I don’t know about you, but for me the new year always brings a desire for change. I had decided 2018 was the year of holding myself accountable. I just had to figure out how to do it first. I have always been a pretty organized person. List making is second nature to me and post-its are a must have in our house, but I kept finding I would make all of these lists to keep myself “organized”, but it was rare for me actually accomplish everything (or even most) of the items I wanted for a day, week, month, or even the year.
I had a realization that there were two main reasons why I wasn’t successful in holding myself accountable to completing the things I wanted to. 1) I was keeping myself “organized” with my never ending lists, but I was not allocating the appropriate amount of time to do things (whether it be walking my dogs after work every day or bigger long-term goals for my blog I needed to chip away over time at). 2) I put to many things on my immediate to do list, which would overwhelm me and as a result I would work on too many different things at once and never fully devote my time and energy to one thing.
After really reflecting on this (and honestly feeling a bit down on myself for never feeling like I accomplish what my heart wants to) I realized I had to make a change. I needed a system that was reasonable for me that I would stick with. I came up with a system to keep myself both organized and accountable. I have been using this method for the past month and I can honestly say it’s working for me!! It’s not 100% (what is?), but it is definitely keeping me on track and motivated to accomplish everything I want to. So if you are having trouble holding yourself accountable like I was I hope these tips help you!
ONE – MONTHLY PLANNER
Utilize a monthly planner for a high level, big picture view of everything you have going on. This is a great tool to keep everyone in your household on the same page. I use this monthly planner. I keep this planner open on the desk in our kitchen. In this planner I put things like planned vacations, events, already planned hangouts with family and friends, appointments, planned larger renovation projects (usually on the weekends for us) and other bigger things like that. I like that it is big enough to write in and see things at glance, but also small enough to tuck in a drawer when we have guests over and I love keeping it in a place where both my husband and I can see it! I really probably wouldn’t use a monthly planner if it was just me because I heavily rely on my weekly planner and journal (see below), but it’s super nice for families!
TWO – WEEKLY PLANNER
I am a bit old fashioned and really like to use a written planner. This is a planner I keep in my bag or purse almost all of the time. I use a Simplified Weekly Planner to keep track of my week to week tasks. Sadly this planner is sold out!! But you could use any weekly planner like this one or this one. In my weekly planner I plan out my weekly schedule (common sense huh). This is where I write out our meals for during the week (so we out less and save money!), write down my planned workouts and dog walks, an schedule out all of my blog content (photo shoots, when I plan to write posts, and when I want the scheduled post to go live). Most importantly I put self-care reminders. When I complete them I cross them off because it is just so satisfying to do that and then it’s a visual remind of
I also include the same bigger picture things from our monthly planner (vacations, events, appointments, etc.) so I can be sure to plan my week accordingly and not overbook myself. For things like workouts and blog content I try to only schedule out two weeks at a time because things can change and other things may come up. For blog related items I always have a back log of blogging items (I keep it in my journal – see more below) in case I want to switch something up or move blog posts around.
THREE – NOTEBOOK FOR TO-DO LISTS
My weekly planner and notebook go hand in hand. My weekly planner sets the schedule and my journal has all the detail. This is the journal I use and I love it (thanks for introducing me Laura)! It’s pretty and it’s thin enough to slip right inside my weekly planner so they are always together.
I treat my journal somewhat like a bullet journal. In the front of my journal I keep my a list of my personal goals, our house goals, and my blog goals. I use Post-it Tabs to mark each section (personal, house, blog) since some are more than one page looking at your house goals. These goals are at the very front of my journal so every time I open it I see them. This has really helped me reflect on my goals on a regular basis and make sure I am staying on track to achieve them (or even modify them if I need to). Behind my goals I have weekly to-do lists, each page is a different week and I have them labeled by date. I use a paper clip to mark which page I am on for easy flipping. My to-do lists is where I keep all of my detailed tasks for the week. They mainly are smaller tasks like laundry, meal planning, detailed projects tasks, specific blogging tasks, returns or purchases that need to be made, and things of that nature. Usually most of my things end up being pushed to the weekend, but I try to do some weeknights too so our weekends don’t end up feeling too hectic.
When you are planning out your schedule and creating your weekly to-do lists the key is to be completely realistic and try not to “over plan” for the time you have available. Consider all of the other things you do during the week that aren’t necessarily planned (making dinner, watching tv, hanging out, or just doing nothing) and the spontaneous things that hopefully come up! This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I am a chronic over-planner and I just want to get all the things done! BUT, I have learned that if I plan in a more realistic manner (leaving time for doing nothing at all) I am more likely to actually get the things done! I also am less likely to feel bad because I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to because I gave myself more realistic expectations.
I hope these tips (however common sense they may be) for taking control of your time and holding yourself accountable motivate you like they have motivated me!