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Yearful February Blog February

Is it spring yet?

I hope you’re having a good start to the year.

If, like me, you live in the northern hemisphere you’ve probably had enough of winter by now and are looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. I think I need some vitamin D, which is why my mind is now thinking of a holiday to somewhere warmer…

So, a good opportunity I thought to tell you a bit about how I like to use Yearful for my own personal planning. I try not to cram too many categories onto one calendar, so I split things roughly by topics. For example I’ve got one calendar setup each for holidays, health, work and a couple more for specific projects I’m involved with.

Holiday Planning

For holidays I mark out when my kids’ school holidays are. They are at different schools now, so sometimes they’re in sync, but not always. Occasionally they’re a day or 2 out. If you’re a parent you’ll know that you’re pretty much limited to these dates for family holidays, which means it pays to book early. I find it helps to have the calendar visible when doing holiday research and getting quotes etc. Sometimes you get better deals by flying out mid-week or departing the day before the “official” school holiday.

I did think about adding family birthdays & anniversaries onto this calendar too, but I already have them on Google calendar as recurring events so feel this would be unnecessary duplication.

I share this Yearful calendar with the rest of my immediate family so we’re all on the same page and can co-ordinate our separate diaries around shared events.

Health Tracking

On the Health calendar I’m tracking all health related goals and actions. I made a commitment to myself to do more stretching. Like most people nowadays I spend too much time sitting down, so I’m now doing a 10 minute stretching routine each morning. I find that checking off each day I do it keeps me motivated to not skip it the next day and make it a habit that sticks. It’s a little psychological trick, but it works. Check out this post to find out why.

I also record the days when I actually train at the gym. Not when I think I ought to, but when it’s actually done. Again, having a record of what actually happened is more powerful than optimistic visions of what I’d like to happen. If I see the little orange squares thinning out I know I’m not going enough!

I’ve also started marking down periods of illness, injury or colds. Not for any particular reason other than it might be useful information in future. I believe that paying more attention to your own body will help you to spot early warning signs before anything more serious happens. For example if start to notice a pattern of one particular kind of injury, or I’m getting more colds than usual, I can look back and think what change in my activities might be causing this.

Work Tracking

As a freelance technology consultant I have a number of different clients, some regular some ad-hoc. If I know I’m going to be with a particular client for a period of time I block out all the known dates in advance. This is really quick to do in Yearful as I can usually select all the applicable months in one go, select the “Exclude weekends/holidays” option, apply the client category and it’s done! This is really handy for me as I can see instantly how many billable days I will have by month and can forecast cashflow accordingly. It also makes it easy to figure out what to bill when it comes to raising invoices.

Pro tip: For long-term engagements, I create 2 categories e.g. “ actual” and “ remaining”, or something similar. Then, I block out the known dates using the “…remaining” category and then check off each day/week as I complete them by replacing them with the “…actual” category. This way Yearful keeps up to date running totals for me.

I’ll also mark out our planned family holidays. I know is duplication of some of the Holiday calendar events, but I find it useful to have a combined picture. Then I’ll block out any business trips or seminars safe in the knowledge it doesn’t clash with anything on the Holiday calendar.

Being a self-confessed data nerd, I’ve also gone to the effort of entering historical data for previous years. This can help me see trends and provide data to help answer questions like: how much time do I take off per year on average, or what made year X more profitable than year Y?

Anyway, that’s about it for now. I would love to hear about how you’re using Yearful. And I‘ll try to share some more tips and insights next time.

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  1. Good tips. Especially the one about the gym. I just marked all the days I actually went in January and— what can I say — the truth hurts.

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