So it’s February.
By now, some of your New Year’s resolutions may be trying to flake off. That’s OK; we’re sure you’ve benefited from the effort you’ve made toward them already. But there’s no need to give up on any of your goals—the year is still young. Instead, pick them up, adjust them, and apply a bit more stick-to-it-iveness. You’ve got this!
One way to help your goals stick, is to align them with the things that matter most to you. Weigh your goals against your personal mission statement to ensure they are in line with your core values.
If you don’t have a personal mission statement, now is the perfect time to create one. It sounds complicated, but it’s easier than you might think. All good things start with questions and introspection. The right questions lead to the best solutions. The following six questions will help you create a mission statement that will reflect who you are and who you want to become—a foundation for your goals that will stick.
- What are my greatest moments of happiness and fulfillment?
- What are the activities of most worth to me in my personal life?
- What are the activities of most worth to me in my professional life?
- What are my natural gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities?
- What am I motivated by, fascinated with, and passionate about?
- How can I best contribute to my community?
Take your time with these questions and provide as complete an answer to each as you can. Once you’ve answered the questions, you’ll notice a core list of values, talents, and interests that continue to arise. Circle those and include them in four or five sentences that describe you.
Read your paragraph out loud and adjust it until you feel comfortable with the person your paragraph describes. Then write, “My personal mission is to:” and consider how you might re-arrange the sentences to create a mantra for your life. It’s fine if this process takes more than a day.
If you take the time you need to create your mission statement, you’ll be surprised at how much of what you write today will last throughout your life. Your mission statement will act as a reminder to plan worthwhile activities that bring happiness and fulfillment to your life. It will guide you into the joy of meaningful service, and allow you to improve upon your strengths while helping others around you. Best of all, it will inform your decisions and influence your goals—so you’ll be more likely to see them through to completion.
Take some time now, while the year is still young, and develop your personal mission statement. It may be the perfect dose of stick-to-it-iveness you need to reach your goals.
February is here! Do small things all month to stay on top of your New Years goals and plans. Organize your paperwork for tax season, plan your garden, break a habit, and even complete and indoor project. These small things can help keep you on track and feeling accomplished. Here are some more things to add to your list:
February Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
February Checklist Compact Size: PDF
February Checklist Classic Size: PDF
February Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
One of the hallmarks of the original FranklinPlanner process, the Prioritized Daily Task List (PDTL), compresses the time you spend prioritizing and tracking progress on the things you do each day. Each task gets a priority marker and a follow up symbol, letting you see at a glance where you are and where you’re headed.
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The Vintage Aurora Binder is available in Classic and Compact sizes in rich, cognac color.
Classic Measures 7.75” W x 9.5” H x 2.5” D 1.5” Rings
Compact Measures 6.5” W x 7.75” H x 2.5” D 1.375” Rings
Watch the video for more details:
Every FranklinPlanner is designed to help organize your life, but they’re also designed with different personalities and planning styles in mind. To get the most out of your planning sessions, it pays to have the planner best suited for you. So, how do you do that? Consider the following four elements of a planner:
We can learn a lot from data. From our browsing history to Fitbit stats, we’re recording and analyzing more information than ever before, and using it to shape the future. As you move into 2017, it’s time to review your own data—the information contained in last year’s FranklinPlanner. A quick way to do that is to use your Monthly Index pages.
Your Monthly Index is designed to act as a reference page for your monthly events. If you’re planning a big event, have an important assignment at work, or want to note the day your child took his or her first step, simply list that event in your Monthly Index along with the date. This makes it much easier to find the information you kept regarding that event when you need it later. Looking through each Monthly Index will remind you of how much you accomplished during the year, and prompt you to pick up any tasks that may have slipped. Here are some other ways your 2016 data will be helpful next year:
Scheduling: What weekends worked well for your summer vacation last year? How long has it been since your last dental appointment? Reviewing your appointments and calendar entries from last year can help inform your current plans—ensuring this year’s plans go as well or better than last year’s. A quick review will also remind you when to schedule doctor check-ups, vaccinations, and dental visits.
Brainstorming: We can never flesh out every good idea from a productive meeting. Take the results of last year’s work meetings further. The notes you recorded in your planner can be a valuable source of inspiration for projects in 2017. For convenience, you might consider storing work notes in a separate Storage Case, so that you’re not flipping through weeks’ worth of pages to find the notes you need.
Learning from Failure: It’s natural (and mentally healthy) to move on when you make a mistake. But failures often teach us more than successes do. Take a moment to look back through 2016. If you let one of your goals slip, find the week where it happened and conduct your own analysis. Why did you fall off the wagon? Now that the pain of failure is insulated in the past, you’ll have a valuable resource to help you avoid pitfalls on this year’s goals.
Celebrating Your Success: On the other side of the coin, reviewing your 2016 planner can also help you see how far you’ve come. There’s a psychological phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome brings intense feelings of inadequacy, leading you to feel like you’re bluffing your way through life, that your accomplishments only come by luck, or that you’re taking credit where it isn’t due. If you’re facing Imposter Syndrome, use your planner to review your past processes, struggles, and achievements. Your planner is solid evidence of your contributions to career and family. It’s proof that your efforts have taken you in the right direction, proof that you’ve shaped your own destiny—that you truly are making progress toward your goals.
As you advance through 2017, the valuable insights from your 2016 FranklinPlanner can give you the data you need to succeed.
The New Year is just around the corner. Take a few minutes now to prepare your planner for the coming events. Clean out your binder, sort loose papers, and give yourself a clean slate as you start another year. Planning now will let you start the year with fresh hope and optimism.
Welcome January and a brand new year! Write down your goals, make plans to achieve them, and get your new planner ordered if you haven’t already! Here are some more things to add to your list:
January Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
January Checklist Compact Size: PDF
January Checklist Classic Size: PDF
January Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
December is filled with our favorite things. The magical glow of Christmas lights lighting the front room—a glint of excitement in your children’s eyes—the aroma of hot chocolate heating on the stove—and the warmth of family.
Sometimes though, you can get through the whole month and wonder where the holiday went. All too often you find yourself acting as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions.
All of these events are important during this time of year, but it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of orchestrating the chaos, rather than taking in the beauty of it all. The biggest contributor to stress is inadequate preparation. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim the peace of the season.
1. Organize Your Holiday Gift List
Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy them, how much they cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you find a great deal in the holiday ads, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.
2. Track Your Family Events
As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you minimize scheduling conflicts. Meet as a family today, and at least weekly throughout the busy season to make sure you have everything scheduled in your planner with time allotted for preparation and travel.
3. Make Room For Traditions
With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, reading by candlelight, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie—don’t let the holiday rush crowd out the small, quiet events that become the traditions your children remember most.
4. Prepare For House Guests
If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.
5. Schedule Down Time
Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more relaxed and enjoyable.
The holiday season is a time to slow down and enjoy the people you love. The season gives us an opportunity to serve those less fortunate and to reflect on the good in our lives. As Christmas approaches, we wish you the joy of the season, and hope you will find ways to keep that joyful spirit with you throughout the coming year. Take time now to plan how you will make the most of this precious time.
The best way to ensure you realize your dreams and reach your goals has always been to plan for them. And the best way to plan is with a pen and paper. Writing your goals in your planner ensures you see them regularly—motivating you to make them happen. Even with our amazing electronic devices, more and more people are returning to their tried and true planners to keep their personal dreams on track.
So what should you look for to ensure you have the best planner for you? Each person is different, so we’ve produced a beautiful Gift Guide with suggestions that could fit a number of different people, from the artist in your life to the traveler.
You can decide if you need a daily or weekly planner—whether you want it structured for tasks, notes and goals, or open and freeform—or if you want a planner designed for embellishments and creative personalization. The best planner for you is the planner you enjoy using—the planner that helps you focus on what matters most.
So visit our Gift Guide and discover your ideal planer along with some great tools for writing, travel, and together time. With just a few minutes you’ll not only find great solutions for yourself, but also quality gifts for those you love.
Check out our online Gift Guide here.
The holidays include several complicated decisions: what meals to prepare, what gifts to make or purchase, who will receive your gifts, and where you plan to give community service. These decisions result in several lists, that sometimes end up floating around your home. Add a tab to your planner for all of your holiday lists—wish lists, grocery lists for special occasions, gift lists, and shipping information. When the holidays are wrapped up, put these lists in their own storage case, so you can see what you’ve bought from year to year—making it even easier to plan for the upcoming years!
If you’re like most of us, you have a list of things you hope to get to someday. Perhaps your list includes a dream vacation, learning to play the guitar, spending one-on-one time with your children, or finally cleaning out and organizing your garage. These things are important to you, but for some reason they keep getting crowded out by higher-priority events, or you simply don’t plan ahead enough to make them happen.
Your Franklin Planner has always had the perfect solution to this problem, but many planner users don’t realize what it is or how to use it. Your Planner has several wonderful tools built in to the design that people often overlook as “extra paper.” One of those is your Master Task List, and you’ll find it in your planner at the beginning of each month.
This simple sheet is the ideal place to forecast what you hope to accomplish each month. Once you’ve written a goal or a task on paper where you can see it often, it’s much more difficult to put it off. Sometimes we need to let our goals nag at us, and the Master Task List is the ideal place to let them do just that. Here are a few ways your Master Task List can improve your plans:
Stop Putting Things Off
Look through your daily or weekly planning pages and see if there are any tasks that keep getting forwarded, skipped, or forgotten. Write these tasks on your monthly Master Task List (Some of our planners simply call it a Monthly To Do List). Once your list is complete decide if your task is time-specific or if it is time-flexible. Note time-specific goals and tasks on your monthly calendar tabs and schedule them on your daily task list so you can be sure you don’t miss an important deadline.
When it comes to putting things off, your time-flexible tasks tend to be a bigger problem. Because they only have ‘someday’ as a due date, these tasks are easily ignored until tomorrow. But what if your ‘someday’ tasks include saving for retirement or creating an emergency 72-hour kit? Eventually someday will arrive, and you may find yourself woefully unprepared.
Reviewing your Master Task List each week and re-writing it each month is the prefect reminder to schedule your tasks that aren’t time-specific. Set a date when you will meet with your financial planner, organize a 72-hour kit, or focus on a corner of your garage. During each weekly planning session, review your monthly Master Task list to ensure you’re including those things that you would otherwise put off.
Add Direction to Your Goals
Review your list of long-term goals and determine which steps you can work on each month. Write those steps on your Master Task List. Review your list each week as you plan and schedule the steps on your daily pages. Keeping a running, active list of your goals and the progress you’re making toward them is one of the most powerful ways to ensure you realize them.
Your Master Task list is a great place to focus on your relationships. If you hope to have monthly one-on-one time with your children, you can write their names here and list activities they enjoy. This will make it easy to plan a fun activity and schedule it in your planner. Now that wish to be with your kids is no longer a wish, but an actual scheduled event!
