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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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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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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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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Quiet The Chaos! Work-Life Balance Tips That Work

By Carmen Coker

Have you ever been at home, and yet thinking of something that needs to be done at work? Or been at work, and yet thinking of something that needs to be done at home?

No matter if you try to separate them, your personal life and work life are intrinsically linked. That is to say, if you feel unbalanced personally, then that feeling can bleed into your work life and leave you feeling unbalanced professionally – or vice versa.  This is a fact that many articles with work-life balance tips fail to mention.

This linkage is especially problematic for women who tend to become emotionally attached to both home and office, and it even affects celebrities, who typically have assistants to help them manage their mounting to-do list. Kelly Ripa, co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael, shared: “I’m like any working mom. When I’m at work, I’m remembering what I forgot to do for the kids, and when I’m with the kids, I’m remembering what I forgot to do at work.”

couchWhen you are feeling unbalanced, in order to find relief, you must become aware of your clutter.

Now, you may be thinking: “I know where my clutter is! I trip over it every morning on the way to the bathroom.”

But that’s just the problem! We tend to think of clutter as “stuff” in our space: piles of paper on the desk, clusters of toys on the rug, and mounds of mail on the kitchen counter.

While this is true, there are other types of clutter that can creep into your life.

For example:

  • Do you over-commit to people, organizations, or causes? Then you have something that clutters your schedule.
  • Do you have someone in your life that bleeds your energy and patience, so much so that the very mention of their name causes you great stress? Then you have something that clutters your spirit.
  • Do you look for a distraction, like a TV show, whenever you know you have work to be done? Then you have something that clutters your habit patterns.

Clutter can permeate more than just your surroundings; clutter can permeate all or parts of you. In the same respect, organizing is more than managing your belongings. Organizing is managing you – all parts of you – so that you feel balanced and in control.

So the next time you seem discombobulated … stressed … overwhelmed … chaotic … unbalanced … then examine the areas of your life – both at home and at work – that need to be de-cluttered. This will ultimately help you pinpoint the source of the problem so that you can find relief fast.

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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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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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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New FC Studio Refresh!

The FC Studio planner combines the creativity of scrapbooking with our time-tested planning features, giving you a beautiful canvas to both organize and record your daily life. Its two-pages-per-week layout gives you space to plan each day of the week, a to-do list, and space for your inspiration and memories.

Along with your weekly planning pages and monthly calendar tabs, each planner comes with a bound-in folder, a bound-in plastic pouch, a page finder, perpetual calendar and two pages of event stickers. With a new bright design every month, inspirational quotes, and plenty of extra notes pages, you can capture all the details as they happen—and save the memories as keepsakes.

As always, you have a lot of say in the design of your FC Studio planner. You can choose from three different cover designs, and even personalize your cover with your name and a favorite photo. You can add a matching notepad, include bound-in address and phone tabs, or add a Pagefinder pad to keep track of long-term goals without re-writing them each week.

Because scrapbooking elements are included in its design, it is an ideal canvas for mounting photos, jotting down memories, and embellishing with extras such as washi tape, enamel dots, stickers, and clips.

Drop in today and see what else you may have missed. Your next favorite accessory is waiting to be discovered.

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Spring Catalog 2015

spring catalog

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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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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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.

commute

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5 Ways to Keep Up With a Busy Schedule

By Monica Friel

Are you busy? It seems like we are all so busy trying to keep up with it all. So how do we stay on top of the hectic schedules and remain organized? Here 5 ways to keep your schedule running smoothly:

Schedule It All

Put every activity, meeting and plan into your calendar. This way you’ll know exactly what is going on and what you can realistically fit in.

Decline

Don’t opt in to every interest and social event that takes place. Choose your activities wisely. Remember, for every item you add to your calendar, your choosing to eliminate what might be some much needed down time.

Plan Ahead

Anything you can do to plan ahead will make the hectic times less stressful.

Organization is about creating systems so you can find things in the future. Spending some time organizing and setting up systems will save you time when you’re in a hurry.

Decompress

Make sure you allow time to unwind. Re-group in between meetings and events. Running on fumes is neither productive nor enjoyable. Read more about carving out down time.

Enlist Help

Make use of help from others whenever possible. Carpool with neighbors, enlist babysitters, reciprocate favors. Even swap organizing projects with a friend. Having someone to help you accomplish tasks will ensure that it gets done!

