Hit more of your goals this year with this life-changing scheduling method
Hit more of your goals this year with this life-changing scheduling method
If I’m being honest, the buzz of “new year, new you” makes me cringe.
On the one hand, I love the idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, a natural end to all that came before it. There’s something so refreshing about that perspective.
And it’s not just the lack of treadmills at the gym that makes me feel this way (though that definitely doesn’t help!). Or the fact that I get hives at the idea of planning an entire year of business that far in advance.
No, rather, it’s the idea that you need to be someone else, someone “new,” in order to be successful. I’ve always had a rather underwhelming appreciation for waking up in a new year—a lackluster sense that things are exactly as they were.
But what I DO believe in is our power to change bit-by-bit, one day at a time. And I think that’s even more powerful, and incredibly less overwhelming.
Because change can happen any time of the year, whether it be on January 1st or mid-April, and I caution against a mindset that tells you to wait to transform. (I think often that tiny voice that says “wait” is fear rearing its ugly head, rather than valid reasoning.)
Where I often see the creatives and entrepreneurs I work with stumble is in the ACTIONS that support the results that they’re looking to create. Because while the first step to getting what you want is KNOWING what you want, it also isn’t enough to make it a reality.
The same way you wouldn’t expect to see results from that social media course you purchased but never opened or the gym membership you bought without stepping foot in the gym, you can’t expect to reach your goals without taking actions that bring you closer to them.
Which is why today I’m diving into this literally life (and business!) changing scheduling method so you can start making time to work toward your goals little-by-little and start seeing more of the results you actually want in your life and business this year.
Because in truth, this year brings the same “you” with it, but there’s always room to move closer to your goals, and that, my dear, can start any day of the year.
Know what you’re working toward
The first step to getting what you want, is KNOWING what you want. Because without that, how can you possibly know when you’ve reached it? That’s exactly why in my signature coaching program, Future You, we start by getting specific about your bigger vision. We talk about beautiful, balanced life and successful, thriving business you’re looking to create. Who is that woman? What is she wearing? What does she eat for breakfast? What kind of business does she own? How does she spend her time. We picture it. All of it.
When I had my ‘aha’ moment that living and working in NYC was not my forever plan, I began to think, I began to dream, about what it would be like to live elsewhere. I knew that my bigger vision included more open space rather than my shoe-boxed sized apartment. I knew that I was done with commuting on the subway and I longed for a car again. Those were small details, but they painted a much bigger picture and it made it easier for those details to become a reality because my mindset was already on board.
Make time for the actions that support your bigger vision
It’s so easy for creatives and entrepreneurs to get caught up in the dreaming, planning, and goal setting, that they stop shy of action. I believe that only having that vision isn’t enough. You also need to identify the small, consistent efforts you can take that bring that bigger vision to life.
You wouldn’t open a brick and mortar store by simply purchasing a building and calling it done. You would likely work at it one day at a time, reaching out to a real estate agent, researching what was available, purchasing the building, filling it with products, hanging the sign on the front door. This is grossly oversimplified but you can understand how it’s a process that takes time. Each step builds on the one before it. And reaching ANY of your goals works very similarly.
But how do you actually make time to work toward those goals bit-by-bit? The answer lies in scheduling.
Break down that bigger goal into small, consistent efforts and then schedule time every day to make it happen. I use a method I like to call Calendar Blocking. This simple, yet effective system is essential to creating your ideal schedule in Future You. Together, we come up with a weekly plan that you feel good about—one that you can test, evaluate, and change as needed, so that you can be sure you’ll stick with it. But I also suggest you input your routine guide into a calendar to help you stay on track. Here’s how to do just that:
Pick a scheduling system
The foundation for scheduling this way is a calendar in which you "block off" time for each task on your to-do list. So first, it's important that you have a system that you like. If you’re more of a digital gal, Google Calendar comes standard with GSuite that’s a great option. I tend to prefer the design of Fantastical 2, a desktop app that I have synced with my Google Cal. But let’s not forget that pen and paper is sometimes the simplest and easiest method, so your favorite print-out or planner is great too! Find the one that works for you.
