Every year around this time, business slows in the shop and I finally get the extra time to start planning my business for the year to come. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year because it’s my time to dream big and start getting excited about what could be. Of course this year was a lesson for us all in dealing with unexpected curve balls and learning what ability we have with accepting that life doesn’t often go as planned.
Truth be told, I’ve actually been working on my yearly planning since October but December is when I put the finishing touches on my goals, strategies and scheduling so that I’m set up for success as best as I can. This is also the time I roll out my physical, paper and pen planner and start putting certain details in writing and make it official.
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My Yearly Planning Process
Every yearly planning period starts with looking at the current year. I go back to my goals, access what has been achieved, what has not and then look at why things worked or didn’t. What wins did I have, what failures did I have and why.
I look at my financial status. Did I meet my goals? Where did I exceed my goals, where did I fall short? What could I have done differently and what should I repeat in the future?
It’s a process that I work at over the course of several days. Usually Fridays and I focus on one point each day. Once day it’s marketing, one day it’s financial, etc.
Once I am done looking back, I start looking forward. I take time to really think about what I want my yearly goals to be. I make sure I’m stretching but not leaping too far that I am setting myself up to fail. I make sure my goals can be measured and tracked and map out periodic points in the year to come where I’ll check in so I stay on track.
Like before, I focus on one area at a time while knowing that much of it is connected and builds on other areas.
I plan my year using the 12 Week Year method so each quarter is it’s own block of time. I have found that it keeps me more focussed and more likely to actually make progress on long term items.
End Result of my Yearly Planning Process
At the end of my yearly planning process I have a clear road map for the upcoming year. It’s not a literal schedule for every day of the year, it’s a guide for the areas of focus each quarter down to the month from social media topics, email marketing campaigns, new product launches, sales, blog posts, advertising, etc.
My Everyday Planner
As the new year arrives, I use a physical planner book for the everyday. I’ve used many different planners over the years and have finally found one that I can’t get enough of. I use the Day Designer with Daily Agenda. It’s not cheap and I suspect much of the cost pays for the excessive packaging but it’s beautiful, durable and I love the detail of the daily pages. Besides, who doesn’t love opening up a beautiful package?
The hardcover of this planner is strong and durable and the double ring, continuous binding holds the pages securely and allows me to completely open the planner back on itself so it takes up less space on my desk.
Each month starts with a simple monthly calendar. This is where I mark holidays, vacations, and other important events for each month to give me “the big picture”.
The daily agenda pages allow me to time block my days based on my quarterly, monthly and weekly goals and tasks along with listing specific tasks for each day. This coincides with the Monday morning planning sessions I do every week where I identify my weekly tasks and each AM of the week where I take 5 minutes to list out specific daily tasks which include things like client orders, etc that you can’t really plan in advance for.
Planning isn’t Set in Stone
The system I use isn’t perfect and it’s never set in stone (as this year has proved) but it’s a way for me to establish focus and give my business something to work toward.
I use the same strategy here for the blog and usually in tandem with the planning I do for RC.
If you are looking for a durable and beautiful planner that helps keep you on track and organized throughout the year, I highly recommend the Day Designer. If a daily agenda is too much detail, they also have weekly versions. I love my stripes but these planners come out in a number of designs each year that are feminine and so pretty. I highly recommend these quality planners for your life.