Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Set & Track Goals Using Your Planner & Evernote // Planner Addict

This post is for those of you who love planners & goal setting. As you guys know, I am big into both. I posted about my first ECLP 3 Months In, and 6 Months in, I also filmed a companion video tour of my planner and I saw that you guys were interested in this post. So here we go, feel free to ask questions if I leave something out! :)

I made a youtube video to explain this process, feel free to read/watch or both. I'm a visual person, so I figured I would get some videos into the world for other folks who are too. :)


The first thing I do when I make a list of goals, is stick it into Evernote. It's a program that you are probably familiar with, but it keeps little stacks of editable/sort-able notes in one place. You can keep the program on two devices and access it online anytime. I keep Evernote on my iphone and my computer. This way, I can ALWAYS see my goal lists. I like to use Evernote in combination with my paper planner - but it's also great because I can use it on-the-go... when I don't have my tote or planner with me. It also makes it easy to flip between one set of goals to the next. I have a lot, so it can be hard to keep track of!

Planner Set Up:

The way the vertical ECLP that I am using works has a specific set up, so I will share that first. You might have to adapt this method depending on how your planner is set up.

My planner has:
  • a spread for yearly goals in the front. 
  • monthly spreads where you can view the whole month, with a small side bar for monthly goals.
  • a weekly spread that breaks up each day vertically into three sections. I divide these sections into "Brand" - blog and stationery brand, "Home" - chores and errands, and "Self" - personal goals and chores. 
    • The weekly spread also has a left hand side bar that I use for my menu and a spot for a "thankful thought" - great for gratitude journaling.
    • The weekly spread also has blank lines below each day, that is where I add in anything that has a specific time, like an event, appointment, etc.
Paper Planners & Goal Setting:


When I make a list of yearly goals, I put it in the front of my planner. The ECLP I bought last year has a spot for yearly goals in the front, however, you could write yours out or print them and tape them into the front of your planner with washi tape. However works for you. :)


The next thing I do is break down my yearly goals into monthly ones. For example, in 2016 I want to read 50 books. So in January, I added a monthly goal to read 5 books. In my ECLP there is a spot for monthly goals on the month overview page. However, if your planner doesn't have a spot for this, feel free to add in a page with tape, or go straight to writing them on a weekly page. Repeat with each goal. Sometimes my monthly goals are not related directly to my yearly ones, but are other things that I really want to get done. Like a cleaning or organizing project, or planning out a future trip. I add these in at the same time - generally at the end of the previous month.

At this time I also write in any birthdays, events, vacations, etc. into the monthly format. Because one of my goals often relates to movies, dates, concerts, etc. etc. If it is already planned I might write it on the page in ink - or add a sticker. For travel I like to use strips of washi tape to mark off the days on my monthly view. I also look at my FB saved events, and websites for theaters, etc. and place a post-it note in the monthly pages of my calendar to mark an event we *might* go to. The post-it includes, title, location, time, time range (if it runs for a week, etc.), and price if I can find it. - that way I have all of the info. KC and I (or sometimes just I) narrow down those post-its and buy tickets for things that we really want to go to. Sometimes we have to narrow more than others, and recently we've been trying to plan only one event per weekend on our own, because we know we'll end up spending time with family or friends - or both! This keeps us from being so busy. However, things tend to be clumped, for whatever reason there is always quite a bit happening at the same time, and nothing happening at other times... and so it goes.

I also mark our pay days as well. This is helpful in general, but also for goals related to making bigger purchases or extra purchases. For example, I had a goal to buy new bras every month in the first few months of the year. Knowing when we would be paid helped me to order them at a good time.


When I add planned events (not possible ones) to my monthly spreads, I also add them to my weekly spreads. I write those events (including time and place) on the lines below my vertical daily section. That way I never forget because I wasn't looking at the monthly page. I also will add them in as needed, it's not always done way in advance. I also add washi tape for vacation days over the full three sections of the vertical weekly spread for each day I will be gone. I don't schedule out vacation activities in my planner, I just block those days off. I shouldn't be blogging, working, or worrying about chores when I am on vacation. For events that are re-curring or planned for just that week, like a dinner with a friend, or KC's "guys night" - I also write those in on the blank lines.

At the end / beginning of each week I look through my monthly goals and try to place them into my weekly page. For example, if I have a goal to send out a birthday gift for my dad, I go into my planner and add to pick it out several weeks in advance, package it up a week in advance, and send it - all within time for it to get to him.

