Organizing the next 365.

If there’s one trait that public relations pros share, it’s the ability to organize. Our thoughts, our plans, our goals—we don’t shy away from goal-setting, plan-building, and tactic-organizing. But in our fast-paced, digital-facing, client-driven worlds, where every need feels emergent, our personal goals and accountability can fall to the bottom of the task list. Insert the New Year.

In my last post, I shed light on end-of-the-year planning, and how important those plans are to PR teams. But planning shouldn’t be restricted to PR teams or the workforce. I know what you’re thinking, there are two schools of thought here:

  1. Why plan? Life will take care of the details. Or,
  2. Let’s lay a plan and use that to guide what life doesn’t curveball.

My name is Casey, and I live in school of thought number two. For better or worse, I like having a plan! But I’m also the girl with eight planners, an Apple and Gmail calendar, and more notebooks than I’d like to admit to owning. (This isn’t really my fault, there are too many adorable notebooks to resist—I’m looking at you, Paper Source.)

So, when I began thinking about the New Year, and honestly that was early December, I spent a great deal of time thinking about my overall approach to organization. I carry multiple notebooks. Could I consolidate them to one? Could I organize myself in one notebook? And that would mean housing my work, faith, home, fitness, financial, and health goals in one place. If I could find a way to consolidate work, faith, home, fitness, financial, and health goals in one place—how would I keep that organized? And those were just the logistics.

What would this notebook look like? What size would be most convenient? Do I need the fancy quotes or pocket folders on the inside? Would I need dividers? How would I guess how many pages I need between sections? Don’t even get me started on ink colors, highlighters, and stickers—which are really fun in theory, but have you ever tried to create a consistent use of stickers in a planner?! Overwhelmed is an understatement.

At this point I had more questions than I had answers, so I did what any confused human would do, turned to Google with one search query: how to get organized? While the page was loading, I put my glasses on, and got ready to read.

It was through my Google searching that I stumbled on the Bullet Journal®. I’ll be honest, I don’t consider myself creative. When I started working alongside our art team in the agency world, I realized I’m creative with words—aka not in design. And I immediately thought it was all about design. However, the more I read, the more I realized the Bullet Journal® is about intention—focusing on your what to organize your why. I won’t pretend to be a master of this practice, so you can get up to speed on BuJu® here.

Committing to an organization system was my first step towards getting focused for the New Year and really sat the rest of my plans in motion. So, here are a few tips:

If you can’t find the right system, create it.

Diving into the world of BuJu®, there were things I knew would and wouldn’t work for me—and hear me when I say, that’s okay! Any great organization system is going to be in constant evolution as you implement it. There will be aspects of your process that you love and those you prefer to go without. That’s how it should be. Your organization system should evolve as you put it to use. Gain inspiration here. Or, from my favorite video, here.

Identify your top goals.

In my prior post, I talked a lot about creating S.M.A.R.T. goals—something I love doing in my day job. But when it comes to creating S.M.A.R.T. goals personally, I tend to overdo it. Personal goal-setting is a challenge for me, mostly because I struggle to narrow my goals. (And let’s be honest, more than 5-6 goals can be a lot to accomplish in one year!) So, this year, I aimed to use my organization system to track things I wanted to achieve day-by-day without losing focus on the goals that I was going to have to intentionally pursue over time.

Pro tip: I stumbled on monthly trackers, and to whoever created this concept—bless you! This is a great way to track things you want to work towards, without having to stress about doing just that—tracking them for an extended period of time. Plus, the visual snapshot of your monthly successes can be a great motivator for the coming month. See a few examples here.

Don’t stop with goals.

Whether it be friends or family members, I know so many people who set goals for the New Year. And while goals are great, they aren’t always enough. Take some time to jot down your goals for the year, and then take it a step further by outlining the tasks that will need to be completed to reach them. The development of your goals will take more time and thought but outlining those steps will increase the likelihood you’ll act and move closer to completion—which is kind of the point of this whole thing, right?!

Commit to your plan.

A no-brainer, and yet, often the step that keeps each of us from reaching our goals. You can have the best laid plans, but if you aren’t willing to commit to moving them forward, there’s a good chance they won’t ever be completed. So, commit to your plan. For some of us, this will mean reading over your goals daily, for others it might mean dedicating thirty minutes a week thinking about what you’ve done and/or what you need to do over the coming week to take steps towards your goals. Regardless of frequency, it’s important to set time aside to intentionally pursue your goals.

Call on your tribe.

If you’re already wondering how you’re going to commit to your plan on top of keeping up with your daily devotional, eating heathy, drinking enough water, working out, keeping clients happy, helping your kids with homework, and being a good friend/partner/coworker/community member, you may need an assist. Insert the tribe.

Call on your friends, mentors, peers, and/or another trusted person to help hold you accountable. The best news? This step can look however you’d like it to look—a daily text check-in, a weekly phone call, a monthly coffee. Regardless how you decide to hold each other accountable, you’ll have set check-in parameters to celebrate your successes and share your shortcomings while being supported by someone you trust. Win, win.

These are just a few tips that have worked for me, but there are countless ways to get focused and organized to reach new successes in the New Year. Have an idea you want to share? Sound off in comments below! I’d love to hear what’s working for you as I work on being a better me.

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