Having organizational strategies that work throughout the year is an important way to make sure there is momentum behind achieving SMART goals. As my work responsibilities shift, my kids’ activities change, and outside interests ebb and flow, I find that staying organized is an ever-evolving process.
As a coaching family, our life cycles in seasons, which means we are constantly transitioning from one type of schedule to another. Even though our seasonal rhythm makes sense to us, I haven’t found a one-size-fits-all organization strategy that I can buy off the shelf like my mom was able to do each year with the giant wall calendar.
Picking an Organizational Strategy
Organization strategies are only as good as your willingness to implement them, so it’s important to take the time to figure out what systems work best for you and incorporate them slowly. It takes several weeks to develop a habit. If you change everything at once you may have trouble remembering where you have re-homed things or the order that is preferable for accomplishing a morning routine.
Give yourself grace as you finalize your strategy. It may take a few months to fine-tune things. You may find that something works during one season that doesn’t work during another. That’s okay!
Identify Your Pain Points
The first step of getting organized is to consider your pain points.
- What are the most overwhelming, stressful, or frustrating parts of your week?
- What times of the day do you find yourself with too much to do?
- What are the things you are always forgetting?
- What can you delegate that you are choosing not to delegate?
- What do you need to remove from your calendar?
- What do you want to add, but you haven’t found the time to do so?
Next, take time to break down your day into 30 or 60-minute increments. Here is an example of what my block calendar looks like. It’s broken down by color. Dark green is exercise, purple is a community weekly Bible study.
The best part of creating a block calendar is the opportunity to see everything in one location from start to finish. You will notice my calendar has a lot of white space. Those times are intentionally included to remind me to rest.
Your block calendar will also help you embrace a realistic perspective of what you can and can not take on when you are asked to volunteer or increase your workload.
Digital vs. Analog Tools
I’ve found that for our family, digital is best, especially apps that update in live time. When we traveled for work, this was helpful, and now that we have three drivers and two cars it’s even more important. When we’re out and about, we don’t have to remember to update each other as plans change.
Having apps like Google Calendar that update in live time is vital. Updating the calendar appointment allows me to include the address and time and set an alarm reminder.
Google Calendar (color-coded by person) means we all have access to what is scheduled. By including the location in the calendar appointment, we can easily trade who is driving the kids around without needing to give directions.
Airtable is where I build my content calendar, social media strategy, track client tasks, hold research for content, track our budget and our grocery list. This free app also has a desktop application. Everything updates in live time and it syncs with Google.
Facebook Business Suite the ability to schedule posts for Instagram and Facebook without actually accessing the platforms or the apps, is the best thing Facebook developed. It allows me to schedule social media, interact on comments, and not see anything anyone else is posting. It’s awesome.
Hoopla and Libby: If it wasn’t for these apps I’d never get a book read. I’m loving my strategy of listening to books while I keep my kindle open and highlight keep passages. The best part is I’m getting through my huge backlog of “want to read” books on my Goodreads list and the audiobooks are free from the library.
While digital apps are great for collaboration, I love using Powersheets or Powersheets Wild Cards for my personal goals. Writing things down solidifies them in my mind and helps me to process them in a different way. There are tons of free options for free daily or weekly planners. Where your Block Calendar is your overarching goal for your weekly plan, the written to do list should keep your actual tasks organized so you can plot out what you need to do to meet your deadlines.
When you can see everything on one page, you will be able to estimate how much time you need to spend on different projects for work or when you can plan to tackle that long over-due house project.
SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-Bound. This boundary shifts around a vague hope and helps move an action forward that has a beginning, end, and steps in between. Of course, setting SMART goals is helpful for completing things, but this process also takes more preparation.
As the football season comes to a close, I have learned to shift from an “in-season” to a “post-season” mindset. When Ordell coached college football, a post-season mindset involved shifting from weekends filled with games to holding down the home front while Ordell traveled for recruiting season. When he was home, he was focused on wrapping up the semester while I was busy preparing for the holidays and fielding questions about whether we were moving. Of course, the most difficult part of the post-season is the reality that you’re actually living in limbo.
These days I set quarterly goals for work and so I’ve established a routine of setting both personal and work goals four times a year. This is something that Powersheets encourages as well and it’s a great way to think about SMART goals. You’ll likely find that you accomplish more in less time.
My Heart Preparation Process
For me, each year, I choose a word of the year. Having a word to focus things around is helpful. However, it’s only part of how I prepare my heart for the year to come. Ideally, I’ll take a day by myself away from the house. Head to a coffee shop for the morning, or if the weather is nice, even get outside. When I’m alone, here’s how things go:
Things to Bring:
Write Everything Down:
- Goals and dreams require a foundation
- Powersheets prep work is ONE method for evaluating and reflecting life from multiple aspects.
- Set SMART goals incorporating everything into a block calendar
- Ensure goals are focused around my word for the year and mission statement
Where to Start:
- Reviewing the last year
- How did #oneword impact the year? What did I learn? What was surprising? What did I accomplish? What goals didn’t I accomplish? Why?
- What went well?
- What mistakes were made? What did I learn?
- What was fun? What wasn’t fun?
- Did I stay focused on ministry goals? Why or why not?
Where to Go:
- Dreaming about the year to come
- What do I want to repeat from the previous year?
- What new things do I want to pursue?
- What do I need to remove in order to add new things?
Set Yourself Up for Success
Instead of purchasing the Powersheets this year I bought the Wildcard Pages. These sheets have the tending pages I can use for quarterly goal check-ins. I used an old Powersheets binder and went through the questions on journal pages. If I find that I have a specific set of goals that requires intense tracking I’ll buy the 6-month tracker later on, however, for now I am focused on reading and studying. The Wildcard Pages have individual trackers for these goals.
If you don’t want to buy a goal sheet, you can download the set I’ve created, especially for people who buy Lessons from the Sidelines. They are free and customizable.
You can also use Canva to create your own personalized goal sheets as well. The point is that writing down your goals increases the likelihood that you will pursue and accomplish your them, so don’t be afraid to invest in making your goal sheet something you want to display.
In addition to writing down your goals take time to gather your tools. I have made sure my favorite pens are near my stack of books and that the ones on my kindle are already downloaded. My to do list sits on my desk. I don’t hide it in a drawer. And these journals are thin because I keep them everywhere. One is in my purse and another is in my computer bag. I jot down ideas everywhere I go so that when something strikes I don’t feel the need to remember it later. I won’t remember it later.
Finally, the one thing not pictured here is my online organizational system. Airtable is my lifeline. It’s so amazing I will probably do an entire post on it soon. For now, know that it’s what I organize almost everything in that is on my phone and computer.
Knowing where I’m headed removes all the excuses for pursuing goals. Life is short and God has created us for specific purposes. Let’s seize the opportunities in front of us and engage in life with him. It’s a great step toward thriving in the sweet spot of our calling.
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