Monday 18 November 2019

Planning for 2020: Fail to Plan, Prepare to Fail

 By Kristine Charles

You’ve all heard the saying ‘fail to plan, prepare to fail,’ right?

It’s a (paraphrased) quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin* and, as a Virgo, it’s my mantra. I am also OBSESSED with stationary (Kikki K is my spiritual home) and I have a paper planner which I ADORE so… who better to talk about planning for 2020.

And YES, I know this is early. But if your life is anything like mine involving a day job, a writing job, family and volunteering commitments and something resembling an attempt at a social life, you want to be giving thought to what 2020 might look like for you well before 2020 arrives.

Otherwise, you just wind up with drunken New Year’s Resolutions that don’t last beyond Australia Day.

If you’re lucky enough to make it that far!

So, here are my three best planning tips for you to adopt in 2020.

1. Set priorities

You need to understand what your ‘big rocks’ are: what are the most important things you want to achieve in 2020? Is it finishing that manuscript you’ve been working on? Is it getting four new books out? Is it getting your kid through the HSC? Is it training for a marathon, or painting your house, inside and out? Write yourself a list of the things you want to achieve in 2020… and these become the things for which you would decline a romantic romp with Idris Elba (or whoever your Hall Pass name/names are!)

If you haven’t seen the Stephen Covey lesson about scheduling the big rocks, check it out here

2. Commit to focus

Hi. My name is Kristine and I am a Master Procrastinator.

Yep. I will be sucked in to cleaning the toilet if it gets me out of committing to focused work.

But half an hour completely focused on something will be more productive than two hours switching back and forth between tasks (and by tasks, I mean Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!).

So, once you’ve identified your big rocks, don’t let them get smashed under the weight of all your day to day stuff. Commit time to attend to them – be it early in the morning, later in the evening, on your lunch break, or in the car while waiting for the kids to finish... whenever.

Book those blocks of time into a planner (whatever form yours takes – paper, or electronic) and commit to them. Tell someone about your commitment and let them nag you into submission!

From a writing perspective, think about sprints, or techniques like the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ to help you set time for productive work and still give you time to clean the toilet…


3. Say No

You’ve identified your priorities for the year, and you’re committing time to attend to them, scheduling time in your planner of choice and… Jason Momoa calls you up.

But, Saturday you’re already committed to a priority on your list. It’s written in your diary in really pretty ink, and… there are stickers!

One must be ruthless. Assess every invitation against your priorities for the year (and your personal priorities – which are also important! Sometimes family… or Momoa comes first).

But, if you value your priorities, and a hot night with a wildly attractive Hawaiian isn’t on the list well… the answer to Momoa must be no ☹ (unless, of course, you convince him to reschedule for a better day!).

This is the toughest tip to follow. But, believe me, at Christmas 2020, when you’re celebrating all the things you achieved in 2020… you’ll thank me for turning Momoa down.

I promise 😉

* As this is a blog about books and writing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Benjamin Franklin formed the first public lending library in America, and the first fire department in Pennsylvania. So, thanks for the books, and the hot firefighters…!

Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have any tips for Planning for 2020? Let me know in the comments.

(Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to leave comments.)

I love to love… coffee. Still. My one true love.

I love to laugh… at my nephew’s funny Instagram posts (@codyjon)

I love to learn… this month, about self-publishing.


  1. We all need to schedule time and I think I'll look into the Pomodoro technique and see what that is all about. Thanks Kristine

    1. I'm with you Cass... I have to say I haven't actually tried it yet because #procrastination but I will!

  2. Hi Kristine! Thanks for these great suggestions. I wish I could offer some tips but I'm the last person anyone should ask for help with planning. :(. My biggest problem is staying on focus so, like Cassandra, I'm interested in trying the Pomodoro technique.

    1. Ha! Sometimes running on adrenaline alone is necessary!

  3. Hi Kristine, I don’t know if it’s a technique, but having one additional, achievable goal often works for me. I identify something new I want to try, give myself a reasonable timeframe then try really hard to make it happen. I’m not sure this would work for a novel, but it works like magic for short stories.

    1. Maybe you could make it a chapter - rather than a short story! Similar length but if you can collect enough chapters they magically become a novel!

  4. Wait a sec. You're turning Jason Momoa DOWN? I would simply reorganise the next week at lightning speed and say yes... But I get what you're doing, breaking the tasks down and making them achievable! Yes! I like that. Sometimes when you think about everything that needs doing it's overwhelming. So doable tasks are actually sort of a gift. Thanks Kristine!

    1. Rescheduling Miranda... just rescheduling! And doable tasks are great - and can be ticked off a list (I'm that person that adds the things I just did to my list so I can tick them off..) ;-)

  5. Thanks, Kristine. Viewing the writing of a novel as a series of 30 minute tasks appeals very much. So much easier to manage in our busy lives. Definitely trying this method.

    1. Little chunks are definitely less overwhelming Enisa!

  6. Some excellent tips Kristine! (You may have lost me to internet procrastination at the mention of Jason Momoa but hey, its not 2020 yet, I promise to do better next year ;) I need to learn how to incorporate writing on the go into my life more - so part of my 2020 plan is how to make that work! My oldest starts kindy next year so i'm thinking I could start some sort of car writing whilst waiting to do pick up. I love the Pomodoro technique for activities like that.

    1. Jason Momoa based internet procrastination is never a waste of time!

  7. Great article, Kristine.
    I'm definitely a planner, I rely heavily on my diary. As I forget to forward write reminders, for 2020 I'm going to need to set a reminder on my phone each Monday to visit the Breathless in the Bush blog and read these wonderful articles each week rather than catching up on several weeks in a row like I am now! Do we have a subscribe button??

  8. Yes, we do have a subscribe button, Alyssa. It's on the side-bar.


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