It works great for planning a breakfast getaway with your neighbor, a special date with your spouse, or planning a special anniversary event for your parents. Because you started planning it at the first of the month and took time to consider specifics, this together time will be more tailored to the people you are with.
The next time you plan, spend a few minutes with your Master Task List and start forecasting the events that will make the coming month even better. Good luck, and happy planning.
Print out our Holiday Gift List printable and keep it in your planner. We have one in each of the four standard planner sizes—pocket, compact, classic, and monarch. This enables you to track your gift giving in one place.
Take note of each person you plan to give gifts to this holiday season. You can include your family members, extended family members, your neighbors, and professionals who serve you, such as your letter carrier and hairstylist. When you’ve listed everyone, write the dollar amount that you want to spend on each person. Tally up these figures to find your total holiday budget, and commit to stay within it.
Decide which gifts are appropriate for each person, learn where you can find the gifts, and write this information in your planner. Plan your shopping trips in your planner by location so you can get everything you need at each place. If you plan to shop online, take note of shipping costs and deadlines. Keep your planner with you as you shop and note the gifts you order, when they arrive at your door, and where you choose to hide them until that special day.
Welcome December! Make plans with your family, write a thank you card, and let more holiday festivities begin! Here are some more things to add to your list:
December Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
December Checklist Compact Size: PDF
December Checklist Classic Size: PDF
December Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
It doesn’t take long for any of us to think of projects we’d like to finish, new skills we’d like to try, or talents we’d like to increase. Living a fulfilling life is all about creating new and meaningful experiences. These things require planning—they won’t just happen on their own. But sometimes we’re so buried in the stress of today that we can’t see tomorrow. Sometimes we get caught in the survival rut struggling to tread water, and although we often imagine and dream about forward progress, we can’t seem to get around to doing it.
Our vision is off—our perspective is skewed, and all we can see is the task at hand.
This happens to all of us at various times in our lives. First-time parents often talk about losing a piece of their identity when their children are born because they don’t have the time to enjoy the things they used to do before the baby came. New managers find themselves staying later at work finishing projects and reports or planning for tomorrow—things they hadn’t had to do before—leaving them with less time with their families. Sometimes our perspective needs to narrow so we can hone in on what matters most, but we can’t make that a habit at the expense of our other priorities. That’s why we need to plan from three vantage points.
Schedule regular planning sessions throughout the year to focus on your long-range goals. Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year—in six months—by the end of this month? Write your goals in your planner along with the steps necessary to reach them. For example: Perhaps you’d like to write, illustrate, and self-publish a children’s book. Set dates when you’ll have the copy written, give yourself a deadline for each image you plan to create, and set a time when you plan to publish your piece. Each of these steps are long-range goals, so break each of these goals into smaller pieces that you can work on regularly, and schedule them in your planner.
Your Monthly Master Task List is an ideal place for goals that don’t yet have a set timeframe. List your long-range goals in this section of your planner so you can refer to them during your weekly planning sessions.
During your weekly planning sessions, look through your Monthly Calendar Tabs and schedule any events you have listed for the week. Then refer to your list of long-range goals on your Master Task List to determine which steps you can accomplish this week. Then schedule those tasks throughout your week and prioritize them to ensure they get the time they need.
Spend a few minutes each day looking over your planner. Are there tasks hanging over from yesterday that need to be placed on today’s task list? What appointments do you have today, and how much time will they give you to focus on personal goals? Once you’ve determined these things, jot down any tasks you’d like to complete today. Don’t worry about any order; just get them onto your list.
Once your list is written, prioritize your tasks by urgency and importance A, B, and C. Then order all of your ‘A’ tasks 1, 2, 3. Do the same with your ‘B’ and ‘C’ tasks until they’ve all been prioritized. Work on your ‘A’ tasks first, starting with A1, and see how far you can go. This process takes just a short time, but it will save you time and frustration by ensuring you’re working on the most important things first each day.
You can see that all of these three perspectives are connected. Each one builds on the next. Long-range plans lead to weekly plans, which lead to your daily plans. Often we’re tempted to view our goals from all three perspectives at once, but that can be overwhelming.
Here’s an example: If you hope to start a small in-home business to supplement your income, it’s easy to see the goal from all three perspectives at once and decide it’s too complex. You may ask, “When will I have time in my day to do that? How will I finance my expenses? What do I hope to gain from this experience? How can I be sure I’ll make any money or find any clients? Do I really have the skillset to make this work?”
Asking those questions is a necessary part of establishing your business, but remember that each question will be answered from a different point of view. You may not have all the skills you’ll need today, but you can create a long-range goal to establish those skills. You may not see a way to carve out the time in your day to work on your business right now, but during your weekly planning sessions, you’ll begin to see opportunities you don’t see today. You may not be sure how you’ll find clients, but during your daily planning you’ll realize you have time to create a flier, or work on your website.
With time, your fears and doubts will subside as you separate your goals into pieces that you can view from these three different perspectives. Before long you’ll realize that you’re moving forward and making progress where you once thought you would never find success.
Viewing your plans with a Long-range perspective, a weekly perspective, and a daily perspective is the secret to confidently reaching your goals without overwhelming yourself and those around you.
With the stress of daily life and the events taking place in our nation and throughout the world, it’s easy to focus on our challenges and difficulties. Sometimes it’s natural to see the glass as half-empty, rather than half-full. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to shift our perspective. Take time this week to write down a list of things you are grateful for. Place a tab in your planner titled Gratitude, and keep several lined pages there so you can add to the list throughout the year and refer to it often. As you do this, you’ll begin to see more things each day that bring you joy, and your gratitude will increase.
Have you noticed how being busy is not equal to being productive? We’ve all had frustrating days when we’ve felt incredibly busy but had nothing to show for it. Equally frustrating are the days when we’re caught up in urgent matters and accomplish a lot, only to realize that we’d spent our day in meaningless pursuits. Urgent does not always equal important.
We all have things we want to accomplish for others, and ourselves—but when we cut out time for work, appointments, and other interruptions, the precious time we have remaining is scarce. Valuable.
Time is our most sacred commodity. How we use it determines our destiny. So it’s extremely important that we focus our efforts. Hyrum W. Smith has said, “When we align our choices with what matters most, we significantly increase our productivity and sense of inner peace.” We all want to be productive with our time, and we want that productivity be centered on what’s most important to us. Here are a few ways to do that.
Discover the values that govern your actions.
The things that matter most to you may not be the things that matter most to someone else. Your motivation is derived from deep within. There are things you value that move you to act, and other things that don’t interest you at all. That’s part of what makes each of us unique.
Benjamin Franklin had a list of 13 virtues that he tried to improve throughout his life. Late in his life he noted that he had done quite well with the first 12, but struggled with number 13, Humility. It’s interesting to note that ‘humility’ had been suggested to Ben by a friend after he had read Franklin’s original twelve. Although he understood the importance of humility, that virtue wasn’t rooted in Franklin’s governing values, so it made it difficult to truly aspire to it and work toward it.
What are your governing values? Before you get too far into your plans for the future, take some time to seriously ponder the things that matter most to you—the principles that motivate you to action, and write them in your planner for easy reference. It will change everything.
Determine the Roles that Matter Most to You.
A major part of improving your productivity is to understand the roles you play each day. Your planner is an ideal place to write down your roles—Mother/Father, employee, neighbor, athlete, etc. As you note the various roles you play, consider who is relying on you to act in those roles and what you might do to improve your performance. Incorporate those steps into your daily planning, and you’ll begin to see the growth you’re looking for.
Become familiar with the Time Matrix.
We spend each moment of each day doing something, but all tasks are not created equal. Stephen R. Covey found that our tasks could be categorized in a Time Matrix with two variables: Importance and Urgency. All of our activities fall into one of four quadrants depending on how important and urgent they are.
Quadrant One is Necessity. Because the tasks in this quadrant are both important and urgent, they drive us to complete them. When they’re finally finished we feel a sense of accomplishment, but we also feel anxious, exhausted, and emotionally drained. We want to drive our projects, not be driven by them.
Quadrant Two is Productivity and Balance. The tasks in this quadrant are important but not yet urgent. Working on important projects before they become urgent allows us to develop quality work, build our skill set, and grow confidence. It’s great working when we’re in control.
Quadrant Three is Deception. These tasks feel huge, but they don’t make a lot of difference in our lives. They are unimportant tasks masquerading as meaningful and urgent—but they don’t move us toward our goals. These tasks leave us feeling stressed without any sense of meaningful accomplishment.
Quadrant Four is Waste. It comes in the form of procrastination, searching the web for a prolonged amount of time, social media excursions, or video games. The list goes on forever, right? We all know our weak points. Proper planning can ensure we aren’t missing out on amazing experiences by allowing waste to creep into our day.
For more information about the Time Matrix, click here.
Set and Keep Goals.
A goal is only a wish until it’s written down and scheduled for completion. One of the greatest strengths of your planner is the power it gives you to list your goals and schedule them throughout your year. Once written, they’re always in front of you reminding you of the desire that drove you to set the goals in the first place, and encouraging you to move further toward your dreams than ever before. If you haven’t recently, set aside some time to consider where you’d like to be next month, next year, and five years from now, and create a list of goals you can schedule in your planner. It’s time to assign some deadlines to your dreams.
Prioritize Your Tasks.
Most of our planners include a Prioritized Daily or Weekly Task List. This powerful tool makes it easy to determine what you need to accomplish first each day. It’s the secret to keeping your most important matters at the center of your life.
Each day, simply write every task that you’d like to accomplish on your list, then read through your list and sort your tasks by urgency and importance with A, B, or C. Then sort all of your ‘A’ tasks by priority—1, 2, 3 etc. Do the same with your lists of B and C tasks. This powerful activity will help ensure you’re working on the tasks most closely related to your values and goals, and help you keep things in proper perspective.
Even if your planner isn’t designed with a Prioritized Daily Task List, you can incorporate the practice into your planning sessions with any of our planners by creating your own list of tasks and assigning them a priority for completion.
These steps sound simple and basic, but few people actually do them. It’s the little things consistently completed that make all the difference. Take a few minutes to seriously consider the values that govern your actions, the roles you play each day, and the importance and urgency of the tasks you perform. Then set goals that will move you to where you want to be and schedule your daily tasks to ensure you get there.
These small details can be easily overlooked each day, but they’re the secret to meaningful productivity. We feel most productive and fulfilled when we are involved in, significant, intentional activities, and not simply checking unimportant things off a list. Why not start incorporating the things that matter most to you into more of your daily activities—starting now?
Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Whether you have or not, give yourself some peace of mind by having your gift giving organized and in one place. Download this Holiday Gift List and track who you’re giving the gift to, what it is, how much it cost, and its wrapping status!
