Each year, in either October or November, I order a new planner. I scour websites looking for the one that I believe will help me get through the coming year. Usually, I am wrong about the planner and most of the year is an unorganized mess. This year, however, I managed to find a great planner that is really working for me! (No one gave me the planner or paid me to say this. I bought it myself and love it!)
Also each year, in November or December, I schedule a planner day. This is an important day, as it helps me to set myself up for the coming year. I always fill out the beginning of my planner first, and then go through planner and block off holidays, sabbats, birthdays, and other days I do not want to work.
I then schedule a personal day at least every three months, and at least one personal retreat every twice a year. I schedule vacations as well – if I don’t know when they will be at the time I’m filling out the planner, I add them as soon as I know and switch my schedule up accordingly.
I also go through any notes I had in the previous years’ planner or on sticky notes on my desk. If I want to implement anything in those notes for sure, I schedule them in. Anything else left in my notes goes through a vetting process. If something is important enough to get to eventually, it goes into the notes section of my planner, or in a journal set aside for a specific site or blog. Anything else goes into the trash.
Toward the back of my planner or, again, on my desk, I have post-its that tell me specific actions to add to my planner. They tell me things like:
- Schedule Google Sheets social media/prof/media, etc. promo schedule. (Tells me I need to spread the items in that spreadsheet to happen over the course of the year.)
- Check sidebars and footers – click on every link to be sure they are going where they need to go – social media links too! Every 4 months. (I don’t know how, but sometimes links get broken.)
- Google Sheets – Promo schedule for all books – Twitter/Google+/Facebook – put everything into new planner according to schedule.
- Remove all but the biggest projects from the previous year from Contently. (Remember to add new stuff as I create it!)
At this point I go through my site- and blog-planning journals. I’ll discuss these more in a future post, but I wanted to mention that I have these and they are a factor in what I do during the year. This will not be the only time I go through these planning journals, but doing so now helps me to fill in my planner more. I add specific things to my planner now, trying to spread things out over the course of the year. What am I looking for? Things like:
- Seasonal items I want to write and edit at a specific time of year, to then be scheduled for posting to the sites and blogs during that season.
- Holiday items – same steps as above, but for holidays.
- Updates I want to perform to each site and blog.
- Any challenges or other big projects I want to do in the coming year, because I want to spread the work out as much as I can, or plan specific days to do mini projects to complete.
I also plan when I want to edit book and short fiction projects. I write so much I can’t possibly edit and publish it all in one year. Self-publishing does take time. But I’ve been good about putting a dent in it all over the past few years. This year I’m publishing eleven short stories. I plan what projects will be edited during the year and schedule it out in my planner, and then I plan what I will publish and spread that out over the coming year according to what is already edited or will be edited – and I schedule time to do a quick, last read-through of each manuscript, time to format the manuscripts, creation of graphics and promotional plans, publication, and promotion. It’s a lot to keep straight and, now that I’ve found a planner I can stick with, I’m having an easier time than every getting everything done.
There are a few other things I do during this planning session:
- Schedule when I will purchase the next years planner.
- When I will have my planner day before the next year.
- As little activity as possible for December to leave it open for planning things for the coming year.
- A day in December to update the privacy policies and copyright information for each blog and site I have for the new year.
Now, when I’m done with this planning day I am not necessarily done with filling out the planner. If I haven’t decided on projects for the coming year, I will need to do that. I split the planner in four, three-month sections, only planning the necessities for each quarter, then I only plan January out as fully as possible in the month-at-a-glance calendar. I plan more fully by week, planning the next week on Sundays, to begin on Monday.
Sometimes my direction changes, so I don’t want to plan too far ahead.
But that’s it in a nutshell. I like to go to the cafe down the road, order a nice hot tea and some breakfast, and begin there. I get a free tea refill, giving me the chance to hang out for a few hours and get a lot done. Sometimes this planner day can take more than one day, but it is okay. I enjoy the planning.