The Power of Visual Accountability
You have goals this year, but do you have a plan to stick to them? Holding yourself accountable is tough to do. Trust me, I know from experience! But, dang it, after two years of feeling like we’re just treading water, it’s time to make some magic happen. The problem is that life and shiny objects get in the way. And don’t forget about vacation time. (According to, a vacation is “an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.” In case you needed a reminder!) My secret weapon in making sure that I have the time to accomplish my personal and business goals? Visual accountability. And on this week’s episode, I’m sharing exactly how to create your own brand of visual accountability. The best part? You probably already have this tool in your wheelhouse, but you may need a tweak or two.

Links and Resources:

Time Stamps:

[1:00] – Create a schedule that supports you
[1:49] – Color coding does wonders to establish balance
[1:58] – Look at the big picture of planning your year
[2:15] – Franklin Covey’s “big rocks”
[3:13] – What I add to my calendar first
[5:05] – Need more bandwidth? Block it off!
[6:42] – It’s easy to justify something that you’re excited about but you need perspective but that’s not usually a good thing


Amber Hawley 0:01
business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care plantation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelmed perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.

Hello, hello, my focus seeking friends. In today’s episode, I want to talk about the power of visual accountability. As a business owner, I’m sure you are constantly coming up with ideas presented with opportunities or feeling the struggle of time slipping away, life and commitments piling on, and often left feeling like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. If you don’t feel this way, then you are already living the dream and you probably don’t need to finish this episode. If you are still listening, I assure you that you are not alone. Even if you have some great systems and support in your business, it’s still easy to occasionally overload yourself.

There are many sustainable practices that can help you stay out of overwhelm without losing the excitement for your business. But a key one that I use as part of my planning for the year is visual accountability. I talk a lot about creating a schedule that supports you and your business using time blocking and using Google Calendar as a way of keeping the schedule you want and the schedule you actually have as close to the same thing as possible. I do this by having a calendar that’s called the ideal week where everything is planned out. And when you have that calendar showing up at the same time as your actual schedule, so you can see the discrepancies and you can see where you might be letting your boundary slip. I put everything in my calendar appointments, clients, work sessions, kids sports schedules, vacations, personal tasks, future events, I’m hosting promotions, everything.

I do this to make planning easier, and so that I can manage overloading myself. I also use color coding to see the balance of the types of work that I’m doing between work and personal. But what I also realized and looking at the big picture of planning my year is that it can be easy not to see the big picture flow of events, launches and breaks. That helped me ultimately say no to things and plan what I’m doing sustainably.

So many years ago, I started getting a large laminated calendar, and plot out all the big rocks, kind of like Franklin Covey talks about, he says that the big rocks are your most important priorities. So put them in your schedule first. That way you make the less important things, the gravel in his analogy, fight their way into your calendar, not the other way around where important things are fighting for that. So I get my calendar, I got my calendar this year from Staples, it was $40 in the store, but online, they have one for like $23. They also have them on Amazon for between 18 and $24. So it’s really inexpensive. But it’s the the return on investment is huge. Because it really is the thing that kind of helps me always, you know, keep that big picture in mind.

So the things that I put on my calendar, and again, I color code because it helps me see patterns and distinguish between the different categories. And frankly, you know, it’s pretty. The first thing I add is my vacation. My goal is to have six weeks of vacation each year and I want to try and get some of that time each quarter. If you don’t know for sure you can always put it in and the beauty of dry erase is that it can be moved, it can be erased and rescheduled. And all of these things are also in my Google Calendar.

But I want it in my big picture at a glance calendar as well. And just like the importance of saving Profit First in finances, I think scheduling rest is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your business. Because let’s face it, it is easy to have time slip away and feel like there is no time or space to take time off.

Amber Hawley 4:47
Then I add all the school calendar important dates like the first and last day of school days off and holiday breaks. Next I’ll add all of my special events for my business. Don’t mark the regular time blocks for my clients or my membership, because that’s my day to day. I’m talking about the one offs. So this includes things like my quarterly workshops, any challenges, I’m running webinars, GST days speaking engagements and retreats, then I add any events or conferences that I want to attend, especially anything I’ve already bought a ticket for. And then I add things like my kids birthdays, and birthday party dates, weddings, or special personal events.

And the last thing I add to this is any time periods where there is something happening, that is a change in availability, bandwidth, or workload, such as periods of time when people are visiting, recovering from surgery, or when you’re doing a sprint on a certain project, I mark this to remind me that there will be extra stuff to take care of during that time. And so I don’t add anything. For instance, I have three weeks marked off in March, because I’m going to be finishing my book. And I want to make sure that I don’t schedule anything else during that time. All of this helps me make decisions that support me in focusing and not burning out.

For example, as I was putting my vacations in, I thought, Oh, I don’t really need to take time off in October. But then I realized that it would mean I would have no plan time off from July 5 until December 17. And I don’t want to repeat the pattern of being so exhausted by the time I have a vacation that I spend half of it just literally recovering from exhaustion. It also helps me realize that I shouldn’t schedule a webinar in January, because I would have no time to promote it. But if I didn’t see that on the calendar, and kind of see all you know, the bigger picture of how all of the stuff I was doing plays into each other, it would be really easy to add it because at the time, I’m in this place where I’m excited about something.

And I’m like, Oh, well, that’s plenty of time, it’s not for another month away. It’s easy for our brains to justify doing things that sound exciting or lucrative or minimize what’s on our plate, but the visual accountability I get with both my Google Calendar, and the big year at a glance calendar helps me put things in perspective and get real with myself. I hope you find this strategy helpful. And if you want a checklist and video going through additional tips for setting up your calendars, head on over to for the link in the shownotes if you find yourself just coming out of the fog of the holidays, and finally getting back to your normal routine, and haven’t even begun to create your goals for 2022.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. I am running an encore of my what’s on your plate workshop on Friday, February 4, where you can get support in strategically choosing your goals for 2022. And breaking down your first quarter goal into small manageable steps and creating the system and clarity to keep you on track. Right now if you register before January 26 You will receive $150 off of the registration. The feedback was great from the first workshop and one participant said they finally felt like they had the structure in place to finish a poll that has been on their list for a long time. So for more information, head on over to And I hope to see you there

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