We are a few weeks into 2019 and it’s that time of year when everyone’s focused on goal setting and planning (or trying to make sure they’re still sticking to their goals)! Last month we talked in our mastermind Facebook group www.growwithusmastermind.com about everyone’s goals for the year. Planning and getting organized is the key to achieving those goals. If you haven’t already, join our group to find the support and accountability you need to get it done.
Angie and I are coming in strong to 2019! We both ended up taking pretty much the entire month of December off from our TpT businesses. Some of it was intentional and some was due to all the illness that floats around this time of year. But, regardless of the reason, it gave us the break we needed to clear our heads, do some goal setting, and create plans for the new year.
Sharing our goals
This year I have several goals. I’m working to switch from working full-time to working part-time. That doesn’t mean I want to scale back my business, just the time I’m spending on it. My goal is to take every Friday off and to stop working by 3:30 pm each day. This will allow me to devote my time to my family once they arrive home.
When it comes to my business I have the following goals:
- Organize business and tax documents
- Be consistent on my blog and social media
- Focus on one big project instead of a bunch of tiny ones
Angie shared that her goals for the year are to blog and email consistently, spend two to three hours a day working at her treadmill desk, and stop working each day when her kids and husband come home.
In our Facebook group discussion, almost everyone mentioned a goal that was related to blogging. Angie and I decided our goals were to focus on consistency instead of setting a goal like ‘posting 1x a week’. We want to set ourselves up to succeed this year. If you are just starting out blogging I encourage you to listen to our blogging series we did (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Let’s get planning!
We were super excited to have Kristin Rivera from One Stop Teacher Shop as a guest on the podcast this week. She is the most organized person that I know. She’s a planning expert and great at organizing in advance to have more time available. And, I absolutely love her planner (there are print and digital versions) which you can check out at One Stop Planner Shop.
Kristin joined us to share her process for year-long planning.
Why you want to create a year-long plan
Have you ever sat down to a computer to start working and just didn’t know where to start? Or, you bounced around from one idea to the next and found that you worked all day and accomplished nothing? That’s why you need a year-long plan!
Kristin started planning like this because she knew she needed to be more productive and that when there was a plan she was able to get more done and have more time for her family.
Having a plan saves you time by helping you know what to work on. It’s easy to be busy but when you have a plan you get a lot more accomplished. It helps you work on things that matter. I discovered this for myself when I took off the month of December. There were lots of little tasks that I was busy doing last year that I didn’t do in December and my business kept running. It showed me this year I could choose a few of them to focus on and let the other ones go.
Kristin’s year-long planning system
There are four pieces to Kristin’s planning system:
- Huge to-do list
- Six-month planner
- Monthly dry erase board
- Weekly digital planner
The planning process starts at the broadest level and then trickles down to help you prioritize and reprioritize what you’re working on. Year-long plans are great, but it’s unrealistic to think that the plan will hold up 100% throughout the year. It’s best to have a broad year-long plan and then also create plans for shorter time periods that allow you to adjust as you go.
1. Huge to-do list
The first step is doing a massive brain dump. Kristin likes to use Airtable to do this, but you can use a basic Excel sheet, note-taking app, or just pen and paper. Make a list of all the things that you would love to accomplish if you could. Kristin said it doesn’t have to be realistic, you aren’t thinking about deadlines, you are just creating your “dream to-do list”.
Then, once you have your list completed go back and put each task into a category. Kristin encourages that you keep it to no more than four categories (ie. marketing, systems, blog). Then give every single task a rating between 1 to 5 based on the impact that task will have on your business.
We’re all here to grow our businesses so we want to make sure we are spending time on the things that are going to give us the biggest bang for our buck. So, look at the tasks and determine if it’s going to help you grow your TpT business and your income. Doing this helps you see what tasks you should tackle first.
This list is something that you can refer back to as the year goes on and it helps you in the next steps of the planning process.
If you do nothing else recommended in this post, Kristin encourages you to do this one.
2. 6-month planner
Once Kristin has prioritized her to-do list she gets to work planning her tasks. She starts on her six-month planner. She actually uses two separate calendars. The first is to schedule what projects she’ll be working on at what time. The second calendar is for her marketing tasks. This is where she would schedule things like running Facebook ads for a certain item she has that does well at a certain time of year.
Angie and I have shared Google sheets that we use for planning and accountability. We started on one calendar but quickly found that it was easier to track tasks when they were separated out. Now we have separate spreadsheets for marketing, blogging, and products.
3. Monthly dry erase board
Kristen has a dry erase board that she wipes clean and starts fresh every month. She looks at her six-month planner and her huge to-do list and decides what tasks are going to go on her monthly schedule.
4. Weekly digital planner
Every Sunday Kristen sits down for around 30 minutes to plan out her week. She looks over her monthly plan to see what tasks she’s trying to accomplish and then she schedules out her week. Then each day she can look over what she has planned and know exactly what to work on.
I like to do my planning for the week on Monday morning and I use the planner that Kristin designed. I want to take a minute and give her a shout out on these amazing planners. There’s a beautiful print version, but my preference is digital so I’ve been using the Google version. I love it! It’s really helpful and helps me get my week started off right.
From site and map out exactly what I’m going to do for the week.
Why this planning system works
I know there are a lot of people that just make one to-do list and work off that. But, the problem is, plans constantly change. Kristin’s strategy for planning allows you to create your ultimate to-do list and then prioritize the tasks that will make the biggest impact in your business. Each time you move on to a new step you have a chance to prioritize again.
If you follow this plan you should always be working on the things that matter the most for your business. If you’re planned out you are going to be more productive and get more done.
I also want to mention that if you have an accountability partner it’s great to get them involved in this process with you. Angie and I have found that doing this podcast and being able to talk and plan together has made a positive difference in our businesses.
A few more planning and organizing tips
Having a great plan for your business can be really exciting. But, if you aren’t careful your time each day can be stolen by the small little tasks that you need to do to have a business. For example, checking email and Facebook are both important things to do for your business, but if you aren’t careful you can spend too much time on these tasks.
In order to combat this, I started only checking my email and Q&A for the first hour in the morning. Kristin also does something similar. She sets aside designated time to work on the small tasks for running her business. Then, she designates time to only work on her projects.
If you are constantly checking email it’s too easy to get distracted from the plan that you have for your day. And, it’s ok to take a day to respond. Some sellers even take a few weeks to respond because they are busy teaching as well. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself that makes it hard to get your plans done.
One thing you should start doing right away
If there is only one thing that you walk away from this blog post with, Kristin wants it to be the fact that you need to create your big dream to-do list. Even if you aren’t going to get to the point of organizing it just yet. Get all those tasks out of your head and down on paper or your digital list. Then, when you start wondering what you should be working on you can pull out your list and see.
It might seem counterproductive to take time out of your day to work on putting these systems in place. But, the time that you spend on these systems is really going to pay off in helping you grow your business. These systems are even more important if you’re still in the classroom while you try to grow your TpT business.
Kristin and Angie mentioned Airtable several times in our podcast. It’s a free online tool that is basically like Excel on steroids. There are lots of ways that you can customize each spreadsheet and you can even share them and collaborate with others.
You can also check out the affiliate links that Angie and I recommend on our resources page here.
And, one final headsup—Angie and I are presenting at the TpT Flock taking place April 12th and 13th (2019) about how to convert blog readers into buyers. It’s a really fun way to meet other TpTers. There are great sessions and it’s smaller scale than the conference which makes it easy to connect with others. You can get more information about that here.