03 October 2011

Setting Goals with your Filofax

Reader Robbiegirl recently posted a comment asking for tips on using a Filofax for goal setting and time management. Since goal setting is one of my favorite topics, I thought I'd write a post about how to specifically use your Filofax for setting and tracking goals.

Awhile back on Plannerisms I wrote a post about using your planner to set and track goals, and mentioned some ways to use Filofax for this. (Click here to see the post.) I found the article linked in that post very enlightening.

So, the thing about goals is it's not enough just to set them. Don't get me wrong, goal setting is extremely important. But it's just the beginning.

1. Goal or Resolution? First, let's talk about the difference between a goal and a resolution. In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin cleared up the whole issue for me by pointing out that a Goal has a definitive end. Her example was, your goal might be to run a marathon. You train for the marathon, then on race day you run it, and it's finished. But if your goal is to exercise regularly for health and fitness, that's a Resolution.  That's never going to end. It will be a life-long endeavor. But you can create goals from your resolutions. For example, a goal could be to exercise 4 times per week.

2. Set your goals.  This means, really think about what you want your goals to be. What do you want the end result to be?  Write down what you want to accomplish, and crucially, by WHEN. Give yourself a deadline, whether actual or artificial.

3. Set milestones. Milestones are steps along the way to allow you to monitor your progress. Most goals are big, multi-faceted things that need to be broken down into tasks. Look at your Goal, and think about all the steps that need to happen to reach the end. Write down each step, and think about how long it will take you to reach that step.  From this timeline you can set your monthly and weekly goals and tasks. What do you need to do each week to continue your progress toward your goals?

*4. Record your progress.  This is a step many people miss when working toward their goals. In the article I linked above, one of the most important points was to record your progress. Did you complete your weekly and monthly goals? Have you done those tasks related to your goals?  Make sure you write down what you accomplished, and what you didn't, so that at all times you know what you still need to do to reach your goal.

*5. Evaluate your progress!  This is a step very few people do! Yet, it is crucial for successfully reaching your goals. After you record your progress toward your goals, evaluate what worked well and what didn't. If you didn't reach your weekly or monthly milestones, why not? Did something unexpected come up that took up your time (such as an illness or urgent project?)  If you did reach your milestones, celebrate! Make sure you write down what worked well so you can replicate it!

6. Adjust your goals. This is yet another step that many people don't do. As you work through your goals, continue to adjust them to suit your needs. You may find as you go along that a goal may need a longer timeline than you have allotted, so you can adjust your timeline accordingly. You may discover that there are things that need to happen first before you can progress, so you can work those tasks into your timeline. You may find that some of your milestones need to be changed. You might even find that a goal you set awhile back is no longer relevant and can be eliminated.

7. Celebrate your success!  Reward yourself along the way for reaching your milestones, and make sure to celebrate the completion of your goal!

A Filofax is an excellent tool to help you reach your goals. You can use a Filofax in almost endless ways to help you along the way.  Here are some ideas:

Create a GOAL section.  Whatever your goal is, dedicate a section to it. Here you can list your monthly and weekly goals, and evaluate them.  You can collect information that will help you reach your goal.  You can even write inspirational quotes to help keep you motivated.  Or, you could even dedicate an entire Filofax to your goal. This works well for exercise or specific projects.  If you do use a separate, designated Filofax, make sure you open the book often! You may find you look at goals more often in your everyday, constant-use Filofax.

Visual reminders everywhere.  Put reminders of your goals everywhere you look. Have a page you like to look at in the very front of your Filofax so you see your goal every time you open your binder. This can be a photo (like Femke's photo of herself running a 5k, which she would like to do again), a motivational statement, or a countdown ("only 5 more pounds to go!").  I like to write my goals on my weekly diary pages so they are in front of me all the time.  Write or stick reminders of your goals on your pagemarker. Your goals will stay at the front of your mind if you see them frequently.

Record your progress.  This is where a Filofax can be especially useful in goal setting and achievement, because of the ability to add in any pages you want. You can use your Filofax to record your progress toward your goal in numerous ways.  Use graph paper to make charts or total up figures (such as money saved, miles run, pounds lost, etc).  Use notes paper to write lists of accomplishments. On your diary pages, write your daily and weekly goals and check them off as you finish them to get a real sense of accomplishment!

