Favorite Goal Planning & Organizing Tools

2013 Shay Cochrane

I know it’s February  but it’s never too late to get started on a strategic plan for accomplishing your goals.  I’ve been asked many times about the tools I use to set goals and stay organized so I’m sharing them today in hopes they might help you.

Being a wife, mom to three kids (two in school), working part-time, running two family businesses, and volunteering can be chaotic at times to say the least.  In order to keep it all together, I have to stay organized, focused and determined. Although I don’t always hit the mark, my batting average would be a LOT lower were it not for the tools I use to set goals and keep me organized. The tools below are the my favorites for my life.  There are many tools out there so I encourage you to do your research and determine which fit your life the best.


  1.   A time map– As a mom with a lot of intricate details and events to remember for my entire family, it’s pretty easy to blank out and forget something.  A time map is a tool I use to help me visualize my days  and know where I have the all allusive, free time.  This tool seriously helped me figure out where I was wasting my time and schedule my days more efficiently.  One of my favorite quotes from John Maxwell says “The secret of your success is found in your daily routine”.   Below is an example of the first time map I created.  I started with this and tweaked it as my family needs and schedule changed. Time map
  2. Powersheets- Powersheets are the brainchild of Lara Casey, editor of Southern Weddings magazine.  Lara created the powersheets to help women “uncover purpose-filled goals and strategically plan action steps to make what matters happen.” What I like most about the power sheets is that they allow you to put everything out there and walk you through each step to make great things happen.  They are simple and step by step.  They usually sell out but her shop recently re-stocked so if your interested in them, head on over there by clicking here.
  3. Day Designer– The Day Designer planner is the bread and butter of how I stay organized.  I’m in my 4th year using this planner and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Not only is it beautiful and well-made, it is a great tool for staying organized while also being mindful of your overall goals.  The layout includes priority “to-do’s,” expenses, meal planning and the all-important “don’t forget” items. Whitney English, the creator of the Day Designer, includes daily motivational quotes and gives you a place for gratitude which further allows you to focus on not just your schedule but also your health and well-being.  There are three versions of Day Designer available on the website; the flagship, full-size which is what I’ve always used, the mini, a smaller version of the flagship, and the recently released A5, a ring bound planner.  You can download  free daily and monthly planning pages on the Day Designer website to try out as well as access many other free downloads.  Whitney also partners with Blue Sky Planners to offer planners for those who are more cost-conscious.  Weekly and monthly planners can be found on the Blue Sky website while the daily version, much like the flagship is offered yearly at Target, usually in July.  The Target line also features and academic calendar planner. For more pictures and information not the Day Designer click the link found in the sidebar.   Disclosure: While I am a Day Designer affiliate, the opinion offered in this post are fully my own.
  4. A Well-Designed Year–    AWDY is another creation of Whitney English, the creator of the Day Designer.  I like to think that A Well Designed Year is a deeper version of the Powersheets.  It is a “Life Planning System” that helps you delve deep into your life by focusing on three areas (from the website):
    1.  Defining your Core: We start with discovering who you are, so you can focus on maximizing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. This process empowers you to honor your values, recognize areas in need of improvement, and utilize your passions as fuel for your journey.
    2. Heart Goals: We help you set focused, balanced goals in a way that’s totally different from the traditional goal-setting methods you’ve likely tried before. This revolutionary system will be eye-opening and life-transforming.
    3. Alignment & Action: Finally, we help you fine-tune your goals to ensure that what you’re aiming for is in line with who you are. Your to-do list means nothing if you lose yourself in the process of accomplishing what’s on it. We’ll help you keep your character and natural bent in mind when goal-setting.
  5. 2Do App– For several years I used an electronic calendar to stay organized.  While I like the functionality of an electronic calendar, I missed being able to write and check off my to-do list.  After moving to the Day Designer, I realized I still liked the convenience of having something electronic for quick access to certain things such as my grocery list. I use the 2Do app in conjunction with my Day Designer to jot down quick lists such as groceries, or to-dos I don’t want to forget. It syncs across all of my Apple devices so the information is available pretty much whenever I want to access it.  I periodically transfer the information from 2Do to my Day Designer which is my central planning tool.

