5 steps to finish what you start

5 Steps to Finish What You Start

finish what you start
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Do you often struggle to finish the projects you start, even when you have every intention of finishing them? Are you currently struggling with a specific project (or ten) in your life that you can’t seem to finish? Let me guess, do you have more than a few household tasks on your to-do list?

Don’t worry – you aren’t alone. Many people struggle to follow through on their tasks. Believe it or not, this is a common problem that most people face. As we look into the very near future, we probably want to start setting goals for next year. Luckily, you can follow a few steps to ensure that you can become the type of person who finishes a project once you start it.

1. To finish what you start, Make A Plan

First and foremost, the number one way to finish everything you start is by making a plan before you start. It needs to be a plan which you write down. A mental note isn’t worth the piece of paper it is written on. You may want to jump in and start something in your excitement, but you might not realize all the work and challenges you will face.

When you take the time to make a plan, this will better prepare you for the task at hand, and you’ll be able to spot problems much more easily. A well-thought-out plan ensures you will be aware of the work your project requires and have an idea of how you will proceed. It is also a good time to break the project into smaller chunks to make it easier to conquer. Don’t forget to take some time to brainstorm potential problems you may encounter along the way.

2. To stay on track, Take A Break

If you find yourself getting overly frustrated or beginning to loathe the project because you’ve been working on it for so long, it’s okay to take a short break. This break will help reset your mind and focus. Get hydrated, move around, find some time to take in the present world around you. You might even be able to solve some of the problems you are facing while you take this little breather. Just make sure that when you set an endpoint to your break, this way you can hold yourself to it and not just abandon the project.

3. To make it more achievable, Make Small Goals and Track Your Progress

As you plan how you will conquer your task or project, break your goal into smaller mini-goals. Then, cross them off and reward yourself as you complete them. It will help keep you on task, and you’ll be able to feel as if you are making progress, even if it’s small.  This progress will do wonders to keep your spirits high while working on the project. The little rewards you are giving yourself will probably help too.

Many projects remain unfinished because they are long, and you lose sight of the end goal somewhere in the middle. To maintain motivation, you need to track your progress on the goal as you go. You may even want to consider rewarding yourself for a job well done at certain points to maintain your motivation.

4. To stay focused, Identify Your Distractions

Maybe you’re finding every reason under the sun not to work on your project. It’s time to identify these distractions and how they may be affecting you. If the distraction is easily removed, remove it. If it’s more of a mental distraction, it may be time to look into something like meditation to help you clear your mind. Whatever your distractions are, it’s time to identify and eliminate them so you can focus on your goal.

5. To stay motivated, Visualize The End

Even if you are tracking your project, you may find that you’ve lost sight of your end goal. This is why you should frequently spend time visualizing your end goal in your mind. It will help you remember why you are working on your goal in the first place.

Finishing what you start is never easy. So next time you get excited about a new project or goal in your life, slow down a bit and make a plan, complete with smaller goals and rewards for yourself. Then, as you pursue the project, don’t be afraid to take small breaks if you need to recuperate. Chances are, thanks to these steps, you will be much more likely to finish your new goal than leave it abandoned.

BONUS –> The Top 3 Reasons You Don’t Finish What You Start

Do you feel as if you are constantly leaving a trail of half-finished projects in your wake? Are you the type of person who has one project in particular that you’ve always wanted to finish but just haven’t gotten around to it? If that sounds familiar, keep reading to find the top three reasons you tend not to finish what you’ve started.

1. You’ve Lost Motivation

When you started the project, your enthusiasm for starting something new first motivated you. However, if you haven’t seen any results in some time, this may have caused your motivation to lower. The best way to combat this loss of motivation is by breaking your project down into more manageable pieces and rewarding yourself along the way for steps well done. Conquering these more manageable pieces will help keep you motivated even when the project is long.

2. Negative Thoughts About The Project

Another reason you may find it difficult to complete a task is because of the way you think about the project. When it comes to mind, do you think you will never finish it? Or is your mind filled with thoughts of how hard the project is? Both are negative paths of thinking, and they will keep you from finishing the project. Instead, it’s time to transform your thinking to be positive regarding the project you are trying to complete. A more positive outlook will give you new energy and motivation to complete the task.

