Goal Setting Simplicity: Bullet Journal Wins

Goal Setting Simplicity: Bullet Journal Wins

It’s that time of the year again. The holidays are looming, and it’s time to wrap up 2014, and set some clear and simple goals for 2015. I love goal setting, but the process can get out of hand, so I decided to look for an app. With luck, the right app would help me to both clarify my goals, and to track them.

So, I searched, and searched some more. I found apps which were either too complicated, or had social integration, or were unappealing to me in other ways. Apps may work for you. If you’re looking for apps, check out Michael Hyatt’s list of seven goal achievement apps.

At the end of it all, I decided that…

I’m Sticking With My Bullet Journal

Why? Because for me, setting goals, and working toward their achievement, requires lots of thought. You can set and track a simple goal, such as improving your health by exercising each day, using an app. However, larger goals are more complex. I’ve made a short list of two primary goals for 2015, but they’re complex. They require setting mini goals, and creating projects to achieve those mini goals.

As I said in this article on bullet journaling resources, I’m a big fan of paper; working something out on paper is powerful.

In my bullet journal, I can create collections for each goal, and collections for mini goals too. Major tasks go into the monthly spread. Things can handle daily tasks which repeat each day, or several times a week; it’s fun to tick them off — entering all my “must do daily” tasks into the bullet journal isn’t efficient. The day entries become too cluttered.

Planning: in Evernote, and Two Journals

I keep Evernote open all day; I write drafts of everything in a Drafts notebook. Whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I create a note in Drafts, with a short outline. However, for planning, paper’s essential. Recently I bought two notebooks from NanamiPaper.com, because I’ve become obsessed with thin Japanese paper.

One’s for ideas — oddly, enough, it came with a Idea Diary tag. The other notebook’s for goal planning.

I’d started using this system before I started looking at apps. Three notebooks for goal setting seemed like overkill. As it turns out, it’s what I need, for now.

How do you manage goal setting? I’d love to know if you’ve developed a system, and what you use.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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Writing Journal 58: Stop Thinking, Keep Doing

Writing Journal 58: Stop Thinking, Keep Doing

My writing journal for Thursday, October 9, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Got a great start this morning. The mystery novel is gathering steam, and I managed 2,200 words. I had to force myself to stop. I’m very pleased, but I try to avoid getting too excited, and telling myself that this novel will be EASY. Huh. You can have a run of great days, and then a run of horrible days, in which the words come slowly.

I try to convince myself that easy or horrible, it’s just another writing day — but I can’t help smiling.

On to the two nonfiction books. I manage 1,200 words. I’ve got the books planned in Scrivener, with complete outlines. I’m not writing them straight through. I write whatever I want to write. I’ve no idea why some books get themselves written this way, but they do.

Sometimes you can write from go to whoa, starting with the introduction, and writing each chapter as it comes. Other books insist on being written in little pieces. Part of one chapter, and then part of another. It’s not my preferred method of working, but I’ll take whatever comes, as long as the book — or books, in this case — get written.

After giving Honey her breakfast, I skim through email, and write a few responses while I eat my toast. Then I look at my schedule for the day. I managed to get a little writing done last night, but I’m still behind on what I wanted to do this week. Firstly, there was Monday’s rush copywriting project, and then yesterday the meetings ran longer than they should have done.

Next, I outline a couple of content marketing projects which developed from the meetings. There’s more content than I can manage on my own, so I need to tee up a couple of writers. I write a project brief, and send out a slew of messages to colleagues to gauge interest. I’d like to get these two projects out the door within a couple of weeks, but that depends on how many writers I can find who can handle the material, and slot it into their schedules.

Next, a couple of blog posts completed, and published. One of my own, on an easy exercise for story beginnings, and the other a post on a client’s blog.

Time for my walk.

Back again. More client blogging, then it’s time for lunch, while browsing social media.

I’ve got a mile of phone calls to return, so I do that. Next, a stream of email messages from clients and students.

Stop thinking, keep doing

One of the most common things I tell students is: “you’re over-thinking this.”

Many (all) of my students could be doing better if they’d stop second-guessing themselves and started deciding. And would charge more. We talked about procrastination.

Indecision is form of procrastination. Some of my students have a mile of unfinished work on their hard drives – they just can’t “ship.” This is one of the reasons I developed Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into Profits.

Some writers can’t/ won’t ship because they want to be guaranteed success. I can guarantee this: you need to fail your way to success. If you’re unlucky enough to be successful (yes, I said unlucky) instantly, you’re in big trouble. Instant success teaches you nothing. Failure, on the other hand, teaches you plenty. No one likes failure — and yet, failure is inevitable. It’s more valuable than success, because you’ll learn from it — the most valuable thing you’ll learn is that failure is OK.

Some words of wisdom on failure from Business Week:

“The only barrier to failing fast and failing cheap is your ego. You must be willing to fail, fail, and fail again if you are going to win in today’s competitive marketplace. Remember, even if you’re falling flat on your face, at least you’re still moving forward.”

