I got a planner! The Full Focus Planner to be specific. It came last Wednesday in the mail, and I wasted no time in getting started.
The Full Focus Planner divides the year into 4 quarters. I started by listing my 3 goals for this upcoming quarter (Q4):
- Finish my novel
- Save 40% of our combined monthly income
- Run 1 mile every day
The planner tutorials encourage you to set risky goals (the “R” in the acronym SMARTER) outside of your comfort zone. Goal #1 is risky–I have to write 60k more words before 12/1. Which means I’ll have to be very disciplined with my daily writing. I’ve set a daily goal as 750+ words. I’m not sure if this quite works out mathematically, but I feel like that number is realistic enough and ambitious enough. The point is to get myself writing daily.
I’m not sure how realistic goal #2 is, but I’ve set up an automatic monthly transfer of approximately 40% of our take home income to be transferred into a high interest savings account at the beginning of each month after we get paid, so we’ll see if we run out of money and adjust accordingly. To accomplish this, I’m making an effort to cook all our meals as much as possible, as being NYC dwellers, there is a ton of room to rein in our restaurant expenses.
I was going to track our expenses for September, but with wedding & honeymoon expenses still trickling in at the beginning of that month, it was a pretty unrealistic picture of our usual spending. So I’ve decided to start tracking them in October. This will be much easier administratively also, as we’re working on transferring some recurring payments from my husband’s bank account to mine & closing that account.
Goal number #3 (running a mile every day) is inspired by reading Laura Vanderkam’s recent book, I Know How She Does It. Vanderkam suggests setting low threshold goals. The point is to start. I’m not going to run 5 miles a day, and if that was my goal, it would be easy to not do it. But 1 mile? That takes 15 minutes. I can carve out 15 minutes in my day to exercise. Once I’m already running, I may run more than a mile.
Back to the planner. Each day, you write out your top 3 tasks, called “Daily Big 3”. There is additional space for “Other Tasks”, a schedule and “Notes”. I’ve been using the schedule to envision my day as I’d like it to go and the “Notes” section to track it as it actually unfolds. With 2 pages per day, there is a lot of space for writing things down.
Although it’s only been 5 days, I’m finding that I’m getting a lot more done when I plan my days in advance. And when I fail to get something done, I’m learning why.
For example, on Saturday, my “Daily Big 3” were:
- Go on hike
- Write 750+ words of novel
- Draft blog post on planning.
I did…none of these things.
The plan was to drive to New Jersey to go on said hike and then tour some nearby towns where we may be moving next month. I thought that I would write once we got home that night. Heh heh.
What actually happened was that I got some quick errands done in the morning before we drove down. Once we got to within a few miles of the hike, my car starting making a weird sloshing noise when it turned. So, we detoured to an auto repair shop, dropped off the car, and went out to lunch. $174 dollars and an hour later, we were fed, the oil had been changed and the problem fixed, but by then we decided to scrap the hike and just tour the towns, which seemed more important.
After a few hours in NJ and an hour drive back home through heavy traffic on the GW bridge, the last thing I wanted to do was to write. So I didn’t. Lesson learned: I need to schedule my important goals for the day early–or at least one or two of them–because at the end of the day, when I’m tired, it’s all too easy to jettison them all.
On Sunday, I set my writing goal as 1,500 words to make up for Saturday, and started writing at 10:30 a.m. I didn’t have any plans and knew that I could write uninterrupted for hours. But I was able to exceed my goal in two ~45 minute sessions. And get a lot of other stuff done too. (SO much housework and cooking, etc…which I’m hoping to do less of…more in a future post)
I’m looking forward to continuing to get into the habit of using a planner to mindfully think through my big goals and how to break them down into daily tasks.
Any tips for me?