3. Lack Of Discipline

Another reason people can’t finish the projects they start is a lack of self-discipline. A person with self-discipline doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. They also tend to avoid procrastinating or slacking off. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s probably time that you work to cultivate self-discipline in your life. Boosting your self-discipline will ensure you can start finishing all the projects you start.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to finish what you start?

It is the sense of accomplishment when it’s done!  Your cross stitch project is ready for the holidays in time; you finished the book club novel just in time; your closet has so much empty space in it.

What happens if you need to change the plan?

That is OKAY!  Projects are fluid and evolving, especially large ones.  I don’t know how often I’ve redesigned my fall vegetable garden and I’m okay with that.  I will still end up with delicious lettuce and piles of cucumbers even if the cucumbers are in a pot instead of my raised bed.

What if you decide not to finish what you start?

Realistically, there are numerous reasons that this is actually valid.  Maybe the project is no longer relevant; maybe it ended up requiring more resources that you realized; or maybe it didn’t turn out to be the project you had in mind. If the scope has changed drastically, then maybe change your perspective on the project — look at it like adapting with the project instead of giving up on the project.

top 7 to-do list strategies

To-do List Strategies – the top 7 tips

Did you know that there are to-do list strategies than can actually make your list easier to tackle? There are! Read below for the top seven tips for making the most of your own to-do list.

“Plan your work for today and every day, and work that plan.”

Margaret Thatcher

Most of us know what a ‘to do list’ is and yet, the majority of people don’t use one and prefer to work from memory. They have a jumbled list of tasks in their mind and get these done in a haphazard and almost always, inefficient manner.

  1. Have a to-do list
    The first and most obvious strategy is to have a to-do list to actually follow. The best way to go about creating one will be to do a brain dump on paper of ALL the tasks and commitments you need to get done. This is an almost cathartic process that will bring you relief while it frees up mental energy.
  2. Prioritize
    The next step will be to use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize your tasks. Check out the image below in the FAQ section for more information on this prioritization grid.
  3. Focus
    Once you have your to do list prioritized, the next step will be to focus on ONE task at a time. Avoid multitasking at all cost. It ruins one’s ability to concentrate and also leads to shoddy work. Take each task to completion before moving on to the next. This is such a simple rule, but people overcomplicate things by not adhering to it.
  4. Limit your to-do list
    Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than 7 items on your to do list. Break the list up into 2 parts. At the top, have all the most important tasks which will yield the highest rate of return in your life. At the bottom will usually be the mundane, routine chores that need to get done just to keep life normal… but don’t really yield much reward. Trying to do too much in any one day can be overwhelming. So, it’s better to have a shorter to-do list, and if you complete all the tasks for that day fast, you can add a few more from your ‘brain dump’ list and work on them.
  5. Plan the night before
    Create your to-do list the night before. This will ensure that you hit the ground running the next day instead of spending your most alert hours in the morning planning what to do.
  6. Break down bigger tasks
    Some tasks are too big to complete in one day. So, while they may be on your to-do list, you’re not going to be able to finish it all on that day.
    In instances like these, it’s best to write down that task on a separate sheet of paper and break it down into smaller tasks and create a checklist for the work process. Each day, you’ll work on one or a few steps in that checklist.
    These are the steps that will go on your to-do list daily… and NOT the huge, monumental task. Always remember to break it down into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Carry over tasks
    Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there will be some tasks that you just can’t complete in time. No worries. This happens.
    Just move them to the next day… BUT do NOT add them on to a list that’s already full. Instead, make them part of the list of 7 or so tasks that you need to complete.
    In this way, you’ll not have a growing list of things that need to get done that keeps getting longer by the day. Always aim to have only 3-7 items on your to -do list.

So how do you make the most of these to-do list strategies?

Always remember to delegate and automate where you can. The hard truth is that you’ll NEVER have time to do it all. Tasks and commitments will keep popping up daily. The best way to maintain control of things will be to delegate or outsource the less important tasks to others.

Sometimes you’ll save more money by hiring someone. For example, instead of spending 45 minutes to mow your lawn, you’d be better off paying a lawn mowing service to do it for you. You’ll not only save time and free it up for important tasks that matter… but the lawn mowing company will probably complete the chore in a faster time and do a better job than you – because that’s what they do.

In the same vein, automate your routine tasks whenever you can or hire out the repetitive tasks that are essential to your business, but don’t require your direct involvement.

