How Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues Shaped the Franklin Planner

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

This week we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S. It’s a time to ponder the great men and women who dared to dream of a free nation ruled not by a monarch, but by law. Among those amazing founders was Benjamin Franklin. He was a great statesman, businessman, father, inventor of bi-focals, swim flippers, lightening rods, the Franklin stove and much more. He founded the nation’s first public library, a hospital, an insurance company, and a fire company. He helped write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and was an ambassador to France. On top of all that, he was the inspiration for today’s FranklinPlanner.

Franklin was not always a great or successful man, however. At the age of 17 he ran away from his home in Boston, estranged from his family because of an argument he had with his brother. He tried and failed twice in business. He was the father and single parent of an illegitimate son whose mother abandoned the child to Franklin’s care, unable and unwilling to live with them. As a young adult Franklin felt like a dismal failure, but he decided to change.

When Benjamin Franklin was 20 years old, he established a plan for his life. This plan began with an introspective list of 12 virtues—values and attributes that mattered most to him. He determined he would devote his life to improving upon these virtues one week at a time.

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  1. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation
  1. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  1. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  1. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; ie., waste nothing.
  1. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  1. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  1. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  1. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  1. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  1. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  1. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Franklin took his list to a respected Quaker friend of his and explained that he was displeased with his life, but knew if he focused on these virtues, he would improve and be successful. His Quaker friend said, “If you’re serious you need to add a thirteenth virtue, Humility, because you don’t have any.”

So he did.

  1. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

After that, he lived his life in 13-week cycles—focusing on strengthening one virtue each week. We know what his determined actions brought about. Benjamin Franklin became one of the most accomplished, successful, and influential people in world history.

Near the end of his life he commented in his autobiography that he felt like he had achieved a oneness with all 12 of his virtues but felt he had failed at humility. He joked that accomplishing the other 12 made it hard to be humble. (Then again, what truly humble man would profess to have mastered humility?)

It is also possible that Franklin truly did find it difficult to focus on humility. This virtue was suggested to him from an outside source, and not from within himself. It’s always harder to work enthusiastically toward someone else’s goals. Even if our brains tell us these goals are good, we still may not be committed in our hearts.

Throughout his life, Benjamin Franklin kept a small private book where he planned and recorded the events of his day, noted the weather, and tracked his progress toward his goal of improving upon his list of virtues. Even after his death, his little black book has proved to be an inspiration.

Hyrum W. Smith read Franklin’s autobiography as a young man and the concept of keeping a book to track your private personal goals stuck with him. After years of study, Smith developed the Franklin Day Planner—a tool that would not only help us manage our daily activities, but also serve to push us toward achieving the things that truly matter most in our lives. In 1984 he began marketing his planner, and started the Franklin Institute.

According to Hyrum Smith, a key element of managing our efforts and making the most of our time is to create a list of our own governing values and ensure that our daily tasks, goals, and efforts are based on the values that matter most to us. Sound familiar? Benjamin Franklin’s devoted life as recorded in his little black book continues today in the FranklinPlanner.

The more you learn about your FranklinPlanner, the more you’ll realize that it’s so much more than a way to track your daily tasks and appointments. It’s a proven tool to ensure you master yourself, and spend your precious time focused on what matters most to you.

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5 Questions to Answer to Get You Out of Your Planning Rut

file4801310649783Everyone experiences periods of life when life events make it harder to keep up with your plans. At times like these, you may feel like your daily planning sessions have become less effective, that you’re stuck in a planning rut.

The key to getting back on track with your planning is to analyze what’s working for you, and to change what isn’t.  Just because a certain planning style has served you well in the past doesn’t mean that it will continue to do so. Your life changes constantly, and your planning system should keep up.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a planning rut, the solution may be to try a different planner format. Ask yourself these six questions to see how your current planner is meeting your needs:

  1. What are your planning priorities?

Are you using your planner primarily for business? Are you a busy parent, or an active member of your community? Or does your life include all of these aspects? Maybe you’re moving into a more creative role at work and need more space to connect your tasks and your notes. Or perhaps you’ve retired and your schedule has new space for different goals. Your planner needs to adapt to your new goals.

  1. When do you plan?

With your schedule, how much time and effort do you spend on planning? The honest answer is likely “as little as possible,” as the point of planning is to increase your efficiency in accomplishing your other goals. Select your daily or weekly planning format accordingly. If you’re consistently running out of space in your weekly planner, or leaving blank pages in your two-pages-per-day planner, then it’s time to consider switching.

  1. How do systems beyond your control (work schedule, coordinating schedules with others, etc) affect your plans?

Perhaps your younger kids are becoming more involved in extracurricular activities, filling January 2016 with more appointments than any three months in 2015, and you need more space to schedule them all. A more traditional design like Leadership might give you the structure to keep the parental chauffeur service up and running.

  1. How do you track your progress toward your goals?

You can’t accomplish a goal that you can’t measure. If you’re working toward goals with specific values, like increasing your savings or counting calories, a planner with a Daily Tracker section gives you a great tool for capturing your progress in an easy-to-reference place.

  1. What are the end results of my planning sessions?

If you’re seeing your goals become reality, then you know that your planning system is working. If you find that you’re giving up on certain goals, however, then it’s worth investigating a new planner format.

If your life is in a period of transition, or if you’re unsure of the best format for you, consider the Dot Grid Planner. With each day a blank canvas of dots, you can craft a plan for your changing needs. Draw more appointments on a busy Saturday, or highlight an important task in the center of Monday morning to hit your workweek running.

While everyone gets stuck in a planning rut now and then, thankfully, you don’t have to stay there when you do. When you select the right planner format, you’re already on your way to accomplishing your goals.

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4 Reasons to Revisit Your 2015 Planner

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Data is now a big business. From browsing history to Fitbit stats, we’re recording and analyzing more data than ever before, and using it to shape the future. As you continue into 2016, it’s time to mine your own data—the information contained in last year’s FranklinPlanner. Here are some helpful data categories you may find useful in 2016:

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, and make sure you stay healthy.

Brainstorming: 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 2016. For convenience, you should 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 2015. 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 2015 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.

As you advance through 2016, the valuable insights in your 2015 FranklinPlanner give you the data you need to succeed.

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3 Reasons Why It’s Worth Tracking Your Life

IMG_3133Those of us who use a planner understand that it’s important to take more control of our lives. As we plan, we find ways to fit the things we need to do into the time we have each day. But a planner doesn’t just help us schedule our present and our future; over time it also creates a valuable record of our past. This record can have a profound effect on others and ourselves.

Our planners offer space to write about our day, our ideas, and our hopes and dreams. They become a journal of sorts. Journaling and recording our lives provides several benefits, but we’ll only mention a few here.

1.Clarity and stress relief

Life is stressful. It helps to talk about it. Sometimes it’s even more helpful to write about it. Writing is therapeutic. It acts as a relief valve for the stresses of the day. As you record your day in your journal or planner, you give yourself a safe place to relive and rethink each event. Writing about the activities of the day and noting your thoughts and feelings increases your clarity. It allows you time to gain a deeper perspective on the unfolding events of your life and the lives of those you love.

We spend most of our effort on the fire lines of life—rushing from flare up to flare up. As we journal and assess the events taking place in our life, we start to see the bigger picture. We remember the neighbor who shoveled our walk, the sister who called to check in with us, or the driver who slowed down to allow us to merge onto the freeway. There is so much data supporting the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that counselors, social workers, and therapists regularly encourage their patients to do it.

2. Improving our internal banter

Whether we realize it or not, most of us take mental notes at the end of the day and assess our accomplishments. We’re usually harder on ourselves than we ought to be. We often note all the things we weren’t able to get to, or the things we didn’t quite finish. Because we have high expectations for ourselves, even our accomplishments can appear to fall short.

Having high expectations and being a little demanding of our performance is ok. It can lead to better results down the road—but it can also lead to negative self-talk. If we aren’t careful we can fall into a habit of being overly critical of ourselves.

The trouble with these end-of-day mental notes is that they are incomplete. If they’re all we have to go by, we’re going to paint an inadequate image of our lives. We rarely give ourselves enough credit for the mundane things we do—those daily chores that somehow undo themselves by the end of the day.

By the time we’re wrapping up our day we’ve stopped focusing on the laundry we sorted, the homework we did or helped our children finish, the meals we prepared, the time we spent talking with a child or friend about their concerns, the grass we cut or snow we shoveled. Instead, we fall into bed exhausted and feeling anxious because we still have a mess on the counter or a sink full of dirty dishes. We wonder if we’ll ever catch up.

Your planner may be the best tool you have to prevent negative self-talk. It’s readily available and loaded with your accomplishments, goals, and dreams. If you are feeling inadequate as your day winds down, look through your planner and remember what you’ve accomplished. Then take a minute to write a few of the things you did that weren’t written down. Sometimes we need a morale boost, and you can often find yours right there in your planner. Our lives are busy and we usually accomplish far more than we realize.

3. Establish Identity

As you track your life you’ll start to notice patterns. You’ll realize what you like to do and what you’d rather not do. You’ll see how you handle stress and adversity. You’ll learn things from past events that can help you with your present situation. Over time, you’ll develop a greater sense of self, and these recorded events will empower you for the future.

Not only will tracking your life improve your own sense of self, but it will also add to your children’s identity. For example: My mother is now 75 years old. She has kept a journal her whole life. She has volumes of journals. From that vault of life events come several stories that changed me.

When my mother was 10 years old, her father was killed in a mining accident. Her mother was expecting baby number 6 at the time. Just a few weeks after her father died, her grandfather passed away as well. My mother has recorded these events in her journal along with several inspirational stories of how these two widows worked through their challenges to support and raise their families. As I’ve read these stories, I’ve realized how amazing my mother is and how strong her mother and grandmother were. They had to reach deep within themselves to find the fortitude to carry on through difficult times in their lives.

During tough times in my own life, I have often thought of those women and have known that I can do hard things too. Although I was not there when they were struggling through their challenges, I still feel like those experiences are a part of who I am. They shaped my mother and she shaped me—and I feel like a stronger person because of it.

Certainly you have experiences of your own that have strengthened your identity and helped you through hard times. Stories are powerful. They can lift and encourage us to do more and to try harder. You never know which event you record in your planner will become a source of hope and inspiration to your family and friends.

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4 Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Planner for 2016

open binder

With the holiday season approaching, it’s a great time to order your 2016 planner. But with such a wide selection of planner formats, sizes, and designs, selecting the right planner for you may be a little daunting. Answer the following questions while selecting your planner, and you’ll find the one that’s tailored for your planning needs.

When Do You Plan?

Deciding on the right format for your planning needs is the first step to choosing your planner. If you have a large number of tasks each day and you need plenty of space for notes, then a daily planner is a good choice. Weekly planners specialize in displaying a full week of appointments at a glance or managing a smaller number of tasks for each day.

What Do You Plan?

The Original FranklinPlanner was designed for business (even though many people customize it to fit their busy schedules). It dedicates page space to tasks, appointments, a daily tracker, and a full page of notes. But there is more to life than a traditional career, so new designs emphasize a different mix of these elements. One may emphasize appointments, while another gets rid of the daily appointment schedule in exchange for more notes space. The Dot Grid Planner even lets you design your own daily planning with a page of dots for each day. Knowing how you use your planner will help you narrow your selection.

How Big Do You Plan?

Once you’ve answered the first two questions, you will have a focused group of planner designs to choose from. Now you’ll need to decide on the planner size that fits your life.

If you’re a long-time planner user, you will probably have a binder and accessories in your preferred size. However, if your analysis of your planning needs shows that your situation has changed and a smaller size is a better fit, consider updating your planning experience with a fresh binder to match.

What is Your Personal Style?

When you’ve narrowed down your format and size, you’ll have a group of planner designs to choose from. Will you choose a playful, colorful design?(RetroPop) Or a more subdued, textured design?(Wanderlust) Will you explore one of our new designs?(Watercolor) Or stick with our time-tested top seller?(Original)

No matter how you plan on planning in 2016, FranklinPlanner.com has something for you.

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4 Steps to Creating an Annual Plan

annual planMany of us have hopes and aspirations that, for one reason or another, aren’t progressing as we would like. Maybe we want to improve our sales over the coming year—perhaps we have a small home business that hasn’t gotten traction—or it’s possible that we simply want to keep our work life from interfering with our home life. These are big aspirations and they can be very difficult to attain because life has a way of throwing sticks into our bicycle spokes.

Thankfully, our largest visions can become part of our reality, and this is the perfect time of year to see that they do. This is the time of year when you start thinking about next year. But this time things will be different because your hopes for next year are going to be accompanied by your annual plan. Here’s how you do it.

Start with your goals

An annual plan has to begin with generalities. You’ll save the specifics for later. Start by listing your basic goals. Begin with the end in mind. List your big-picture goals by thinking about how you’d like next year to end. For example, “I want to earn $15,000 from my in-home photo studio to supplement my full-time income.” Or, “I want to leave work at work so I can focus more on family time.” Don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve these goals yet, for now you’re simply writing down the things you’d like to do. List all of your goals from big to small.

Sort

When we start this process, it’s easy to feel excited and end up with a huge list of goals that we want to accomplish. A huge list is fine, but we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. Now that you have your list, prioritize your list by deciding which items are most important to you.

