Autumn Is Now Here

With apples ripening on the trees and children returning to school, it means it’s time to start planning for the coming winter. Autumn is a great time to do projects around the home or yard. It’s also the best time to schedule out holiday events and set your final goals for the year.

Autumn Yard Projects

Cooler weather means it’s more pleasant to work in the yard or clean out the garage. A tidy garden area looks better whether it’s heaped in Fallsnow or mildly frostbitten. But the best benefit of a tidy garden area is that you won’t have as many pests next year. Dead plants are a preferred spot for hibernating insects. Getting rid of leaves and plant debris now means you’ll have fewer pests to worry about next spring. So, get out the rakes and make a day of it! Put a hearty stew on to simmer in the slow cooker and go outside to clean up the garden and enjoy the outdoors in the golden days of autumn.

Home Organization

Now is the time to sort through your belongings and weed out unwanted items. Garages, closets, potting sheds, and other storage areas can become cluttered during the summer months. But with winter coming, you’ll want to have easy access to holiday decorations, winter boots, and other items you have stored away. Sort out unwanted items and donate these items to charity. Organize closets and other storage areas so that you can easily reach holiday items you’ll need in the next few months.

Plan for the Holidays

Autumn is a great time to get your holiday checklist in order and start planning for a beautiful holiday season. Which parties will you host? Will you be traveling? Which cultural events do you want to attend? Who do you want to get together with most this season? It’s a good idea to start scheduling holiday travel well in advance. This is also a good time to get holiday shopping completed, since there is better selection and less crowding. Stores often offer wonderful sales at this time of year.

Determine Your Holiday Priorities

As you arrange travel plans, plan parties, pencil in events, and select performances you’d like to attend, don’t forget to schedule in some time to relax. Go ahead and write it in your planner: November 18th, 8-10 pm: stargazing on the patio with James. All too quickly, your planner can fill up with holiday events and other obligations. Right now is a good time to think about priorities and what matters most to you and your family.

Set End of Year Goals

The time to set end of year goals isn’t mid-December: it’s right now. That way, once the holiday events start piling up, you won’t feel overwhelmed. You’ll have it all in order. A bit of careful planning now makes for a memorable holiday season and a more leisurely and enjoyable winter.

 

Strategies for Making Your Planner Work Well For You!

 By Patty Gardner

I have a planner.  I admit it. I’ve actually had a planner forever.  I can’t function without it and my family will testify to that fact.  When I’ve gone through brief periods of rebellion against using a planner, my life falls apart.

planner closed

 If you have a planner but it isn’t working for you, or you’ve had a planner but gave up on it, maybe it’s time to try again.  To make my planner work for my life, I’ve adopted some very important strategies.  Here are a few:

1. A planner will not work if it’s in your purse or briefcase or closed on your desk.  The planner has to be open and available at all times.  My planner is always open and sitting on the kitchen counter or my desk, depending on where I’m working.  You have to be able to see it and it has to be easy to use.  If you have to go get it, open it and find the right page, you won’t do it.

Planner on counter

2.  This is just my personal preference, but I only use pens that have a click top.  If you have to pull the pen out of the loop, take off the cap, put the cap on the pen, and then write, it’s too much trouble.  I like it to be easy.  I want to hold my planner in one hand, pull out the pen with the other hand, click the pen and start writing.  Easier is always better!  And I frequently use the Bic 4-color pen so I have the option of using different colors with just a click of a button.

pens

my favorite pens – cap free!

3.       Take your planner with you nearly everywhere you go.  And when you’re out and about is the only time it’s okay to put your planner in your purse or briefcase.  Frequently when I’m out I need to write something down or look something up.  If my planner isn’t with me, it doesn’t help me.

4.       Write in your planner as soon as you think of something.  When you remember that task you need to do, jot it down.  Don’t wait until later because by the time later comes, you’ll have forgotten.  Write it down ASAP.  Once you write it down, you don’t have to think about it anymore and that frees your brain to think about other stuff.

5.       Customize your planner.  Very few people can use a planner straight out the box, exactly the way it was designed.  We are each unique and our planning needs are unique, too.  If you try to use a planner as designed, you’re probably going to be frustrated.  Just because a section in your planner page says it’s for a to do list doesn’t mean you have to write your to do list there.  Or just because an area is designated for your schedule doesn’t mean you have to use it for that.

Planner customized

So if you’re not using a planner or your planner isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try again.  A planner can be an extremely helpful tool that makes the difference between having your ducks in a row and having your ducks scattered everywhere.

Rubber Duckling I A Different Angle Of View

Thank you, Patty! Patty is a guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily. The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

The Secret To Becoming A Productivity Superstar

By Carmen Coker

There’s likely not a day that goes by where you, or someone around you, comments on how time flies or time is money.  It’s a given that you know how important time is, but … how do you make the most of it?

Traditional productivity strategies tend to emphasize “getting things done” through managing lists, goals, priorities, plans, and calendars. Indeed, all those facets of productivity are important and should not be discounted.

But there are multiple components to productivity – physical, mental, emotional – and these traditional productivity strategies often overlook something, without which, your productivity will remain low … unsatisfactory … broken.

And that something is: ENERGY MANAGEMENT.

If you are unable to manage your energy, the hard truth is that all the productivity strategies in the world will not help you. Maintaining high to moderately high energy levels isn’t difficult, you simply must find the best ways in which your body responds. For example:

1) EATwise
Garbage in, garbage out. It’s no secret that what you ingest into your body has a direct correlation to your drive and output. So, step away from the chips and soda …

2) SLEEPwise
Your energy levels today start the night before. Make sure you go to bed early enough to get the right amount of ZZZ’s you need.

3) BREAKwise
It is believed that Einstein conceived the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle. Research backs up this example – skipping break time actually decreases your productivity and creativity.