Use the to-do list strategies in this article to create to do lists that will organize your life and also help you get the most done in the time that you have. For a few more to-do list hacks, check out this list too!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 1-3-5 rule?

The basic 135 rule is this — to accept that you can’t finish an unlimited number of things in any given day. But you can reasonably expect to finish 1 BIG thing, 3 MEDIUM things, and 5 SMALL things.

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

You may have seen the Eisenhower Matrix before but not realized what it was actually called. It’s a tool used to prioritize your to-do list. (Yes, President Eisenhower himself did develop the concept that later became the Eisenhower Matrix.)

to-do list strategies - Eisenhower Matrix

What are some other good strategies for making a to-do list?

I did want to point out that you don’t have to choose either paper planning or electronic planning. In fact, I usually use a combination of both. Sometimes it’s just easier to use a combination depending on what list I’m working on.

I also recommend keeping at least a scratch pad nearby so you can write things down as soon as you think of them. The whole point of a to-do list is so that you don’t have to keep everything in your poor overworked brain!

proactive time management

The best 5 proactive time management tips

“Proactive time management? That’s crazy talk Lori, I can barely keep up let alone be proactive about things!” But wait, let me help with the 5 helpful tips below!

proactive time management
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

There’s no denying the fact that we live in a ‘pressure cooker’ world with a never-ending barrage of commitments, deadlines, catastrophes and other events that demand our attention and time.

Now more than ever before, people are feeling the stress of not having enough time to do anything. They always feel like they’re behind the 8-ball and playing catch-up.

The truth of the matter is that no one can manage time. It will pass you by anyway. What you need to do is manage is your life and where your attention goes… and this is how you do it…

1. Shut out the noise

In order to find some semblance of peace and order, you’ll need to eliminate the pointless distractions in your life. That may mean getting off social media for a few months. It may mean turning off the news on TV (which never fails to rile you up). By eliminating these energy-draining ‘parasites’, you’ll have more time for what matters.

2. Prioritize

Always do what matters when it matters. For example, focusing on the tasks which have the highest return in your life. If you’re a writer, that will mean focusing on your writing first thing in the day.

Too often, we keep what’s crucial for later – because the work is ‘unappetizing’ and the procrastination helps to delay the unpleasantness of the task. However, this just delays the inevitable and makes the process worse than it has to be.

Instead, by getting the hardest tasks out of the way FIRST, you’ll not only feel more accomplished, but will have more time to breeze through the easier tasks because now you feel ‘lighter’ from having done what you were avoiding.

3. Follow a daily routine

While many people will frown at the idea of routine and structure in their life because ‘being controlled’ is anathema to them – the truth is that with structure comes freedom.

After all, you’ll be deciding on your own daily routine. This is not a military regimen where you need to follow orders from a barking sergeant. No no… this is your routine.

You can tailor it to suit your life. The key point to note is to do the needful in an efficient manner so that your commitments and work are met in an orderly manner. Some of the most important aspects of proactive time management.

Routine will eliminate a lot of decision fatigue in your life. You’ll know exactly what to do every single day and can coast through it in ‘flow state’ while you accomplish more with less effort. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Of course, it does!

4. Be more organized

This simple tip will save you hours of frustration and stress in the long run, not to mention the time savings too. Declutter your home so that it’s neater and requires less cleaning. Check out these five ways that decluttering can actually maximize your personal resources.

The same applies to your desk/workspace. The more orderly and neat things are, the less time you’ll need to spend searching for the items you need – and you won’t end up wasting time and energy.

5. Set deadlines

Remember the drill sergeant from earlier? Well, deadlines are like invisible bosses that keep prodding you to stay focused and complete the tasks on time. Always have deadlines for any job you do, and give yourself slightly less time than you think you’ll need.

Parkinson’s law states that the amount of work expands to fill the time available for its completion. So, the less time you give yourself, the faster you’ll get the work done. Of course, be reasonable with your deadlines.

They should motivate you to work faster, but not be so unreasonable that they annihilate you. Just remember the differences between busy and productive.

Apply these 5 time management tips in your life and you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you become, and you’ll not only free up your time, but your stress levels will drop considerably. Start implementing them in your life today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is proactive time management?

