The Exact Tools I'm Using to Plan my 2017
9 days late but what the hell - Happy New Year!
I took the last week of December off which felt like it was a long time coming. During that week I made my best effort to do as little as possible, but something was nagging at me. December was a month that truly took it out of me work-wise, and it's the first time my business has left me feeling somewhat exhausted! It occurred to me that I was still using the same process I had used since day one. February 1st 2016 marked not only my one year anniversary with the boyf, but also byLucinda's date of conception! For almost a year I had been using the same planning process I had used since having zero clients to now having over ten. Ten clients may not sound like a lot for a business, but when you're a one-woman-band (more on that later!) it takes far more meticulous day planning and automation. Something had to change.
I spent this entire weekend nailing down a fool-proof growth-proof planning process and did maybe the most adulty of adulting, I hired my first team member to help with the workload! So in this post I'm going to be breaking down how I'm planning every single aspect of my business this year from the tools I'm using and the methods I'm implementing.
Let's start with the fundamentals
tuesdays are for self-growth
Maybe the biggest change and commitment I'm making this year is to dedicate one day every week without fail to my own business. No client work allowed! Every Tuesday I will be content planning for blog posts and products, going through courses I'm taking, writing, shooting and scheduling. I posted 8 blog posts last year. 8. Ocho. Huit. Not cool! This was largely due to the fact that I had no time to ever focus on my own business development. That's changing.
Scheduling and day planning
This year I'm using two planners and a weekly desk pad alongside each other to plot my days. The process goes as follows..
When tasks from my clients drop in to Asana throughout the week I plot them out on to the Rifle Paper Co week view desk pad (similar here) across the spaces for the next week. This gives me a rough quick view of next week and what I can and cannot fit in.
I then use the Rifle Paper Co 2017 Agenda/Diary (exact one here) to note down things like dentist appointments, lunches and dinners with friends, client calls/consultations and due dates for important client work. This is my reference when booking something in to my schedule!
Lastly I use the Ohh Deer x Urban Outfitters Journal designed by Jacqueline Colley (exact one here) on a daily basis for timetabling my day to the hour, marking down goals and to-dos for that day and making notes for any calls that take. I use Pomodoro timers to maintain productivity throughout the day using the Mac app Be Focused which helps me stay on task if focus starts to dwindle!
Download my free Pomodoro day planner!
blog & content planning
This year I'll be using the Zoella Lifestyle Notebook (exact one here) to plan out all blog posts and content. I may have one of the most insane stationary collections of anyone you know, but the plain-lined notebooks are certainly lacking. Luckily, this notebook is not only pretty AF but it's also large enough to plan out a great deal of detail on one page.
I'd love to get to a point this year where I have blog content pre-written and scheduled a month in advance, but I won't get ahead of myself here! Tuesdays will be content creation days, so if I can block write in that day then we are good to go!
finance tracking and forecasting
This year I'll be using the Projected Income Tracker by The Squarespace Design Guild (available here). I'm a sucker for a spreadsheet and having one pre-made with automated formulas is a blessing!
With space to plot in expected, received and target income I can easily map out my finances in advance. This is especially handy as we're hoping to buy a house this year (eeep!) so my finances need to be on point.
What makes it even better is that when you input an invoice amount, it automatically tells you how much to save for tax, monthly business expenses and how far this puts you toward your quarterly income goal.
Wellbeing and mindfulness
I discovered the importance of mindfulness and wellbeing toward the end of 2016 when I was reaching burnout. I never really entertained the idea of journalling before because I hate looking at a blank page and feeling like I have to write all about my day. Using prompt journals like The 52 Lists Project and 52 Lists for Happiness brings joy to all of the little gremlins in side of me. The gremlins that love to make lists are over the effing MOON. The darker gremlins that love to make me feel anxious with imposter syndrome are starting to see the light by pointing out all the things I love in life on a weekly basis.
I highly advise these books for anyone looking to get in to journalling, or anyone who just generally feels like they need to bring more gratitude and mindfulness in to their lives and businesses.
I've made a point to put journalling in these books in my diary for every Monday morning so that I can enter a new week with a gracious and clear outlook on where I am.
yoga, crystals and exercise
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a religious person, that's not a secret. However, I do consider myself a spiritualist. Basically, I love me some woo. If you had asked me 2 or 3 years ago I probably would've laughed you away, not for being a B, but just because I'd never been in a position to appreciate it before running a business. It can be a lonely thing, working from home on your own every day. And whilst I am by all means a homebody who loves her own company, you can drive yourself crazy, especially if you are prone to a bout of anxiety and imposter's syndrome. Finding yoga not only gave me a reason to get out of the house and to the studio, but also an opportunity to centre myself and bring intention to my practise and my day.
I have a small tray of crystals at my desk intended to reduce stress, improve focus and ambition and ease tensions. When I'm journalling or planning my week I like to sit by them to aid the process. (If I'm losing you here, just feel free to skip to the next section!)
When I joined the fancy pants gym in my city, I opted for the off-peak membership which means I kinda have no choice but to go in the morning. I'd like to say it was intentional to start my day with exercise, but predominantly it was because it made my membership £50 cheaper each month haha! But it does mean if I'm gonna work out (and damn do I have to workout with a June vacay looming) it has to be something that starts my day. I always feel so pumped up and ready to hit the day after a workout!
social media Scheduling
For Instagram tracking and scheduling I will continue to use Iconosquare. This has always been my favourite tool for Instagram analytics and scheduling because of it's crazy in-depth stat tracking! My Instagram process starts with shooting on the Olympus PEN E-PL7, transferring over wifi to my phone, editing in VSCO cam and then scheduling in Iconosquare. When the posting time comes I get a push notification on my phone, it auto copies the caption and then all that's left is pasting it in to Instagram and hitting post! I find that on weeks when I don't pre-schedule Instagram content it slips my mind entirely and weeks can go by without me posting at all, so pre-scheduling is pretty mandatory at this point.
One of my goals for this year was to grow my Pinterest following, so Melyssa Griffin's Pinfinite Growth eCourse was a no brainer. That brought me to Board Booster, a Pinterest scheduler than filters out pins to multiple boards at peak times, to ensure your content has the best reach and virality!
Whilst I'm yet to venture in to this tool in great depth, I'm so looking forward to having more of a presence on Pinterest and seeing where it takes byLucinda in 2017!
General Tools I'm Using to Run byLucinda in 2017
for newsletters & email list management
for time tracking, invoicing & billing
for contracts & e-signing
for @domain email address
for client facing tasks & to-dos
for client & team communications
for file storage & organisation
for handling client passwords & credentials
now on to the exciting news
Just this past week I had a Skype meeting with a wonderful lady on the other side of the world. Considering this was a business call, we spent half the time laughing and getting to know each other. This was a consultation/hiring call. I had an immediate gut feeling (if you've listened to my episode of Jen Carrington's Make it Happen podcast, you know my stance on gut feelings!) and... I hired! I'm soooo so excited to announce I'm no longer a one-woman-band and will soon have a wonderful team member on board. Her name is Nicole and she is from Australia, and I'm sure you will love her as much as I do!
here's to a wonderful 2017
And there you have it! This is every tool and tip I will be using to make 2017 a year for growth, development, opportunity and me-time. Let me know which planning techniques you'll be using this year in the comments and don't forget to grab your free copy of my Pomodoro Day Planner below!