11 Planner Features That Will Help You Reach Your Goals
If you have a trusty planner by your side, you can accomplish ANYTHING!
Let's be honest, you can be disorganized and still be successful, but it is so much EASIER to be successful in your endeavors when you are organized! So let's visit about the 11 planner features that I have found to be essential to keeping all aspects of life organized and moving in a direction of achieving both milestone and big dream goals...
1) Long-Term Goal Setting. Long term goal setting really helps you to be able to see the big picture of where you desire to be in 6 months, one, three, five, and ten years from now. Being able to visualize and project that far out makes *all* the difference in making it possible to make decisions in the present that will bring you closer to those dreams!
Additionally, having a place in your planner where you can keep track of your long-term goals makes it so much easier to refer back to that spread when you go through your reflection process to evaluate and adjust goals going forward.
Projecting your long-term goals provides a sense of excitement and hope for the future and can lend itself to a sense of purpose during challenging times in the present.
2) Short-Term Goal Setting & Tracking. Goal setting. Say no more. Setting, working
toward, and achieving goals is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. It’s how we breathe our dreams to life and sculpt our realities to meet the expectations we set for ourselves. It’s key that when we set long-term goals, we have the ability to break them down into bite-size nuggets of goodness, and we can track them as we accomplish the milestones along the way.
3) Monthly View. Being able to glance at the month as a whole, even if you don’t use that
be taking place. Because some of these larger events can require a lot of preparation, and let’s be honest, some require a handful of “recovery time” days built in afterward, having a monthly spread to look at can help you to avoid overloading yourself for the month, or during particular weeks when your mental and emotional bandwidth might be a bit more limited. Whatever the case may be, be sure to honor your needs in your schedule, know that the preparation and recovery time that you build in is just as essential as making it to and through the actual events, and be observant of patterns in your behavior and needs.
When I was working 16 hour days, seven days a week, running my two businesses (I know, that’s INSANE! Don’t worry, following my own advice has gotten me down to working 4 days a week and actually soaking in the joy of reaching goals!)... Any way, when I was working like a crazy person, I could actually predict when my body was going to give out on me. Like clockwork, I would get sick the second week of February each season, I would sleep for days the last week in April, and the third week in June all I wanted to do was isolate and listen to the sound of the wind.... And this was something that I was able to predict and schedule in because I knew just how far I was pushing myself traveling and working events just prior to those chunks of time... I am by no means recommending that you work yourself to complete exhaustion, at all, but what I am suggesting is that you take advantage of the long term views in your planner, such as the monthly spread, to identify times when you will be particularly busy, and be able to plan for time off and frolicking ( I LOVE that word).
4) Budget Tracking. Say no more... Whether you are deeeeeeep in debt and trying to see a glimmer of light at the top of the hole you feel trapped in (don’t get discouraged - you can
do this!) or are completely financially free and just love to see you savings accounts and investments grow, having a place to track your budget each month right there in your planner is so helpful. If you are reading this blog post, then odds are that you are really into planners, and the idea of everything being streamlined and organized in one place gets you a little giddy. I’m right there with you! So having the ability to track your finances in the same space that you keep track of your daily goings-on can be really gratifying!
A quick tip to connect your time block views to your budget spreads... Add your pay dates to your weekly schedules, when pay day comes, log in to your bank, verify payment is received, and then flip to your budget spread and add your income for that pay period immediately!
5) Meal Planning/Prep/Grocery Lists. We all eat, but so often meal planning and groceries are so far from our minds when we think about budgeting and scheduling, but they are so closely linked!
Let’s first link meal planning and grocery lists with our schedules since scheduling is the most commonly sought out purpose of planner users. How many times have you planned to have a really delicious meal during the week, because it was SO appealing when we saw it in the grocery store, and then it just *sits* waiting for us to have a night when we aren’t too tired or stressed out from the day to make it? And when that happens, how often do some of our fresher ingredients go bad before we can actually make the meal? When we plan our meals ahead, looking at our schedule load as we create our meal plans, we eliminate the waste and stress caused by these situations! We can also carve out time at the beginning of the week (or month) to prep batches of meals in advance to be ready to microwave, crockpot, or throw in the oven on our more hectic days - I don’t love being in the kitchen so I do MASSIVE meal prep once a month and freeze meals!
Now let’s link this to our budgets - the average grocery bill for a *single* American each month ranges from $175 to $365! That’s an incredible range for an average... but the point of this is, when we meal plan and put together a grocery list before going to the store, we can save So. Much. Money.
6) Time Blocking is my absolute favorite planning and time management strategy. This strategy helps to keep me on task, productive during my allotted work time slots, and has freed up so much of my time to be able to enjoy more family time, self care, relaxation, and adventures. Check out my TIME BLOCKING GOODNESS here.
7) Habit Tracking - How many times have you told yourself that you’re going to change a habit, or start doing something on a regular basis? I know I’ve told myself time and again that I would start reading a book a month, start working out at least 3 days a week, start taking my vitamins daily, and so much more. Tracked activities are proven to produce better results than those that we don’t track. If you want to see a change in your lifestyle, start tracking it. Having a weekly habit tracker keeps those habits at the forefront of your mind, allows you to see progress and be accountable to yourself in real time, and encourages you to keep going, because every week is a fresh start and a new opportunity to commit to yourself even if last week’s habits didn’t pan out as you’d hoped.
8) Celebration Tracking - There are so many crazy, upsetting, unexpected, and negative things that crop up in our day-to-day existence, that sometimes it’s hard to stay positive and on a frequency of gratitude. A weekly celebration tracker can help us to seek out those moments of progress or success in our weeks, help us to look back on a particularly challenging time and see a silver lining, and to embrace a consistent state of gratitude.
9) Consistent Weekly Notes/To-Dos - I need a planner that has a consistent layout for note taking, and in the case of my Achievement Planner, each weekly spread has three very clearly marked, consistent sections of notes: To-Dos has it’s own section in the same place each week, as well as a generic notes section, and a “follow-up” space. This is SO helpful to me because I know exactly on my spread where to look for my to-dos that haven’t been completed or still need to be input into my time blocks, random notes go in the same space each week, and if I need to follow up with someone, reply to an email, or refer back to a voicemail, the reminder is always looking up at me from the bottom right hand corner of the spread. Consistency keeps my brain organized, which is crucial for all of us who are busy (who isn’t?!).
10) Room for Note Taking Some planners just don’t leave enough room for notes. My planner literally spends more time with me than any human being in my life, and I look at it multiple times a day, whether I’m working from home, or out and about in the world. When a planner leaves no room for note-taking, I have had to resort to carrying an extra notebook around, or squeezing itty-bitty notes into practically non-existent margins. I need consistent note-taking space (as described in number 9) every single week, and I LOVE when blank pages are inserted between months and at the end of the planner!
11) Supports a Cause that makes you feel great - this one is kind of a bonus, and not necessarily a requirement when seeking out the perfect planner BUT when we are looking at our planner every single day, knowing that our planner was not only an investment in our own sanity, but also supported a cause that makes us feel really good reinforces the positive association that we have with our planning tool!
And there you have it - the 11 Planner Features that I deem essential to reaching goals in the best way! These are the guidelines that I identified when I would painstakingly research and deliberate over my planner for the coming year each fall, and the features that I made sure I included when creating the annual Achievement Planner!
Check out more details specific to the Achievement Planner HERE.