New year, new beginnings…
Instead of just having a list of good wishes and resolutions for the year ahead, it’s much wiser to start making plans on how to turn those dreams into reality.
You know the saying:
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Therefore, making a yearly plan, at least a rough one, is a good starting point to begin with.
(plus, it’s a page – or pages – in your planner which I’m sure you’ll revisit often throughout the year)
It’s something you can easily do in only one day, yet in the long run, you’ll benefit so much from it.
On top of that, creating a plan for the year will allow you to spread out different activities throughout the year so you’ll be able to live a more balanced life.
Here’s how I’m making my yearly plan as well as a brief overview of the reasons why creating one should be on your to-do list.
Maybe you already know (or maybe you don’t) – I’m a big fan of the written word.
Therefore, for a start, I need to have a yearly planner page or a yearly calendar for this job, preferably the one that would be inside my planner, because all things regarding my life end there sooner or later.
Plus I like to keep it all in one place (if possible!). 🙂
(if you, by any chance, don’t have one – here’s my perpetual yearly calendar that you can use in a digital format or print it off – any way you like)
Depending on how avid I am, at the end of each year or at the very beginning of it, I start mapping out the year ahead.
Yes, I’m not gonna lie about this one, sometimes I don’t get my planning done by the end of the year, and guess what?
It’s not the end of the world!
But, let’s get back to the point of this post…
Basically, all the things I write down belong to one of the two major categories – personal or professional.
I don’t know why, but I usually start with a personal one first.
(perhaps because it takes me less time to think about all the things that I should add, but there are some other reasons as well… 😀 )
And, here it goes:
Scheduling personal items
Believe it or not, some of my personal items are much more rigid regarding their exact timing and whether they can be rescheduled or not, so they serve me as a good starting point when placing my professional items afterward.
Here’s a short description of what goes into my yearly planner pages.
Birthdays & anniversaries
This is an obvious one. I keep them so I don’t forget them (just in case…).
Medical + vet appointments
I also make at least a rough schedule of regular doctor appointments, for myself and kids (if needed).
Since we’ve “upgraded” our family with two cats last year, now I also place their vet appointments in the calendar as well.
Although this is not something that I could forget, I like to put tax dates on a yearly calendar.
This item, combined with other expenses that are spread out in my calendar, help me calculate and create a rough budget plan for the year.
(something I also do on a yearly basis and get more specific as each month approaches)
Although my biggest wish is not to use a car at all and go everywhere on foot (except for vacations!), living in a big city makes this an impossible mission.
And since I already own a car, I need to take care of it as well.
So I schedule everything that needs to be done on a yearly basis regarding this possession and roll on…
Household repairs and maintenance
Anyone who owns a home knows very well that its maintenance and repairs are a necessity.
Although I can not predict some unexpected events (such as my kid braking a faucet along with the water pipe last year! don’t ask me a thing about it…), making regular repairs and maintenance sure helps decrease the number of unpleasant events.
I like to spread these tasks throughout the year, and do them in smaller chunks.
(that way I’m also making the monthly expenses be roughly the same throughout the year)
I also check if there are any documents that will expire in the coming year, and if any, I mark those dates down so I could get a new one in a timely manner.
Although most holidays repeat themselves on a yearly basis (with Easter being an exception), I still like to place them on my calendar as well.
Holidays have a double meaning for me since they influence both my personal and professional life, in one way or another.
Therefore, I can plan holiday shopping, home decoration, or product creation and marketing accordingly.
(all of that often translates to “do it earlier”, since I don’t like the holiday crowds at stores, or missing a deadline when it comes to professional matters)
Kids school time
Or, better say, kids school breaks.
Both when kids are at school, and when they’re not, means structuring my days differently.
The truth been told – as anyone who works from home can confirm – it’s different to work with and without the kids around.
(and that’s an understatement – if you know what I mean…)
Although I often manage to get the work done with the kids around, sometimes it’s a hard thing to it pull off.
Therefore, when I later plan for more demanding projects, I like to place them at the time when kids are at school.
Also, kids’ school time (or better say, a lack of it) leads me to the next thing in the plan, which is…
Everybody needs a break every now and then and going on shorter or longer vacations help me recharge my batteries.
Although I’m my own boss, you’d think I could do this whenever I want to, but the reality is not like that.
Most of the time, weekends slip in a blink of an eye, and because of kids’ school, I’m bound to make vacation plans for the time when kids are on their breaks.
(not quite the freedom I’d like to have, but it goes with being a parent…)
I think that’s about it for planning out personal items.
Now, some of the items listed here are not only personal-related, and I’m using them for professional aspects as well (such as tax dates), while some other (like holidays, vacations, or school breaks) have an influence on planning out my professional part of life.
Some serve me as a guide for content creation or marketing, some for scheduling the work in advance – so I don’t lag behind (at least not as much! 🙂 ) due to obvious less productive, work-free time periods.
The bottom line, I’m doing personal scheduling first, and then comes the time for the professional one.
Scheduling professional items
No matter how strange this may sound, I give myself more flexibility with this part, since my type of work allows for it.
Of course, I have a million smaller tasks in between to deal with, but they repeat themselves on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and they are usually not worth taking the time to plan them out on a yearly calendar.
(instead, daily/weekly/monthly pages of my planner are places where you could find them)
What is worth noting are special promotions or bigger projects I plan to do in a year.
Making a yearly plan also helps me to see better when I can squeeze in some unexpected work project, and when it would be a wiser option to refuse them.
Planning my professional side of life also comes after making a review of last year, determining what worked (and not!), deciding what I want from my business in the future, and, of course, making goals.
Since this process takes a bit longer, you can see why I like to plan out my personal items first.
And that’s it.
My yearly calendar is set.
(and if you like it, you can take your copy here)
If you’re still not convinced that yearly planning is for you, here’s a quick overview of the benefits I found it gives.
Mapping out your year:
- can help you have some sort of a roadmap for the next year,
- lets you see the important stuff without the noise you might have when planning those same items on a monthly/weekly page,
- keeps you focused and more productive,
- can be a good guide to budget planning,
- lets you establish a work-life balance,
- makes subsequent decision making much easier.
Once you have your yearly plan in place, you can develop it further and start writing down the little details in your planner.
(and in my other post you can see how you can use a planner to be super-productive!)