4) MINDwise
Safeguard what gets into your head because that will influence your attitude. As much as possible, avoid negative people, vibes, or news, and surround yourself with positive people and environments.

5) SPACEwise
Clutter zaps your energy on a subconscious level, whether you realize it or not. Keeping a tidy space will free up the energy once consumed by clutter for other more important things.

REMEMBER: don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the above suggestions. When used in combination with traditional productivity strategies like list-making and prioritizing, you will reach productivity superstardom!

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™.
CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Syncing your Planner with Technology

With all the cool devices at our fingertips, perhaps the best gadget is one invented centuries ago—the pen. That’s why so many people continue to use paper planners, calendars, and notepads. Today, technology is growing ever more prevalent and convenient, so our challenge is to keep it all in sync. How do we do that? We’ve asked some of our employees to share the ways they merge their planners with technology. Maybe you’ll get a few ideas for yourself.

 

1111039-LisaThumb_On

“As a project manager, I fully embrace both technology and paper. The flexibility of both a planner and technology allows me to tailor a system that works best in my hectic world.

“For day-to-day work tasks, I rely heavily on email, calendaring, and spreadsheets to keep the details organized. There are simply too many tasks to juggle when managing a large workload. My prioritized task list would be a mile long every day. Electronically, I can easily keep projects moving within the team, even when they are thousands of miles away.

“My planner is important for big-picture projects, brainstorming, note taking and personal tasks. I can easily flip back and recall notes or conversations. A planner is fantastic for capturing action-items in a meeting and collecting feedback from a creative presentation. I like it because I don’t have to search several places for notes. It’s all contained in a binder.  It’s my main tool for keeping personal tasks organized. I can jot down home tasks or grocery lists, keep track of parties and vet appointments—basically, it’s my memory.”

—Lisa Gines, Project Manager

 

1111039-LareenThumb_On

“I love technology, but it can be distracting much of the time. In a meeting, some may assume that if you are using your iPad or smart phone, you aren’t paying attention to what is going on, or that the content of the discussion isn’t important.

“My most important planner tactic? I don’t move my page finder to the current day until I have checked off tasks from the prior day, assigned them to others, or moved them forward. That way I don’t lose any projects, and have a constant reminder to “catch up” if I don’t do it first thing in the morning.”“I sync my smart phone with my work desktop calendar and email system. It is a great way to keep track of appointments, and get a popup reminder ten minutes prior to a meeting. During those meetings, I silence my phone (okay, every now and then I forget). For task lists and meeting notes, however, no electronic device can hold a candle to my planner. I like the planner formats without defined meeting times, which gives me plenty of space for tasks and notes.

—Lareen Strong, Marketing Director

 

1111039-ScottThumb_On

“Using my planner with technology is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, both are good on their own, but combine them and they’re even better.

“Take a look at my desk and you’ll see the best of both worlds. Sure, my computer is humming and the screen is filled with files, spreadsheets, and webpages—but take another look and you’ll see lists, post-it notes, and my planner.

“A large section of my day is spent creating ideas, attending meetings, and planning campaigns. These activities require brainstorming and thought. For me, this is best done with paper and pen.  I love to jot down ideas and activities in my planner; I can then flip back and forth from page to page and re-remember what a genius I am.

“I love to take advantage of technology.  I can transform my notes, ideas and lists; into useful information and reports. Whether it’s a computer, tablet, phone, or something new I’ve never heard of, technology is a definite time-saver. From work to play, it’s here to stay.

“So I’m going to take both, my planner and my technology…the perfect sandwich.”

—Scott Anderson, Advertising Campaign Manager

 

Hopefully some of our ideas have sparked your imagination, and you’ll find even more ways to incorporate your planner and your technology into your hectic lifestyle. Here’s wishing you the best success possible.

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua Zerkel

Positive Thinking Day

Blooms Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillThis September 13th, celebrate Positive Thinking Day. There’s an interesting principle in psychology called rumination that explains why clinical depression can be challenging to escape. Named after the process cows use to digest food, rumination involves bringing up negative feelings from the past to chew on when events in the present are stressful or unsuccessful. With rumination, a present-day failure grows to an eternal failure – always has been, always will be.

So on Positive Thinking Day, do more than just browse inspiring quotes on Facebook. Make a habit of recording a positive event in your planner every day. Then when rumination strikes, you can prove to yourself that your past, present, and future have real possibilities.

12 Unusual (And Cheap!) Organizing Tricks

By Carmen Coker

If you’re like most people, you want to get organized and stay organized, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on containers, bins, and other storage solutions in the process. Trade store-bought organizers for one of these inexpensive, out-of-the-box clutter busters created from everyday household items.

