As you begin to delve into the world of self-sufficient living and transitioning from a more conventional (dependent) lifestyle,  you learn one thing – you can’t do it all at once (or alone).

For most people, it takes years – literally.  I’m sure there are some lucky folks with the resources to do it all in one fell swoop, but for most of us, it involves continual research, lots of mentoring from those blazing the trail ahead, considerable inputs of time and/or cash, and some tools to make it all easier.

And I’m not talking shovels and generators (though those obviously help too!).

I’m referring to planning and organizing tools and information resources that give shape and efficiency to our goals and our larger-scale plans.

Tools to Help

So what are we using to help stay on track this year?

It isn’t easy to stay on track with all our big plans.  Actually, I’ll speak for myself – I have this tendency to overbook schedule AND I’m afflicted by ‘shiny object syndrome’ (working hard to get rid of that one…).  But it can be done.  Here are some tools I’ve been using to make the process simpler, my schedule more manageable, everything more integrated and easy to follow, and therefore, my goals more apt to have a check mark beside them year’s end:

  1. MindJet MindManagerMindJet MindManager is a comprehensive mind mapping tool that allows you to easily organize your ideas and goals into a format that WORKS! It’s got lots of options that I use not only for my own planning, but for putting together diagrams for my web clients as well.  Another option is Mindmeister, who have a free subscription for up to three mind maps – more than adequate for most homesteaders or for putting together your homesteading and emergency plans.  Check them out – they’re actually kind of fun to play with.  If you tend to get bogged down with the process of brainstorming or planning, or just want a quick and easy way to put your ideas down in some sort of organized fashion, these is very useful tool.  You can print out your final maps, so if the power goes out, you’re not at a loss!
  2. The Mindset Maven – I’m currently working through PJ McClure’s 7 Elements Bootcamp for the second time.  It’s a 30 day online video ‘mindset bootcamp’ that walks you through the steps to figuring out what’s really important. Even better, PJ helps you determine what you want your life to look like – novel concept, and revolutionary.  Worth every single penny.
  3. iPhone –  I don’t like to admit it, but I can’t imagine being without my iPhone.  Obviously I could (I’m not that addicted), but as long as there is electricity flowing, I’ll be using this tool.  Photos, videos, calendars, voice recorder for interviews, email, wildlife and livestock apps, ebook reader – all in one little palm-sized package.  It’s made my discombulated life flow much more smoothly.  Hasn’t taken away all the wrinkles, but it sure hasn’t created any!  There are some really good apps out there for managing to-do lists as well – just do a search and you’ll find one that will suit your needs.
  4. Journalling – I used to journal daily.  Then I didn’t at all for a number of years.  And now I’m back.  Journalling (with a pen and paper) allows you to freeform your goals and plans, working through all the potential benefits and pitfalls, and clear your mind before you commit yourself to a specific goal.  7 Elements Bootcamp has helped with this process tremendously…
  5. The GrowVeg Garden Planner – This is a really handy-dandy little veggie garden planner for those of us who don’t have the mind for garden planning.  I’m all about any tool that will make the process easier for newbies, and I’m finding this one really helpful.  You can add planting reminders and frost dates, succession planting details, plans for next year’s garden, and notes for recordings successes and failures.  And it sends you emails when it’s time to plant your next crop!  Now those who find food gardening old hat will probably think this is silly, but for those of us who are still fairly new to planning plantings for year-round food production, it’s like having a garden planning consultant at your beck and call.  Unless you lose power for an extended period… but you can always print out the plans and store them in a planning binder so they’re always available.  Try the GrowVeg Garden Planner on a free 30 day trial and see how you like it!  At $25 a year, I think it’s a bargain.  Worried about figuring out how to use it?  Don’t you worry – they’ve got lots of detailed instructional videos to get you started.  I’ll be doing some video tutorials on this in a couple of weeks that I’ll share with you on the blog.  It IS gardening planning time, after all!
  6. BasecampBasecamp is an online project management tool I absolutely couldn’t run my business without.  It allows me to do planning, scheduling, and gives my clients and I a single point of contact for our projects, from home and from my iPhone.  Again, it’s priced very reasonably, and worth every single penny.  You can find out more about it here.
  7. Chalene Johnson’s Push Program – It’s free, and it works.  30 days to getting organized and achieving your goals.  You can sign up here (I am – for the second year!).

The Wrap-up

This one of those, ‘Um, duh!’ moments, but I’m going to say it anyway – all the tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t follow up and review your goals and progress regularly!  Sadly, I know this from experience – all sorts of in-depth planning at the beginning of the year, get too busy and don’t look at the goals and maps again until November – when I’m starting to think about the upcoming year  – and beating myself up because I only got 3 things on the list done.

Not very helpful.

This year I’m keeping those maps and plans handy – and visible – so I see them every day and they’re always in my consciousness.  Then a monthly review to see

Do you use any tools to do your goal setting and planning?  If so, we’d love to hear what has worked and what hasn’t.  Let us know in the comments below!


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