Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are past, the New Year is a time for reflection and thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2023.

If you’re like me, planning stresses you out just thinking about it. I’m a very organized person. I have two calendars, work and personal, so I don’t overbook myself. And even then, I still miss things here and there. We’re human, right?

January is a good time to sit down and get organized. Things tend to be slower at the beginning of the year, so you have a few minutes to think clearly. I plan out my work commitments (big meetings, deadlines, etc.) and then schedule personal appointments for the year. I even schedule dog grooming appointments; if your groomer is like mine, you have to book out.

Once you know what’s on your plate in 2023, you can better prioritize the tasks needed to accomplish your goals. Everyone prioritizes tasks differently. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

First, set your intentions. I know that sounds like you’re at yoga class, but it’s true. Focus on listing out either your work priorities or personal priorities. Don’t try to do both at the same time. You’ll miss something. I suggest starting with what you need to accomplish at work in 2023, and then go through your personal tasks.

Next, get a planner. As for the style of planner, to each their own. If your workplace uses Outlook for email, it also has planning features. For personal use, a paper planner, electronic planner, or Google calendar works well. The only planner I wouldn’t fully rely on is the one in your head.

Start your list with a look back. Go back through your 2022 calendar and look at all the meetings, events, deadlines, and projects that you were a part of. Will those come up again this year? If so, put them on your calendar and set reminders. Being on top of things before your boss or leadership team even brings them up makes you look organized and ahead of the game – and that is a good feeling.

Some things to look for on your work planner:

  • Regular meetings – e.g., your weekly staff meeting. Reminder: don’t plan a meeting to just have a meeting. If it’s on the schedule, it should be worth everyone’s time.
  • Reports that you help prepare (e.g., quarterly, monthly, etc.)
  • Deadlines – what are you responsible for at work that you can’t forget to do? Note recurring deadlines.
  • Work trips or conferences
  • Vacations, time off, and other personal commitments – even if you don’t yet know exact dates, put something tentative on your work calendar. Don’t neglect this – you’re a better employee if you take time off and recharge.

Evaluate and break down your 2023 goals. This will look different for everyone. Whether you work full-time, part-time, multiple jobs or are a stay-at-home mom, we all can set goals. Plan those out. What small steps do you need to take to achieve those larger goals? A good rule of thumb is to break down your larger objective into weekly, monthly, or quarterly goals, and then add them your planner. Setting deadlines and reminders for what you need to accomplish will help your tasks stay fresh and hold you accountable.

Add your own personal flair to your calendar.  Some of us prefer events, deadlines, and reminders to be color coded. Some prefer black and blue. Just make sure that it makes sense to you. If you’re using an online calendar, set reminders for yourself and invite anyone else involved in the project so they can help you stay on track.

There are only so many hours in the day; distractions and interruptions are inevitable. So, make sure that you are being realistic when setting goals and prioritizing your tasks. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you risk creating false expectations. This ends up adding to your stress, which can make you fall behind. Set yourself up for success and plan out only what will help you move in the right direction to achieve your goals. That is time well spent!

Sharine Sample is the Regional Workforce Development Manager at Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. 

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