Goal Planning Worksheets for Freelance Writers

By Jennifer Mattern

In my last post on the necessity of change, I mentioned quarterly evaluations as a good way to take stock of your current situation so you can figure out what you need to change over the next few months. I also promised you a worksheet or two to help you do this.

So here you go…

I’ve put together two worksheets that are loosely based on how I personally do my quarterly reviews.

Goal Evaluation Worksheet

The first is the goal evaluation worksheet itself. With this one, you simply review your previous goals, note which ones are completed, still in-progress, or need to be scrapped or replaced, and then you use that as a guide in setting new goals for the next quarter.

Here’s a preview of the form, or you can download a copy.

AFW-Goal-Evaluations

 

And here’s a filled-out hypothetical example to show you how you might use this form. (This one’s printed in black & white – I tried to design them so they’d print clearly either way you prefer. Then I “scanned” it via my phone with one of my favorite apps – CamScanner. Give that a try if you want to digitize your own worksheets, or even use it for client documents.)

AFW-Goal-Evaluation-Sample

 

I limited this form to cover five goals per quarter (or month, year, or however long you choose to go between reviews). This should be fine for most writers, as it’s common practice to limit yourself to just a few at any given time.

That doesn’t work for everyone though. I’m not at all wired that way. I always plan out more goals than I know I’ll reach. And I always set targets that are just beyond what I think I can actually do. That’s because I work at my best when I feel challenged and when I’m pushing myself hard. I also need the flexibility to bounce between things in a way that would prove distracting for most people.

If you’re in a similar situation, this worksheet might not be enough for you. Just use it as a guide to create your own system. Personally, I use white boards and index cards for this, and then I usually put up a blog post with the updates so I not only have something I can refer back to, but also because it’s an accountability tool for me.

Do whatever feels right in your case.

Goal Planning Worksheet

This second worksheet is designed to be used either when you’re first starting out, or after you’ve completed an evaluation and you’ve come up with an updated list of goals.

Print one copy of this worksheet for every goal you’ve set.

This worksheet serves as a sort of introductory action plan. It puts your focus on a specific goal and makes you think about how you’ll actually achieve it. If you feel like you’re not making enough progress later on, this is the document you would come back to so you could see what you were supposed to be doing and where you possibly went wrong. This way you can correct course and make adjustments as necessary so you don’t give up on your goals prematurely.

Again, here’s what the document looks like below, or you can download it now to print as many copies as you need.

AFW-Goal-Planning

 

And here is a filled-out copy to show you how you might use it. Again, this is just an example with a hypothetical goal. So tweak things as you see fit.

AFW-Goal-Planning-Sample

 

I hope these help you figure out your own freelance writing goals and what you need to change or work on to reach them. If you have questions about the worksheets, feel free to ask in the comments.

 

Jenn Mattern is a freelance business writer and blogger with 18 years’ experience. Visit Jenn’s All Freelance Writing, where she’s spent 10 years offering advice, job leads, free tools, and more to help new freelance writers build successful and sustainable businesses. You can find more free downloads for freelance writers at AllFreelanceWriting.com/resources.

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Comments

  • Paula Hendrickson September 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Considering my love of To Do Lists, I’m surprised I’ve not (yet) tried a similar approach with goals. I’ll have to give it a try!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Mattern September 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Can’t wait to hear how it works for you. When I’m at the top of my game, I’m a downright planning junkie. 5 yr plan, yearly goals, quarterly breakdowns, monthly lists, more detailed weekly lists, daily lists, project-specific lists, schedules… keeps me organized, & somehow I find that fun.

      Reply
  • lwidmer September 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Jenn, I love these. Having seen your white boards, I’m even happier to see these forms — much easier to follow!

    I like the idea of limiting goals to no more than five. Shooting at too many targets means you’re using up a ton of ammo without actually closing in on anything. Five is manageable. Five can be split up into a one-a-day focus.

    Fantastic stuff. And thank you again for all the posts and the love when I needed it most. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer Mattern September 12, 2017 at 6:07 am

      *looks at white boards and hangs head in shame*

      They’re a bit unruly again. lol

      See, I’m happier with 10+ goals. 😉 But I’m definitely not the norm. When I focus in too narrowly, it’s easier for me to get off-track or get bored with something — which happens much too easily. I blame it on the ADHD genes in the family. Sis and I have some borderline traits, and this is one. Learning how to juggle things is what keeps me interested in the work. Just something we’ve learned to use for our benefit rather than letting it hold us back over the years. But it’s definitely not how most folks are wired to operate. So I don’t recommend it unless everything else fails you. This is the same reason I break down those goals into the ittiest bittiest steps possible. So I can literally hope from one 5-minute task to another. Sometimes it’s those tiny accomplishments that keep me going when I’d otherwise say “screw it” and call it a day.

      And you’re quite welcome.

      Reply
      • Jennifer Mattern September 12, 2017 at 6:10 am

        Now I’m laughing at my own naivety in saying 10 goals. Just remembered the reason I originally upgraded to Todoist’s premium version was because I exceeded the 80 project limit. LOL And that’s just project groups. I further group with tasks & sub-tasks. Wonky brain indeed.

        Reply
      • lwidmer September 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

        I wish I had your energy. You impress me with how much you can tackle in one week!

        Reply
        • Jennifer Mattern September 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

          lol In the “good old days” perhaps. Not sure what happened to that gal this past year or two. Hoping to get back there at some point.

          Reply