These 5 Questions Can Ensure Clarity and Success in 2024

These 5 Questions Can Ensure Clarity and Success in 2024

Have you set your 2024 goals? If so, you are ahead of many. In fact, you are in the top 14% of business professionals! Are they written down? Even better! Do you have specific strategies and milestones for achieving them? You are on your way to success!

But if you are like most, you are struggling to create clear annual goals with specific objectives and strategies. You may be procrastinating this process due to a lack of clarity, or you just don’t know where to start. Unfortunately, this often leads to another year where you are reacting to the latest “fire” or doing whatever is in front of you instead of prioritizing and making progress toward goals and priorities that will allow you to reach your vision and dreams. Why not take a different approach to annual goalsetting this year?

5 Annual Goalsetting Questions

Creating intentional, well-thought-out annual goals does not have to be difficult. You just need some focused time to answer the following questions (note these questions work for an individual, team, or business):

1. What do you want to achieve? Be thoughtful, specific, and clear.

2. Why does this goal matter to you? Why do you want to achieve it? How does it fit into your greater vision?

Honestly answering Question #2 may cause you to determine a goal is not important, does not support your greater mission or vision, or is not a priority right now. It is ok to put that goal aside to review in a future year, or remove it for good!

3. When do you want to achieve your goal?

Choose a target end date for your goal. Or, decide which quarter(s) of the coming year you will focus on the goal. Knowing your target date will help break the goal into intermediate milestones in Question #5 below.

4. Who will be involved? Do you have full control over the outcome of the goal? Do you need someone to provide support and accountability?

Use your answers from Questions 1-4 to write your goal in 1-2 sentences.  Goals that are written are three times more likely to be achieved. Once you have a clearly written goal, it is time for Question #5.

5. How will you achieve your goal? What strategies or steps will you use? What are key milestones, including dates? List these strategies and target dates to ensure you are on track throughout the year.

5W1H Annual Goalsetting

These 5 questions form the basis of 5W1H Annual Goalsetting™:  What, Why, When, Who, and How. (Wondering about the fifth “W”? The fifth “W” is to help you remember to “Write” it down!)

You may be familiar with SMART Goals: those that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. The 5W1H Goalsetting questions support the thought process needed to develop SMART Goals.

Use the button below to download a 5W1H Annual Goalsetting Template which includes space for answering each question and a table for recording your strategies and milestones. Choose one goal you want to achieve in 2024 to practice the process. Once you have that completed, choose another. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro!

Annual 5W1H Goalsetting Template


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Annual Goal Review and Tracking

When defining goals, it is important to distinguish between goals that are project-based and goals that are habits to create or change. How you define and track these two types of goals is very different. It is important to have a tool and process in place to regularly review and update your project-based goals as well as habit tracking tools for your habit-based goals. I will cover the review and tracking process, and potential tools, in a future blog. Stay tuned!


If you are still struggling with setting annual goals for yourself, your team, or your business, please reach out. I am here to help you clarify and reach your work and life goals.

Contact Lori at Life Made Simple or schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

There is Still Time! 5 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Year End

There is Still Time! 5 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Year End

There is no question this is a busy time of year.  But as we near the end of 2023, there are still a few things you can do to close out the year and prepare for a successful 2024.

1. Spend time on office “maintenance. Schedule a few days to catch up on filing, update your contact database, organize your receipts for the year (send them to Shoeboxed and let them take care of it for you!), empty your email inbox, and/or scan in those piles of paper (I recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 for PC or Mac for this task.) I like to use the last week of the year for these maintenance items. Spending some time to maintain your office productivity systems will help you feel you can start the New Year fresh and accomplish your goals.

2. Fill a bag for donation. Get a trash bag (or box depending on the type of items) and take 10-15 minutes to fill it with items to donate. Drop them off at a shelter, church, Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the charitable organization of your choice before the end of the year to receive your 2023 tax deduction. Help others that may not be as blessed during the holidays and clear out your space at the same time.

3. Crush what’s left of 2023. Plan the remainder of your year to help you prioritize and be intentional about how you want to spend this busy time. Brainstorm a list of personal and work tasks you want to accomplish before yearend. Be sure to review your 2023 goals to determine what is left to accomplish and determine if and how you will do so. Once you have a list of tasks, schedule them. With about 6 weeks remaining in the year, when will you focus on each task? Check out the ProAction Planner as a helpful tool for planning and scheduling.

