This post might give you a sinking feeling as when you see Santa in the stores before Halloween - but stick with me.
October can be a great month to plan to plan 2018. And it can be fun.
A couple years ago I stumbled upon the practice of planning my next year in November. It started with an unexpected gift of a house sitting gig for a month on top of a mountain in gorgeous western Montana. That's me on the mountain in the pic above.
It was more like a mid-life reset than planning for the next year. I had a view of Flathead Lake, a fireplace in the living room, 2 sweet labs to take care of, and no one else. Absolute. Heaven.
As I looked back on it, though, it was genius I wish I could claim as intentional. Getting my next year figured out early makes December more fun and January much less stressful.
In October you can ease into it, because you likely won't have a month on a mountaintop in November, right?
You can spend a couple hours reviewing what works and doesn't work about your current organizational tools for your life and biz, and do a quick list of top of mind goals for next year to revisit in November.
Notice I said life and biz. I did not set goals for many years, I was discouraged and didn’t see the point. I didn’t understand that a goal is a pointer, to expect that plans would inevitably change, and that was normal. If things didn’t go as planned, I felt like a failure and that felt bad. So I just didn’t plan. Not good. Now, I’m a big believer in creating your life’s strategy no matter what your work situation is.
Two years ago, starting with my mountain magic month, I started making plans and gave myself permission to splash around in what was, at first, more of a big hot mess than a “life strategy”.
I’m happy and scared to report that clarity has arrived with a big thunk, with the help of a really great coach, I finally know exactly what I need to do and when it needs to happen. I also know things will change in the process, and I'm OK with that, too.
I love paper journals and every shiny new online productivity app that comes along. I’ve been a dabbler and it was only recently I committed to a system. Even to do that, I had to strip down to the basics and use a notebook where I drew in the planner pages based on a mix of page features I like.
I’m also stubbornly refusing to focus on just one of the two big projects I want to create. (I have some Scottish- McCauliff - in me on my mom’s side. This stubborn persona that is showing up is new to me, I picture a small bald man in a plaid cap, with a set frown on his face, digging his heels in.)
The result of working on 2 big things at once is that the complexity has definitely outgrown my paper planner and trying to put it all on a DIY GANTT chart in google docs was giving me an anxiety attack.
Enter Asana. Its an online productivity tool. Of course, I had tried it in the past. And of course, I didn’t stick with it.
I realized now what happened - I dove in and got confused and overcomplicated everything - this is a pattern with me. In fact, I think the way we schedule ourselves is a mirror into our workstyle strengths and weaknesses
Having said that, I like the way I jump without looking, usually. Too much pre-planning kills more genius than skinned knees and bruised egos from jumping too soon, ever will.
The solution is not to curb that impulse to jump, but be more selective about where. (That's why goal setting is so important). And, I take just a few steps to warm up before I jump - a bit of pre-planning or onboarding.
Today’s example; With the aforementioned beautiful chaos looming, I am taking a few hours today to set up Asana again. But this time, I’ve (impatiently) watched a few videos on actually how to do that, sketched out on paper Asana’s structure of projects, tasks and sections, and how they relate.
Because I still love paper, I also googled a question about using Asana in conjunction with a paper planner - and ran across this inspiring young entrepreneur at Paper & Oats. Her About Me page is terrific. In fact, her whole site is pretty darn nice. Enjoy!
So, as the days get a bit shorter and the weather cools off, steal a couple of hours this month to sketch out your November planning meeting. If you have a resource that works especially well for you in the life planning department, I’d love to hear about it.
Below is a video I did during that planning session in Montana. It makes me smile so big to see this now. You go girl.