Plan your day (or week)
I love lists. Truly, I do. But my problem with lists is that I often overestimate how much can be done in a day. That's where Calendar Blocking shines. As the name implies, each task on your list is given a block of time.
Now, how specific you get is entirely up to you. For instance, I'll block off about an hour that I call "Morning Routine," rather than segmenting "journaling, pilates, breakfast." But if you're settling into a new schedule and carving out time to work toward those big goals (which you will be in the Future You program!), you’ll want to be a bit more detailed.
For client work, I'll block off the amount of time I think I'll need along with the name of the task. So on my calendar it reads "9:30-11: Client Name - Task."
Any client calls or in-person events get blocked off as soon as they're scheduled. Again, I have an online scheduler, but pen and paper works just as well. I even go as far as to block off drive time to coffee dates and workouts. By putting those things on my calendar, I'm getting a more accurate reflection of how much time is remaining. And I like to honor my calendar, so if it's on my there, I'm more likely to stick to it.
It takes me about 20 minutes at the beginning of the week to block out my ideal schedule in this way and it saves me TONS of time and decision fatigue because I’m not constantly wondering what’s next. From there I’ll typically take about 5 minutes at the beginning of the day and 5 minutes at the end of the day to review and push things around as needed. Personally, love using a calendar scheduler for this reason because so I can simply move the blocks around without having to rewrite items.
Make it yours
The most effective system is the one that feels true to you and the way you work, so take the time to really personalize it and make your own. Think about what is and isn’t working for you about scheduling in this way. Do you need to color code your blocks or does that rainbow effect feel overwhelming? Should non-negotiable MEETINGS appear in all-caps? Does it help to write the duration or location in the title of the block? Small changes like this can make the system even more effective for the way you work.
As a visual person, I love that personalizing my system lets me see how busy I am at-a-glance. I even have different color blocks for work, play, and important appointments to further differentiate. It makes it easier to determine how much space I have in my calendar so I don’t overcommit in life or business.
Carve out time for reflection
I'm pretty obsessive about tracking my time so that I never wonder "where the day went." But at the end of my day, I'll go back and make sure that my Calendar Blocking is a true reflection of how long things took. I find this practice makes me more conscious of how long things actually take vs. how long I thought it'd take. Because while I’d love to live in a world where I can reach inbox zero in about fifteen minutes, my Calendar Blocking has made it pretty clear that isn’t the case. ;) It's also a great way to have a sort of "business journal" to look back on. Any task that shifted and I didn't get to, I move to another time (because hey, I’m only human!).
And that's a wrap. Now, If this system piques your interest even the slightest, I encourage you to test it out for a week and see how it goes. I have a feeling you'll be hooked.
The bottom line:
I caution against a mindset that tells you to wait to transform. This year brings the same “you” with it, but there’s always room to move closer to your goals, and that can start any day of the year. Start by defining your goal (what is that you want) and start blocking off time to work toward that goal, whether that be one day at a time or one week at a time. And remember that BIG progress can be made through small, consistent efforts. Personally, I’m looking to read at least one personal or professional development book a month this year and I’m blocking off time for it each evening!
PS – Need help breaking down those big goals into small, consistent efforts you take daily? Future You is a one-on-one coaching program designed to help creatives and entrepreneurs who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed to create a beautiful, balanced life and successful, thriving business. Not only do we dive into what success looks like for YOU, but we also co-create the vision board of your dreams and an ideal weekly schedule you can stick to so you can start working toward a life and business you find profitable AND fulfilling, little-by-little, one day at a time. Want to see if we’re a good fit first? Schedule a time for my free Simplifying Success coaching call and we’ll chat about the one mindset shift that will move your life and business forward the most.
Tell me in the comments below:
Are you more of a paper planner or an online scheduler type of gal? What’s your best tip for finding a scheduling system that works for you?
Photography by Jennifer Morgan Photography