Tag Archives: Goals

Customized Planner 2.0

About a year ago, I published an article about my first customized planner.  With the new year, I designed an updated version with a few improvements to the layout of the pages.  Originally I kept my monthly calendar and monthly goal sheets in the front of the planner, followed by a series of different logs (i.e. Health/Fitness, Home Maintenance, etc.).  After all of these various sections I listed my weekly goal sheets.  While I like the idea of keeping the monthly pages nicely organized together, I found that I didn’t utilize the monthly goals sheets after a couple of months. I never even looked at the home maintenance section, and the health/fitness section design wasn’t used as much either.  While in theory it sounded like a great layout, I found out in that practice that I needed to revamp the layout.

For this year’s  improved design, I’ve merged the various documents so that most everything flows throughout the year together.  For example, here’s how a standard month of documents flow:

  • Monthly Calendar (2 pages): When it comes to printing calendar pages, I use Dynamic Template v2.05 software designed by the folks over at DIY Planner.  It’s completely free to download.  In addition to printing monthly calendars this software is flexible, having settings that can be modified to print daily, weekly, and even yearly pages.  Simply select your paper size, choose the calendar type, and tweak the settings to come up with your own printable set of calendars that perfectly fit your planner and your lifestyle.
  • Monthly Goals:  A template I designed to help stay focused on health, creative, relationship, financial, and spiritual goals as well as ideas, notes, errands, projects, and home maintenance tasks all on one page.
  • Goal Refocus template:  While searching for various tools and templates, I came across the Goal Refocus template created by Daryl Furuyama who shares experiences in what works in life at WhiteHat BlackBox.  It’s a great template to track your progress on five goals over the course of a month on one page.  Since I created my planner at the beginning of the year, I’m finding this template is very useful in tracking how much progress I’m making when it comes to two of my health goals: taking vitamins daily and making exercise a priority.  As Daryl recommends, you fill in the circle completely if you made a lot of progress on the goal (for example a full 30 minute to hour workout) as compared to some progress (such as fitting in just 10 minutes of stretching when I’m super busy with other priorities).  The template is also great since there is space to jot down a quick note by each day and a full side of the page can be dedicated to brainstorming notes to help you stay focused on what’s important.
  • 4-5 Weekly Goal pages:  A template I designed to that is very similar to the monthly goals sheet.

Now I still have some sections that I keep separate in the back:

  • Project Meeting template: Another great template found via DIY Planner that was created from a user using their form widget software.  While you can tell that the original designer of the template created it mind for the office since there are spots to log the conference room and conference call information, I use for tracking meeting notes for my various projects outside of work.   I particularly liked this meeting template more than other ones I have seen since the layout makes a good use of space to track important details on just one page.  Some of the features include spots to keep track of the meeting agenda as well as a graph area for notes.  About the only drawback is that there wasn’t a spot to track follow-up items.  However, I find myself tracking the action items in the meeting notes section.
  • Ideas: basically alternating blank and lined pages for brainstorming on various ideas/projects
  • Web Design
  • Wish List
  • Prayers/Affirmations

In a future post, I’ll share the monthly and weekly goal templates I designed, but in the interim if you looking for templates for your planner, I highly recommend DIY Planner since they include a wide range templates created both their core team of designers as well as contributions from guest designers.  You can also use their free DIY Planner Widget Kit software to design your own templates.

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the art of finding balance

I received an e-mail today from one of my readers asking:

I was just wondering if you have any advice for the modern career woman who is struggling to have some time for herself. How do you find an outlet for your creative self expression and still manage to balance your financial responsibilities and so forth.

It’s a question that a lot of fellow readers might struggle with so I decided to post my response here on the site.

To give you some background history, I decided at an early age to choose a field outside of the art scene to allow me creative freedom in my art, and to give myself financial security. At first, I struggled at finding a real world job that fit my personality and skill set, but in time, I found myself working in the accounting field of all things…and for me it works.

Contrary to most misconceptions of accounting, I don’t sit in my cube counting beans all day. It is really more intense and exciting than most people realize. Of course, each day varies, but in a typical month, I’ve used a wide range of skills from using my detective skills to solve accounting mysteries to developing processes and procedures to prevent those “mysteries” from happening in the first place. And really, typically, they are never truly “accounting mysteries”, it’s just a way to add the element of fun back into my career. Something that’s missing from most corporate america jobs.

In other words, part of being a successful artist in the corporate world is a matter of perspective. Find elements of your work that you love and discover a way to transform it.

The other key part of finding balance between your work and life is in the art of recycling paper. Instead of throwing paper away that has only been printed on one side, find a place to stack it. Then when you need to brainstorm on an idea, reuse other side. Instead of wasting more paper through post-it notes, use your recycled paper when jotting down notes from phone calls. Part of you will feel good from doing this one good deed. Not to mention, that recycled stack of paper comes in handy sometimes when you realized that you might have thrown away something you need at a later date.

