All You Need To Know About Time Management

By Carmen Coker

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?
b. A moderately effective person?
c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how?

The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them. As such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in “all that stuff” first, then there will always be little to no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time. Here’s how you can learn more and get started today!

Ready for more time in your life? Download your FREE copy of The Ultimate Productivity Planner™ right now, and start saving 90 minutes (or more) every day…even if you think time management is a myth!

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Jerry Seinfeld’s Surprising Tip To Increase Productivity

By Carmen Coker

Have you ever had to do something day-in and day-out, and you didn’t really feel like it? (Go to work, anyone?! What about organize the house…wash dishes…do laundry…mow the lawn?)

Betcha didn’t know that comedian Jerry Seinfeld, of all people, can help you out with your case (or cases) of the really-don’t-feel-like-it blues.

Seinfeld was once asked about his secret tips for success and productivity. To which he said: “Don’t break the chain.”

He went on to explain that, in order to be a good comedian, he needed to write every single day. BUT sometimes he didn’t feel like it.

So he would put a big red “X” on his calendar every time he sat down to write. Day after day, he would make the “X’s” across the board until, eventually, he had a long chain. His ultimate goal was to not break that chain, and this idea was enough to motivate him to keep writing the many jokes and skits that have made us laugh throughout the years, even when the desire to do so wasn’t really there.

Interestingly, there are lots of applications of “don’t break the chain” – daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc. For more, watch this:

Today’s easy organizing challenge is to follow in Jerry Seinfeld’s footsteps, considering where and how you aren’t being organized or productive in your home, work, or life. Then pick one area and create the longest chain of X’s possible! For example:

  • Environmentally…

I haven’t organized my files in months. To declutter, I will spend 90 minutes each Saturday morning organizing my file cabinet until it’s complete.

  • Mentally…

I could finish this project in a week’s time, but I’ve been procrastinating on it for ages. To get this off my plate (finally!) and clear my mind, I will spend an hour every night this week until it’s d-o-n-e.

  • Socially…

I have so many people to email and call back! To be a better friend, I will make a list of these individuals, and contact one per day until every last person is checked off the list.

  • Personally…

I want to lose 10 pounds. To get healthy, I will exercise every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until I reach my goal weight – then keep exercising every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to maintain.

  • Emotionally…

I never take any time off. To get some much needed R&R, I’m going to plan one getaway each quarter, actually GO, and…enjoy!

Want Bigger Results? Instead of picking just one area where you aren’t being your most organized and productive, pick ten areas to “chain” one at a time. As soon as you complete the first chain (area), roll right into the second, then third, and so on.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to whiz through to-do’s quicker than ever before, she recommends (& uses!) this FREE MP3 to boost productivity. Try it, and…get stuff done!

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Finding Time – As Seen In The Washington Post

By Carmen Coker

Would you agree that FINDING TIME for your most important life goals is often difficult to do when you are juggling a busy schedule?

What’s worse, for the time-starved, the ick factor doesn’t just stop at the basic frustration of not finding time! These nasty feelings come right along with it:

  • Unfulfilled (Am I ever going to…? I said I wanted to do that years ago.)
  • Uninspired (I do the same thing day in, day out. I can’t ever seem to squeeze in some fun!)
  • Unhappy (This is not the way I want my life to be. I want to dream, explore, live! But instead I feel like I’m just existing.)
  • Undone (I always do and do for everyone else, but what about me?!)
  • Unorganized (Others seem to be moving and shaking through life. Am I the only one who can’t get it together?)

There’s no doubt about it – if you remain disconnected from your life goals and aspirations, big or small, you will always feel unbalanced and unsatisfied.

Take Deb Hardy, for example. Deb is a 48-year-old creative spirit who lives in Seattle. When I first met Deb, by day, she enjoyed her job at a large technology firm, so much so that she put all her energy into it. But, by night, she had little to nothing left for anything else when she got home, except a little TV watching and internet surfing.

What Deb discovered was that work, TV, and internet didn’t truly feed her soul – she really wanted to find time for art. She explained that “I’ve started to feel like a fraud. I call myself an artist, but I’m not making any art.”

Compounding her general dissatisfaction, Deb admitted: “I have this mental block, where I feel life is all about obligation, drudgery, doing what I should do, making other people happy, never disappointing anyone. I must have been a Puritan in a former life.”