  1. Pantyhose. Cut off the waistband of an old pair and slip it over a rolled-up sleeping bag, securing it neatly. Or cut off the legs and place a roll of wrapping paper into each one, eliminating crimps from rubber bands or tears from taping.
  2. TP Roll. Need a mini-plastic bag dispenser for the glove box, a diaper bag, a pet travel bag, or elsewhere? Stuff a TP tube with 4-5 bags, and voilà!
  3. Headband. Tired of losing those tiny board game pieces? Wrap an elastic headband, like Goody’s Ouchless Elastic Headwraps, around the width of the box to hold it shut. Color-code to match the game itself or perhaps your home or personality.
  4. Pie Pan. Is your exercise ball on the loose? Put a circular pie pan wherever you’d like the ball to stay and rest the ball inside the pan.
  5. Empty Case. Are you a caffeine junkie? When you’ve emptied out an 8, 12, or 24-pack soda case box, use it to organize socks in drawer.
  6. Sea Shell. When situated belly-up, a sea shell acts as a beautiful jewelry organizer. All you need to do is find the right spot for it, like near the kitchen sink for when you need to remove your rings for dishwashing.
  7. Junk Mail. You’ll often get free personal address labels as junk mail. Attach these to the inside cover of books, planners, wallets. If ever lost or loaned out, the item will automatically have “return to” information enclosed.
  8. Container Lid. Have a loner lid from a large plastic storage container that’s missing its “mate,” or the container itself? The lid, situated top-up on the floor, will work well as a round-up for shoes in your entryway.
  9. Button. Place the backs of earrings through the holes in a button and clasp – it’ll now be easy to spot your earrings in your purse, suitcase, or gym bag.
  10. Picture Frame. Use a large frame, such as an 8 x 10, to corral remote controls or gaming controllers. Just slide a piece of fun paper or fabric under the glass, lay the frame flat on a nearby table, and then arrange the remotes on the glass.
  11. Trouser Sock. To calm cable chaos, cut off the foot of a trouser sock, unplug cords and cables, and feed them all through the sock. Then re-plug everything back into the power strip and/or sockets. If you repeat this process, overlapping multiple trouser socks, you can make a long “tube” to cover the entire length of cables.
  12. Door Knob. Fasten an old door knob to the top corner of a wood table – it’ll act as a great catch for purses, umbrellas, sweaters, etc.

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™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Introducing the Playlist Planner

Playlist Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillMusic is an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s the perfect lyric that describes how you feel, the melody that somehow resonates with your soul, or the perfect rhythm that gets you going, music moves us.

Music is like the wrapping paper of our memories. How often has someone asked you, “What do you think of when you hear this song?” As you listen, you peel back the layers until that faint feeling becomes more and more clear—until suddenly you’re reliving the memory fresh.

Music is all around us—from the drone of a train whistle, to the jagged hum of helicopter blades, to the rhythmic rattle of the subway. It doesn’t take long before we realize that each life moves to a soundtrack all its own.

With this realization in mind, we created the Playlist Planner. We spent months writing interesting trivia, designing pages that resonate, researching different musical genres, and learning about the artists who defined them.

Each two-page daily spread gives you plenty of room for appointments, to-dos, and notes and leaves you with something interesting to consider about the music that surrounds you. It’s a great way to harmonize the events of your life with the music that carries those experiences deep into your memory.

Like any song, the planner started as a single thought and developed into much more. Now, after months of planning, researching, and fact checking, we’re finally ready to share our latest composition, the Playlist Planner.

Pick one up today and delve more deeply into the soundtrack of your life.

 

Scheduling Tips

Daily Quarter PackWhen you have a full schedule, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time trying to access your schedule. Putting appointments on your cell phone can be a complicated process, from navigating to the calendar app, to finding the right time slot, and then tapping out any notes in a limited space on a mobile keyboard.

Save time and energy with a planner: Each day, your schedule is right there on the side, available with the flip of a page. And you can add in as much extra information as your planner allows.

Making More Time in the Day

By Joshua Zerkel

You’re not a magician, so making time means re-prioritizing.

Aside from whipping out the old magic wand, you can’t really create more time in the day. But what you can do is make sure that you’re spending your time effectively. One of the things to do is to start saying NO to things that are not priorities for you, so that you have time left over to say YES to things that are. Typically when I work with clients and we are talking about time management, we take an assessment of how they are spending their day, and all too often I see that they are doing low-priority things that are foisted on them.

Finding “more” time in the day requires you to take a serious look at all the tasks you have in front of you on a given day. Can you delegate any of them to someone else? Can you remove yourself from tasks or projects that you are no longer responsible for? Can you group similar tasks together in order to shave off the amount of time required for each? Until you really look at your calendar and see what is possible to remove, you can’t add anything new without creating a lot of stress.

There is no simple way to create more time, but there are ways to remove or compress some of the things that are on your calendar so that some of your time is freed up for the things you want to do with your time.

Joshua Zerkel

 

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

 By Patty Gardner

 4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Planner pages don’t have to be used the way they’re designed.  If the way they’re designed works for you, great.  But if not, do it your way!!!

This is Franklin Planner’s compact 2 pages per day.  All I did here was skip the lines and the single column and make two lists in the Prioritized Daily Task List area.  This works better for me visually and practically.  I don’t like writing on those small lines with no white space between items.  In fact, I hardly ever use the lines on this page.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Franklin Planner came out with a new design for 2013 called Real Life (similar to Simplicity but has a daily cartoon on the Notes page).  It’s much less structured than the typical two pages per day.  Here are three ways to use this page:

You can use this page as designed with appointments in the left column and to do’s on the right.  You can see that I started out using the lines but quickly abandoned them.

 4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Instead of using this page as designed, use the left column for the “must do’s” and the right column for everything else.  This set-up provides a way for your must do’s to really stand out.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

And my personal favorite is the divide the page into four horizontal sections for morning, afternoon, evening and whatever you need the last section for.  I used it for my menu.  Then on the left side of each section put your appointments for that time period and on the right list what you think you can get done during that same time period. 

The beauty of this method is that you record your commitments first and then think about what time you’ll have left and plan accordingly.  I actually love this format because I feel it helps me plan more realistically.  When you make a random list of things to do, those things can be out of context, at least for me.  Maybe I can do them and maybe I can’t.  But this list is much more realistic, and for someone with ADHD, it helps me stay on track, too.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

So there you go.  Combined with the previous article and this one, that’s 10 ways you can use a planner page other than the way it’s designed.

What’s your strategy? Are you a by-the-book planner user or do you like to do your own thing?

 

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Making an Organized Transition to College

By Monica Friel 

Are you sending a child off to college soon, or do you know someone who’s about to embark on this great adventure? Here are some tips for an organized transition to college dorm living:

Weed Out. Eliminate what you can before you even begin packing. Think clearly about what you’ll need to keep now that your life will need to fit in a tiny dorm room.

