It’s at this time of the year when I like to dig in deep and fully plan the next year of my business. It’s something that I also constantly talk about in terms of business goals, but rarely do I show you exactly how I organise my whole year to be more effective and productive with my time. Today I’m going to show you how to do just that with a very simple tool… my yearly planner!
How to use a yearly planner to be abundantly more productive
Planning out your year ahead of time is important for two reasons;
It effectively shows you your annual deadlines – meaning that around busier times you know what your priority tasks must be.
It allows you to see what you can move around if you come across bottlenecks, which is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed.
To make this planning task simple I start with a visualisation session. In the video I go through this in more detail, but here is how that session works for me;
Yearly planner – I start by printing out my yearly planner and pinning it to my office wall
Post-it notes – I get myself a bunch of sticky post-it notes in varying colours and select ones for my relevant key dates, like; shows, shop updates, holidays, etc. I then write on each colour which event it represents
Pin the event to the date – I stick post-it notes for each relevant category to the relevant date on my yearly planner
Move around bottle necks – there will be certain events that I can move and some that I cannot. The ones that I can move I tend to thin out around the dates I have bottle necks of unmovable events. This allows me to thin out my overwhelm during these months… and you’d be surprise how quickly overwhelm can creep up on you!
Write in my final dates – Finally I write in my key dates directly onto the yearly planner and highlight the key ones with some highlighters, removing my post-it notes as I go.
Creating a simple time plan like this avoids disorganisation, because I know exactly what I need to focus on and when.
You may remember in my blog post Think Like A Boss NOT An Employee And Run Your Business The RIGHT Way I talked about avoiding the ‘band-aid’ approach to your business by stepping back to look at the bigger picture in order to manage your business better. This is one of those times!
If you have an organised yearly plan, it allows you to further explore in finer detail each of the deadlines you have – meaning that you don’t miss things like marketing opportunities, or producing enough stock. It also means you can finish projects before they are due!
OMG – yes, I said it… you can finish projects before they are due! No more late nights and tired faces on the stand at your next big show, instead you could even plan in a day’s rest before you set up your show. Yes, it can really happen!!
How to boost the finer detail of bigger projects
Having the key dates on your yearly planner is one thing and it certainly highlights your monthly and weekly focus. What is lacks however, is the finer detail of a plan that’s going to get your deadline met with accuracy. This is where I employ a deeper planning element to my planner, one that I haven’t discussed on the podcast.
Let’s take an upcoming show as an example.
It’s great to know that a show is coming up, by marking it on my planner and to be able to add in a few extra production days here and there. What it doesn’t do is help me understand and visualise exactly how much work there is to be done for that show and when I should be focusing on it.
Below is an example of the two months before a show. On my planner I have already put in my key days for those months; shop update days, production days and show days. These are highlighted exactly as I mention in the podcast episode.
What I now need to do is effectively plan each major task for the upcoming show, in order to really see how those months leading up to my show are going to look. So, I’m going to put in key tasks such as;
Order materials for production
Craft stall design and ordering
Social media mentions
Show paperwork (pricelist, etc.)
Post show finances
You can see how the list can grow within a short amount of time. Make sure that you write down all of those sub-tasks that need to be completed in order to get everything ready for your show.
I write these in to my planner but leave them un-highlighted.
Now what I have is a planner that much more accurately shows how much focus and work my show needs. If I do this for every key highlighted date you can start to really see how each day, week and each month looks for you.
This is your focus when you come to work.
Don’t be in a rush to fill every date on your calendar at the beginning of the year, because if things change so will your plan. Also, you will need extra days spare just in case you overrun on something, or for those other admin duties you have.
Equally don’t start panicking if you see months starting to get busy. The point of this exercise is not to make you hide in the cupboard for 2019, instead it’s to help you use your plan to balance your weeks and months and to handle projects in a much more focused and detailed way, leading to a more productive use of your workdays.
Creating a yearly planner does take some time, so spend a few days, or a week on this task each year.
Your planning sessions for next year should be insightful and liberating from feelings of existing overwhelm and disorganisation that you may have felt this year. More than that your yearly planner should help you bring focus to your days, weeks and months meaning ultimately that you are more productive with your time.
How to plan for growth this coming year – adding in those projects that will help you grow your current business.
Yearly Planner on Etsy – an easy to use wall chart download