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How to plan for the year

You should read this in conjunction with the article on long term planning - Live the Dream and a Practical guide to Time Management.

This is about how to turn your long term dreams/plans/goals into reality by breaking them down into manageable chunks. First of all you will need a spreadsheet or a text editor like Microsoft Word to record your plan. Then make a plan for a whole 12 months. You don’t need to start in January any 12 months will do.

The table below shows part of a one year plan. I can’t fit the rest on!

2009 Yr Total Yr Act Jan Plan Jan Act Feb Plan Feb Act Mar Plan Mar Act
80hrs free time a month = 960hrs a yr
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Get Qualification--------
Time hrs312151015200300
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Start a Business--------
Time hrs104656100100
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Get Fit--------
Gym Visits(100*2hrs)1004348080
Bike Rides(30*2hrs)301111020
Time hrs26010810180200
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Learn 20 Piano Tunes101011020
Time hrs504.534.53040
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Read 10 Novels100101010
Time hrs22016.52016.5200200
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Total hrs946524652710840
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Decorate Downstairs
Mend Fences
Repair garage roof

I have calculated my free time by using the Practical guide to Time Management. Now I know what free time is available I can spread it evenly through the 12 months but perhaps leave a little spare for contingency in case the unexpected happens e.g. my in-laws come and stay for 3 months. (I’ve only planned 946 hours out of 960 a spare 14 hours for the in-laws)

Put the most important goal at the top; you will want to give the lion’s share of the time to achieving this and then put the next most important etc. Put your times in make sure they all add up (easy to do on a spreadsheet) play around with the times until you are happy that each goal is sufficiently covered and will deliver your expectations. Make the times easier at first and gradually ramp it up. This way you will taste success and not get disheartened.

At the end of each month you can put in the figures from your month plan (see below) so that you can compare the planned and actual. Only adjust/tweak the plan in the first month as you practically learn what is achievable. Thereafter only change the plan if something really unexpected prevents you from continuing with the same plan. (Keep the old plan and make a new one)

At the bottom of the plan I put in other items that I want to do in the year as a constant reminder e.g. ‘mend fences’. It is a good place to put everything you want or need to do in the short term.

The table below shows part of a month plan. I still can’t fit the rest on!

Jan 2009 Jan Plan Jan Act Thur 1 Fri 2 Sat 3 Sun 4 Mon 5 Tues 6
Ring Teacher re books + Fix puncture
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Get Qualification--------
Time hrs1015011020
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Start a Business--------
Time hrs56000100
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Get Fit--------
Gym Visits(100*2hrs)34000100
Bike Rides(30*2hrs)11000000
Time hrs810001000
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Learn 20 Piano Tunes01000000
Time hrs34.5100000
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Read 10 Novels10100000
Time hrs2016.5011020
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Total hrs4652
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At the top is the month, Jan 2009 and all the days of the month. Also anything important that needs to happen in the month – ‘Ring teacher re books’ etc

The goals and the ‘Jan Plan’ and are copied from the Year plan (see above)

As the month progresses plug in what you’ve done and keep a running total in the ‘Act’ual column, (easy to do on a spreadsheet). When the month is finished transfer your actual total to the year plan actual month column.

Working on what you want to achieve may seem difficult at first but this isn’t like work, you’re not working to live, to make someone else rich so they can live their dream, you’re working for yourself for your dreams.

One of the benefits of planning and acting on your plans is that time seems to expand. You know when sometimes you feel like you’ve had a really long weekend; it’s just like that but for every weekend. You pack so much in, doing what you want or working towards what you want, that you’re living to the full. You take you’re mind off the humdrum world and the wasted hours of TV and computer games and actually achieve something. You feel more relaxed, calmer, a great deal happier and more spontaneous. And when you do have your free time you can enjoy it to the full, with the right frame of mind, without any nagging guilt that you ought to be doing something constructive.