Focus On This Podcast

122. Kickstarting Your New Planner



It’s a new quarter, and it’s finally time to transition to a new Full Focus Planner. But you find yourself putting it off. The transition seems overwhelming, and you don’t want to “mess up” your pristine new planner. How do you start getting down to business?

In this episode, Courtney and Blake walk through three steps for kickstarting your new planner. They’ll offer practical tips for shifting your mindset and capturing key information to set yourself up to succeed. 

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • The first step to committing to the future
  • How to avoid being blindsided by stuff you forgot
  • Where to look for ideas on how to adapt the planner
  • Why curating your environment matters for your productivity
  • A motivational second segment with Verbs


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Episode Transcript

Nick: Hey, everybody. Happy New Year. It’s Nick, your favorite Focus on This producer, and I’m here to tell you that although Verbs was not available to record this episode when we recorded it, to make up for that fact, because it is the first episode of the year, because we do need to hear from Verbs, what he decided to do was record a special message for everybody for 2022.

So, make sure you listen to this whole episode. There’s a short message at the end where he gives you some emotional support and tips and ideas heading into this Quarter 1. I found it super helpful, and I know you’re going to enjoy it. So, make sure to listen to that at the end of this episode, and here you go.

Blake: Courtney, you know what they say. Right? New year, new…

Courtney: You.

Blake: Planner.

Courtney: Oh, yes.

Blake: They say “new planner.” That’s what they say. Ideally speaking, when we have the new year, we have all this exciting energy, that fresh-start effect, and maybe, if you’re listening to this podcast, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a Full Focus Planner. We talk about productivity here, but we have a system that’s baked into a wonderful quarterly, gorgeous planner we call the Full Focus Planner. But maybe you’re like me. This has happened before, where I will have a really busy quarter, and it will end in a flurry of activities, and then I start my next quarter.

I have a subscription to the Full Focus Planner, and it will sit with that little card thing that goes over it where you can write the quarter on it… It’ll stay there for a week, and then I’ll be like, “Oh yeah!” And I open it, and then I’m like, “What day am I on?” and I just start scribbling on a Notes page or something like that. It’s almost like a false start, so to speak. Maybe you’re listening, and it’s your first planner that you have. Has it ever happened to you, Courtney, where you kind of have that false start?

Courtney: Yeah. That’s a good question. Yes, that happens more when I don’t have a really clear time to do a Quarterly Preview. All of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh my gosh!” I didn’t have the space to actually get things moved over like I would want to, and I just have to get going. Certainly. Then, for people who are starting off, I’m sure it’s just trying to figure out ”What is the right thing to do next? How do I get this thing going?”

Blake: Exactly. If you’re brand new to using the Full Focus Planner, we’ve made this episode specifically for you so that you don’t start off in disarray but can build a lot of momentum and start with that feeling of accomplishment as you dig into this new year. So, today, we are going to give you three specific practices, things you can do right now to kickstart your new planner and build some momentum toward achieving your goals this new year.

Courtney: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays again. I’m Courtney Baker, here with Blake Stratton, who is dancing at this moment.

Blake: I am. It’s great podcasting to do things like this dance. People like that when they’re listening. Wow! Is it bad that I’m out of breath? I think I need a fitness goal. Okay.

Courtney: So, Blake, we’re talking about how to kickstart a new planner or just when you’re transitioning from one planner to another and getting that momentum going.

Blake: Right. We have four practices. The first one is to date your Daily Pages. This sounds simple. Literally, what I’m talking about is to go into your planner to those Daily Pages (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) and write down the date for that specific day. Go through your planner and do that. Here’s why I love this as a practice, Courtney. When I first got a planner, what I noticed was, “Oh, this is nice. This is the nicest planner I’ve ever purchased.”

I have a tendency to feel like I don’t want to screw it up. If it’s a new thing or it’s a nice thing, I don’t want to screw it up. A little bit of perfectionism kicks in. Now I’ve gone through enough of these that that feeling is gone, but if you’re new to this, maybe you feel intimidated. I’ve talked to people before who have said, “Well, I bought one, and I didn’t want to screw it up, and it has sat on my desk for three weeks. I haven’t touched it.”

Courtney: Is this kind of like when you get a new piece of furniture in your house and it needs to get that first nick in it so you can be like, “Okay. Let’s just start using this thing.” It’s like, until then you’re kind of walking around… You’re so careful with it. It’s kind of like that.

Blake: It’s like a quarterback in the NFL. When they get the footballs, they start scuffing them up. I’m going to use a sports analogy of football, because I know both Courtney and our producer Nick are die-hard, avid football fans. We talk about it all the time.

