Look forward to 2017

The New Year is just around the corner. Take a few minutes now to prepare your planner for the coming events. Clean out your binder, sort loose papers, and give yourself a clean slate as you start another year. Planning now will let you start the year with fresh hope and optimism.

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Merry Christmas from the FranklinPlanner Team!

The holiday season is a time to slow down and enjoy the people you love. The season gives us an opportunity to serve those less fortunate and to reflect on the good in our lives. As Christmas approaches, we wish you the joy of the season, and hope you will find ways to keep that joyful spirit with you throughout the coming year. Take time now to plan how you will make the most of this precious time.

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Add a Tab for Holiday Lists

The holidays include several complicated decisions: what meals to prepare, what gifts to make or purchase, who will receive your gifts, and where you plan to give community service. These decisions result in several lists, that sometimes end up floating around your home. Add a tab to your planner for all of your holiday lists—wish lists, grocery lists for special occasions, gift lists, and shipping information. When the holidays are wrapped up, put these lists in their own storage case, so you can see what you’ve bought from year to year—making it even easier to plan for the upcoming years!

 

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Create a Gift List in your Planner

Print out our Holiday Gift List printable and keep it in your planner. We have one in each of the four standard planner sizes—pocket, compact, classic, and monarch. This enables you to track your gift giving in one place.

Take note of each person you plan to give gifts to this holiday season. You can include your family members, extended family members, your neighbors, and professionals who serve you, such as your letter carrier and hairstylist. When you’ve listed everyone, write the dollar amount that you want to spend on each person. Tally up these figures to find your total holiday budget, and commit to stay within it.

Decide which gifts are appropriate for each person, learn where you can find the gifts, and write this information in your planner. Plan your shopping trips in your planner by location so you can get everything you need at each place. If you plan to shop online, take note of shipping costs and deadlines. Keep your planner with you as you shop and note the gifts you order, when they arrive at your door, and where you choose to hide them until that special day.

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Save on Cyber Monday

Happy Cyber Monday! Check out FranklinPlanner.com today and discover some great deals on our time-tested planning tools. This is an ideal time to stock up on the tools that will help you reach your highest aspirations. Go for it!

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Show Gratitude

With the stress of daily life and the events taking place in our nation and throughout the world, it’s easy to focus on our challenges and difficulties. Sometimes it’s natural to see the glass as half-empty, rather than half-full. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to shift our perspective. Take time this week to write down a list of things you are grateful for. Place a tab in your planner titled Gratitude, and keep several lined pages there so you can add to the list throughout the year and refer to it often. As you do this, you’ll begin to see more things each day that bring you joy, and your gratitude will increase.

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Time Management During the Holidays

There’s nothing like the holidays to shake you out of your daily rut. Here are some tips to make sure that you can stick with your plans during the festivities:

  • Spend Time with Family: With all of your holiday appointments, be sure to plan some unstructured time with your family. The quiet moments are often when relationships develop and deepen, leading to some of the most memorable holiday experiences.
  • Sleep Well: When visiting relatives or catching up with friends, it can be tempting to make late night plans. Getting enough sleep each night gives you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays.
  • Keep Up with Exercise: Don’t skimp out on your personal wellness routines. Like getting enough sleep, physical activity helps keep your mind clear, and a clear mind is essential to making the countless decisions that make up a successful holiday season.
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Plan Out Your Holiday Calendar

From family dinners to company parties to final exams, the holiday season is full of important deadlines. Stay on top of things with the calendar in your planner. Write down new appointment information as it comes in, both on the date page and on your monthly calendar tab. Be sure to use pencil, just in case there’s a change of plans. As your weeks fill up, you can look at your calendar and see at a glance whether a new appointment will add more holiday fun or over burden your week.

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Make a list of to-dos for the new season

As the season changes and winter approaches, there are likely several tasks that you need to do. You might need to finish the home maintenance and landscaping jobs you didn’t get to this summer, while the weather is still warm enough. You may need to harvest your garden and prepare the soil for next year. You might need to rotate your storage, bringing out the winter clothing and holiday decorations. Perhaps there’s a corner of your home that needs serious reorganization. Make anything on your list manageable by breaking the big task down into subtasks and tracking them one at a time.

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Urgency ≠ Priority

Are you running your life? Or is your life running you? There is a big difference between priority and urgency. Your priorities come from careful thought, when you decide to act according to your values and craft a plan to make it happen. Urgency, whether real or simulated, rises to the top of your list and demands your reaction. Much of the time, tasks with a sense of urgency come from a lack of planning, whether on your part or someone else’s. Control your personal responsibilities with effective daily and weekly planning sessions, and you can leave space in your schedule for other people’s emergencies without pushing out your own priorities.

