Staring a new year in the face can be intimidating. It’s time to write out those goals, set your focus, and get busy taking action. It can be even more intimidating when you've got some pretty hefty goals for yourself like - writing a novel, launching your new book, or making more sales than last year. I get it! At face-value those seem like huge things to accomplish. I have learned to take everything a step further and not just create goals, but to physically plan out my entire year all at once so that I know what's going to be happening and when. Every year, I put together this annual strategy for myself and now, I'm going to be showing you step-by-step how you can plan your own knock-out year!
Why I Plan My Entire Year at Once
First and foremost, I do this to prevent overwhelm. My personality type is super susceptible to overwhelm and being able to focus on one task at a time is super helpful in minimizing that. When you put deadlines on your projects you want to accomplish and then breaking you these projects into a running list of easily achievable tasks, you’ll find that you get a whole lot more done!
I'm a planner addict. I thrive off of structure and routine. So when I plan out my year, I know exactly what to expect and I know exactly what I need to be working on and when. That makes it easier to incorporate balance in my life. For instance, I know that when one project is complete and there is still time before the next deadline, I can use that time to rest or take a break.
How To Build An Annual Strategy
Before you begin, you'll want to prepare a space to work. You'll need an area where you can your entire year all at once. If you've been scribbling notes about upcoming projects in your planner or phone, bring those with you.
You'll also need your annual planning sheet or an empty planner and writing utensils. I use the color coding method to plan my year so I use an array of colored pens. Alternatively, you could use symbols, stickers, or washi tape.
Looking For A Planner?
This is the annual strategy worksheet found inside of the Thriving Scribes Planner - a productivity workbook and planner designed specifically for indie authors to plan epic authorship goals, up your productivity, and design the author business of your dreams.
Now, it's time to get started! The first and most important thing to list out is where you will need time off in the upcoming year. What time-frames will you be unable to work? Where will you be taking vacation time?
For example, I tend to take a family vacation in June and won't be working for a week. If you tend to feel a bit stir crazy or overworked during a particular time of year, make a note to plan a long weekend away that month.
Deadlines & Launches
Now that I know when I’ll be gone, I can look at the entire year and begin setting dates for projects, deadlines, book launches, content themes, and any other items I will be launching. Being able to see the entire year at a glance like this is super useful to give adequate spacing between dates so I can make sure that I'm not over-booking myself and I'll have plenty of time to prepare while being able to take into account holidays and down-time.
If you are an authorpreneur or offer any kind of other content to your readers, noting a monthly content theme is extremely helpful when it comes to planning blog posts, newsletters, social media, video topics, and any other content that you may create. Since I know a lot of authors offer up writing advice for others, I used writing-related themes in the example below.
Do you know for sure that you will hold a sale of any of your books/products at a certain time of year? Do you discount your books annually for a certain holiday? This is where I pencil in any sales I plan on holding throughout the year.
Now that I have the structure to my year planned out, I start scheduling blog posts and videos for any launches and sales that are already noted. The next step is looking at the planned content theme and figuring out what topics will work for content-themed blog posts and videos. At this point, I aim for at least one blog post and one video that fits within the monthly content theme but usually, I have many more ideas.
Next, I note any giveaways I plan on running as well as if there is a certain newsletter I want to send at a certain time.
Bringing It All Together
At this point, I have a pretty detailed plan for my upcoming year. The last thing I do is schedule monthly strategy sessions within my planner to re-visit my annual strategy in order to build off of it and tweak it if necessary.
Things to remember:
- Leave some white space- or in other words, don't over-schedule yourself. As a planner lover, I can easily get overzealous at the sight of a full schedule. I'm always sure to add some wiggle room that will allow off days and emergencies (like sick kiddos).
- This is just a road map to your year. As time passes, it's okay to take a detour or two or randomly decide you'd like to take the scenic route. In other words, this isn't set in stone. And, you should never be afraid to make changes to this strategy as life calls for it!