Sort your most important goals into your ‘A’ list, the next most important segment of goals into your ‘B’ list, and so forth. Then go through each list and assign priority by number. This is an incredibly healthy exercise because it helps you focus. You may be surprised to find out that what you thought was your most important goal when you began this process ends up superseded by an even greater goal.

Prepare

Big goals need to be tackled one step at a time and in the right order. If you want to eat a great meal, you first need to purchase the ingredients, prepare them, cook them, and serve the food. One of the reasons we don’t complete our goals is because we want to skip steps. We want to eat our meal right after we buy our ingredients and we get frustrated when it doesn’t work. Think through your goals and break your goals into small, manageable pieces that you can accomplish in a short time—hours, days, weeks, and so forth. Schedule these steps in your planner. Set dates for each part of your goal to be met and note those dates on your monthly planner tabs.

Track Your Progress

Now you’re ready to start, and you’ve got a whole year to ensure you get it done. Take your first step by scheduling a simple action in your weekly or daily planner. Look back on your progress often. Keep your master list of goals in your planner and refer to them regularly to be sure you’re making the kind of progress you’d like to see. If you miss a goal along the way, quickly reschedule it so that you don’t fall too far behind. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back on a year of rewarding accomplishment.

Setting and reaching goals takes work and time, but by this time next year you’ll be a year older whether you reach your goal or not. Why not jump in now and make it a year to remember?

Good luck, and happy planning.

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Cooper Leather Binder

Add some space to your binder with Cooper’s deep pockets. Crafted from soft leather in timeless colors like tan and black, this binder features two pen loops, five card slots, a large side pocket, and a deep pocket in the back. Binders available in Compact and Classic sizes, with Wire-bound Covers in Classic.

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Compact Binder:

Measures 6.25” W x 7.5” H x 3” D, Ring size 1.25”

Classic Binder:

Measures 7.75” W x 9.5” H x 3” D, Ring size 1.5”

Classic Wire-bound Cover

Measures 7” W x 9.5” H x 1” D

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The 5 Choices to Reach Extraordinary Productivity

There’s an interesting psychological term used to describe the feeling of being overworked: burnout. The term comes from drag racing, where drivers spin their wheels at high speeds, creating massive amounts of friction to burn off irregularities on their tires while not actually going anywhere. All too often, that description also sums up a work experience: pressure to go faster in daily tasks while making no progress toward larger goals. And as sure as a tire burnout makes smoke, job burnout leads to apathy, dissatisfaction, and depression.

66207_lrgcaseIf you find yourself suffering from burnout, it’s time to reexamine how you approach your workday. Start with these five steps from The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity:

1. Act on the Important, Don’t React to the Urgent

You may be familiar with the classic time management quadrant system, where the activities in your day are divided by their importance and sense urgency. The key to a happy life is spending your energy on tasks that are important, but not urgent (labeled Q2 tasks), planning ahead to stay on top of your responsibilities without feeling rushed or stressed. Often, however, these most important tasks take a backseat to things that seem urgent, or get pushed off by unimportant distractions. Identifying your Q2 tasks lets you see what parts of your day move you toward the finish line and which ones are just spinning your wheels.

2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Of course, before you can make it to the finish line, you have to identify where it is. The second choice involves identifying your roles in life: one man might be a father, a nurse, and a husband. The second choice involves an honest evaluation of your performance in these roles, letting you crafting a Q2 role statement: “As a nurse, I will provide my patients with the humanized care they deserve.” Keeping your eyes on these finish lines helps direct your planning sessions toward the most productive tasks.

3. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort Gravel

Fitting tasks into a day is much like fitting rocks and gravel into a jar. If you fill the jar with gravel, larger rocks won’t have space to sit. Put the big rocks in first, however, and the gravel can fill in the empty spaces. The third choice involves prioritizing your daily tasks, and accomplishing the Q2 tasks before pursuing other activities.

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4. Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

Nothing competes for your attention like modern technology. With constant streams of notifications from your workplace, social media accounts, and entertainment choices, it can quickly pull your attention away from your Q2 tasks. One strategy for managing technology is to keep your appointments in the cloud while keeping your goals and tasks on paper. The 5 Choices Planner provides an optimal space for this practice, with weekly space for tasks and notes.

5. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

For each of us, there are physical and mental realities that shape how our brains perceive the world. If you’re heading to work in the morning on five hours of sleep, only to eat three break room donuts and sit in your chair for four hours until lunch, you shouldn’t be surprised at how you feel. The fifth choice involves a benevolent cycle: Move, Eat, Sleep, Relax, Connect. Positive choices in each of these areas give your brain the physical and mental fuel it needs to continue to perform at its peak ability.

The most important choice you can make is the choice to evaluate your life and change as needed. As you follow these five choices, you can move beyond spinning your wheels and hit the finish line with record performance.

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6 Tips for Working Well Together

Working with a partner or within a team can sometimes be a challenge. Many of us would simply rather do things ourselves. It’s much easier to ensure the product is to our liking if we don’t have other hands in the mix. But there are times when more eyes, more ideas, and more hands are exactly what we need. Then what? How can we work well together and ensure that the results of the group are greater than the results of one?

1. Decide who is in charge of the project.

A group is useless without someone who can act as the final authority. We can toss ideas at the wall all day, but someone has to determine which ideas stick. If that person isn’t you, learn to be okay with that. Be willing to set aside your preferences for the good of the whole team and the goals that you determine as a group. It’s wise to have a different person in charge of different projects, so everyone has an opportunity to express their creative vision over time.

group table 22. Use your Prioritized Daily Task List.

You’ll find a Prioritized Daily Task List in many FranklinCovey daily planners. As you begin, complete, move, or delegate a task, mark it on your list so you know where you are with your project at a glance. Your planner includes symbols for each action associated with the tasks you perform.

The symbols are all simple and easy to remember, but you may wonder about the delegate symbol, a letter G with a circle and a checkmark. What does a G have to do with delegating? Nothing, really. The G is simply representative of the initial of the person to whom you delegated the task. You will likely use several different letters. We would suggest making an index for the people you work with regularly: L – Lisa, R – Rachel, J – Jen, I – Imari, etc. You may also choose to use a different pen color for each person in your family or on your team. So when you delegate a task, the initial reminds you who is doing the work and you place a check mark in the circle once the work is complete. It’s a complex symbol, but it helps us keep track of the task and encourages us to follow up.

3. Learn to delegate.

Delegating is a difficult task to master because you are placing something outside your control and into the hands of another. The effectiveness of your team member will have a direct impact on the quality of your work. Delegation is also hard when you are new to the process yourself and aren’t sure enough about the steps involved to ask someone for help. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need help. Be honest with your team members and get them involved early and often. Trust them to do their best and avoid micro-managing at all costs.

4. Let go of perfection.

You may have one idea in mind for certain aspects of a project, and your team member may have a very different idea. Don’t let your preconceived notions interfere with the creativity of the team. Perfection is highly subjective anyway. If you allow each member of the team to exercise their own creativity within the bounds agreed upon by the project coordinator, your project will take on a life of its own and become something more that you could do yourlsef.

5. Finish your portion ahead of schedule.

Do all in your power to complete the tasks assigned to you ahead of schedule. This will allow time for changes and revisions. Revisions improve almost everything. Finishing early also allows room for adjustments in case someone becomes ill and can’t be with you for a while. Having your portion complete early allows time for you to step in and help where needed.

6. Have fun, be positive, and stay flexible.

No one likes a frowny face. Stay positive and enthusiastic about your work and remain complementary of your co-workers no matter what happens along the way. Give them the benefit of the doubt when things appear to have gone wrong, as they sometimes do. Don’t be a pushover, but be willing to bend and help whenever necessary. You never know when you will be asking for the same sort of assistance.

Hopefully these suggestions have reminded you of a group project you loved working on—or not. If so, we’d love to hear what worked well with your team.

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FranklinPlanner’s Share Week

Annoucement post #

Starting Monday, July 27, we will begin FranklinPlanner’s Share Week! Here’s how it works:

  1. We will post a different planner topic each day for the week of July 27 – July 31. This page (www.franklinplannertalk.com/shareweek) will be updated daily with the newest topic.
  2. Respond to the prompt based on your personal experience using a planner. All topics may not apply to you. Each response must be 100 words or more.
  3. Submit your response in the provided form by midnight that day.
  4. Each day one winning entry will be selected and announced the following day on this page.
  5. The winner will receive a $50 gift card to FranklinPlanner.com!
  6. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and #FPShareWeek for regular updates throughout the week.

We look forward to hearing from you and happy planning!

July 31: Why FranklinPlanner?

Name:
Twitter handle (optional):
Instagram handle (optional):
Why do you choose FranklinPlanner over other planner brands?



*By clicking “Submit Survey”, you agree to allow FranklinPlanner to use your name and entry for future marketing and publicity purposes.

July 30: Made it your own?

How have you taken the Franklin Planner and made it your own? How have you personalized your planner?

July 30 winning entry: To be announced!

July 29: Changed formats?

As life changes, your preferred planner format can change. Have you switched between a daily and weekly layout? Tell us how you’ve used different formats based on your phase of life.

July 29 winning entry:

“I love Franklin Planners, I have switched to using three different formats. I began with a weekly view when I was in school, that was all I needed. In fact back then I used a weekly spiral bound, mainly because I needed something thin and very portable. I would keep myself on top of my class work by writing when papers were due and important dates for class work. Actually my school mates would contact me about when work was due, since I had everything organized and prioritized in my spiral planner. A little later in life I needed a ring binder with a 2 page daily view. I had three daughters that all played fast pitch, had school activities, birthday parties, games doctors appointments everything for their busy lives went into my planner… Now my life is all about work and I need that view of what is coming up throughout the week without turning the page seven times! I use the pagefinders for appointments that makes my life so easy I have 4, 6 and 8 weeks marked and ready! I would have never made it through life without my Franklin Planner!”  – Dyann C.

July 28: Retired and still planning?

Are you retired and still using a planner? As your schedule and routines have changed, how has your planning changed?

July 28 winning entry:

“Retired these past six years, and wouldn’t *dream* of trying to make it through the day without my Planner! Once the first shock of retirement wore off, I realized that I still needed structure to my day, and that was where my Planner really came in handy. I now have sections of my Master Task List blocked off for the month’s greeting cards, chores that are best done monthly or seasonally (furnace cleaning, anyone??), and the names of bills that have to be paid, along with the date when they were paid…”

– Meg L. 

July 27: Better together?

Do you use a smart phone/tablet AND a planner? How do you use both?
How are they better together?

July 27 winning entry:

“I find that I love my planner for my personal use but I need my online calendar to be able to coordinate with others. When I am going through my day, I love to be able to quickly jot down thoughts, notes, dates, details, etc. in my own style and my own handwriting, rather than trying to fit the information into the electronic categories available on my phone. It is so much faster for me to write and it also allows me to stay more present and focused on the people with which I am working. However, at the end of the day, I can go back and add everything from my planner onto my shared online calendar so that my friends, family, or coworkers, etc. can still have access to a synced, up-to-date calendar in order to better coordinate with one another. I’ve got to have both. One without the other is incomplete.”

-Hollie O. 

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Planner Quote: July 20, 2015

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”

– Dennis Wholey

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4 Benefits of Writing by Hand

You often hear the many benefits of electronic planning. However, writing things out by hand has its place, as well as some surprising benefits beyond just putting words on paper.

1. Information Retention

fountain penIf you’re learning new information, taking notes by hand works better than typing it out on the computer. When your brain focuses, it activates the Reticular Activating System, or RAS, and filters out extra information, like noise from fluorescent lights, the feel of your shoes on your feet, or stray thoughts. When you write, the physical motions stimulate the RAS, helping you focus on the information you’re writing.

A survey from the Two Sides global initiative also found that “88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.  The same trend was found for reading complicated documents with 80% indicating a clear preference for reading print on paper, and reading on screens showing a much lower preference than print at below 16% across all age groups.”

2. Health

Another section from the Two Sides survey found the following: “62% of mobile or smartphone users, 59% of computer users and 50% of e-reader users are worried that these devices may be damaging their health (ex: eyestrain, headaches, insomnia).  Reading in print had the least health concerns with 22% concerned that it may be damaging their health.”

3. Cognitive Function

Even if you’ve left the classroom behind long ago, writing by hand can still have an impact on your life.  According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that writing activates your motor-skills, memory, and more, making it a good cognitive exercise for those who want to keep their minds sharp as they age.

4. Writing Content

A 2009 study from the University of Washington found that elementary school students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more than their keyboard-tapping peers, but they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences. So it’s no surprise that many famous authors, including Stephen King, Susan Sontag, and Truman Capote, wrote the first drafts of their novels out on paper. With a deeper focus on your words and extended time to write each sentence, writing by hand keeps your train of thought on track.

If you find yourself having trouble remembering meeting notes, or if you’re stuck on Chapter 1 in your memoir, try writing it out by hand. Your mind and your goals will thank you.

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Premier Weekly School Agendas

School routines can be hectic—homework assignments, sporting events, science projects, dances, school plays, band practice, fundraisers, and art club are only the beginning. Our kids keep us busy and more than a little stressed out.

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The truth is, if we’re trying to manage our own schedules as well as our children’s, eventually we’re going to miss something important. Besides, our kids need to learn to manage their own time eventually, right?

There’s no time like the present. Our Premier Weekly School Agendas are a great way to start. With durable covers and an included pagefinder, they’re filled with fun ways to help your kids keep up with their busy schedules.