Get a good grip on your plans with our new Parker Leather Binder. Parker features a two-tone design, with soft, pebbled top grain leather covers and a contrasting smooth vegetable-tanned leather spine stitched together with a sporty flair. The leather continues on the inside, where you’ll find a secretarial pocket with card slots and an ID window, two pen loops, and a back pocket for holding a notepad. Parker’s open design shows off its silver rings, while its smooth leather spine makes it fun to carry.
The striking black and tan Parker binder is available in Classic size.
Measures 7.75” W x 9.5” H x 2.75” D, Ring Size 1.25”
An old Gaelic phrase often attributed to William Shakespeare states, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” It’s good advice—to do your best in all your endeavors. But in order to fully follow this sage advice, you must first know what you are.
You are much more than what you do. If you’re an accountant, you are a financial manager—but you’re more than that. You may also be an athlete, a musician, an outdoor enthusiast, a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a friend, a teacher, a gardener, a caretaker, or an aspiring artist. In fact, you likely play many of those roles and more each day.
Most of us aren’t perfect actors in any of the roles we play—even the areas where we feel strong have room for improvement. None of us would dare say we’ve mastered the roles that are most important to us. There is no perfect communicator, no perfect friend, no perfect artist, and certainly no perfect parent. Yet, we can act well by simply pressing forward and doing all we can within our abilities.
Now and then we all have a day where things seem to click for us. We have a productive day at work, we connect with our parents, we send a sibling a thoughtful card, we help prepare a wonderful meal, and have a meaningful talk with our teenager. Those are the days when we fall into bed tired and satisfied. We may still have a few dishes in the sink, but we can rest easily knowing that we had a meaningful impact on the things that mattered most to us. Those are good days. You can create more of those good days by simply focusing on the roles that matter most to you.
Make a List
Take some time today and write down all the roles you play. You’ll be surprised at how long your list will become. Keep that list in your planner so you can add to it and refer to it often.
Determine Which Roles are Most Important
Read through your list and decide which of those roles matter the very most to you. Mark these roles with an asterisk, a star, or even with an ‘A.’ You’ll find that those ‘A’ roles make up the core of who and what you are.
Include Your Roles in Your Planning
As you plan each week, consider the roles you play and add tasks to your Prioritized Daily Task Lists that allow you to act well within those roles. Over time, you’ll define not only your roles, but also your part within each of them.
Use a Weekly Compass® Card
Your Starter Pack includes a set of Weekly Compass® Cards that fit perfectly inside your Pouch Pagefinder. You’ll notice that these cards include a place for you to note the roles you wish to focus on each week with room to write goals and tasks associated with each. This powerful tool allows you to focus on what you are and enables you to act your parts well, even while the world around you is crazy and hectic.
None of us are perfect, even with the best tools. But taking time regularly to focus on the roles you play will help keep you moving in the right direction. You’ll have a much better idea as to who and what you are, and you’ll sharpen your focus on those things. After all, the joy you feel today will have little to do with the circumstances you face, and everything to do with the focus you give to the things that matter most to you.
There’s nothing like the holidays to shake you out of your daily rut. Here are some tips to make sure that you can stick with your plans during the festivities:
- Spend Time with Family: With all of your holiday appointments, be sure to plan some unstructured time with your family. The quiet moments are often when relationships develop and deepen, leading to some of the most memorable holiday experiences.
- Sleep Well: When visiting relatives or catching up with friends, it can be tempting to make late night plans. Getting enough sleep each night gives you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays.
- Keep Up with Exercise: Don’t skimp out on your personal wellness routines. Like getting enough sleep, physical activity helps keep your mind clear, and a clear mind is essential to making the countless decisions that make up a successful holiday season.
The holidays are coming, and you’re probably starting to look forward to celebrating with family and friends. You’re probably not looking forward to paying for these celebrations, however. It’s hard enough to make it through Halloween in the (orange and) black, and then the biggest gift-giving season ramps up. Here are three ways your FranklinPlanner can help keep your budget healthy:
Individualized Gift Budget Tracker
Take a moment today and write out a list of everyone you plan on giving gifts to this holiday season. You can include your family members, extended family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, caregivers, and others who serve you, such as your letter carrier and hairstylist. When you’ve listed everyone, write the dollar amount that you want to spend on each person. Tally up these figures to find your total holiday budget.
As you shop holiday sales and buy gifts at a discount, deduct the retail price of your gifts from your gift budget rather than the sale price. Your loved ones will still get all the value you planned on giving, and you won’t be as tempted to buy extra gifts to meet your original limit. You can also use some of the extra budget to buy small gifts, like tins of cocoa or boxes of chocolate. Then when someone unexpected gives you a surprise gift, you’ll have a gift on hand to reciprocate.
Sale Date Tracker
From now until the end of the year, most of the gifts on your list will be on sale at one point or another. The challenge comes in weaving limited-time sale opportunities into a busy holiday schedule. Use your planner to make the process more transparent. As you browse through the mailing lists from your favorite retailers, mark down the promotional dates and amounts in your planner. When everything’s down on the page, you can see the big picture, letting you hit the best sales while taking fewer last-minute trips.
Shipping Deadline Reminder
Ben Franklin said it best: “Haste makes waste.” Many sites list holiday shipping deadlines, their recommended ordering date for delivery by December 24. Take a look at these deadlines and mark these dates in your planner. Then you won’t be left hovering over the mailbox, or doubling the price of your gift for overnight shipping.
This is also a good practice if you participate in free shipping programs, such as ShopRunner. Give your orders a head start, and they won’t get caught in the crowd of the procrastinators’ orders.
The biggest key to any budget is mindfulness. With daily and weekly planning sessions, your FranklinPlanner can ensure that you make it through the holiday season with peace of mind as you celebrate what matters most.
From family dinners to company parties to final exams, the holiday season is full of important deadlines. Stay on top of things with the calendar in your planner. Write down new appointment information as it comes in, both on the date page and on your monthly calendar tab. Be sure to use pencil, just in case there’s a change of plans. As your weeks fill up, you can look at your calendar and see at a glance whether a new appointment will add more holiday fun or over burden your week.
November is here! Make plans with your family, write a thank you card, and let more holiday festivities begin! Here are some more things to add to your list:
November Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
November Checklist Compact Size: PDF
November Checklist Classic Size: PDF
November Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
The season of giving is a wonderful time to share with family and friends. It’s a great opportunity to remind others how much they mean to you. Extravagance is not necessary—a thoughtful note, a meaningful card, or a small gift can mean a lot. The trick is finding the right gifts for the right people all while staying within your budget. Your planner is a powerful tool that can take the stress out of your holiday shopping. Here’s how.
Determine your holiday budget.
Look at your finances now and decide what is a reasonable amount to spend on holiday shopping. Create budget segments in your planner for décor, party expenses, meal planning, and gifts, and determine how much you can afford to devote to each. Our Financial Plans Supplement is a complete solution to help you manage your funds, and a great tool for determining a reasonable holiday budget.
Devote a notes page in your planner for shopping lists.
If you’re worried about prying eyes, find an empty notes page in an inconspicuous location—June, for instance. List the items you’re considering for each family member below their name. Research the items and place dollar values next to each item to help determine which gifts you will be able to give. (Make a note on your Monthly Index page to remind you where to find this hidden list.)
Determine where you’ll find each gift.
After you’ve decided what to purchase, decide where you’ll find the best deal on each item. Make lists in your planner by location: Target, FranklinPlanner.com, Amazon, Adorama, etc. List the items you plan to purchase from each location. Take note of free shipping thresholds and other offers that can extend your shopping dollars.
Mark your monthly calendar for important events.
Track sales events in your monthly calendar to ensure you’re getting a good deal for the items you purchase and to ensure you don’t miss a big opportunity to save. For example, our most recent catalog has some great offers that will help your dollar go further—and keep an eye out for our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming soon.
Set holiday shopping goals.
Your planner is a proven way to ensure you set and reach your goals. Make shopping goals to ensure you are finished with your shopping in plenty of time to enjoy the season stress-free. Mark dates in your planner for ordering online items, plan shopping trips to beat the rush, and schedule your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping now—so you can relax knowing your gifts are in hand.
There is much more to the season than gifts. Plan your thoughtful giving now, so you can peacefully enjoy this special time.
If you’re looking for a classy way to express your style take a look at our new Chelsea Leather Binder. The elegant Chelsea binder delivers quality with soft, top grain leather in timeless, classy colors. A stamped rosette pattern fills the front and back covers, and the interior includes the same beautiful leather with vinyl lining. Inside, you’ll find gold hardware, two pen loops, card slots, a large side pocket, a gusseted zipper pocket, a secretarial pocket, and a deep pocket on the back for a notepad. A leather snap closure secures your important plans.
Chelsea is available in Classic and Compact sizes and comes in two colors: Ebony and Cranberry.
Classic Measures 8.5” W x 10.25” H x 2.75” D, Ring size 1.5”
Compact Measures 6.5” W x 7.75” H x 2.5” D, Ring size 1.25”
With two months left to go in 2016, it’s time to order a new planner for 2017. It’s easy to stick with the same planner you used this year, but now and then it’s fun to change things up a bit. At FranklinPlanner.com, we’re always developing new ways to plan, from the free-form Dot Grid Planner to the fun and relaxing Living Color Planner.
Which planning system is right for you? Here are a few things to consider:
Consider your needs when you make your decision. How often do you use your planner? A two-page-per day planner is ideal if you have several meetings and appointments each day. They offer a page for notes, and plenty of room for your daily tasks.
A one-page-per-day planner has the planning features of a two-page-per-day planner, but the layout is smaller, with a half page for notes.
If your schedule revolves around projects and you have fewer tasks to track each day, a weekly planner is the perfect solution. You can see the whole week at a glance and track progress on each of your projects.
Some of our planners have a very structured layout—providing space for your Prioritized Daily Task List, Appointments, Notes, and a Daily Tracker. Other planners are more open, allowing you to decide what you want to focus on each day. While browsing your planner options, consider how much structure you require to be effective each day and choose a planner that fits your lifestyle.
If you let your personality, your planning habits, and your schedule influence your decision, you’ll end up with the ideal planner format.
We’ve written several posts regarding the appropriate size of your planner. If you are wondering which size is best for you, just consider: 1) how portable you would like your planner to be, and 2) the amount of space you will need for writing.
- Pocket-sized planners are our most portable planners, measuring 3.5” x 6”. While lightweight and convenient, they don’t have as much writing space as our other planners.
- Compact-sized planners come in many different designs, and coordinate with some of our most luxurious binders. Compact planners measure 4.25” W x 6.75” H.
- Classic-sized planners come in our full range of designs, including favorites like
5 Choices and Flora. Classic planners measure 5.5” W x 8.5” H.
- Monarch-sized planners are our largest format, measuring 8.5” W x 11” H. Available in several of our long-time favorite designs, they’re great for those who like to write large and require a lot of space.
