How to Break Down a Goal into a Project With Your Planner!

How to Break Down a Goal into a Project with Your Planner

How to Break Down a Goal into a Project With Your Planner!

Since we are now in the very beginning of January and I know many of you are probably pondering resolutions for the year as well as any projects and other goals you want to accomplish throughout 2017, I thought now would be the perfect time to share with you all my project planning and goal tracking process. As you may already know, I currently use my A5/Half Letter Charmed Life Planner inserts in a disc bound system to house and organize all my plans, projects and goals for the year. You may even be familiar already with my printable project planning bundle that I sell in my shop and designed specifically to help myself (and others!) outline and monitor their projects in a productive way. If you haven’t seen my project planning bundle yet, feel free to check it out for yourself.

Now, when it comes to projects and goals, I think people tend to approach each of these items differently because they do tend to be different in nature. When it comes to projects, I view them as a collection or series of tasks necessary to complete in order to come to a desired outcome. In my opinion, projects usually arise as a result of external factors in our lives that prompt us to undertake these tasks. For example, you may find that the majority of your projects come from places like work, your household or even community needs. Since projects are often externally driven, I believe that we often feel a lot of pressure or stress to complete these tasks because usually someone other than ourselves is counting on the completion of the project. Goals on the other hand are things we as individuals work towards with the hopes of accomplishing. I find that goals are usually internally driven and very personal in nature and because of this, I believe we often put our own goals aside or on the back burner to other projects because the completion of our goals only affect us on a personal level. Therefore, I find that goals are usually the first thing to fall to the wayside when life gets busy because they can sometimes feel like something of a selfish pursuit. The truth of the matter is, that both projects and goals should be approached with the same system of organization in order to identify, plan and execute them to completion. No matter whether you are working on a project for work or trying to reach the goal of running a marathon, the same basic planning structure applies and neither a project nor a goal is any less valid no matter the factors surrounding it’s existence!

Okay, so let’s move on to the nuts & bolts of my project planning system. This isn’t any sort of revolutionary system by any means, and I certainly can’t take credit for doing anything other than developing it to fit my own needs, but it does work very well for me, and I thought if it works for me, it could work for you!

The Process

Step 1: Brainstorming

Brainstorm with sticky notes

The first part of my project planning system is brainstorming. This shouldn’t be confused with brain dumping, because in a brain dump you are simply moving information stored in your mind onto paper (or another trusted input system) in order to store the information, reflect and review later. Brainstorming is like the opposite of a brain dump, because with a brainstorm you start with an empty mind and actively populate ideas. In order to do so, it can often help to first complete a brain dump so that your mind isn’t focused on holding on to any other ideas or plans already stored there, and you can focus simply on the act of creating ideas.

Tip 1: Define your problem

When you begin a brainstorm it is important to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve or what problem you are trying to solve. You need to be specific here and think about the who, what, where, when, why and how of your problem so that you can approach it from every direction.

Tip 2: Envision the ideal outcome

When brainstorming, it is important to know what the ideal outcome is for your problem. We are talking best case scenarios only! Don’t negotiate your ideal down to something diluted, but focus on exactly what it is that you want to happen. Don’t be afraid to dream big. As one of my favorite quotes says “Reach for the Stars, for even if you fail, you’ll land amongst the Heavens.” When you are brainstorming it’s a great idea to think like an overachiever! I follow this rule of thumb myself and I never fail to produce great things even if I don’t quite make it as far as I dared.

Tip 3: Track all thoughts

Start writing down any idea that comes to mind, no matter how small, how right or how wrong it sounds. I suggest doing this with sticky notes or index cards, because these will help you to organize all your thoughts later.

Tip 4: Brainstorm early & often

It’s never too early to brainstorm solutions to a problem that may have just arisen or even to brainstorm solutions to problems that you are anticipating. The more time you spend brainstorming and the more sessions you undertake, the better your ideas will get and the more prepared you will be to undertake the project!

Step 2: Organizing plans and ideas

Brainstorm Board

Once you have spent a sufficient time brainstorming, it’s time to organize your ideas! If you used sticky notes or note cards as I suggested, this process will be easier for you, but make sure to keep a few extra supplies around because you may still have some more though processing to do!

Tip 1: Lay it all out in front of you 

Literally, lay all your cards with ideas and plans and information in front of you and take a good hard look at everything.

Tip 2: Discover the Hierarchy of Ideas

Once you have spent time reviewing your ideas, you will start to notice a natural hierarchy of ideas emerge from your notes. You will see ideas you like, ideas you don’t like and you can begin the organization process by grouping these items into a logical order. Ask yourself as you do this if you see any gaps in information, if so, pull out another sticky note or index card and fill in the blank!

Tip 3: Do not discard any ideas

It is very important that during this process you do not discard any ideas, no matter how bad they may seem. Why? Sometimes good ideas can spring forth from bad ideas. Often time I find that by looking at the wrong answer, your mind naturally comes to understand what the right answer is, almost like a process of elimination. When you know what doesn’t work, you have eliminated a possibility and can therefore focus on what does work! Another reason to keep around those seemingly bad ideas is because although an idea may be bad for one project, it may actually work for another or give you a great idea for a totally different project. While you’re brainstorming, you seriously have no clue what is going to pop up but your brain gave you the idea for a reason, so give it some time before you decide that it’s not worth pursuing.