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Evaluate your Planning System

Change is the essence of life, and that also holds true for your planning system. This  month, we’re changing up our annual Organized October tradition with a renewed focus on all things planning.  With detailed infographics that link to helpful content, you can use Organized October to learn new planning strategies, refresh your knowledge of your current system, and identify areas where you can improve.

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Create the Ideal Planning Environment

It’s a truth that architects and interior designers have long known: the shape and features of a space can either enhance or detract from its purpose. The same holds true for your planning sessions. Your planning space should be a place where you can think, meditate, review your goals, and plan your week. You’ll want access to your calendar and other resources, but you’ll also want to limit distractions from your devices and the other people in your home. If you don’t have the space to build a fortress of solitary planning, sometimes finding the right time of day for your planning session can work just as well. You can make an early morning game plan before everyone else wakes up, or a night-time review after the kids go to bed.

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September is Self-Improvement Month

Is there something that you would like to improve about yourself? Whether it’s arriving on time to meetings, focusing on communicating with people rather than playing with your phone, or finding a better work/life balance, using a planner can help make the improvement permanent. Make a simple goal, and then track it every day in your planner. In a few weeks, your resolution for improvement will turn into an improved habit.

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Eliminate the Clutter

In your planning sessions, you assess your priorities. You categorize your daily activities from most important to least important, and decide where to start. You apply labels, from A1 for the most important task down to C3 for the extras. This system helps keep you on track.

What if you applied the same idea to your workspace? You could categorize the documents and tools you use for your career. Then, you could designate the space closest to you as A1 space for your most frequently used items, then B1 space for specialized tools for periodic projects, and C3 space for your stapler, over on the far end of the desk, encased in Jell-O.

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Happy Labor Day

When you think about it, Labor Day is a celebration of balance and community: the balance that comes when your career and your personal life are in harmony and the community that supports you, whether at work or at home. As you plan out your Labor Day celebrations, factor in these two ideals: balance your fun activities with downtime, and delegate on your planner pages to include your personal community in the tasks of the day. With everyone working together, you’ll enjoy playing together even more.

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Align Your Family Schedules

With the return of the school year, your family’s lives will start to go in all different directions. From swimming meets to guitar lessons to Honors Society, you’ll have all sorts of appointments to plan and track, with all the logistics to go with them.

Before things get out of hand, take a moment with your family to get on the same page. The same planner page, preferably. Gather around your monthly calendar for September and draft out how everyone’s agenda interacts, including activity times, transportation schedules, and at-home preparation time, like practicing music or sports. Once you have everything squared away, transfer the family’s schedule to a wall calendar and display it where everyone can see it.

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Give Value, then Give Order

The Prioritized Daily Task List is one of the key elements of your FranklinPlanner. As you use it, you can help keep your most important values foremost in your mind throughout the day.  It starts with prioritizing your tasks into categories with letter designations:

  • A: these tasks are critical to do today. Important work projects, booking the reception center for a family wedding, reserving a restaurant time for a date with Ms. Right—these activities are time-sensitive and potentially life-changing.
  • B: these tasks are important, but with a more flexible schedule than the A tasks. You can reschedule, but doing so too often will burden your schedule in the future.
  • C: these are the extra tasks that round out your day, such as beginning the novel a co-worker recommended. They aren’t essential, but can serve as reminders of more fulfilling uses for your downtime.

Once you’ve marked each task with a priority, you can go back and order them with a number next to each letter. Then you can start your day with A1, complete your A tasks, and continue as time allows.

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Be a “Human Being”, not a “Human Doing”

How do you define yourself? Or, more importantly, what time frame do you use to define yourself? Do you define yourself by what you’re doing right this minute? Does unstructured time make you uncomfortable? Or do you define yourself by how you’ve changed and grown over weeks, months, and years?

It might be tempting to get lost in the daily minutiae of tasks, becoming nothing more than a human doing the things expected of you. If you find yourself in this situation, set up a special planning session where you list out the things that drive you to do what you do. Make long-term goals and give the steps toward those goals priority on your planning pages. If the other tasks on your list have more to do with just having something to do rather than exploring who you are, pare them down and give yourself space to be a human being.

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Create Your Narrative with a Weekly Compass Card

There’s a difference between a plotline and an ordinary sequence of events. When you read a sequence of events, you’ll likely ask yourself, “And then?” But when reading a narrative with a good plot, you’ll ask, “Why?” Why does character A feel that way about character B? How will our heroes succeed in their quest, and why are they journeying in the first place? Is the hero just a hero, or does she have another role to play? A well-crafted plot makes you want to connect the story’s events with a bigger picture.

