

I have finally turned the camera on during my planning sessions to show “HOW” I plan.  Making a video (series of videos) on my planning structure has been on my to-do list for a while but it wasn’t until I watched a video by MissVickybee titled, “Where is Planning?” that I decided to do it.  In her video, she mentions all the “Plan With Me’ videos available online and how beautiful the art of pretty planning is but she wanted to see the structure, “what was being planned” too often she would see planners that were decorated but not set up.

I am all for decorating and pretty planning for the sake of self-care and creative expression (I love stickers) but planners need to be functional or else they are not planners but scrapbooks.  This is where I should mention that I love watching scrapbook process videos, but when I am interested in personal development and looking for new ways to be more productive or efficient with my tasks, I want to watch and learn from a planner who is employing replicable organizational strategies and techniques.

In addition to my “How I Plan” video series, I am making my Weekly Review questions available for you to use in your own planning routine.  To learn how I use this invaluable tool, check out my weekly review video.

 

 

 

Mixed Media Cards

Time to share another FREE printable!

I love making mixed media journal cards and have started creating birthday cards in the same style.  Recently, I was requested to make a video teaching how I make them and it is available on my YouTube channel.

I decided to provide some of my favorites as a printable you can use in your art or Bible journaling, with Project Life, or to write a quick note on and give to a friend.  How you use them is up to you, but they are for personal use only.

Faith, Hope and Love – Journal Cards

Doily Folded TN insert cover

I was inspired by Christy Tomlinson of The Planner Society and a photo she posted on her Instagram “Instastories” that showed a half of a doily cut out of a card that she “franken-plannered” (that’s a word, right?)

I decided I wanted to recreate the look using the digital Halloween kit I had purchased and went to work finding a file that would help me achieve the look.  What I found was a free file from BirdsCards.  I was unable to the original file so I cleaned up the image and uploaded it as print and cut file in Cricut Design Space.  When I selected the image on my canvas I chose “Cut” but you can change the color or add a pattern and print then cut if you desire.

I’d love to see what you create with this file!  Look me up on Instagram @theorganizedmiss or on YouTube as The Organized Miss

The file was saved as a .png so you should have no problems uploading it into whatever machine you use.

doilyPocketTN

 

 

 

October Daily – Junk Journal with Me

In my effort to continue challenging and healing my brain, I have been inspired to participate in an October Daily journal challenge and I had to add my own twist.  

The challenge is to journal daily throughout the month of October (and I hope to video it as well and post it to my YouTube channel).

I have decided to use this journal time to challenge myself to participate in activities that engage the left brain, logic-based activity (i.e. math, science, history, sequencing) on odd number days of the month.

On even number days, I will participate in activities that engage the right brain, creativity based activity (i.e. paint, draw, write, play music, crochet, using your imagination is the key and your only limit).

I created this image as a visual prompt and show you how I will use it in my video.  

Feel free to print it out and use it as you follow along with me on this journey.

OctoberBrainDump

If you decide to join me in this challenge, share what you’re doing with the hashtag #odjjwm and tag me on social media.

IG: @theorganizedmiss

Facebook: @theorganizedmiss

YouTube: The Organized Miss