Wire-bound or Ring-bound
Your planner’s binding makes a difference. Ring-bound planners require a binder and wire-bound planners do not. The wire-bound planner is self-contained, letting you grab it and go. However, we also offer a variety of covers for wire-bound planners, letting you personalize and enhance your organization no matter which binding you choose.
Ring-bound planners offer a greater level of personalization. You can insert forms wherever you’d like, add additional notes pages, or simply hole-punch an item and place it in your planner. Because ring-bound planners require a binder, you also enjoy the added benefits of a binder; pen loops, a notebook slot, pockets, and a cardholder.
Discover New Planning Coordination
The planning lifestyle doesn’t end with planners. Pair a Wanderlust Planner with a set of inspiring Wanderlust Prints. Grab a new Textures Pagefinder to match the new format and photography of your Textures Ring-bound Weekly Planner. Color-code your planner storage with our new selection of Storage Sleeves, designed to match our colored Storage Cases.
Whether you expand your horizons or stick with the tried and tested, one thing is certain: the first step to a successful 2017 is starting out with a Franklin Planner.
As of today, there are 62 days left until Christmas and 69 until the end of the year. With Halloween on the way and more holidays coming, it’s time to take charge of your holiday plans. Talk with your family and friends and make time for your most important events before outside groups fill your schedule for you. Then as each event approaches, you can use your planner to track the dates and details for each party you’re attending, as well as any travel considerations and costs.
As the season changes and winter approaches, there are likely several tasks that you need to do. You might need to finish the home maintenance and landscaping jobs you didn’t get to this summer, while the weather is still warm enough. You may need to harvest your garden and prepare the soil for next year. You might need to rotate your storage, bringing out the winter clothing and holiday decorations. Perhaps there’s a corner of your home that needs serious reorganization. Make anything on your list manageable by breaking the big task down into subtasks and tracking them one at a time.
Have you been feeling unmotivated lately? Does it seem like the tasks in your life are too large, too many, and too daunting to attempt? You’re not alone: in a 2014 national survey*, 73% of respondents said that they don’t feel “completely balanced,” and need to find ways to counteract crammed schedules. This same survey found that, among those who would pay money for an extra hour in each day, 58% would gladly pay $2,725 for the privilege.
Yes, there are days when you feel like you’d pay $3,000 just to accomplish something, anything. If you’re staring at your Prioritized Daily Task List and feeling overwhelmed with your day, take a moment to reconsider.
First, check the priorities on your tasks. Think of the classic object lesson of trying to fit big rocks and little rocks in the same jar. Are there small rocks masquerading as big rocks? Sometimes the desire to cram activity into a single day seriously lessens the actual amount of what gets done. If there are things that you can reschedule, take a moment and do so. Your friends and family will understand, and hopefully you’ll offer them the same courtesy with their scheduling conflicts.
Of course, that leaves the items on your list that must be done today. To give yourself more breathing room, grab a separate piece of paper and list subtasks for each task. Then, on the appropriate days in your planner, you can note the subtasks you need to achieve your goal. For example, if your main goal is “Buy/Make Halloween Costumes”, then you can schedule time with your family two weeks before Halloween to research costume ideas. Once everyone has selected their costume, schedule time one and a half weeks before Halloween to shop for supplies. One week out, plan on making the costumes. And then two days before, you can make final adjustments and pick up any final accessories.
Life is full of minutiae that you just can’t anticipate. There will be days when potty training works less well, when your son empties the cereal box onto the kitchen floor, or when your sister gives your kids red Kool-Aid right before family pictures. Whether you squeeze many of your subtasks in between life’s urgencies, or whether you find yourself writing “water the plants” on your list, just so you can say that you accomplished something, remember that any day is just that: 24 hours of your life. With your plans broken out step by step, there’s nothing to say that you won’t get much further with the next 24.
*2014 Survey from Zico Coconut Water
Are you running your life? Or is your life running you? There is a big difference between priority and urgency. Your priorities come from careful thought, when you decide to act according to your values and craft a plan to make it happen. Urgency, whether real or simulated, rises to the top of your list and demands your reaction. Much of the time, tasks with a sense of urgency come from a lack of planning, whether on your part or someone else’s. Control your personal responsibilities with effective daily and weekly planning sessions, and you can leave space in your schedule for other people’s emergencies without pushing out your own priorities.
We all know that the secret to realizing our goals is to look ahead, set a date for accomplishing the goals, and then to break the goals down into bite-sized pieces that we can accomplish daily or weekly. It sounds easy enough in theory, but many of us struggle to achieve it in reality.
A lot of our goals look the same today as they did three years ago. “Get a handle on our clutter. Visit Europe. Create a retirement plan. Read more. Develop an exercise routine. Save money.” If it’s as easy to break our goals into manageable pieces as all the literature makes it sound, why are so many of us still planning to reach our goals during that mythical Someday?
The truth is, the process of determining our goals requires personal insight. That takes time, thoughtful consideration and quiet pondering. Yet, most of us are so busy that we can’t or don’t find the time for this critical exercise. Plus, once we have our goals in mind, breaking them into steps is another skillset that we haven’t been taught or rarely practice. So even if we can name the things we hope to achieve someday, it doesn’t mean we’ll realize those dreams without some real help.
That help comes through the process of task mapping. How often do we panic when we receive an assignment? Big projects can have more than one possible starting point, and there are usually several steps along the way that will require careful planning. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Mapping our tasks makes our big projects much easier to complete.
- Focus on the Finish
We’ve always championed the idea of beginning your tasks with the end in mind. In order to map your tasks in a manner that ensures your success, you need to take that advice literally. Start mapping your task from finish to start, rather than from start to finish. If you have a goal to develop a fitness plan, imagine what that plan looks like, when it will take place each day, and how you will feel when you are following a healthy routine. It’s important to think through all the details because each of those details will require time to develop.
It’s no different than cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. You need to know how that turkey is going to look, smell, and taste before you ever purchase the bird from your grocery store. You need to know what seasonings to buy, how long it will take to thaw, how long it will take to cook, and what garnishes will pair best with it before you can begin.
- Develop a Time Line
Success is purchased with the coin of time and effort. Everything we do takes time, so we need to consider how long it will take to complete our goals. If you have a long-term goal to visit Europe, you’ll need to determine where you want to go, how long you’d like to stay, how long it will take to save the money for the trip, what you need to do to secure your home and belongings while you’re away, what to do with your mail delivery, and who will watch your pets.
How long you stay will determine the cost of your trip. How well you save your money will determine how soon you can leave. So take the time to consider each element of your trip and create a realistic timeline for accomplishing each part.
- Find the Natural Breaks in Your Task
The next step is to break your project into big pieces. As you think through your project, you’ll notice natural dividing lines. Every goal is actually a combination of several steps. Whenever a change in function occurs during your process, note those changes as separate chunks of your project. Think of these chunks as mid-range goals—items that will take time to develop and work through.
If you want to visit Europe, you’ll first need to plan the events of the trip. That portion of your goal will include researching venues to visit, determining your means of travel, deciding how long you’d like to stay in each area, and so forth. It’s necessary that you decide all of these details before you determine how much money you’ll need to save and how long it will take to acquire those funds, right? So there is a natural dividing line between those two aspects of your goal.
Finding the natural breaks in your project will help simplify your planning process. You’ll be able to compartmentalize each aspect of your goal without letting other parts of the process creep in and clutter your efforts. One great way to visualize this stage of your plan is to write each chunk on separate pieces of paper and place them on your timeline.
- Arrange Each Item in Sequential Order
The fourth step is to arrange each big item into a sequential order. If you find that two or more items need to happen at the same time, just place them in the same spot on your timeline. Life events don’t always happen linearly, so you’ll simply need to schedule events concurrently as you plan.
- Establish Your Short-term Goals
Now is the time to reduce. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each existing chunk. Prepare a list of all the tasks that need to be accomplished within each large chunk. These tasks are your short-term goals—hopefully things than can happen in a week or less. It may be easier to visualize this process if you write each step on separate small pieces of paper and arrange them in order, so you can see how each task affects the rest.
Consider the relationships between the tasks. Who should accomplish each task? Are the tasks sequential, or will any need to happen at the same time? Look at the longest timeline that you’ve allocated to a task—if you have a deadline, will you be able to fit it all in?
- Layout Your Entire Project From Finish to Start
Lay out every big chunk in sequential order from the end to the beginning and place the small chunks in sequential order inside each large chunk. Because you started from the end, all the pieces of your task map are in reverse order, but the advantage is that you know they’ll work toward your desired end. Now simply reverse your task map and place it in its final form, and you’ll have an ideal plan that you can follow from start to finish.
Once you’ve decided on a path to follow toward your goal, write each step in your planner and spread the tasks throughout the weeks and months as you’ve determined will work best. As you work through the tasks that will move you toward your goal, you may find that you need to make adjustments. If so, simply note the changes in your planner and keep moving forward.
Plan for change along the way. Keep a running list of the things you’re working toward in your planner and move them from day to day until they’re completed. You may also want to keep a visual reminder somewhere in your home. Keep each chunk and step on separate papers on a white board or in an electronic file on your computer and rearrange tasks as you go to accommodate the inevitable hiccups.
We know that this sounds simpler than it really is, but as you practice this process, it will become easier. Before long, many of the things you thought were distant dreams will begin to become your reality. Why not dream big—starting now?
Change is the essence of life, and that also holds true for your planning system. This month, we’re changing up our annual Organized October tradition with a renewed focus on all things planning. With detailed infographics that link to helpful content, you can use Organized October to learn new planning strategies, refresh your knowledge of your current system, and identify areas where you can improve.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again. The busy holiday season is fast approaching, starting with the last day of October.
To ensure that you are ready to end the year running, we have a tradition here at FranklinPlanner called Organized October. Take the next 31 days to set things in order, so you can enjoy the frenetic schedule ahead. We’ve posted our Organized October Page, filled with great insights to help you make the most of your planner, organize your space, and stay focused on what matters most.
This year we’re focusing on the core principles of time management that have helped millions realize their dreams. Come and learn how Benjamin Franklin organized his day, why establishing your core values is the most important part of managing your time, and how you can make the clock work for you rather than against you.
Life is full of distractions that pull us away from what we really want to do and achieve. Take a few minutes now to recommit to your goals and to take on a new challenge: To strengthen your planning system and make the most of the next three months.
We will be doing a weekly giveaway, as well! The winners will be announced on this page at the end of each week, so check back to see if you’ve won!
Good luck, and happy organizing!
Week 1 (October 3-9) – $50 e-Gift Card to FranklinPlanner.com
Winner: Stacey Krimmer
Week 2 (October 10-16) – Pick your favorite Wire-bound Planner
Winner: Robert Keefer
Week 3 (October 17-23) – Living Color Daily Ring-bound Planner with Colored Pencils and Pens Set
Week 4 (October 24-31) – Planner Love bundle (planner + binder + accessories)
Click here to enter and win!
