By Christine Song

How to Maximize Your End of the Year


Simple steps for reflecting and preparing for 2020 with your planner.

As 2019 comes to a close, where are you with your goals?

And did your planner help you along the way to this moment at the end of the year? 

The end of the year is one of the best times to reflect, celebrate, and prepare for 2020. We know, we know…the end of the year is a super busy time, if not one of *the* busiest. If you’ve fallen behind or are feeling like you need to reprioritize your goals and to-dos, that’s totally normal. But the end of the year is such a unique time to do one particular thing for yourself; it’s one of the best moments to not only look backward, but also forward. 

At the end of the year, you’re juxtaposed between two times so intensely. More than any other time of the year, you're likely torn between two strong feelings: On one hand, you may have an acute feeling of wanting to do and be better, to grow and be more amazing with a new year in view. At the same time, you may also feel the presence and weight of all that you’ve done and accomplished, and everything you went through in this past year (whether good or bad). 

That’s what makes the end of the year the best time to reflect on your goals and use that reflection to prepare for the year ahead. 

So how do you reflect on 2019 so that you’re ready for 2020? Where do you even begin? And how can you use your planner get you there?

How to reflect on the end of the year to get ready for 2020

The best way to learn and improve on something is to evaluate how you did. It’s important to look back at the entire year and really delve into the highs and lows. 

To get started, schedule time for yourself just like you would a meeting or appointment. It could be an hour all at once or 20 minutes broken up over a few weeks. Ideally, you’ll sit down one time then let things settle and come back to your thoughts and notes again after a day or two.

Next, you’ll need to pull together the resources that have the information you need. Look at your planner from 2019. Flip through the pages, look at your schedule, read your notes and to dos, review and re-familiarize yourself with what happened over the last 12 months. Reconnect with yourself from this time and remember what you were doing.

If you’re using an Ink+Volt planner, look at the questions in the beginning; how did you answer them? These are:

  • What would it look like if this year went perfectly? What would you have/be/do?
  • What do you want to start doing this year? What should you stop doing?
  • What are you doing already that you want to keep doing or improve upon?
  • What was your theme?
  • What were your goals?

And if you don’t have a planner, look at your personal and work calendar and use that as a way to reflect back over the year. You could even pull up your reviews or job performance to recall professional achievements or areas of improvement. (Then be sure to get your planner for 2020!)

The next step involves asking yourself additional, thought provoking questions.  For example, you might ask yourself:

  • What went well or could have been better or gone more smoothly, but ultimately worked out? What happened?
  • What went completely wrong? Why?
  • What would you do differently if you could in response to X event or experience?
  • Did you form any new habits or break old ones?
  • How can you use your planner better to achieve what you want?

Like a review at work or your school report cards, you’re reflecting and asking questions that should elicit honest, dig-deep kind of answers. 

Alternatively or in addition to the above, download and complete our 2020 Yearly Planning Series. It’s a four-part series we issue every December to help you grow and improve as a new year approaches.

Write down your answers or journal out your thoughts. Look for trends or themes from the year that are telling, ones that you want to continue or encourage, and others that are no longer productive and working for you. You’re looking for information about yourself and experiences that can make next year better, more efficient, more productive, and more rewarding.

If you need more time, or didn’t have enough time initially to review and think through everything you wanted, schedule follow up time with yourself to pick up where you left off. 

How can you use your planner more effectively to achieve your goals all year long?

With all the information you gathered in the steps above, you’re ready to then implement those thoughts and plans into your planner-using-experience. To do that, you’ll want to evaluate how you used your planner this past year. 

Making your planner work for you is a process and takes some trial and error, it’s constantly improving and changing with you as you grow and learn. So next year, what can you do to use your planner more effectively?

Look at your planner from 2019 and notice whether or not you utilized all of the components of the planner. If you didn’t, why was that? Were you short on time? Did you not make time? Did you think it wouldn't help you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, are there ways you could use the features even more fully or better?

If you’re using the Ink+Volt planner, here are some additional questions to consider:

  • Did you have a 30 day challenge each month or was it only a few months out of the year? Why was it one or the other? 
  • What could you do differently next year if you want to make a change?  
  • Similarly, did you use the weekly layout in a time blocking manner? 
  • Was how you structured your days efficient and effective for you and your life?
  • Did you chronicle your achievements as they happened (see last few pages of the planner)?
  • Did you regularly reflect and celebrate or review your monthly challenge or yearly theme?

If you feel disappointed about not using your planner to the fullest, now's the time to recognize that you want to make a change and lay out a plan to improve next year. That could be scheduling time every Sunday to plan for the week and review the past week, or brainstorming 30 day challenges in advance. 

Research ways you can use your planner more productively (we have great ideas on our blog!) or find another planner that might work better for you. 

Plan with intention at the end of the year for a better next year! We’re here for you!