Remember, it’s not glamorous to be busy, it’s exhausting. Use your time wisely and enjoy each moment.

Monica Friel

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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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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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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.

to-do 4 to-do 5

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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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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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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10 Reasons Why I Use a Planner

10 Reasons

By Patty Gardner

Planners are extremely effective tools for helping you keep your ducks in a row.  I’ve been using a planner for 20 years.  Before that I had a calendar and a to-do list.  My family knows that if I don’t use my planner, bad things happen.  In case you’re skeptical about the benefits of using a planner, here are 10 ways my planner helps me manage my life:

1.       I don’t remember anything if I don’t write it down.  If I write it down, it’s like magic and I can usually remember it even if I never look at it again.  But if I don’t write it down, it’s gone forever.  So if you ask me to do something, make sure I write it down!

2.       I need to see the big picture so I know what I can and can’t do.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the big picture in my head.  It has to be on paper.  And seeing the big picture helps me plan so I don’t get worn out or bored.

3.       I get overwhelmed easily, but if I write everything down, it doesn’t seem so bad.  Or I see that it really is that bad and I can figure out how to fix it.

4.       If everything I need to do is swimming around in my head, there’s no room for anything else – like creativity.  So getting it out of my head and on paper allows me to think about other things that are more fun.

5.       I can’t make Plan B if I don’t have a Plan A.  And if Plan A isn’t on paper, it’s not really a plan – at least for me.  I need to SEE things – on paper.

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

6.       Without writing it down, I always plan too much – more than any one person can do.  But when I write it down and schedule it on the calendar, or put time estimates next to each item, I am more realistic about what I can do and it’s much easier to prioritize.

7.       A planner provides a place to write down all my brilliant ideas and be able to find them again.  If I use notes and post-its, there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to locate those brilliant ideas again.

8.       I think better with a pen.  Seeing my thoughts on paper (I use my planner as a journal, too), makes them easier to process and figure out.  It’s also easier to see positive or negative patterns when it’s written down.

9.       My planner provides a permanent written record of events, calls, activities, funny things the kids and grandkids do.  I have all my planners from the last 25 years.  There’s a wealth of information in those planners that I treasure.

10.     Without a written plan, I tend to spin my wheels and waste my time.  It’s like I don’t know what to do next.  But if a task list is on paper, I am much more likely to be productive.

If you use a planner, why do you?  If you don’t use a planner, why don’t you and how do you keep your ducks in a row?

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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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Giveaway: Pick your Planner!

We want you to love your planner. When you love your planner, it makes it easier to love your plan – organizing your life, checking off daily tasks, getting things done. For this giveaway, you get to pick what you get.

Wait…what?

Yes, you pick your planner and your binder and we’ll give it to you!

pickyourplanner banner3Here’s what you need to do to enter:

1. Go to FranklinPlanner.com and browse through the planner tab and the binder tab.

2. Find planner pages AND a binder you really love.

3. Post a picture of both the planner pages and the binder you’ve chosen on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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4. Tag us using the following handles: @franklin.planner (Instagram) and @PlannerTalk (Twitter). Make sure we can find you and your post! Include the hashtag #pickyourplanner.

5. In the caption, write about why you chose the planner and binder you did and why you love it! Tell us in a rhyme, acrostic poem, or just simply – but be creative!

Contest ends February 17, 2015 at noon MST. Winner will be announced the follow day.

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You asked for it…the Macaroon is back!

Due to popular demand, we have brought in another shipment of the black Compact Macaroon binder! There is a limited quantity, so once they’re gone, they’re gone!

With a quilted exterior and a delicate flower pattern adorning its snap closure, the Macaroon goes beyond smooth binder finishes.

  • 64814_lrgcaseSynthetic leather
  • ID Window
  • Pen Loop
  • Card slots
  • Two interior pockets

Compact – Measures 5.47” W x 7.7” H x 1.18” D, Ring size 0.8”

Pocket – Measures 4.6” W x 6.9” H x 1” D, Ring size 0.6”

This binder also comes in a pinkish coral, in both Compact and Pocket sizes.

Click here for more details!

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How to Use Your Planner After An Event

Most of us use our planner to prepare for events. We take note of upcoming weddings, parties, and business meetings. We decide what we need to do in order to be prepared when these events begin, but what do we do after the event is finished?

desk with notepadTake a wedding for example: Unless it’s our own wedding, there usually isn’t a lot to do in the way of preparation. We note it in our planners, purchase a gift and attend. But we can also mark the date in our monthly calendar tabs or future calendar pages so we can remember their anniversary. Small things can mean a lot.