4. Reflect on the year. Review the good and bad from 2023. What went well? Where did you find challenges? What will you continue doing, start doing, and/or stop doing in 2024? Download and complete our Year in Review Template, using the button below, to help you through the process.

5. Create your 2024 goals. Determine three to five goals for 2024. Why are these goals important? What strategies will you use to reach your goals? What tools or resources do you need to accomplish them? Check out our past blog, Goal Setting is Hard, for more goal-setting tips.

While each of these takes some time and focus, the value received is well worth it. Be sure to schedule them in before your end-of-year calendar is full.

Unleashing Success: The Elements of Workflow Optimization for Small Businesses

Unleashing Success: The Elements of Workflow Optimization for Small Businesses

In the fast-paced world of business, efficiency is the name of the game. With competition getting tougher by the day, it’s crucial to optimize workflows to ensure your business runs seamlessly. The secret to this lies in a blend of intelligent automation, effective project management, team collaboration, and customer insight. By strategically employing these elements, businesses can not only survive but thrive in their respective industries, setting the stage for sustainable growth and success.

In today’s post, we’ll dive into some proven methods for streamlining workflow for more efficiency and productivity.

Assess Your Current Workflow Processes

The first step to enhancing productivity is understanding your current workflow. Analyze each process, identify bottlenecks, and determine areas where improvements can be made. This comprehensive review should not be a one-time event but rather an ongoing practice, as continuous improvement is the key to maintaining optimal performance levels. To get started, consider working with Life Made Simple. We’ll perform a productivity audit to help determine areas for improvement and help you develop a plan to reach your goals.

Harness the Power of Project Management

In the realm of business operations, project management plays a pivotal role in maintaining streamlined workflow processes. It acts as the backbone that holds together various elements, ensuring tasks are completed within set timelines and budgets. Effective project management fosters improved communication, facilitates resource allocation, and promotes risk mitigation, ultimately driving productivity and efficiency.

Regularly Seek Team Feedback

Your team is on the frontline of your operations, and their feedback is invaluable. Encourage open communication and regularly seek their input on how processes can be improved. This will not only enhance workflows but also foster a culture of continuous improvement and shared responsibility.

Embrace Automation Tools

Automation is the future of business efficiency. Intelligent automation tools, including automation success platforms, can streamline tasks, reducing the chance of human error and freeing up your team’s time for more strategic work. These platforms are designed to manage and assist in automating a wide range of processes, from data entry to customer service. By leveraging an automation success platform, businesses can drive their productivity to new heights, demonstrating the transformative power of automation in the modern workplace.

Streamline the Onboarding Process

A well-structured onboarding process can significantly improve a new employee’s productivity. By providing clear instructions, training resources, and a detailed overview of their responsibilities, you can help them hit the ground running. Moreover, integrating them into your workflows from day one ensures they’re contributing to your business’s efficiency as soon as possible.

Implement a Customer Data Platform

Understanding your customers is vital to business success. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) can provide deep insights into customer behavior, helping you tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies accordingly. As such, it’s important to explore solutions for a customer data platform that best fits your business needs. The right CDP not only boosts sales but also enhances customer satisfaction, fostering loyalty and repeat business. By leveraging a well-suited CDP, you’re investing in a tool that can significantly influence your business’s growth trajectory.

Eliminate Throwaway Meetings

Meetings can be a significant drain on productivity if not managed correctly, not to mention they’re not cost effective. Consider whether each meeting is necessary and what can be achieved via email or collaborative software. By eliminating unnecessary meetings, you free up time for your team to focus on their core responsibilities, enhancing overall productivity.

In today’s competitive business landscape, optimizing workflows is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. By reviewing your processes, using a project management app, automating tasks, investing in a CDP, and eliminating unnecessary meetings, you can boost your business’s efficiency and effectiveness. Remember, the journey toward optimized workflows is a continuous one, requiring regular reviews and adjustments. But with the right approach and tools, you can turn this journey into a smooth ride toward success.