Being proactive with your time management means being “in front” of it” instead of constantly feeling reactive to situations. You intentionally make plans and follow through with those plans. And yes, sometimes things crop up or the unexpected happens. But when you have a plan in place, you can take care of the “surprises” and then easily get back to your plan.

How can you be proactive in managing your time?

In addition to the five specific tips above, the general rule is to make some sort of plan and stick with it. Even if you don’t block specific times for specific tasks (i.e., I will vacuum at 10:00 AM), knowing that you will empty the dishwasher and vacuum all the bedrooms sometime before the kids get home from school then you have a plan with a deadline.

How does time management improve productivity?

When you manage your time effectively, you don’t spend your time wondering what to do next. When you spend precious time trying to figure out your next task, you end up losing out on your productivity.

Is productivity the same as time management?

They are not the same thing however they are close partners and usually walk hand-in-hand. And typically if you improve your skill at one, your skill at the other will follow suit!

tools to get organized

What are the tools to get organized?

tools to get organized
tools to get organized

What tools you need to get organized? What tools do you need to stay organized? It does vary individually, but there are some basics including the whys and hows.

Have you ever thought about putting together an organizing toolkit for yourself? I don’t mean a toolkit to get organized, I mean a toolkit that will help keep you organized! Who wouldn’t want one of those???

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click the links but at no additional cost to you.

1. Why do you need to gather your tools to get organized?

It saves your valuable resources! These resources are our most valuable commodities and we have to treat them as such. We have to make sure that we use them to the best of our advantage and not waste them!

  • It will save you time.  Next time you set off to “do the thing”, everything you need will be in one place; just grab that container and off you go.
  • It will save you money.  For example, I keep my gardening seeds all in one place (admittedly, it’s not a fancy container, it’s a reused Folger’s can), but I always check the can before I buy more so that I know what I already have.  If the packets were scattered all over the garage, I might end up buying more basil seeds when I still have some.
  • It will save you energy.  Many days I feel like energy is my most lacking resource and if I had to search the whole house just to find the things I need to clean the bathroom, it probably wouldn’t get done.  But having the bucket with everything makes it so easy to grab and go.

2. What kinds of tools do you need?

There are so many options that can streamline your life.  What would benefit you the most and give you back the resources I talked about above (time, money, and energy)?

  • What about a carrying device for your home cleaning supplies?  For example, a bucket or a caddy is especially handy for a multi-story house!
  • Do you send a lot of physical mail?  Put together your stationery, cards, and stamps (and for me, stickers) into one folder or binder so that everything is ready at your fingertips.  No more searching the junk drawer for those roaming stamps.
  • Do you run a side business out of your home?  I have an active shop on Poshmark and couldn’t never make it work if I didn’t keep all my wrapping and shipping supplies in one place.
  • Do you travel frequently?  Then you need a travel toolkit!  Whatever items you take on every trip, make sure you have duplicates and keep them packed (I’m looking at you, extra phone charger).

3. How do you put together your tools?

  • It truly does depend on the type of toolkit you’re trying to assemble.  Here are a few ideas that might help spark an idea!
    • Home cleaning, such as sponges, cleaners, rags, and grocery sacks
    • Stationery, such as greeting cards, return address labels, pretty pens, and fun stickers
    • Side business, such as inventory counts, finance tracking, supplies, and notebooks
    • Travel, such as extra chargers, mini toiletries, zip bags, and packing cubes
    • Planner supplies, such as dividers, stickers, pens, highlighters, and inserts
    • Gardening, such as seeds, trowels, gloves, and watering can
    • Sports kit for your little ones, such as baseball, soccer, football, ballet, or gymnastics
    • Party supplies, such as plates, napkins, plasticware, decorations, and tablecloths
  • And of course, the storage devices or containers are dependent on the type of kit.  As I said, my gardening seeds are in a Folger’s can but my stationery is in pretty folders and binders!
  • Have you considered that even electronic toolkits can be helpful?  Keeping your inbox organized and your documents in folders are all part of creating your own electronic toolkit.

Ultimately, your tools for getting organized are personalized based on what you need to accomplish. Make it your own and make it work for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools help you get organized?