Empower your children by helping them set priorities, achieve goals, manage their time, and increase their potential. This fun weekly planner incorporates The 7 Habits into your children’s daily planning helping them achieve their personal milestones. Each month presents a new theme related to The 7 Habits, building and reinforcing the concepts that can move them from great kids to exceptionally motivated and accomplished young adults.

We offer a planner for each stage of your student’s education—Elementary School Weekly Agenda, Middle School Weekly Agenda, and High School Weekly Agenda. Each agenda begins on Aug 3, 2015 and ends on July 3, 2016, giving them a full school year of organized living.

Perhaps best of all, these powerful organizers only cost $12.95. So hurry—they sell out early every year. Empower your students with a plan today.

Weekly Agendas have the following measurements:

Elementary School Weekly Agenda               8.5” W x 11” H x 0.5” D        144 Pages

Middle School Weekly Agenda                     7” W x 9” H x 0.5” D             152 Pages

High School Weekly Agenda                         5” W x 8” H x 0.5” D             168 Pages

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8 Ways to Improve Your Handwriting

Does it seem like penmanship is becoming a lost art? So much of our written expression is tapped out on a keyboard or via text messages that when it comes to writing longhand it can feel like we’re all thumbs. Yet we can all appreciate beautiful handwriting, and many of us would like to improve our own. If you’re one of them, here are some things to remember.

1. Practice slowly and carefully. Better handwriting is usually a matter of slowing down and concentrating. To improve, you need to train through slow, deliberate writing motions until you’ve taught your muscles to form each letter. Consistently beautiful penmanship is a matter of muscle memory. In other words, practice, practice, practice.

Thanks to sites like HandwritingPractice.net, it’s easy to create your own practice pages where you decide the words or letters you want to work on improving. You can also find other resources online such as workbooks, lesson materials, and tutorials.

2. Start with a good pen or pencil. Writing should be enjoyable. Find a pen that feels comfortable and balanced in your hand, something you can hold and maneuver without employing a death grip, one where the ink flows easily onto the paper without requiring you to press hard on the page or retrace your strokes. Try several pens with different sized nibs or balls to find the thickness that appeals most to you.

chalkboard3. Check your grip. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but you don’t need to wield your pen like one. Your grip should be supportive but soft. Holding your hand too tense will cause unnecessary strain—and squeezing will not help the ink flow any better.

4. Correct your posture. Be sure to sit up straight and relaxed with your fingers gently
curled under your hand.

5. Give yourself room to work. Writing free-flowing script is difficult if you feel like
you’re writing in a cramped space. Cleaning your desk or writing surface will allow you
to move more easily as you write.

6. Don’t write with your wrist and fingers. It may take some getting used to, but your
shoulder and forearm should be moving when you write and not your fingers and wrist.
These muscles don’t tire nearly as quickly as those in your hand and wrist. You can
practice this by writing large letters in the air and paying attention to your arm
movement. Next pull out the paper and practice drawing large lines loops and shapes, still
focusing on your arm and shoulder movement, as you get more comfortable make your
shapes smaller and smaller until you’re ready to work on letters.

7. Don’t miss an opportunity to write. If you can send a thank-you note in longhand rather
than sending an email, do it. Use your planner for notes. If you need to write a report,
consider writing the first draft by hand. Write a little more in your journal each day.

8. Don’t overdo it. When you practice it’s wise to remember to practice intensely but in
short spurts. It’s more effective to practice something a few times correctly than several
times incorrectly. Only perfect practice makes perfect. If you begin to grow tired and feel
the desire to rush through your lessons, you should stop so you don’t commit incorrect
penmanship to memory.

There are all sorts of reasons for good handwriting. Whether you’re filling out a job
application, sending a thank-you card, or leaving a note for a co-worker, your
penmanship, fair or not, does leave an impression.

Good luck, and keep writing.

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The Most Important Part of My Planner

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By Patty Gardner

To-do list? A-Z tabs? Calendar?

No.  None of those.  The most important part of my planner is the notes page.  Yes, you read that right – the notes page.

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I’ve been using Franklin Covey’s two pages per day for 20 years and the Notes page has been and will continue to be the most important part of my planner.

The notes page is important because that’s where all the good stuff  is.  In the future, no one is going to care about what was on my to-do list or what appointments I had that day.  But the information on the notes page is interesting.  It’s important.  It’s valuable.  It’s a record of my life and my family’s lives.

When I need to write something down, I never have to think about where to write it.  I grab my planner and start writing on the notes page.  When I need to retrieve information, I don’t have to wonder where it is.  I know it will be on one of my notes pages.

Of course, the key to retrieving information from the notes pages is the monthly index.

This page includes: Details about a conversation from the agent who handles our health insurance. Spending. Directions to the title company. Information about some work the city did in my neighborhood. Email address for the closer on our house sale. Information about an offer we made on a house.

And now, here are a few samples of some of my notes pages.

Other things I record on my notes pages:

1.       Information.  When anyone tells me anything, I write it down on the notes page.  For example, yesterday I went to Public Storage to rent a storage unit (we’re moving in with family until we find a house) and I pulled out my planner and wrote down the important information – like unit number and password.  Yes, they gave me paperwork with all that information, but in the chaos of moving, I might accidentally misplace it and then I won’t know which unit or how to get in.  But I promise you I won’t misplace my planner.

2.       Lists.  My daughter was coming over one day and I had several things I wanted to ask her about.  I made a list on the Notes page, and when she got here, I made sure I asked her everything I had written down.  I always think I’ll remember but I don’t.

3.       I use it as a journal.  I used to record funny things the kids said and did.  Now I use it to record funny things the grandkids say and do.  I love looking back and reading about their antics.

4.       I track ongoing issues.  I’m currently dealing with some pretty major peri-menopause symptoms and I record on the Notes page what’s going on.  It helps me see patterns and provides information for doctor appointments.

5.       I record questions I want to ask at future doctor appointments.  If I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the next month, as I think of things I want to ask or talk about, I turn to the appropriate page and write my notes on the page.

6.       When I sign up for a new on-line account, I record the user id and password on the notes page.  Then I put that same information in the A-Z tabs.

7.       I record instructions.

8.       I record things that happen.  For example, about a month ago a plumbing company was working on the road near our house.  The dump truck’s brakes failed and the truck, pulling a trailer carrying a backhoe, rolled down the hill.  One of the employees jumped in the truck and got it stopped but not before the trailer clipped the edge of the road and turned over.  The still running backhoe landed on our split rail fence.  Yes – this kind of stuff happens to us on a regular basis.  Anyway, I wrote details about what happened as well as took pictures.  And in case you’re wondering, the company paid for the fence.

My son and I were having a discussion about my memory recently.  I told him that I had a great memory.  He said, “You don’t have a great memory.  You just have a great system.”  Wow.  He was right.  I have a great system and it helps me remember the details of my life.  And the most important part of my system is the notes page.  It’s the glue that holds it all together.

Do you have a notes page? Do you have a place in your planner where you write everything?  How easy is it for you to retrieve information?

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Planner Quote: June 29, 2015

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things.”

– Sir Humphrey Davy

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Giveaway: Colombian Leather Briefcase

We are giving away this classy Colombian Leather 15″ Laptop Dowel Rod Briefcase!

Provide your laptop with extra protection. This fine leather briefcase features a durable dowel on its buckling flap, giving the bag a distinctive shape and adding stability. Features a padded compartment for your 15.4” laptop, a pocket for your cell phone, and several other pockets for your business accessories, you’ll be ready to impress everyone you meet.

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• Rich, full grain cowhide leather exterior with large double gusset dowel rod construction and secure double tucklock closure
• Front two smaller gusseted pockets have organizer features, including a cell phone pocket, card slots, and pen/pencil holders
• Rear exterior includes a full length open top pocket for easy access to frequently needed items
• Front compartment features a padded computer pocket to accommodate most laptops with up to a 15.4” screen and has secure double tucklock closure
• Under rear flap compartment with double magnetic snap closure features two file pockets
• The larger open pocket includes a full length zipper pocket and the smaller pocket is open to hold smaller items and has a magnetic snap closure
• Dowel rod features a durable top handle and removable, adjustable, and padded shoulder strap

*the giveaway is the Cognac version of this briefcase as featured in the top image

Enter to win this bag by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

Giveaway ends Thursday, July 2, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Planner Quote: June 22, 2015

“The choice is ours, in every moment.”

– M.J. Ryan

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How to Keep a Big Project From Stressing You Out!

By Patty Gardner

Have you ever had a big project you needed to do but you were completely overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start?  The solution to that problem is simple – break the project down into smaller steps.   Here are a couple of examples from my life.

I have two quilt projects going right now.  I was feeling overwhelmed so I made a couple of charts for my planner that broke each quilt project down into manageable steps.

The first chart is just a bunch of boxes.  Each box represents a square of the quilt.  For some reason, I’m more motivated to quilt if I get to check off a box each time I finish a square.  Plus I can see at all times where I am in the project.

Quilt 1

The second chart is a little more detailed since I was in the beginning stages of the project when I made the chart.  The chart lists the steps required to sew the top together, boxes representing each square, and then a few steps at the end for finishing.  I felt a lot better about this project once I made the chart.  And each time I mark off a step, I feel like I’m making progress and the project doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

 Quilt 2

So it’s your turn.  Take a look at your to do list and see what projects could be broken down into smaller sized pieces.  Then make a list of all the steps required and get started!  You’ll be surprised at how much less overwhelming it feels.

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Capture Each Day’s Highlights

Do you look back at your week and see nothing but your daily routine? Life is made of the small, unscripted moments that happen between the mechanics of living. Resolve to capture at least one small highlight from each day, whether it’s a simple hug from a friend or spotting a motorcyclist wearing a kilt and a horned Viking helmet.

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How to Use Your Daily Planner on “Blank” Days

Ah! The lazy days of summer. Who are we kidding? Most of us don’t have lazy days, even during the summer, but there are those wonderful times when our schedules are light or even empty. Empty days are the best because they’re filled with so much promise. We can do with them as we will.

The trouble is, empty or “blank” days without a schedule can quickly get away from us. It doesn’t take long to think of things you’d do with an empty day. Maybe you’d write in your journal, take a long walk, or picnic in the park. Perhaps you’d choose to work on a hobby, read a good book, or learn a new recipe.

IMG_1993aIf your planner is blank and you’ve got hours to kill, schedule that time. Give yourself the freedom you want by scheduling it into your day. That way, you’ll ensure you have the time to do some of those things on your wish list. A Progressive Task List is the perfect place to write all the things you’d like to do, create, learn, or try if only you had the time. Keep that list in your planner and refer to it whenever you have a few spare hours. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish over time.

Planning works best when it’s a daily habit, so even on empty days spending a few minutes in your planner will keep the habit strong and keep you moving happily toward your goals.

Empty days are a great time to add vision to your goals. Use your empty planner page to bring more life to your dreams. Thumb through catalogs and magazines and find images that represent the goals you have for yourself. Cut them out and paste or tape them onto your page. Some people call this a vision board. Perhaps you want to build a pergola in your back yard, run a half-marathon, get into better shape, or paint a bedroom—you’ll find all sorts of great images to represent those goals.

This exercise is a great way to increase your motivation to work toward your goals. As you do this, you will often come up with things you can do right then, during your empty day, to get you closer to realizing your dreams.

Have you taken any pictures during the last month or so? Print them off and tape them onto the days that the events happened. It will make revisiting your planner that much more fun later.

While you’re enjoying your empty day in the sun, take some time to reflect on the things you’ve done and learned in the past couple of months. Think through your recent events and see if you can find things to be grateful for. Note these learning moments and opportunities in your planner. This kind of reflection is a great way to feel grounded and it helps you appreciate the amazing life you live.

Benjamin Franklin has said, “Lost time is never found again.” Keeping track of the things you’d love to do on your lazy days is a great way to ensure your time isn’t wasted—even if you spend it in a hammock with a good book.

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Dad taught me how to use a planner

By Larrissa Geiger

My experience with the Franklin Covey system began with my dad. He worked in outside sales, and always had his “arm” with him. He wrote down EVERYTHING in that planner. Over the years his dedication to recording all of his calls, visits etc. helped us to figure out that he was having some serious health issues and to get him healthy again. Because of his constant example of using his planner, Dad was instrumental in me developing (or begin to develop) my own habit of use.

PhotoWhen I began a new job as office manager, he encouraged me to pick out a planner and the pages that I liked, going so far as to buy a complete system for me for my birthday that year. I have now had that same planner for close to 10 years.

Over the years, I have picked it up and put it back on the shelf. I have been using it steadily for the past five years, and now I find that it helps me more and more to organize the multiple roles in my life….Wife, mom, employee (juggling multiple projects), business owner/partner, volunteer and brainstorming how to start my own business. Over the years, I have discovered and changed the way that I use my planner, but I always find myself at a loss when I’m not actively using it.

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3 Books to Take Your Planning to the Next Level

Whether you’re heading out to a vacation destination or simply enjoying life without chauffeuring kids to school, the right book makes summer even better. Take some time to get back to the basics of why planning is so important and what big picture concepts can enhance your personal planning sessions. Here are our picks to read:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Summer’s relaxed pace makes it an optimal time for reflection and introspection. Stephen R. Covey’s classic is a great choice, with detailed insights in how to move from dependence on others through independence to interdependence, where the sum of working with others is so much greater than the parts. Whether you’re re-examining your paradigms or discovering Covey’s life-changing wisdom for the first time, this book can change your life.

