Monday, May 5, 2014

Planning seasonally or quarterly instead of annually?

Today I ran across this article about a book called The 12-Week Year. I haven't read the book (and haven't decided yet if I will bother to) but the concept is interesting: focusing on goals 12 weeks at a time instead of 12 months at a time.

I like the idea of focusing on different priorities at different times of the year. This makes sense in places where there are large seasonal variations. Where I live, there are about 6 hours of daylight in the winter and 20 in the summer, so of course we are much more active outdoors during the months when we have more daylight. We have learned to go with the seasonal flow: long summer days are spent outside a lot; during dark winter days we keep busy in other ways.

Seasons aren't the only reasons to focus on different things at different times of the year. Academic schedules, production and sales cycles, sport events training, and lots of other things have different intensities of activities at different times of the year. It makes sense to focus on these schedules in themselves rather than plot out an entire year at once.

Something similar is the 120 day challenge, where people focus on one main goal for only 120 days. This makes many things easier to do. Running every day, giving up wheat or sugar, or other lifestyle-change goals are easier when you don't think of having to do it forever. 120 days is do-able, and is a long enough period of time to see some results. After that you can decide whether to continue or not, or to focus on a different goal.

This is something I've been thinking about for awhile. I use up a notebook as my Bullet Journal every 3-4 months, which allows me to focus on that period of time more closely than if I were trying to encompass the entire year at once. And anyway it's hard to think and plan past the next few months because plans and situations change. I spent a lot of years trying to plan as far in the future as I could. Now it feels good to focus on the shorter term.

Have you read the book The 12-Week Year, or something like it? Have you done a 120 day challenge? Do you focus on certain goals in bursts, or at different times of the year?

15 comments:

  1. Haven't read it but just purchased it on my Kindle. It sounds intriguing. I'll let you know what I think.

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    1. I'll be really curious to see what you think of it!

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  2. I'm the kind of person who needs repetition to stay focused so I set broad annual goals, break them down to chunks by quarter and then the details fall in weekly. I started this when I joined a quarterly challenge for quilters to set a list of projects to complete about 18 months ago and now I find it works in real life too. In my bullet journal I have spring and fall pages - summer is playtime since my husband is a teacher and we live on a lake. Winter is long and cold so it's time to snuggle in with reading and quilting.

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  3. www.the7minutelife.com makes their planners for 90 days.
    The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine is a great read. I have so many things I want to do, but I can't do them all at once. I want to go horseback riding, garden, cross country ski, knit, crochet, read, to name a few. Does it make sense for me to sit inside knitting and reading all summer and miss out on beautiful weather for seasonal activities? No. My goal is to ride and garden, but if its pouring rain I doubt I will. So that's the perfect opportunity for me to finish crocheting that baby blanket that needs to be done next month.
    This concept really hit home for me when I seen your quarterly goals page in the plannerisms book. I wrote in two quarters cross country skiing, I wrote gardening and horseback in the other two. Some goals can be worked all year long, but seasonal ones definitely have to be prioritized at the right time. This also helped me to say no to items because I already knew what I wanted to do and they were at the wrong time of year.

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    1. Also procrastinating is not an option when you take a yearly goal and drop it down to 90 days, puts some urgency into it.

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  4. I had a really successful last year, when I set up my yearly goals, divided them into quarters (into 3 months period), and focused on accomplishing them.
    I did it in my filofax. I discovered that filofax or whatever inseerts don't work for me because they don't have a build-in feature for goal tracking. I, of course, put them on my monthly and weekly/daily inserts, but with time I tend to forget about writing them there and, because of it, not much gets done goal-wise. To solvthis problem, I made my own goal tracking system for filofax, and use it now.
    Another thing thst I have discovered is that my many of my goals don't require as long time as 3 months to finish them. So now I focus on 1 month period instead of 3 months.

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  5. The fluctuations of energy in the seasons and lunation cycle as well as in the diurnal cycle are all worthy of respect when you plan activities. Most of the time we pay little attention to these fluctuations. It's possible to motor through your life just looking at the calendar grid on a piece of paper or on your electronic screen. But I feel you get more boost for your activity if you harmonize with these cycles as much as possible.

    Some goals are short term, some are vast multi-year projects, not everything synchs with a natural cycle. But for most small projects I've had my best luck with starting near a solstice (for a larger) or new moon (for a smaller). I love letting the flow of nature support my own efforts.

    When my husband and I lived aboard our boat we were part of a community that is very in tune with these cycles. Sailors must be moon, tide and weather watchers. I don't see why I should disregard these forces just because I'm land-based now.

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  6. I am definitely going to get a copy of the 12 Week Year as I have been moving towards shorter goals recently. I feel I need shorter deadlines to keep me motivated. I also find the problem with annual goals is that I don't always know what my life will be like in a year's time, but I do know what I will be doing in 12 weeks time.

    Having said that I really enjoy the Day Zero 101 goals in 1001 days project. I find 1001 days is not too far into the future (I can't wrap my head around 10 year goals), but is still long enough to allow for any unexpected changes in personal circumstances.

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  7. I'm a homeschooler, first my youngest son years back and now my grandson, and we do 9 weeks with a week off in between. So my planning pretty much coincides with this schedule. I feel like I can do most anything for 9 weeks. A whole years scares me. Good post, something to think about.

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  8. I try to break down my yearly goals into quarters but I've never tried setting my goals on a 12 week base. This book sounds like it's worth a read

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  9. What a coincidence!
    I blogged about this last week here
    http://www.nataliefergie.com/blog/2014/5/1/the-12-week-year

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    1. Great post natalie! As usual I'm late to the game with this. Same thing happened to me with Bullet Journal and Austin Kleon's record book. Everybody else finds out about this stuff before I do somehow!

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  10. Blogger cut me off!

    I started last week on May 1st, and I'm finding it good so far, I'll be blogging about it each week to track my progress and work out the things which need to be tweaked.

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  11. Wow. I have the plannerism planner but have been struggling to actually write goals that last a whole year. I don't know what I want to do that will take a year, I don't know how to build on it over 4 quarters, but I certainly have a lot of goals that could be done in less time.

    I have no idea why I hadn't thought of this before but it all seems to make sense!

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  12. I have just read the book. I didn't like the presentation much, but the concept is great. I am going to use it to work on my fitness goals. I have just set up a moleskine notebook I had to track things... I'll let you know how I get on!

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