If you’re new to getting yourself organized, there are three basics to get started:

  • Your daily space – where do you spend the most of your time? In the home office? Maybe camped out in your living room? Start with the space that you see the most.
  • A notebook and a pen – No need for fancy notebooks yet, unless you just can’t resist this beautiful Erin Condren Color Block Polka Dots Coiled Notebook 7″ x 9″. Just a notepad and a pen to start making notes about your process.
  • Patience – This isn’t an overnight process. When you start, you’ll need to start sorting your piles, then comes organizing the items you are keeping. Take your time and stay focused but don’t stress.

What tools help you stay organized?

I love my planners and notebooks. I’ve tried various electronic, digital, and online organizing tools but they just aren’t the same. I like being able to write my to-do lists, and cross off the tasks as I complete them. It is so much more satisfying!

What 3 things can you do to get organized?

  1. Look at the big picture – Whether you are putting together a kit to clean your house in less time or you are organizing your pantry so you don’t keep buying the food you forgot you already have, remember what resource you are trying to save and what you can accomplish when that resource is given back.
  2. Look at the small picture – What can you accomplish today? Tomorrow? You have 20 minutes before you have to leave for your book club meeting, can you gather up the dog’s chew toys on your way out the door?
  3. When you’re about to tackle a larger organization project, make sure to gather all your supplies well in advance. It doubles the time and frustration if you have to stop every few minutes to track down the magic marker or the toilet bowl brush.

What are your top 3 tricks for staying organized?

  1. Consistency! Even just five minutes of organizing every day will help develop the habit and keep you on track to stay organized.
  2. Decluttering! It’s virtually impossible to stay organized if you continue to add clutter to the space. Think about it like cleaning up after a toddler — if the little one throws a toy on the floor every time you pick one up, the space will never be clean! The same applies to any space, if you’ve cleaned it up don’t add more clutter to it.
  3. Systems! It is so much easier to stay organized when you have systems in place. Keep your goals in mind without losing sight of the small steps you will need to get there. But without systems, you could end up running circles without any progress. You will need a recipe to bake your cake!
SMART goals defined

How are your SMART goals defined?

What can I say about goal setting?  We have all been there with work-related goal setting when it comes to our performance reviews.  That dreaded process of setting goals to discuss with your manager for the next year, most of which are just words to fill the page and complete the task. Every year, asking yourself how are my SMART goals defined this time?

I’m not talking about that kind of goal!

I’m talking about the ones you actually want to set for yourself and want to accomplish!  The goal or goals can be related to your job, to your family, to your health, to anything.  Personally, I want to focus on some of the health changes that I have been having, as well as balancing my regular job and my business here.

SMART goals defined

Let’s look at
SMART goals defined!

* Specific
* Measurable
* Achievable
* Relevant
* Time-bound

S — I want to clean out my closet so that I can see my clothing more easily.

M — I want to eliminate 20 items from my stuff that I no longer need or use.

A — I will need to gather my supplies and set aside the time to get it done.

R — This will help streamline my morning and get me out the door faster.

T — I want to accomplish this within the next 30 days.

It also helps to envision the final result.  Right now, you’re on Island A and you want to be on Island B.

  • Island A is the state of your closet right now.  Shoes that you bought 10 years ago that you haven’t worn in 8 years; a bridesmaid’s dress you wore once in a wedding you can barely remember; and let’s not forget those Christmas bows.  How did they get in there anyway?
  • Island B is the land of color coordinated coat hangers and perfectly aligned pairs of shoes and a shelf display of handbags.  (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration).  But Island B could realistically be the clothing you wear regularly hanging up nicely and no more digging through those bridesmaids’ dresses to find the sweater you need for work this morning.

When you imagine living on Island B, what does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Are your mornings a little easier?  Do you have a better idea what to add to your wardrobe when you go shopping?  Can you breathe just a little easier when you walk into that closet?

Once you’ve defined your SMART goals, you can keep that image to motivate you to get the goal accomplished!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of SMART goals?

The general meaning of SMART goals is to set realistic goals that can be defined, measured, and accomplished. When goals are too vague, they tend to get lost. But when you outline the terms of the goal, it becomes more real and more achievable.

What are the 5 parts of SMART?

  1. Smart
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound

How do you write a SMART goal?

  • Smart – The who, what, when, where, why, and which of the goal you are setting.
  • Measurable – What type of metrics will you use to measure your progress and your completion?
  • Achievable – How will you accomplish your goal? Will you need a new skill? Will you need help?
  • Relevant – How does this individual goal line up with your overall ideas and objectives?
  • Time-bound – Set a realistic time limit. If it’s a large goal, make sure to break it down into milestones.