A Weekly Compass Card helps your weekly planning sessions go from writing down a series of events to creating a fascinating narrative for your life. It gives you space to list out the roles that you fill, providing the “Why?” for every task or appointment you list in your planner. When you connect your plans to what matters most, your life can take on the excitement of the latest best seller.

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Reflect on Your Roles and Goals

Before school starts again and routines get busier, take time to reflect and assess how you’re doing on your goals. Think through each role you have in your life—Spouse, parent, neighbor, employee, sibling, etc., and re-evaluate how you are growing in each area. Ask yourself: Do my daily tasks reflect what matters most to me? What am I doing to fulfill the roles that are most important? How is my planner helping me accomplish these things? What more can I do to ensure that I am spending my time where it really counts? If you’re using your planner regularly, you’re already a step ahead of most people. But life isn’t a competition between you and those around you—it’s an opportunity to create something amazing.

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Help Your Child Discover Their Planning Style

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Planning is a simple skill with enormous benefits. The sooner a person develops the habit of planning, the better they’ll perform in school and in life. Show your kids how you use your planner. Teach them some basic time-management skills to help them see the importance of taking charge of their choices. Determine together what sort of planning style your children prefer and help them pick out their own planner based on how they plan, schedule homework deadlines, and take notes. Include your children in your personal planning sessions during the summer so they can see how you plan. Help them recognize the benefits you find from planning. During the school year, treat their planning sessions like you would treat their homework. Help them become masters of their own fate.

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Maintain a Morning Routine

Be intentional about your morning routine. It only takes a couple of days of sleeping in to throw off your body clock. You can imagine the shock several weeks of late mornings will cause when your kids suddenly have to catch a bus at 7:15. Create a solid schedule for you and your family that includes early morning activities, so it will be easier for them to transition back into the school routine. Suggestions can include a family walk before you leave for work, working together in the garden before the sun gets too hot, family breakfast, or reading together.

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Write Down a Highlight Every Day

The right headline can crystallize a moment in time. For example:

“The First Footstep” – Evening Standard, July 21, 1969

“VE-Day – It’s All Over” – Daily Mail, May 8, 1945

“War on America” – New York Times, September 12, 2001

“Obama: Racial Barrier Falls in Decisive Victory” – New York Times, November 5, 2008

Your planner can help shape your memories, and turn everyday moments into special occasions. Try writing “Today, I…” and create a headline of your own for each day. Even if it’s as simple as an old friend giving you a hug or trying a new and delicious menu item at your favorite restaurant, this exercise can help emphasize the positive in your life while acting as an introduction to journal writing.

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Find a Good Pen

Think of all the times in your life you use a pen. From signing deposit slips, to signing up for a rewards card at your local supermarket, to getting someone’s contact information right before they need to leave, there are times when having a smooth, functioning pen keeps your day on track. For best results, choose a pen that doesn’t bleed through your planner pages and fits in your binder’s pen loop. The advantages expand when you add another color, giving your plans another dimension of organization.

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Use Your Daily Tracker

Right below the Prioritized Daily Task List, many planners have a section called the Daily Tracker, and there’s no better place in your planner to work on changing habits. To change a habit, such as drinking more water or spending less money, you have to make a conscious effort every day for at least three weeks. The act of writing out your new habits in your daily tracker each day helps bring them to mind, and checking them off at the end of each day gives you a sense of accountability.

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Track Your Shopping Lists

Unless you’re living off the land, you need to go shopping to survive in our modern world. But the repetitive task of drafting shopping lists and remembering to purchase everything on them can leave you with the nagging sense that you’re forgetting something, something you won’t remember until you walk in the door with your groceries.

Your planner can simplify this process. Simply list staples such as bread, milk, flour, and other supplies on a Weekly Compass Card, or on a blank piece of paper in your Pocket Pagefinder. As you take stock of the items you need, mark a slash next to them on your weekly list. Then, as you purchase them, turn the slashes into x or checkmarks. This unobtrusive method saves space on your Menu Planner-Shopping List for more unique ingredients.

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Create a reading list

Have you read any good books lately? Do you have a favorite author? Those are great questions if you’re considering what to add to your reading list. A good book can work wonders. Reading expands your vocabulary, teaches you new things, provides an escape from your busy realm, and gives you a chance to imagine. Set aside an area in your planner to list your favorite authors. Some people use a set of address and phone tabs for their reading list. See if you can find any books written by authors you’ve enjoyed in the past that you haven’t read yet. Find out what your friends are reading and get suggestions from them. Before long, you’ll have a great list of creative diversions waiting for you to explore. As you read, make notes in your reading list—did you enjoy the book? Would you read it again? Would you recommend it to a friend?