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Great Quotes from Great Leaders

If you don’t have time for lengthy reading, inspire your summer days with quotes from the great leaders of our time. With more than 400 quotes from 32 world leaders, this book captures the integrity, strength of character, and passion of these extraordinary men and women.

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What It Takes To Be Number One

If you love sports and value organization, then this book is for you. Vince Lombardi, Jr. expands on the wisdom in his father’s famous speech, with sections on Commitment, Discipline, Excellence, Mental Toughness, Habit, Faith, Passion, Results, and Truth. With vintage photographs and audio content of the original speech, this is a must-read.

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Find a Good Pen

If you’re organized, you can probably find a pen when you need one. But finding the right pen for your planning sessions takes more careful consideration. You’ll want to find a pen that writes well and fits comfortably in your hand. It also saves wear and tear on your planner if it fits in the pen loop. If you’re interested in scrapbook-style planning, you might even consider getting a set of pens in different colors.

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Five Simplify-Life Tips From Albert Einstein

By Carmen Coker

Click here to download and print off your motivational poster.

In today’s fast-paced world, it is normal to crave simplicity and serenity – and lots of it. The modern view of

1) Learn to say “no”.“simplifying life” focuses less on doing without (unless that is your preference) and more on

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slowing down, enjoying balance, and experiencing fulfillment. Here are five timeless lessons about simplicity from Albert Einstein – and how you can apply his genius to your own life, simplified.

Einstein’s connection with the Jewish people was said to be the strongest bond in his life, yet when he was offered the presidency of Israel, he politely declined the invitation.

[EINSTEIN-LIKE FIX] A lot of people say time management is getting more done in less time. Wrong emphasis! In reality, using time wisely is getting more – more of what is really important to you – done, and ignoring the rest. Only say “yes” to commitments that support your personal priorities and values, and say “no” to those commitments that don’t – even if it is as important as a presidency.

2) Change things up.

Einstein once explained his idea of insanity as: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

[EINSTEIN-LIKE FIX] It’s true – if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got. If you want to simplify and get organized, yet you keep doing the same things that hold your life in chaos, then your life will never change. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new, better, and different in the realm of simplicity – something that will stretch your idea of what is possible.

3) Use smart systems.

Witnesses claim Einstein did not rely on memory to recall his phone number – he referenced a phone book instead.

[EINSTEIN-LIKE FIX] With an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, there is a lot of competition for attention inside your head. While your brain is an amazing organ, the odds are stacked against you that you will remember everything important. Find or create your own system to track essential information, even if it is as basic as using a phone book!

4) Take regular breaks.

It is believed that Einstein conceived the theory of relativity, not while holed up inside a high-tech laboratory, but rather while riding his bicycle.

[EINSTEIN-LIKE FIX] Although it may seem counter-intuitive, our minds need an occasional rest in order to remain alert, productive, and creative. Schedule regular 20-minute breaks into your daily schedule, using your break time to truly disconnect from your work with fun activities to boost your energy and cognitive power like meditation, a water-cooler chat, or a short Einstein-approved bike ride.

5) Visualize what you want.

Einstein’s greatest breakthroughs in science were born from Gedankenexperiment, or visual experiments carried out in his mind.

[EINSTEIN-LIKE FIX] For many years, visualization techniques have been used in areas like health, athletics, education, business, the arts, and science to break boundaries, create positive change, and facilitate success – amongst others. Visualize your path to simplicity, envision reaching beyond the grasp of chaos and clutter, and take your simplify-life results to the next level.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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8 Ways Using a Planner Reduces Stress

As with all successful efforts, it takes some initiative to use a planner. But when you look at the alternatives, using a planner eliminates many stressful situations from your life. Here are eight examples.

planner pages1. Avoid double-booking

If you’ve ever accidentally double-booked your schedule, you know how stressful it can be when you get a reminder call for an important appointment while preparing for highly-anticipated time with friends and family. Writing your appointments in your planner lets you check your availability before planning another, even if months pass in the meantime.

2. Track long-term projects

Modern navigation systems make it easy to find your way: Google an address, and your phone will tell you every turn you need to make. Your planner performs a similar function for long-term projects, letting you lay out each step to help you keep on track and meet all upcoming deadlines.

3. Capture and retrieve information

While sticky notes are wonderful, they’re also hard to find if the bottom of your purse is covered with old papers. Stick your important information in your planner, and it will be there when you need it.

4. Feel the peace of a routine

Most days, your brain gets a serious workout, making important decisions and constantly moving from one task to another. The last thing it wants is to think about the small, routine details—but this leaves you with anxiety that you’re missing something. Following a routine set in your planner can help with decision fatigue.

5. Anticipate upcoming events

Your planner also helps you prepare for the days that fall outside of your routine. With weekly planning sessions, you can look ahead to birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other important occasions, and plan well in advance to make them even better.

6. Rest with a clear mind

When you have important tasks to think about, your brain will try and make connections, no matter what time it is. Writing ideas down in your planner gives your thoughts closure, and you’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve got a plan.

7. Recover your passwords

There’s no place like a planner to write down the things you only reference occasionally. Use it to store passwords for less-frequented websites, phone numbers for takeout, model numbers of appliances, prescription numbers, etc.

8. Experience the Joy of Completion

Instead of mental uncertainty, there’s a satisfaction that comes when you check tasks off your list and clear it from your mind.

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Use A Daily Tracker

Accountability comes one day at a time. When you set a new goal, the excitement keeps you going at first. But then, as the novelty wears off, it’s easy to slip back into your old habits. Find space in your planner to track this goal daily. Whether you’re tracking your daily water intake or finding something to be grateful for in each day, marking it down each day will help you keep momentum and remember it for more than a couple of weeks.

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Why Bother Planning?

By Patty Gardner

Do you ever feel like planning is a waste of time?  As soon as you get your list made, everything changes!  Or you start out strong but then it all falls apart.  And when you finally sit down at night and evaluate your day, you did little or nothing of what was on your list.  It’s discouraging and sometimes it makes me feel like planning is a waste of time.

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But it’s not.  Even though it might seem like it, planning is still one of the best things you can do.  And here’s why:

1. You can’t have Plan B without Plan A.  If you start out with a plan but then things change, as they always do, you can look at Plan A and make decisions and adjustments.  And chances are, you’ll still end up having a productive day because you started with a plan.

2. Without a plan, you spend your day reacting to whatever comes up.  You might get some things done but they may not be the things you needed to do.  You spent your day putting out fires and that’s no way to live!

3. You get more done with a plan than without a plan.  This is absolutely true for me!  Without a list, I tend to piddle.  I end up spending time cleaning out a closet or re-doing my recipes when I should have been cleaning the bathroom, making dinner and paying the bills.  Having a list is like having goals.  Not having a list is like wandering aimlessly through the desert.

4. Even if you can’t get everything on your list done, a list shows you what needs done.  Maybe you’re one of those people who can keep a list in their head and always knows what to do next (like Mr. Organized, my husband).  I’m not like that.  If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.  I need a list so I know what to do.  Even if I don’t get it all done, the list is there to remind me.

5. A list provides a written record of what needs done and what you did.  I frequently look back to see when or if I did something.  And I don’t have to worry that a task will be forgotten because I have it written down.  If it’s written down, it’s safe.  If it’s swimming around in my head…oh, boy, that’s never good!!!

Even if it seems like making a list or having a plan is a waste of time, it isn’t.  And unless you’re like Mr. Organized, a list is probably going make the difference between a productive day and a day spent putting out fires.

So whip out your planner and get your list ready for tomorrow.

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New Binders for our Biggest Sale of the Year

With our Biggest Sale of the Year, now’s your chance to pick up great-looking new binders at our best prices. Here are our new collections:

Gwen

Liven up your plans with this stylish collection. Made from coated canvas with a faux croco print on the spine and snap closure, each binder or cover includes two pen loops, card slots, a secretarial pocket, and a notepad slot.

Gwen comes in Steel and Turquoise, in Compact size with 1” rings, and in Classic size with 1.25” rings.

Harper

Celebrate summer with simulated leather in bright, happy yellow or soft, chic lavender. This collection features gold hardware two pen loops, card slots, an ID window, a secretarial pocket, and a notepad slot. Snap closure.

Harper Binders come in Compact with 1.25” rings, and in Classic with 1.5” rings. Harper Wire-bound Covers are available in Classic size.

Jack

Get the look of Nappa leather with this expertly-made simulated leather collection in basic black. Its simple, professional design includes two pen loops, a secretarial pocket, two deep, vertical side pockets, card slots, and a notepad slot.

Jack Binders come in Compact with 1.25” rings, in Classic with 1.5” rings, and in Monarch with 2” rings. Jack Wire-bound Covers are available in Classic size.

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How to Use Your Franklin Planner for Both Personal and Professional Uses

Your Franklin Planner is designed to help you manage all of your activities and goals, whether your days are loaded with business meetings or baseball games. For most of us our days are filled with an eclectic mix of events—usually a conglomerate of unequal parts blended into something we call life. It can be messy.

Often our planners resemble that muddled part of our lives—taking on an appearance that makes them difficult to decipher. So how do we manage such different aspects of our lives in one small planner without it looking as jumbled inside as we sometimes feel?

We have a few suggestions.

Separate your work activities from your other events.

If you leave a couple of blank lines on your Prioritized Daily Task List between the tasks you need to perform for work and the tasks you plan to accomplish at home, it will be easier to keep track of what is happening when. Other people have suggested writing your tasks for work on your Personalized Daily Task List from the top down and writing your tasks for home from the bottom up.

Washi tape is a creative way to sort and separate events. This thin tape comes in several colors and patterns and it makes a fun embellishment for your planner while serving a great purpose. You could use it to divide groups of tasks on your planner pages or use different colors of tape for the different roles you play each day—orange for work, blue for home, green for community events, etc. Plus, it’s easy to remove without damaging your paper.

Not every planner has a Prioritized Daily Task List, so you can use your washi tape in the Notes section to accomplish the same thing.

FC studio w imbellishments-30aUse different colored pens.

Use different colored pens to show different people’s schedules—Blue: Nate, Green: Emily, etc.—or use different colors for work, home, and community events. Giving yourself an instant visual image of what events carry the most weight in your day can help you determine your priorities and work toward balance. For example: if you use black for work, green for family, and blue for church or community events, and you notice that you have days packed full of black, you can try to work more family time into that day.

Use colored tabs or flags

Use colored tabs or page flags to separate the events of your day—this is for work, this is for home. You may want to keep events separate on your pages and then use your colored page flags for each segment. You can also use different colored highlighters to mark the activities for home and work etc.

Use a Progressive Task List

If you have several events that span several days, or if you have some activities that you need to accomplish each day and you don’t want to forget them, add a Progressive Task List to your planner. The Progressive Task List fits inside your pagefinder so you only need to write those tasks once, then they follow you from day to day until they’re complete. It’s a great way to reduce redundant clutter on your planner pages

It can be difficult to stay ahead of your schedule if your life is so busy that your planner is hard to follow. Hopefully these few hints have given you some inspiration and sparked some great ideas of your own.

If you have any unique ways that you keep your planner neat and orderly amid the chaos of your life, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy planning!

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How I Plan My Week

10 Reasons (2)

By Patty Gardner

 A weekly planning session makes all the difference in whether my week is smooth or rocky.  Starting the week with a plan in place allows me to make changes as needed (and believe me, there are always plenty) and get things done.  Here’s what I do:

My weekly planning session takes place on Sunday evening.  I sit on the couch with my planner and start plugging things in.

First I check my monthly calendar to see if I have any appointments scheduled.  I plug them into the Appointment Schedule on my daily pages.

Monthly Calendar

 Then I add things I know I’ll be doing, like babysitting the grand kids, going to the grocery store, church, etc.  These also go on the Appointment Schedule.  (I don’t remove the pages from my planner when I plan – this was to make it was easier to see the big picture.)

 appointments

 Next I plug in tasks I need to do on certain days.  These go in the Prioritized Daily Task List section.  For example, I usually go to the grocery store on Wednesday, so I need to make my grocery list on Tuesday.  I pay bills on Saturday.  On the 1st of the month I do monthly checks (smoke alarms, furnace filters, snack stash) and give my dog her heartworm pill.  If someone has a birthday, I write “email happy birthday”, “prep card”, “mail card” on the appropriate days.

 to do pages

 I record other tasks that need to be done sometime during the week on the page finder.  The page finder has a slot for a weekly list.  The front of the list has 8 boxes which I’ve been using those to record high priority tasks.  On the back of the page I record all the other things that come to mind.  Pull out the list to add new items or mark things off that you’ve done.

 page finder front

 

 Page finder back

Then I do a review to be sure there aren’t any issues, like too many appointments or a scheduling conflict.  If all is well, weekly planning is done!

Sometimes, though, I have SO much going on that I feel overwhelmed and this planning method isn’t enough.  When that happens, I print out a weekly schedule form and do my initial planning on it.  Seeing the whole week at one time helps me see whether I can get it all done or whether changes have to be made.  Once I get it all worked out, I transfer it to my daily pages.