Organize. Organize the space you live in now. It will help with packing up properly and you’ll be happy to return to a simplified and organized place during breaks.

Prepare for small space living. Make the most out of every inch of space so that you won’t be feeling cramped. Use vertical wall space and contain like things with baskets/containers.

Financial. Make sure you are linked to the students debit card so money can be sent quickly. Chase Quick Pay is a terrific option.

Coordinate with your Roommate. You don’t need two coffee pots and 2 refrigerators. Get in touch and make a plan for who will bring what.

Move with Plastic Bins.  Pack up the car with plastic bins. They can be pack & unpacked easily. Parents can also take the empty bins back home.  They’re reusable and great for packing and storing at home over the summers.

Shop before Departure. Don’t wait until you arrive on campus to complete your checklist. Avoid making last minute purchases. College towns know you’re coming and hike up the prices accordingly.

Monica Friel

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

By Patty Gardner

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

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?

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.  

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

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

How To Get Motivated To Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

A friend recently asked me if there was anything in particular that helped me to get motivated and power through boot camp. (If you didn’t know, I served in the military for over six years.)

There are too many things I remember about boot camp and most of them unpleasant.

Running in combat boots for miles.
Getting yelled at.
Doing push-ups until I collapsed.
Getting yelled at.
Woken up in the middle of the night for inspections.
Getting yelled at.
30 second showers.
And, yup, you guessed it! Getting yelled at some more.

I recall thinking at one point: “Why am I putting up with six weeks of this?”

While all my college friends were enjoying amazing summer vacations, I was being subjected to unwanted rules, impossible orders, minimal sleep, nasty food, physical fitness ad nauseam – all topped off with copious amounts of shouting.

Then I remembered how much I wanted to be in the military and serve my country, and I refocused on the fact that six weeks of training would only make me a stronger, better soldier. The end justifies the means, if you will.

You see, I faced a crossroad: I could be miserable during the whole ordeal, or I could make the most of it … and the final outcome was totally up to me.

I realize that for some of you out there, getting organized may be just about as fun as boot camp. But living in our world today, as the pace of life gets faster and faster, you can’t afford not to be organized.

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”

Isn’t that so true? In my story, I could have been miserable through boot camp, but instead I tried to motivate myself as much as possible, keeping the end in sight.

The same goes for organizing …

If you know you have to get organized, you can choose to procrastinate, and your disorganization will just cause you more frustration. Or you can choose to get motivated, get organized, and truly know the freedom that comes with it.

It’s always your choice.

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™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

By Patty Gardner

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

I’m pretty sure that all time management experts recommend using a personal planning system of some sort.  It can be anything:  an electronic planner, your smart phone, a paper planner (my personal favorite), your computer or tablet, or even notebooks, steno or legal pads, or index cards.  It doesn’t matter what you use as long as you use it and it works for you!

And therein lies the problem.  Most of the pre-printed systems are designed to be used a certain way and most people try to use them the way they were designed even if they don’t work for them.  Sometimes the planner you’re trying to use isn’t worth saving – it just doesn’t work.  So toss it.  But sometimes you can tweak it and make it work.  Here are a few points to consider:

  • Just because the planner provides lines for you to write on doesn’t mean you have to write on them.  My planner’s lines are too narrow so I use two lines instead of one.
  • Just because the “box” says it’s for the prioritized task list doesn’t mean you have to write the task list there.
  • Just because another area says it’s for appointments doesn’t mean you can’t put to do items there, too.
  • Just because an area is blank and isn’t supposed to be written on doesn’t mean you can’t.
  • You can write in your planner any way you want!

I’ve been using a planner for a very long time – I can’t function without it.  Just ask my family.  That being said, I’m not sure I’ve ever used my planning pages the way they’re supposed to be used.  But my modifications worked for me.  Below are six examples of different ways I’ve used my planner over the years (and sometimes in the same week!).  I’m hoping these examples will give you ideas for how you can better use your planner.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 1.  This example uses the planner page as intended.  You make a list of everything you need to do and then prioritize the list using A, B and C and 1, 2 and 3.  A’s are items that MUST be done that day or bad things will happen.  B’s are items that you should do.  C’s are things that you can do if you have time.  If you don’t do them, nothing will happen.

I personally have a very hard time prioritizing in this way.  If your list consists only of “extra” things you needed to do, like pay bills, schedule an appointment, etc –this method is easier.  But I include pretty much everything I need to do and it’s hard to decide whether dinner is more important than laundry and which should be done first.   So I’ve never done my list this way.  But I know a lot of people have success with this method.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 2.  On this page, my list consists only of items that must be done that day.  In the bottom section, the daily tracker, is a list of the daily things I need to do.  On the top right of the page is a reminder of a friend’s appointment so I can follow up.  On the top left is my menu.

 6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 3.  On this example I divided my day into sections and made my list based on what I hope to accomplish during each time segment.  Again my menu is on the top left.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 4.  On this example, in the prioritized daily task list section I have one column of daily chores and one column that is all the other things I would like to do.  The circled items (you could also put an asterisk by them) are items that are very important.  My menu is in the daily tracker.  And the area at the top right includes things I need to do as soon as I get up.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 5.  On this example I use the appointment schedule to record my to do’s.  I plug in the things I have to do at set times and highlight them so they stand out.  Then in the spaces between, I write what I’m planning to do during that time period.  I use the prioritized daily task list area for details about those items.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 6.  On this example, I limit my list to only 10 things that are important for that day.  I have more things I would like to do but setting a limit helps me focus on the most important things.  When I’m making my list (it’s a good idea to use pencil), sometimes I have to erase something in favor of something else that I decide is more important.  The list at the top right includes about 5 things that can be completed very quickly.  I’ll do those when I have a minute between tasks.  If I happen to complete all 10 items before the end of the day (I don’t think that ever happened), then I’ll make a list of 5 more.  Again, my menu is in the daily tracker section.

