By Kate Matsudaira

Using the Spark Notebook – Weekly Planning


Happy Friday! I hope you are having a lovely day today. Spark Notebooks are starting to arrive all over the world and it is so wonderful to hear all the excitement. When you get yours, be sure to let me know! You can tweet me, send me a facebook message, share a picture on […]

Happy Friday! I hope you are having a lovely day today.

Spark Notebooks are starting to arrive all over the world and it is so wonderful to hear all the excitement. When you get yours, be sure to let me know! You can tweet me, send me a facebook message, share a picture on instagram, or even just leave a comment on the project. I really hope you love your notebook.

As people are getting their notebooks though, I realized I messed up. I am getting lots of questions on how to use the notebook and the different layouts.

Why are there no instructions? We purposely didn’t put instructions in the notebook, because we wanted every page to be useful to to you (and once you read instructions and adopt them to your liking, that page isn’t very useful – and it could be downright annoying if you chose to use your own system and had to constantly look at instructions on how to use someone else’s!).

So, I am working on a guide, and we will probably print it on paper and distribute it with future versions of the notebook. However, for now, I am going to send bits and pieces of it as I write it via backer’s updates.

Today, I put together some quick notes on how to do a weekly planning session. It covers the Weekly Goals, the Monthly Goals, the Weekly Outlook and the Inspiration pages.

Weekly Planning

Every week I start my week with a planning session. I block out a full hour on my calendar to devote to planning and thinking – I call it my Ninja Planning Session.

You can do your planning Sunday night, or first thing Monday morning (that is when I do my planning session) or even on Fridays if that works better for you. The key is to pick a time when you will really do it, and stick to it. In order for this system to work you have to be disciplined about keeping appointments with yourself. You can make it an hour, or just 30 minutes. I like to reserve an hour because I always have things I can do with the extra time.

Your weekly planning session

Below is an agenda for your weekly planning session. Take the ideas here and then make them yours. You will notice we put a lot of blank spaces throughout the layouts so you could repurpose them to your own life and process.

1) Each week start your planning with the Weekly Goals page. Start by listing your top priorities in the top of the page. These are the things you really have to get done this week.

2) Look back on your previous week and see what you accomplished and what was left over. If you didn’t get to something, go ahead and move it to this week’s list.

3) Then think about the good things that happened last week. Did you have any big ah-ha moments? How about any hiccups or mistakes? What can you learn from last week to help you be more effective/productive/happier/etc. this week? I typically try to jot down at least 2-3 of these things in the “Reflect + Celebrate” section of the page. If you need more space, well that is one great use for the Inspiration page, directly opposite the Weekly Goals page.

4) Now flip to the start of your notebook – your yearly plans. Are you living and acting in harmony with your Yearly Theme? Is there something you can do this week to move forward on your Yearly Goals? If you have the time this is a great time to add a line item or two to make sure you are moving forward on the things you established as really important for your year.

5) And then do the same thing with your Monthly Goals and 30 Day Challenge. Have you been consistent in making progress? It is okay if you haven’t just keeping going. While it is great if your 30 days are consecutive, they don’t have to be – doing a little is better than doing nothing.

If it is the start of a month, well this is a good time to take a step back and think about the month ahead. That is when I will work on populating my Monthly Goals. I think about the big things I want to accomplish this month, for work, for my personal life, and for my goals for the year. These go in the top half of the page.

For the bottom part of the Monthly Goals, I am a big fan of affirmations, so I put my affirmation for the month (sometimes it takes me a few drafts to get it right) into the box below. However, you can use this box for anything – journaling about your perfect month, laying out a big goal into smaller more actionable steps, crafting an action plan to change a habit, pasting a quote or picture that is your theme for the month. So make it yours!

5) Then using my weekly goals, I lay out the time blocks in my schedule in the Weekly Outlook. Working alongside my Google calendar (which is where all my work meetings go) I plan my time.

I put all my personal and professional appointments in my Spark Notebook. I put in time for my workouts, cooking dinner, and I carve out time to do deep, focused work on things that are important to my life and my career. I wrote a blog post on time blocking you may find useful.
This is my schedule from this week in the picture below; notice how I draw little boxes next to my items so I get to check them off? It makes me feel accomplished

6) The only page that I didn’t talk about was the Inspiration Page. This is the big blank page with a thought at the top. This is to get you thinking, but this page was really designed to be used for anything that fits your process and work style.

I use mine to make notes for my weekly Peak Performance Checkin (an idea I got from the book the The Compound Effect where you have a weekly call with someone you trust and you coach each other around your goals in your personal and professional lives).

Here are some other ideas on how you can use that page:

  • Weekly team meeting notes
  • Weekly journal about your goals and your life
  • Notes for a weekly mastermind group
  • Reflections on your life and progress
  • Thoughts about your previous week
  • Use the thought at the top to journal and reflect
  • Doodles or pictures that inspire you and motivate you
  • A log of things that made you happy or inspired you
  • List 5 new things you learned last week
  • You should figure out what will help you the most and do that.

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Do you have questions you want answered?
Or do you have tips and tricks on how you plan to use the notebook?

If so, send them to me in a message or leave a comment! I want to put together a great list and I am sure all of you have some great ideas to share.

That is all for now! Start using your notebooks and send me your thoughts and feedback as you do. This is still very much a work in progress and I want to make improvements for future versions and the only way I can do that is with your feedback.

Thank you for being a part of the project!
Kate