Written by Robert Schmitt of

The Best Productivity Podcasts and Audio Books Recommended by Productivity Experts

The Best Productivity Podcasts and Audio Books Recommended by Productivity Experts

Do you like to listen to podcasts or audio books when you travel? Are you an audio learner and would rather listen to a book than read it? I often get requests from clients for recommendations of what to listen to related to productivity and time management. While I have a handful of these I typically recommend, I decided to reach out to my colleagues, fellow Productivity Consultants and Coaches, to see what they enjoy listening to and recommend to others.

The following list, available as a download, provides links to 18 podcasts and 10 audiobook recommendations. All relate to areas of productivity in work and life such as time management, habits, leadership principles, business growth, efficiency, focus, prioritization, and more. Some you may have heard of but I think others will surprise you.

Let us know if we are missing any of your favorites!

The Best Productivity Podcasts and Audio Books

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Always Putting Out Fires? Here Are 10 Proven Strategies for Effective Planning

Always Putting Out Fires? Here Are 10 Proven Strategies for Effective Planning

Julie reached out because she had reached a point of extreme frustration and overwhelm. She felt she was constantly trying to catch up, never finding time for her “important but nonurgent” tasks and projects, always worried about what she might be missing, and therefore not truly enjoying her work or personal time. Julie was always reacting to the latest emergency, others’ priorities become her priorities, and she would reach the end of the day, the week, and the year feeling drained, overwhelmed, and unaccomplished. Does this sound familiar?

After talking with Julie, we established that one change she needed was to incorporate a better system and tools for planning her time – her years, months, weeks, and days. An effective plan, and strategy to follow and maintain it, allows Julie to better understand her goals and priorities, and to make better decisions and choices throughout her days.  Here I share ten proven strategies for incorporating effective planning into your own days and weeks.

1.    Clarify your goals and priorities.

What is important to you in work and life? What do you hope to achieve in the long-term and short-term? If you aren’t clear on what your goals and priorities are, you can never know if you are working on the right thing at any point in time. This clarity will be the basis for your plan and the choices you make throughout the day.

2.    Break down your goals into strategies and milestones.

As an elephant lover, I hate to use the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” But it is a good metaphor for attacking your long-term and short-term goals. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can break your goals into smaller pieces by defining the strategies you will use and when you will achieve various milestones.

3.    Create your habits and routines.

Without good habits and routines, it is easy to let your days and weeks slip away without focusing on what is most important. Spend some time figuring out how you will incorporate the needed activities and time to reach your goals. List the habits you want to follow annually, monthly, weekly, and daily. Define daily routines such as tasks or actions you will take each morning, start of day, end of day, and evening.

4.    Establish your boundaries.

It is likely that you will need to establish new boundaries in order to be successful in reaching your goals and sticking with your plan. Some examples might include:

  • I will return emails and phone calls within 24 hours.
  • I will take 1 day to review any new priorities, tasks, or projects before providing an answer.
  • I will say “no” to anything that does not support my annual goals.
  • I will not take on new volunteer positions this year.
  • I will not respond to email or text after 6pm or on weekends.
  • I will be in bed by 11pm and up by 7am each day.

Choose boundaries that work for your needs and personality and that will help you to reach your goals.

5.    Get the right people on board.

Who will be impacted by your goals, strategies, habits, and routines? Do you have someone to help hold you accountable? Who can help support your plan? Be sure these people are aware of your plan, your boundaries, and how they can help you be successful.

6.    Clear your space and your mind.

Take time regularly to clear your physical, digital, and mental space. If necessary, set aside a day or more to create an environment where you can focus and be intentional.

7.    Determine the right tools.

What tools can you use to support your planning, focus, and daily intention and action?  My favorite tools for daily and weekly planning are Microsoft Outlook/Tasks and the ProAction Planner. Do your research and find tools that will allow you to plan, reflect, track, and maintain. When working with others, it is also important to implement tools that will help you plan, collaborate, and track projects and tasks with them. Examples include Microsoft Planner and Teams, Asana, Trello, and Google Workspace. These are just a few of the many options available. Be sure to determine your needs and find what will best fit those needs.