So just because the planner page designates certain areas for certain things doesn’t mean you have to do it that way.  Don’t be afraid to modify your page so that it works for you!  You should never be a slave to the planner.  The planner is your servant!  Make it work for you!!!

 

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.  

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Choosing The Right Planner For A Successful School Year

Choosing a planner that will get you through the rigors of the school year is a personal decision. What works for one person will definitely not work for another. We won’t begin to prescribe the perfect planner for you. Some people find a planner that works for them and they stick with it religiously, while others like to shake things up a bit. If you’re wondering what planner will work best for you, consider your schedule and your workload, then take a look at these great options:

Classic 100% Recycled Ring-bound Weekly Planner Refill

The green and white pages that started it all continue to support those who appreciate a straightforward design and comprehensive structure. Naturally, these classic pages still feature our signature layout, with Prioritized Daily Task List, Appointment Schedule, Daily Tracker, Notes, and quotes that provide you with daily motivation and inspiration.

Compass Wire-bound Weekly Planner

Compass Wire-bound Weekly Planner

If you’re looking for a way to track your week without a lot of bulk, check out the Compass Wire-bound Weekly Planner. A vertical layout for each day of the week keeps your appointments and daily notes in perfect order. Plus you get two-page monthly calendars with a section for notes. It’s great if you use your planner mainly to keep up with your daily appointments.

Compass Wire-bound Daily Planner

Compass Wire-bound Daily Planner

The straightforward layout of our Compass Wire-bound Daily Planner is a perfect fit for a busy life. This planner allows you to carry one month of plans at a time in a neat, slim booklet. Add one of our slim leather covers for a very classy planner.

Blooms Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Blooms Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Nothing brightens your planner quite like the life-affirming beauty of nature. Blooms Planner Refills come adorned with inspirational quotes and delightfully delicate botanical images that change with the season. Available in two-page-per-day and two-page-per-week formats.

7 Habits Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

7 Habits Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

A straightforward application of lessons from the New York Times best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, these planner pages explore each habit with daily content and motivational quotes from the book, and includes exercises from the 7 Habits Signature Program workshop.

5 Choices Wire-bound Weekly Planner

5 Choices Wire-bound Weekly Planner

Based on the inspiring new productivity offering from FranklinCovey, this brand new planner’s clean design and inspiring quotes will help you make the most important decisions first. Includes 2 page monthly calendars. Its simple layout is easy to follow and it allows quite a lot of room for notes.

Botanica Wire-bound Daily Planner

Botanica Wire-bound Daily Planner

Botanical drawings—a favorite art form—grew from the appreciation we have for the contribution plants and flowers can make to a perfect day. The simply elegant Botanica Daily Planner helps you reflect on the best things in life and organize accordingly. Available in two-page-per-day, one-page-per-day, and two-page-per-week layouts.

Simplicity Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Simplicity Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

For those who use our planning principles in their own unique way, we’ve created the Simplicity Planner Refill, which is less structured and more open for appointments and tasks, and features a fun design with colors that change quarterly. Available in two-pages-per-day and weekly formats to help you manage your schedule, tasks, and notes. Plus, we’ve added a few ingenious additions to create our Simplicity for Moms Planner to help you track everything from play dates to Dr. visits.

Her Point Of View Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Her Point Of View Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

We’ve given a fresh new look to this popular, whimsical planner refill. The contemporary illustrations by Karn Knutson are complemented by an upbeat font and quote cloud. It makes your planning a little more fun. Available in ring-bound or wire-bound two-page-per-day and two-page-per-week layouts.

Leadership Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Leadership Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill

Lead your team to greatness with pages that offer daily inspiration in quotes from a diverse group of leaders and full-color images of beautiful landscapes. Two-pages-per-day format helps you manage your schedule, tasks, and notes. Available in ring-bound or wire-bound two-page-per-day, two-page-per-week layouts, and two-page-per-month layouts.

This is just the beginning. We have several more unique planner designs on our site, and even more in development. Check them all out here.

Monticello Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillSerenity Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillTextures Ring-bound Weekly Planner Refill

 

 

Create a Study Corner

With studying, as with so much else in life, it’s all about location, location, location. For learning outside the classroom, it helps to have a dedicated study space. Here are some ideas on how to make yours:

  • Get out of sight (and sound): make your study corner in a place that’s far from TVs, video games, or gathering places for your family or roommates. Keeping visual and audio distractions to a minimum can give you room to think.
  • Net/Paper access: if you study with your iPad or laptop, then your study space is more effective if it’s wi-fi enabled. This could be at home, or in a quiet bookstore coffee shop, or even in some outdoor places. Wherever you go, though, you’ll want a comfortable surface to put your writing materials and notebooks.
  • Comfort: you will be spending quite a bit of time in this spot, so make it a comfortable, organized one.

Stay Productive While On The Go

Staying productive on the go is easier that you might think. If you keep a list of things to do with you at all times, you’ll likely find a number of tasks and to do’s that can be executed with very little technology or tools beyond pen and paper. If you need to meet with someone in the near future, grab your cell phone and set up the visit even if you’re away. You can also brainstorm new ideas for work, sketch ideas for that rundown flower garden in your yard, or write a thank you note to a friend.

Achieve Any Goal by Brian TracyWe’re approaching the end of June, so that means that we’re almost half a year away from our New Year’s Resolutions. How have your goals held up this year? June is the perfect time for reviewing your goals, celebrating your successes, and recalibrating your plans for the rest of the year.