Courtney: Blake, you’re saying that like I’m not. Do you know I have a degree in sports marketing?

Blake: Okay.

Nick: Uh-oh.

Blake: Okay. Who’s the starting quarterback for the Washington football team right now?

Courtney: Nick, that one is yours.

Nick: No, but I love the team name.

Blake: Who’s the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears?

Courtney: The only team I pay attention to is the Titans.

Blake: Okay. There we go. Well, that counts. So, Titans. Who’s the starting quarterback for the Titans?

Courtney: Ryan Tannehill.

Blake: Okay. So, Ryan Tannehill. I promise you he does this. Before the game, they don’t want a brand-new, crisp football. They need it to have some scuffs on it. They need it to have some markings so it’s easier to grip and catch.

Courtney: Do you know what he doesn’t do? He doesn’t take air out of the ball.

Blake: Okay, okay.

Courtney: That does not happen.

Nick: I love this so much.

Blake: Don’t you defile the name of Thomas Brady on this podcast. Don’t you dare.

Nick: Love it. Thank you, Courtney.

Blake: TB12. I’ll give you my affiliate link after the podcast, Courtney. So, here’s the point: you need to scuff up the planner a little bit. Now, granted, there’s value, from a productivity standpoint, in writing down the Daily Pages, because it’s one less thing to have to think about. If you miss a day, or whatever, you can quickly find your place in the planner.

To me, the biggest value here is an emotional value of committing to the future, of saying, “I’m using this tool. Yeah, I just spent money on this nice planner. I’m committed to using it. I’m not going to put it off to next quarter. I’m not going to use it for a few weeks and then save it for the next quarter. No. I’m committing. I’m writing down these dates.”

There’s a “burning the ships” mentality that comes with that. You get rid of that perfectionistic tendency of “ruining the planner.” You just get rid of that thing, because goal achievement is not a game for the perfectionist. It’s a game for the committed. So, commit to it now. Write down those dates, and I promise you you’ll be better for it.

Courtney: The second practice is transfer key dates and deadlines. It is the literal worst feeling on a Wednesday morning when you realize you’re supposed to be at a doctor’s appointment 45 minutes away that you had no idea about, but you’re also supposed to take your kid to school, and there’s a field trip you forgot to sign up for. All of a sudden, you realize you totally got blindsided by something you had no idea about. I think it’s one of the worst feelings, Blake.

Blake: I bet you do. I wasn’t sure what to say.

Courtney: Okay. I’ll just close with that.

Blake: No, no. I’ll pick it up. I just thought that would be funny. Yes, this has happened to me before, where I will not bring over the fact that, “Oh, I have this…” Maybe it’s a doctor’s appointment or maybe it’s a travel day or something like that. Then I double book, and then I have to walk it back and apologize. “Oh, I’m so sorry” or “I forgot about this.” That never feels good, and you can end up with these super crammed weeks or kind of overcommitting to other people or even to yourself.

Courtney: The idea of transferring these dates is basically just to help you orient on what’s happening, to help you focus on those things you need to have a larger context for so that Wednesday morning you don’t realize, “Oh, I have to be at this doctor’s appointment. I also have this big presentation.”

It’s a way to help you have some clarity and calm in your life because you know you’ve accounted for these large things. It’s a really easy thing to do. You can do this on the calendar pages or the quarterly planning pages in your planner or, really, both if you want to. The idea is just to give yourself a high-level view of big things you need to account for within the next quarter.

Blake: Third practice: make it your own. If you’re a total newbie to the planner, of course we recommend you adopt the practices we teach you in the planner. Use the tools as directed, but allow yourself to make this your own. Something I’ll tell our clients when I’m helping them through something is to remember that this is a tool designed to serve them. It’s designed to help them achieve their goals. It’s not the other way around.

There may be things you choose to tweak to fit your lifestyle. Maybe it’s as simple as, “Oh, I’m going to do my Weekly Preview on a different day because of how my job works. My off day is on Tuesday, so that’s when I’m going to do my Weekly Preview.” Or maybe you use those calendar pages in the Weekly Preview to keep track of your meal planning or something like that.

Don’t be too rigid with this. Don’t hold yourself to some standard with this of “Hey, I’ve got to do it this way; otherwise, none of this stuff works.” This can be more like a sandbox, a thing to experiment with and treat the tools within the planner as an experiment in your own life. Is there any way you make the planner your own, Courtney, things you’ve done or you’ve heard people do who decide to do something with their specific practice of using it?

Courtney: Yeah. I’ve tried all kinds of different things over the years, but I would say, I see in the Full Focus Community on Facebook all the time things I never would have thought of. That’s a great place if you’re like, “Oh, that seems like it would really work.” Recently, I saw a post. Specifically, it was a group of teachers, and because of their schedule, they had shared how they use the daily schedule section. It was so brilliant.