I hope you find some of these tools useful.  Feel free to ask questions comment letting me know your favorite organizing and goal planning tool(s).


My 2014 word of the year


Y’all I’ve got to admit, when I wrote the post for my 2013 word of the year, I had no idea what kinds of things I was opening myself up to pursue!  Here is a quote from my post last year

Stay tuned because you’ll see big things happen with me and Madelyn Ridgeway Events this year; I know it.  You’ll see things materialize that have been in my heart for a long time.  Things I have to share with the world and make it a better place

Words are a powerful thing, y’all; whether you know it or not, our words create (or tear down) our lives.  I love a quote from one of my favorite speakers that says “where you are today is a direct result of the words you spoke a year ago”.  2013 proved this to be true in so many ways.

When I wrote that post, Shaffer and I had discussed me leaving my job to stay home but quite frankly, it seemed like it just wasn’t going to happen; between two surgeries, great opportunities at work, multiple family deaths and a second, growing family business, we started to think we’d missed it.  We had prayed and truly believed we were on the right track but the little seeds of doubt started trying to sneak their way in.  This is where the rubber meets the road folks, this is where it becomes faith and you step out on the water to walk! On April 12, 2013, I left my full-time job of almost 10 years to go after what matters most to me.

In the beginning I felt like a fish out of water. Not having a job to go to, reports to file or a boss to answer to, felt really awkward to me.  After after about a month, the pendulum swung and I was over the moon with all the “extra” time I had; I did lunch with friends e-v-e-r-y day then ran to pick the boys up and home to get dinner started.  I quickly realized this wouldn’t work.  I eventually settled in to somewhat of a routine and dug my heels in to really pursue those big dreams of mine and make great things happen.  All the work paid off when I launched the new Madelyn Ridgeway Events in November to great reception and enthusiasm!

It’s only the beginning and I look forward to more good things to come in the future which is why I chose focus as my 2014 word of the year. Webster’s defines focus as:

–  to bring to a focus or into focus: to focus the lens of a camera.

–  to concentrate: to focus one’s thoughts.

That’s what 2014 is about for me; continuing to to pursue big things while making sure I focus on what’s important. Join me tomorrow for part 2!

Photo courtesy of Shay Cochrane Photography


2013 word of the year

2013-wordoftheyearWhew! That’s me breathing a sigh of relief that 2012 is behind me.  It was a tough year for me.  Sadly, I can’t say that any one big thing happened, it was just a bunch of little things that happened or never happened.

You may remember my post from last year about my word for 2012.  Little did I know when I pledged to be resolute for the year that I would be challenged from every direction.



My goal for 2012 was to be resolute in pursuing my dreams and staying the course.  It was challenging but I’m glad to say I’m as convinced as ever that I’m on the right course. I’m proud to say that despite many personal and professional challenges in 2012, I stay resolved to pursuing the purpose God has for my life.  Ironically, it was the challenges that have helped me see I’m on the right road.  I mean seriously, how many great dreams have you seen that came easy? Most often, great dreams or God dreams, require you to have a great resolve to accomplish them.

Because my word for 2012 seemed to challenge me so much, I was very cautious as I prayed about what my word for 2013 would be. I didn’t take the task lightly.  I soon came to realize that pursue was the perfect word for the new year.  It really does make perfect sense when I think about it.  In order to pursue something, you really should have a resolve that it’s the right thing to go after.

Webster’s dictionary defines purse as: follow in order to overtake, capture, kill, or defeat find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish

3. to proceed along.

4. a. to engage in

 b : to follow up or proceed with
There it is.  My goal for 2013 is to pursue all those things I’ve resolved in my heart are for me; joy, success, peace, and most of all love in every area of my life.
Stay tuned because you’ll see big things happen with me and Madelyn Ridgeway Events this year; I know it.  You’ll see things materialize that have been in my heart for a long time.  Things I have to share with the world and make it a better place.
Love y’all,