8.    Plan your weeks and days.

Set aside time regularly to plan your weeks and days based on your annual goals, habits, routines, and other priorities.  Block time for the important, but nonurgent, projects and tasks. While it is rare that your week will go exactly as planned, having this basis as you begin your week will provide control and perspective, and allow you to make better-informed decisions when new urgencies arise.

9.    Track.

Incorporate a system to track progress on your projects, goals, and habits. Review this regularly in order to evaluate and reset as needed throughout the year.  You might also consider a look at how you spend your time and how closely you stick to your plan. Each day, evaluate challenges and areas for improvement. Small changes can yield big results.


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10.    Reflect and improve.

In addition to tracking your progress, schedule regular time to reflect on your results in order to make appropriate adjustments and allow for continuous improvement. This might include a quick daily and/or weekly reflection, a more thoughtful monthly reflection, and a deeper annual review and reflection. What went well? What challenges did you face? What will you stop, start, or continue doing? This is also a great time to practice gratitude. Be kind to yourself and others.

After clarifying her goals and priorities and putting the systems above in place to fit her needs, work, and lifestyle, Julie is feeling much more in control of her time. She is living intentionally and working proactively which has reduced stress and overwhelm. But the biggest and best change is that Julie is enjoying her work again and is able to focus on those people and things that matter most in life.

ProAction Process Workbook

Need some tools to assist with the areas above? Check out our new ProAction Process™ Workbook packed full of tips, templates, worksheets, and exercises to support these areas of planning and more.


If you’d like a partner in helping you address your overwhelm and reach your goals, I’d love to talk. Reach out or schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

Do This Before Annual Goalsetting (Your Year in Review)

Do This Before Annual Goalsetting (Your Year in Review)

How has 2022 been for you? What went well? What could be improved? Did you reach your business and life goals? What will you do differently next year to grow further?

Before you do 2023 annual planning, it is a valuable exercise to close out the year and prepare for the new one by reviewing your goals, habits, and routines. Follow the steps below to review and reset for continued success.

1.    Reflect

Look back on the past year and answer reflection questions such as:

  • What did I accomplish this year?
  • What am I proud of?
  • What am I thankful for?
  • What should I celebrate?
  • What will I continue to do that contributed to my success?
  • What were my challenges this year?
  • What could/would I have done differently?
  • What is one thing I could do to improve next year?

Set aside focused time to write your answers to these questions. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself, your systems and habits, and how to address challenges in the upcoming year.

For example, during my Year in Review, I realized I am not diligent about scheduling time into my calendar at the beginning of each week for the “important but not urgent” tasks and projects. I, therefore, have not made the progress I wanted on many of these projects. I need to create a routine of setting aside time each week, just as I do with my exercise, before I build in other tasks and appointments. This will now be part of my planning process for 2023.

2.    Review Your Annual Goals

The second step in your Year in Review is to review the status of your current year annual goals – both professional and personal. What goals are complete? What contributed to that success? Do you have goals that are not complete, or were not even started? If so, what challenges prevented their completion? Or perhaps there was a change in priority or focus during the year. Determine which of these goals should remain for the upcoming year and write any notes to carry into your 2023 annual goal setting.

3.    Analyze Your Habits and Routines

How did you do on your goals and progress related to your defined habits this year? Review your habit tracking tables and schedule time to reward yourself for any goals reached. Will these habits continue or grow?

For those habits that were a struggle, analyze the reasons and what needs to change in the upcoming year. Do you understand the deeper “why” for the habit? Do you have the right tools in place? Do you need an accountability partner or coach? Determine the habits you will stop, continue, or update for the upcoming year.

Similarly, review your current routines (or routines you had hoped to establish this year). Look at your morning, start of day, end of day, and evening routines. How are they working for you? Do they need to be adjusted or reset? Establish the routines you would like to implement in 2023.

To help you with your Year In Review, I have created a downloadable template to walk you through the process. Click below to have it emailed to you.

Year in Review Template


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You can also find this template, along with other valuable planning exercises and templates, at Get them soon as they will only be free until the of the year.

If you’d like assistance with review and reflection, the goal-setting process, or in setting up systems for success, contact Lori at Life Made Simple or schedule your free 30-minute consultation. I’d love to help!