Focus On This Podcast

89. Solving the Riddle of Rolling Quarters Pages

Overview

You missed your friend’s birthday—again. You completely forgot about your annual physical and double-booked yourself. Your anniversary snuck up on you, and now you’re trying to make last-minute reservations. You hate feeling the guilt and panic of losing track of dates that matter.

What you need is a better look at the big picture. That’s why we designed Rolling Quarters. Rolling Quarters give you an annual view within your quarterly planner, so you can track important dates and commitments and see your year at a glance. In this FAQ episode, we’ll dig into a question from our Facebook community, sharing tips and tricks for how to get the most out of this planner tool.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • How to set up your Rolling Quarters page
  • Ideas for events and happenings to track
  • Courtney’s favorite part of her past job
  • One strategy for leveraging Rolling Quarters to track your goals
  • Another round of the Review Corner

For a full tutorial on how to set up your Rolling Quarters page, visit fullfocusplanner.com/start.

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Episode Transcript

Verbs: 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. I am Verbs, here with Courtney Baker and Blake Stratton. Blake, Courtney, what’s up?

Courtney: Hey, guys.

Blake: Verbs, good to see you, my man.

Verbs: Good to see you.

Courtney: So, Blake, we are in the middle of our Frequently Asked Questions month.

Blake: I’ve posted the links, people. I know you’re asking where I get my great wardrobe, all this stuff. I posted the affiliate links on my Instagram. Please. This is a productivity podcast.

Courtney: I have been off Facebook for years and years and years. I’m an Instagram person. But I’ve gotten really into my Peloton, and I’m in this challenge group, so I have to go post something in my group. When I get on, there’s usually some awesome post in the Full Focus Community. Guys, that Full Focus Community is…

Verbs: It’s alive and kicking.

Courtney: It is so good. I love getting in there. The reason we’re having this conversation today is because you all posted in that community. This is a question that comes up frequently. Hopefully, we’re going to solve one of those questions you have today, but if you have another question that we haven’t solved on this podcast, we’d love to hear from you in the community. It’s such a great group.

Blake: Verbs, that was the layup. Are you going to plug it? What’s the link? Give them the link. Where do they go?

Verbs: For the Full Focus Community on Facebook? Is that the one you speak of?

Blake: Yeah. Where do they go?

Verbs: That’s it: Full Focus Community. Do a search on Facebook.

Blake: Oh, you just search it on Facebook?

Courtney: It’s so easy.

Blake: Okay. Cool. Then do they just Venmo me $100 a month? Is that how it works?

Verbs: Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, whatever you see fit.

Courtney: Blake underscore [censored].

Nick: We have to cut anything like that.

Verbs: Dollar sign.

Blake: This month of May, Nick, our producer, wants you to know that he suggested this title, so know that it was not my suggestion. I’m sorry. Here it comes: May I Help You? We’re here to answer your questions. This week, it is the question to end all questions, the driving force behind any great man or woman’s productivity. I know it. Courtney knows it. Verbs knows it. This is the mother lode. You know what I’m talking about. Do you know what I’m talking about, Courtney? I’m talking about taking that pack out, going down the street, and letting it ride…rolling quarters.

Verbs: Fantastic intro.

Courtney: I will say, anytime we talk about Rolling Quarters, I do usually have the “Rolling on the River” song in my head.

Blake: I don’t know that song. Can you please sing it?

Verbs: I always think about going to the bank with a bag full of quarters and getting those little sleeves so you can roll the quarters.

Blake: Those things are the coolest.

Courtney: Guys, this is going to get cut, but I used to work at the bank, and that was my favorite thing. You would have stacks and stacks of quarters, and it was so much fun.

Blake: Stacks on stacks.

Courtney: That is, obviously, not the type of quarters we’re going to be talking about today, but you all do ask us a lot about Rolling Quarters. Full disclosure: When I first got the planner, I was like, “What in the world is happening on these two pages? I don’t know.”

Verbs: Why in the world?

Courtney: So I get you guys. I’m there with you. Why in the world?

Blake: So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today: what Rolling Quarters are, how to use it, and why to use it if you are wanting to step up your productivity game. Let’s just talk about the point, what Rolling Quarters even are and why they exist in the Full Focus Planner. The Full Focus Planner is a quarterly planner. If this is the first time you’re listening to this show, you’re like, “What is the Full Focus Planner, this community?” This is a productivity podcast, but we have produced a tool that… It’s not that it’s better than the tool you currently use. It’s just that it’s definitively the best one on the market. End of story.

Verbs: Says Forbes.