The same applies to holiday parties and neighborhood get-togethers. Quickly jot the address of the party and the name of the host in your planner so you can send a quick thank-you card when you return home. Also, if you reference the party and host information in your monthly index page, you’ll have easy recall next year.

Remembering small things is important, but sometimes you have to keep track of more. Consider a business meeting. This is a time to take notes and plan ahead. If you are given an assignment and a deadline, be sure to note it in your planner during the meeting. Turn ahead in your planner and jot reminders so you are sure to finish your tasks on time. If you’d like to remember your notes, add a page flag to your planner page to help you find them later. Also, be sure to utilize the master task list at the beginning of each month. Keeping a running list of action items there will make it easy to find your most important tasks.

Take notes of team members who are working on your projects so you can follow-up with them at scheduled intervals and give them your support. Track your projects in much the same way you would your goals. Set dates for each step of the project from concept to completion and do all you can to meet or beat your deadlines. Track your progress in your planner.

With daily concentrated effort, your planner will become one of your most important productivity tools. It won’t take long before many of the items mentioned above are simply habits you follow. Of course we’ve only begun to describe the various ways your planner can make the most of the big events in your life. We’d love to hear how you use your planner—particularly after a meeting or big event. Share a few secrets to your success in the comments below.

Happy planning!

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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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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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How to Avoid Drowning in Junk Mail

by Patty Gardner mailbox

Some people love mail and some hate it.  Some check their mail box as soon as the mailman comes and some check it whenever they get around to it.  Of course, these days there’s not as much mail as there used to be.  But piles of mail can still be a problem unless you have a method to deal with it.

Here are two ideas for dealing with mail:

Option 1:

Process it daily, as soon as you take it out of the mailbox.  This is my preferred method.  What I mean by process is:

1.  Throw away junk mail;

2.  Put magazines on the coffee table to read later during couch time;

mail - bills

3.  Put bills in the bills to be paid slot on my desk;  

4.  Put unwanted credit applications on the shredder to be shredded later (usually when my granddaughter comes over – she LOVES shredding paper).

5.  Anything that needs to be acted on is noted in my planner and then put in the top tray on my desk.  I don’t necessarily do it right then but I put it in the appropriate place and note it in my planner so I won’t forget.

This whole process only takes a couple of minutes and then I never have to deal with a pile.

Option 2:

Pile it for processing later.  For this method, you retrieve the mail from the mailbox and quickly skim it to see if there’s anything urgent.  If there is, you deal with it right then.  If there isn’t, it all goes in a box designated for mail.  On a set day each week, you sit down and go through it all.

mail - stackablesOf course, besides the mail that comes in the mail box, there’s mail that comes in the in-box of your computer.  That mail can actually be handled in the same manner.  Process it daily or process it weekly.  Either way works.  But it’s a good idea to clean your inbox out regularly so you don’t miss anything and can easily retrieve information you might need.

These additional tips might help with inbox management:

1.  Flag items that are important so they stand out.

2.  Set up folders so you can move processed items into the appropriate folder and OUT of your inbox.

3.  NEVER move an item to a folder until it’s processed – either DONE or NOTED IN YOUR PLANNER.

4.  Respond to emails as quickly as possible.  Not only does that get them out of your in-box, but it also pleases people when we respond quickly.

5.  Delete everything you can.

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6.  Don’t use your inbox as a holding center.  Only allow items in your inbox that are waiting to be processed.  If they’ve been processed, get them out of there!

7.  Set up a folder for THINGS TO SAVE or IMPORTANT.  There are some things I know I want to refer to again and I don’t want to take a chance they might get deleted.  So I put those items in my THINGS TO SAVE folder and I know they’ll be safe.

8.  Once in a while clean out your folders.  Most of the information you’ve saved you won’t need forever.  So occasionally go through and delete the folders you’re finished with.

How do you process mail – electronic and paper?

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Learn from the Experts: Insights from FranklinPlanner Gurus

Have you ever felt like you were in a planning rut? Start the year with some new planning ideas. We have several master planners right here at FranklinPlanner.com, and each of them plans differently. We decided it might be fun to share a few of their tips with you.

