How I Stay on Track


I’ve always been a sucker for those “How She Gets It All Done” headlines.

Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, or maybe I was sincerely looking for a tip that would help my life fall into place.

Either way, I was in a constant search for a program or system that could get my life in order until it got so busy, I had to rebuild my entire approach to how I manage my time.

I had less energy.

I had bigger responsibilities.

I had to make a choice between what had to get done and what needed to wait. 

As I tried new methods and apps and mindsets, I realized it was all just too much. Too much doing packed into one day and not enough prioritizing around what mattered most each week. Too much doing based on what others needed and not enough boundaries around what I needed. I was doing too much of all the wrong things. 

In a culture where busy is a personality trait and stressed is a badge of honor, everything had become so important that nothing could be the most important. 

Slowly, I’ve come to realize we are all more than the things we check off in a day.

More than what our job title speaks. 

More than our social media platforms. 

We have to GSD each day, but we can do it with purpose and intention and still have the energy to tackle what matters most at the end of the day—our relationships with our friends, our families, and ourselves.

So today, get all of those swirling thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Align those thoughts with your big picture view of the week. Make sure they move you ahead on key projects that propel you forward in all aspects of your life. And then close the notebook. After all, whatever you need to do will be there in the morning.

The Stay On Track Notepad was originally sketched each week using a ruler on a basic 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I thought of the layout after finishing the book The One Thing and knew that I was sabotaging myself by jumping from project to project. At the time, I was thinking about all the different businesses I was running as separate entities, even though they were one of the same brand. I was running the shop differently, I was running the studio differently, I was running the website differently, and I was looking for ways to streamline all of those businesses so I could do fewer things and make a greater impact on each of them.

I started thinking about the big picture point of view for each week. The idea behind starting with the big picture is to better identify what is most important and will make the biggest impact across multiple parts of your life (or businesses, in my case). 

From there, I would list the most time-sensitive projects I needed to prioritize during that week in order to make the big picture a reality. These are projects or tasks that benefit the mini benchmarks or steps needed to work toward your big picture.

Maybe your number one goal is making healthier habits or starting a new business, or maybe you’re working hard to get a nonprofit formed or a new event off the ground. There are all these moving pieces that go into making those big dreams a reality, and it’s the small steps and small, incremental wins that build momentum and drive us to the end of the finish line. When we have the big picture in mind, we’re able to break down the projects week by week and day by day, to get an overview of what our week needs to look like.

There are all these moving pieces that go into making those big dreams a reality, and it’s the small steps and small, incremental wins that build momentum and drive us to the end of the finish line.

This approach is meant to serve as a way to decide how to plan blocks of time for yourself. To help you look at your weekdays a little differently. Is your day going to be all about doing the little things? Or is there one key task you need to make the top priority?

Stay On Track is my system for planning my weeks so I don’t have to work on weekends, which is why there isn’t a Saturday or Sunday section. When you use this as a way to plan out your weeks with the most important projects in mind, you are driving toward big accomplishments and goals that you want out of your life. When we just write down what we have to do in a day without the big goals in the forefront of our minds, our schedules get bogged down with things that seem important, but just distract us from the good, focused work we need to do in a week. 

Because doing the things that are easy, like the annoying tasks that sit top of mind, feels like a noble reason to avoid doing that hard, heavy lifting of making a big goal or dream happen. When I figured this out, I felt so much relief. I thought I would never be able to achieve what I wanted in life because I was just going to be TOO TIRED! Everything seemed so heavy and important, I would buckle under the pressure of having too much stuff that needed my attention all at once. Or, I would tackle something that wasn’t driving toward an important goal or deadline, solely because it felt good to get it done.

Distracting ourselves with a to-do list of random tasks may feel good, but it isn’t going to save us limited resources like time and brainpower. 

The Stay On Track Notepad is about just that: keeping yourself doing the good work, finding more time within your weeks to make sure that you’re getting it all done, and filtering in your small tasks around the big stuff. That’s how we can make the most of our days, weeks, months, and years.

BY Kate Arends - September 4, 2019

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