This method takes about 15 minutes unless I have to do the weekly sheet first.  Then it probably takes 20 or so.  This system works really well and I start my week feeling like I know what I’m doing.  And feeling in control is half the battle!
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Track Your Shopping Lists

Whether you’re engaging in some retail therapy or going on a standard trip to the grocery store, your planner comes in handy for jotting down shopping lists. If you have a standard list of items that you buy each week, write them down on a Progressive Task List and place it in your Pagefinder. For more special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, jot down your gift ideas on a notes page. Then when the time comes, you can pick the right gift.

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Document Your Summer Plans

Summer is a magical time. It’s the season of family vacations, connecting with friends in the backyard, and exploring the world. Whatever your plans this summer, you’ll want to remember the fun. Use your planner as a journal as you plan your excursions, and as you carry them out, write down the small details of what made each part memorable. Set a goal to record something every day, even if it’s just a lazy summer afternoon with your family. With your planner, you’ll be enjoying the memories of this summer years from now.

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Planner Quote: May 25, 2015

“Things are temporary, relationships are forever. Nothing can replace the time we spend investing in the life of another.”

– Roy Lessin

FP power to choose (9)

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Clean Out Your Car in 7 Simplified Steps!

By Naomi Cook

When was the last time that you took everything out of the trunk and off of the floor of your car and really explored what is hanging out in there?  Maybe you have some store returns to make that happen to be intermixed with escaped french fries, crushed soda cans, and smelly gym shoes…ick, it sounds like a scenario for those Febreze Car Fresheners!

On the next nice day that you can dedicate a few hours to, head out to your car and follow these steps…

1)  Remove EVERYTHING – Yes, I said everything!  Get the bigger items from the floor first and then go through your glove compartment, center console, door pockets and trunk.  Don’t forget to look in all those other nifty hidden compartments in your car as well!  For now, keep these items in neat (or as neat as possible) piles in your garage or patio.

DSCN81712)  Clean – Clean your interior windows, including the front windshield and the rear window and your gauges.  Next, dust and clean your dash and finally vacuum the floors and seats.  If you haven’t done this process in a while, you may just prefer to head to the car wash and let them take care of it for you.  A good car wash may be something worthwhile as well, to get rid of that pesky pollen!

3)  Trash/Recycle – Get a trash bag and recycling bin handy.  Toss any items that are immediately recognized as trash, i.e. those fries!  Recycle any maps or papers that aren’t in need or are out of date and any soda cans and water bottles.

4)  Sort – Go through the other items that are left and make the decision of where they need to go.

5)  Organize – Keep some of those handled fabric storage bins in your trunk and backseat.  They are inexpensive and can surprisingly hold a lot!  Five bins should do it; you don’t want to fill up your entire car with them.

In the trunk:

* Use one to stash snacks like granola bars and crackers for that on-the-go hunger.

* Use one to hold car cleaning supplies and a first aid kit.

* Use one to hold those miscellaneous items that accumulate daily all over the car!  Bring this bin in once a week and put the items where they belong.

In the backseat:

* Use one lined with a plastic grocery bag as a mini trash bin.

* Use one lined with a plastic grocery bag as a mini recycling bin.

Also consider those seat back car organizers if you have kids.  This will allow them to keep their belongings together, like magazines, books and headphones.

6)  Maintain – Whenever you stop for gas, pop the trash bag out and toss it.  Save the recycling items for home if you don’t see a recycling bin.  Keep some additional plastic grocery bags folded flat at the bottom of each bin once one is used up.

7)  Rejoice! – Look inside your newly cleaned car and get ready for those road trips.  Then, if it still stinks, quickly proceed to the nearest store and buy yourself an air freshener!

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8 Activities to Make the Most of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is intended as a way to remember our brave neighbors, friends, and family who gave everything they had to ensure our freedoms and to help maintain freedom for others. Because it’s a Federal holiday, many of us have the day off work so we can devote time to celebrating and remembering.

How we celebrate varies. It’s personal. Some people aren’t comfortable with cemeteries, so they spend time outdoors with their families. That’s a great opportunity to remind your children that the freedom to go where you want and enjoy time together came at a high price.

If you are looking for simple ways to celebrate the holiday and to help instill a stronger sense of patriotism in your family, here are a few ideas that might help.

1. Put a flag in your yard. That simple act serves as a great reminder of the sacrifices that have been paid for our freedom.

2. If your community holds a parade or fireworks, go and enjoy the sights. IMG_0973a

3. Hold an outdoor barbeque and invite your neighbors. Make homemade ice cream.

4. If you have relatives who are veterans, call them on the phone and say thanks or send them a thank you card.

5. Visit the graves of veterans and other family members with your children.

6. Go on a picnic with your family.

7. Read about a military conflict, study the historical events that lead up to it, and discuss with your family what happened as a result of the war.

8. Find a story about one of your ancestors, veteran or not, and share it with your children. Even if your ancestors didn’t serve in the military, they still sacrificed to provide for their families. Sharing their stories helps us celebrate their challenges and successes with our loved ones.

However you choose to celebrate and enjoy the time away from work, be safe and have fun. With a little planning, the time you spend with your family and friends will be memorable and enjoyable.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Giveaway: Hannah’s Bowling Bag

For a vintage feel in bold colors, nothing beats this modern take on a classic bag. Crafted from buttery soft leather with multiple pockets and a detachable shoulder strap, you’ll be ready to hit the lanes or dazzle at the gala.

Hannah’s Bowling Bag is 13.75” W x 10.25” H x 3.75” D with an 8″ drop strap.

And we are giving it away!

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Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway ends May 27, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Schedule “You” Time

We all have many roles to play in our lives: employee, manager, parent, family member, community member, etc. With all the responsibilities that come with these roles, it’s easy to let them define who you are. It’s important to schedule time for yourself, for relaxation, reflection, and rediscovery. As you plan out your week, be sure to include personal tasks like meditation or hobby work.

 

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You’ve Graduated! Now What?

graduationBefore spring is over, universities everywhere will hold their commencement ceremonies, celebrating their students’ years of academic achievement. By this point, these students will have had close to 16 years of structured days, each naturally flowing toward the next. After throwing their caps in the air, however, their future will become their own responsibility.

If you’re graduating this spring, the big wide world might seem like a daunting prospect. Thankfully, the planning habits that made all the difference during these school years will help you structure each stage of your future career, no matter where your path takes you.

Daily Planning

Daily planning keeps you focused on success. When you have an intentional plan for each day, you know that you won’t lose days of your life binge watching TV series on Netflix while your career search withers. So how should you spend your time? Finding a job isn’t as simple as signing up for another semester of classes.

Finding a Job

The biggest first step is getting an employer’s attention from the middle of the crowd of résumés submitted. That means having an updated résumé, for starters, one that lists your academic and professional achievements to date.

If you can’t think of academic achievements or experiences off the top of your head, you can always review your old planner pages. Your relevant notes and tasks can be a great reminder of relevant items to list when applying for an internship or a permanent position.

Use Your Planner to Help

Your planner also helps you in your career networking efforts as a great space to quickly write down contact information and other notes about the companies you research and connect with. Not only is it faster than typing a note on your phone, but it also lets you collect business cards from your career fair without losing them in your pocket or your purse, or stuffing them into a bursting wallet.

And when the pavement pounding and online applications have paid off and you’re facing your prospective employer in an interview, your planner becomes an incredible asset. Not only can you jot down notes about the company you made while doing your research, but you can also prepare responses for common interview questions (and questions you want to ask) to serve as a reminder when you’re in the hot seat. Plus, using a planner instead of a mobile device sends the right impression: that you’re an individual who can focus on the task at hand and make long-term plans for success.

So wherever your future takes you after graduation, discover a new level of success with your planner and your hard-won organizational skills. You’ll be on your way to a productive, fulfilling life!

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Time to Start Planning for Summer!

As the weeks count down to the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, it’s time to start planning for your fun getaways. Whether you’re crossing the globe to exotic places or crossing town to visit Grandma, preparing your vacation in advance will help things go much more smoothly.

If you’re planning a family visit, then it’s never too early to open up dialogue. You’ll want to coordinate work schedules, travel arrangements, and accommodations for your stay, especially if your family is spread out over large geographical distances. As you talk with your family, write the details in your planner for reference.

Whether you’re visiting extended family or simply spending time with your own, it pays to prepare in advance. You can often save on airfare and get a better hotel room selection when you book your tickets and accommodations well in advance. As you compare these rates, make notes in your planner. Print off hotel reviews and make note of their star ratings, then stick the printout in a pocket in your binder.

If you’re planning a vacation with outdoor activities, make a list of the things you’ll need to bring with you, such as camping gear, climbing equipment, flotation safety devices, etc. Locate the items on your list, as many of them are likely in storage. Check to make sure they’re clean and in good repair. If something is broken or missing, you’ll have time to order it online, giving you more options on price and a wider selection.

Your vacation time isn’t limitless. Wherever you go, there will undoubtedly be more attractions, events, and sights than you can cram into a few short days. After choosing your destination, conduct a social poll of family and friends, both in person and on social media. You can learn which destinations are must-sees and which are tourist traps, which helps alleviate the pressure to visit everything on a long itinerary. After all, a crammed vacation misses the point of an escape from a crammed life.

Start planning your vacation today, and you can avoid many of the bumps and rough patches that make getting away such hard work.

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Track Your Spending Habits

Fun fact: last year, the average American spent $2,817 on entertainment, $1,060 on education, and just $101 on reading. Do you know where your money goes? As you can see, the small splurges can add up over time. Use your Daily Tracker box, or set aside a portion of your planner to track your expenses for a week. Multiply the amount you spend by 52 to find the amount you’re on track to spend this year. If you have other ideas for the amounts you’re spending, you’ll then know where to adjust.

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Plan for Mother’s Day

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day (May 10, 2015). While love is the most important gift you can give, communicating that love properly takes some preparation. Plan out some time to spend on a heartfelt note or card, and double-check on any gifts or flowers that you’ve ordered. Your mom will appreciate it.

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The Audrey Binder Collection

Welcome spring with the bold colors of the Audrey binder. Made from durable faux leather and embossed with a fabric pattern, these striking binders add protection and a pop of color to your day. The unstructured design allows your binder to bend comfortably in your hand and open flat at your desk. Loaded with interior organization including card pockets and ID window, pen loops, a notepad slot, an open pocket, and a zipper pocket, this binder is sure to keep you moving in an organized fashion.

Audrey is available in Compact and Classic ring-bound binders, as well as a Classic-sized cover for your wire-bound planner. The Compact binder offers 1.25” rings and the Classic-sized binder gives you 1.5” rings—giving you plenty of room for your big plans. Available in three colors: Raven, Ocean, and Strawberry.

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8 Reasons Why it’s Better to Make Your To-Do List the Day Before

By Patty Gardner

Do you make tomorrow’s to-do list before you go to bed or first thing in the morning?  I’ve always made my list the night before and I think that works better for these eight reasons:

1.       If I make tomorrow’s list before I go to bed, I sleep better.  I have a plan for the day and I know exactly what I need to do as soon as I get up.  Plus I’m not trying to remember what I have to do tomorrow because I already planned it out and wrote it down.

list2.       When I’m making the list the night before, it gives me more time if I discover something that needs done beforehand, like making sure certain clothes are clean, having cash on hand or taking food for the office potluck.

3.       If I wait until the next morning to make my list, I lose a lot of time in the morning trying to decide what to do.  By the time I get up, get dressed and figure out what I want to do, the day is already well underway and I feel behind.

4.       When I plan, I always plan what we’re having for dinner.  Planning the night before gives me time to thaw anything I might need for the meal.

5.       Knowing what I’m doing tomorrow helps me prepare mentally, especially if it’s going to be a tough day.

6.       Making my list the night before helps me know what time I need to get up.  If I have a lot going on, sometimes I need to get up a little earlier.  If it’s going to be a slower day, I can take my time in the morning.  But I only know that if I know what’s going on.

7.       When I make my list the night before, I notice if there are any conflicts or if there’s too much to do.  That allows me to make adjustments before the day gets started.

8.       If there’s something I need to do first thing in the morning, I might miss it or be late if I wait to make my list until morning.

When do you make your to-do list? 

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The Lesson My Mom Taught Me About Organization

Good communication skills are hard to find. It takes a gift to speak to someone’s soul. My mother had that gift. She was an amazing teacher. I learned a lot from the things she said, but I learned even more by watching what she did. Her actions resonated—powerfully.

Mom worked as a medical professional and couldn’t stand the thought of germs, so you can imagine how intently she worked to keep things clean and in their place. Her house always smelled of lemon disinfectant, as she swept daily and mopped at least weekly.

She kept a hand-written daily cleaning schedule taped inside a cupboard door in the kitchen. Mom taught us that cleaning a little bit every day eliminated the need for huge cleaning projects. No job was hard because it was practically clean before we started. I can’t begin to tell you how many Saturday mornings I spent cleaning mirrors that were already spotless. We picked up the clutter throughout the house constantly, and each room had its day to be vacuumed, dusted, and polished. By the end of the week, every inch of the house had been thoroughly cleaned—except my room.

My bedroom was so cluttered it was hard to find. Sure, you could find the door, but opening that door was like stepping into a foreign land. It was otherworldly. Mom reminded me daily to organize my mess, make my bed, and put away my clothes, but it never got through. The way I saw it, my mess didn’t affect anyone but me.

I was wrong.

One day after school I discovered that Mom had had enough. When I opened my bedroom door I found my shelves were spotlessly clean and empty. My desktop was sparkling clean also. Not a scrap of paper. Not a book. Not a pencil. Nothing. The top of my dresser was the same way. All of that stuff was in a huge pile on my floor. My bed, which I had left unkempt, was now a bare mattress with bedding wadded into a ball in the center. The message was perfectly clear: If I wanted to sleep that night, I had to do something about my room.