Tip 4: Give your ideas time to process

Project planning and organizing ideas isn’t something that should be rushed. I say to brainstorm early and often for a reason, because thoughts need time to process and stew in your mind. Even after your ideas have been organized into their proper hierarchy and gaps have been filled, you still never know what inspiration is going to pop up once you give your ideas time to grow. So, how do you know when you have given enough time to your ideas so you can begin to project plan? Well, I find that there are two things that happen to me when I am ready to move on to the next phase in this process. First off, I find that I begin to feel confidence in my ideas. It’s like a gut check with me, if I feel uneasy with my ideas, they need more time, but if I start feeling confident and excited, I know it’s time to move forward. Finally, when I begin to see that my ideas are following a very logical order, I know it’s time to move on because my ideas make sense, and that is really what you want from this process.

Step 3: Planning

Printable Project Planning Page with Notes for Your Planner

Once your ideas are in order, you can proceed with the actually planning portion of the project planning system. Novel, ain’t it?

Tip 1: Process your ideas into actions

Once you have all your good ideas in front of you, you need to process them into actual actionable items. After all, a project plan is nothing if you don’t have actions associated with your ideas.

Tip 2: Fill out a project planning page

I like to keep track of my projects with a project planning page because it provides a nice overview of your project at a glance. The project planning pages I use come from a set on my shop that are sized for a Filofax, either personal or A5! The project planning page houses all the important information regarding the project.

Tip 3: Note deadlines and timeframes

On the action list of the project planning page, I make sure to note deadlines for tasks as well as provide a general time frame for their completion. This helps me when it comes time to undertake a task to understand the time commitment required.

Tip 4: Keep track of resources

When it comes to project planning, we often need outside resources or other materials to reference in order to complete tasks. The project planning pages I use have a special section for this so I can list out everything I need to reference or anyone I need to contact or work with to complete tasks.

Tip 5: Move projects to the Yearly tracker

My project planning bundle also includes a yearly tracker broken down by month of the year as well as spaces for short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. I consider a short-term goal to be something that can be completed in 1 month, a mid-term goal to be something I can complete in 1-3 months and a long-term goal to be something I need 6 months or more to complete. Once my projects are outlined in the project planning pages, I move them into my yearly tracker in their appropriate time frame so I can see everything I have going on in my life, project wise, throughout the course of the year.

Step 4: Implementation

Printable Yearly Goal Tracker to Manage Projects in Your Planner

Once your project or goal is planned out and organized, the most important part is still ahead of you and that is actually getting things done!

Tip 1: Schedule action steps into your calendar

I use a specific month at a glance insert to track my project tasks. This page (which is available alone in my shop or as part of the project planning bundle) is broken down into two parts. On one side of the page are the days of the month listed out one per line, and on the alternate side is a column of task boxes. I use the dated side to track tasks that have a specific due date or deadline and the side with the check boxes to list out all other tasks that belong to that month. That way when it is time for me to work on a project, I have a list of my next actions ready to go and I don’t have to spend any extra time looking up what I have to do! When an item is completed from this list, I check it off on the monthly page as well as on the project planning page.

Tip 2: Transfer tasks to a weekly or daily spread as needed

Sometimes tasks are very important and I need to make sure I don’t miss them, so I will move them onto my weekly pages to ensure completion. This is just an additional step I take that helps me to plan my workload for the week. Normally I will either add these items to a specific day that they need to be done on or leave them as a general task to be completed at some point during the week. Either way, having it front in center on my weekly view keeps it on the top of my list!

So that is my project planning and goal tracking system in a nutshell. This is quite a long post, so I won’t keep you any longer. If you didn’t happen to make it through the whole post, don’t worry, I did make a YouTube video on the subject as well to go along with this post in case you preferred to watch me in action instead of read a long form article!

Helpful Reference Links & Videos

YOU GOT THIS: A Strategic Goal Setting and Planning Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Organize Your Life!

Printable Project Planning Bundle in A5 and Personal Size

Planning for Success Master Class 

How to Set Goals for Your Best Year Yet

How to Set & Achieve Your Goals

My Project Planning and Goal Tracking Process in a Filofax

2016 Goal Setting & Execution | YOU GOT THIS

How to Set Goals & Achieve Theme | The 4 Stages of Practical Goal Setting

 How I Visualize and Manage Projects with My Brainstorm Board


I hope this post was informative for you and if it was, please make sure to share it on your social media accounts!

xoxo,

The 10 Rules for Living a Charmed Life

10 Rules for Living a Charmed Life

The 10 Rules for Living a Charmed Life

Rules. We like to make them, we like to break them, and whether or not you know it, we all live by a set of rules we have already written for ourselves subconsciously. Successful people are aware of their rules, and in fact, intentionally craft and monitor them to ensure that they are consistently operating at a high level and making progress towards their greatest purpose in life. The other week, I wrote about getting started with personal development for those who are new to the concept. In that post, that you can read here, I discussed how the first step to developing yourself on a personal level is to audit yourself and your current situation in life. Today, I want to share with you a list of 10 Rules for Living a Charmed Life that I myself and many of the world’s most successful individuals follow. As you read through these rules, audit your life and think about subconscious rules you may live by that conflict with any of these. You may find that areas of your life that aren’t going as planned may result from following the wrong rules.