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Write down your summer bucket list

Bucket lists are sometimes loaded with pie-in-the-sky dreams that will never become a reality. But if you create a bucket list on a slightly smaller scale, you’ll find that you can have a lot of fun learning and doing new things. Select a place in your planner to write down your summer bucket list. Better yet, if you keep it inside your Pouch Pagefinder, you’ll have it always in front of you to remind you of what matters most. What are the things you would like to do or experience this summer? Talk with your family about what they want to do and make plans to ensure those things happen.

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Track your spending habits

One of the first steps to living within your means is to track your spending habits. It’s very difficult to create a budget if you aren’t exactly sure where you’re spending your money. Use your planner to track what you spend and where you spend it from gas to groceries to movie tickets. Do this for a month, and you’ll have a great starting point for your budget.

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Schedule time for you

In all of our running, it’s easy to ignore our own needs. We start out making breakfast and shooing kids out the door so they don’t miss their bus, and then we dive into the needs of the day. Whether we’re rushing through the house making sense of our clutter, jetting off to work, wrestling with toddlers, or planning the next project for our non-profit organization, we’re busy. Before we know it, we’re falling into bed wondering where the time went.

That may be the most powerful reason to plan. Schedule time in your planner each day to do things that make you tick—take a walk, stretch, read a good book, soak in a bath. The chores aren’t going anywhere—they’ll still be there when you’re finished, but you’ll be better prepared to accomplish them if you feel like you’ve had a few minutes for your own needs. If you don’t make time for it, it’s likely that it won’t happen.

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Plan for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Most of us wouldn’t be where we are without Mom. If you plan now you can get the perfect gift to show your love and appreciation. Make note of your gift ideas in your planner—what you want to purchase or make and when you need to order to ensure you’re prepared for the special day. Get children involved. Help them make gifts and cards for a mother, grandmother, and even that special aunt. It will require some thought, time, effort, and plenty of planning, but the women in your life are more than worth it.

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Essential vs. Sentimental

Studies have shown that having new experiences bring more happiness than purchasing physical objects. The FranklinPlanner planning system promotes this idea, helping you spend time on what matters most, rather than what costs the most. And yet, it can be all too easy to force your memories into sentimental objects that accumulate in your home.

If your living space is cluttered with too many sentimental items, there are ways to preserve your memories without holding onto the physical objects. You can try taking photos of your items, then filling an album instead of a whole cabinet. If you’re having trouble separating truly essential keepsakes from the rest, invite a good friend over and tell the stories associated with each item. You’ll relive memories with a natural filter for sorting less-important items.

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Plan Future Trips

Few things are more exciting than a summer trip. One extra exciting thing, however, is saving money on booking the travel and activities for your trip. After you finalize your plans, create a recurring task to check rates during the weeks leading up to your departure date.  The more you check, the more likely you’ll find lower rates as they fluctuate over the course of the year.

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Use Your Forms

Often, the level of detail you put into your plans makes all the difference between completing a goal and just coming close. Our specialized forms give you the space you need to capture these details and record your progress, whether you’re looking to expand your note-taking, balance your budget, track your fitness, or expand your normal menu. Make a plan that adds up to more than daily tasks.

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Make a Tax List

With tax season upon us, it’s time to get all your finances in order. Help the process along with a list of the steps you still need to take: gathering documentation, purchasing tax software, planning time to do it yourself or submit your documents to your accountant. As you complete each step, mark it off the list. Use your list to plan time for everything you need to do before the April 15th deadline.

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Take Time to Celebrate

As you complete your goals, take a moment to celebrate your success. There will always more you can do to improve, but for the moment, enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from positive personal change. This feeling is the best motivation to continue setting goals and furthering your progress.

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Sharpen the Saw

Stephen R. Covey told a famous story:

Two lumberjacks challenged each other to see how many trees they could cut down in a single day. One lumberjack started right off, while the other spent 45 minutes sharpening his saw.  The first lumberjack mocked the second, felling tree after tree. But as time went on, the first lumberjack fell to fatigue from the extra work of using a dull blade, quitting early in the afternoon. The second lumberjack continued his work until evening and claimed the victory. His sharpened saw had enhanced his natural capabilities.

In your life, you have various physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual needs. Listing ideas for personal enrichment in these areas on a Compass Card® can help you remember to include these essential activities in your daily plans.