Blake: So any differing opinions are invalid. No. But we use the Full Focus Planner. It’s really just a compilation, the greatest hits, of productivity tools that are scientifically proven to help you achieve more while doing less. It’s amazing. So, Rolling Quarters early on in your planner is an important page because this planner we make is quarterly. Meaning, it’s only good for 90 days. Or is it? And that’s where Rolling Quarters comes in, my friend.

If you find yourself thinking, “It’s great to have a quarterly planner. I’ve got my daily pages, my weekly preview, my monthly pages. What happens if I want to get a glimpse, if I want to see the big picture not just of this quarter but of days and quarters to come?” That’s where the Rolling Quarters comes into play: to get that bird’s-eye view and track big-picture happenings in your life.

Courtney: In traditional planners what you would have is the traditional calendar view. You would have 12 pages of that to cover a year. That’s a really inefficient way, especially if you need to zoom out even farther from that. You’re wanting to see a bigger picture in a shorter glance. You can’t really do that in that sense, but you can do that when it comes to Rolling Quarters.

Blake: What are some of the big-picture things or, I guess, reasons to even look at the big picture? Maybe we should discuss that before we even talk about how to actually do it.

Courtney: There are a lot of things you can track that you may want to not have to flip each calendar page to see. You may want to see the whole year of what your kids’ school calendar looks like. It’s kind of tiresome to have to flip through pages to see “When is spring break? When are they going to be out? When do they start? When is the next break?” You can see that in a much more condensed view. That’s just one example. There are all kinds of things, like big work projects and seeing how they lay on top of each other. It’s more helpful to have a more zoomed-out view than looking at things just one month at a time.

Verbs: And it’s a good way to, again, like you said, track those things that don’t happen frequently but you know at some point are going to show up. You want to make sure that instead of depending on Facebook to know when Uncle Pete’s birthday is you can at least track that in your Rolling Quarters and at least plan for the man’s birthday. Send him something early so it’s not the same day Amazon gift you normally have to resort to.

Blake: Uncle Pete never gets any love because his birthday is between Christmas and New Year’s and everyone totally forgets about it. They’re like, “Sorry. I was thinking about Jesus’ birthday, Uncle Pete, again. Didn’t think about it.” For me, where it comes up is I find myself exhausted, and it’s like, “Why did we try to schedule this trip when this is always the busiest time of year for something happening at work?” or “Boy, if I would have known…”

Sometimes it’s not physical exhaustion; it’s financial exhaustion, where it’s like, “Oh gosh. This is happening and this is happening and this is happening…oh, and taxes.” So it’s all of these things back-to-back-to-back. So, Rolling Quarters is that zoom-out, that 30,000- or 50,000-foot view to see that landscape and get you un-trapped before you do get trapped.

Verbs: So, today, we’re going to be looking at three steps to leverage Rolling Quarters and how to use them best. Let’s get into it. Blake, help us out. What is step one?

Blake: Step one is to set up those Rolling Quarters pages. They don’t really work unless you set them up. It’s really simple. You’re writing in the year and the quarter of the year, the month, and then there are rows for all of the days and space for you to write in the specific days of the week. Essentially, it’s this highly compressed view where you can see six months at once and see whatever items you put in there.

Courtney: Guys, it’s really easy, and honestly, the best way to see this in action is, Blake, you’ve recorded a really great tutorial video about how to set these up. Go to fullfocusplanner.com/start.

Blake: People said that video was really life changing for them, so you’re right, Courtney. I did a great job. Step two: decide what you want to use these Rolling Quarters for. How do you want to use them? What do you want to record? I’m glad we put this in as a step, because I think sometimes we just default to say, “Oh, put in the big important stuff,” but I know from that community we mentioned earlier that people use Rolling Quarters to track all kinds of stuff. So, let’s give them some ideas, folks. What do you say?

Courtney: Let’s do it. One idea is (we’ve already mentioned this) when you’re going to go on vacation. I feel like that’s a really great use for Rolling Quarters. I’d get really excited every time I looked at my Rolling Quarters if that was how I used it. It can be appointments, conferences or events, birthdays (we’ve already talked about those)…

Verbs: Uncle Pete.

Courtney: Anniversaries (hint, hint, everyone), graduations, holidays, even just knowing how many days are in a month. You have trouble with that too. That’s one way to do it: your Rolling Quarters.

