Track Changes – capturing the fine-tuning of creation

My book is just 1/2 way there. I write about habits, goals, planning and the like …and I missed my own August 2014 deadline. It wasn’t for lack of trying or regular writing. The ideas just needed to get clearer, the “killing the darlings” process is mentally tiring, and overcoming the lizard brain (quoting Seth Godin – “the part of you that controls you, makes you afraid, and pushes you because it says you’re a failure”) was surprisingly difficult. After all, who would want to read what I write?

As a non-writer person (lots of ideas and stories, but not great at explaining them), this is quite the process!screenshot of document filled with mark-ups and track changes

I’m worried about deleting all of these thoughts and ideas. What if I leave out something that was the main point? What if the life changing phrase is mistakenly deleted?

This is where the beauty of “tracking changes” comes in to play. I can save the tracked changes daily and start the next day with a new draft called “accepted changes.” Sure, I’ve now got 35 files stacking up in the My Documents folder, but it is a relief to track this mental and physical process of re-arranging, refining, and refreshing the content. 

Aren’t we lucky that we can change? And, that we can track it? The use of apps to track calories, bike riding, running, and debt reduction is a major signal to the power of tracking the changes we make in our lives. We get to see where we were, where we are going and get excited about where we may end up. It’s about growth, adventure, and new horizons while capturing the junky-ness of the journey.

Also helpful, is a morgue file of sorts – a document that I can copy/paste my unused quotes and notes just in case I need them later or …for another book. If anything, it provides mental relief to my non-writer soul. The thought is preserved.

There are quite a few writing gurus out there that have a lot to share about the writing process – what tools to use, what process to go through, and how to become a millionaire eBook creator. I’ll learn what I can from them more in due time.

For now, I’ve got to write, to change, to modify and to morph. And, I’m going to track it!

Yearly and Monthly Goal Sheet – template sharing

Today in our Nudge Village Group, one of the “villagers” asked about what template I used in the graphic I showed in an earlier post (The To Don’t post) I was sharing.

I have an entire personal management approach that I won’t put entirely in this post, but here are two elements of it.

Yearly Goals 

The yearly goals that are leading me toward my greater purpose, but they aren’t really checklist worthy. I reserve that more for the monthly, weekly, and daily goals and activities.

But, I do create this handy sheet to remember the “big rocks” as I pursue those daily tasks. Yes, I took an extra hour to make it “pretty” because I wanted to enjoy referencing it frequently! Note – it is purposely a bit fuzzy. After all, these are my personal goals. (-:

Screenshot of the yearly goal categories

My yearly goal categories

Monthly Goals

For monthly goals, I do need something that I can write on and reference on a daily basis. Plus, I’ve added the “To Don’t” row to that template because I’ve had to discard some things to make room for something better!

Screenshot of a six month goal categories

Six month goal sheet with categories re-used from my yearly goal sheet

Here’s a copy  in MS Word – Goals_2013_samplebreakdown or  in PDF – Goals_2013_samplebreakdown  if you’d like to replicate it. I’ve actually made mine for six months across the page and I copy it out on a legal or larger size paper. Perhaps I have too many goals! But, I enjoy variety!

Your Approach

This is working for me right now for two areas of goals – yearly and monthly. I have an entirely different method for vision, mission, and life goals as well as my daily tasks and notes. Being a full-time employee and a part-time entrepreneur means there is a bit of juggling between systems, processes, and personal  note keeping because some of my personal management tools aren’t available at work.

But, feel free to share and use. Keep modifying your approach to work for you. Our brains all work a bit differently.

To Don’t – purposeful not doing

Are you a BIG planner! Life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily to do lists!

New Year's Resolutions - created in November 2000 and posted on the bedroom door poster style

New Year’s Resolutions – created in November 2000 and posted on the bedroom door poster style

List mania? Perhaps.

It feels great to get ideas out of the head and on to paper. But, it can be overwhelming – so many ideas, so many opportunities, so little time.

Years ago a friend gave me a pad of stationary that actually had a “To Don’t” list beside the “To Do” list. We had a good laugh about it, but both realized the importance of NOT doing certain things.

You must be intentional in determining what NOT to do. It doesn’t just happen. Some of the “To Don’t” goals will actually be legitimate personal goals.

