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 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.

Writing Journal 55: Your Creative Small Business

Writing Journal 55: Your Creative Small Business

My writing journal for Monday, October 6, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

I received an email message from a client last night for a rush copywriting job. Of course, I agreed, especially since he’s offered me a bonus. Today’s a public holiday in Australia. Work on my day off? Sure.

Since I managed to get out of bed at my usual time of 5AM, unlike yesterday, I spent the first couple of timer sessions brainstorming a concept for the client’s project. Nothing jumped at me. That’s what I expected. I need to do some research first.

When I’m developing a copywriting project, I aim for the “click” — the AHA moment of inspiration. I start by brainstorming, then I do some research. Then more brainstorming, and by this time I should have been hit by the lightning of inspiration.

Not to worry, I’ll do some research later. Firstly, time for Honey’s breakfast and my own. She’s a lot livelier because of the warmer weather. I skimmed through the email messages; Julia can deal with most of them. I’ll catch up with email tonight.

Today will be a hot day again, so I’m going for my walk early.

Back again. The earlier overcast has burned off, and the day’s warming up. Very few people are up and around, just people mowing lawns, and dog walkers.

I jump right into some research for the copywriting project. Then more brainstorming. Finally, I do a few cluster diagrams, and it’s time for lunch.

Planning your creative small business

Let’s talk about creativity, and business. I get email messages every week, from writers who want to write something or other. They know they want to write, but have no idea what. It’s a real challenge. They think they might like to do copywriting, or write Kindle ebooks, or write content for the Web…

Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into ProfitsIn essence, they want to sell their creativity. Once they decide that yes, that’s what they want to do, they can start thinking and planning. You know that I’m big on planning — and it’s not because plans work. They don’t.

To repeat: YOUR PLANS WON’T WORK.

I used to tell people to create a plan, and they’d come back to me saying that they didn’t know how to do that. That’s OK. You don’t need to know anything, you just need to plan. As Eisenhower reportedly said:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Your plan is useless, but essential. Plans never, ever work the way you think they will. They just get you moving. Your real battle is against inertia. If you’re taking action, you’ll get feedback, and you can refine things as you go. Without a plan, you won’t act.

Once I’ve convinced students that they don’t just “want to write”, they want to run a creative small business, and they need a PLAN (any plan, their best guess as to what might work), they can focus on two things — writing what they’ll be selling, and selling it (the business.)

Creativity and business: you need to sell your creations

My mantra has always been “create and promote”, which is shorthand for “creative small business.”

“Create and promote” tells you what to do every day.

It’s useful to think of yourself as two distinct personalities: creative you, and business you. Creative you writes the words. Business you — a separate personality — handles everything to do with business.

It’s a tough sell getting this across to students. Creative people really don’t want to have anything to do with business. I know it, because I used to be the same way. Way back in the 1980s, I had a literary agent. We parted ways, for various reasons. I still thought I needed an agent. So I got another one, and another one. Finally I gave up on agents. I realized that I could run my business myself.

Today, it’s EASY to run a business. You can hire any help you need.

So, if you want to write, consider that you’ll be running a creative small business. What will your business sell? Where and how will you sell it?

By the way, check out: Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into Profits, for help in creating a creative business which works.

Completing the rush copywriting job

After lunch, I still had no “click.” So I gave up. I turned on Spotify, cleared my mind of thoughts, and doodled for a while.

It worked. I got an idea, and wrote some headlines. Within an hour, I’d written a couple of Web pages. I tidied them up, and sent the draft to the client.

If at first you don’t succeed, give up

If you’re looking for a way around a creative block, try this. Work intensely for a couple of hours, then stop. Give up. Go for a walk. If you’ve still got nothing, clear your mind. Play some music. Doodle. Relax as much as you can.

You’ll get something. You may get a full-blown plot, or just a character if you’re writing fiction. If you’re writing nonfiction, you may get a new sense of direction. You’ll get something.

Onward with blogging

It’s a public holiday, so I’m finishing early. I polished up a couple of clients’ blog posts, and scheduled them. I did my review, and I’m done for the day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 54: Sunday Planning

Writing Journal 54: Sunday Planning

My writing journal for Sunday, October 5, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

I usually get up at five in the morning, to write. Today, I didn’t get up until six. Or at least I thought it was six. It was seven, thanks to daylight saving. (Sigh.) Usually, I’m well aware of the date the clocks move forward; this time I missed it. Not to worry.

So, I decided to give the mystery novel a pass this morning. I wrote memos for yesterday’s coaching students, and sent them the links to their MP3 files. I love coaching; it’s wonderful to give students a new perspective on what they’re doing, to inspire and motivate them.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, and my own. Since there are lots of student exercises and short stories to review today, I read them while I eat my toast. I scribble a few notes for Julia, so she can write up the feedback for the exercises.

After a short walk, I come back and do more on the company history. The words won’t come; it’s a real hassle. You get days like this; there’s not much you can do. So I create a couple of cluster diagrams to sum up the material for the next couple of chapters. I’ll need to speak to the client again, so I create a reminder so that Julia can organize it.

It’s time to head out for my Sunday commitments. When I get back, I’ll need to focus on clients’ blogs, as well as my own. I’m creating a new website/ blog of a my own, so I need to map out a program of content for that, too.

Later…

Sunday Planning

Back again. It’s late afternoon, and time to plan the week’s projects, and blog posts for clients. I checked my own blogs last night, and have enough blog posts lined up for them. Nevertheless, I create several more draft posts.

Most of my planning happens in Evernote, as we looked at yesterday. I’ve created a “client blogging” notebook for clients’ blogs.

For some clients, where I need to chase up lots of information, I create a shared Evernote notebook. That means that the client can dump images and information into the shared notebook, so they’re ready for me to use. If you’re not familiar with shared notebooks, here’s some information on them.

Evernote has a a limit of 250 notebooks, so I delete shared notebooks when a project’s done. I like to keep my note count down, too. Theoretically, you can have up to 100K notes in a Premium account, and 500K notes in a Business account. In practice, I like to keep the note count under 10,000. Occasionally I’ve had to restore an account, and it can take a long time with many thousands of notes.

I brainstorm blog post ideas in Evernote, then write blog posts directly into WordPress’s editor, via Markdown. Over the years, I’ve looked at many different desktop editors. However, it’s very hard to get the SEO right outside the WordPress editor. And, I blog for lots of blogs, which inevitably leads to the desktop editor choking, sooner or later.

When I draft directly into WordPress, I can upload media in advance, so that images and PDFs are ready to insert into posts in the draft stage.

Upcoming programs

With the blog planning, and other scheduling done, I look at our upcoming programs. There’s a couple I need to complete, so I do some work on those.

Finally, it’s time to close things down for the day. Everything’s ready for the coming week.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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