Rule #1: Live Within Your Means

The most basic financial principle and recipe for a balanced life of more happiness and less stress is to spend less than you earn. 

Rule #2: Design Your Ideal Life

You are the master of your own destiny and it is up to you to take control of your life choices to build the life you want. 

Rule #3: Be Present

You achieve a powerful sense of focus when you are able to keep your mind on the present moment by not thinking about passed actions or worrying about future ones. 

Rule #4: Practice Gratitude

One who practices gratitude regularly will learn that they are, in fact, the luckiest person in the world. 

Rule #5: Follow Your Passion

If you are looking to find meaning for your life and joy in your work, the best course of action is to follow your passion. 

Rule #6: Create Your Own Opportunity

Not everyone is given the same opportunities in life, but you can make your own when you make a plan and work to execute.

Rule #7: Make Your Own Luck

If you want something to happen, you need to be willing to make it happen.

Rule #8: Love Yourself First

No one will ever be as important to your life as you are, so make sure you take care of yourself first and foremost. 

Rule #9: Surround Yourself with Friends & Family

No one is alone in this world no matter how much they believe they are. There is a community around you willing to support you whether that is the family you are born into or the family you create for yourself.

Rule #10: Love Fearlessly

There is no greater risk with any greater reward than to love. 

If you are ready to take your personal development a step deeper and begin working to implement these rules for a successful life, now is the perfect time to start the Charmed Life Master Class. The Charmed Life Master Class is a self-guided activity based digital course I designed to help you learn and execute these 10 rules to empower your life and it is currently being offered for it’s lowest price ever. Click here to read more about the Charmed Life Master Class, browse the course outline and see if it’s the right personal development tool for you!

xoxo,

How to Theme Your Work Days to Optimize Productivity

How to Theme Your Work Days to Optimize Productivity

How to Theme Your Work Days to Optimize Productivity

Most of us have a never ending stream of tasks and activities we perform at work and struggle to get ahead on our to do lists. If you are jumping from task to task blindly you are wasting precious time and mental energy. Although some of our work may be varied, I bet that you have some repetitive tasks or projects that could be managed so that you get more work done in less time and help you do better work or produce higher results. No, I’m not talking about batching your work, although I a way that this part of todays topic. I’m talking about theming your workdays. Having a plan for each day of your work week to tackle similar items or spend dedicated blocks of time on important projects without interruption so you have the breathing room to do your best work. As you may already know from watching my Work Week Vlogs, I have been theming my work days since I went full time for my business, but this was a practice I also regularly employed in previous positions that helped me do excellent work, beat my deadlines and demonstrate myself as a capable employee who was able to take on bigger and better positions. So, let me teach you a simple process you can use to create a themed work week with virtually any job position!

What Does it Mean to Theme Your Work Days and Why is it More Productive?

If this is a new concept to you, theming your work days means that you are designating a specific day of the week to complete a specific task or project. For example, in my themed work week Monday is dedicated to writing blog posts. Now, writing blog posts won’t be ALL I do on a Monday, but it’s my focus for the day so that I am batching this work. When we batch work, we know that we save time because we are doing a specific activity repetitively and not jumping from different types of tasks which causes a time lapse when we need to stop doing one thing and change mental direction and focus to start another thing.

Think about a production plant where workers down a line are each doing one specific task over and over. It’s more efficient to work this way from a productivity standpoint because the worker remains focused on one thing, and it almost becomes an automated process for the worker. One summer I worked in a data processing facility and spent eight hours (with breaks of course) at a computer typing information from paper forms into a computer program that gathered and tracked the data. I’d start the day with a stack of forms and as I completed my work new stacks would be delivered to my work station. I did one series of tasks over and over robotically, in a room with many other data entry workers and we processed a lot of information very efficiently! Although some of us may have a job like this where we do one specific task or series of tasks over and over all day, most of us have more varied positions that give us the flexibility to choose what we will work on from various tasks we have been assigned. Because there is this strong element of choice and self determination, jobs like this make us feel less like a robot, but also trigger some of our most basic human flaws.

Our inability to prioritize can cause issues with deadlines, the lack of structure can cause us to waste time thinking about what to do next, and fear of failure can cause us to procrastinate on certain tasks. All of these basic human flaws waste both time and mental energy because we are jumping from task to task without focus. In addition to that, when we work without focus, not only are we wasting time and mental energy, but the quality of our work falls. Focus is an important part of productivity and finding a way to create structure in your work both inside and outside of the office can lead you to do more work in less time and truly work smarter, not harder!

How to Theme Your Work Days (even if you think you can’t)

If you are thinking that theming your work days sounds like a nice idea but that your job is different and can’t fit into a themed week, consider these steps.