Verbs: Here’s an important one, because we talked about the important things that are also infrequent. You definitely want to capture kids’ extracurricular showcases or tournaments or those sorts of events. You do not want those to creep up on you and miss them, so items like that are important as well.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Blake: I think it’s also cool to track goal milestones, especially if you have a habit goal. A lot of times, we set a goal that’s an achievement goal or a habit goal, and it’s going to extend multiple months, maybe even beyond a single quarter. I think that’s a cool way to figure out, “Hey, this is when I want to have achieved this,” or a goal that maybe is going to take you six months you could break up into monthly milestones and write in on those specific days. So, you can get creative with this.

Courtney: Okay. Here’s one way I’ve used this that I think is interesting. I do meal planning in advance. I plan for the quarter ahead, because I hate doing that. I hate, like, on the weekend you’re like, “Oh, we have to go to the grocery store. What are we going to make? What do you want?” Nobody knows. No one likes food, apparently, because nobody can ever decide what anybody wants to eat. It’s terrible for me.

So I was like, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to plan what our meals are going to be for the whole quarter.” It’s really for the month, and it repeats for three months, and then I examine it after three months. So, I just put in here what’s on the menu for the week, so when I’m doing my Weekly Preview, it’s really easy. I just look over there, and I can know what the game plan is for food that week. So, that’s another way, but, again, in the community there are a thousand different ways to use these Rolling Quarters.

Blake: A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want to forget it or, in this example Courtney just gave, if you want to set it and not have to think about it until you choose to remember it (that’s another way of not forgetting something), then you should consider putting it in your Rolling Quarters pages.

Courtney: Blake and Verbs, have you seen some of the photos in the community of people who color-code their Rolling Quarters?

Verbs: I have.

Blake: I have not.

Verbs: You’ve got to go take a look.

Courtney: It is really nice. They color-code personal things, professional events. They have a whole system for how they’re viewing this. What we’ve talked about, “These are some things you could do…” You can, obviously, stack on multiple of those things, and using a color-coding system really helps you with that.

Blake: That’s next level. I’m not going to lie. That feels beyond me. But if you color-code your Rolling Quarters and you haven’t shared a photo in the community, you are missing an amazing flex opportunity. I mean, we are ready to wow. Show us how you use the Rolling Quarters.

Verbs: And that’s a good idea on how to maximize your planner. Hey, if you can color-code, if you have the capacity to do that and show it for the world to see, please do. But the whole idea behind it is that these spreads are intended to be able to meet your needs. You can tailor, obviously, your whole planner like that, but especially these Rolling Quarters, so you can maximize it in a way that it best serves you.

Blake: All right. Let’s do step three, which is update and iterate. Assuming you’ve filled them in and you’ve decided how you’re going to use them… This is not designed to be set in stone, “Now my whole year is planned and it’s over.” In fact, this is probably my resistance in general in adulthood to planning too far in advance.

I like to have a sense of spontaneity or to not feel boxed in by a decision I made that felt right three months ago but maybe doesn’t feel right now. So update as you go. Update these Rolling Quarters. As you go through your weeks and your months, some things will rise in importance. Other things will dissipate in importance, and you may want to edit. You may want to change something, add something in as you go.

Courtney: Yeah. This might be something like you have a doctor’s visit and you went ahead and scheduled that while you were there. It’s not going to be for another nine months. You can put that in. Really, what we’re saying here with step three is to use it. Don’t just set it up and then leave it, because it’s not going to be up to date. This might be something you want to review as part of your Weekly Preview, which will help you both keep it up to date and keep those things from sneaking up on you, that you can plan accordingly as you start to focus on your week ahead.

Blake: I will close these three steps of using Rolling Quarters with an idea that recurs a lot in our methods and tools, which is: don’t take it too seriously. Take it seriously but in the sense that you would take an experiment seriously. I guess what I mean is don’t feel like you have to get it perfect. Don’t feel like you have to get it right on the first try. Understand that this is just an experiment. You can approach Rolling Quarters like that and update and iterate and change as you go along.

Verbs: I actually had an idea today. Full disclosure, as we like to say here, Rolling Quarters is always that one segment of the planner that I continuously say, “Next planner I’m going to implement my Rolling Quarters.” I’m almost there. But I was looking at the regular monthly calendar pages, and I think I’m with Blake on this one.

Using Rolling Quarters right out of the gate for the full year may feel a little bit overwhelming, but if I use my monthly calendars and in the first quarter of the Rolling Quarters I could almost get the same year view. It might be a good way to ramp into the full usage of the Rolling Quarters. So, just an idea, but that gives you an idea of how you can tailor it for your specific needs.

Courtney: That’s such a good note. I just want to remind everybody who’s listening… Maybe you’ve never used Rolling Quarters before and you want to try it out. That’s great, but it’s not the most critical thing to the Full Focus System. It’s really just another tool we give you. We think there are some great reasons to try it out and see if it works for you, but, again, the core to this system is your Annual Goals, your Quarterly Preview, your Weekly Preview, and your Daily Big 3.