I learned that the first step to organizing any space is to clear everything off, wipe it clean, and then thoughtfully replace the items you truly want to keep. The second step—keep a trash bag handy. I couldn’t believe how much junk I had collected in that small space. But I hadn’t yet learned my most important lesson.

Over time the clutter slowly returned—like a bacterial infection that hadn’t been hit with the proper dose of antibiotic. It was unnoticeable at first—a stack of paper on the desk, a dirty hook-shot-sock that missed the hamper, a stack of clean clothes that had fallen to the floor, a forgotten pop-sickle stick. Before I knew it, my room was sick.

Again my mother reminded me to clean, and again I gave only a meager effort. Then one morning Mom walked into my room with a stack of clean, folded clothes. Instead of placing them on the end of my bed for me to put away, as was usually the case, she dropped them on the floor, stomped on them, and kicked them around the room. “There,” she said,  “Now they’re just the way you like them,” and she walked away.

I laughed. She didn’t.

As I looked around my room I finally realized what Mom wasn’t saying: keeping my clothes in their place and my room tidy didn’t only affect me, it was a reflection of my respect for her and the efforts she was making on my behalf. She didn’t have to do my laundry or keep a spotless house, but she did all that because she loved us. Keeping my room clean and my things in their place was the least I could do to show my appreciation. I can’t say I kept my room spotless after that realization, but I can say I tried much more often, and was reminded much less often.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of how often my mom showed me how to plan, organize, and accomplish my goals. Every time I put my clothes in a drawer, sweep the floor, or organize my garage, I think of the lessons she taught. Every time I open my pantry door and read the lists I have taped inside, I think of her. And each time I set a goal or write in my planner, I remember how often I watched her do the very same thing. After 75 years of planning, goal setting, and living an organized life, my mom has accomplished nearly all of her goals. I plan to do the same, and one of my highest aspirations is to be more like mom.

 

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3 Reasons to Keep Your Old Planner Pages

image - tasha.singer@fcorgp.com - FC Organizational Products Mail - Google Chrome 4272015 125549 PM.bmpIf you’re like most planner users, you tend to keep a few months’ worth of pages in your binder at any given time. But when you switch out the pages for a new season, what do you do with the ones you’ve just filled? Here are three reasons you shouldn’t just toss them in the recycling bin:

1. Business Records

Oftentimes, it’s the small details that matter most. Most of the time, these are the details that get lost in a crowded inbox or left on a loose notebook page.

Many people use their planner in conjunction with their career, writing down important meeting points, tracking business miles, and scheduling meetings with clients. Keeping these records gives you an additional resource when you’re making future plans.

Before you store your planner pages, use page flags to mark the location of important information and make an index on your monthly planner page. Then you can find the information you need, right when you need it.

2. Inspiration

Take a moment each day to write down your thoughts, or set down whatever is on your mind. As you go through the year, you’ll have a record of your thoughts and feelings.

All of us bring up old memories from time to time. Psychology labels this process rumination, after the digestive systems of cows and similar creatures that chew their food multiple times. Most of the time, rumination helps you process and learn, but in some instances, it can lead you to believe that your current problems extend into the past and future – that you’ve always been a failure and always will be.

Marking the successes in your planner proves rumination wrong with events from your own life, giving you a powerful pick-me-up. It changes “I’ve never been able to, and I never will” to “I’ve done it before, and here’s how I’ll do it next time.”

3. Memories

While we’re on the topic of memory, your planner is a great place to keep your journal. Since you have a habit of writing in it every day, all it takes to turn it into your personal memory book is adding embellishments, photos, and other decorative touches. This helps your planner be more than a collection of facts; it turns it into a reminder of the richness of your life.

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Update Your Monthly Calendar

Your planner helps you get from week to week. Sometimes, though, it’s important to step back and look at the entire month. List things like doctor’s appointments, company meetings, and upcoming events on your monthly calendar. You’ll be prepared to work and live effectively, and, for fun future events, the added anticipation will make the month that much more enjoyable.

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Spring Catalog 2015

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Our Spring Catalog is here!

Click here to browse our digital version.

Click here to receive a printed version in the mail!

And after you’re looked through it, tell us what you think. Click here to take our survey and we’ll give you 20% off your next purchase!

 

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Tackle One Project at a Time

Facing a full day can feel like living in a house full of demanding children: each project is vying for your attention, ignoring or competing with the others for your time. If the mental noise is getting to be too much for you, then take a breather and write out everything you have to do in your planner. Setting things down helps you focus on one thing at a time, and gives you head space to work more productively.

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5 Eco-Friendly Choices for Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22. To mark the occasion, here are five eco-friendly choices that help you conserve and give back with a sense of style.

1. 100% Recycled Ring-bound Weekly Planner

While each Franklin Planner uses 30% post consumer recycled paper, we also take special pride in our 100% Recycled planner. Of course, whichever planner pages you use, you can always recycle them again, or repurpose them as notes paper or craft materials.

2. Karen Powered Handbag

Do you leave your cell phone plugged in overnight? If so, then you’re likely wasting electricity trying to charge a completely charged phone. The Karen Powered Handbag holds enough charge for up to ten days’ worth of partial charges, letting you charge more fully and less often. Plus, this bag is made from the equivalent of 39 reclaimed plastic bottles.

3. Raylan Medium Bag by Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat has upped the ante on recycled products and conscientious living: along with linings made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles, the company works with recycled cardboard, cork, rubber, and nylons. Crafted without any animal-based materials, these bags are both beautiful and socially responsible.

4. Bamboo Tornado Deluxe Rollerball Pen by Retro 51

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly material, then bamboo should be high on your list. Bamboo forests grow faster, produce more timber, and release some 35 percent more oxygen into the air than similarly sized stands of trees.

With each purchase of the Bamboo Tornado Deluxe Rollerball Pen, Retro 51 will make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation to rescue 250 square feet of rainforest and the habitat it protects.

5. Putnam Messenger Bag by United By Blue

Of course, Retro 51 isn’t the only company that gives back. United by Blue makes it their central philosophy, using proceeds from every purchase to organize ocean and waterway cleanup projects around the country.

Whether you support the earth with one of these products or you plan out your own project in your planner, we wish you a very happy Earth Day.

 

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5 Additional Uses for Your Address/Phone Tabs

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How else do you use your Address/Phone tabs?

Download this infographic as a PDF here.

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Ready to Organize Your Paper?

If you’re like most of us, you’re a little surprised by the amount of paper you have in your house—old tax papers, ATM receipts, business cards, old catalogs, credit card receipts, financial records, medical records, holiday and birthday cards, old calendars, owner manuals, and your children’s artistic masterpieces. How do you manage all these important papers without feeling like a hoarder?

Sort Regularly

The most important thing you can do with all that paper is to sort it regularly. Items that were once important often become unnecessary over time: the owner’s manual for the car you sold last year, for example. Toss it.

Create Specific Places for Each Type of Record

Designate a folder or an entire file drawer to each type of record. Label each accordingly—medical, owner’s manuals, Financial, keepsakes, etc. Remember, once you’ve placed an item in one of these drawers or folders, don’t ignore it. In time most of the things you store away can be shredded and thrown out. Go through these folders at least once each year and decide what you still need to keep. This task is easy to forget, so schedule it in your planner early.

Decide What To Throw Away

Keeping something is easy, but clearing clutter requires an honest evaluation of the value of an item. That can be hard, but clearing space is incredibly liberating. One way to know the value of an item is to ask, “When was the last time I looked for this?” If it’s been a few years, it can probably go to the shredder.

Most tax related items should be kept for at least three years, and some need to be available for seven. Talk with your tax advisor to know what is best for you. Once the appropriate time has passed, shred as much as you can. You can also scan papers and store them electronically. The IRS accepts electronic copies of your papers as long as they’re legible.

Masterpieces

1SS3uNSXYour children are amazingly gifted aren’t they? They’re also prolific artists. If you keep everything they create for you, you’ll be buried alive in your house. It pays to be selective. Keep the most sentimental creations and those that you feel are their best work. Go through their work after each report card and see how much of their stuff they’re willing to give up. It’s also fun to take a picture of them next to their artwork so you have the memory, then you can throw away the bulky artwork and save the image on your computer.

Consider the Cloud

If you save your photos and documents in a cloud service you’ll have access to them anytime or anywhere. They won’t take up valuable living space in your home, and you can organize them any way you like.

Hopefully we’ve given you a few good suggestions and helped spark even better ideas of your own. Organizing is a personal thing, so you’ll want to find what works for you and your family.

Luckily, storing your planner pages is easy. Simply slip them into your storage binder and sleeve, and you’ll have easy access to your personal record for as long as you’d like to keep it.

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The Logan Binder

The Logan binder is the perfect complement to your business attire. The distressed genuine pebbled leather on top adds a vintage touch and contrasts beautifully with the smooth, genuine leather on the bottom. Polished with a classic matte finish and loaded with business card slots, pen loops and a notebook slot, it’s sure to provide loads of organized protection for your plans.

The Logan collection also boasts an open design, simple stitching detail and a blend of leather and vinyl on the interior. Many people have requested larger rings in our planners, so Logan boasts 1.25” rings in its Compact- and Monarch-sized binders, and 1.5” rings in the Classic binder. The wire-bound planner cover has a slim profile and offers genuine leather both inside and out.

Logan is available in Compact, Classic, and Monarch ring-bound binders, as well as a Classic-sized cover for your wire-bound planner.

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Use Your Forms

The key to accomplishing most goals is persistence. If you remember the new actions you want to take until they become routine, then you’ve changed yourself. Finding the right form or tab can help you tie your new goals to your consistent planning habit, keeping all your progress in a central location—your planner. From planning a week’s worth of dinners to staying within your budget goals, forms and tabs help you organize your life just as effectively as you manage your time.

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It’s Time for a “Time Makeover”: 5 Tips for Mastering Your Calendar

Take control of your busy schedule with a few easy ideas! By Joshua Zerkel

Time flies when you’re having fun, but what if you’re not having fun and your time still seems to fly away? Do you ever feel like your schedule runs you, rather than the other way around? Maybe you’re feeling like you can’t get everything done, or that you don’t really know where your time goes. Sound familiar? If so, a “time makeover” might be just what you need! Here are some simple strategies to help get your calendar under control:

  1. Take stock. To truly maximize your use of time, it’s helpful to first find out how you’re currently spending your day. In a journal or on a notepad, write down what you’re doing from hour to hour for a few days. Note what your current daily schedule is (if you have one), what’s working, and what isn’t. Also notice what your energy rhythms are—are you more “up” in the morning, or are you more of a night owl?
  2. Check it out. After keeping a log for a few days, start looking for patterns. Are you spending most of your time on the things that you want or need to do, or are you wasting lots of time procrastinating or surfing the web? Where is time being used well, and where do you see room for improvement? Also see whether the things that are most important to you are synchronized with when you’re the most “up.”
  3. Build blocks. Group your different daily tasks into categories, and then make the categories into “time blocks.” Common categories are work time (time you spend at your job or business), admin tasks (paying bills, processing paper, etc.), pleasure time (breaks and other downtime), and kid-related time (carpooling, getting the kids ready for school).
  4. Fill it in. Look at a blank calendar and start setting up your revised schedule. Put your time blocks onto your calendar based on how much time the tasks within each category take up. As things come up during your day or your week, you’ll now have time literally “blocked out” for the tasks to fit into. Try to group related tasks together—for instance, if you noted in your logs that you were paying bills online on Tuesday and writing checks on Friday, try to group those together on your calendar. Every process that you can group or streamline will make a difference in how efficient you can be.
  5. Keep at it. After you’ve filled in your time blocks with tasks, you’ll be left with a revamped schedule. Try implementing your new schedule slowly—that way you can make adjustments and tweaks. If something works well—great! If not, see if you can shift a task to another time block or shift the blocks around. Keep with it until you find the mix that works for you.

You can get control over your schedule! With a little advance planning and a few of my tips, you’ll soon be master of your day once more.

Joshua Zerkel

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FranklinPlanner In-Depth: Calendar Basics

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Download this infographic as a PDF here.

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Planner Quote: April 6, 2015

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

secret to success

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Start Your Spring Cleaning! (Free Checklist/Tracker Printable)

IMG_0484It’s time for spring cleaning, that magical time of year where you tackle the obscure organizational tasks and polish all the fine details. You have access to every part of your house, from the basement crawlspace to the attic, and, like in centuries past, you can leave the windows open and let the dust fly away on the breeze.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the thought of such a large project, take a minute to look over our Spring Cleaning Checklist. Like any other big goal, when you break spring cleaning down into individual tasks, you can schedule them out in manageable chunks. And when you set those tasks down in your planner, you can integrate them with the other events and responsibilities in your life, letting you accomplish more with fewer surprises.

Here are some spring cleaning planner tips to help you get started:

–          Pre-purchase your cleaning supplies. As you look at everything your home needs, write the amount of cleaning solution, dusting spray, paper towels, and cleansing wipes you’ll need in your planner. Pick them up before you get started, and you can stick to your spring cleaning schedule without surprise runs to the store for missing supplies.

–          Schedule a limited number of cleaning tasks for each day, and write them on the appropriate planner pages. Deep cleaning can be messy work, so it helps to finish one room before moving on to another.