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Back to Basics

Innovation is an important part of life. It’s important to improve on the status quo and make new discoveries. Sometimes, however, the best discovery comes when you find that your current practices remain effective in a changing world. As you plan your life, focus on the tried and true planning principles you’ve learned with your FranklinPlanner planning system.  Then you won’t just be chasing the new, but focusing on what matters most.

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Take Time to Reflect

Does your life feel like it’s going in circles? If you keep forgetting where you’ve been, it’s all too easy to repeat the past and get the same results. Go back through your planner entries and review the results of your efforts. Make note of the sources of your success and the causes of your failures. Then as you continue toward your goals, you can stay on course for further achievements.

 

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Carpe diem!

How often do we say, “If only I had one more day?” Well…here it is! Leap Day is a gift you receive only once every four years. Enjoy it! Make a list in your planner of all those things you wish you could do with an extra day, then make something special happen.

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Communicate your plan

One of the most helpful things a person can do to quit a bad habit or to start something new is to let people around them know their goals. It’s a great way to build a support system. This works for your less adventurous plans as well. Once your schedule is written, talk about your plans and expectations with those in your circle of influence. Make sure that others know what’s written in your planner so they know what you’re working toward. If the people you coordinate with regularly are aware of your plans, they can work their schedule around yours, and even help you reach your goals.

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Use your Monthly Index

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Your Franklin Planner has a Monthly Index page at the beginning of each month. It’s an amazing tool that is underutilized. If you use it correctly, you’ll absolutely love it. Here’s how it works:

Most of us can’t go an entire month without something significant happening. Let’s say, for example, you’re in charge of a company party or family reunion. As you are making plans for this event, you’re going to write important information in your planner notes—the phone number for the caterer, the reservation fee for the park or campground, and menu items. As you write this information in your planner you’re sure to think, “This is important stuff. I’ll probably want to find this information later.” Finding it is easy. Simply turn to your Monthly Index and note where that information is in your planner.

Caterer for Company Party phone number October 16

Campground reservation info Oct. 2

When your boss asks you to do it again next year, you may not remember the exact day that you took the notes, but you’ll remember that it was sometime in the fall. As you look through your Monthly Index pages you’ll quickly discover all your important information just as it was when you wrote it.

Your Monthly Index is incredibly valuable for other events throughout the year as well such as: children’s vaccinations, dentist appointments, and the day your child took her first step or said his first word. You get the idea. Why thumb through every page of the year to get the details of an important event, when you can simply browse through your Monthly Indexes?

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Love your planner

Show your planner some love and make it yours. Find a simple embellishment or a unique pen—something you really like that helps your plans stand out. You don’t need to spend a lot of time, but adding a personal touch can make your planning sessions more enjoyable. (And, of course, it’s easier to do the things we enjoy.)

Don’t forget to show your binder some love too. If you have a leather binder or bag, learn how to care for your leather. We have a simple product that adds life to your leather, and a helpful blog post that walks you through the easy cleaning and conditioning process. It only takes a few minutes, but it can add years to your leather products. Check it out here.

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Use a rubber stamp

Many of us have goals that we intend to work on throughout the year. It’s easy enough to write these goals in your planner regularly as a reminder, but it may be even more fun to use a rubber stamp.

It’s easy to have a stamp created for repeated tasks or goals. Then you can quickly stamp your goals into your planner during your daily planning sessions. Rubber stamps add fun to your plans because you can stamp your reminder in unusual places that may be difficult to write, such as the margin of the paper. Placing things in odd places tends to draw your eye to that area, so you may actually notice your goals more often and be reminded of your personal commitment.

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Plan Your Day

The key to success isn’t doing multiple things at the same time. It’s doing the right things at the right time.

The Prioritized Daily Task List in your FranklinPlanner is a powerful tool to keep your tasks in mind throughout the day. As you list out your daily tasks, mark each one with a priority. Then, as you go through your day, refer to your planner each time you complete a task, marking it off and moving on to the next. This will help you keep your focus, even when you get pulled off to unexpected tasks.

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Plan Weekly

The best time to make a decision is well in advance. During your busy weeks, it’s easy to get caught in a reactionary loop, where one habit leads to the next until your week is a copy of the previous week.

Take charge of your weeks with a weekly planning session. Look at your biggest goals, break them down into tasks, and then write those tasks on your planner pages for the week to remind yourself of your determination to succeed.

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Sometimes, Less is More

What do you carry in your planner? Do you take your binder everywhere you go and use it as a wallet? Do you keep your whole year of daily planner pages in your binder at all times? If so, then consider using a storage case to free up some space in your binder while making it easier to carry. A good rule of thumb is to keep three months’ worth of pages in your planner: the previous month for reference, and the current and following months for planning. Once a month, go through and cycle out your planner pages, transferring any information needed. It’s also a good time to clear out old receipts and other clutter.

