By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

The quietness between December 26th and January 1st is one of my favorite times of the year. In Western countries, everything slows down. Even when I had to go to work, things were quieter, there were fewer meetings and deadlines. Now, with my kids are home from school this week, there is something relaxing about not having to do the morning hustle to get to school. It’s a pause before we jump into a new year, full of new goals, hopes, and resolutions. This pause is the perfect time for reflection and planning, a process I enjoy.

Because, like you, I want to make the most of my time, I’ve taken multiple planning and time management courses and read many articles and books on productivity. Some of my favorite resources on the topic include the classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, Time Management Mama: Making Use of the Margins to Pursue Your Passions by Sarah Korhnak and Beth Anne Schwamberger, Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin (see my full review here), and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine. I also follow productivity bloggers Laura Vanderkam author of I Know How She Does It (which I will be reviewing soon on this blog), Mike Vardy of Productivityist and Laura Smith of I Heart Planners and creator of the Sweet Life Planner.

Today, I’m sharing my reflection and planning tool for 2017 as a free gift for my blog subscribers. This is a tool that can complement any sort of planning tool you use, whether it is a paper planner or an online calendar and task list app. What is unique about this tool is that it focuses not just on goals, accomplishments, and plans, but also the relationships we want to build and sustain in that process. Once you complete this reflection exercise, you can take it further into project and goal planning using whatever tools you use. I like to map out my goals in my Action Journal using the Franklin Covey goal planning worksheet as a guide, then enter those tasks into my ToDoist app.

How to use the Annual Reflection and Planning journal:

  1. Print out the Annual Reflection and Planning printable.
  2. Find a journal or notebook to write down your reflections, ideas and goals. You can also type out your answers or use a note-taker on your device. I find writing longhand in a journal helps prevent distractions. Any notebook, journal, or blank planner pages should work. I’m currently using the Action Journal. Use whatever will inspire you, something that you can look forward to writing in and reviewing later.
  3. Set aside some quiet time to think about the questions in the printable and start writing down your reflections, ideas and goals. I suggest at least two hours. You could also divide the exercise into two sessions – one session for reflection on the past year, one session for looking ahead to next year. I would give each exercise one hour.
  4. The first step is to map out the different roles you have in life. These are all the different hats you wear. For example, in my case, my roles are wife, mother, sister and friend, church servant, writer, teacher, and consultant.
  5. Then, for each question, consider the answer according to each role you play. Not every role will have an answer in every question, and some might have more than others.
  6. Some answers might repeat or overlap. It’s ok. Different aspects of our lives cannot often be strictly categorized. The purpose of this exercise is to reflect and plan in a way that works for you.

To access the Annual Reflection and Planning journal tool, please subscribe to my email newsletter. I hope you find this tool as useful to you as it has been for me in this period of quiet and reflection as you plan for your happy New Year! If you use the tool, please share your experience and feedback in the comments or by email at


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(c) Phoebe Farag 2016