The other very important use of recycling paper comes with daily goal setting. Take of one those sheets of recycled paper and fold the paper in half. Use one side to list your goals for work that day, and the other side to list your personal goals outside of work. At the end of the day, cut the paper in half…leaving your work to-do list at the office as a mental note that it will still be there for you in the morning. Then take your personal list with you.

When it comes to personal goal setting, I have six main sections right now that I’m focusing on: Art, Financial, Health, Relationships, Spiritual, and the Mundane.

With my art goals, I look to accomplish something artistic every day. Whether it’s working on one of my paintings or simply brainstorming for new painting ideas, all of it counts. I also list my goals for the website as well as my recently opened etsy store. Basically, anything that has to do with my pursuit to make art part of my life.

Daily financial goals can be as routine as paying bills to downloading our Quicken statements. Again, remember, those small little steps add up over a week or even month’s worth of time.

As for my health goals, one of my main ones is remembering to take my vitamins. I’ve even taken in a pair of 5lbs weights into work considering I spend a lot of time in the office. They’re great for conference calls. Just put the phone on mute, do a couple bicep/tricep curls. Sure, I do occasionally get a few weird looks. But more often than not, I also get thumbs up for making that commit to keep healthy. Not to mention, I typically stay more focused on the call when lifting weights versus browsing my inbox.

Another one of my main areas for daily goal setting is relationships. From calling my mom on my way home from work (on my hands-free device, of course) to making a birthday card during lunch at work with friends, I always look for creative ways to accomplish my goals. Just remember that you’re not always going to get everything done in time. When it comes to cards, I’m always horribly late. As anyone that knows me will say, my sense of time is always off. But as someone once said, the wait is always worth it for my cards since they are typically homemade.

As for the spiritual realm, it can be as simple as saying a prayer, lighting a candle, or reading something inspirational before bed. The idea is just to make a little bit of time to step back and be thankful for the many blessings in life.

And then there is the mundane…laundry, dishes, mowing the grass…all those things you wish would go away, but never do unless you put a little elbow grease into it. So to prevent the weekend from being full of chores, spread it out throughout the week. Fold some towels one day. Do another load the next day. And if you really need help in this area, check out Flylady, a website dedicated to helping you find balance between life and chores.

Goal setting is just one part of finding balance in your life though. The other main part is your friends, family, and your significant other if you’ve discovered him or her. It’s these relationships that you build that will help you keep perspective, give you guidance when you need it, and inspire you to keep reaching for the stars every day. The important part is to develop these relationships across the different areas of your life that are important to you from work to your hobbies. And if you’re lacking friends in an area of your life, be bold, be daring…make the first step and ask someone to join you for lunch or coffee. Over the years, these friendships will become priceless.

When it comes to finding balance in life, sometimes you discover the secret through trial and error. Other times, you might discover it over a cup of coffee with friends. So if you’re still reading this, what are some of your own personal ways to find balance?

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projects this week


Hmmm…I may have just discovered my new blogging fetish, library project cards, thanks to il Bloggo.

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20 Things

2007 Weekly Planner Along with the recent purchase of Walking in this World, I discovered the coolest weekly planner for only $4 at the bookstore! With it’s unusual shape, it’s large enough to keep track of my whole day, and yet, I can still see the entire week on two pages, which I love since I typically goal set in weekly chucks of time. But unlike most planners, it was designed with style so I can envision myself using it for both work and personal goals.

As for embarking on my adventures in reading Walking in this World, the first exercise in the book is to make a list of 20 creative small steps you can take right now. It’s an exercise that I’ve done in the past, but it’s not something I’ve been particularly good at following up on. As a result, some projects stay in the back of my mind and get pushed to the side as I come up with new creative endeavors. So I’ve been thinking of creating a master list somewhere on the site similar in theory to 43 things, that way I’m constantly reminded to finish what I start…

1. Replant my orchids into ceramic pots: one down, two to go once they stop blooming. :)
2. Create a homemade card organizer.
3. Create another cut flower garden on the south side of the house.
4. Redesign and organize my studio.
5. Sell my prints on ebay.
6. Buy a plant for my mailbox hanging plant holder.
7. Create a spring desktop image.
8. Have a spa night with my mom.
9. Finish collaging my seed box using pressed flowers and rosemary.
10. Find a new image box to keep inspirational clippings.
11. Have a fabulous photo taken of my mom and me.
12. Recover my artist stool.
13. Make a list of my favorite creative books.
14. Sew a window seat for my cat, Cleo: ok, credit goes to my mom for this one, I just watched and learned.
15. Discover some new music for my ipod.
16. Make a Valentine’s Day card for my sweetie.
17. Plant a lemon tree.
18. Mat the orchid print for my mom.
19. Go to a local botanical garden center and take pictures.
20. Paint the spring wall plaque.

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