Episode: Bonus Episode: Start Using Your New Planner Now!

Blake Stratton: Oh my gosh, Courtney! Are we on Michael’s podcast right now?

Courtney Baker: I think we are. We took it over.

Blake: How did we take over Lead to Win?

Courtney: You know, I think it’s because of our new podcast.

Blake: Oh yeah!

Courtney: Yeah, it’s the most productive podcast on the Internet.

Blake: It is. It will make you love Monday again, and it is called…

Courtney: Focus on This.

Blake: Every week, we’re going to be giving you a new episode to help you banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and start loving Monday again.

Courtney: That’s right. No more “Sunday scaries,” as we call them.

Blake: No more Sunday night Netflix binges because you are scared about what’s coming ahead.

Courtney: That’s right. No more dreading Monday. You can get your Monday started with us. If you’re a Full Focus Planner user, you have to listen to this podcast.

Blake: We actually have people calling in live to the show who use the planner, and we help them find the breakthroughs they need to take it to the next level.

Courtney: Yeah. It’s one of my favorite things, talking to people about how they use the planner, what they could do better, tips and hacks they have. I love it.

Blake: And you also like listening to my stupid jokes. Right?

Courtney: Right. We do have a lot of fun. That’s legit. You don’t have to take our word for it.

Blake: That’s right. Take it from the man himself who totally did not have a script to record this endorsement, Michael Hyatt.

Courtney: That’s right. The prince of productivity.

Michael Hyatt: Hey, guys. I want to ask for a favor. I want you to help me launch Courtney and Blake’s podcast and get it into the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes and get it into the iTunes Business, let’s say, top 50, just to set a big goal out there. If you would go out there and subscribe right now, that would help us immeasurably. Tell your friends about it. If you know anybody who uses the Full Focus Planner, they have to listen to this podcast. You’re going to miss the opportunity to optimize your use of the planner unless you’re listening to this podcast. So do it now so you don’t forget.

Courtney: Shall we give Michael his podcast back?

Blake: I guess.

Courtney: All right.

Michael: Hey, I’m Michael Hyatt. Welcome to this bonus episode of Lead to Win.

Larry Wilson: Hey, Michael. Larry Wilson here, your sidekick for this “bonusode.” The new planner line launches next week.

Michael: Yeah, I’m super excited about that.

Larry: I know everybody is going to be checking that out. We’re going to have, I’m sure, a lot of new planner users starting next week. A lot of people have a little trouble getting started with the planner, because it’s a whole system. So this episode is just kind of a primer or guide on how to get started using the planner. We call it the Success Pathway. So let’s get right into it. If you don’t have a planner, you’re going to want to get one next week. If you do have but you’re not ready to hear this, just come back to it. It’ll be here. This is going to help you get started using the planner.

Michael: Yeah. We’re going to help you get a quick win. We want you to get traction and use the planner and start seeing results, because we’ve had now hundreds of thousands of customers use this planner, and we’ve had thousands of them write back to us and talk about the results they’ve been getting. This is what we’ve learned based on our customers’ experience in terms of how to get the biggest results the fastest.

Larry: Okay. There are nine steps we’re going to cover, and I think it’s important to point out that if you’re at all familiar with the planner, these do not follow the order they’re given in the planner. The reason is this is the way to begin using the system. Don’t dive into the deep end first. We’re going to lead you through, beginning with the easiest steps first. We’re going to move quickly on this, but remember, there’s a complete transcript of every episode, so if you want to go back and review and read, you can do that. We’re going to cover nine steps. Step 1: Start using the Daily Pages first.

Michael: Yes. These begin on page 30 in the planner. The Daily Big 3 especially can be a game changer. So, what you’re going to want to do is take all of the tasks you have to do today, and you’re going to pick three that are your Daily Big 3. They have to be related to a goal or one of your most important projects, but three of them, and only three. That’s the place to start.

Larry: Step 2: Do your first Weekly Preview.

Michael: The first set of these pages begins on page 44. We recommend doing these on Sunday night. You can do it Friday afternoon or Monday morning. This is going to give you a chance to review the prior week and then also preview the upcoming week so you’re set up to win. This is only going to take you about 30 minutes to do it. I do mine on Sunday evening, but you do it whenever it’s convenient for you. This can make a real difference in how your week goes, because you can either kind of drift into the week or you can design it, and this is a way to design your week.

Larry: Okay. Let’s move to Step 3: Identify your annual goals.

Michael: Yes. Identify your annual goals. This is important, because we recommend that people have seven to ten goals for the year, two to three goals per quarter, and that last part is especially important. We want you to have a quarterly focus. If you want more information on this, you can read my book Your Best Year Ever where I go into goal achievement in detail.

This is the first page in the planner, or page 5. It’s the first thing you’re going to encounter in the planner, because it really is the most important. If you want to be goal-focused and really achieve your goals, it’s important that you do this. It’s going to take a little bit of time to work through this, so you might set aside maybe an hour, maybe a little bit longer than that, to work through your goals and really identify those.

Larry: Just to highlight, that’s why we put this third and not first. It’s actually first in the planner, but we want you to start with the Daily Pages first. Step 4: Complete a goal detail page for each goal.

Michael: This is where we’re going to take each one of the goals in the summary that was on page 5 and flesh those out. First, you’re going to determine whether it’s an achievement goal or a habit goal. Then you’re going to write the goal in the SMARTER framework. If you don’t know what the SMARTER framework is, SMARTER is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, actionable, risky (not realistic, which is how people normally teach it), time-bound, exciting, and relevant. There’s more about that in my book Your Best Year Ever. Then identify the life domain, list your key motivations, identify the next steps, name your reward, and then use the streak tracker, particularly if it’s a habit goal, to track your progress.