TraciTraci –

“A couple of years ago, my planner was stolen from my car. That was terrible! I lost everything—I keep my whole life in my planner. Now I make sure to keep it with me at all times.

“I’m a very structured planner. I follow the original planning method that Hyrum Smith taught when he started the Franklin planning system. This year I’m using a Seasons planner. The tasks on my Prioritized Daily Task list are ranked with ABC 123, and I use the appropriate marks for completed, delegated, forwarded, etc. I like to keep a space between my work-related tasks and my other tasks, so I can see at a glance what I need to work on at any time of day.

“I use my monthly calendar tabs constantly. I mark important events there so I know at a glance when they happened. For more details, I just turn to the specific day in my planner. This year when I wrote my Christmas letter, my monthly tabs made it easy to note the details about what my children have been doing and where they are in their busy lives.

“I have a contacts list on my computer, but I like to print it off and keep it in my planner so I always have important numbers whenever I might need them. I also have other address lists that I copy and shrink to fit in my planner.

“I love to read, so I keep a section in my planner that lists my favorite books as well as the books I’m interested in reading.

“I find that being consistent in the way I plan helps me focus on more important things, like my family, my job, and the things I do with my church.”

GaryGary –

“I start planning with my 2-page monthly tabs. They’re the ideal place to record upcoming events. I keep track of future meetings, community events I’m involved with, and when employees are going to be off work. I meet with a superior on a monthly basis, and the backside of the two-page monthly tabs is the perfect place to keep notes and questions that I want to discuss during that meeting. As questions arise I just jot them there, so I don’t forget what I want to talk about each month.

“I don’t use my daily pages every day—sometimes I just stick with my routine. When I have meetings, however, I move ahead in my planner to the day of the meeting and write down all that I need to discuss in that meeting on the Notes page. And when I’m in meetings, I write my tasks on the Prioritized Daily Task List. It gives me quick recall of what we talked about.

“I like the 7 Habits planner because its Prioritized Daily Task List is divided into three sections. I use one section for work, one for my family events, and another for church and community events. I also like the Special Days form because it helps give me a theme for meetings and events as I plan them.”

KirstinKirstin –

“If you’d had the opportunity to hear Hyrum Smith teach about planning, you’d use a planner. I went to a training years ago and left feeling like I had just been taught the secret of life. It was a great moment. When I got home and started implementing the things I had been taught, I realized that my personality required a slightly different approach.

“I’m a task-oriented planner. I like to keep track of the things I need to do and check them off when they’re done. I prefer a weekly view because I can keep track of my tasks a week at a time without flipping through pages. I don’t really appreciate being told which day I’m supposed to do something—even by my planner. With a weekly view, if a task isn’t completed one day, it’s still there for me to work on tomorrow.

“When I learn of things I need to do later in the month or year, I jump ahead and write it on my To-Do list for that week. That way I don’t have to hold it in my memory. I’d forget it for sure. The FC Studio planner lets me see what I need to accomplish before week’s end. It’s bright and easy to read, and loaded with a lot of fun, bright colors.

“I like the Memories section on the pages. It’s fun to go back and read them later. Here’s one, ‘Slept outside on the trampoline. Husband went inside at three am—the kids went inside at six—left me outside alone. Won’t sleep on the trampoline again.’ It’s great. That was not a comfortable night’s sleep, but sleeping out on the tramp is like a rite of passage. Now that’s done, and we have a family memory.

“The monthly tabs are helpful too. I use them to track big events. Sometimes I use colored washi tape to block off vacations. I’ve even used different colored tape in the planner for different family members so I can see at a glance who is doing what. It helps when things get really busy.”

However you plan, the best suggestion we can give is to stick with it. Hopefully, reading about the different ways that some of us plan has inspired you to keep working on your own planning routine. Perhaps we’ve given you some new ideas to try this coming year. Good luck, and happy planning.

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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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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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Take This Down: Benefits of Handwriting in a Digital World

We live in an era of Big Data. With the rapid advances in mobile technology and the convenience of the Internet, we have more facts available to us than ever before. With a quick search, we can discover the history of cheese, or the name of the actor who voices the robot in the Iron Man movies. If cell phones were allowed on Jeopardy, it wouldn’t even be a contest anymore.

But there’s a big difference between fact-finding and inspiration. Facts only change your life if you can use them to make connections. It’s why you’ve likely never researched the history of cheese, unless you’re a historian or a maker of artisanal foods. Without connections in your mind and heart, facts fade from your memory, if they were ever recorded there in the first place.