October is right around the corner! Clear the rain gutters out, prepare for colder weather, and get ready for the holidays to begin! Here are some more things to add to your list:
October Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
October Checklist Compact Size: PDF
October Checklist Classic Size: PDF
October Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
It’s a truth that architects and interior designers have long known: the shape and features of a space can either enhance or detract from its purpose. The same holds true for your planning sessions. Your planning space should be a place where you can think, meditate, review your goals, and plan your week. You’ll want access to your calendar and other resources, but you’ll also want to limit distractions from your devices and the other people in your home. If you don’t have the space to build a fortress of solitary planning, sometimes finding the right time of day for your planning session can work just as well. You can make an early morning game plan before everyone else wakes up, or a night-time review after the kids go to bed.
We all wish we had a little more time. There is always so much we need to do, so many things we’d like to learn, so many experiences we’d like to have—and never enough time to do them all. The trouble is, everything we do costs time, so we can’t say yes to everything we’d like to do—or even everything we need to do most of the time. Time, or the lack thereof, seems to be our greatest limiting factor in life.
But what if time didn’t really exist? What if time was just something we invented ourselves? What if we all had the exact same amount of time each day? Actually, all of those things are true. Albert Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.” He’s right. So how do we manage our time if time is an illusion? What are we really managing, then? Is it not our actions—the things we choose to do while our eyes are open? Benjamin Franklin is famous for stating, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
So often we think of the stuff time is made of—seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years—and we forget that all of those things are man-made inventions used to track our existence. We spend a few minutes each day planning our events and managing our time, but time is life. What if we gave up on the whole notion of time management and focused, instead, on life management. After all, we can’t manage time—we can’t save it for later, it doesn’t keep. All we can do with time is spend it. And we do. Each second we receive is instantly spent.
So here are a few quotes that might make you think differently about time:
- “All great achievements require time.” —Maya Angelou
- “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.” – Albert Einstein;
- “Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.” —Jawaharlal Nehru
- “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” —William Shakespeare
- “Valuing other people’s time starts with valuing your own.” —Robert Braathe
- “Time is merely the order of events, not an entity itself.” – Gottfried Leibniz.
- “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” —Carl Sandburg
- “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” —Bertrand Russell
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” —Steve Jobs
- “One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” —Paulo Coelho
So, if we change how we see time—acknowledge that we can’t manage it or save it—we may realize that we aren’t slaves to the clock, but rather time is a tool to achieve what matters most to us in life. Then we can stop chasing schedules, and start managing our life. That’s when planning becomes something more like event control. “What happens next,” and “Now what,” become more prominent questions in our life. And the answers to those questions will be filled with more enthusiasm. Yes, time will continue to fly by, but we’ll be too busy living the life we’ve chosen to notice it.
When you’re planning your life, it’s important to include moments to renew and refresh your focus. We’ve built such moments into the Living Color Ring-bound Daily Planner. This creative planner combines space for tasks, appointments, and notes with black and white outlines on thick paper. And for the times when you need to sharpen your focus, this planner comes with 12 unique original two-page designs, ready for you to color. Make bright patterns in geometric designs, fill in imaginative scenery, or create a beautiful mandala pattern. Each month features a colorable quote page on its monthly tab. Includes future planning calendars.
January 2017 Start Date available in Compact and Classic sizes.
The question comes up again and again: why use paper in a world where all the information on the Internet is just a click away? You can find practically any fact you’re looking for with the right search engine, and recording information with a keyboard works very quickly.
If life were only about storing and processing information, then we would already be bowing to our technological overlords. But life is more than just data in, data out. It’s about making connections and drawing conclusions, sometimes taking leaps of intuition from one point to the next.
Handwriting on paper is the optimal way to strengthen these mental connections. Studies have shown that the handwriting process creates a stronger impression of the material in your mind and leads to greater recall of what you’ve written.
So whether you’re heading to a lecture in your biology course or preparing for your next quarterly meeting, using your daily notes page will help you succeed in capturing information, making connections, and retrieving what you’ve learned when you need it.
As with your daily planning sessions, the more preparation you put into your note taking, the more you’re likely to get from the experience. Before attending class or heading to a meeting, review the information you have on the subject that will be discussed. Many courses have outlines available, and effective work meetings will have subject matter available beforehand. You can also research important information and start to fill out the details before the meeting happens.
If, for example, you were responsible for equipment setup when your company gives a presentation at a convention center, then your past experience would help you know how to prepare. On your notes page, you would write down headings such as Schedule, Speaker List, and Equipment List. You might research the size of the venue, the maximum number of attendees available, and whether the room has built-in sound equipment. Then you could list these pieces of information under your headings, leaving space for the other information you’re about to learn.
Once the meeting starts, your notes page helps you piece together how your responsibilities fit in with the bigger picture. As points come up in the meeting, you can list them under your headings, each with their own bullet. You can also draw lines between different bullets, making the connections between ideas clear and easy to see.
When the meeting or class is finished, make a note on your Monthly Notes page with the date and the subject of your notes. Then when you’re ready to pack your gear for the conference or study for the final, you’ll know where to look without flipping through two months’ worth of pages. With the important points and connections listed, you’ll have everything you need to accomplish the task at hand.
Make more of your notes than a simple storage of facts. Actively connect your brain to the planning process through your notes page.
Is there something that you would like to improve about yourself? Whether it’s arriving on time to meetings, focusing on communicating with people rather than playing with your phone, or finding a better work/life balance, using a planner can help make the improvement permanent. Make a simple goal, and then track it every day in your planner. In a few weeks, your resolution for improvement will turn into an improved habit.
From the time we were little, our parents, teachers, caretakers taught us certain governing values that have been programmed into our brains. It’s the “why” of life – why we do what we do. As we mature and become more aware of this programming, we can be more conscious of this “why”. Ben Franklin became very intentional about his “why” with the 13 Virtues he wrote. His method for finding these governing values can still be applied today to help you identify your highest priorities. Hyrum Smith said, “Your governing values are the foundation of personal fulfillment.”1.Identify virtues – Here is a list of sample governing values. Review the list and write down 5 that you identify with the most.
2. Prioritize them – From your list, prioritize them in order of most important to less important. This exercise can help you to learn about yourself – what is actually most important to you?
3. Clarify what they mean to you – Beauty or Faith can mean something very different from one person to the next. Take your prioritized list and write a clarifying statement for each. For example, if you chose Fitness, your clarifying statement could be,
“I am energetic and have adequate strength to accomplish the physical and mental tasks I undertake. I am physically active, getting enough exercise to help maintain a weight consistent with my heath and build.”
After you have done this, take some time to reflect on your list and your statements. Draw conclusions about what they mean to you. Do these governing values reflect your day-to-day tasks and your long-term goals? Put your list somewhere in your planner where you can refer to it often or get the Starter Pack and fill out the Values form. Allow your governing values to actually govern your daily tasks and how you prioritize what you get done in a day. This is the beginning of achieving what matters most and becoming who you want to be.
The intention of the Goal Planning Form form is to help you map out your goals and create a plan for achieving them. Make the big lofty goal attainable by having a visual plan to accomplish what it is that you want. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Value/Mission/Role (why?) – This is your why and your motivation for wanting to set this goal in the first place. Review your values, mission, and roles, and choose what is driving you to accomplish this goal.
Governing Values – your highest priorities
Mission – your unique purpose
Roles – your key relationships and responsibilities
Goal (what?/when?) – Define what the actual goal is and what deadline you are giving yourself. If you associate a timeline with your goal, it will make it easier to break down into smaller chunks.
Steps (how?) and Deadlines – How are you going to accomplish this goal? Use this space to break your goal down into smaller “bite-size” pieces. What will this goal look like on a weekly basis? And on a daily basis? Set some deadlines for each step. Once you have the timeline written out, write these same deadlines in your planner on the day each task is to be done. It may also be helpful to write other reminders before the deadline happens to keep the goal fresh on your mind.
The Productivity Pyramid – This is a reminder to incorporate your goal into each step of the the Pyramid.
It’s a classic object lesson: you can’t fit big rocks into a jar full of sand, but put the big rocks in first, and you can fill up the space around them. Keep this principle in mind as you commit tasks to your planner pages. At this point, you have your Master Task List and Weekly Compass Tasks ready to schedule. Once those are in, you can plan your other important and fulfilling activities to round out your week.
As you develop strong weekly planning sessions, your life will have a new sense of perspective. A good weekly plan helps you see past the daily grind to where life’s milestones await. And that perspective makes all the difference.
We can’t control how much time we have, but we can control how we use our time. Think about what matters most to you in your life and fill in the blank:
“Effectively managing my time, gives me _______ in my life.”
Whatever this may be, you can use a Franklin Planner to achieve that. Here are 3 keys to using your planner effectively.
Key 1: Only use one personal management system. Your planner can only be as effective if you use and integrate it with the rest of your life. Whether you use a planner, a calendar, or an app to manage your contacts, notes, appointments, and tasks, integrate them to be one system that works to support you.
Key 2: Keep the planner with you always. Regardless of where we are, information is coming at us constantly. One of the main purposes of a planner is to capture information. Keep your planner with you to capture the data, and relieve your brain from having to remember it later. When it’s not appropriate to have your planner on you, consider using the Satellite version.
Key 3: Eliminate floating paper. Floating paper is any piece of information you have written down that you cannot have at your fingertips within 10 seconds. According to one study, we spend as much as 28 minutes a day looking for pieces of paper. The message here is to have a place for everything, and everything in its place.
Use the following symbols to keep up on the current status of your tasks. Some may be self-explanatory, while others could use a little clarification.
√ Completed – when the task is completed and there is nothing more to do or to follow up on
→ Forwarded – when the task is forwarded to the next day, next week, or future date
× Deleted – when the task no longer needs to be completed or becomes obsolete
G √ Delegated – when the task is delegated to someone else, put his/her initial next to a checkmark
- In Process – when a task is making progress to completion, underway, ongoing
In your planning sessions, you assess your priorities. You categorize your daily activities from most important to least important, and decide where to start. You apply labels, from A1 for the most important task down to C3 for the extras. This system helps keep you on track.
What if you applied the same idea to your workspace? You could categorize the documents and tools you use for your career. Then, you could designate the space closest to you as A1 space for your most frequently used items, then B1 space for specialized tools for periodic projects, and C3 space for your stapler, over on the far end of the desk, encased in Jell-O.
The FranklinPlanner method of task management is to prioritize your tasks with the ABC 123 method—setting apart the things of greatest importance to help ensure you are putting your greatest efforts toward the things that matter most to you. A version of this method will also work wonders for your work space. Here’s how.
Just as we sort our tasks by priority: A—Critical, B—Important, and C—low value, we can arrange our work space with the same principles in mind.
Organizing our work space is much easier if we keep the four quadrants of the Time Matrix in mind. Quadrant One is the time we spend working on tasks that are urgent and important. It’s a stressful way to work because important matters require our best attention, but the urgency of the moment makes it incredibly difficult to slow down and focus on details. In quadrant one, a minor set back can feel like a disaster.