–          Map out drawer contents in your planner. Then, before you start reorganizing, tape labels on drawers and cabinets showing what should be inside. This lets your helpers put things away with fewer questions for you.

We’d love to hear how your planner made a difference in your spring cleaning. Here’s to a clean home, beautiful weather, and peace of mind this spring!

Download this 3 page tracking guide to help you plan and organize your spring cleaning:

Compact

Classic

Monarch

PDF PDF PDF
Checklist – Page 1 JPG Checklist – Page 1 JPG Checklist – Page 1 JPG
Checklist – Page 2 JPG Checklist – Page 2 JPG Checklist – Page 2 JPG
Checklist – Page 3 JPG Checklist – Page 3 JPG Checklist – Page 3 JPG

 

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Valuable or Sentimental?

There’s nothing like the passage of time to turn clutter into treasure. Old toys, faded figurines, and mostly broken knick-knacks owe their staying power to our desire for a piece of the past. If your memorabilia collection is starting to overwhelm your storage, remember: it’s the memory you value, not the thing itself. A picture of the less-important items will serve just as well as the actual item, and it frees up your clutter to move on. You can also write down the experiences associated with your memorabilia in your planner or journal, and pass on the memories instead of the clutter.

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Tell us about your experience with the Augmented Reality!

Take a few minutes to tell us about your experience with the Augmented Reality in our Spring 2015 Catalog and we’ll give you a promo code to take 20% off your next purchase.

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Click here to take the survey!

 

*Offer not valid on clearance items, or with any other offer, or with any corporate, GSA, Amway™, or volume discount. Not valid on E-Gift Cards, Build Your Own Planning System, kits, or prior purchases. Certain brands are non-discountable. Offer valid only at www.FranklinPlanner.com. International shipping and taxes apply to international orders. Expires May 31, 2015.

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How to Use Your Prioritized Daily Task List

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How to Turn Your Commute Time into You Time

Most of us would love it if we could eliminate the time it takes to get to and from work. It would be nice to walk out of our office and be instantly on our own time, running our own errands, catching little league games, or helping prepare dinner. But we can’t—we have to spend 30 minutes in traffic or on the train first. Or can we?

According to the US Census Bureau, the average commute time across the nation is 25 minutes, but many of us spend much more time than that. It can feel like a giant waste. Losing an hour or more each day to your commute translates to roughly 250 hours each year. That’s ten and one half days lost.

We receive no compensation for the time we spend on the road, so it’s up to us to make it worth our while. But here’s the good news—making your commute time productive is simple and even fun. Here are some great ways to turn your commute time into you time.

If you drive, make your car comfortable.

Schedule regular vehicle cleanings in your planner so you’re never buried in clutter. It simply feels better to drive a clean car. Plan regular oil changes and tune-ups to keep your car in the best condition possible. Keep those appointments in your planner so you don’t forget. Your vehicle registration is due at the same time each year, but it’s easy to put it off until the last minute. Write a reminder in your planner so you can be sure your safety inspection and registration never expire.

Now for the fun part

Make a list of books you’d like to read and see if you can find audio versions online or at your local library. Spending time with a good book is almost always rewarding.

If you have errands to run, schedule the stops along your way. It may increase your commute time, but you’ll be doing things you want to do for yourself, so your commute will be swallowed up in personal time.

commute2If you take the train or bus, your commute is the ideal time to plan. Planning on the road can free up time at home and help you arrive at work ready to jump into your day.

Clean out your bag so you don’t have to rummage for the things you need. Load it up with your planner, a good book, headphones, charging cords, and a laptop so you can take full advantage of your time on the bus.

Open up a conversation with the person sitting beside you. You’ll find that learning about others is a very rewarding way to spend your time.

With just a little planning, you can increase your productivity and find yourself enjoying your time on the road. And your commute can be as short as the walk from your office to your car or bus stop. From there on, it’s all about you.

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Refresh Your Work Space in 4 Steps

Are you tired of staring at gray cubicle walls or blank white paint? While it’s important to add some personality to your workspace, you don’t want to clog up half your desk with your action figure collection. These three tips will help you spice up your desk while adding new levels of organization.

1. Ditch the Piles. If your desk has piles of old, useless, and irrelevant documents on it, chances are that you won’t have room to organize, let alone enjoy your work space. Before anything else, go through everything on your desk and sort out the items that need to be archived or shredded.

2. Add Personalized Organization. Now that you’ve cleared your desk, spend a week or so observing how much paperwork piles up. Once you have a sense of your inbox load, you can select coordinated desk organization products to match your needs. From woven fabric to wire mesh to eco-friendly bamboo, there’s something for you that looks great while keeping your things tidy. Even if your storage is relegated to a drawer in a filing cabinet, marking your place with personalized file folders can make your section easier to find.

3. Use Your Planner. Your planner can handle many of the things that currently clutter your desk. Rather than posting sticky notes around your monitor, write them down in your planner. You can also hole-punch quick reference documents and keep them in your planner, so you always have them on hand.

4. Finish with Personality. Now you’ve taken care of the organizational aspects, you’re free to add other elements of your personality: pictures of family and friends, calendars, artwork, perhaps a few collection items neatly arranged on an unused shelf. Before you know it, your office will seem less like a recycling center and more like home.

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There’s More To a To-Do List Than To-Do’s

I know that sounds crazy.  A to-do list is a list of things to do.  What more could there be?

Actually, there’s actually a lot more.  Like:

1.       Choosing the right to-do’s based on importance.  It’s tempting sometimes (okay, always) to do the things that are easy, fun or the most satisfying.  But those aren’t usually the most important things.  And the problem with having a lot of those things on your list is that frequently we do those instead of the most important things and then we run out of time!  So we marked off a bunch of meaningless tasks but we missed the priorities.  Have you ever done this?  I have.  Every time I do it I kick myself because I know better.  And I end up paying a heavy price by missing a deadline or having to do something late in the day when I’m exhausted.

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2.       Choosing the right to-do’s based on goals.  Sometimes we have to do what we have to do regardless of whether it fits the goals we have for our life.  But we also do a lot of stuff we don’t have to do that doesn’t fit our goals.  We do it because we feel like we should, or we can’t say no, or we didn’t look at our calendar when we said yes.  But as much as possible, we should put items on our to-do list that fit our goals.  For example, maybe your goal is to exercise every day.  But instead of exercising, you say yes to a bunch of other things that prevent you from being able to exercise.  Optional things.  Things you could have said no to.   If something doesn’t fit your goals for your life and it’s optional, seriously consider whether you should do it.

3.       Choosing the right number of to-do’s.  This is completely personal but it’s important that you know the magic number for YOU.  My friend, Doug Puryear, author of Your Life Can Be Better, puts a maximum of 5 things on his list.  When he gets stuck, he puts 1 thing on his list.  He knows that more than 5 means he won’t get anything done.  I like to put 10 things on my list.  I am rarely able to accomplish all 10, but if I do, I will put 5 more tasks.  Limiting the list to 10 forces me to think about what’s really important and keeps me from being sidetracked (at least not as much).  If my list is too long, I tend to do the easy things or the things that sound fun.  So find your magic number so your list will work for you.

To-Do List 1

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4.       Choosing the right to-do’s based on the day’s schedule.  I am NOT good at making to-do lists.  Are you surprised?  I was when I realized it.  I thought I was great.  What I am good at is making a nice, long list of everything that needs to be done SOMETIME.  But when it comes down to planning what I’m actually going to do tomorrow, I’m not so good.  Here are some of my issues:

  • I’m overly optimistic about what I can accomplish.  If I make the list the morning of, I’m better.  But when I make it the night before, I plan way too many tasks or I plan tasks I can’t possibly do based on my schedule.
  • I tend to make a “wish list” rather than an actual “plan”.
  • I write down things I know I should do but not necessarily things I know I will do.
  • I always think I have way more time and energy than I really do.  Even though I know how long things take, I still plan as if I don’t.
  • And I’m notorious for thinking this is the day I’m going to get up early and get started right away.
  • Oh, and I forget to allow for interruptions like unexpected errands, phone calls, texting, etc.

That being said, when you make your to-do list for tomorrow, for it to be effective, you have to take into account what kind of day you have planned.  For example, when the little kids come over, I know I’ll have a few hours while they’re napping, but the rest of the time I’ll be at their beck and call.  I’m okay with that – that’s what grandma’s do.  But it’s foolish for me to plan a full day of tasks unless I have an attitude of “I’ll have this list ready in case I have an opportunity.  But nothing is urgent so if I don’t get to any of it, it’s no big deal.

When I was working full-time, I was very frustrated at first because I felt like I had NO TIME.  I’d been a full-time homemaker for years and the house and family were my first priorities.  Suddenly I didn’t have any time for the house but there was still plenty to be done.  I planned tasks for the evenings but never could get to all of them.  Finally I sat down and figured out the problem.

7:30   Get up, shower & dress, eat breakfast
8:30   Leave for work
6:00   Get home from work.  Immediately start dinner, eat and clean-up.
7:00   Tasks
8:30   Couch time with husband.  Exhausted.
10:00 Bedtime.

When I looked at my schedule, I realized I had about an hour every night to do tasks.  No wonder I wasn’t getting anything done.  From then on, when I made my evening to-do list, I made a list of tasks that would take about an hour.  I was still frustrated with my lack of time but now I was able to plan realistically.  So when you get ready to make your to-do list for tomorrow, look at your schedule and plan realistically based on what’s going on that day.

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Making a to-do list isn’t simply writing down the things you want or need to do tomorrow.  Unfortunately a good to-do list requires some thought and effort.  How are you at making a to-do list?

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Make Your Pinterest Boards More Than Just Wishful Thinking

In just a short time, Pinterest has grown from a novelty to the norm with more than 70 million users. We use it to track things we’d like to have, recipes we’d like to try, outfits we’d like to wear, crafts we’d like to re-create, and workouts that might help us with those trouble spots. And that’s just the beginning. But at the end of the day, isn’t Pinterest just a creative list of website bookmarks—a fancy list of things to try?

63475_1lrgcase (1)Creating Pinterest boards is enjoyable, but the board isn’t the actual goal. Eventually we want to bring some of that creativity into our everyday lives. Sometimes adding that creativity is as simple as purchasing a clever hanging organizer, or striking shoe rack. But other times that creative touch requires time and effort—even planning.

If you’re ready to take something from your Pinterest board and make it a reality, we have a few suggestions to help ensure it’s a success.

Plan First

Creative projects always take time—usually more than you think you’ll need, so set aside time in your planner for your project. Decide how much time your activity will require, whether it’s decorations for a child’s room or an outdoor pergola, then double it. (My outdoor pergola was supposed to take two weekends, but because I was working alone and had limited time, it took 4 months.)

Make Lists

It’s important to keep track of your project with lists. You’ll want a list of required items, list of tools, and perhaps a list of expenses. You may want to break your lists into segments for larger projects.

Work With Friends

Projects are more fun when they’re shared. Find ways to include your children or other friends and family members, and turn your fun activity into a group party. This is also very helpful when you realize you aren’t going to finish your project in the time allotted. Friends and family can act as motivation to keep at it, or if the project turns out to be more than you bargained for, they can be the perfect intervention to protect you from your overgrown ambition.

Pace Yourself

Remember that some of the things you find on Pinterest are created by professionals. You may require more time, money, help, or expertise to complete your dream project. Don’t worry if your creative endeavor takes longer than expected or ends up looking different than you planned. Taking the effort to do a project is often the best way to learn something new. Acting on your goals is never wasted time.

Know Your Limits

If you find the perfect flower garden, patio, or bedroom makeover but know that it’s beyond your abilities, don’t stress. Instead of setting aside time and resources to do it yourself, you can make a goal to pay a professional. Keep your goals in your planner and track your savings until you can finally pay for that dream project. After all saving your money and paying for the job is still a huge accomplishment.

We love Pinterest. It’s a great way to keep track of your favorite aspirations, but actually working to accomplish those goals is even more rewarding.

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4 Tips to Get Ready for Tax Season

It’s that time of year again: with only a couple of weeks until April 15, tax season is upon us. Hopefully you’ve been keeping careful track of your documents throughout the previous year and have everything ready to go. Here are some tips to make things easier, both now, and for next year.

1. Clean Out Old Paperwork: According to the IRS, you should keep tax records for tax refunds for three years, and tax records for business losses for seven. Go through your files, clear out your old documents, and shred them to free up some space.

2. Gather Your Paperwork: As documents come in the mail, or as you print them off from online records, put them in a centralized folder. Then nothing will get left behind when the time comes to hand them over to your accountant or work through them yourself.

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3. Create a 2015 Tax Folder: If you itemize expenses for a home business or for any other reason, create a folder for the coming year’s documents. This is a good place to store documents like filled Auto Mileage Logs and other important receipts.

4. Stay Ahead of the Curve: Whether you’re expecting a refund or paying Uncle Sam, it’s better to stay ahead of the April 15 deadline. Contact your accountant today, or set down a time for preparing your taxes in your planner. When it comes to taxes, procrastination can cost you.

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Giveaway: Bag Dump Photo Contest!

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Whether you are taking a quick trip to the grocery store or packing for a vacation in Hawaii, you carry your essentials with you – your “world” in a bag – the things you can’t live without. We are giving away this Cinda B. Super Tote II (valued at $111!) for you to win a new home for all of your “must-haves”!