As you go over your resolutions, you’ll probably notice that your successful goals have turned into habits, while the ones you ditched in February never quite made it there. That’s probably why the toughest goals to master (like losing weight or quitting smoking) involve changing powerful habits over long periods of time.

So as you re-evaluate your goals, break them down into small daily habits that you can manage. For example, choosing to pack a lunch from home every day might help you reach two different goals: saving money by not eating out, and getting healthier by controlling what you eat.

Once you’ve identified your small goals, put them into practice every day for at least three weeks. If they’re time-specific (like the lunchtime goal above), add reminders to your computer or alarms on your phone to help you break your current habit’s autopilot and accomplish your goal.

If March through June haven’t been your best months for accomplishing your goals, don’t give up. Start small, and add on more complex tasks once your habits start to change. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t start running in the opposite direction: resolve to stick with it the next time your habit alarm goes off. Before the year is half over, you’ll already be making progress.


Products to help you achieve your goals:

Goal Planning Form 

Goal Planning Form

2 Pack Better Than a Yellow Pad – Meeting Notes

2 Pack Better Than a Yellow Pad - Meeting Notes

 

Paper Planning – Goals Without Interruptions

Seasons Ring-bound One-Page-Per-Day Planner Refill

We live in a world of distractions, a world where during the course of a single meeting, you can get five notifications on your cell phone – two recurring notifications for obsolete meetings, a spam text, a voicemail from your significant other, and a Facebook notification.

Using a paper planning system helps you focus without being drawn away to other pursuits, letting you write down and accomplish the most important tasks in your life. Rather than getting bogged down with notifications and navigating a touch keyboard, you can remain on task and have your notes in one place.

 

Easy Steps to Starting Your Organizing Journey

As a business owner, you’ve probably already been faced with one of the biggest challenges – staying organized and productive.

Realizing that you need to make time to get yourself organized is one of the biggest steps to getting organized.  It isn’t enough to simply say, “I’ll file that stuff later.”  Later never comes.  When was the last time you had a bunch of free time to get organized?  Yeah, me neither.

The first step you can take to getting organized is to schedule some time once a week to work on your office.  Make it a small amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour.  Keep it manageable, with an end time in mind.  Don’t take a whole day off of work to get organized – it will seem too overwhelming and it won’t get done. By focusing on a little at a time, you will get more done and have a sense of accomplishment.

So how do you get started?

Start with the number one thing that bothers you every day.  For example, I get a ton of email and before I know it, my inbox is over 200.  So one of my organizing goals is going through my email inbox and going through each email and deciding what to do with it.  Some of the emails will be deleted, others will be filed, and some I need to reply to.  What is it that bothers you most each day? Start working on getting that organized and under control, and then move on to the other parts of your business life that could be better organized.

Action Steps for this Week

1.       Schedule some time on your calendar to get organized – make an appointment with yourself!

2.       Make a list of your top 3 organizational challenges

3.       Start with your #1 organizational challenge and make a plan to work on it.  For example, if you want to clean out your email inbox, your goal should be to reduce it by 25% each time you work on it until it gets to xx (this number is the number of emails you feel are manageable).  Everyone’s goal is different — some people want zero emails in their inbox, some feel comfortable with 50.  Make a goal that’s right for you!

Excellent organizing advice Josh, thanks for sharing! 

Joshua Zerkel

 

Finding a Work/Life Balance

Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else? It might come when you’re looking at family pictures on Facebook during work hours, or when your kids call you late in the evening and ask you when you’re coming home. Finding the right work/life balance can be one of the biggest (and toughest) parts of finding satisfaction with your day-to-day experiences. Luckily, the key to developing an effective balance lies in proper organization and time management.

Our 2013 Resolutions Survey featured a new entry on the list of top resolutions – “Improve Family Relations”. With so many people working extra hours during this time of economic uncertainty, it’s not surprising that this resolution worked its way up the list.

So how can you balance your work life with your personal life? Start by scheduling out times to spend with your family and friends. Having a bowling night or girls night out scheduled on your calendar can give you something to look forward to, giving you more motivation to make it through the workday. You can also schedule time in the morning before work – a daily breakfast with your kids can be a great time for building relationships without other tasks getting in the way.

When you get to work, focus on working efficiently. Taking time from your tasks to check social media sites or listen to your co-worker’s latest drama can put you further behind than you might think – along with the time spent during the distraction, you face a loss of concentration on the task at hand. If you find ways to increase your focus, you might find that you can finish your nine-hour day in less than eight hours.

In the end, concentration is key. If you take time to exercise and get enough rest each evening, you’ll have an improved mental state that can help you work quickly. And during your relaxation time, focus on relaxing – without the constant pull of the mobile office.

Click here to view the 2012 vs 2013 New Year’s Resolutions Infographic.

 

 

 

How To Keep Your Resolutions

The results are in – here are the top five resolutions from our 2012-2013 survey:

1.      Become more physically fit

2.      Improve financial condition

3.      Improve health

4.      Lose weight

5.      Read more/become more educated

Resolutions 2013 Infographic

In an interesting twist, we also asked our respondents about their resolutions’ duration, both which resolution they gave up first and which one they stuck with the longest. Losing weight topped both lists.

So what makes the difference between those who keep resolutions and those who don’t? It’s more than just willpower – there are several steps that you can take to keep your resolutions going long past January.

First off, make sure that your goals are realistic, and expect change in small increments. Losing 20 pounds by the end of January simply can’t be done in a healthy way (which goes against the physically fit goal). But developing a plan for diet and exercise designed to help you lose a more realistic five pounds each month can help you get on your way, and provide small successes to celebrate.

Try this mental exercise – whatever you do, don’t think about an elephant. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid thinking about an elephant. Strangely enough, though, when tempted to break a resolution, you might spend mental energy trying not to think about the problem, staying in that uncomfortable place called indecision.