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To make better connections, try writing things out by hand. In a study from the Association for Psychological Science (APS), two groups of students were given lectures and asked to take notes as they usually did, whether on paper or with a laptop. After a half-hour break, the students were tested on the material.

The results showed that while both groups memorized the same number of facts, the laptop users performed far worse when they were tested on ideas. “The students using laptops were in fact more likely to take copious notes, which can be beneficial to learning,” the APS reported. “But they were also more likely to take verbatim notes, and this ‘mindless transcription’ appeared to cancel out the benefits.”

It turns out that how you record things really does matter, whether through an increased connection between hand motions and your brain, or through the extra time your brain spends forming each letter on the page.

These connections can change your life in powerful ways. Keeping a handwritten journal can help root your memories of past experiences, giving you an accurate representation of what happened and how you felt about it. Re-reading previous entries can prove that you’re making progress toward your goals, or reveal areas where you can focus on improvement.

The right app will certainly change your day. Technology is a wonderful thing, giving you a place to write your grocery lists or to set up reminders and notifications. Handwriting, however, will change your life as you put time into it. Invest in your life’s story with a top-quality planner or journal.

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Finding the Perfect Holiday Gift

Holiday shopping is tough. The challenge lies in finding the right thing. That’s especially difficult when so many of us don’t need any more things. Things simply add to the clutter that we’re already wading through. So we visit specialty shops, boutiques, malls, and online stores in hopes of finding something both useful and unique—and magically within our budgets.

Perhaps we can save you some effort. We have loads of fun, creative, and useful gifts for any budget. We’ve highlighted a few here, but there are several more to discover in our Gift Guide.

64508_lrgcaseYou’ll find similar things everywhere you look, but some things have greater staying power than others. Take the pen, for example: The Prism Tornado Fountain Pen by Retro 51 is a great gift choice. It’s loaded with character and personality that is sure to rub off in your writing. The barrel and lid sport a confetti-like pattern of beautiful colors accented in shiny chrome.

Writing with a fountain pen is a unique pleasure, and this durable piece will ensure you can enjoy that experience for a long time to come. You would expect to spend much more for a quality fountain pen, but this beauty is only $55.00.

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Sometimes it’s fun to give a bigger gift—something that makes a statement. The durable Franklin Laptop Bag boasts a genuine pebbled leather exterior, and durable, padded nylon interior—giving your laptop years of protection and style. Large zippers with black metal pulls and accents add just the right touch of style and strength, and the intelligent design inside will ensure you and your favorite things are never separated. Measures: 16.25” W x 13” H x 4.75” D                       $75.98
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If a laptop bag isn’t her thing, check out the Malone Tote by Matt and Nat. This retro, doctor-style handbag is made of 100% eco-friendly materials. It can be carried as a shoulder bag or worn crossbody with its removable shoulder strap. The Malone features a zippered frame closure, a slit pocket in the back for your phone, and clever styling. Measures: 14″ W x 9.5″ H x 3.25″ D              $137.95

64815_lrgcaseProtect your plans with the beauty of soft, genuine leather. The Macaroon Binder is loaded with interior organization for your pen, cards, and ID, but it’s the quilted leather exterior that makes it stand out. You’ll appreciate the padded feel in your hands and the pop of instant style it adds to any wardrobe.

64345_lrgcaseThe Pippa Wire-bound Cover has won our unofficial Photographer’s Choice award for its striking contrasts, solid design, and attention to the finest details. Its rich, genuine leather inside and out add a comfortable touch and provide the ideal place for your plans, notepad, pen and important cards. A snap closure keeps it all intact.
Measures: 7.125” W x 9.75” H x 0.75” D                  $84.95

65190_lrgcaseMore time is better than more things. Help them find the open hours in their day with our time-test planning system. In honor of our 30th anniversary, we’ve re-created our top-selling Original planner in six distinct colors. Let them coordinate their planner with their favorite binder style for a look that’s all their own. This beautiful planner, with our patented ABC, 123 Prioritized Daily Task List, will help them focus on their most important tasks each day so they can reach their long-term goals.

