It’s so easy to get caught up in the plod of everyday life. To put aside your big dreams and goals for the future, then to a later future, then to an even later one. I’ve been guilty of it sometimes. Maybe you have too.
This is why I created the LH Planner.
It’s not just another planner to keep track of the everyday. It’s a planner to help you craft the future you desire, and to reach for it one day at a time while being inspired by highly respected doers, thinkers and leaders who made it happen and their motivational quotes.
I’ve designed the planner to be flexible, so you can use it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. It’s undated, so you can start and stop around your schedule, and doesn’t have time slots so you can decide how you want to structure your days. But it can also be a bit overwhelming at first, so we want to share our tips on how you can get the most out of your planner!
We’d also love to hear how YOU use your planner – tag us on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #LHAgendaSetter with your photos or videos, so we can share your ideas with other LH Agenda Setters! We’ve also created a Facebook group where you can share your goals and plans, your own tips for using our planners, or ask any questions. We’d love to make this an independent, community-driven group, so if you love what we create and would like to be a moderator, let us know!
With all that said, time for our tips – let’s get started!
Big picture – passions, dreams, desires…
The first step toward your dream starts with clarity around your dreams. That’s why you’ll find the beginning of the planner focuses on digging deeper into your dreams, goals and ambitions, as well as a review of every area of your life. These sections are explained in detail within the planner itself, but we’d like to offer some additional tips on how to get the most out of these pages.
One of the most effective exercises I’ve done is imagining and recording my vision of who I want to be, and how I want to live. It gives me a clear picture of the master plan I’m striving towards. Once you imagine your dream day, it becomes real in your head, and when it is real it becomes achievable. Even if you decide to stop here, without defining plans, projects or goals, your mind will unconsciously navigate you towards that dream. This is why I believe this is one of the most important exercises. It worked for me, and it will work for you. Dream big, and believe anything is possible!
My Legacy & Core Values
Think about your core values, what’s important to you and the beliefs that make you, you. Then move on to the “My legacy” section, where you will define how you want to be remembered and what achievements you want to leave behind. This entire section is designed to help you get clear on what you truly want.
When you know what you want, keep digging! Keep asking yourself “Why?” each time you discover a new desire, to understand the motivations underpinning it. For example, wanting to control your own schedule is great, but why is it so important to you? Is it the freedom to work at your own pace? The ability to work around more important priorities such as family? The ability to travel and work?
The responses to these exercises will influence other sections of the planner such as your dream day, goals and projects. So don’t skip them!
Let’s start planning! – Annual Life Review and Life Planning pages
Annual Life Review
Start by reviewing each area of your life. This exercise will help you notice any imbalances in your life. Areas you may have neglected because you were busy killing it in other areas.
An annual life review is great for helping you identify areas to work on, so your life is balanced across all the areas that matter to you. Feel free to ignore any areas if they’re less relevant or unimportant to you. If there are areas of your life that aren’t listed, simply rename some of the sections! Make it work for you.
The ‘Life Planning’ section has you working backwards from where you see yourself in the future. We often feel like we have eternity to do something, but time creeps up on all of us—your retirement will come sooner than you think! It’s never too early to start thinking about where you want to be at retirement, or what your ultimate job/life looks like.
It can also be a great reminder of how many years you do have left, and that it’s not too late to make that big career change or make a decision about the degree you’re currently completing.
This is the big-picture draft of your life–take a step back and place yourself in a long-term timeline!
This is a bird’s-eye view of your year, and everything you plan to achieve. Use these pages to lay out your planned activities, projects & goals for the year ahead, one box per month. That way you can look back at your big-picture over the year, and adjust either the plan or your current goals as necessary.
You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. – John C.Maxwell
In order to intentionally design your life and achieve your goals, it’s important to establish good habits and create routines that will help you stay on track. Design a schedule to set yourself up for success. Your routines could relate to your projects, such as setting weekly priorities or revising tasks at the end of the week. They could also relate to your everyday life. Fitness (e.g. yoga on Tuesdays, running on Sundays), diet (e.g. smoothie in the morning), gratitude journaling at bedtime, listening to podcasts during your commute, etc.
These routines are the foundations of the habits which will help you make concrete steps toward making it happen!
Learn how to use Activation Energy to get you started
In our goals/projects planning pages and monthly planning pages you will find a dedicated space for you to record your “activation energy”.
Activation energy is a concept developed by a Harvard psychologist that says if you can make starting something easier, your likelihood of doing it rises dramatically.
Activation energy is the amount of effort required for you to get up and do a particular task. The lower the effort, the more likely you are to do it. Achieving anything in life is a series of small steps. Activation energy gets you started. The momentum it generates keeps you going. You take one step, then the next, and the next again, and before you know it you’re on our way!
Don’t overthink this task. It needs to be something very easy, that you can do without much thought or energy, and won’t dread doing each day. This is your “activation energy” task which will get you started on everything else!
Please don’t skip this section. We hope that by the end of the year the planner will help you to develop a life-long habit of selecting one “activation energy” task that will help you get started on just about anything.
Daily reminders – Summary of your intentions and goals
When you finish the tasks above, go back to the front of the planner and fill in the overview of your intentions and goals. These could be your intention to improve various areas of your life, your goals, big projects you’d like to embark on, and whatever else comes to mind.
Summarise them with a theme word that will be your guide/focus for the year! It should be a meaningful word that’s a reminder of how you want to feel, act and live this year.
For example, my theme word last year was “Create”. This was my reminder to create efficiencies in my business, create new products, and even new life (my baby!).