Stop thinking. Decide. Create. Move forward. Whatever you’re doing, do it. Worry later — for ten minutes — then get back to doing and creating.

Enough advice… :-)

Onward with a full afternoon of on-going copywriting projects for clients, as well as working on my new website. I’m starting to see daylight, thank heavens. I’ve created a plan, and need to carry it out.

More phone calls before the end of business, then my daily review, and the day is done.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 7, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Business as usual this morning. I started writing the mystery novel. I’m still not happy about the sleuth. However, I’ve come to a realization: I’m procrastinating yet again. Procrastination has many faces. It masks itself slyly.

Is there an all-in-one, one-size-fits-all solution to procrastination? No. Not that I’ve found. Our excuses always seem so reasonable. I’m writing a mystery for a client. He wants to do a series, so the sleuth I choose will affect other writers. Of course I want to do my best for them — leave them lots of opportunities for characters’ conflict — just as I want to do my best for my client.

It’s all so reasonable, and it’s all total BS. :-) More on procrastination and its evil ways later.

I managed 1,200 words. Everything takes longer at the beginning. I plotted out the crime, and created a timeline for it too. Timelines are essential in mysteries, otherwise you get totally confused.

Next, back to writing the two business books, one ebook, and the print book. I manage 2,100 words, which is great.

Honey’s sulking this morning; it’s raining. She hates the wet. I dish up her breakfast, which she ignores. She believes that I control the weather… I always get annoyed looks from her when it’s raining. :-)

Next, my own breakfast while dealing with a mile of email. I won’t be walking this morning, because of the rain, so I get stuck into dealing with it.

Phone calls, and a chat with the client who’s rebranding, and his new blog. I make some notes which Julia can send to him later.

Lunchtime, at the computer, while reading social media.

Coping with writers’ procrastination

Why do we procrastinate? The psychology of procrastination isn’t well understood. If you read towards the end of the linked article, it says:

“Recently the behavioral research into procrastination has ventured beyond cognition, emotion, and personality, into the realm of neuropsychology. The frontal systems of the brain are known to be involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. These behaviors — problem-solving, planning, self-control, and the like — fall under the domain of executive functioning.”

“Executive functioning” sounds interesting. Basically, it boils down to this. When we procrastinate, we believe our own BS, and don’t call ourselves to account on our own excuses — we don’t manage ourselves.

Coping with writers’ procrastination starts with looking for ways in which you’re procrastinating. I’ve found my journals immensely helpful with this, especially my bullet journal. If I see myself migrating tasks over and over, I know I’m procrastinating.

Then the question becomes: why? It’s important to write down both the question, and the answers you come up with. Your solution will take care of itself, as long as you document the “case”.

For example, I need to set up a new website; one of my own, rather than a client’s site. I’ve been migrating this task for over a week now in my bullet journal. So, I asked myself why I’m procrastinating on this. I came up with these reasons:

  • Too busy;
  • Too tired, after I complete clients’ projects and everything else;
  • I haven’t decided on my primary targeting for the site. I need to think about that;
  • I don’t know what I want on the home page;
  • Will I create a blog on the site? I don’t know. I need to decide, yes or no. (YET ANOTHER blog… Give me strength, please God…);
  • I need to decide on a theme…

Just by looking at the list, I can see procrastination in all its glory. I’m taking on yet another website of my own, and I’m avoiding that — I don’t want more work; I dread it. And yet, I’ve decided to do it, so procrastination achieves nothing. I need to clear time, and schedule it, and then do the work.

When you write down your reasons for procrastinating, they always look flimsy, so write them down. You’ll soon see a solution.

Onward, with more blogging

A client called yesterday. He wants a quote on three months’ worth of blogging. I need to do a scope of the work, and see where I can fit it in. I want to do it, on the other hand, I’m really booked solid. I decide to create the scope of work anyway. He might be OK with just a couple of posts to start, and then a fuller program in a few weeks.

After that, I get on with more clients’ blogging, drafting several posts, and requesting more images from the clients.

Christmas is coming

I meant to have my Kindle ebook of Christmas short stories well under way by now, but I’ve done no work on them for a few days. I spend a couple of timer sessions just writing — I’m well ahead on my outlines, so the writing is easy.

I love writing fiction; compared to other writing, it’s much less stressful.

After I return some calls to catch people before the close of business, I do my daily review. I need to get to work on my new website later on this evening. No more procrastinating.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Quotes to Live By: “There’s No Luck in Business…”

motivational quote

Do you have quotes to live by? I love motivational quotes, and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking about luck, and business.

Here’s my favorite quote about business and luck:  “There’s no luck in business. There’s only drive, determination, and more drive.” It’s from author Sophie Kinsella.

No excuses: build your drive

I coach writers, so I’ve heard every writer’s excuse under the sun — and I have more than enough of my own. I can always find excuses for stuff that I don’t want to do. Maybe I think the Good Lucky Fairy will come along and smack me with her magic wand.

There’s no magic; there’s just — as Sophie Kinsella says so succinctly — drive and determination.

Happy St Patrick’s Day in advance… I wish you much luck, and even more determination. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.