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Every year I come out with an epic free printable planner. This post will help you plan your year, even if you DON’T download the free planner for 2018.
Every year I get the planner itch in January. I want to find a yearly planner and content calendar to help me organize. The trouble is that there are SO MANY PLANNERS to choose from! Some of them are pretty pricey too! And there are a ton of free printable planners as well, but none that really worked for me.
So I did the logical thing and created my own.
You can snag yours for free here, but keep reading to talk about planning and strategy–even if you choose to use another planner!
HOW TO PLAN YOUR YEAR
I’ve found that to plan well, I really need to do some legwork first. I want to look at what’s worked in the past and make my goals with that in mind, using analytics and stats. (Even though I’m a word person, not a numbers person.) It’s easy to rush right into goals, but first, we need to hit pause.
In order to plan your year, you need to think about two things:
- How YOU Work
- What Has Been Working
Finding How YOU Work
It’s no surprise that we all work in different ways. This goes from setting goals to how we literally sit down to write. We had a discussion in my Facebook group recently on work spaces and it’s fun to see what people love and hate or how they work best.
When it comes to planning, one big question is if you prefer paper to digital. I’m a mix, but I also have for YEARS kept things in my head. I’m not great at either paper or digital. I sometimes write them on paper, but then I don’t look at the planner because the act of writing sticks them in my brain. Age and five kids is really killing my brain, though, so I’ve had to do more of the shared Google calendar with my hubby so we don’t miss big things.
I personally LOVE to see the big picture. Not just metaphorically. I buy giant pads of paper (like this one) and huge calendars (like this one) and hang them on the wall. I want to see the whole year at a glance to look at what books I’m publishing what month and what launches I’m taking part in so I can get an overview and not crowd my schedule too much.
This is important to consider not just with your workflow, but also in terms of what actually helps you achieve goals. If you’ve given up on all your New Year’s resolutions that you’ve ever made, can you pinpoint why? If you’ve found success with something, what helped you succeed?
Don’t just look at writing and planning to find what works. If you failed at a bunch of diets and then fount ONE that worked, WHY?
You need to consider how YOU work before you really do a lot of heavy lifting with your plans.
What Has Been Working
I’m super passionate about planning every year by starting with what worked (and didn’t) the year before. We are in an age of analytics, so you can easily look at the different social platforms, your blog, or even what’s selling on Amazon or other platforms.
Before you dive into how you want to spend your time, it’s good to consider doubling down on the things that are working. You might want to ditch what isn’t working, OR the opposite: make that a focus for your year to turn it around and make it work.
Whatever the case, this is hugely important to do! I’m not a fan of wasted time. Are you? To get the most ROI (return on investment), you need to identify the things that are working for you and the things that aren’t. Make informed goals and strategic plans to achieve them.
FREE 2018 PLANNER & DAILY PLANNER PRINTABLE SHEETS
As I’ve let ideas simmer this month for what I hope to accomplish in 2018, I decided not to offer the same kind of free blog planner that I’ve added in the past. I wanted to create a targeted planner for content creators, not just bloggers. This will help you consider ALL the kinds of content you create: from blog posts to podcasts to books and courses.
This printable planner is incredibly comprehensive! (Especially for a free planner!) You can download your 2018 planner and start with the pre-work: considering the previous year’s struggles, successes, and things you’ve learned. Get the PDF or get it free on Amazon, Nook, and Kobo!
(You can still download the planning pages to print from inside the digital copy.)
Why Plan a Year of Content?
While it might sound intimidating to plan out an entire year at a time, it actually makes the content creation more manageable!
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll instead see the big picture in a way that makes things simple and streamlined. You get a framework for your year that makes content creation manageable.
For example, if I know that I want to write four books next year, I can decide to publish them in March, May, July, and October. Then I can work backwards. (Read my whole post about planning backwards.) If it takes me a six weeks to write a book, I know what I need to be doing in late January and February. This schedule would give me a few weeks to focus on promotion in March before I get started on the second book.
If you know that you want to write two blog posts a month, then you can make a list of twenty-four posts. Brainstorm a list of topics and fill those slots! You can always rearrange throughout the year, but this gives you a start.
You look at the big picture first. Then you zoom in a level. Then you zoom in again.
I love this method because it makes planning easier and fits all the tiny details into the larger framework. It’s all about strategy.
What about Flexibility?
I am a really weird planner. I LOVE to create a plan…only to toss it out the window and wing it. Something about planning in the first place gives me a security and confidence to adapt. I do this with everything from making a grocery lists to editorial calendars.
I know. I’m weird. It’s okay.
Whether you are as nutty as I am about planning only to un-plan or not, you can ALWAYS be flexible. Maybe this looks like planning out one quarter of the year at a time. Or you hardcore plan six months, then sketch out the next six. You might even look at the big picture and then only zoom in one level…or not at all.
Your plans should always fit YOUR goals. Your strategy should align with YOUR strengths and YOUR purposes.
This free planner is not meant to hem you in or to adopt my crazy method of planning! Take what works, toss what doesn’t. Consider your goals for 2018 and then adjust accordingly.
The Things People Forget to Plan
I’ve included some sections that I think are often left out of yearly planners. When you don’t take something into account, it will bump into your existing plans. This nudges them out of the way, even if a little bit, and this can cause a total ripple effect.
I included things like conferences, events, and courses. Your learning may take place alongside other content creation, but maybe you can create more mental space if you plan ahead.
This may also serve as a reminder that you SHOULD plan to learn something each year. And you SHOULD plan to attend live events. (If you can’t go out of town, plan to attend something local.)
You’ll also be able to plan out your launches for the year so you can see how this will impact your other content creation and promotion.
Are You Ready? Get Your Free Printable Planner!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for en epic 2018! Download yours below and let’s get started.
And if you’d like to talk with other creatives about your goals, plans, and work, please join us in the Create If Writing community on Facebook. It’s a free space for you to connect with other content creators just like YOU for accountability, encouragement, inspiration, and maybe some laughs. Join the free group HERE.
What are some of YOUR plans and goals for this year? Comment below if you’d like to share!