How to the enter the giveaway:

1. Take your current bag and dump everything out! Make it look as raw and real or as posed and picturesque as you’d like.

2. Take a picture of your bag dump.

3. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #FranklinBagDump and be sure to tag us in the post! (Instagram: @franklin.planner, Twitter: @PlannerTalk)

This contest begins Monday, March 9, 2015 and ends Friday, March 13, 2015 at noon. A winner will be announced later that day! Happy dumping!

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Sweet Caroline

Talk about eye candy—the bold colors of the Caroline collection are sure to turn a few heads. Perfect in any season, this trendy collection will add a spark to your day in cobalt blue, mustard, and blood orange.

Made from durable genuine leather, the Caroline computer tote bag boasts a padded compartment for your 13” laptop, loads of room for your essentials, and slip and zipper pockets to keep everything organized.

Enjoy the whole collection with a beautiful unstructured binder or wire-bound cover for your planner. They feel great in your hand and lay flat for easy writing. You’ll love the fine stitching details, the flexible design, and simple beauty of this striking collection.

With a bold binder or cover to protect your plans and the perfect bag to help make them happen, good times never seemed so good.

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Refresh Your Binder

After another year of carrying your plans, your binder might be showing its age. It goes without saying that you should look through it and clean out any old receipts, leftover punch cards, or outdated notes pages. Once you’ve dealt with the inside, then it’s time to look at the exterior. Use Apple Leather Care products to buff out scratches, clean the surface, and restore color and shine. And when you’re finished with your binder, you can start on your leather tote.

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Learn more here: How to Clean Your Leather Binder.

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Refresh Your Tech

As each year goes by, technology becomes a more integrated and important part of daily life. If the worst happens to your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you’ll need to be prepared. Take the time every few weeks to update the contact information in your planner, and back up your devices on an external hard drive or memory card. Then if your phone falls into a puddle or your computer gives you the blue screen of death, you can refresh your tech.

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Refresh Your Planning

How do you use your planner? It’s one thing to refill your binder with a whole year’s worth of new pages, quite another to use them to impact your life. If you’ve been using your planner as little more than a notebook, you might be missing out on additional productivity and success. Check out our Refresher Course for more classic ideas on how to make your planner work for you.

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Refresh Your Planner

 

31573_lrgcaseHas your planning session settled into a humdrum routine? Do you spend most of your time reacting to tasks from previous days? If so, then it’s time to rethink your priorities. Each week, look at all of the roles you play in your life: Parent, Grandparent, Employee, Community Member, etc. You can then plan for each role with a Weekly CoRmpass Card  and a Pouch Pagefinder.  Connect each day’s tasks with goals for fulfilling your roles, and your days will become much more satisfying.

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Your Refresher Course: How to Use the FranklinPlanner System

How do you use your planner? Since 1984, planner users worldwide have used the system developed by Hyrum Smith to list, prioritize, and accomplish the tasks needed to realize their goals. If you’re new to the FranklinPlanner, or if it’s been a while, take a look at this helpful refresher on how to get the most from your planning pages.

Download a PDF version here.

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Deciding What Is Actually Important

Life is full of meaningful moments, moments when you connect with others and achieve your personal and professional goals. Between those moments, the rest of life happens: the commute, the checkout line, the small talk about celebrities or sports, and the other trivial things that rush in to fill time that you don’t fill yourself. If you’ve been feeling insignificant, under-appreciated, or stressed, your priorities may be out of balance.

Time MatrixFor years, the FranklinPlanner system has promoted the Time Matrix chart, a construction that lets you divide your daily tasks and actions based on urgency and importance. Quadrant I is where Important and Urgent tasks intersect. The more time you spend on these tasks, the higher your stress level.

Quadrant II is where the meaningful moments reside. Your most important and productive actions happen when you stay ahead of deadlines and focus on what matters most.

Quadrant III combines the constant pressure with little importance, for a truly frustrating experience. People who spend a lot of time in Quadrants I and III often end up spending the rest in Quadrant IV, trying to ease the burnout with entertainment while passing the time until the next deadline.

So how can changing your plans help you get into the sweet spot of completing your important tasks before urgency strikes? Consider a weekly planning session before your week starts. Review your top priorities, such as upcoming work projects and events in your personal life. Visualize how you’d like each to play out, and then write the corresponding tasks on each day in your planner.

Inevitably, some work projects, emails, and meetings will be urgent and out of your control. But you can plan ahead on the projects you control directly, spreading them out and delegating as needed before they become urgent. Then when the fires crop up, putting them out won’t push your normal work into your personal time.

Sometimes, adjusting your life means deciding on whether something is truly important to you, or whether you’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. As you evaluate each task, ask yourself which priority it fulfills for you, or for those around you. Completing tasks for the sole reason of pleasing others tends to be unfulfilling. When you plan your important tasks first, you end up with the satisfaction of completing them.

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Update Your Information

One of the biggest lies you’ll hear: “Sure, we can transfer all your contacts from your old phone. No problem.”

Whether you’re due for an upgrade or not, take a moment this week to update a physical record of your contact information. Note important birthdays and organize your contacts into groups, both online and in your planner. Then should the worst happen to your phone, you won’t be cut off from your important connections.

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Plan Daily

Routines are a strong part of each of our lives. If you’ve ever planned on stopping somewhere on the way home only to drive straight home instead, you understand just how powerful routine can be.

A daily planning session helps you channel the power of routine and use it to accomplish your goals. When you set down everything that needs to get done today and assign them a priority (A-tasks: important and urgent; B-tasks: important, but with scheduling flexibility; and C-tasks for everything else), you’re much less likely to live your life on autopilot.

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Plan Weekly

Do you remember when a week was a long time? As life goes on and your daily responsibilities continue to add up, the weeks only seem to get shorter. As you face the coming week, take a moment to review your biggest priorities for each role you play (parent, manager, community member, etc.) When you have your most important tasks listed, spread them out through the week if possible. Then when things get busy, you’ll miss less of what’s important to you.

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Planner Quote: January 12, 2015

“The wise does at once what the fool does at last.”

– Baltasar Gracian

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5 Essential Accessories for Your Planner

Whether you’re new to the FranklinPlanner planning system or you’re getting ready to store your thirtieth planner, the right accessories can make it easier to meet your goals. Here are some essentials:

4400_lrgcase1. Pagefinder

Your time is precious. You don’t want to spend more of it than you have to, especially not trying to search for your place in your planner. We have pagefinders for both ring-bound and wire-bound planners, with many of them multi-tasking as a magnifier, a recurring task list, or a pouch.

31841_lrgcase2. Zipper Pouch 

Your planner is most effective when it goes with you throughout your day, giving you a constant reminder of the next task. Rather than keeping receipts loose among your planning pages or wedged into a small slot in your binder, try keeping them in a convenient zipper pouch. You’ll have room for the things you need to carry with easy access, especially for documents you can’t hole punch.

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3. Storage Sleeve

Attention Monarch-sized planner users: you can now have the best of both worlds. If you love the planning space of full letter-size planning pages but have found that your binder won’t close, a Storage Sleeve is a wise investment. Rather than carrying your whole year of planning pages with you, you can store past and future months, keeping them pristine until they’re needed. This will also help keep your planner looking crisp and fresh, especially as the year goes on.

4. The Perfect Pen 

High-quality writing paper deserves a great writing instrument. Whether you choose a fountain pen, a rolling ball pen, or a twist-action ballpoint, FranklinCovey and Cross writing instruments come with a lifetime mechanical guarantee, ensuring that your pen will continue working until you meet your goals. If you’ve ever tried reviving a cheap ballpoint while trying to take a quick note, you can understand the difference that quality makes.

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5. Scrapbooking Accessories

Your planner makes a great journal, letting you capture the minute details while giving you space to record overarching insights. Whether you’re planning with our Original design or a customized FC Studio planner, our selection of Washi Tape and other embellishments lets you turn your daily goals into a beautiful collection of memories.

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How to Choose the Perfect Binder in 2015

With all the technology designed to save us time and allow for more rest and relaxation, it’s a bit ironic that we’re all just as busy as ever. Without a written plan most of us would come unraveled during the course of the day. Thankfully we have our planners. Like an external hard drive for our brain, they store important things we’d otherwise forget. Our planners keep us on schedule, remind us of promises we’ve made, and help us to be more reliable. Our planners help hold us together.

Binders and covers hold our planners together. They keep them from coming unraveled and protect them from daily bumps and dings. They also add a touch of flair to our everyday style. It’s important, then, that we select the binder or cover that’s right for us.

Choosing the right binder is really simple—pick the one you like. We aren’t trying to over-complicate the issue. What we’d like to do, though, is point out a few things to consider when you purchase your binder.

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A Binder or A Cover?

Which planner do you use? Is it ring-bound or wire-bound? Ring-bound planners require a binder to keep them together, but the binder does much more than that. Depending on which binder you choose, you’ll be able to organize your business cards, pens, ID cards, checkbooks, loose documents, and even notepads.

FranklinPlanner binders are available in several sizes. Larger rings allow you to hold more planner pages at a time, but for some people they can feel a little bulky. Smaller rings fit more comfortably in your hand, though you may need to carry fewer months worth of planner pages at a time.

Wire-bound planners are already bound together and could stand alone if necessary, but a wire-bound cover adds color, style, and all of the organizing power of a ring-bound binder. You’ll find a wide array of both in our online store.

Materials

Whether you’re looking for the rich look and feel of leather or the durability of vinyl, you’ll find several beautiful binders in a wide array of materials. Most of our binders and covers are leather: genuine, Napa, pebbled, or full-grain. They have a great touch and a striking appearance. You’ll also find great binders made from faux leather, vinyl, and other beautiful, durable materials.

Closure

How would you like your binder to close? Would you prefer a zipper closure that encases everything, or is a more open feel acceptable? Several of our binders zip shut while others have a strap closure that simply wraps from the back cover and tucks into a slot on the front. Others snap shut, and some are open, meaning they don’t have a closure at all. There are a few creative additions to this list. Some of our snaps are magnetic and some of our straps have a locking buckle. Keep this feature in mind as you browse our site for your ideal binder.

Pockets

All of our binders and covers have pockets or slots for cards—business cards, ID, credit cards, etc., and they all have at least one pen loop. Beyond that, you’ll have to check the information on our website. Some binders have gusseted zipper pockets, some have document pockets, some offer a place for your checkbook, and still others give you a slot for a notebook in the back coLeaver. What you choose will depend on how you intend to use your binder.

Color

Your binder can say a lot about your personal style. Binders can add a professional touch with traditional polished leather, or bring a playful flair with a bold pop of color. With our wide variety of binders and covers, you’re likely to find just what you’re looking for in our online store. You’ll find beautiful binders in black, brown, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, violet, and other hues.

Structured or Unstructured

Most of our binders and covers are made with a sturdy material inside to help them hold their shape, but not all of them are. Some of our most popular binders are unstructured, allowing the leather to bend naturally in any direction. If you’re looking for that loose feel in your leather binder, look for an unstructured binder or cover.

The perfect binder is a matter of personal preference. With so much to consider, you may decide to own more than one, so you can change up your planner to match your mood. Whatever you choose, you can be sure it is of great quality. We maintain a high standard at FranklinPlanner.com because we want you to be completely satisfied.

As we move into 2015, we wish you a great year filled with many successful endeavors, and we hope you find the perfect binder to protect all of your ambitious plans.

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How to Choose the Perfect Planner in 2015

No two people are alike. You have a unique combination of family situation, job description, age, gender, location, industry, and hundreds of other factors. Picking the right binding, size, design, and format for your planner makes all the difference.

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Select Your Binding: Do you value customization? If so, then selecting a ring-bound planner lets you add a wide selection of forms, tabs, and other extras to your planning system. You can house your ring-bound planner in a durable and stylish binder to keep your plans, cards, and important documents safe in one convenient place. Wire-bound planners offer a convenient, focused, and economical choice for your planning system, and fit into our line of designer wire-bound covers.

Select Your Size: Before selecting a size, determine where, when, and how you use your planner. If you’re a world traveler with a tight itinerary, the lighter Pocket size may be a better choice for luggage weight limits. Pocket and Classic provide more space, but remain portable in your bag. And if you need even more space for your extensive notes, then Monarch is the size for you.

sizing graphicSelect a Design and Format: Our Original Ring-bound Daily Planner started it all, giving you a Prioritized Daily Task List, space for appointments, and a big page for notes to help you plan out each day. Over the years, we’ve added new designs, from the floral Blooms to the insightful 7 Habits.

planner options 3If you don’t need a full two pages for each day, you can also choose from our selection of Weekly Planners. With a smaller space to plan out each day of the week, these planners are lighter in size without skimping on organization. Check out our photographic Textures to the scrapbook-inspired FC Studio.

Whatever your life holds, FranklinPlanner.com has the right planner for you!

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Survey: How do you prefer to shop our catalog?

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As we develop our 2015 catalog program, we need your insights and opinions. Please complete this survey by December 31, 2014 to help us create catalogs that are ideal shopping tools for you. At completion, we have a special “thank you” gift for your time.

Click here to take our survey!

 

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Infographic: 30th Anniversary of the FranklinPlanner

This year we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the FranklinPlanner! The infographic below highlights some of the milestones and facts about how the planner has evolved and grown in the past 30 years. Did you know that today, 15 million people worldwide use a FranklinPlanner?

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