What are some SMART goal examples?

  1. S – I want to earn a promotion at work.
  2. M – I will seek new projects and certifications.
  3. A – My boss already mentioned a possibility.
  4. R – I want to keep my career moving upward.
  5. T – I will complete the project and the certification and apply within 4 months.
  1. S – I want to lose 25 pounds.
  2. M – I’ll track of my food, exercise, and weight.
  3. A – I am in good health to start this regimen.
  4. R – I want to have more energy for activities.
  5. T – I have already RSVP-ed for my class reunion in 6 months.

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    Goal setting for the next year

    Hmmm… Goal setting for next year… I am not actually a resolutions type of person (I know, I know).  I think it can be intimidating and can end up being counterproductive when you break the resolution.  Instead, I like to set goals for myself.  If I have an off day for one of my goals, nothing is “broken” like a resolution.  Instead, I can simply try again the next day.  I think it makes me feel like my motion forward is working towards something instead of away from something.

    It helps to narrow down the focus when you first start thinking about your goals for the next year.  The easiest place to start is to look at the different parts of your life.


    Maybe you want to work on reducing debt or building your savings account.  Are there student loans that need to be paid off?  Are your spending habits getting out of hand?  Now is the time to set your financial goals!  And it doesn’t have to be a big one — pay off one small credit card balance; save $5 a week; send the credit card company an extra $20 a month.


    Earlier this year, my mom moved from Fort Collins, Colorado to the Texas hill country.  And I am so excited to have her close by.  She’s only a three-hour drive now instead of a three-hour flight!  I’ve made a point to go visit one weekend a month since she got back to Texas.  (Of course, in February with the polar vortex, the weekend turned into eleven days but that’s another story.)

    What are your family goals?  Do you want to make it to more of your child’s soccer games?  Do you want to reconnect with the cousin that lives across the country?  Do you want to cheer on your nephew’s new football team?

    For the most part, family goals involve one thing — spending more time with them.  Whoever “them” is to you!


    I thoroughly enjoyed my book club at the public library before the pandemic, but it shut down in March of last year and has yet to resume.  (I also loved the monthly Monday night of coloring!)  But as much as I miss the activity of reading (or coloring), I greatly miss the social part as well.

    We recently visited the Dallas Arboretum with friends, and it was so much fun to walk and talk and laugh.  Zoom was a great way to stay in touch when necessary, but I think we’ve all missed the human connection.  It just isn’t the same over the computer screen.

    Do you have social goals for next year?  Join a new group?  Set up monthly dinner dates with your friends?  Try a new skill through a continuing education class?


    Decluttering is always a goal for me.  I don’t know how it happens, but I will take a bundle of items to Goodwill and then *poof* something happens and my tee shirts have reproduced in my closet.  And let’s be honest, that really gets out of control at the holiday time.

    There are studies that show clutter can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Being disorganized can also make it harder to maintain your focus.

    ~ WebMD

    Health and Self-Care

    About a month ago, a blood test at my doctor’s office confirmed something that I already suspected, that there are some changes going on in my physical health.  So personally, my primary health goal for next year is to learn more about this and some alternatives to the standard treatments that I am not able to use.

    On a related note, I think my self-care goals will include trying to get back into yoga and trying to tame the frizz in my hair!

    Health and self-care have taken such a winding road in the last couple of years.  They’ve taken a beating with all the ups and downs and emotional strain; but they’ve also become quitter the spotlight topics for many people.

    So what do you want to focus on for your health and self-care?  Exercise more regularly?  Eat more fruits and vegetables?  Get haircuts at the “recommended” six-week intervals?  Ultimately, make sure that your health and self-care goals make you feel like the best you that you can be.  It is essential for meeting any other goals you will set!

    I hope this makes you think about getting ready for goal setting for the next year!

    why are financial goals important

    Why are financial goals important?

    Financial goals, priorities, and planning can be one of the more stressful aspects of “adulting”.  There are always bills and credit cards and somehow life always has an unexpected expense just around the corner.  New tires?  Plumbing repair?  Holidays or birthdays right around the corner?  It seems that there is always an unexpected expense lurking around.