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Identify Your Values

Why do you do what you do? It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rush, with shortsighted focus on daily tasks. As you prepare your new planner for 2016, step back and look at the roles you play in your life: parent, employee, family member, friend. As you plan, remember that your days reflect your weeks, your weeks create your year, and your years should build toward your most important roles and goals. In the end, all of your choices should take you closer to the person you want to become.

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Look Ahead to the New Year

We hope that you’ve had a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. As the year draws to a close, reflect on the experiences you’ve had in 2015. What were the actions that led to your biggest successes? Can you identify one thing that you will do differently next year? What are the steps you need to take to reach your most important goals for 2016? Write the answers to these questions on a page in your planner and refer to it each month to make your 2016 a year for the better.

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Happy Holidays from FranklinPlanner

One of the greatest gifts is the experience of changing your life for the better. As the holiday season concludes, we wish you all the best as you celebrate with family and friends.

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Delegate to Minimize Holiday Stress

There are many tasks to be done during the holidays: decorating, meal preparation, shopping, planning events, and the thousands of other small details. If you feel like you’re the only one taking care of these things, don’t stress out. Share your plans with those closest to you, and discuss a delegation strategy. When everything is laid out in your planner, you can clearly communicate the tasks that need to be done to those around you, helping them complete their assignments correctly and giving you peace of mind that the job is getting done. When everyone helps, everyone has more time to celebrate.

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Create a Gift List

Take a moment today and write out in your planner a list of everyone you plan on giving gifts to this holiday season. You can include your family members, extended family members, your neighbors, and professionals who serve you, such as your letter carrier and hairstylist. When you’ve listed everyone, write the dollar amount that you want to spend on each person. Tally up these figures to find your total holiday budget, then take your planner with you as you complete your shopping.

You can also take some time to create a wish list for yourself. Instead of leaving your family members to guess what to get you, jot down a few things you think you would really enjoy!

For more budgeting tips, see 3 Ways to Use Your Planner for Holiday Budgeting.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

Everything has an expiration date. If your formerly non-stick pans leave black flecks in your food, or if no two cups match, or if your junk drawer is full of assorted replacement screws, a calculator, and a stopped watch, then it might be time to do a clean-out. Donate or throw away (especially in the case of the pans) the items you no longer use regularly. As you do so, make a replacement list in your planner. You‘ll find many practical additions to your family’s gift list, and you won’t have to worry about finding a place to put them.

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Have a Happy Thanksgiving

With only four days until the big day, it’s time to make some shopping lists. Whether you’re hosting the whole family or making your favorite dish to share, you’ll want to make an organized grocery list. Sort the items on your list into sections: produce, meat, dairy, etc., to help you complete your shopping trip in a single lap. And with Black Friday only days away, now is a great time to note any special deals you have your eye on and map out your shopping plan. Most importantly, though, be sure to make enjoying time with your family more important than any other item on your list.

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Progress, Not Perfection

Sometimes, the holidays breed insecurity. Maybe it’s the incessant abs photos from your fitness friend, or the made-from-scratch gluten-free gingerbread castle picture from Pinterest Mom. If you’re feeling like you don’t measure up, step back and remember that your life is more than just an entry in the social media arms race. If there’s a section of your life you’d like to improve, make a goal and use your planner to get there. Mark milestone dates for goals large and small, and use each day’s planning session to track your progress. After all, even perfect moments are still only moments. Lasting satisfaction comes from improving over time.

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Time Management Tips for the Holidays

There’s nothing like the holidays to shake you of your daily rut. Here are some tips to make sure that you don’t lose the results of your plans during the festivities:

  • Spend Time with Family: With all of your holiday appointments, be sure to plan some unstructured time with your family. The quiet moments are often when relationships develop and deepen, leading to some of the most memorable holiday experiences.
  • Sleep Well: When visiting relatives or catching up with friends, it can be tempting to make late night plans. Getting enough sleep each night gives you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays.
  • Keep Up with Exercise: Don’t skimp out on your personal wellness routines. Like getting enough sleep, physical activity helps keep your mind clear, and a clear mind is essential to making the countless decisions that make up a successful holiday season.

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Happy Halloween from the FranklinPlanner Team

We hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday with your family and friends. If your All Hallow’s Eve activities include things for young spooks, teen ghouls, and adults, take a moment to plan things out. Each age group has different bedtimes, different activities that are appropriate, and a different number of adults needed to help out. Keeping everyone’s schedules close to established routines will help you have a better November 1.