If you’re still struggling to find the ideal gift for your family, consider using your planner to create a holiday they’ll remember. Forego the big gifts and surprise them with travel gear, an itinerary, and tickets under the tree. It will require some planning, but it will be incredibly rewarding. Start planning today for an early spring visit to The Grand Canyon, Disneyland, or Hawaii (budget permitting, of course). You’ll find great luggage options and travel gear at FranklinPlanner.com. Some gifts are short-lived. Why not give them memories to cherish that will last a lifetime?

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12 Days of Planner Christmas – Photo Challenge

You’ve heard of the 12 Days of Christmas? Well starting December 1st we’ve got the 12 Days of Planner Christmas for you! Post a picture on Instagram and/or Facebook of the planner essential on the corresponding day in December on list below. For example, for “1 Binder” post a picture of your binder on December 1st.

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Be creative! Use the hashtag #PlannerChristmas and tag @franklin.planner so that we can see your pictures! Show us your favorite planner essentials and participate for a chance to win a 2015 FC Studio Planner!

Planner Christmas prize

Winner will be announced Monday, December 15, 2014! Happy planning!

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Giveaway: 2015 Weekly Planner by Sarah Pinto

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Simple design makes these upbeat planners functional and fun organizing solutions. They measure a mere 5″ by 7″ and are printed and bound in the USA on high-quality 100% recycled paper with soy-based ink. (That means they’re good for the planet!) Staying organized just got a lot more fun.

Includes weekly pages, monthly pages, address/phone pages, notes pages, and pages for special days and future planning. Click here for more details about this planner.

This planner is featured in 3 different designs and we are giving one of each design away! Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway winners will be announced Friday, November 21st!

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How to Prepare Your Planner for a New Year

By Naomi Cook

Can you believe that 2015 is right around the corner?  Are you ready for it?  Better yet, is it ready for you and all that you have to do?!   Now’s the time to figure out your plan for your planner, and what better place to start than FranklinPlanner, where you can find a variety of paper planners to create your own unique system!

Do you prefer a paper planner, or do you favor having an electronic planner on your phone/computer?  Maybe you have taken on a hybrid of both, where you write down personal appointments in a paper planner, but add work appointments into your electronic planner.  I have gone through stages where I prefer one over the other, but have found that a paper planner is the right fit for me, because I am a fan of check marks and crossing off tasks.  Yes, I am a professional organizer and a perfectionist, and I’m proud of it!

Here are some simple steps that you can take to prepare your own perfect paper planner for the new year!  Can you say that 10 times fast?!

–     Things you will need: a mechanical pencil, an eraser, pens in different colors, paper clips, one brightly colored binder clip and a warm drink. Are you asking why you would need a warm drink? Well…it’s because you may be getting hand cramps from writing so much, and therefore it will come in very handy!

1)       Get out your 2014 planner, don’t toss it yet!  There is a lot of valuable information in there that will be repeated in your 2015 planner like birthdays and anniversaries.

2)       Ok, well you know what I’m going to say next…add in those birthdays and anniversaries to your new planner.  Use one color pen for birthdays and another for anniversaries.  As a quick trick to always remember how old someone is or how many years they have been married, add in parentheses after the name(s) that age of the person or number of years of marriage, and increase it by 1 every time you update to your next yearly planner!

3)       As you are scouring your 2014 planner look for any other pertinent information like any tasks that never got done, and any phone numbers or e-mail addresses that were quickly jotted down.

4)       Gather all of your new appointment cards and invitations and start entering those.  I like to use pencil for these dates in case any get rescheduled.  It looks cleaner to erase than cross out.  Once I’ve jotted those down, I like to staple the appointment card or clip the invitation to its coordinating page.  It may make your planner a bit thicker, but you’ll be able to see when an event is coming up.  Once the date has passed take out the appointment card or unclip the invitation and toss it.

5)       Add the brightly colored binder clip (so you can differentiate it from the paper clips) as a page marker so that you always open it up to the current week.

Now that you’re done, put the planner aside until January 1st, celebrate the end of 2014, and get excited for the beginning of an organized new year!

Until next time, stay neat people!

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4 Ways to Use Your Planner This Holiday Season

Your Franklin Planner is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are four ideas to help you save time, energy, and sanity this holiday season:

CLrh_HolidayGiftList_Final1. Track Your Gifts: start by making a list of all the people you need gifts for this season, from family members and friends to your child’s school teacher.  Keep this list in your planner as you shop for gifts, and mark down the gifts you purchase. You never know when inspiration might strike – you might decide the traditional Hawaiian gift of a pineapple is perfect for your neighbor while walking through the produce section, for example.