I thought, “You know what? The way they were setting up the page… That’s really interesting. I may even try that for myself.” So, yes, there have been a lot of times over the years that I’ve tried different things in different ways. Some of those work, and I keep them, and some of them don’t. The point here is really important, that even though we give y’all a lot of tips and tricks and how-tos, the best way to use this planner is the way that works for you.

Blake: Absolutely. For me, one of the biggest points of experimentation, or sandbox things, is the Notes page of the Daily Pages. It has been seasonal what’s the highest value for me for that use. I don’t really use it to take meeting notes (I have an app I take notes in to do that, and it syncs across my devices, primarily), but I do use it every single day.

Once, when I first started using the planner, I started using it to track my time. I had my little calendar there, my agenda part of it, and then on the next page, on the Notes page, I would write down what I actually did to be kind of accountable to my own planning. The last year, I used it to help my performance on our sales team, to just keep track of… A big part of what you do… If you’re listening in sales, you know this is kind of how it works.

You have a Daily Big 3, but one of those Daily Big 3s is just to call your prospects, but that’s probably going to be more than three people, or it could just be three people if they all answer the phone. I would use the Notes page to set a target of those specific people and then just keep track of “Okay. How many of those people did I contact?” and those types of things. Whatever your occupation is, if you’re a teacher or in sales or something totally different, take advantage of this tool and make it your own.

Courtney: You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by launching your new planner. You can get the focus you need now for the year ahead by dating your Daily Pages, transferring key dates and deadlines, and showing yourself some grace and flexibility along the way by making the planner your own. Blake, any final thoughts for the Focus on This listeners?

Blake: Yes. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-curated environment. When you can curate your environment for your productivity, it really helps. We usually think about that in terms of “Oh, what do I need in my desk or in my area?” or something like that, where your physical space is.

We’ve given you a lot of logistical things about the planner in this episode. In a sense, it’s the environment you’re creating for yourself with this tool. So, by investing time into these practices, they may seem really disconnected from the “important” or “urgent” stuff you have to do to hit your goals, but by taking the time to do this, it’s a little bit like taking the time to…

I’m thinking about this because I moved into a new office myself, and nothing is set up, and I feel a little scattered. It may feel disconnected from my productivity to take time to go, “Okay. I need to get a plant in here. I need to hang something on the wall and have a bookshelf and all that.” That’s not a direct action toward my job, per se, but it’s helpful to have that curated.

So, that’s my final thought for you. Take some time to familiarize yourself with this tool, to do these practices, curate your environment. I promise it will help you moving forward to use this on a daily basis and move the needle toward your biggest goals.

Courtney: Thanks, everybody, for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so share it with your friends, and don’t forget to join us in our Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook.

Blake: We will be here next week with another great episode, but until then, y’all…

Both: Stay focused!

Verbs: Hey there, everybody. I just wanted to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the fact that you made it. Somehow, someway, you were able to take all that 2021 had to throw your way, and you pressed right through it, as difficult as it may have been. So, congratulations. I know the journey may not have been all popcorn and funnel cakes, but you’ve crossed the threshold into a brand new canvas called 2022.

Now here you are standing in the present, gazing into the horizon of what is to come. Sure, the good and the bad of 2021 may come knocking at your door to remind you of the time you had together. It’s okay to celebrate the hits and acknowledge the misses. Don’t allow those to slow you down, but use them as jet fuel to propel you into the new horizon. You spent time, brain energy, heart energy, and resources to design and dial in your goals for this year because you knew there was more to experience in 2022, and you are in position to go after it.

Now, the question is not…Will more difficulties and challenges present themselves in this year? They will absolutely come, but you have a plan that has been built from hope, desire, and motivation that will help you navigate through those moments, and when the pressure of a challenge arises, remember it’s not just about achieving a goal you’ve written down. It’s about who you will become on the other side.

The last thing I want you to know is you don’t have to do this alone this year. As a matter of fact, I hope you don’t. The journey of goal achievement is a lot more exciting and encouraging when you do it with others. Find someone to walk with you through this adventure. Hop into the Full Focus Community on Facebook. Find encouragement in what others are doing on their journey, and feel free to share what you’re doing on your own journey, as I’m sure it will encourage others as well.

The Focus on This team will be right here cheering you on too, offering as many pro tips and insights that we can find to assist you along the way. When you think about it, the end of Q1 is not too far away, and you have access to all of the tools you need to make it an incredible quarter. So, for now, fix your eyes on what’s ahead and stay focused.