That’s the real power of this system, and then things like Rolling Quarters is a great additional tool that’s built into the planner for you, but not critical. So, I think that’s where, Verbs, you can be like, “You know, that’s a thing I’ve just never really…” It’s like me and the index. We have a really interesting relationship.

Blake: Can I share one last thing?

Courtney: Yeah.

Blake: I was just thinking. This is not an either/or when it comes to digital or analog. I would absolutely, even if you use Rolling Quarters, double up and put stuff in your digital calendar. Maybe that’s not for everyone, but I don’t like… If I happen to not have my planner with me and want to look at something, it’s nice to have it in the cloud too. But this isn’t an either/or proposition.

If you already keep all this stuff in your digital calendar, there’s still a lot of value in writing it down for a couple of reasons. First, because it gives you a clearer and calmer sense of what’s really going on. There’s something about writing the thing down. Almost like with your daily pages. You may have your to-do list app, but when you translate that, you realize, “What am I doing? This is way too much for today. I have no chance to get all this done. I need to think what’s most important.”

It’s similar with Rolling Quarters. My digital calendar looks like an absolute garbled mess, and I have to try to filter stuff. This is just a quick reference to what’s most important to you in terms of out-of-the-ordinary, significant events. It’ll sear it into your brain and work with your psychology a little bit differently than the digital calendar would, although they both have their own value.

Courtney: That’s such a great point. It’s not going to replace your Google Calendar, but you’re not going to get this view in your Google Calendar. It doesn’t exist.

Verbs: Guys, before we close today, we want to take a moment and thank the people who have been sending in these five-star reviews of the Focus on This podcast. A couple of weeks back we read one that was a… Blake, how would you describe the last review we read? It was a truthful one.

Blake: It was certainly thoughtful.

Verbs: It was thoughtful. It was truthful.

Blake: It gave me a lot of thoughts. Lots to think about.

Verbs: And it took time for that reviewer to type that out, and we appreciate the time spent. What we want to do right now is continue reading these reviews on the podcast, and I believe we have one coming our way now. Now, Blake and Courtney, neither one of you have actually seen this review, and Nick is going to shoot one to us.

Courtney: I am a little nervous, because the last time Nick gave us a review… Verbs, you were trying to be very kind, but for people who maybe missed it, it was not the nicest of reviews, so I’m a little… Are these going to be “gooder” or “badder”?

Blake: Let’s find out if they’re gooder, Courtney. Okay. Here’s the first review. It says, “Love this podcast!” Five stars. That’s a good start. This is by “arggddf,” which I think is Scandinavian. This says, “Love listening to Courtney and everyone give their words of wisdom for the FFP and all things focus.” There must be a typo in here. It says, “Courtney and everyone.”

Verbs: “And everyone.” This is the beginning, guys.

Blake: We’re just lumped into “everyone”?

Verbs: This is how it happens.

Blake: This is mostly about Courtney.

Courtney: I love “arggddf.”

Blake: “Love listening to Courtney and whoever else is on this podcast.” I got it. I see. Loud and clear, “arggddf.”

Verbs: Here’s another one.

Blake: Courtney, do you want to read the second one or are you going to read it, Verbs?

Verbs: Why don’t we let Courtney read it. She’s here.

Blake: Oh, yeah. That’s who the people want to hear anyway.

Verbs: That’s who the people really want.

Courtney: That’s so sweet. Thank you for whoever left that review. Okay. This is by “Mari-soon-to-be-Lacy.” “Love Monday mornings with these guys!” See? She said “guys,” so you can take that. It balanced out.

Blake: There we go.

Courtney: “It’s so refreshing to listen and learn from folks who experience the double win and who deliver practical advice every week that leads to my own double win when I take action. Thanks, guys! Highly recommend!”

Verbs: Awesome. Thank you, Mari-soon-to-be-Lacy.

Courtney: Yes. I love these. Thank you, guys. That’s very kind to hear from those of you who love this podcast, especially when we get called valley girls, or whatever that one person said. I can’t remember. I blocked it from my memory.

Verbs: Did that happen?

Blake: Yeah. So, if you want to leave a review for the podcast, please do. We accept five stars and greater on those reviews, so, bring the honesty, but just leave five stars.

Verbs: Thanks for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so please share it with your friends and remember to use #focusonthispodcast. We’ll be here next week with another great episode. Until then…

Courtney & Blake: Stay focused!