Planning is my thing – I love it. Actually anything to do with organizing I love but planning is fun for me. It was one of the more fun parts to being a teacher for me – planning the lessons. So I try out everything when it comes to planning to see if it works for me. And I think this is key. Planning has to work for you to be worth doing.
My planning process is a mish mash of things I’ve learned from others, from books I’ve read and from me just trying something out. But a key element to planning that has made major improvements to my actual work week comes from a mentoring group I am a part of but it begins first with something else I picked up from a book I read called Beginner’s Pluck by Liz Forkin Bohannon.
Planning my week is one of the favorite moments in my weekend. It’s an hours worth of basking in what is possible, my dreams, and since I have kids, quiet solitude.
Yes, it begins first with me announcing I am taking a moment to plan and no one bother me. Then if I can, I head outside with a drink in one hand (sometimes sweet tea, sometimes hot tea, and sometimes a glass of wine – all of which are a part of the indulgence) and my planner in the other. (I ditch my phone for this because I don’t want a distraction). I hightail it for the chairs in the furthest part of my backyard, sit back, take a sip, then close my eyes.
It takes a moment for my mind to settle and for me to make sure no one followed but when it does I allow it to begin wandering into what ifs and what might be fun and what would be awesome if I could . . . – Are you getting the point? I daydream.
In Beginner’s Pluck, Liz talks about her weekly wows and how they became transformative to her goals and dreams. This is my daydream time I describe above. I decided awhile ago to try it out and since I’ve made a habit of it. To me, it’s indulgent and so relaxing. This is the point where I begin seeing goals – I write down anything that I get excited about in my planner’s journal pages. If any of these things aligns with the coming week I begin to work there. If it doesn’t, I know I’ll return here for my 90 days and yearly goals to assess if I can move towards these or if they can go into my 10 goals in 10 years list. The point is for me to dream and get it down on paper so I don’t forget.
If this seems over-indulgent you seriously need to give it a try. Don’t worry about trying to make the dreams come true or even laugh at them like they are silly. Take them seriously enough to write them down but don’t stress about it. This is what makes it so great. They are dreams, you don’t have to tell anyone, and if you feel like working towards them, then do, if you don’t then no harm done.
Brain Dump & 3x3
Once I feel like I’ve exhausted my current daydream state, or basically gotten antsy with just sitting there in my mind, then I start planning. Here’s what my planning looks like (I always love reading how others plan).
First I start with a brain dump. I write down everything I would love to get done or have to get done that week – sometimes I have to refer back to my notes from the previous week, post-its I’ve written reminders on, and my 90 days goals.
Once I’ve exhausted the brain dump, I categorize it with a highlighter or colored pen. The big rocks – stuff that has to get done. The smaller things that I see looming that need attention. Then the would be nice items and finally, the stuff I can let go of (at least for now). Then I turn to my 3×3 process.
This 3×3 process comes from a mentoring group I am a part of called Thriving Christian Artists with Matt Tommey. I could speak for days on the benefits of this group but I’m trying my best to focus here.
I first set up a grid of 3×3 boxes – the titles along the top I create as Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the titles along the left side I create as Spiritual/Personal, Art, Business. Also I’m careful now to date the week.
The Weekly Planner
I then enter one big thing I want to accomplish on each day for each category – these get a star next to it in my planner later so I know if anything this gets done. Then I fill in a few small things for each day and each category. I tend to overfill my days with all the to-dos and then become overwhelmed because I’m writing down the same thing for Tuesday that I did on Monday and by Thursday I feel defeated. But this process works for me because what I have planned for Monday can overflow to Tuesday but on Wednesday there are other things I need to work towards. And I am always paying attention to the starred items first no matter what. They are typically aligned with my 90 days goals and are important. If I don’t get to a non-starred item then I let it go. Not a big deal. I’ve found I can usually get to at least the starred items each week.
All of this on the 3×3 grid then goes into my planner with the stars next to the 3 things I need to get done. I also put in any appointments or meetings into the planner for that week. Then I fill in other small things that might not be on my grid like calling the doctor or taking the dog to the vet. I also add things I’m trying to make a habit of like social media posts, or daily sketching. I’m not perfectly finishing it all but it is more done than I’ve ever had before.