    Bills and Savings

    Managing your money is all about the in-come versus the out-go. In order to meet your financial goals, you have to either increase one side of the equation or reduce the other.

    Financial Goals

    Are you trying to reduce your fixed or flexible expenses in the new year?  Maybe you hope to take a closer look at your overall spending.  Is this the year you pay down your debit?  And in the midst of all of that, do you need to work on your savings account?

    For better financial organization, it’s all a matter of balance — budget planning, expense tracking, debt reduction, and savings tracking.

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    Set your financial goals and priorities starting today!

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are your financial priorities?

    Do you need to focus more on savings, retirement planning, college tuition, debt reduction? While we can never really remove all of the financial stress from our life, knowing what to focus our efforts on can go a long way to reducing that stress.

    What is the importance of financial goals?

    According to Financial over Fifty, there are 9 benefits to having financial goals. These include strengthening your motivation and commitment to your financial health, improving your money mindset, and building confidence for your future.

    What are some financial goal examples?

    • Reducing credit card debt – You can choose to either focus on paying off the largest interest rate card, the smallest balance, or the largest monthly payment. Either way it will eventually put money back into your wallet.
    • Increasing the percentage of retirement contributions – The statistics are mind-boggling when you look at the difference that can be made by at least contributing the percentage that your employer will match.
    • Building a savings cushion – Home repairs, property taxes, car maintenance all require funds. and in the grand scheme of financial priorities, it is “healthier” to be able to pay cash instead of using a credit card. Ultimately using a credit card can end up making that expense 15-25% more expensive once you factor in the interest you will pay.
    planner organization ideas

    Planner organization ideas for your calendar

    I’m always on the lookout for planner organization ideas.

    Planner organization ideas – the best way to calendar

    Ah, the calendar.  Also known as one of the most important parts of your planning system.  But what all needs to go into this key component?  Deciding which method of calendaring is best for you really depends on the level of detail your schedule requires.

    • Daily is best for folks who juggle multiple priorities, need a stricter schedule, or have a schedule that really benefits from hour-by-hour scheduling.  (Personally, my days are not conducive to that level of detailed scheduling.)
    • Weekly is usually a good “medium” level of scheduling.  I tend to like this one myself – working on a to-do list over the course of 7 days instead of a specifically daily list.  Sometimes I sneak in a daily page, if I have a particularly hectic day to organize.
    • Monthly was my option of choice last year when so much of the year was spent inside the walls of my own house.  But since life seems to be moving forward again, I will probably go back to a hybrid of monthly and weekly.

    This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click the links but at no additional cost to you.

    Planner organization ideas – using printables

    While you can create your own or buy a pre-made calendar, printables make it so much easier to get started.  Plus, when you browse printables, you can even get some new planner organization ideas! And don’t forget to download your free printables in my library.

    • monthly habit and water tracker
    • project planner page
    • weekly planner page (several different designs)
    • one-page monthly
    • budget planner

    Within the first five pages of my planner, I always include these Year at a Glance and Year in Color pages. The Year in Color is a great way to track your moods throughout the year.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What should every planner have?

    This is obviously personal question. There are two main criteria about what it needs to include:

    1. What do you need to track or calendar?
    2. How do you plan to use your planner?

    Firstly, I prefer a paper planner myself. I like the tangible aspect (plus so many beautiful planners and stickers). I generally prefer a monthly calendar system, but will occasionally supplement that with a weekly planner page. And I like to carry mine with me so that can dictate the size that works best for me.

    The main things that your planner needs to include (and everything else is based on your needs):

    • A calendar system (whether that be daily, weekly, monthly, or a combination)
    • A note-taking system (that can include graph paper, dot grid, lined pages, or blank pages)

    What is the best way to organize my planner?

    This is such a subjective question but I prefer my calendar at the beginning and my notes at the end. I also like to have a few notes pages within the month as well.

    How do I use my planner to organize my life?

    The BIG question! It’s all about creating the habit of using your planner. If you have the “perfect” system set up but continually forget to use it then it really isn’t helping. If you can, try to start your day and end your day with at least 10 minutes of “planner-ing”. In the morning, work on your plan for the day and in the evening, work on your plan for the next day(s).

    The holidays are coming – Travel (part 4)

    “Oh the places you’ll go”.

