Planners, Planning and Taking Aligned Action (aka Self-Management)

JT - “Good planning without good working is nothing.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

So it is that time of the year again, when we start to see an increase in the number of planners on the market. Before you go and purchase one, remember there is a difference between planners, planning and taking aligned action. Yes, clients often ask me about what the best planner is for them. Well – I am not going to share which planner is best for you (as you know yourself the best), however I am going to share some things you may like to think about and when you are purchasing a planner for next year.

However, before I do that, I want to say that planning is linked to how we manage ourselves. Over the years, I have observed how excited people get at the start of the year. I wonder what is is about the New Year. Maybe offers new possibilities, a clean slate or hope for new beginnings of how they want their life to unfold. And then by the 2nd or 3rd week of January it gets a bit hard and the well-laid out plans become a distant memory as the New Year begins to unfold.

Having a great plan is very different than being a great planner and then implementing it. Subsequently, in todays post I wanted to share with you some tips that may help you as you move forward and start looking for your next planner. Let’s get started…

Developing Clarity…

So we are on the same page, let’s discuss what planners, planning and taking action is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a planner is –

“something (such as a device, program, or notebook) that provides a schedule and is used for planning activities, travels, etc.”

Planning is –

“the act or process of making or carrying out plans” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

And self-management is –

“the act of taking responsibility for your behaviour, health and happiness, or for the organisation of your work activities” ~ Oxford Learning Dictionaries. 

Is there anything you would change to the above definitions?

Planning Across Your Whole Life for Harmony and Leading from Within

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was burnt out and stressed. I was focusing more on my career and less on other areas of life (and in some cases forgetting about them all together – yes truly). This was having an impact on my relationships, my energy and also my health and movement. Subsequently, I made a conscious decision to look at my life wholistically. This helped identify my priorities and create greater harmony and wellbeing.

Over time, I found this really useful and ended up making it into a process. I now look at my whole life every year when I create my year (and sometimes throughout the year as well), so I continue to focus on my whole life, not just parts…

“A system is a whole that consists of parts, each of which can affect its behaviour or its properties.” ~ Dr Russell Ackoff

Knowing the Purpose of a Planner

Would you agree there is a difference between a planner that helps you focus on the whole year and a planner that helps you manage your day to day priorities? The whole year planner looks more at the bigger picture, whilst the day-to-day planner is more about the daily priorities and self-management to move towards the bigger picture.

With both of these two planners, there needs to be alignment as one is more medium to long-term and the other is shorter-term. If there is no alignment or lack of awareness of the most important tasks and how they link to the bigger picture, you may be focused on the not-so-urgent or important or a bright-shiny object (i.e. someone else’s priorities).

The Different Layers of Planning

When it comes to planning, I see 4 layers of planning. They are –

  • Yearly Planning (i.e bigger picture),
  • 84-Day or Quarterly Planning,
  • 28-Day Planning or Monthly Planning, and
  • Self-Management or Daily Planning or Energy Allocation Process.
1. Yearly Planning –

My Yearly Planning process is called the End-of-Year Ritual. Within that included the Create Your Year – Wholistic Life Planner. I love completing this process before the end of each year (I have been doing it since 2013). When I look back on the year, it often amazes me what has gone on and it helps me to  truly savour the experiences of the year and release it before going in to the upcoming year. Besides looking at the overall plan for the year,

2. 84-Day / Quarterly Planning –

After looking at the bigger picture for the year, I chunk that down to quarters. Within the 84=days (i.e. quarter), I focus on 3 main projects. Doing this helps me manage projects easier and focus on the priorities. As a sensitive person, it is important for me to feel this way and has been an (un)learning process over the years. I also have things in this layer that I want to maintain, so not all of the projects are new projects.

3 & 4. 28-Day Planning and Self-Management / Energy Allocation Process –

The 84-Day / Quarterly Planning is broken down in to 28-day plans and daily priorities using my self-management system / energy allocations process. This is feasible for me. Also – within the daily priorities a number of actions are already pre-populated as they are recurring. For example – I move my body on particular days, I also have clients on particular days and reminders for family, friends and clients birthdays.

Digital or Paper?

Over the years, I have experimented with both a digital and paper planner and system to see what worked best for me. I came to the conclusion that I like both! Yes i use a paper planner for my yearly and quarterly planning and then a digital self-management system for daily and monthly planning. Also for any tasks that repeat (i.e. moving my body or health appointments or payments), they are in my self-management system and help me keep a schedule that works for me.

Find a planner and system that works for you, as you are the one who know you best. However, I do encourage you to find a living document.

Ensure it is a Living Document…

Over the evolution of the End-of-Year Ritual, clients have told me that they appreciated the time to go through the planner with me and also go back and reflect on it throughout the year.

Yes, that is one of the reasons there are quarterly reflection and planning sessions built in. No more planners gathering dust on the shelves (don’t worry I did it previously as well, so you are in good company). This also inspired me to keep persisting to find what worked for me 🙂

Setting Yourself Up for Aligned Action…

Are there any behaviours or actions that you are doing at present that are not aligned with your heart and how you truly want to show up and be seen? If so, how can you tweak those to help you move towards a more aligned life – yes one that takes in to consideration your whole life (not just your career)?

Maybe you feel like a bit of an impostor or are lacking the confidence to move towards living your dreams? Or maybe you are ready to prioritise your own self-care? If so, reach out to a wholistic coach that can help you in that space.

Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to planners, planning and taking aligned action. If you have any questions, please let me know below.

Also – please remember – just buying a planner is not going to transform those dreams in to reality. Yes, you do need to use it and take the aligned action steps towards what you are wanting to create.

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