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Organize Your Holiday Events

As of today, there are 66 days until Christmas, and 73 until the end of the year. With Halloween on the way and more holidays coming, it’s time to take charge of your holiday plans. The more people involved in an activity, the more scheduling conflicts you’ll need to overcome. Talk with your family and friends and make time for your most important events before outside groups fill your schedule for you. Then as each event approaches, you can use your planner to track the dates and details for each party you’re attending, as well as any travel considerations and costs.

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Make Your Autumn To-Do List

As the season changes and winter approaches, there are likely several tasks that you need to do. You might need to finish the home maintenance and landscaping jobs you didn’t get to this summer, while the weather is still warm enough. You might need to harvest your garden and prepare the soil for next year. You might need to rotate your storage, bringing out the winter clothing and holiday decorations. There might be a corner of your home that needs serious reorganization.

Whatever’s on your list, make it manageable by breaking the big task down into subtasks and tackling them one at a time.

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Repurpose Storage Cases

You might know that you can store your future planning pages in a Storage Case to keep their bulk out of your planner. But did you know that Storage Cases can be useful long into the future? Say that you’ve kept financial records on your Daily Tracker in your planner, and stored your five years’ worth of records in Storage Cases for future reference. But you’re running out of space on your bookshelf, and you no longer need the binders from 2007 to 2009. You can use these cases to store your journaling pages, or to make a repository for company meeting notes, or to create a log of home maintenance dates and notes.

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Organize Your Planning System

You’ve likely developed a routine for your planning sessions. Take a moment to think about your process. Over time, your responsibilities and needs may have changed from planning power lunches to get ahead in your career to feeding your grandkids PB&J when they come over for a visit. If your current planning system doesn’t feel like a good match for your life, then Organized October is the perfect time to try some new options. Spend each week trying a different planning method: weekly planning, task-based planning, planner journaling, etc. At the end of Organized October, you’ll know which planning style works best, not only for your schedule, but also for your personal development.

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Cover Scribbles with Tape

Imagine that you’ve been planning a fun lunch with your for weeks. But now, something has come up, and she has to postpone until next month. Thankfully, you don’t need an ugly scribble to cover up this disappointment. You can turn this change in plans into a decoration. Simply cover it up with a short piece of Washi Tape. Or, if you want to reschedule that time slot for something else, cut a blank label to fit and smooth it over the time slot. Then you can plan it out without writing in the margins.

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September is Self-Improvement Month

Is there something that you would like to improve about yourself? Whether it’s arriving on time to meetings, flossing your teeth every day, or focusing on people rather than your phone, using a planner can help the change stick. Identify a few simple daily tasks to help you accomplish your goal. When you have your list, write these tasks in a prominent spot for each planning day for 21 days. At the end of each day, mark the tasks off your list and put your goals at the forefront of your mind for the next day. By the end of September, your resolution for improvement will turn into an improved habit.

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Happy Labor Day

As you go through the third day of your three-day weekend, remember that, sometimes, less is more. You’ll find more joy in your time when you’re present and focused on what’s going on, rather than getting distracted by preparations for the next activity. If you find that your vacation time is more packed than your work schedule, take a minute and reevaluate. Start with the most important activities for you and your family, and simplify the extras.

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Use a Zipper Pouch

If you use your planner to carry your life with you, chances are that you have some small items in there. It could be a stack of paper clips to attach receipts and other documents to specific daily pages, or a pile of loose change, or decorations for your planner pages. If you’re tired of having your binder rattle when you shake it, or if you want to carry these items in your open-style binder, try storing them in a Clear Zipper Pouch.  With all your small items connected to your rings and locked under a zipper, you can keep your plans clutter-free and make your planning sessions that much better.

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Add Academic Dates to Your Calendar

Have your kids ever surprised you with a school event you weren’t expecting? Get ahead of the game this year. Access your school’s academic calendar, whether online or through your kids’ orientation packets, and mark important days in your planner, such as the beginning and ending dates for the semester, holidays, and sporting events. Then you’ll be able to answer “Do I have school on Monday?” without having to dig through a backpack or dig through a school website.

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Create a Homework Station

If your kids have trouble finding a quiet place to do their homework, then it’s time to create one. The ideal location is somewhere out of earshot of noisy televisions and off the main traffic areas of your home. Organize a desk with pencils, paper, and other supplies, and have “Things Mom Needs to Sign” in-box. After the kids submit everything, you can put them in the “Take Back to School” tray. Remove their excuses and distractions, and they’ll see what an impact personal responsibility has on their education.  This space also makes a great place for daily planning sessions.

