Get your PDF copy of a printable Annual Projects Log here: Projects Log – how does this year unfold
Planning is a process that involves writing an intention down, then acting on it. When we reverse that procedure – taking action, then writing it down – it’s a log. If you’ve been frustrated that your plans remain forever on paper and never come to life, you might try keeping a log as part of your annual planning process.
For years I’ve been using a very simple one-page annual log. I designed the log with space for four categories of progress that are important to me: books I’ve read; courses I’ve taken or experts with whom I’ve studied; projects or goals worked on; and challenges, themes or landmarks.
At the end of each month, I briefly jot down updates to my log. In the first column I note any books I’ve read, and highlight the titles I’ve finished. I include both business books as well as leisure reading, The Power of Habit as well as my book group’s latest novel. The second column lists courses taken and experts consulted – this year already I’ve tapped the skills and wisdom of both Rachel Cole and Shannon Wilkinson, and taken a screenwriting one-day class at Stanford University, and a calligraphy workshop at the San Francisco Center For the Book, just for fun.
The third column is devoted to projects, usually multi-month projects. These projects are typically what I think of as “infrastructure,” projects that, once done, don’t come back for a while: creating a new group program, revising a course I teach, revising a section of my website. In some cases I could be working on the same project for most of a year before I’m able to highlight it as done and move on to another.
Finally, the fourth column is a place to record milestones, challenges, or themes. So when I developed painful tennis elbow that made putting in a full day at my desk difficult a couple of years ago, I noted it in the annual log. The month I was able to return to my normal exercise routine, I noted that, too. Whenever I hire new staff or lose staff, it gets recorded in the log. And because mine is essentially a one-person operation, if I have out-of-town guests for a week, I may write that in the log as well. Whether welcome such as visiting family or unwelcome as a bout of the flu, those milestones and landmarks help me to see the pace of my year. The recording of them helps to keep me from feeling frustrated by unavoidable slow progress caused by a staff change, and it can goad me into moving faster when, really, there’s just no reason not to.
If there’s a class, book, or project I’ve abandoned, I bracket it like so: <Fifty Shades of Grey>, to indicate that it’s not done but I’m done with it.
There are some things that can best be seen in reverse, can be perceived only with some perspective. Keeping an annual log can help you to manage your business better, without wasting time ruing the unavoidable or letting the small and quotidian overwhelm the large and permanent.