If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know there are two analog tools that help me make major progress on the things that matter to me in both life and business. The first, of course, is the Simplified Planner from Emily Ley and the second is the Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters.
2020 marks six years of using both of these incredible tools, and while the Simplified Planner helps keep me sane in the day-to-day, the Powersheets are the primary reason for progress on the big picture goals I have over the last several years.
Similar to the Simplified Planner, when I talk about Powersheets, I’m often asked if they’re worth the cost.
And my answer is the same — it’s absolutely worth it… but only if you use them.
If you go ahead and do all the prep work and never use the monthly tending lists, or if you make your tending list each month but stick it in a drawer and forget about it until the end of the month… then no, the Powersheets are not going to be worth it to you.
But if you take the time to really dig in and figure out what matters to you and what you want to make happen, and figure out a way to implement it into your daily life so you actually make progress, then it is totally worth it!
HOW I USE MY POWERSHEETS
I started using Powersheets back in 2015 when they were still available as sets to put into your own 3-ring binder.
I’ve gone through a lot of changes since then, just like the Powersheets have, and as a result, the way I use my Powersheets has also changed.
START WITH THE ANNUAL PREP WORK
Whenever I get my new Powersheets, the first thing I always do is walk through the annual prep work.
Lara and the team at Cultivate have put together an incredible resource and the prep work at the beginning of each set of Powersheets is so helpful in helping you evaluate the previous year, for all the good and bad, and thinking through the progress and things you want to make happen in the year to come.
I know a lot of people love to hop around in the prep work and do different pages as the mood strikes them, but I’ve always found it most helpful to go through the prep work as it’s laid out, starting on page one and working your way through to the end.
The prep work pages build upon each other and the more you work through it, the more you get into a headspace that makes it easy to make good plans and goals for the future.
At the end of the annual prep work is where the goal setting begins. There are a few pages to help you pull together those threads and recurring themes and ideas that have repeatedly popped up throughout your prep work and turned them into tangible goals.
For me, this is where things differ ever so slightly. Because at the beginning of the year, I don’t actually set goals, I set intentions.
INTENTIONS VS. GOALS
What’s the difference between an intention and a goal, you may ask?
Intentions are the big picture ideas of what you want to be a reality in your life, either in the long-term or for a season. Goals are the tangible, measurable things you can check off a list that make those intentions a reality in your life.
A goal for a lot of people might be to have a strong marriage or build a thriving business.
Now, there’s no way to accomplish that and check it off a list, unless you define what a strong marriage or a thriving business looks like and that is where the goals come in. Having a strong marriage or thriving business is actually the intention and the goals are the tangible, measurable things you do to make that happen.
At the beginning of the year, rather than setting goals, I set intentions for what I want to be a reality in my life. Some of these rollover from year to year, and others are there for a couple of years or maybe even just one.
After setting my intentions (or big picture goals, if you prefer that term) for the year, it’s time to move onto setting the goals that make those things a reality.
At the start of each quarter, there’s a goal summary sheet in the Powersheets and this is where I start setting my goals.
Each quarter, I set a goal specifically related to each intention that I want to accomplish and will actually be able to check off a list at a certain point throughout the quarter.
For example, an intention for the year might be to live a life of simplicity. A quarterly goal might be to declutter the house or clear out a number of backlogged projects.
Without defining what a life of simplicity looks like, it isn’t something I’d ever be able to accomplish. But when I take that big picture idea or intention and break it down, I can then create those measurable goals and move forward toward them!
Once the annual prep is complete, the bulk of the work happens in the monthly prep. There isn’t anything super special or different about how I handle my monthly Powersheets prep — I pretty much walk through it as designed.
Before I get started, I flip back to both my intentions for the year and my goals for the quarter to remind myself of what I’m aiming for. I then walk through the sections of the prep work that more or less help you brain dump all your ideas before forming them into coherent goals and action steps for the month to come.
COLOR CODE YOUR TENDING LIST
There are a lot of different ways to organize your tending list and my favorite is to do it through color coding.
I used to do this with different pens, but switched to stickers in 2018. I use the sticker book from the Cultivate shop that has color coding built right in with flags and dots for up to 10 intentions or goals (the maximum you can flesh out in the Powersheets).
Each intention for the year has a specific color associated with it, designated by a flag, and I put a dot in the corresponding color next to the monthly, weekly, and daily goals on my tending list for each month.
This ensures that the goals I’m setting each month are all tied to an intention for my year so I’m focusing my efforts on the things that actually matter to me, rather than getting distracted by a bunch of random goals that won’t matter much in the long run.
SCHEDULE MONTHLY + WEEKLY GOALS
In order to make sure I’m actually accomplishing the goals I’ve set for each month, part of my monthly prep is creating my tending list and going right to my Simplified Planner to schedule out those monthly and weekly goals.
In the same way that the goals transform the abstract idea of an intention into a tangible reality, scheduling my goals transforms them from an idea on a piece of paper to something I will actually do.
There you have it, friends! That’s my process for using my Powersheets after five years of experimenting!
If you’ve been thinking about joining the Powersheets family in 2020, then today is your lucky day, because 2020 Powersheets are officially live! Lara and the team have done an amazing job and made what appear to be some incredible updates to the tool for the new year and I’m so excited to dive in!