A New Years Gift to You: My N=1 World’s Best Planning Page

Wow, welcome to 2018!

Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was packing up my life in San Francisco and heading for the hills of Truckee, CA, to kick off this agency in earnest and get my kids to a more grassroots existence. It's been a whirlwind of awesome clients, thrilling challenges and way less trail running than I would have liked. My goal for this year? Don't take for granted what's right in your backyard. Get out there! Block it off and make it a habit.
As my thoughts turn to 2018 goal-setting and planning, I thought I'd share a tool that's proven invaluable to me this past year. Those who know me know I'm a quantified-self geek with a bit of an unhealthy love of productivity tools. Seriously, I've lived nearly a decade of my adult life with a sticker-chart on my fridge-- the kind most of you probably haven't had since you were getting potty-trained.
This planning template is an amalgam of many of my favorite planners, plus tips from productivity/success experts like Tim Ferriss and Matt Bodnar and others. You can download it as a PDF from the bottom of this page, and here's how to use it, working from upper left around the page:


I always have my eye on the next fun project, so this is where I keep track of who I need to keep top-of-mind as a next potential project or client. I like to keep five in play, so there are five lines.

Weekly Intention

Not every week is "Go Balls to the Wall," sometimes a week is about rest, recovery, reflection, family, self-care, etc. I sit down each Monday and look both inward and outward to determine what's called for in a week. Keeping the weekly intention top-of-mind can help in those moments when you feel you ought to be doing something other than what you'd intended to do.

Goal Boxes

These are the three meta goals you set at the beginning of the year. These are longer-term goals, like buying a house, switching jobs, moving, launching a business, finding a long-term relationship, losing 50 pounds, etc. These are about you determining where you go this year, not about the year determining where it takes you. Each week, copy those three meta goals into the arrows and identify the three most important things to be done against those goals, then schedule in time to get them done. Do it on Monday before checking your email. Even better, do it Sunday night.

Daily Priorities

I fill these in the night before, since they are always changing. What are the two things you must get done tomorrow? These are the "If your kid came down with projectile vomiting and you could do nothing else/If the power went out and you had only an hour of juice on your laptop"-level must-dos. Identify them and do them first off, if you can. Tim Ferris would say these get done before you even open your email, but I'm in a service business, so I'm not at that level of hard-line quite yet.

Daily Goals

For the checklist, this should be the things you resolve to do every day. For me: Exercise, Meditate, Plan/Execute and Reach out to 3 people to share positivity.

Last Week's Lessons

Drawing from the previous week's Do More/Do Less section, pull forward one overarching theme to focus on for the week.

Do More/Do Less

Take 30 seconds before wrapping up at the end of each workday and jot down one thing you wish you'd done more of and one you wish you'd done less of. It can be just one phrase or idea, like more: research, less: reaction. More: chatting with colleagues, less: worrying. Also, don't feel like the mores and lesses need to be all deep and philosophical. They can be things like less time formatting spreadsheets, as, over time, this will show you the places to deploy resources.

Other Concepts

One other concept I love, and have tracked on my larger life-tracking spreadsheet, is the concept of a "Frog." If I could find a way to cleanly identify one frog to eat per day on this planner page, I'd consider it pretty perfect.

Since I have a manageable number of followers, please ping me if you'd like me to customize a version for you with your four daily repeat goals inserted. Happy to do so! Also, I'd love to hear what tools are working for you right now. (Bonus tip: I'm really enjoying Workflowy - I've nearly totally transitioned off of Evernote. If you use that link and use [email protected] as the referrer, I think we both get extra space for free.)

Let's make it a great 2018 on purpose!