Quadrant two is the time we spend on important tasks that aren’t yet urgent. That is where we’d like to spend most of our time. Working on important tasks before they become urgent allows time for set backs without the angst. In this quadrant, we can focus on details and create our best work.
Quadrant three is the time we spend working on urgent tasks that aren’t important. We do this more often than we think—each time we drop what we’re doing to answer a text message, step away from our work to listen to a co-worker rant about their weekend, or slip out the door to help a neighbor with a project. These tasks are often good, but they aren’t urgent to us. They are urgent and important to someone else. We can never eliminate these interruptions because relationships matter, but often we can postpone them until a more convenient or appropriate time.
Quadrant four is the time that we squander or waste. Don’t confuse this with entertainment and recreation. All of us need time to relax, in fact, recreation is important. But things like aimlessly flipping through television channels, surfing the web, mindless distractions, and procrastination all find their way into quadrant four when they devour too much of our time. We all have our favorite distractions. But we need to decide how much of our lives we are going to sacrifice to them.
The time matrix makes it easier to prioritize the tasks we work on each day. We’ll schedule our A, B, and C tasks, and try to avoid spending too much time in D-istractions.
With that refresher in mind, let’s tackle our work space.
We all have varying degrees of acceptable clutter in our work space, but we can all agree that clutter makes life difficult. Clutter is like static that makes it hard to focus on what is most important. If we’re searching through clutter to find an important paper, we’re wasting valuable time and energy, and increasing our stress levels. So the solution is to organize your space by priority.
You are the most important part of your work space, so the most important tools, tasks, and projects—you’re A-priority stuff—should be closest to you. Less important items should be placed in concentric circles around and beyond that point. Place your B items at arms length and in side drawers, C items beyond that, and your D items, of course, end up in the trash or filed away for safekeeping. Be sure, however, that you aren’t filing away waste.
The first step to organizing your space is to gather all the paper that is cluttering your work space and stack it in your “A” space. Then sort through all those loose papers and create four stacks labeled A, B, C, and D.
A = Must be done—Critical
B = Should be done—Important
C = Could be done—low value
D = Waste—No value
Keep your “A” papers in your “A” space and sort them by priority, 1, 2, 3, etc. Organize the rest outward from there. File your D stack in the trash can or recycle bin. You may even consider using separate paper trays for each priority. As you work, try to keep your Critical tray empty so you have time to focus on those items that are Important but not urgent. Paperwork will keep coming. If you organize each paper as it arrives, you could find yourself constantly interrupted. Instead, set aside time each day to review and organize your papers. It will only take a minute or two, and you’ll keep your work space clutter free.
Keeping a priority-based system of organization in your work space helps ensure that each time you handle a paper, you’ll do something important with it. That’s how tasks get accomplished in an orderly and timely manner without cluttering your space.
It doesn’t take long to see the intrinsic value of the Franklin Planning System. It can be applied to almost anything we do from scheduling our tasks within our day, to organizing our work space, and even project management and workflow. If we always keep the main thing the main thing, and plan accordingly, we’ll find that we draw closer to our goals in each aspect of our lives.
– Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg
Can you remember when you were younger, when time seemed to move slower and moments seemed to last longer? With fewer hours, days, and weeks for comparison, nothing mattered more than the immediate present. It took years of experience to train yourself to look past the now, to make goals for the future, and to learn how to achieve more than short-term happiness.
But even now, when you’ve learned the importance of delayed gratification, there are still moments when the comfort of the immediate present takes precedence over your important goals. It’s easy to understand the concept of delayed gratification; it’s much harder to resist delaying irritation.
Procrastination. When it comes down to it, you tend to procrastinate when you face events that are uninteresting, complex, or unpleasant. Boredom, uncertainty, and fear can make an hour seem like an eternity when you remember it, and these emotions tempt you to put off certain tasks. Thankfully, with a little practice and a shift in your mindset, you can conquer each of these three sources of procrastination.
You might not remember it, but your parents surely do. At least once in your life, they asked you to do a small chore, only to have you complain, “But it’s BORING!” The inevitable argument then lasted much longer than the time it would take to complete the task.
Your mind is drawn toward the novel, the new, the exciting. It wants to expand, to make connections, and to realize your important personal values. But achieving these ends often involves tedium: a million taps of a keyboard to write an epic novel, callouses built over months of playing before you master the bass line of your band’s newest song, night after night of tweaking marketing and sending out email blasts before your home business takes off.
The key to success in long-term efforts is to align your activities with your most important values, or as Stephen R. Covey taught, “Begin with the end in mind.” And because the world isn’t just about you, this involves relying on the strength of other values when your life is lacking in certain areas. For example, you might not have the perfectly fulfilling, world-saving career you pictured when entering adulthood, but knowing that it supports your family and social values can make up some of the difference and make it easier to work toward a better situation.
Your mind is wired to learn from its mistakes. When something is both important and complex, you know how important it is to get it right the first time. Sometimes, it feels like there’s nothing worse than spending time and energy on a task, then finding out you have to rethink and rework what you’ve been doing. Taking the third trip to Home Depot in three hours to finally fix the sprinkler or getting your recent proposal back covered in red ink provide memorable life lessons in preparation.
But like any other principle, mental preparation can also be taken to extremes. When faced with a complex situation, it’s easy to want to sit back and wait for a change: more information, a better thought, a newer strategy. This brand of procrastination has a fun, rhyming name: analysis paralysis.
Analysis paralysis takes time away from progress on a complex task and replaces it with circular thinking, usually, ironically, on how to be more efficient. Analysis paralysis has a secret goal: if you think about it long enough, an external force will simplify the task for you, whether it’s the muse of inspiration, a helpful co-worker, or just the quittin’ time whistle.
Of course, once you understand the truth about analysis paralysis, you can take the initiative to solve your situation. Write down your brainstorm sessions in your planner notes section instead of thinking things twice or three times. Add delegation and communication to your planning strategies instead of waiting for others to develop telepathy. And if the task really isn’t as urgent as it seems, you can defer it for a time when resources and collaboration are more available.
As you do what you can, ask for the help and resources you need, and analyze while acting, complex problems break down into a series of manageable steps.
In a perfectly rational world, everyone would follow the previous advice, working personally and together to achieve great things. Unfortunately, your mind also has one other ingredient that gets in the way: fear. It might have evolved, going from fear of getting eaten to fear of disappointing your parents to fear of economic consequences, but the message is the same: scary things are bad, and you shouldn’t let them happen.
While extra caution is certainly warranted in a survival situation on the African savannah, most of the time, the fear you associate with small, unpleasant things is blown out of proportion. It can be tempting to take a single failure and magnify it to fatalistic proportions, as young people do sometimes. If life is overwhelming and you’ve ruined it forever, the thinking goes, you’re justified in retreating, in giving up.
Your planner gives you a daily space to ask yourself these important questions:
- What will happen if I put off this task?
- How will I feel about putting off this task?
- Will this task nag at me? Will I regret not doing it?
- Do I work well under pressure?
- Is my procrastination habit feeding into a negative cycle that affects my life and my relationships?
The only antidote for fear is experience. In this regard, your planner is an excellent tool to conquer your fear-based procrastination. Not only does it have the space you need to prepare and plan, but it also provides you with a record of your non-fatal failures. As you review them, you’ll discover that the pain associated with even the worst of them pales in comparison to your regrets—your thoughts about the things you didn’t do and the opportunities you missed through inaction.
But as you continue toward your goals, your planner is also a record of your success. It acts as a milestone marker that helps you keep track of your progress while helping you retain your perspective.
Everyone procrastinates, and for a wide variety of reasons. Understanding your own personal procrastination blend is the first step to overcoming it and starting on the journey toward achieving what truly matters most to you.
When you think about it, Labor Day is a celebration of balance and community: the balance that comes when your career and your personal life are in harmony and the community that supports you, whether at work or at home. As you plan out your Labor Day celebrations, factor in these two ideals: balance your fun activities with downtime, and delegate on your planner pages to include your personal community in the tasks of the day. With everyone working together, you’ll enjoy playing together even more.
Welcome the month of self improvement and cooler weather! Prepare for the fall and try a new hobby. Here are some more things to add to your list:
September Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
September Checklist Compact Size: PDF
September Checklist Classic Size: PDF
September Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
Designed with the aspiring artist in mind, the Livi Binder gives you space to go beyond black and blue ink. Beneath the soft nappa leather exterior and gold-toned hardware, you’ll find a large gusseted side pocket that’s perfectly sized for a box of colored pencils or a drawing pad. The Livi also includes everything you’ve come to expect in a FranklinCovey binder: two pen loops, a flat exterior pocket, card slots, a gusseted zipper pocket, and secretarial pockets. And to top it off, this artistic binder includes a stylish and removable leather tassel on its zipper closure.
The Livi Binder comes in Classic and Compact sizes. Choose from Eggplant or Mineral Blue.
Compact measures 6.5″ W x 8.25″ H x 2.75″ D Ring, size 1.25″
Classic measures 8.25″ W x 10.5″ H x 2.75″ D, Ring size 1.5″
Do you have a personal mission statement?
Most of us think of mission statements in corporate terms. Large corporations, non-profit organizations, universities, and philanthropies have mission statements. These messages are usually directed toward the people involved in the organization as well as the person who would buy their product, enroll in their school, or donate to their cause.
Could such a statement help you? Might your actions improve if you based your decisions on a set of solid core values?
The strongest mission statements are simple. Nordstrom’s mission statement for example states: “At Nordstrom, our goal is to provide outstanding service every day, one customer at a time.”
When you shop at Nordstrom, more often than not, you experience that mission statement firsthand. That’s why people shop there again and again. It certainly isn’t because their prices are the lowest, it’s because they feel valued when they are there. The experience is worth the price. Similarly, many fine restaurants are more devoted to the ambiance and courteous service than they are to their food, because they recognize that you can cook your own great food. It’s the total experience that you pay for.
But what about us, personally—could we benefit in the same way? Could it be possible for people to know us simply by the way they feel when we were around them, or by the quality of our work?
Mission statements work because they give direction to every action that organizations, like Nordstrom, take. Successful organizations base their company standards on their mission statement. The mission statement molds company culture and affects the way employees treat each other and their customers. Because of that, you could blindfold a person and place them in the center of Nordstrom, and within moments they would know where they were. You could do the same at Wal-Mart.
A mission statement that we believe in will change us for the better. But that’s the key—we need to believe in it. At some places, like high-end fashion boutiques, the experience is worth the price—at others, such as big box warehouse supermarkets, the price is worth the experience.
