Photography Education Resources | My 5 Favorite Planning Tools for a New Year

*updated for 2023

If you have been around here for a bit, you know that I LOVE planning. Like, I really love it. I teach it in my course, I teach it in Instagram live’s, I teach it to friends and family. I literally love planning.

photography education resources 5 favorite planning tools for a new yearAs you can imagine, starting a new year and setting goals and getting things all mapped out is LITERALLY one of my favorite parts of the year. There is just something so invigorating about starting a new year, with a clean slate, and exciting goals ahead that literally lights me up.

Today I am sharing with you some photography education resources. These are my 5 favorite tools for planning and also, 3 bonus tips to help you move the needle with your goal setting this year. Let’s dive in!5 planning tools for entrepreneurs in the new year

  1. Yearly Wall Calendar

    If you are a business owner, this is a game changer. It is SO important to be able to see your entire year at a glance so that you can plan intentionally for different marketing campaigns, vacations, launches and time off. You never want to “sell” all the time in your business and being able to see a big picture of what is coming ensures that you can build in plenty of time where you aren’t out right selling anything.

    In 2023, I am using Kat Schmoyer’s printable calendars in both the yearly and quarterly spreads and I am OBSESSED. In past years I have used this wall calendar from Emily Ley and it is equally as great just a different vibe. You can have either one printed at Staples or Office Depot for super cheap. They are both simple and effective and you can also frame it and use it like a dry erase board. In years past, I have used a simple calendar like this one. But when given a choice, I will always choose something with a pretty colorful vibe.

  2. Cultivate PowerSheets

    Sometimes I feel like I sound like a broken record, but I literally cannot profess my love for these enough. Hear me when I tell you this: Cultivate PowerSheets are a game changer.

    Whether you are a business owner, a SAHM or have corporate job, PowerSheets will help you reach your goals. 2021 was the first year that I used them and I am OBSESSED. I am also kicking myself that I didn’t start using them years earlier because I hit more goals in 2021 than ever before and I SWEAR PowerSheets were the reason.

  3. Weekly/Monthly Planner

    There are a lot of brands out there so whatever you choose, just make sure you have something to see an entire week and an entire month at a time. Whether you are a digital planner person and prefer something like Google Calendar or a paper person like me, it is important to have a place where both your business and personal plans live together.

    I personally love Erin Condren life planners. I have used them for years and prefer the layout to anything else I have tried. While I do have things in a digital calendar, this is what I consider my bible. Nothing is in stone until it goes in my Erin Condren planner. Ha!

  4. Daily Planner

    Yep, call me extra but I DO use a yearly, a weekly and a daily planner. Using all 3 really helps my brain stay on top of both the big picture plan and also the nitty gritty of daily tasks.

    To be honest, I avoided the daily planner for a long time. I tried to use just the weekly planner and a daily to-do list and it just wasn’t cutting it for me. I always had a million sticky notes with to-do lists for various days and finally realized that I was just creating a messy version of a daily planner.

    Enter my Simplified Daily planner. This is where I find clarity about my every day to-do list. This is where I am able to break down my monthly and weekly goals into actionable steps. I promise, it has kept me so much more organized and on task.

  5. Google Sheets

    This is where I prefer to make all the spreadsheets and watch my business goals come to life. In today’s digital world, I am sure Google Sheets are not news to you. But, in an effort to be transparent about what I use and what works for me, this is a daily part of my business.

    I use Google Sheets to track all the parts of my business on a month over month and year over year format. I also use it to map out goals and ideas. Man, I love a good spreadsheet and one of the things I love about Google Sheets is the ability to access them from my phone in a pinch!

    In addition to business planning, I also use Google Sheets for vacation planning, budget planning and all sorts of other things.


3 Tips to Move the Needle

  1. Schedule time to check in monthly

    Here is where a lot of goal setting goes wrong. You set goals and then don’t revisit them. These goals end up becoming this long-forgotten idea you once had and there isn’t any follow through.

    When I set goals at the beginning of the year, I pencil in a day every single month to check in. On those days, I revisit the goals, I input any necessary numbers or data and just check in. Doing this keeps me focused on the goals.

    The key is not to just say you are going to check in every month. You have to actually pencil in the dates onto your calendar now. For the entire year. Set yourself up for success and commit to that time now.

  2. Break down goals into itty-bitty steps

    I want you to set big, lofty goals. Especially if you are en entrepreneur. Big goals are often what keep us inspired and growing and moving forward. One big part of having success with big goals is breaking them into small enough pieces.

    You want each step to feel super duper manageable so that you don’t lose confidence. When you are able to continuously make small steps in the right direction, over time your momentum gets bigger and faster.

    Think about any time you have gone on a diet. The first 2-3 weeks seem like you aren’t getting anywhere. And just when you are about to give up and scrap the entire thing, you take a progress photo and some measurements. And you are shocked at just how much progress you actually made. And then things start to snowball. You are even more motivated because it is working and you keep going. And then the exciting things happen- clothes are loose, people are taking notice, you are gaining confidence in your own skin.

    Setting big goals is the same thing. Small steps. Be consistent. Gain momentum.

  3. Don’t be afraid to change your goals as your year shifts

    This is where I want to be honest with you, it is very common to set a goal for yourself or your business at the start of a new year and then 6 months into the year, your heart isn’t in it anymore. You feel guilty for not meeting the goal or wanting to give up.

    I want you to drop the guilt. It is totally okay to change your mind about goals. Life happens. Business changes. Ideas shift. You grow. Your goals and ideas and dreams won’t always stay the same.

    Give yourself the freedom to be honest and tell yourself that you are no longer interested in reaching that goal and to pivot. Just scratch the thing off your list, and set a new one. Choose one that feels more aligned with where you want to head and start again. No guilt. Just forward progress.

I hope this post has been helpful. If you are inspired to start planning and setting some epic goals, leave me a comment below. I would love to cheer you on.

If one of your goals is to start your photography business this year, grab my FREE Photography Business Blueprint here. It will make sure your business is setup for success right from the start.

Legal Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

top 5 business tools for planning a new year


  1. Christine says:

    These are great- I just ordered a cultivate planner. I am LOLing that you have SO many planners but hey- if it works for you I should probably adopt it too! 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Blog

What if it’s too late to change your mind? Today’s episode is the third in a four-part series on my unpopular opinions about commonly-held beliefs in the wedding photography business. I’m sharing how to navigate change in your business, and how to coach yourself through the fear that comes with that change.  The Shoot It […]

58 cover

Can you run a successful photography business without offering any products or prints? Today’s episode is the second in a four-part series on my unpopular opinions about commonly-held beliefs in the wedding photography business. I’m sharing two considerations to make when deciding on your offers, and why it is perfectly okay to only offer digital […]

57 Cover

Does being booked and busy truly mean success? Today’s episode is the first in a four-part series on my unpopular opinions about commonly-held beliefs in the wedding photography business. I’m starting off by disputing the claim that a full calendar has anything to do with your success.  The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to […]

56 Cover

On today’s one-year anniversary episode of the Shoot It Straight podcast, I’m being interviewed by my business bestie, Colie James. Colie has been a guest on the show multiple times now, and she is the perfect person to talk with about building a business, creating online courses and in-person retreats, and crafting my mastermind. I […]

55 Cover

As an entrepreneur, a good business foundation is everything. Join the list of photographers I've supported, and learn how to make YOUR business successful and sustainable. I can't wait to cheer you on!

You Deserve a Successful and Sustainable Photography Business