In one famous study, researchers put a toddler in an empty room with a marshmallow, instructing the toddler that if they waited 15 minutes without eating the marshmallow, they could have two marshmallows. Two-thirds of the kids ate the marshmallow. But a follow-up study showed that kids who could distract themselves by looking at the walls, reciting a rhyme, or playing a mental game, did much better at the test. They weren’t thinking about the marshmallow, so they weren’t spending energy deciding not to eat it.

Developing your own distractions can help you defuse the situations where you’re tempted to break your resolutions. If you’re used to hitting the vending machine at lunchtime, plan on running an errand instead, or take a short walk to the drinking fountain. Trying new activities to replace your old habits can also keep you from thinking about your resolutions.

Finally, keeping a resolutions journal can help you stay accountable to yourself for your actions. Each day, write down how things went, whether you were 100% compliant or whether you fell off the wagon. If you make a small mistake, you can also write down the situation where the mistake happened and plan ideas for how you can get back on track the next day. After all, falling off the wagon isn’t an excuse for running down the road in the opposite direction.

When you spend enough time planning your resolutions, your mind is free to enjoy the benefits those resolutions provide. Here’s wishing you the best of luck with your resolutions this year!

5 Tips To Jumpstart January

Real Life Adventures Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillWe have a thing for January. It’s National Get Organized Month. All that sorting, stashing, planning, and relocating are right down our alley. It’s what makes us tick—not because any one of us individually is perfectly organized, but because for a whole month the dream feels almost attainable. And even if we never find that perfect state of organized nirvana, the efforts we make at the first of the year make a huge difference.

The list of things we could do in January is enormous, but sometimes we need a little jumpstart to get going. (Like that rusty, yellow 1973 Ford Pinto my brother drove to college.) Anyway, here are a few little things to get you started:

What’s In Your Freezer?

Now that the holidays are over, you’ll want to empty your freezer and see exactly what you have in there. Throw out anything that’s freezer burned or expired and make sure you aren’t hiding something wonderful behind your leftover turkey. You may be able to center your next few meals around the discoveries you make. Better to eat it while it’s good than waste it later.

Update Your New Planner

January is a good time to transfer important numbers, dates, and information from your 2012 calendar to your new 2013 calendar. Make sure you aren’t missing important items like birthdays, anniversaries, and your children’s healthcare specialists.

Prepare for April 15th

By now you’ve probably got most if not all of the paperwork you needLovisa File Box w/ 12 file by Bigso Box of Swedentofile your taxes from your employers, banks, and investments. Now you just need to gather the information that has accumulated throughout the year. Determine your medical expenses, travel costs, home business expenses and income, etc. and store it in a file box so you can easily file your taxes for the year.

Set An Achievable Short-term Goal

Most of us are focused on long-term resolutions at the beginning of the year. That’s fine, but who wants to wait a whole year before they get the satisfaction of having completed a goal? Take one of your long-term goals and break it down to pieces that you can accomplish in a month. Maybe in January you want to run or walk 3 to 4 days a week. That’s a short-term goal for the month with just enough flexibility built in to make it achievable, and it will move you toward your longer-term goal of developing a healthier lifestyle. Hint: if you schedule the days you plan to exercise in your planner and on your wall calendar, you’ll improve your chances of getting it done.

Start A Compelling Novel

Sure it’s not a way to get organized, but if you’re like the rest of us, your days will soon be getting longer and you’ll want to be outdoors and on the run. While you still have longer evenings void of major yard work, pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read and escape reality for a few minutes each day. When you close the book and re-join the real world, you’ll feel a little more refreshed.

However you choose to start your new year, we hope you do it with a smile and with a positive outlook. Having an upbeat attitude toward life goes a long way.

Good luck and happy 2013.

 

Making Your Planner Work For You

It’s been a while since we’ve had a serious discussion about planners. With the year coming to a close and another starting fresh, now is the perfect time for a refresher. You’ll soon be setting goals for a new year, and using a planner will make reaching those goals a little easier. Here are a few thoughts to help you plan from some of the most organized people we know.

Our CEO, Sarah Merz Devoll:

Sarah Merz DevollI am a devoted paper planner user and have been for decades.  Over the years, I’ve developed several special planning approaches that help me make sense of my commitments, goals, and progress toward those goals.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Spatially sort your task list – I list my work tasks from the top down, and my personal tasks from the bottom up. That way, I can easily keep track of progress on both aspects of my life. I try to keep a balance by not letting the bottom list creep up the page faster than the top list creeps down the page, and vice versa.
  • Create a highlighted day code to track important things – On days when I get a good workout in, I highlight the date with a pink highlighter on the monthly tab. A month full of pink dots is a health month. A month with no dots is embarrassing.
  • Add pages for big days – About once a month, I have an event that has lots of moving parts. It could be a dinner party, a board meeting, or a project with my husband. I add a blank page in my planner next to that date and keep all my running lists on that page. I always know where my notes are because the date is top-of-mind and when the day arrives, my thoughts are all collected in front of me.

I look forward to learning planning tips from others as well, so I can continue to adapt and make my planner even more helpful.

Steve Shumway, Vice-President, Product Development

Steven ShumwayI started using a day planner years ago when they were a “must have” for any businessman.  I continued to follow the trends and graduated to a PDA and eventually to a smartphone, which I now use in conjunction with my iPad.  Still, there is one enduring concept I appreciate now more than ever despite all the advances in technology and the changing trends over the years- I need something to write on!

I use the FranklinCovey Leadership 1-page-per-day planner that fits nicely into a beautiful leather cover.  It allows me to capture meeting notes by date along with recording assignments, projects, things I need to remember, and notes to myself.  This planner keeps them neatly organized and makes it easy to transfer some of this information to my electronic devices.