Here’s the thing, perception is reality. We create our own reality by the way we, ourselves, and others perceive us. A personal mission statement is one more tool to help us ensure that our actions are in tune with what matters most to us. Although we can’t completely control how others perceive us, we can control the way we choose to act and the things we choose to do with our time. We can work to ensure that our actions support the way we perceive who we are and who we want to become. As we align our actions with our personal mission statements we become who we hope to be. Over time, those intentional daily decisions will affect the way others feel about us and the way we feel about ourselves.
Your personal mission statement is usually derived from your list of core values. As you spend time focused on those values that matter most to you, you’ll begin to see a few common themes woven through them. Those common themes will become the basis of your personal mission statement. Perhaps your themes are self-improvement and serving others. Maybe you’ll find that you want to improve your personal traits and skills so you can serve your family and friends more completely. (We’ll talk more about how to write a personal mission statement in a later post.)
Can you imagine how your planning sessions might improve if you had your own personal mission statement—a center post that supported all your actions and motivated your daily decisions?
In the olden days of film photography there was a term called a latent image. A latent image is the image burned into film or photo paper from the light exposed to it. That image came alive in the darkroom with the proper application of developer, stop bath, and rinse water. For a photographer, there are few experiences more thrilling and enlightening than watching that latent image appear.
We’re guessing you have a latent personal mission statement that has been formed by the things you’ve been exposed to throughout your life. That silent theme motivates the things you do. Not everything you’ve experienced has been joyful—some of it has been hard, even painful. Yet, this exposure to your world has given you your own unique perspective. Your perspective, the way you see yourself, others, and the world around you—and the way you hope to see them, shapes your dreams. Your personal mission statement gives those dreams direction, and it will be an even greater force in your life as soon as you develop it and bring it into the light.
So take a minute today and seriously consider what truly matters most to you—and why. As you do, you’ll discover your own mission statement and add greater purpose to your actions.
With the return of the school year, your family’s lives will start to go in all different directions. From swimming meets to guitar lessons to Honors Society, you’ll have all sorts of appointments to plan and track, with all the logistics to go with them.
Before things get out of hand, take a moment with your family to get on the same page. The same planner page, preferably. Gather around your monthly calendar for September and draft out how everyone’s agenda interacts, including activity times, transportation schedules, and at-home preparation time, like practicing music or sports. Once you have everything squared away, transfer the family’s schedule to a wall calendar and display it where everyone can see it.
Add classic styling to your plans. The Elliott Binder features faux suede with a genuine leather spine, fitting together as naturally as a patch on the elbow of a stylish jacket. This definitive theme continues on the inside, where you’ll find two pen loops, card slots, two secretary pockets, and a notepad slot. Large antique brass rings provide space for all of your biggest plans, while a snap closure keeps everything secure.
Binders available in Classic and Monarch sizes, in your choice of Navy/Grey or Saddle/Grey.
Classic measures 8” W x 9.5” H x 2.5” D, Ring Size 1.5”
Monarch measures 11.5” W x 12.75” H x 2.5” D, Ring Size 1.25”
Wire-bound Covers available in Classic size.
Classic measures 7.25” W x 9.75” H x 0.75” D
Before you can use your time effectively, it is essential to define what constitutes an effective use of time. You spend each minute of each day doing something, whether it’s advancing your field, strengthening your relationships, or getting caught up in the latest game app craze.
Stephen R. Covey provided an excellent framework for categorizing how you spend your time: the Time Matrix.Covey goes into great depth on these four quadrants, but he raises an important point. Often, our sense of what is urgent depends on how we feel, while our sense of what is truly important depends on how well we’ve thought out our values and planned accordingly.
The end goal is to live as much of your life as possible in Quadrant II, where you spend your days on personally important tasks without stressful urgency. Spending time in this quadrant takes the most personal preparation and thought, including defining your values, planning your day, and responding effectively to interruptions and distractions. It’s no wonder that so many people spend their lives in the other quadrants instead.
There’s no question when an event is truly a Quadrant I event. If the half-completed presentation to decide the fate of the company is due in a half hour, or the toddler is happily running toward the rim of the canyon, you’re going to feel the urgency. Adrenaline kicks in, time slows down, and you respond with either fight or flight.
While Quadrant I events are memorable, for most people, the urgent-seeming events in their lives are actually Quadrant III events. Grabbing someone’s attention is the first step to getting them to do what you want, so our modern world has made a science out of it. From the phone ring to the phone notification, from the interrupting co-worker to the Facebook feed, Quadrant III activities try to intrude on your own priorities, tapping into your sense of urgency to get you to react, rather than act.
This urgency comes at a price. After the adrenaline rush wears off, you’re left with the physical and emotional aftereffects: stress, fatigue, and sometimes satisfaction at salvaging a dicey prospect. It’s at this point that Quadrants I and III funnel people into Quadrant IV. After reacting to noise and problems all day, it’s all too easy to feel that you’ve earned a break from decisions and sink into unimportant, time-wasting activities.
That’s not to say that fun is incompatible with a productive life. As a matter of fact, living life in Quadrant II can lead to personally fulfilling activities as you focus on the goals, people, and experiences that matter most to you.
The key to achieving a Quadrant II life is to act, rather than react. This is the main purpose of the FranklinPlanner planning system. Your planner is a distraction-free tool that gives you space to plan out how you’re going to act before the world throws its urgency at you. It’s a window to life outside the next 24 hours, where life-changing goals, from fitness to musical talent to love itself, happen with consistent effort.
Whether you’re new to planning or a thirty-year veteran, take some time to review your daily activities and categorize them in these four quadrants. Are you making progress in Quadrant II? How many of your activities help you feel busy without having any real importance? Are you stuck in the III – I – IV cycle, where interruption leads to crisis leads to crash?
Once you have your list laid out, you can see where your life needs to change to align more fully with your values. You can identify how to minimize the time you spend responding to Quadrant III and stay ahead in your important activities, keeping them out of Quadrant I. And as your life changes, you’ll discover that the cost of leaving Quadrant IV for Quadrant II is such a small price to pay for the results you achieve.
The Prioritized Daily Task List is one of the key elements of your FranklinPlanner. As you use it, you can help keep your most important values foremost in your mind throughout the day. It starts with prioritizing your tasks into categories with letter designations:
- A: these tasks are critical to do today. Important work projects, booking the reception center for a family wedding, reserving a restaurant time for a date with Ms. Right—these activities are time-sensitive and potentially life-changing.
- B: these tasks are important, but with a more flexible schedule than the A tasks. You can reschedule, but doing so too often will burden your schedule in the future.
- C: these are the extra tasks that round out your day, such as beginning the novel a co-worker recommended. They aren’t essential, but can serve as reminders of more fulfilling uses for your downtime.
Once you’ve marked each task with a priority, you can go back and order them with a number next to each letter. Then you can start your day with A1, complete your A tasks, and continue as time allows.
Our brains have almost limitless capacity to retain information, but the challenge comes when we want to retrieve that information during the chaos of the day. Even if we believe we can, none of us can focus on more than one thing at a time. If we have several things on our minds, our brain is rapidly switching from item to item, event to event, or brush fire to brush fire. So when we have a busy schedule at work followed by a frenetic schedule at home, we have the perfect recipe for absent-minded mistakes. In the rush of the day, it’s easy to forget something important.
Oddly, we can have similar experiences when we aren’t busy enough. Have you ever had a time when your workload was light and you started to drift mentally? Our brains are never at rest—they love stimuli. So if we aren’t busy in reality, our minds become busy with fantasy. Our minds seek entertainment. Sometimes these episodes of mental drift can get the better of us and we’ll forget something truly important. Just consider the last time you checked your email or Facebook page and found that you were still online an hour later.
So how do we make the most of our amazing brains? Like any other organ in our body, our minds require maintenance and conscious effort to make them strong. One of the best ways to improve memory is to write, and if your memory is important to you, the best place to write is in your planner.
Your planner’s basic functions are to Capture and Retrieve, which means your planner can track anything you choose to keep in it. It may sound fanciful, but you really can capture your dreams, you can act on your aspirations, you can set higher standards for your life, and achieve greater goals.
On a smaller scale, your planner ensures that you won’t forget to take your daughter to dance class—you’ll remember to pick up cheese on your way home from work—and you’ll remember to make dinner reservations, even after a crazy day at the office.
The truth is, our brains function better with help.
Like any other filing system, physical or digital, an orderly capture system is vital. Where and how you store your information is critical to how easy it is to use later. Plans are easier to reach if you start with a long-term outlook and then work back to the present, breaking your plans into small pieces that you accomplish a day at a time. Capturing your plans is no different. Start with a long-term vision, and capture your plans, ideas, notes, and goals with retrieval in mind.
We’ve heard the argument that writing something down is pointless if you can’t find what you wrote when you need it. In order for the retrieval process to work fluidly, you’ll want to ask three basic questions: What do I need? When do I need it? And, Where can I find it? Your planner is designed to make retrieval easy if you begin planning with this in mind.
Any time you write something in your planner that you know you will need to refer to later, simply place a number next to your note in your Notes section. Then turn to your Monthly Index Page and write a quick reference to that note, such as: Company party caterer—April 23, Note 3. Now a simple glance at your monthly index page will lead you directly to all the information you need to know about your caterer. The concept works perfectly for any number of things. And that’s just the beginning.
You can also keep a progressive task list in your pagefinder listing the everyday items that easily slip through the cracks, a Weekly Compass Card to ensure you are focusing on your most important items first each day, goal planning forms that enable you to set big goals and break them into small, manageable segments, and so much more.
If you haven’t lately, take another look through your planner and see how many helpful tools you can discover to ensure you capture your goals, accomplish your tasks, and retrieve your dreams.
How do you define yourself? Or, more importantly, what time frame do you use to define yourself? Do you define yourself by what you’re doing right this minute? Does unstructured time make you uncomfortable? Or do you define yourself by how you’ve changed and grown over weeks, months, and years?
It might be tempting to get lost in the daily minutiae of tasks, becoming nothing more than a human doing the things expected of you. If you find yourself in this situation, set up a special planning session where you list out the things that drive you to do what you do. Make long-term goals and give the steps toward those goals priority on your planning pages. If the other tasks on your list have more to do with just having something to do rather than exploring who you are, pare them down and give yourself space to be a human being.
Summer is coming to an end and school is almost in session! Before classes start up again, here are some more things to add to your list:
August Checklist Pocket Size: PDF
August Checklist Compact Size: PDF
August Checklist Classic Size: PDF
August Checklist Monarch Size: PDF
We have another fun game for our friends. Below you will find a list of clues. Each clue will reveal a hint about a product on our site. You’ll know you’ve found the right product when you see our small, blue Benjamin Franklin icon on the product page. As you find each product, place the first letter of the product name in the blank. (The I’s have been filled in for you.) The completed word is your promo code for great discounts, so this game promises to be both fun and rewarding! Good luck!