Step 1: Keep a list of all the tasks and projects you complete each day and compile them for a week or two. The list doesn’t need to be detailed and it can be kept on a separate sheet, your computer or in your planner, but just make sure to make a quick note of all the work you do each day and the general time frame for when you worked on it.

Step 2: Review your list at the end of the tracked time period with a pile of sticky notes and a pen. Review your list first for tasks related to dedicated projects and write down the project on a sticky note with a few bullets underneath for different related tasks and mark down the number of days and total estimated hours you worked on that project. For example, if you worked on a presentation for an upcoming meeting and you ran some reports, sent some emails to get information, built a slide deck and created handouts your sticky note may read:

AOP Presentation

  • Reports
  •  Emails
  • Slide deck
  • Handouts
  • (3 Days, 4 Hours)

Step 3: Review your list for tasks you did more than once and write the task on a sticky note with the number of times you completed it and total estimated hours spent. These tasks do not necessary need to be identical, but the same general task. For example, if you ran multiple reports in the week that is one item, but the fact that the reports may have varied in terms of parameters doesn’t necessarily matter. The idea is that you were doing a task that could be batched. Make sure to cross out tasks from your list as you make a sticky note so you don’t duplicate.

Step 4: Create a hierarchy in your sticky notes by laying them out on your desk or on a wall so you can get a sense of your work. Layout all your projects together, and then the additional non project related reoccurring tasks can be ordered by frequency so you can see what work you did over and over.

Step 5: Make a sticky note for each day you work (example, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc) and stick them in a row to act as a header to a column. If you work 5 days a week, you should have 5 labeled columns. Looking at your work from step 4 think about how you could have mapped out your work from the previous week(s) more efficiently if you had assigned tasks to specific days. Start transferring tasks and projects from the hierarchy to the new daily column system, placing tasks and projects under the days they would have best fit. This is your chance to go back to the past and rework how things should have been done now that your week is over and you know what was accomplished and what perhaps wasn’t. Consider your reorganized week and determine if you can structure any of your days according to an optimized theme.

Not every task will fit perfectly into this map, but that isn’t the point. The point of the exercise is to visualize your work to see if patterns emerge for any days once you reviewed and laid out your week optimally now that it’s over. You may see that Monday would be a great day for you to run all your reports because optimally once they were out of your way, you could immediately move into completing other subsequent tasks or projects. You may also see that you can push certain work off to the end of the week because other tasks have priority.

Keep in mind through this activity that theming your work days doesn’t mean that all you can do on a certain day is a certain task. Remember when I said that Monday I write blog posts but that won’t be all the work I do? That’s because inevitably I need to reply to emails, place orders, make calls, and perhaps even tie up loose ends on a project as well. By setting blogging as my theme for Monday, however, I am providing myself a structure and telling myself that I will block out time in my schedule for my blog posts to be completed. Depending on your week, you may be able to dedicate a block of two hours on Monday to reports, and then spend the rest of your day doing your work as you normally would. You don’t need to have every moment of the day planned, but having some structure in place for when you will perform certain tasks can help you automate your work day and optimize it productively!

I would love to know if this concept of theming your work days is something you are interested in trying or have tried in the past. Let me know your experience and feel free to provide additional insight in the comments of this post so we can all learn from each other!

xoxo,

A Simple Guide to Planning Your Purchases for the Year

A Simple Guide to Planning Your Purchases for the Year

A Simple Guide to Planning Your Purchases for the Year

When it comes to yearly planning, I think one major area of our lives we often forget to include are our yearly purchases. If you’re like me, I tend to buy things as I need them and find it hard to plan purchases ahead of time, especially for the whole year, but we all know that there are just certain times that are better for buying different things because prices can fluctuate throughout the year. If we can do a little bit of planning and put some forethought into certain purchases we may make during the year, however, we can end up saving ourselves a good amount of money. So I’ve put together this simple guide by month to help you map out purchases you may need to make during the year.

Yearly Purchase Planning: The Best Time to Buy During the Year

January: Bedding, linens, and mattresses

February: Winter clothes and women’s gifts

March: Cleaning supplies

April: Home goods, dishware and vacations

May: Summer and vacation/travel essentials

June: Gifts for men

July: Summer clothing

August: Outdoor and garden supplies

September: School and office supplies

October: Homes and home appliances

November: Electronics

December: Holiday decorations, vehicles and stationery

Obviously, this list is not extensive, but it’s a great way to start planning for purchases you may need to make. Obviously, in terms of seasons, this list is partial to the northern hemisphere and particularly towards US holidays, but if you have any other tips or purchases you are thinking about this year that you’d like feedback on, leave a comment down below!

xoxo,

7 Ways to Optimize Your Workspace for Productivity

7 Ways to Optimize your Workspace for Productivity

7 Ways to Optimize Your Workspace for Productivity

One of the easiest ways to support your productivity during your workday is to ensure that you have your workspace set up properly and optimized to support your needs and comfort as you are busy getting things done! Although each of our workspace situations may vary, if you work at a desk for a majority of your day these tips should help inspire you to set your workspace up for productivity to make you a more efficient and successful worker!

Workspace Optimization #1: Use a Large Desk

If you work at a desk, the best way to ensure you are able to easily accomplish your work is to use desk that is large enough for your work. Have you ever tried working at a desk that was too small? It’s absolute hell and a total productivity killer. I don’t want to make excuses for anyone who has a messy desk, but when your desk is too small, it becomes difficult for you to pull out all the materials you need to work without having to constantly remove items from your desk. Even if you work on a computer all day, inevitably you will have some physical items that you need to touch while you work. Notebooks, paperwork, a phone, reference binders, and more are a normal part of most of our days in the office, and if you are a crafter or creative artist, you need even more space on your desk to lay out your tools to work comfortably. If you are feeling cramped at your desk, consider upgrading to a larger desk or adding a second desk to create an L shaped workspace giving you enough surface area for everything you need to get the job done!

Workspace Optimization #2: Choose a Functional Office Chair

For years I opted to use a tufted dining chair for my office because I liked the way it looked, but it was such a bother getting myself comfortable and moving around at my desk. Eventually, I opted for a more office appropriate swivel chair on wheels with a nice high back to support me comfortably as I work. I found the most attractive one I could within my price range, and ended up with this model, and it has been an absolute dream to sit in! A functional office chair like mine gives me the ability to move seamlessly around my workspace, to adjust the height of my chair so I am not straining, and to sit comfortably for longer periods of time.

Workspace Optimization #3: Obey the Laws of Workspace Ergonomics

Another way to optimize your desk area for your complete comfort is to consider your workspace ergonomics. In order to prevent eye, arm or back strain, set your computer and chair up so you are looking straight at the screen with your hands resting comfortably on the keyboard. You should be able to sit up straight comfortably, with your back supported, arms resting naturally on the desk, and neck straight so that you don’t have to hunch over to work. Since I use a laptop, I have a few different risers that I use in different situations to accomplish this. I use this laptop riser along with my external keyboard when designing but I’ve recently acquired this simpler riser that lifts just the back of my laptop during long periods of writing. To learn more about setting up your workspace ergonomically, read this article.

Workspace Optimization #4: Keep Frequently Used Items within Arms Reach

Again, I don’t advocate a cluttered workspace where you leave everything out on your desk, but I do think you need to make sure your frequently used items are within arms reach and everything else is properly stored away. This will obviously vary from person to person, but I keep writing utensils, sticky notes, notebooks, notepads, my planner, my printer, and more all around my immediate area. Some items are left out on my desk, others are kept in my desk drawers and of course, I have a credenza immediately behind me so that I can swivel around in my chair and grab papers off the printer or access an item stored inside.

Workspace Optimization #5: Create a Comfortable Workspace Atmosphere

If you have ever worked in a big office, you may have noticed that the temperature is usually kept pretty cool year round and the lighting usually has something of a blue cast to it. In terms of creating a workspace atmosphere that supports productivity, it’s essential to work in a room that is cool, not too cold and not too warm, and to use bright daylight lights. These choices are deliberate because your employer is trying to make sure you are kept wide awake during the workday! A cool temperature helps to keep our bodies awake and alert, instead of warm and cozy which can trigger drowsiness. Using bright lighting is another way to keep workers awake as well as prevent eyestrain, as “daylight” lighting triggers our bodies to remain awake while helping improve our eyesight. If you work from home, its pretty easy to keep the temperature within that cool zone, but make sure you also switch out the lights in your office for daylight bulbs as most homes default to soft white bulbs that are less optimized for work!

Workspace Optimization #6: Motivate Yourself with Aromatherapy

This suggestion may not be suitable for everyone, but I love motivating myself during the day with aromatherapy. I’ve written before about my essential oil productivity secret weapon and made a whole video about essential oils I use throughout the day, so you can check those out, but the idea is that certain scents diffused in our workspace can help us keep our minds awake and alert, giving us a natural energy boost throughout the day.

Workspace Optimization #7: Create Focus with Music

Again, this is a suggestion that may not fit every workspace scenario, but I find that one of the best ways to get focused on my work is to have some music or background noise playing. I prefer classical music or white noise to combat the quiet of my home office during the day, but if you work in an office and find that odd noises here and there disrupt you, you may want to give this optimization a try as well. Sound has a powerful way of subconsciously motivating us to work and specifically helps us focus when we are creating our own bubble of sound around us.

I hope this has inspired you to optimize your workspace for productivity! I’d love to hear about which optimizations you may already use or want to put into place in the future, so leave me a comment down below!

xoxo,

How to Set Goals for Your Best Year Yet

How to Set Goals for Your Best Year Yet

How to Set Goals for Your Best Year Yet

The New Year has begun and most of us are starting our first full week of work for the year, myself included! Can you believe, I still don’t have my goals for the year properly worked out? I know, I know, so unlike me, but it’s not for a lack of trying, I promise. I’ve worked out most of my business goals and projects- that is usually the easy part for me in my goal setting process and how I spent a majority of my work time in December, but on a personal development level, I’m struggling to make heads or tails of what I want to come for the year. So, I’m going back to basics this week, breaking out my You Got This Workbook, and following my streamlined procedure for setting my goals! You’d think I’d have this process down by now, but realistically, goal setting is only something I do on a yearly basis so it’s helpful for me to have the goal setting process codified as a system to review, even if I DID right the book on it! If you don’t have my You Got This Workbook, it’s my Strategic Goal Setting and Planning Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Organize Your Life and you can get your copy of this digital PDF workbook here. If not, today I want to share you with you the simple process outlined in the book to get you started working out how you will make this Your Best Year Yet!

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want

The first step to goal setting is always understanding what you want, and I will warn you, this is one of the hardest parts of the goal setting process for me, as well as many others I’ve spoken to! While some of us wake up knowing exactly what we want from life, others find identifying their passions or desires difficult. It’s no surprise really, we live in a world of immediate gratification, where hustle and busy-ness are hailed as the pinnacle of human achievement. Identifying your passions and true desires requires stillness and quiet time in reflection to get outside ourselves and see a big picture for our lives. Does this mean you will need to plan out everything for your life long term? Certainly not, but the more you can identify about the life you want to live, the more inspiration you will have to begin designing your ideal life and identifying the specific goals and projects you will set to make that life a reality.

TRY THIS: Meditate on your life, taking inventory of your current life, what you have and don’t have, and what lifetime achievements you’ve hit or have yet to meet until you can make a list of the goals you are interested in achieving.

Step 2: Focus on Timing

Once you have identified what you want to achieve in your life, for either the near future or long term, the next step in the goal setting process is to get focused on what you will do this year to move your goals forward. After step 1, you most likely have a long list of things you want to do or achieve and the worst thing you can do is take the list as-is and start on everything. In order to achieve goals and success, you need FOCUS. This means you will need to take that list of goals you have and deciding when in your life you want them to happen. According to renowned success coach Tony Robbins “most people overestimate how much they can do in a year and underestimate how much they can do in ten years.” Although you may approach your goal setting process with a sense of urgency, you need to be realistic about what you will be able to do in the coming year. Take it slow and steady, choose the essential goals that you can realistically achieve this year and then break out your other goals and dreams into time frames for your life. There is a time and a place for everything in life, so think about where your goals belong in terms of the order you should achieve things and which time period in your life would be the best time to achieve which goal.

TRY THIS: List out your goals into a logical order of events. Don’t worry yourself too much about expectations in terms of when people “normally” achieve x in their life, unless age is truly a factor to consider. For example, for a woman having children can only occur within a specific time frame naturally, unless you are open to adoption which widens that scope. Achieving a college education can happen at any age of life, but it would be necessary for you to achieve a specific degree before you can reach a specific career goal related to it.

Step 3: Make a Plan

Now that you have identified what you will focus on for this coming year, the next step in this goal setting process is to make a plan for how you will achieve the goals you’ve set this year. Keep in mind that you can very well start on goals this year that you don’t intend to finish this year, as some goals (like going to college) take years to achieve. In order to achieve anything, however, you need to make a plan for how you will get from where you are right now to success with your goal. Personally, I try to keep my plans as simple as possible. Another common mistake I see people make with their goals is that they try to throw every solution at the goal and do more than is necessary, which ends up leading to overwhelm and failure to achieve the goal. If you have no clue how to achieve something or how to simplify the process, find someone with experience and ask them how they did it! They will most likely be able to give you feedback on the steps and direction you should take with your goal and give you information on things they did that was a waste of time for them. The more research you can do to make a simple plan to achieve success, the more likely it is that you will reach your goals!

TRY THIS: Turn your goals into project plans and break out as many steps as you can think of to track your goal and progress. This will be a customizable roadmap you can use to stay on track. You Got This includes key project planning pages you can use to break down your goals and detailed instructions for completing this process but you can also use my project planning bundle if you want to keep your projects in your planner as I do!

Step 4: Make a Change

Many goals we set for ourselves require us to make some changes in our life to support them. For example, if you set a goal for weight loss, it means you need to make lifestyle changes that help you avoid temptation and stay on track with healthy habits. For each goal, think about what changes you need to make in your life to support the success of that goal. After all, our habits define us and it’s the little things we do or don’t do each day that determine if we will be successful in practically everything in life. Don’t think you need to change your whole life and every habit or routine, but evaluate how changing your actions could support the achievement of a goal.

TRY THIS: Consider what one change you can make in your life or habits right now that will support your success with one of your goals. If you can think of more than one, really focus in on choosing one essential change that will make the biggest impact on whether or not you are successful.

Step 5: Execute!

Now, the hard part (second only to step 1) actually making it happen and executing on your plans. The easiest way to achieve anything in life is to have a good plan and solid work ethic- other than that, there really aren’t many shortcuts you can take. Before you achieve anything in life- any goal, any project, anything worth having really- it seems impossible, but don’t let the work ahead of you scare you. Small steps accumulate into significant progress. If you can commit to doing something everyday to move you closer to your goal, even just a simple little task, before long you will see progress. The best advice I have for you at this point is to focus on the next task on the list, instead of reviewing the whole list on a regular basis. If you can focus on what you are doing next, instead of worrying about the next ten things after that, you are less likely to loose motivation and actually get the work done!

TRY THIS: Build yourself an arsenal of motivation and inspiration. Follow specific accounts on Instagram or Twitter, put inspirational quotes around your workspace or make a vision board! Whatever you can do to keep yourself focused on the outcome and not the work, the more likely you are to achieve that big, scary goal!

It looks like it’s time for me and you to get started setting our goals for the year! I hope this post has been helpful to you for getting started, and if you need any additional assistance, I’d recommend picking up the You Got This workbook here in my shop!

xoxo,

17 Inspiring Books About Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

17 Inspiring Books about Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

17 Inspiring Books About Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

Every year I like to make a list of books for the blog that I’ve read, or want to read in the coming year. I’ve been asked a few times in the last year, whether or not I would consider taking this list and doing a Charmed Book Club, but for me, reading has always been a pretty solitary pursuit. I like to read at my leisure, not feel like I have to read to keep up with an expectation. At least, I haven’t done that since college and I swore to myself once I graduated that I would never make myself read anything on some arbitrary schedule again! Although I prefer to read at my leisure, I don’t necessary read for pleasure either, most of the books I read are non-fiction or personal development because I read to learn. If you were curious why I know certain things or how I got to be so intelligent, I’d have to blame it on something I read or the act of reading itself. This year, I’ve challenged myself to do something a little out of character with my reading habit, and that is to read regularly. What I read is up to me. When I read is up to me. I just want to develop my habit into a more regular practice and finish at least a book a month. Right now, I read at least two dozen books a year, but some months I read none, and others I may read five. I’m not consistent with my reading, and I’m convinced that if I commit to the habit of reading a few days a week and finish the book of my choice a month, that it will stimulate the creativity in my brain and expose me to thoughts and ideas outside the norm of what I regularly experience online.

So, to follow in my annual footsteps, I have assembled a list of 17 books to read in 2017. These books cover a variety of topics from finance, productivity, and business, to confidence, career and sleep. Some I have read before, but many are new to me, and my plan is to share my progress with these books via Instagram. So if you are interested in what I am reading and what I’m thinking about each, definitely follow me there.

1. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charmed Duhigg

2. The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success by Walter Mischel

3. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod

4. Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do by Chris Guillebeau

5. Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

6. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder  by Arianna Huffington

7. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success by John C. Maxwell

8. Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock 

9. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam 

10. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

11. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

12. How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty: And Say Yes to More Time, and What Matters Most to You by Patti Breitman

13. You Got This: A Strategic Goal Setting and Planning Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Organize Your Life! by Alexis Giostra

14. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

15. The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life by Sophia A Nelson

16. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason

17. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

I’d love to know if you have read any of these books and which you recommend. If you have any other suggestions for me and the community, I’d love for you to share those down in the comments or let us know what is on your TBR (to be read) list for 2017!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

Theme Your Year with a Song NOT a Word | My Anthem for 2017

Theme Your Year with a Song NOT a Word | My Anthem for 2017

Theme Your Year with a Song NOT a Word | My Anthem for 2017

At the start of 2016 I set myself an anthem for the year. I’m someone who has an affinity towards music so I thought it was a good idea to give myself a song to focus on for the year that would theme, influence and inspire me. Last year I chose Bird Set Free by Sia and it had an awesome affect on me I never expected. I’ve already posted a few times about 2016 being a transformative year for me and how I let go of many things I felt holding me back, so looking forward to what I have planned for 2017, I decided I need to choose another powerful and meaningful composition. For a long time I worried I wouldn’t find the right song for 2017, but one day sitting in the car waiting for my husband to come out of a store, I was brainstorming a list of Disney songs to quiz my husband on (don’t ask) and I found it. With tears streaming down my face, I immediately knew it needed to be my anthem for 2017!

Go the Distance [from Disney’s Hercules] Michael Bolton

It’s such a meaningful song on so many personal and professional levels, and I know turning to it this year will inspire me to go the distance and not accept defeat.

What is your Anthem for 2017? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

What You Can Expect from Strange & Charmed in 2017!

What You can Expect from Strange & Charmed in 2017

What You Can Expect from Strange & Charmed in 2017!

Hello My Charmed Ones! Welcome to the first post of Strange & Charmed for 2017!

Since this is our first day back to work for the new year, I thought I would ease into my content a bit and share with you some of the vision and plans I have for the blog, my brand and business in 2017. As some of you may already know, last month I shared a survey about my content and platforms, something I had never done before, to help me get your feedback on the direction of my content and what you need more information and guidance on from me. Since then I have mapped out a plan for the new year that I’d like to share with you today.

BRAND

In terms of my branding, not much is changing. I’ve been optimizing the site a bit since last month, some changes like the new header I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but much of the change is pretty minimal. What I really want to convey to each of you, however, is the concept for the Strange & Charmed Brand moving forward.

Strange & Charmed is a Productivity Lifestyle Brand who’s main goal is to help women work smarter, not harder! I really want to make 2017 the year we learn to live our best lives to successfully fit in more of what we love and say no to the tasks, activities and stressors that do not serve us. If this is a struggle that you face as a full time employee, mother, or business owner, the Strange & Charmed community is a resource to serve you!

