By Jiji Lee

How to Reach Your Goals with a Productivity Planner


With the right tools, you can do amazing things.

If you want to reach a big goal, write it down in your planner.

Numerous studies have shown that writing down a goal increases your chances of success. Plus, once you have a clear destination in mind, it's much easier to figure out how to get there. 

Your productivity planner helps you define your process

Do you want to increase your productivity and progress towards your goals?

Take some time to think about your goals for the upcoming year, quarter, or month. Reflect on why they’re meaningful to you. Then, write down your goals in your productivity planner

A good productivity planner has a system that supports your big picture ideas and your tactical daily to-do's. It also has space for brainstorming and reflection, which are both essential steps in this process, because you cannot grow without giving space to new ideas.

Use your planner to devise an action plan. What are the simple and specific steps you can take in order to arrive at your goal?

If your goal is to run a marathon, your action steps will include: training and running, but could also include areas like taking time for recovery and creating a meal plan. Think about what your end goal looks like, and then work backwards. What does your average day along the way need to look like, in order for you to end up where you want to go?

If your goal is to write a novel, maybe your action plan includes signing up for a class, committing to writing for 30 minutes a day, and finding a writing group. Does your plan involve finding a publisher? Or do you simply want to write for the sake of writing?

Clarity in the details is what will help you define -- and reach -- success.

Take a look at your year and spread out your action steps so that you’re doing something each month, week, and day that gets you closer to your goal. 

And what are some ways that you can make your journey more pleasant and fun? For example, if your goal is to be able to run a marathon by the end of the year, how can you make the process more enjoyable, rather than something that feels like a chore? 

When the steps towards your goal feel additive rather than punishing, you are much more likely to commit to doing them regularly.

Maybe this means finding a running buddy or joining a running club. Or paying for an audiobook subscription so you have good books to listen to while you run. Simple things you can incorporate into your goal-setting process will make the journey as exciting as the destination. 

Use a productivity planner to do regular check-ins

If you want to stay accountable with your goals, make sure to regularly check-in with them using your planner. Depending on how busy you are, you can schedule a 20-30 minute planning session at least every quarter, maybe every month, and ideally every week.

If you skip some planning sessions, that’s fine. Just check in when you can (remember: don't be punitive or discouraging; celebrate every return to the process) and do a thorough review of your tasks, accomplishments, challenges, and future action steps. 

Quarterly review

At the end of a quarter, look back on the past three months and see how your goals are shaping up. See if you detect any patterns of behavior or work habits, since now’s an ideal time to iron out any wrinkles in your goal-setting process.

Maybe you set a goal to go running in the evening but you find yourself tired at the end of the day. Troubleshoot this for next quarter and schedule your runs for a time of day when you have more energy.

Take a look at your victories. It’s important to celebrate your wins along the way, instead of reserving your enjoyment for the very end. By having fun with the process, instead of just fixating on the outcome, you’ll have an easier time sticking with it. 

After examining what’s working and what’s not working, identify any modifications you need to make next quarter. If you’re a little behind on your goals, that’s okay. 

We’re only human and life is never predictable. The important thing is to be consistent and continue onward with your goals. This is your moment to make adjustments before you get down to the wire. A little refocusing now, ahead of the game, can help you still hit your target.

Monthly 

At the beginning of the month, take a look at your monthly goals. What do you need to do each week to reach your benchmarks? How do these monthly goals work to get you closer to the big picture goal?

Use your planner to help create a schedule for the month ahead. Record any important deadlines, personal obligations, and take note of meaningful dates like birthdays and anniversaries. This way, you can feel prepared for the upcoming month, and with this strong foundation, you’ll be in a better place to course correct when last-minute changes occur. 

Weekly

On Sunday evening or Monday morning, conduct a weekly planning session. This is when the goal-setting process gets even more granular. What do you have to do each day to reach your monthly goals?

Use your planner to create an action plan for the week, by articulating your weekly goals and tasks. Once you have a firm idea of what you need to do, along with any personal errands or tasks you need to accomplish, you can start building a schedule.

Be more productive with time blocking 

Instead of plotting out your schedule by the exact hour and minute, use time blocking to help you maximize your day and harness your productivity. 

With time blocking, you can take advantage of your peak energy times and schedule your priorities during those time blocks. Plus, if there are any last-minute or urgent demands, you don’t have to alter your entire calendar. You can just shift things around in your time block. So if you were planning to meditate in the afternoon, but then find out you have to attend an online work meeting at 2PM, you can still go ahead with meditating by shifting it in your afternoon time block.

Here’s an example of how time blocking works:

In your Ink+Volt Goal Planner, you’ll see our daily layout, which is divided into Morning, Afternoon, and Night.

Assign tasks and deadlines according to their respective time block. Schedule your big priorities during time blocks in which you have peak energy or have the least amount of tasks--this way you won’t overschedule yourself.

Morning

  • Journaling
  • Schedule Top 3 priorities for the day
  • Zoom meeting with team
  • Submit draft of power point presentation

Afternoon

  • Meditate
  • Call with client
  • Deep work on paper (about 2 hours)

Evening

  • Do laundry
  • Prepare dinner

Use your productivity planner to batch tasks 

You can also use your planner to see which tasks you can batch, meaning, do a bunch of similar tasks all in one sitting. Task batching can save you time and help you be more productive in the end, because you’re not draining energy toggling between different tasks.

For example, if you punctuate your days with conference calls, it might feel draining, because you’ll be recovering from one call while you’re trying to move onto a different skillset. It’s hard to transition from a conference call where it’s high energy and interactive, to then go into brainstorming, which requires more thoughtfulness and creativity. But if you batch your calls for one time block, you can knock them out and move on to the next item on your to-do list. 

While big goals may look intimidating and intense at first glance, they seem much more manageable and achievable after you slice them up, and consistently work on them throughout the year. A productivity planner can be the most powerful tool at your disposal, helping you visualize your goals for the year, and putting your plan into action.