1. Go to FranklinPlanner.com
2. Search and find the right product based on the clues below
3. Fill in the blank (first letter in the product name goes in the blank)
4. Enjoy a 20% off your entire order promo code!
(we’ve given you the I’s)
1. Your planner could never be complete without images of your friends and loved ones inside. This convenient add-on will keep those you love with you throughout the day.
2. The colors and patterns of this ring-bound planner add a retro vibe to your day.
3. This innovative planner is the one that started it all back in 1984.
4. Here’s a colorful way to find your pages in your ring-bound binder and divide your planner into orderly sections.
5. This ring-bound weekly planner lets you celebrate the textures of your life with beautiful imagery.
6. This sturdy nylon messenger bag is the ideal companion to get you through the zaniness of each day.
7. Track your spending and store your receipts with this innovative addition to your planner. It may be one of our most versatile forms.
Download the crossword puzzle here!
Before we start talking about excuses, we need to understand that “excuses” is the proper term—not “reasons.” Reasons are perhaps the most important part of what makes us tick. They’re based in our values—the underlying principles upon which we base all of our actions. Reasons are the why of our actions, and the why is the beginning step of all that we do. Why is the motivation that propels us forward.
Reasons are beautiful: “I couldn’t attend your wedding because my daughter was having our first grandchild.”
“I worked overtime and missed the neighborhood barbecue because I’m saving money for my son’s science camp. He’s determined to become a top astronaut.”
Excuses aren’t any of those things. Excuses are based in doubt, fear, and uncertainty. They’re motivated by a desire to justify our weaknesses rather than by a sense of accountability to improve upon them. Excuses are dangerous because, if we don’t see them for what they are, they can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
The term self-fulfilling prophecy was coined in 1948 by sociologist Robert K. Merton. He defines it this way:
The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior, which makes the original false conception come true.
The trouble is, once this happens, we often look at the fact that our ‘prophecy’ came true as justification that we were right all along. However, if we take a close look at the top six excuses why people don’t plan, we can easily see that all of them are false statements—false statements that many of us have come to believe to be true. If we aren’t careful, we’ll act on these beliefs, and ensure that they do, in fact, come true.
1. “I don’t have time to plan.”
This excuse is probably the most obvious false statement we make. We all have the exact same amount of time—all of it. The issue isn’t about how much time we have, but what we’re choosing to do with it. If we feel like we don’t have enough time, chances are, we aren’t taking enough control of our actions. Rather than choosing what we are going to do, we’re allowing situations, interruptions, habits, and procrastination to steal our time from us.
If you don’t have time to plan, the remedy is to act. Set your alarm clock to ring 15 minutes earlier and plan before you do anything else. Each week, think through the coming events and decide which items need to happen when. Schedule those items into each day of your week. Then go over those items each morning and determine when you will do them. You’ll be surprised at how much time you free up when you give your most important things their own space in the day. Soon you’ll realize that you are accomplishing much more than you were with the same 168 hours each week.
2. “I’m too busy firefighting to plan ahead—I’m constantly in crisis mode.”
Crises are real. Sometimes big, unexpected events dominate our lives. These moments tend to be temporary, but their effects sometimes linger for a lifetime. During these strenuous times, it’s wise to slow down, focus on the present, and carefully navigate through each day. But careful navigation goes much more smoothly when we take time to assess our situation and make a plan to address it. That doesn’t mean that the course of the day will cooperate with the plans we make each morning, but simply thinking through the events of the day and preparing for them will give us a touch more strength to push through, even when things get chaotic.
Here’s the cool part. As we keep planning even when all we can do is put out fires, we’ll improve our ability to put out those fires. We’ll find ourselves anticipating the next flare-up and preparing for it. Over time, we will work through the chaos period of our crisis situation, the smoke will begin to clear, and we’ll start to see farther ahead. That’s when all that frenetic planning will begin to pay off. Because we kept planning even when we couldn’t see a clear picture of the future, we were able to stay somewhat on top of our world. Now that we can see better through the haze, we can move ahead without feeling buried in the debris of the crisis.
If we stop planning because we can only run from flame to flame, we either burn out, or end up buried in ash. Then even after the crisis has passed, we’ll find we’re too buried to move. Perhaps that’s you now. Your world got turned on its ear and even though you have accepted your new normal, you can’t yet move ahead because you’re still dealing with the immediate changes. What do you do? The only thing you can do—you plan.
Start today with a weekly planning session. List the things you need to address the most, break them into manageable pieces, and schedule them throughout your week. Then look at today’s list of things to do, prioritize them, and start working on what matters most. Keep at it until it becomes a habit. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment is almost immediate. You’ll begin to feel more on top of your world as early as tonight.
3. “I don’t know how to plan.”
It’s OK if you don’t know how to plan. Planning is something we all need to learn, and even skilled planners can find ways to improve.
The best plans start on the inside. Before you get too far into planning your time, first assess what matters most to you. This exercise is vital if you are going to be truly successful. List the things you value most and why. Then as you look through the tasks that dominate your day, ask yourself if the things you’re working on align with your values.
Benjamin Franklin called this list his 13 Virtues, and it may be the most famous list of personal values ever. As he worked each week toward improving those virtues and aligning his actions with his values, he became one of the most successful people in history.
Now, with your list of governing values in hand, write another list of the roles you play each day: Mother/Father, Sister/Brother, Daughter/Son, Neighbor, Friend, Artist, Employee, Musician, Athlete, etc. This list can get quite long, so be sure that the things you list are in line with your values.
Now, with our list of daily or weekly roles in hand, set a goal for each role. What would you like to do to improve as a parent—as an artist—as a friend—as a co-worker—as a neighbor, and so on. If these goals are big, break them down into small steps. Then schedule these goals into your weekly plans, setting aside time each day to work on some aspect of these goals.
Now you aren’t just making a list of things to do. Planning is much more than that. Now you are literally taking control of your hopes, your aspirations, your dreams—your life.
4. “Planning limits my spontaneity.”
Spontaneity takes time. If you don’t plan, you won’t have time to be spontaneous because you’ll be too busy putting out fires, procrastinating, or allowing the events of the day to dictate your actions. If you hope to be spontaneous, you need to take control of a situation and act with certainty. If we’re truthful, the best spontaneous moments happened with at least some forethought.
Planning ensures you have your most important things in line each day so you have time to be spontaneous. And if spontaneity is something you value, proper planning will ensure that you are working to be more spontaneous, not less so.
5. “I hate it when I don’t meet my plan.”
This statement implies that without a plan you’ll somehow avoid the guilt of not reaching your goals. Here’s the truth. We all have hopes for the future. We all have things we want to do better. If we don’t write these things down and plan to accomplish them, we aren’t going to like our result at the end of the day. Whether our goals are staring at us in black and white from our planner pages or gnawing at the back of our mind, we still won’t feel fully satisfied.
The beauty of planning is that we can see the things we didn’t finish and we can move them ahead to the next day. As we continue to do this, we’ll soon realize that those uncompleted plans that bothered us are done.
6. “Planning limits my freedom—plans are too restricting.”
Plans are only restricting when they are based on someone else’s values. Nobody likes working toward someone else’s goals. If your plans are founded in your motivating values and based on the roles that matter most to you, you’ll find that they lift and lighten your life. You’ll develop a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched by any other sensation. Before you realize it you will be accomplishing more than you thought you could. You will find yourself free to do so much more than you were doing. Your talents will improve, your marketable skillset will increase, your budget will grow, your vacations will be better planned and executed. Is not this freedom?
This is the reason FranklinPlanner exists. This is our why. We’re here to provide the tools and teaching you need to accomplish the things that matter most to you—so you can have greater freedom to do and become who you dream of becoming.
So stop with the excuses and start making plans!
You’ve heard sayings like “The best offense is a good defense”, right? Here’s a new one to add to the list: “The best daily plans come from weekly planning.”
To achieve any significant goal, you need to look beyond the day-to-day cycle of actions and reactions and make a larger plan. These five steps will help you get more out of your weekly planning sessions, and then extend the benefits to your daily life:
- Review What Matters Most
Your life should include the things you value. Time with family and friends, developing your hobbies and interests, and building your career to support it all—these actions succeed when they draw on your deepest motivations. Tasks imposed from outside this core set of values are the tasks you’re most likely to delay or ignore. As you begin your weekly planning session, take a moment to review what matters most to you.
- Evaluate Last Week
Evaluate the balance between each area of your life, how you’re spending time on work, relationships, and personal development. Did you take on too much this week? How could last week have been more successful? Do you need to delegate more tasks? These questions and others like them let you shape your task lists for the coming week.
- Check the Master Task List
Take a look at any goals you’re tracking on your Master Task List, and review the results from last week. Your Master Task List should have all your recurring tasks for the week listed, such as your carpool schedule or routine weekly work meetings. With all these written down, you won’t double-book yourself when drafting your daily plans.
- Complete Your Weekly Compass Card
Completing a Weekly Compass Card is a great way to focus on what matters most.
Each card has a space for you to list all the roles in your life, from friend to parent, from co-worker to volunteer. Beneath each role, there is space to list out the goals and tasks you need to accomplish this week in that role. As the name implies, completing the Weekly Compass Card helps keep outside demands and personal distractions from pulling you off course as you work toward your goals.
- Schedule the “Big Rocks”
It’s a classic object lesson: you can’t fit big rocks into a jar full of sand, but put the big rocks in first, and you can fill up the space around them. Keep this principle in mind as you commit tasks to your planner pages. At this point, you have your Master Task List and Weekly Compass Tasks ready to schedule. Once those are in, you can plan your other important and fulfilling activities to round out your week.
As you develop strong weekly planning sessions, your life will have a new sense of perspective. A good weekly plan helps you see past the daily grind to where life’s milestones await. And that perspective makes all the difference.
There’s a difference between a plotline and an ordinary sequence of events. When you read a sequence of events, you’ll likely ask yourself, “And then?” But when reading a narrative with a good plot, you’ll ask, “Why?” Why does character A feel that way about character B? How will our heroes succeed in their quest, and why are they journeying in the first place? Is the hero just a hero, or does she have another role to play? A well-crafted plot makes you want to connect the story’s events with a bigger picture.
A Weekly Compass Card helps your weekly planning sessions go from writing down a series of events to creating a fascinating narrative for your life. It gives you space to list out the roles that you fill, providing the “Why?” for every task or appointment you list in your planner. When you connect your plans to what matters most, your life can take on the excitement of the latest best seller.
Before school starts again and routines get busier, take time to reflect and assess how you’re doing on your goals. Think through each role you have in your life—Spouse, parent, neighbor, employee, sibling, etc., and re-evaluate how you are growing in each area. Ask yourself: Do my daily tasks reflect what matters most to me? What am I doing to fulfill the roles that are most important? How is my planner helping me accomplish these things? What more can I do to ensure that I am spending my time where it really counts? If you’re using your planner regularly, you’re already a step ahead of most people. But life isn’t a competition between you and those around you—it’s an opportunity to create something amazing.