One goal I’ve had was to obtain a certain level of certification in a field I work in, but it is just not obtainable without giving up something else that is more important to me!

Choices must be made. 

In this case, instead of getting level three certified, I will be satisfied at level two. It is still a great accomplishment.

What will giving it up give me?

It will allow me to move forward on some entrepreneurial ideas I’ve had FOREVER. It will allow me to focus on learning something else. It will help my family focus on getting healthy vs. spending that time sitting in another 400 hours of training!

How to “To Don’t”

So, how is this done?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Assess new goals weekly 

Recently I had a bright idea! I’d go into work early and do some personal and work “stuff” in a private conference room before going to my desk. I actually got the idea from the book Quitter. This would provide the necessary alone time before I hit the ground running with meeting mania.

It backfired on me.

Starting too early actually had the unintended consequence of me staying later at work! Not cool. I have no idea why, but it resulted in more work and…less exercise! So, after a week or two, I had to drop that goal. Now I use that morning time to exercise and go into work later. I get something very important done (exercise) for myself before dealing with a full day of meetings.

 Add a “To Don’t” or “Dropped Goals” section to your list 

It seems minor, but it is important to track what you have decided not to do.


Because you forget! Seriously, I was starting to forget what I promised myself not to do!

Think of it like a diet. You decide not to eat sugar and no kidding – most of us will grab and eat something sugary right while we are in the process of thinking about the goal! Human nature, anxiety, whatever it is, we do it.

This week I added a section to the bottom of my monthly goals list and wrote down those decisions that I decided not to follow.


Every time I look at my monthly goals I am reminded of what I am not going to do. It re-enforces my conscious decision to not take further action on those items.

Remember – YOU are in charge, the world will keep adding “To Dos”

At my day job, I generate two or three pages of “To Dos” daily. A lot of them are tasks I need to assign to other people, but that still takes time! A lot of time!

The world will continue to fling opportunities, experiences, and activities your way. It is YOUR responsibility to determine what fits into your life. There will be a never ending parade of options, and some may appear very shiny and pretty at first, but actually detracted from your purpose and goals.

Take the time to remind yourself that you are in charge of your actions and don’t need to take on all that comes your way.

Reflect and Re-visit

Life has a way of going by quickly. It is made up of numerous small decisions day-to-day. Years can go by before we realize that we are WAY off track with how we intended to live our lives!

We all keep our goals for life, each year, each month and each day in a format that works for us – paper, electronic, in our head (not recommended).

Take time each week or month to re-visit these. A few questions to ask:

  • Do my daily activities lead me toward the weekly, monthly, yearly and life goals I claim I’m after?
  • What activities detract from those goals? Should they become a “To Don’t?”
  • Do I have a new purpose? If so, what needs to come off the plate to ensure I take the actions necessary to fulfill this newly found purpose?
  • Am I too busy? Why? Are there some good things that need to be replaced by better options?
  • Can some of the goals be moved to a “To Don’t” list for now and be re-visited in a different season of my life?

Scratch it!

It is a constant balance, isn’t it?

So many ideas and not enough hours in the day. As you go about adding to your to do list, be patient with yourself. You are in a constant process of finding out who you are, what is important, and what just isn’t working. It is hard to give up on something that you wanted badly for something that might be a better fit for you!

Now, get out there and scratch something from that list!


If you’ve ever worked in a corporate or government environment, you know full well the impact of meetings on your ability to use time wisely.

Graphic with jokes about holding meetings

Even the Microsoft Outlook calendar defaults to one hour when you set up calendar invites.

There are a ton of resources out there about meetings – agendas, what to dos and what not to dos, etc. Yet, meetings continue to suck the time and inspiration out of people.

Just a few tips if you are planning a meeting this week:

  • Agenda – make one. Search Google for “agenda templates” and you will find plenty of examples.
  • Try 30 minutes – instead of defaulting to an hour, plan for 30 minutes.
  • Read Ahead and Action Ahead– give the attendees the notes, slides, action items, etc. before the meeting and make them deliverables for the meeting. Cancel the meeting if you find out ahead of time that people won’t be prepared.
  • Post action items and notes in a shared space– whether it is Google Docs, a Facebook Group, SocialText or something else – get what was discussed and agreed to out there for all to see. Plus, this assumes that you took the steps during the meeting to assign action and follow-up dates.

More meeting ideas?