Based on the title, I bet you’re expecting a deep dive on self-care, intentional living, and productivity. You’re right on the mark.
As summer winds down and my favorite season inches closer, I’ve gone into reflection mode. Summer was a fun, messy blur. Coffee chats, mini trips, and girls days. Running to-do lists, evening walks, and launching a local group.
The pages in my Simplified Planner are smudged and crossed out, some of the marks of life well lived. But I can’t help but feel that I slipped into ‘busy’ mode instead of finding balance.
I’m an introvert at heart. Sure, I crave conversation and outings, but after a packed summer I’ve joked about becoming a hermit and laying low for fall. Think yoga pants, acoustic Spotify playlists, and uninterrupted inbox and to-do list time. The thought makes my heart sing!
There’s nothing better than dedicated time to tackle priorities and truly enjoy life.
My tools for self-reflection and goal planning
If you had asked me about self-reflection five years ago, I would have avoided the conversation and felt incredibly uncomfortable. Now, I automatically turn to reflection nearly every day.
It’s such a helpful tool to navigate adulthood and small business ownership. It helps answer the questions: Why do I feel negative or frustrated? Why am I so mentally taxed or tired? What makes today feel difficult to manage?
Reflection helps me realize what triggers these feelings and how I can adjust my routine, approach, and mindset to enjoy more and make life easier. It can’t all live in my head, though. These two tools help make real progress happen.
Tool No. 1: PowerSheets
If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ve likely seen me mention PowerSheets. They’re the magical yearly guide that prompts authentic goal setting and provides space for monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Each month begins with a look at what’s coming up and brainstorming, and it ends with reflection. I realize that a change is necessary when I look back and see that a good number of my goals have gone unmet.
I set them as priorities just weeks earlier, so if I have not had a chance or made the time to work on them, then they either don’t deserve a spot at the top of my list or I need to figure out a way to make them happen.
Tool No. 2: Simplified Planner
My paper planner is to-do list city. I’m still a Google Calendar girl for meetings and appointments, but I find that I currently operate most effectively and happily by configuring to-do lists each week and manually checking off tasks.
With some upcoming white space in my schedule and a long vacation slotted for October, my PowerSheets brainstorming for September led me to one thought: What if I could wrap up projects lingering from summer while working smarter, not harder?
I chewed on this question throughout Labor Day weekend and feel compelled to do my best to make it a reality.
I want to work through my priorities (I’m working on narrowing in on the best!) and enjoy all that fall has to offer. I haven’t been able to accomplish both in several years (partly thanks to getting married in the fall), but 2018 is the year. You can bet that I’ll be hitting up a local apple orchard, catching all the ISU football games (including one in person later this month!), and ticking off my to-do list left and right.
One thing I’ll be doing less of: nonessential meetings.
I love coffee chats. They’ve been fun breaks in my days and have led to some great conversations and connections. But I never defined how many I would take on or limited them to specific days. Insert calendar overwhelm.
I’m still ready to give, give, give, but it will be more intentional this month. I’m ready for that white space in my calendar. It holds so many possibilities!
How am I going to savor September?
By easing into and out of the week.
Earlier in the year, I had a span of several weeks with my Mondays and Fridays were nearly empty. No meetings, no appointments. Just me and whatever I wanted to tackle on those days.
It felt amazing to feel less stressed at the start and end of the week (aka stay in yoga pants). I had time to catch up in my inbox, get ahead on client projects, and make progress on internal and personal tasks.
Lately my Fridays have been packed, and I can’t wait to have them back as a day of flexibility instead of back-to-back meetings.
By reviewing my PowerSheets daily.
How helpful are my goals if I don’t keep them nearby? Answer: Not helpful at all. Looking back at the end of the month to see unchecked boxes has me questioning my decisions and the time I spent preparing goals.
I plan to add my PowerSheets to my must-have bundle, sitting near my desk or tucked in my work bag when I’m out. This should help me stay on track and remember what’s most important!
By sticking to a routine.
I’ve read books spelling out famous entrepreneurs’ productivity hacks and morning habits. I’ve listened to podcasts where creatives take listeners behind the scenes of their successful-for-them systems.
But I haven’t set up a routine for myself that incorporates what I value most: accomplishing tasks (Type A over here); spending time with DJ and our dog, Darcie; keeping up with housework; and having space to binge my latest Netflix find or page through a book.
I plan to spend the rest of September testing out time blocking, stepping away from my email more often, and figuring out timing for tasks. Such as, do I prefer working out in the morning or later at night (my recent go-to)?
Coffee chats will still happen, but they’re more likely to be catch-up sessions with friends.
By working through the Art of Efficiency™ course.
I didn’t plan to spend money (or time) on a course this fall, but I couldn’t help but pull the trigger when Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes promoted her new brainchild and spoke straight to my overworked heart with the course description.
Mindset and system work are bound to make a major impact on my days.
Plus, I can’t help but be interested in anything Ashlyn puts out in the world. She’s one of my favorite creatives to follow.
This self-care September (apparently it’s a thing!), what can you do to slow down while still accomplishing your must-do’s? I can’t wait to see where this month-long journey takes me, and what will linger over time.
I plan to share updates regularly over on Instagram using the hashtag #howisavorseptember. Take this as your invitation to join in and use the hashtag as you take care of yourself, discover ways to live more intentionally, and navigate small business owner life!