4 Practical Tips for Conducting a Mid-Year Personal Audit

My desk on June 30th

July is here; it’s time for a check-up. If you were like me, I panicked on June 30th at the thought of reaching the mid-year mark. How did we get here so quickly? Every year around this time, I conduct a personal audit to get back on track with staying organized. The assessment of personal organization helps boost confidence. Also, it wards off the awful feeling that the rest of the calendar year is a free fall. One of the real career misses is the perception that personal life does not affect professional life. Based on my experience working 60+ hours a week as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to burn out and lose time in recovery. Here are a couple handy tools that may help with your mid-year planning: 
 
Trello is a project organizer with a user-friendly, heavily visual layout. Whether I am using it on a desktop or as an app, I keep track of personal and professional tasks. I recommend Trello to new users by describing it as “Pinterest for task organization.” I can create boards, bucket tasks, and move cards based on shifts in priority. Although the main web page emphasizes it use in the professional setting, do not be deterred. I use it for grocery shopping, birthday gift ideas, and trip planning. A basic account is free so give it a try. Pro Tip: The Trello huskie mascot’s name is Taco!
 
Passion Planner— While it may be confusing that I recommend Trello and now I am recommending paper, let me make my case. I look at screens all day as a digital strategy consultant. I am more inclined to remember the scribbles I make on a piece of paper because the medium is different. Paper planners, in general, are helpful, but, the Passion Planner is unique. It forces me to write down goals and a do a brief check-in at the end of every week. It takes me 30 seconds. Writing down goals with measurable milestones creates a plan. 
 
Harvard University MBA program conducted an interesting study on the outcomes of goal setting. Harvard’s MBA graduate students were asked if they have set written goals for their futures and if they have made specific goal plans. Only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in their minds but not on paper, and 84 percent had no goals at all.
 
After 10 years, the same group of students was interviewed again. The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined. People who don’t write down their goals tend to fail easier than the ones who have plans.

Incentive-Based Exercising — Get help to get moving using an app like Sentiv, an incentive-based program that allows users to contribute their steps to a charitable fundraising cause. Walking to raise funds for an animal shelter in need is far more motivating than the pep talk I have every afternoon on my couch, “You should go for a run to stay in shape,” I say. “But, I have a bag of candy and tv.” Exercising, for a reason other than myself, is fulfilling. I may not always have the monetary means of contributing to charity; however, I can walk more easily especially with my furry friend, Brooklyn. 
 
Extended Breaks — When looking six months out, plan for extended breaks to recharge. The pauses do not have to be elaborate, i.e. a two-week trip to Hawaii or an excursion in Tuscany. I try to plan three-day weekends every two months or so. Now, as a self-described workaholic, it took me awhile to adjust to taking breaks. But, I learned the hard way after burning out that it is necessary to maintain longevity. Physically getting out of my city — even for a day trip — helps me look a project with a fresh perspective. I find that tasks that pre-break would take four hours may end of taking half that time post-vacation. 
 
I space out the vacations so I can see them visually in my Passion Planner. When I get in a rut, I look at the next extended break time as an incentive. Draw boxes around the date with colored markers. Throw glitter on it. Do a dance. Whatever you have to do! It’s part of your personal six-month plan. No one else’s.