Other goals, like reading 5 books per month are put into my weekly format in a simpler way. I just write "read" in my "self" section of my vertical ECLP daily. That way I am reminded to read daily. I also track my goal completion/progress in my planner which helps as a motivator. (more on that later).

For goals like trying 5 new recipes within a month, I try to put those into a blank side column where I keep my menu notes. I write out each day of the week for lunch and dinner and then fill in the blanks. This also helps me keep on top of knowing when we'll need more food or what night will be good to go out to eat. We typically try to plan going out to eat around other evening activities on the weekly schedule. If we need to get a second set of groceries later on in the week, I also write that in on my weekly schedule under the "home" section of my vertical ECLP where needed.

There are a few things that I write onto my weekly spread under the "self" section every day. I write "Read. Create. Move. Floss" - so I remember to do those things - or can track easily which days I did not do those things. I just cross them off as I complete them. If you use a cleaning schedule or schedule out when to pay bills, etc. etc. you could easily add those into your weekly spreads in advance.

Paper Planners & Goal Tracking:

So you know how I set up my goals, but here's a bit more on how I visually track them. It definitely helps me to see my progress as I flip through my planner!

I obviously cross out or check off goals that I have finished within the yearly and monthly goal formats. I check them off on the daily sections as well like a to-do list. But there are other ways I track my goals in my planner too.

When I don't meet a goal, or I need to move it to the next month I mark that on my monthly goals by putting a "N" for "Next Month" or a marker of progress in the box instead of a check mark. For example, if I wanted to plan out a trip in advance, but didn't make it, then I might put in an "N" for "Next Month." In which case, I then go ahead and write it down on the next month's goal area - even if it's not time to set all of the goals for the next month yet. If I had a goal to read 5 books, but only read 4, I might put a 4 in the check box instead of a check. Did I complete it? No. But seeing something there helps me look back on how close I got, and what I DID achieve. You could use any sort of color coding, symbol coding (ala bullet journal), etc. to code these types of things. Whatever works for you!

Another thing I do to show my progress is to mark things that I have finished/done in my weekly pages. For example, if I finished a book on a given day, I mark that into my "self" section of my vertical ECLP or below that. Ex: "Finished Dumplin'" This way I can easily see while flipping through that I finished a book on that week/day. I do the same thing for my goal about watching Disney movies.

For menu planning and cooking goals specifically, I use the left hand blank space for my menu, and below that I make another box that says "New Recipes" - I write the ones from the menu that are new in the new box, and continue that total weekly at the bottom to see how close I am getting to my goal for the year.

For workouts and healthy eating I mostly just add little notes on my daily spread. Under the "self" section of the vertical layout next to "Move" I put what exercise I did and how many minutes next to it. I often circle it so it's easy to see. Other times I put notes to myself like, "No soda today!" etc. You could use the sections to write in little circles that represent cups of water and check them off as you drink them, whatever works for you and whatever you are wanting to track.

The last way that I track goals in my planner is by utilizing the blank pages at the end of each month and also at the end of the planner itself. Things I have used those pages for:
  • checklists and ideas for KC's bday week
  • random notes
  • books I have read so far this year
  • book challenges and my picks for them - which I check off as I finish
  • keeping track of my "book ban" progress - more on that later
  • lists of books I've been meaning to read - for when I need an idea
  • lists of shows to start watching & catch up on with KC - by genre
  • ideas for food when people come over - just in case!
  • I also keep addresses in the back of my planner. If someone moves I add a post-it with the new address until I know what it will be long-term.
  • I keep track of the new things I have tried each month - new foods, experiences, etc. etc.
I think the longer I use this, and the more time I have to continue organization within my life and goals, the more things I will use my planner to track. Up ahead I am hoping to focus more on cleaning schedules and all things healthy living within my planner.

Bottom Line:

Use your planner in a way that works for you, and track the things that you care about. If you don't have a goal to read, you don't need to track your books, etc. Don't use it for things you don't care about. Make what you have work for you! It doesn't have to be expensive, extensive, fancy, pretty, etc. It just needs to be what works for you. If you can write in sections of a $5 planner and have the space to track what you want to, do it! :)

Whew! This is the longest post in existence... but it should give you a good and specific idea of how I use my planner, how I keep it organized, and how I create and track my goals within my planner. I hope that this helps some of you and gives you ideas on how to use yours.

Do you have any questions?

Did I miss anything?

How do you track your goals in your planner?! I'd love to know!

Any new strategies you are trying for 2017?



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