Larry: It’s good you mentioned the book, Michael, because that “name your reward” is kind of counterintuitive, and people should go back and find out what that’s about. It’s a very powerful part of the system. That brings us to Step 5: Start using the monthly calendars.

Michael: These begin on page 16. I usually add the major events to it once a quarter, and I personally use a hybrid system. I use Google Calendar, but I go ahead and go to the effort to write down my appointments when I’m doing my Quarterly Preview (we’ll talk about that in a minute). I write down my major events in my calendar, putting the big rocks in, so I can see what’s coming up and begin to think proactively about what I need to do to prepare for those events. It’s nice also to have a reference when I may not be close to my digital calendar, to have those in my planner as well.

Larry: I know that’s an area a lot of people have questions about: how to use this hybrid system you mentioned with part electronic, part analog. We’re going to refer you to an article Michael has written about this. It’s on the website, and we’ll put a link in the show notes. Step 6: Consider the rolling quarter pages.

Michael: These pages begin on page 22. It’s a place for you to record your major events for the four more quarters. You have enough room in the planner to track the next 15 months when the quarter begins. So, there’s going to be month by month in the monthly calendars, which we just talked about, and then rolling quarters. You really have to see this to understand it, but again, it’s just enough room for the big rocks, to kind of see how your next year or your next 12 months are going to unfold.

Larry: I like the word consider in step 6. You don’t have to do this. You can still use the system without using the rolling quarters, so consider that optional. Step 7: Design your daily rituals.

Michael: You can find these on pages 26-27. We recommend four basic rituals. There are probably more you’re going to have during the week. All of us have rituals, and these are four rituals that we have found help set you up for a productive day and set you up to kind of automate yourself. We recommend a morning ritual, a workday startup ritual, a workday shutdown ritual, and an evening ritual. This puts repetitive, positive behaviors on autopilot.

What you’re going to do under each of those rituals is identify the activities you want to do, then sequence them, and then fine-tune them over time. This, for me, is one of the secrets of my success. I put these things on autopilot so I’m set up to win the day.

Larry: That was Step 7: Design your daily rituals. Now Step 8: Create your Ideal Week.

Michael: This is a concept I talk about in more detail in my book Free to Focus, but you can find this in the Full Focus Planner on pages 28-29. The idea is to imagine how you’d structure your week if you had 100 percent control of your time. Now, obviously, we rarely have 100 percent control of our time, but if we did, what would the week look like?

So, you’re going to write that on your Ideal Week pages. You’re going to batch activities as much as you can. You’re going to remember that this is ideal, not mandatory, but if possible, when you have the opportunity to schedule activities, you’re going to use your Ideal Week so you can put them on the appropriate day so that your week flows by design and not just reactively by whatever comes in over the transom.

Larry: That brings us to Step 9, the final step: Complete your Quarterly Preview.

Michael: This is found near the end of the planner on pages 282-283. This is similar to the Weekly Preview but for the entire quarter. It also provides a systematic way to set up your planner for the next quarter, to review what happened over the last quarter, and to get set up so you really set yourself up to win for the next quarter. This is something I typically do in an off-site retreat. It takes me about half a day. I use this time to plan that next quarter so I really know exactly what I’m going to accomplish. I establish my priorities, and then I have a game plan for winning the quarter.

Larry: Now, this last note is not really a step, but there are blank pages at the end of the planner, and a lot of people wonder, “What would I use these for?”

Michael: There’s a section, pages 286-295, for taking notes. We provide a page for each day to take notes, but yesterday I was taking notes in a meeting, and I ran past. I completely used that page. So I can reference on that daily page that these notes continue on one of these extra note pages, and I can continue taking notes there.

We put the sketching pages in there (those start on page 296) because a lot of people said, “Hey, I just want a place to be able to draw a diagram or create a framework or just doodle.” So we’ve allowed that also. We have an index at the end of the planner where you can index the topics that are covered in the planner and put the page numbers so you can get back to those quickly without having to thumb through the pages individually.

Larry: Just to note, the use of these pages is totally optional or at your discretion. It’s not really part of the productivity system. It’s just an aid to you in using the planner.

Michael: That’s it. Yep.

Larry: Well, let’s recap the nine steps on our Success Pathway. This is the quick way to get started using the Full Focus Planner.

Step 1: Start using the Daily Pages immediately.

Step 2: Do your first Weekly Preview.

Step 3: Identify your annual goals.

Step 4: Complete a goal detail page for each goal.

Step 5: Start using the monthly calendars.

Step 6: Consider using the rolling quarters.

Step 7: Design your daily rituals.

Step 8: Create your Ideal Week.

Step 9: Complete your Quarterly Preview.

Michael, any other tips to get started with the planner?

Michael: Yeah. Just a couple of best practices we’ve collected over the last couple of years. First of all, schedule a time to set up the planner. You want to do this well, and you want to get off to the right start. Start fast. Start small. Build later. That’s why we recommend that you start with the Daily Pages and particularly the Big 3. Start there. You can fill in the rest of it as you have time. Then make time to plan each day. Ritualize it. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but if you’ll make a little bit of time to plan each day and to flesh it out, especially identifying your Daily Big 3, it’ll make a big difference. Then take your planner everywhere. Don’t leave home without it.

I would say that if you’ve not tried the planner you owe it to yourself to try it. It sounds counterintuitive. A lot of people say to me, “Are you kidding me? Analog planner in the world of digital media?” Yes, because so often we’re distracted by that same digital media. The thing an analog planner does is gives you focus like no other tool I know of. This will make you more productive. I would just try it as an experiment. Buy one. Give it a try.

Larry: Thanks, Michael, for these great tips. Hey, can I say it this time?

Michael: Can you say what?

Larry: We’ll see you next week for another great episode of the podcast. Until then, lead to win.

Michael: Awesome.