Write evaluations in your Filofax!  These can go in your Goals section, or you can put pages into your weekly or monthly section to keep a chronological record of your progress. You might designate a specific color of paper to write your goals progress and evaluations on so you can find and reference them easily.  Write reminders in your diary pages of when it's time to write your weekly, mid-month and/ or monthly reviews. Then on your designated pages write what worked well and what didn't, what needs to be continued and what, if anything, can be eliminated.  Remember to record your successes and your pitfalls! Both will help you work out a plan forward.

Rewards in your Filofax. How will you reward yourself when you reach your goal? Will you take a trip? Have a party? Buy yourself a new wardrobe of clothes in your new smaller size?  Write your reward, plan your party or list your dream clothes in your Filofax. Don't forget to give yourself smaller rewards for reaching benchmarks along the way: after you've consistently completed your weekly goals you might buy yourself a new book, go see a movie or even splurge on a new Filofax! ;D

Your Filofax can be a wonderful motivational tool. How do you use your Filofax to help you reach your goals?


  1. Laurie, this is excellent material. Thanks.

  2. Thank you! I'm glad you like it. :)

  3. wow. perfect timing! I went to bed late last night reconfiguring pages for this. I was doing a weekly write up along with weekly journal pages faithfully every week but then I'd also replace them every week so it was hard for me to see any sort of progress whatsoever even if I had a list of the weekly goals that stays in, the weekly review doesn't stick in my head if it's out of sight. also, I wasn't really connecting my weekly goals with my monthly goals... so I would just have a bunch of random weekly& monthly goals and of course I was not very good at accomplishing any of them. I have been rating myself on the weeklies, tho. averaging a 1.5 out of 5! funny that I decided to finally address it when you post this article! thanks for this- it's a great general re-cap. mine are on todo sheets -3 of them for the month. first page is 'inspirations and blessings' (soas to open that section with the positive I encountered for the month) backside - 'what went well' 2nd page facing - 'what didn't', back of that - 'what i learned' - facing - 'what needs to change' and then the last back - notable. i have each page broken down into 6 sections (you'd need at least 5 per month) since I can see everything. I'm hoping I can better understand what I should accomplish and therefore accomplish
    more. like this week, I have a meeting to look at a school (gotta get out of this rut so taking the steps to slightly alter career) so this week my goal is 'self' so I need to make more effort to think about myself and focus on my 'career' goals. (I tried this once with 'career' didn't work. gotta apply it to 'self' arrghh. why I have to complicate things so much is beyond me) my monthly goal is 'purge' - in every sense of the word. gotta get rid of tons of baggage soas to move forward! anyway, great post thanks!

  4. Snarling, very thoughtful:
    - Inspirations and blessings
    - What went well
    - What didn't
    - What I learned
    - What needs to change
    - Notable

  5. g - these are summaries i've taken from the women's success planner:


    i added the 'notable' since i may not have done my todos or gotten closer to my weekly goal but i DID manage to do other things (i get distracted quite easily and tend to follow tangents a lot plus i'm also a major procrastinator...i never give up! but i procrastinate a LOT)

  6. Laurie,

    Thanks for this interesting post. Snarling, thanks also for sharing your ideas.

  7. Great post, Laurie! I think the weekly/monthly reviews are greatly underestimated. For me it means that I hold myself accountable for what I did and didn't do (especially the latter ;-)). Otherwise, I just transfer undone activities/todo's to the next week or month. But now I actually have to sit down and write WHY the heck I didn't do what I agreed to myself to do. Like looking in a mirror, there's no avoiding techniques, because it's very hard to lie to yourself!
    That's what got me hooked on the Woman's Success Planner ;-)

  8. I totally agree Jotje, that is one of my favorite things about the Women's Success Planner. Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing also does monthly and mid-month reviews, which are very helpful, but the frequency of weekly reviews really make me scrutinize how I'm doing things!

  9. Thank you so much. This is exactly what I am looking for. I find the comments useful as well. I love this site.

  10. This is so great! I am just starting to organize my first Filofax for 2012 and this is just what I needed. Thanks for sharing it!