I used to be very concerned about fashions and trends.  I now concern myself more with practicality.  I want to do what works and I find my planner is what works for me.  I love my electronic devices but they are only part of the total organizational equation.  Still, with a business case, a planner cover, and an iPad cover that are all coordinating, I satisfy my need for style.

I am confident technology will continue to emerge and the next big thing is just around the corner.  I am also confident, despite these advancements, my FranklinCovey planner will continue to be the cornerstone of my personal organization.

And from Product Manager, Jennifer Andrews:

Jen AndrewsI’ve been using planners for many years, and as technology and my life have changed, so have my planners. In high school (way before cell phones and tablets) I used it for everything. I kept all my phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, calendars, tasks, notes, pictures, and journaling in my planner. It went with me everywhere. As I entered college, my planner became my lifeline to keep on top of homework, project and work schedules. I found it kept me from losing my mind as I had so much going on.

As I entered the working world, my planner came with me, but it changed. As I began to use technology more and more, I found I no longer needed my planner for my calendars and birthdays, as my computer reminded me of them. And my contacts were also now being stored electronically. I tried a few times to keep everything on a smartphone or my computer, but found myself frequently frustrated as I tried to keep track of notes and tasks in meetings and throughout my day. I needed my planner.

I’ve finally settled on a weekly planner format. I love being able to keep my entire week in front of me at a glance. If I see that I already have a lot of tasks stacked up for Tuesday, but Wednesday’s open, I can schedule my own time better. It keeps me from being stressed out when I can see it all laid out in front of me. I also love that I can put a task in the future; even a few months down the road, and know that it will be there. I don’t have to worry that a glitch in my computer erased it, or it didn’t sync to my iPhone due to a bug in the last update. I wrote it in ink, it’s still there.

If I wake up at night unable to sleep thinking about something I need to do the next day, I grab my planner, write it down and know that task will hit me when it needs to. It keeps me on top of the many hats I wear. My planner is a dear old friend, she keeps me organized, she keeps me sane.

Is your planner a dear friend that keeps you organized and sane? If not, take a closer look at the way you plan. Your planner is waiting to help you make more of your time.

For more help using your planner take a look at this helpful video.



 

 

How To Get Organized In 2013

By Monica Friel

Does your New Year’s resolution involve getting organized? Make 2013 the year that you commit to better organization. Don’t think of being organized as an elusive, far-off goal. Create routines to help lighten the load and bring the chaos to order today. Here are 5 tips to help get you started:

Structure Your Day When time is unstructured, it can leave you feeling scattered and unaccomplished. Start each day with a clear plan. Make lists of what you need to do and prioritize them. Structure your day around those goals.

Create Habits Small habits of putting away and finishing up what you’re doing can have huge benefits in maintaining order. Here are some creative ways to get a new habit to stick.

Do Less. Creating a tight schedule without time to re-group will set you up for failure. Plan ahead for inevitable distractions. If things happen to run smoothly, you can make productive use of that extra time.

Be Charitable Having a good cause to donate to will help get the clutter out, while helping someone else in need (not to mention the tax deduction). Regularly asses what you have and weed out the excess.

Create A Place  If you have 15 minutes to straighten up, but don’t know where to put anything, that 15 minutes is wasted. Having a place for everything is essential to living organized. Invest in furniture and containers to make maintaining order easier.

Organization doesn’t just happen, it  is  a discipline and a constant process. Commit to making 2013 your most organized year yet!

Thanks, Monica!  We know 2013 will be a great year!  

Monica Friel

 

 

Prepare Your Perfect Paper Planner!

By Naomi Cook

Can you believe that 2013 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!  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 2012 planner, don’t toss it yet!  There is a lot of valuable information in there that will be repeated in your 2013 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 2012 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 2012, and get excited for the beginning of an organized new year!

Until next time, stay neat people!

Thanks Naomi for sharing these great ideas!  I look forward to getting a new planner every year and your tips will certainly be helpful. 

Are You Wasting Time Trying to Get Organized?

By Monica Friel

Have you ever been motivated to organize your desk/office space and gotten lost in the details? Have you made a plan to get organized and found yourself wasting time trying to figure out how to print the perfect, color-coded file labels? Too often we find ourselves having good intentions to get organized, but wasting time focused on the wrong things. Here are some solutions to keep you on task when organizing:

Watch the clock. Look at the amount of time you can carve out for the sole purpose of organization and stick to it. Don’t let organizing get in the way of other work that needs to get done.

Tackle the tough stuff. It’s easy to organize where you like to. When you’re motivated to work, begin with the area that’s troublesome and stick with it, but don’t venture into other areas until you meet your initial goal.

Don’t create more chaos. Don’t pull everything out of a supply closet if you don’t have the time to put it all back. Keep everything in the space, eliminate what you can then sort and organize.

Piles of paper= unfinished tasks. Don’t try to finish all of the details of every task while organizing. You will find many things that can send you in different directions, don’t let them derail you.

Don’t focus on the details right away. The files don’t need to be labeled, color-coded and perfected. Creating temporary files is a great way to get started. You can slap a sticky note on the file folder and move on.

Organize only where you need it. When you decide to organize a particular area, don’t wander into other places. Get through what you need to organize and get back to work.

Don’t Over-file. Do you have files for every category possible?  Make chronological files for January thru December each year and file all bills and related receipts quickly and efficiently.

Don’t file alphabetically. File according to use. If you use a particular file frequently, keep it close so you can access it quickly.

Remember, organization isn’t about perfection, its about productivity and finding what you need quickly. Remember these tips to keep organization where it belongs, as a process that leads to better productivity, not a task that consumes your whole day!

Thanks Monica for more great tips!  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel