Sunday, August 28, 2016

Planning Doldrums And Other Thoughtlets For The End Of Summers

As summer comes to a sizzling close, I find myself pensively gazing out the windows of my upstairs home-office longingly hoping for a sign of a drip-drip-drop of rain. Some clouds had gathered today for a short meeting but it seems no one had brought coffee, so they dispersed later on in the early part of the evening. Planning on Sunday evenings feels cathartic, needed and natural. It often feels like some kind of beacon, honing in on what the week's pulse is destined to be.

This week we had 9 trees felled at our cottage. We still have a whopping 32 on the property and I know when the storms come later next month, I won't worry as much about which branches are hovering dangerously close to my office roof. Similarly, I have culled a tree's worth of data from 8 months of planner related detritus collected mostly a little thoughts, or thoughtlets, as I like to call them. Some of these thoughtlets were thought with the intention of them turning into full thoughts and upon weekly once-throughs in my planner, they became discarded entities, abstract realities with no tangible connections to projects or goals.

As with all seasonal changes, the beauty of their reality is dependent on our own ability to see ourselves within those same changes. I would very much like to have a clear space when the rains do come, to examine goals progress and adjust milestones to account for the being of human being. Knowing the seasons change should allow us to be kinder to ourselves when we take an account of where we are in the year, based on our own expectations of where we anticipated we might be at the  beginning of the year. We are now different people. In a month or so, so much more will have changed in us and in our lives.

For anyone looking at a laundry list of failed goals, consider this new season one of renewal where a recommitment to idealistic hopes can be reassessed and repurposed, this time with clearer instructions and actions to help pick apart behemoth goals we often set for ourselves. The key to succeeding is to pick 1-2 goals only. Make sure when you ARE picking your goals you are not inadvertently picking out action items to help you progress toward your goal success. Often actionable items can be conflated with goals. For example: I want to exercise more is not really a goal; it is a vague descriptor of an action one can take to gain a better sense of well-being. The goal might be to feel more supple in 6 months or to lose x number of pounds or be able to walk for x number of miles. A well-defined goal, with milestones, realistic outcomes and a motivational reason for accomplishing it all serve to help create momentum around achievement. Habit is what helps us succeed with the drudgery of actually getting things done. 

If, for example, you are setting a goal you hope to maintain as part of a new lifestyle, changing your lifestyle habits must also be part of the actionable items, otherwise you will go back to what you have now. 

I shall be using the remainder of summer to plan out and track a single goal for myself with a deadline of 3 months, to keep me honest. Now to find my to-do list in the pile of papers I've just culled...

Copyright Karine Tovmassian, LLC 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Meeting Place Or: How To Create A Passive-Agressive Planning Hub in Your Home

I want to dedicate this post to the many paper planner aficionados who understand the value of paper planning and want their families to reap the same benefits. Whether or not your family is into writing things down, you can BET they would love to know where you are going to be during the day and I am not just talking about stalking someone's whereabouts on the "Find My Friends" app.

Consider setting up a spot in the home where everyone is guaranteed to go past at least twice a day. This spot exists in our home and I have the following items on an old desk.

  1. A lamp
  2. A wire basket for outgoing packages
  3. An envelope holder for outgoing post (very often we have so many outgoing packages they end up crushing the regular outgoing post, so I have to separate them.)
  4. A badder than bad Filofax Sandhurst Deskfax indicating MY weekly plan.
  5. An old pen pot with viable pens.

That's it. No fuss, no muss. Our keys are nearby on the opposite wall hanging off a key hook. Here's the basic premise of my plan...If the family gets used to seeing where I will be during the week, they may appreciate anticipating my return to plan out events we will be doing together. But, there is more! I am going to leave a very thin pack of post-it notes nearby to make it look like there is a scarcity. Oh, sorry, that was me falling about laughing thinking there is a post-it note scarcity in my home. I have enough note pads to last me two lifetimes. But, yes, place a thin pad next to the desk fax and see if anyone feels inspired to write their own a-la-Carie Harling.

Here is where the plan gets slightly evil. I will take the planner away in one month. So when they all go to see where I will be, there will be nothing but an old desk surface looking back at them, along with the post baskets. Ideally, they will all call out in unison "Bring Back The Planner!" 

I will begin testing this theory after a month of desk usage and will naturally report my very non-scientific findings here. Developing a habit is not an easy task, let alone developing it in a passive-aggressive way for others to employ. I have high hopes. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Defining The Space Between Planning and Thinking

There are many reasons to throw one's planner out the window. One particular reason is the perpetual space created between our thoughts and our plans. How we planned something doesn't necessarily end up getting executed the same way we intended. For example, you may have planned a nap in the afternoon and instead found yourself attending to a client that really needed your input. *Ehem, Sam*.

Planner fails happen because we have failed to clearly identify our personal goals in relation to our expectation of the planner's potential. 

It's not the planner's fault you had high expectation of it! You set up these lofty ideals and then forgot to tell your planner how you were intending to set it up. Womp. Womp. Planner fail ensues. The best and quickest way out of planner fail that DOES NOT require more insert purchases is to assign your vision and intention to your planner and set it up with the end goal in mind.

Say you want to keep better track of where you are spending your time during the work week and you forgot that that's what you wanted to see as a result at the end of the week because SQUIRREL! Ideally, you will have noticed on day 2 that your tracking is not going as planned because you have failed to plan. However, if you are like me and you realized your tracking is nowhere to be found an hour before the end of the work week, proceed to the following steps:
1. IMMEDIATELY, go to the next week and pick the end date (the following Friday).
2. Write in BIG, BOLD letters: Congratulations! Tracking achieved!
3. Close your eyes and think how you will feel, yes feel, when you know you have a full week's data at your greedy little finger tips and sit with that feeling for a solid 10 seconds.
4. Open your eyes and create a tracker, tick box, hyperdex, checklist, slot for every single day working back to the day you are starting on.
5. Close planner and feel MUCH BETTER about the fact that your tracking system is now in place.
6. Refer to planner the following day and NOTICE how your end result is there WINKING at ya, helping you succeed.
Once you have your vision aligned with your planner, execution should be a lot simpler to remember and you have now set yourself up for success.

Challenge yourself with little goals like this to help you learn how to identify and prioritize your values so your planner can become a reflection of who you are and how you are evolving throughout the year. 

Planners are more than appointment keepers. They are a living, breathing record of how you are navigating your life and the medium you choose initially may not be the ideal set up for how your brain thinks. If you catch yourself failing to plan, you may have just discovered a system that does not work for you. Don't give up. Keep trying until you get to a point where your planner becomes your assistant. You can name it Jeeves.