    Dr. Seuss

    I realize that holiday travel didn’t really exist last year and may not exist this year depending on how everything progresses between now and the holiday season.  However, if you are able to do so safely, you might just be packing a suitcase and headed off somewhere.

    Even if your holidays don’t include a suitcase, sometimes the in-town travel can be hectic as well.  When you have multiple houses to visit in a small period of time, it can be challenging.  Brunch at a friend’s followed by lunch at your aunt’s, and then dinner with the grandparents.  It can feel like you need a suitcase just to get through the day!

    Travel planning is essential!

    Planning and organizing is the key to smooth travel, whether you are going 15 miles or 1500 miles.

    I could not travel without my packing list(s).  I like to roughly sketch out what I think I will be doing every day and then pack accordingly.  Most of the time I don’t take too many “just in case” items but it depends on the travel plans.  I like double-duty clothing and double-duty toiletries just to reduce what I have to fit into my luggage.

    Traveling in town?

    If your travel is just around town to multiple stops, truly consider packing a bag.  Maybe not a full suitcase, but it could be helpful especially with young kids.  Maybe an extra set of clothing just in case of spills, definitely entertainment of some sort, and always a small token for the host or hostess.  Plus, if this is the holidays, you might also be lugging presents around as well.

    Traveling out of town?

    If you are going to be traveling by plane with presents, I strongly urge you to ship them ahead of time.  No one wants to stand in the airport and watch security unwrap those beautiful packages.  I love shipping the big box ahead of time to my mom’s so that I don’t have to fit all those packages into my suitcase.  (Side Note = Also remember to either leave space in your luggage or plan to ship a package back in case you receive gifts that don’t fit easily.)

    Whether you are celebrating with loved ones in person or Zoom, let’s get ready for the season!

    The holidays are coming – Meals (part 2)

    Oh the eating that happens during the holidays…  Whether you visit lots of friends and family or celebrate the holidays quietly at home, eating is a center point of almost all holiday events.  Appetizers, party trays, chips and dips, mounds of potatoes, stacks of cookies, and the list can go on.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good stuff!  But a little planning and balance means you can enjoy all of your favorites.

    The storming of Normandy

    Yes, this is actually what my family calls my holiday meal prep list.  I start with my menu, then check the recipes, then make a grocery list, then make my prep list.  I still make some of the same recipes that my grandmother made for our holiday meals growing up.  And some of the prep starts several days in advance!

    So one of the holiday “essentials” is the green bean casserole and I have to admit I did not have this dish with a holiday meal until I was over 30.  But I have learned to either make it or have someone bring it!  If you are looking to ease the burden of being the host or hostess, definitely consider having other family members contribute dishes to the meal.  I do recommend asking them to bring dishes that are ready to go and won’t mess up the ‘oven rotation’ such as salads or desserts or appetizers.

    The Normandy list has gotten easier over the years.  Partially because I host smaller groups nowadays and partially because I save the list every year so that I have a place to start for the next year!

    But anyone who has cooked a full holiday meal knows, the planning and organization is essential!

    Special diets?

    One of my sisters-in-law has Celiac and is very strict in avoiding of gluten.  My mom and I have successfully adjusted two of those family recipes I mentioned earlier – the squash casserole and the cornbread dressing.  (Why, yes, I am Southern.)  Gluten-free ingredients are getting easier to find it seems.

    If someone in the family has a special diet requirement that would be more difficult to accommodate, I think it’s reasonable to ask them if they can contribute something just in case.  I have been known to take my own sliced turkey breast to a meal when I knew steak was being served.  But since I was being the picky one, I was more than happy to bring my own.

    Maintaining your “diet”

    Most of these holiday parties and meals are not offering the healthiest of selections.  And once the holidays begin, there are usually ample opportunities to overeat and to choose unhealthy foods.

    My biggest recommendation is to balance everything out, either by the day or by the week.  If you know your weekend is going to be full of fried or cheese-covered or chocolate-filled treats, then be cautious of what you eat leading up to the weekend and probably the week after.  Focus on lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.  You can also balance an individual meal, right on the plate.  If I know I want to have some of the less-healthy options, I always try to fill half my plate with the fresh fruits/vegetables first before serving the other treats.  Green salad and fresh fruit salad get huge portions before I serve myself some of the necessary squash casserole and cornbread dressing!