BLOG & YOUTUBE CONTENT

My blog and youtube content have greatly evolved over the last few years, and will likely continue to evolve to best serve the needs of the community and express my interests, research and curiosity within the field of productivity. There are many of you within my community who have seen this change, understood what I’ve been up to, and continued to evolve with and support the content which I truly appreciate. For those of you who may have been caught off guard at any changes or are unsure whether the content on this blog, my youtube channel and social media platforms are applicable to you, let me explain what you can expect in 2017!

The goal of my content is to help and inspire women to lead more productive, fulfilling lives. To do this, my content will always share information, strategy, tools and advice on different productivity topics. I look forward to filling my platforms with content that is functional, actionable and relevant to help you execute and find success in your life, whatever that success may look like to you. I plan to create content on planning, time management, technology, personal development and business topics that will teach you new skills or illustrate concepts you may be new to you.

I intend to keep up my current content schedule with blog posts going live on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 9am eastern, and YouTube videos going live Sunday at 10am eastern.

BUSINESS

Over the past several years, I’ve created a catalog of digital products and tools centered around productivity, planning and business. These products include digital workbooks, print on demand planner inserts, eCourses, digital programs and master classes. Throughout the year I take feedback from my customers and update many of the products and spend time each year development a few more. This year I look forward to expanding my flagship business program Empire Building in the biggest update to the course since it’s release in 2015! I also plan to add to my collection of eBooks/digital workbooks and master classes with some new topics that I hope will continue to support your productivity and goals!

KEEP UP WITH ME & MY CONTENT

If you like what you’re reading about the future of my content and plans for my business in 2017, make sure you are following me all over the internet so you don’t miss one ounce of the value I have in store for you!

Follow Strange & Charmed on Bloglovin’

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Follow me on Instagram

Pin with me on Pinterest

Follow me on Twitter

Like my Facebook Page

Visit my Shop for the Latest FREE Productivity Tools

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

Entrepreneurial: Entrepreneurship is the New Black

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK

Entrepreneurial: Entrepreneurship is the New Black

Three hundred and sixty four days. That is how long it has been since 2016 began, and with just two days left in this 366 day leap year, there is so much for me to look back on over my life and business, but even more for me to look forward to. I’ve spent the last few weeks of this year collecting data, analyzing results, and getting in touch with myself to process what I’ve accomplished and get crystal clear on my vision for 2017. So for this final installment of Entrepreneurial for 2016, I want to recap the big picture items of 2016 and what I want going forward in 2017!

In 2016 I:

1. Worked Smarter, Not Harder: This year, I really made progress embodying the philosophy of work smarter, not harder. I can say without a doubt that this year I hustled less, managed my time better, accomplished my work more productively and saw better results. Despite creating just three new products over the course of the year, producing less video content, spending less time on social media, and taking a hiatus over the summer, my business still grew! I accomplished much streamlining my business in 2016 but I still have more work to do!

2. Bought a Home: The biggest event of the year for my husband and I was definitely the purchase of our home. It represents a lot for us as a couple, but also gives us a new foundation to build our lives and even my business upon. Purchasing a home is a big life milestone, one we sacrificed towards for the past few years. We know we were in an a perfect situation to buy that most couples our age aren’t in, as we have no school loans or other personal debt between us, but we are also very smart with our money and made what we hope will end up being a great investment in our future.

3. Grew into myself as a woman and an entrepreneur: When I turned 30 this year, I started seeing myself in a completely new light. I’ve always been confident and mature for my age, but this year I began to see myself less as a girl and more as a woman. I started to own myself, who I am, and what I want, and wasn’t as hesitant doing for myself and giving to myself the things I wanted and needed. Throughout this year, I’ve gained new insight into my business, let go of certain expectations holding me back, and consciously made the decision to put myself first so that I am in a position to help lift others up.

In 2017 I will:

1. Continue to put myself first: With the impact I want to make, it’s crucial that I put myself first to prevent a situation of overwhelm or stagnation. To do this in the future, I will continue to set boundaries that will protect my time and energy from being drained and establish routines to ensure I am reenergizing my mind and body for maximum output!

2. Positively impact more lives: 2016 gave me a real glimpse into the impact my work and business has had on the lives of members of my community and in 2017 I am setting more aggressive goals to serve and teach as many of my community members as possible.

3. Fail Better: I don’t fail enough, this was a fact I came to recognize this year. While not failing may seem like a good thing, I actually think it’s pretty shameful. If I am not failing, that means I am not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. It means I’m not taking risks with my ideas, and it means that I’m not truly growing. I acknowledge that I play it safe with my ideas, especially with my content and business, because I’m afraid that pushing the envelope may push people away from my brand, but I think I need to just let go of this fear and try to accomplish some ambitious goals with the intent to make them so big or scary for me that my expectation would be failure. If I fail, then clearly I hit the mark! But if I don’t fail, and I don’t hit the mark, it means that achieved something great. I want to try this in 2017, and consolidate my time as much as possible with the everyday minutiae of my business so I can devote significant time and energy towards this.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and the Entrepreneurial Series in 2016! If you want to look back at more installments throughout the months, click here. I also want to know how your year went for your business and what your big picture goals are for next year. Please let me know down in the comments!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

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