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Find the Perfect Backpack

Finding a great backpack involves a lot of balance—literally, to avoid your small children looking like plodding Galapagos tortoises, and figuratively, to get the best features with the right style. Select a comfortable, stylish, and functional bag with room for all needed supplies, and your child will head back to school with a new found confidence.

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Prepare to Send Your Kids Back to School

For the kids who live at home, it’s almost time for registration. For new college freshmen, it’s almost time to move out on their own. Wherever your kids fall along this spectrum, it’s helpful to take a notes page in your planner and write out everything that needs to happen before they go back to school. This brain dump becomes the perfect starting point for a smooth transition back to school.

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Plan Your Lunches for the Week

Wouldn’t it be nice if summer came with a lunch menu? Elementary school students are used to selecting a school lunch or a sandwich from home, while your teenagers choose the cafeteria or a fast food restaurant for each day. How about you? Go through the past week in your planner and note what you had for lunch. Then use that information to plan out your lunches for this week, whether you’re eating at your desk or cooking for your family.

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Start Right with a Morning Routine

The easiest routine is the one that your circumstances dictate for you. But when the school bus isn’t coming, what will get your kids out of bed? Discuss a good morning routine with your family, decide how to spend your time, and set it down in your planner to help keep things on schedule. With a plan, you’ll do more memorable things with your summer. And when the school bus pulls up to the curb in the fall, you won’t have to convince your family to meet it.

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Create an Emergency Contact List for Your Kids

Do your kids know the number to call in case of an emergency? And if Grandma isn’t home, which number do they call next? Prepare an emergency contact list with a package of Address/Phone Tabs, keep it in an easily accessible place in your home, and teach your kids where it’s located and how to use it. Your pre-cell-phone kids will have an important resource if they need help, and your older kids will have what they need to program their contact lists.

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Add a Back to School Checklist to Your Planner

Summer gets crammed full of activities: family vacations, sporting events, and continuing education all get layered on top of your normal responsibilities. With so much going on, it can be easy to forget something the kids need when they head back to school. Keep a running checklist for each child in your planner, and you’ll be able to see the big picture and buy all your no.2 pencils at once. Download and print our Back to School Checklists, and you’ll make the process even easier.

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Planner Quote: July 6, 2015

“They are able because they think they are able.”

– Virgil

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Help Your Child Pick Out Their Own Planner

No two people are the same, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for planning. Before the start of the school year, discuss different planning styles with your child, and then help select a planner. If your child has many extracurricular activities, then a daily planner would provide space to schedule everything, while a child who just wants help remembering homework assignments might do better with a weekly planner.

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Plan Your Meals

If you’ve ever resolved to eat healthier, only to have your produce turn to compost in the crisper bin of your refrigerator, then you can benefit from a meal plan. Plan out a week of meals at a time, and look at your schedule to ensure that you have time to prepare the meal you plan for each day. When you have a couple of meals, match any leftover ingredients like green onions, lettuce, or broccoli with other recipes, and fit them into your schedule.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Refresh Your Commute

It’s a fact of life: as an adult, you likely have a commute. For most of us, the commute becomes slowly ingrained in our psyche, something that becomes apparent when we miss an extra stop because our brains are on autopilot. This week, take a few minutes and examine your commute and the morning routine that leads up to it. Enter your destination into your Maps application and see if it comes up with alternate routes for heavy traffic days. Shaking up your commute might give you extra time in your day.

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Clear Your Planner Dashboard

Many people use the front plastic panel of their planner as a sort of dashboard: a quick, easily accessible page to post sticky notes, lists, and other reminders. If you’re a fan of this method, remember to periodically take the time to clean off your planner dashboard and transfer the information to the correct days in your planner. This can be as easy as moving the sticky note, or the sticky notes can help you remember tasks, lists, and other items to record during your planning session.

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Refresh Your Closet

Have you ever gone shopping for new clothes, only to find three similar items in your closet when you go to put it away? As the weather changes, make some time to go through your closet. As you decide what to throw away or donate, you can write down the colors and types of clothing you need to complete your wardrobe. Take these notes with you the next time you go shopping, and you’ll know just where to look.

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Track Your Health

As spring approaches, it’s time to take a look at your health. The first step to developing a healthy lifestyle is getting an accurate picture of your current lifestyle. The Health and Fitness Tracker planner form lets you record fitness benchmarks, count calories, plan your meals, and meet your health goals. Measuring these metrics and recording them in your planner not only helps you see your progress, but it also serves as accountability to yourself for keeping up with your health goals.

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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.

How to clean binder-14

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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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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