Every year around this time I’m mesmerized by the beautiful planners whose floral patterns and crisp lines so elegantly grace my newsfeed. Last year, I spent way more than I should have on a planner that I only used for a couple months. Fortunately, I have implemented a much better system by using Evernote as a weekly planner and goal organizer.
When my previous planner found it’s new home on our bookshelf with all the other planners from the last several years, I knew I needed a better system in place. I believe several factors lead to the downfall of my fancy (but pricey) planners.
Thinking back over what worked and what didn’t, I realized I was most organized when I was working full time at a church before I had Morgan. I had LOTS of new ministry ideas that had to be implemented in a timely manner, without loose ends attached.
Certain it would help me organize and execute all the ideas floating around in my head, I knew Evernote was the answer to this ongoing dilemma as a detail-oriented creative.
It was then I realized that Evernote had been my best tool for keeping my life organized! After re-implementing my strategy, I’ve finally found a streamlined system to maintain a weekly schedule while also achieving my goals consistently!
One of the best aspects of Evernote is that it is free! On top of that, it allows me to keep my planner on my computer and a synced version on my phone at all times – no more lugging around a bulky planner in my purse!
Also, unlike a traditional planner, Evernote is completely customizable for your scheduling needs while allowing you plenty of room to “write”.
How To Use Evernote as Weekly Planner
1. Get Familiar with Evernote.
First things first. Go to www.evernote.com and sign up for the free version. You might want to watch this basic tutorial as you get familiar with the program. Think of Evernote as a bookshelf full of notebooks. Each notebook is some aspect of your life which contains unlimited notes.
2. Create Notes
I created a notebook entitled “Karin” (don’t you love my creativity) for the notebook that contains my most-used “go-to” files. So create a notebook and then tap the plus sign to create your first note. Make three separate notes with the following names: Running To Do List, Weekly Tasks, and Reoccurring Weekly Schedule.
3. Running To Do List
Now that you have created those three notes, we will configure your Running To Do List. Every note will employ the use of those little check boxes. You can find it in the top tool bar. Your Running To Do List is a repository for anything that you can think of that needs to be done, whether it is next week or 6 months from now. This is a bank of all your future tasks and ideas so nothing is lost. Here are examples of items from my own Running To Do List. (Be sure each item has the checkbox in front of it.)
Examples: Find t-shirt sponsors, Organize pantry, Buy dresser hardware,
4. Reoccurring Weekly Schedule
There are two types of tasks – reoccurring tasks and one-time tasks. Unlike a traditional planner, Evernote can account for both without you having to rewrite all these tasks every day, week or month. Here is a sample reoccurring schedule. It goes from Monday to Sunday, listing only the items that must be done every day and every week (in other words no one-time tasks or appointments). In this note, take some time to make your weekly schedule that only includes the repeating tasks for your week.
Extra Tip: At the end of my Reoccurring Weekly Schedule Note – I’ll list monthly tasks that must be repeated so that I can make sure to revisit those items every month.
5. Weekly Tasks
Your Weekly Tasks note is your real-time schedule for the week. To make the Weekly Tasks note, you will simply copy and past your Reoccurring Weekly Schedule into your Weekly Tasks note. Once you have done that, you will add in any one-time tasks from your calendar (I use this Free Printable Calendar or you can use Google Calendar).
Notice that I have added in appointments from my calendar.
6. Week in Review
Every Friday you will do a Week in Review to “close out your week” by doing the following:
- See where you lost time during the previous week.
- Identify ways you might need to follow up from last week. For example, you might need to send a thank you note.
- Build your new week through the next Sunday. Do this by copying your Reoccurring Weekly Schedule and adding in one-time tasks or appointments from your calendar.
Setting Goals and Executing Your Plan!
Recently I read the book (affiliate link) The 12 Week Year – Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do In One Year by Brian Moran. In it, he details a strategy for setting goals and successfully achieving them.
I’ve taken several stabs at goal planning and this strategy is a complete game changer! It has revolutionized the way I think about goals and the importance of execution.
In his book, Moran explains that we often set too many goals over too long a period. He shows that we are much more productive when we set fewer goals over shorter time frame. To accomplish this mindset, he looks at every 12 weeks as a year and in this time one works towards one to three goals.
This is different from quarterly planning because the beauty of this plan is that 12 weeks is like a full year. Therefore, if you have a tough 12 Week Year, you can just go onto the next knowing that every 12 weeks is like a fresh start – a new year!
The book focuses a lot on execution by showing that execution is the single greatest market differential. Successful individuals and great corporations that produce consistently more than their competitors have one core difference – they focus on consistent execution.
This concept really resonated with me because so often I find myself caught up in my own cloud of ideas like a deer in the headlights. I too easily get overwhelmed with information and tasks which leave me unproductive but still worn out.
I realized I wasn’t executing what I had already learned. Courses, books and brainstorming sessions are great but how many times do we have God-given goals and ideas that we have yet to execute.
My ‘word of the year’ is ‘consistency’ because I realized that we are what we repeatedly do. As Moran says, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”Excellence is not an act but a habit. - Brian MoranClick To Tweet
He emphasizes that the beauty of a 12 week year helps one to realize that every week counts, every day counts and every moment counts. “We need to be conscious of the reality that execution happens daily and weekly, not monthly or quarterly.”
Free Goal Planning Printable
To help facilitate the concepts in the book 12 Week Year, I’ve created a free printable!
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE AND GAIN ACCESS TO MY FREE GOAL PLANNING WORKSHEET AND OTHER FREE PRINTABLES
If you are subscribed to the blog, you can find it HERE. Just use the password at the bottom of your last weekly newsletter.
Goal Planning In Action!
1. Set Goals
For your first 12 Week Year, I recommend just setting one or two goals. Identify the top goals that would have the greatest impact, and focus your time on those. As a blogger, I have to promote my posts through various avenues of social media. As much as this aspect of blogging frustrates me, I know it is an important part of communicating the message the Lord has laid on my heart. So, here is my goal for this “12 Week Year”:
“My goal is to implement a social media strategy for Renovated Faith, that is effective but easily maintained using Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.”
Once you define your goals, write them in the boxes in the top of your worksheet.
2. Have a Vision
You might be tempted to skip this portion of the worksheet but don’t! Brian Moran states that “Vision is the starting point of all high performance. You create things twice – mentally and physically.”
Without a vision, there is no execution. Creating a vision is half the battle and it will be the driving force in achieving your goals. On your tough days, look at your vision statement to remember the reason you are pursuing your goals. My vision statement for social media is:
“Implementing a social media plan is important to share the message of Renovated Faith because I must be a good steward of the message He has given me so He can use it. Example: Peter putting down his nets (Luke 5) and the young boy bringing his loaves and fish (John 6).”
3. Devise Action Steps
This is the fun part! Decide how you can go about achieving your goal and add the list to your worksheet. Once your worksheet is filled out, you want to transfer these steps to your calendar.
So, every Friday when you do your “Week in Review” you will add these action steps from your calendar to your “Weekly Tasks”.
I can’t recommend this book enough and this worksheet gave me an outline to help put the strategy in practice! I hope this overall strategy using Evernote proves helpful so you never have to buy another expensive planner again!
Feel free to ask me questions in the comment section!
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