Other ideas for your theme could be words such as Joy, Shine, Roar, Perseverance—what are you going to bring out in yourself this year?
In the bottom section of that page, remind yourself of how you want to feel during the journey, and the core values you will live by. This page will be your daily reminder of your big vision for your life, and the year ahead in particular.
Task dump – Master to-do lists
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with all our ideas and the things we need to do. That’s where the Master-To-Do list comes in. Get your to-dos out of your head, and onto paper.
Use this master to-do list for all your ideas and other thoughts that pop up during the day. Your brain can relax knowing that you have these tasks listed somewhere easy to find, when you’re ready to action them.
If you look closely at the layout, you will notice that there are spaces that split the page into thirds. You can ignore these spaces or you can use them the way I do–to add headings to categorise your to-dos. They help me organise my lists, and because I have a visual memory, the headings help me remember and plan my tasks.
I typically add my headings first (e.g. planner launch, home, baby, website, etc.). Next, I do a brain-dump of all the tasks I remember at that point in time. I’ll add new tasks and ideas later, as they come to mind. Finally, I highlight my tasks in different colours, to categorise them by the action that needs to be taken (eg. pink: focus on this ASAP, purple: ask my assistant to work on it, yellow: can only be done at home, etc.).
The highlighting helps me to know what tasks to focus on when emailing my assistant, which tasks to transfer to this week’s two-page spread (or to focus on when I open up my master to-do list), which to work on at home, and so on.
Plan your week – the weekly layout explained
Numbering your days
The Phenomenal Woman planner is an undated planner. This means you can start any time and pause any time (eg. for holidays, or when you simply forget to use your planner–we’ve all been there!). Our planner has 52 weeks divided into 4 quarters. Each quarter has 13 weeks. We’ve included monthly review pages, as they’re incredibly important to keep you focused and energised. As every month is different length and it is impossible to divide 13 weeks into 3 even sections we included monthly review pages after Week 5 and Week 9 of each quarter.
Remember—and this is a very important part—don’t skip days when numbering your days and weeks. If January 31st is Thursday on page 60-61, February 1st on Friday needs to be on the same weekly layout (i.e. page 60-61) otherwise you will run out of weeks by the end of the quarter! This is consistent with how dated planners are designed.
Tip: We’ve found that the best time to start your planner is January 1st, or the beginning of any quarter, as it could be confusing to have a quarterly review in the middle of a calendar quarter. But it’s really up to you!
The weekly layout has no specific time slots to divide the day. We’ve left it open to give you the flexibility you need, especially as many people now use digital calendars across their devices to keep track and remind them of appointments. I personally use my daily sections to keep a list of tasks or to-dos for the day. When I was both in a corporate job and running LH Agenda on the side, I’d split the sections into one for work, and one for LH Agenda. Currently, I use the entire column to list my tasks for the day.
Of course, you can still split the day into time slots, such as AM/PM. Or you can use it differently–on some busy weeks, I’d use each section for project headings and divide my tasks for the week across those sections instead.
Split your day by time, by areas of your life, or whatever works for you! There’s also additional space down the bottom for anything else you want to record.
It’s who you know that matters! – Meetings pages
The planner includes 12 structured pages for meeting plans and notes. You probably have more meetings than that in a year, but this isn’t meant to be a record of every single meeting! Our suggestion is that you use these pages as your networking plan, because in both business and life, who you know can have a huge impact! But with a busy schedule, it’s so easy to forget about networking–and the best way to remember it is to schedule it!
My tip is to use these pages to meet one new person you admire each month—at the end of the year, you’ll have twelve new people in your network who you know personally!
Clear your head – Ideas pages
Creative people buzz with ideas—sometimes too many!
The key thing is to spend your energy working on the important ideas, and put the rest in a “later” bucket. These pages are your bucket, a space where you can keep a list of ideas, goals and projects you’re not ready to start quite yet, but would like to come back to later.
New habits, new challenges, new you!
Our planner has been designed to help you develop a new habit, break a bad habit, or help you take on a new challenge. According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic—66 days to be exact. At the beginning of each quarter, on your quarterly planner pages, you will find a section to record what you want to track. A quarter is perfect to make sure that what you’ve chosen to change will become a habit!
You’ll have an area to track this each week in your weekly layout, so you can see how you’re going! The habit or challenge might change along the way, and that’s okay too.
More more more ideas – Dream. Sketch. Design. Solve. pages
As a creative person who’s full of ideas, it’s always nice to have some blank space to let your creative juices find a release. For all thoughts, ideas and random things, use the blank pages at the back. We’ve also used dotted lines in case you want to draw instead of write!
This is the planner I’ve always wanted, and I’m so excited to share it with you. I hope these tips will help you get the most out of it, so you can spend less mental overhead on the day-to-day, and focus on making it happen.
Of course, these tips are based on how I use the planner–don’t forget that you can share your own tips with us by posting photos or videos of how you use your LH products, with the hashtag #LHAgendaSetter.
If you’re looking for a community of like-minded women, we’ve also created a Facebook group! Share how you use your planner, your goals and plans for the year, or perhaps ask the other ladies a question!
I can’t wait to see the impact each of you will make on the world as you strive for more than the everyday. Strive for the extraordinary, in whatever form that takes for you.
Share and Win
If you love this planner, please share it with all the ladies in your life who also have big dreams!
Help them to dream, define and DO. If you share any of our products, tag @LHAgenda and use the #LHAgendaSetter hashtag, you’ll go into a monthly draw to win another of the inspiring items in the LH stationery line!
Thank you for all your support. Together, we can gently shake the world.
Make the plan. Make it happen.