Download a Holiday Gift List for your planner:

Holiday Gift List – Pocket: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Compact: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Classic:  JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Monarch: JPG PDF

2. Plan Your Parties: from guest lists to ingredient lists to decorations to daily reminders, your planner can handle the rigors of planning a party. Mark off RSVPs, plan out your errands, and watch everything fall into place for a stress-free get-together.

3. Prepare for Guests: if you’re having family or friends from out of town staying with you this holiday season, help their trip be memorable in a good way. Jot down reminders to prepare your guest rooms before they arrive. Research fun local activities happening on the dates that your guests will be with you. Then you’ll have options for entertaining, giving your guests a choice between a night on the town and a cozy evening at home with your family.

4. Holiday Card List: Yes, it’s that time again. As you prepare to send out holiday cards this year, brainstorm a list of recipients in your planner. Then you can print out address labels and take your cards to a more comfortable spot than your computer desk. Mark names off as you hand write each card, and your season’s greetings will be that much more personal and meaningful.

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Survey: Pick your preferred pocket configuration!

Take our survey and tell us what is most important for your binder. What features are essential? Do you like more pockets, a zipper, or a place to put your ID? You tell us!

Pick your favorite pocket configuration.

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Colors Giveaway Week!

Colors giveaway week 3The Classic-Sized Original Daily Planner now comes in six different colors! To celebrate we are going to give each color away for an entire week.

Here’s how to win your favorite color planner:

  1. Choose your favorite color planner (or favorite colors).
  2. Find which day we are giving that color away on the schedule below. colors calendar
  3. On your favorite color’s day, share the color photo (see below) on your Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to tag FranklinPlanner on Facebook and on Instagram (@franklin.planner) and follow us. Use the hashtag #FPcolorsweek so that we can easily find your post!
  4. Each day at 6:00 MST, we will announce a random winner of the colored planner for that day in the comments section of our post on Facebook and Instagram.
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Plan Your Year

Now that autumn is in full swing, it’s time to count down the weeks until the end of the year. Take some time to set goals for the remaining 62759_lrgcasemonths of the year, and write them down in your planner. Whether it’s picking up a new hobby or finishing off your holiday shopping while still wearing sandals, you can accomplish more when you plan in advance.

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Autumnize Your Planner

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Each season brings new details to track, new events to plan for. Autumn is no exception, with preparations to make for one of the busiest times of the year. Here are some pointers on optimizing your planner for autumn:

Review your goals for the year and set specific goals for the next three months. Break these goals down into individual components, and map out what it will take to accomplish them.

• Once you’ve mapped out your goals, mark your planner pages with reminders and deadlines for the tasks needed to accomplish them.

Track upcoming plans, whether it’s for Halloween parties or further of during the winter. Starting a few weeks out gives you time to coordinate schedules and make travel arrangements, or to set up the intricate Halloween display you’ve been considering putting on.

Make a list of the areas you need to winterize in your home or yard. Weekends tend to fill up fairly quickly, so mark tasks that need to be done now before they get crowded out. With forecasters predicting an especially cold fall for most of the country, you’ll want to stay ahead of schedule.

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FC Studio

The latest trend in planning combines traditional paper planners with scrapbooking elements to turn your daily planning sessions into artistic flights of creation. With that in mind, we’ve created FC Studio, our most customizable planner yet.

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We designed FC Studio with more creative space than our other planners, giving you space to write, doodle, or tape in your memories. This includes more blank pages that serve as a daily canvas for your creativity. And for inspiration, each month features a stylized quote page to add new motivation to your days.

When you add an FC Studio Planner to your shopping cart, the website walks you through all of the different customization options, including several that are bound right into the planner. For example, you can add a personalized cover with your full name on the front and a photo from your computer on the back.

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You can then accessorize your planner with personalized notepads, bound-in address and phone tabs, adhesive pen loops, and a wide variety of scrapbooking embellishments, all designed to coordinate with the bright colors of the planner.

Order your FC Studio Planner today and make the most of your daily experiences.

 

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My Planner, Tabbed Up

I love to put tabs onto my planner pages on days where I know I have major meetings. This lets me quickly turn to a meeting and jot down reminders or assignments. I’m currently using Avery Note Tabs, which I can writing on and they last forever! They are very sturdy and blend in well with my Real Life Adventures planner.

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