Do you ever get to a point where you say “I just need a holiday!” And then you look at what you’re already committed to, and realise that you can’t book a holiday for another two months? Aaargh!

Let’s change that.

As we close out 2018, your mind’s probably turning to what next year looks like. I know mine is.

It’s this time of the year I plan what I want my 2019 to look like. To maximise my time and create a life that works for me, I’d rather be on the front foot, rather than lurching from month to month. The older I get, the more I want to be strategic with how I use my time left on the planet.

I’ve written about how I do this a couple of times before. Clients, readers and friends have told me it’s a really a useful method, so I thought a little prompt right now might be helpful 🙂

In essence, the steps are:

  1. Do a Year In Review
  2. Look for patterns and themes
  3. Decide your intentions for the year ahead
  4. Schedule the good stuff
  5. Make a ‘great people’ list

Here’s my original post outlining the method in detail. And here’s a template you can use to do the work.

Here’s my 2019 year by design:



The colour coding:

Yellow = Generative time. This is time to slow down, think, create, and replenish my energy. I used to think of this time as ‘time off’. But I’ve realised that it’s not ‘off’, it’s just shifting into a different way of operating. I’ve learned that I’m at my best when I take time to ‘generate’. That means slowing down, and often going somewhere different – notice the orange boxes around some of the yellow: that’s when I jump on a plane 🙂 Generative time includes blocks of writing time, ‘lab’ time (where I might collaborate with others to test design new ideas), and holidays and adventures. When I make time for generation, I’m way better placed to serve my clients, friends and family.

Green = Delivery time. The green boxes are days where I’m already booked for work with clients next year. This is the time where I’m earning money, but more importantly, it’s also time spent where I have a chance to make a difference using my talents. Scheduling the green time serves two purposes: it shows me my cash flow (am I earning enough?) and it also gives me a sense that I’m spending enough of my time doing ‘hell yeah’ work. I’ve learned that I tend to say ‘yes’ to way too much interesting work that I can charge for, and end up cannibalising my generative time. So I’ve put clear boundaries around my delivery time for next year, and I’ll be using ‘hell yeah days’ as a primary measure of success.

Pink = Professional Development. This is structured time for me to get an injection of new thinking, reflect on my work and practice, build my professional networks, and plan ahead. I happen to be doing a programme that forces me to build in these days, which really helps.

The three categories reflect the types of activities that are both a) important to me and b) able to be scheduled in advance.

The most important thing is to create your year by design. Not someone else’s. You know what’s important to you. Prioritise that.


I hope the rest of 2018 finishes well for you, and that you make 2019 an outstanding one.

See you on the other side 🙂


Photo: Digby Scott

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