This guest post is by Camilla Kragius. Camilla is the founder of No More Hamster Wheel. She loves to teach people how to work smarter instead of harder, to start living and to excel their life. You can connect with her on Facebook.
Have you ever wondered how you got so much done in school but now it feels like you never have enough time?
After graduation, we tend to start winging it. We go off schedule. Instead of having study times and important due dates on the calendar, we fill our calendar with appointments and meetings. Eventually, goals become verbal to-dos, not something that goes on the schedule.
It’s Time To Go Back To School
People often ask me how I get so much done. My answer is simple: planning. I sit down and plan out the larger projects I want to do and the goals I want to accomplish. I do this by planning with the end in mind. I ask myself, “What milestones do I need to hit along the way to get to where I want to be?”
By taking the time to work back from the end, I have a plan going forward. Let’s say you wanted to run a marathon on a specific day. How many miles do you need to run each week (starting today) in order to be ready on race day? Once you know that, lay the facts out on paper. All you need to do is to stick to it.
If you want to write a 250-page book by a certain date, how many pages do you need to write each week in order to make that deadline?
You get the picture. Planning with the end in mind helps you create a road map for going forward.
So How Do I Plan My Year?
The first step I take in planning out my year is to get a full-year wall calendar. I love the laminated ones from NeuYear. Having your entire year on one page is a great visual.
Second, I put in the cornerstones. For me, these are vacations, weekend trips, business travel and conferences.
Third, I write in the projects I am doing. I include deadlines, marketing campaigns, and personal goals.
Fourth, I add in time for education. I focus on a specific topic or theme each month. This could mean reading a book, going through a course or watching some tutorial videos. This educational content is always intentional. It is based on what I need to learn or improve in order to move my goals forward. A monthly theme allows you to be more focused and immersed as you learn. After you learn, you must implement.
Using a full year calendar makes things clear. I can easily see how my goals and deadlines fit around vacations, marketing campaigns and business travel. It’s easier to adjust when you see all 12 months in front of you.
Balance is a myth; it’s about fitting work around life as much as possible, not life around work.
Next, I move the dates to a monthly calendar. I use a big desk version, but use whatever works for you. That allows me to make a general plan for each week during each month. This allows me to know what needs to be done in order to move the needle forward.
I use my monthly calendar to figure out my daily MIT (Most Important Tasks) sheet that I use in order to plan out my day.
Put Your Plan Into Action
To sum things up, plan out your entire year by breaking it down while keeping the end in mind. You likely already know what must be done each month, week, and day to meet your goals. If you don’t, figure that out and then plan accordingly. And don’t forget to block out time for everything on your calendar including fun, exercise, and your personal life.
All this planning may sound overwhelming, but once you spend some time with your calendar, you have a much greater chance of arriving at your preferred destination. You won’t find yourself wondering where the time went. When we get things down on paper, we can create a plan that works.
How do you plan ahead for the upcoming year?