Hi everyone! Welcome to my first blog of 2019! I hope you all had wonderful Christmas and for those that may not, I hope this years will be better for you. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and whether 2018 was a good or not so great year for you – we are now in 2019 – and you can press the reset button, so to speak, and start with a new outlook.

For me 2018 was a mixed year, I would say!

Business-wise, it has been an eye opener for me, firstly on how far I have come but also how much I still have to learn and feeling rather overwhelmed and out of my depth if I’m honest, but I will continue to learn and grow. Regarding family and friends, there was some great times such as our holiday, made some great friends but also some very tough times with family members being ill and the loss of special friends, so part of me is glad 2018 is over but it’s important to remember the good that came out of the year, and to take it with me into 2019!

If you can now, or whenever you get a spare 5 minutes (I know that’s not easy but try grab some time) write down all the good that happened in 2018 even the small things – it will help you remember that even though you may have had some tough times there were good times for you. Take these memories into 2019, it will give you a positive start to your year.

So as it’s a new year (I know we all hate January, it’s dreary, we are all skint, the daily grind begins again!), well use January to plan the rest of your year, set yourself some goals, personal, work/business and family but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to achieve too many goals, be realistic about them – maybe consider 2 of each, 2 personal, 2 work/business related and 2 family related. Remember though that if you don’t achieve them, that’s okay, move them onto the next year – we all know life can get in the way and sometimes other things take priority.

So I thought I would give you a few ideas of how I plan my time and the different systems I use to help me.

I know planning a year ahead can be rather daunting, but if you do it, you free up your mind because you spend less time thinking about the little things and can focus more on achieving your goals.

1. Calendar for Home

Now we are a family of 5 – so I need to know who is doing what and when because otherwise life would be even more chaotic than it already is haha! Each January I sit down with my old calendar and transfer everything across (I love doing this, I’m a bit weird) such as family occasions i.e. birthdays. I also put on the school holidays and the days my son is in nursery as well as any extracurricular activities. I then add any other occasions such as weddings, christenings and also any appointments we have i.e. the dentist etc. Then throughout the year, I will add anything the crops up like from the many non-uniform days at school, charity days etc. I also add any of my business appointments/events that have an effect on home life, but for the rest I have a separate work calendar. At least everyone can look at the calendar and know what is going on.

2. Business/Work Calendar

Now, for my business I have a separate calendar, but it does slightly cross over with my home one for example if I have an appointment at school, or have to pick my daughter up from school later because she’s at a sports club. This goes on my work calendar simply so I don’t forget. My work calendar obviously includes any meetings/events I need to attend, my plan for each day that I work and my goals for each month.

  • I have also used other planners that coincides with my calendar – one is for planning my social media – (not every post is planned) now I’ll be honest some months I’ve done this and some I haven’t but I am going to make sure this year that I will be consistent with this.
  • The other tool I use is a daily planner which I came across through my networking group Hardman McNeal – it’s very simple, it helps break down the day by the hour – so I firstly put in the things I have to do like the school run, lunch break (I need my food peeps) make tea. This allows me to see what time I have to actually work and then using my calendar and my goals I can plan in my tasks I need to daily to achieve what I want too. For each task, I block a certain amount of time to work on it then move onto the next task, that way nothing gets lefts behind. Obviously, I know sometimes you have to be flexible depending on what’s priority. – I find having a list to work through helps make me accountable.

3. Notebook and Pen

You may wonder why you need these but I don’t know if you are like me, but quite often I can get in bed and my brain starts thinking on overdrive about anything and everything – it drives me nuts! So I have started having a notebook and pen at my bedside and if anything pops into my head either before going to sleep or in the middle of the night that I know I must not forget or anything that is bothering me, I write it down and that way it is longer whirring around my head. I can then look at it again in the morning with a clearer mind to if it’s worth doing something about or I can get rid of it. If I need to do something then it gets added to either my calendar or daily task planner. I have found since doing this, that I am thinking less when I get into bed and I am sleeping much better.

4. Meal planner

Now obviously, I’m not saying you should plan the next 365 meals because that’s going a little too far, but hey if you want to then go right ahead. How many of you get up in the morning and go to your freezer to get something out for tea and just stare at it because you don’t know what you “fancy” for tea?? You then walk away thinking, ‘I’ll have a think and get something out before I go’. You get home from work and realise you never did get anything out for tea so you either order a takeaway or go and pick something up from your local shop. Yep, been there and occasionally still do that, but hey I’m human! Anyway, I try to plan my meals on a fortnightly basis in line with when I do my food shop. If you sit down when doing your shopping list and write the meals you want to make, you will find you probably spend and waste less because you are buying what you need, but if you want a takeaway that week or month then plan it in. I found that planning my meals, just means it’s one less thing I have to think about in the morning when trying to get everyone up and to school on time.

5. Clipboard on the fridge!

Now you may wonder what I’m talking about, well I attached a clipboard to my fridge using magnets, for the letters that still come home school, brownies etc. Now, I know most schools now use email and text but there are still those letters that they need your signature for the school trip. So, I put any of these letters in date order on my clipboard so firstly, I don’t lose them and secondly every time I walk past my fridge it’s a reminder. I’m starting to think that I may need a clipboard for each child once my son starts school next year!

6. Monthly Budget

Finally, I thought it was important to talk about money, it’s not my favourite subject – it’s the one thing that tends to stress me out the most and I know I’m not the only one. So, if you are like me then the best thing to take the stress out of it is to plan your budget. My husband’s wage is able to cover our bills (just) and then what get covers everything else like food, clothes, school costs etc well just about but we have seriously had to plan every pound for each month. We sit and work out what we need each month and work about sticking to it, we have to factor in family occasions and any unexpected things such as kids parties. It’s hard but we find by planning ahead it releases the pressure because we already know what we need to do. Be realistic with yourselves, look where you can save, look at what debts you have to pay off, look where you can possibly make extra money – it does take some planning but in the long term it will make a huge difference. I don’t what you to think you have to live under a rock for 12 months and not spend at all, you still need to enjoy yourselves you just need to plan those treats in, that’s all. We’ve got three big birthdays, a wedding and a new arrival (not me, my cousin – I am not pregnant just in case my family get the wrong idea reading this you don’t need to panic haha – 3 is more than enough for us) all happening this year, so we have to consider planning for these. The first time we did it we managed to get ourselves out of two overdrafts and afford to take the kids on holiday to the Lakes in 12 months– so it is possible.

So, I hope I have been able to give you a few ideas that you will find useful throughout the year! I would love to hear how you get on.

Remember, you will not necessarily achieve everything you set to, but that’s okay the main thing to do is to TRY!! Try and change things, do your best because we all know life has a habit of throwing us a bloody curveball when we really don’t want it, so grab the curveball by its ball and deal with it till you’ve smashed it! You’re strong enough to deal with it, so plan this year, have fun, think positive because 2019 is all yours for the taking!

Hope your year starts off great.

Love Rebecca x

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