Can you relate? All work and no play, well…you know the how the saying ends.

Fortunately, through The Washington Post’s Timehacker project, I was paired with Deb to help her solve the problem of finding time to live her life more fully and creatively.

Here are the top finding-time tips and takeaways from our sessions:

  1. Identify your top five values. Once you do, it’s easier to see if your actions are in line with your values. And if they’re not, once you have a clearer idea of what’s important, you’ll have more impetus to change.
  2. Schedule time for fun first, before anything else. Otherwise, you’re trying to “squeeze” it in, and that rarely works. When you schedule something, it shows it’s significant to you, and you’re more likely to follow through and make it real.
  3. Figure out what you have to let go of in order to make time for what you really want. Ask people you trust for their honest opinions and constructive feedback of how you spend your time.
  4. Find the space, not just in the calendar, but the physical space, to create art, and make the space inviting and organized, so you’ll be drawn to spend time there.

You can read more about Deb’s journey to finding time, including how she applied the above tips (and more!) to her life and what challenges she overcame in doing so, in the full article in The Washington Post.

In the end, Deb realized that she had not made “fun and play a priority for many, many years.” Which is why, she created this artwork to inspire:

Deb Hardy art

Artwork by Deb Hardy

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted. Well said, Deb! Truth is, you can’t be your most productive self unless you take time to relax, rejuvenate, and regroup – and enjoy your life goals as you go.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! 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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This Idea Will Change The Way You Organize Your Time

By Carmen Coker

A popular Zen parable tells of a Wanderer who happened upon a raging river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge.

Afraid to wade across the river on foot with such a strong current, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: “This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.”

So the Wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

The Big Reveal

From the outside looking in, the Wanderer’s decision might seem ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to do so?

Often times, we make this same decision in our own life. In doing so, we hang on to something that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter.

Now, your “rafts” may come in various shapes and forms – maybe it’s too many commitments, maybe it’s a poor-fit household routine, or maybe it’s too much stuff. No matter, the underlying question remains the same: Is this clutter in your schedule, in your work, in your life holding you back?

The Ins & Outs

It’s important to be fiercely protective of not only your time and how you spend it, but also your space and what you bring into it. Wise decisions about your time and space allow you to preserve these precious resources, whereas foolish decisions can do just the opposite.

No one wants to play the fool! So to help you make those wise decisions – and help you release the “rafts” that are taking over your calendar, wasting your time, and diminishing your space – answer these five questions:

1. What areas of my home/work life could benefit from systems like checklists, automation, etc?

2. What commitments no longer support my top priorities and should be erased from my calendar?

3. Where does clutter stop me from enjoying and/or fully utilizing my home/office space, and how can the clutter be removed?

4. Where do I waste time and/or procrastinate throughout the day, and how can I stop doing so?

5. What are the biggest things about my life that I/my family complain about, and how can I/we smartly resolve these issues?

The Bottom Line

“Rafts” that clutter your mind, your time, and your space (amongst others!) are all stumbling blocks to your best life. A highly organized and productive person understands that doing less and having less often means creating more time and space for the things that truly matter.

So…where can you remove clutter that may be hindering your quality of life?

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! 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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When To-Do Lists Don’t Work

By Carmen Coker

Generally speaking, a list is a good thing because …

When you write a list, it helps you focus. When you follow a list, it keeps you on track and moving toward list completion. And when you cross off list items, you feel productive.

And yet, despite proven results and positive qualities, lists don’t always work for everyone, every time because …

When you have to make a list, it means you have lots to accomplish. When you have lots to accomplish, you suddenly don’t want to do anything but sit on your couch, watch TV, and eat ice cream.

In other words, making a list is making you procrastinate. At this point, you’ve entered into a mind-game between your lazy self and your productive self, and your lazy self is winning!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to fight back by creating a NOT To-Do List to help you get organized.

The NOT To-Do List is exactly as the name implies – a list of things you do not want to do.

For example …

The Not To-Do List for Housekeeping

  • Throw shoes by the front door
  • Let mail pile up on the kitchen counter
  • Forget to file bills at the end of month

The NOT To-Do List for Time Management

  • Hit the “snooze” button on the alarm more than once
  • Check email more than 2 times per day
  • Turn on TV while getting ready for work

With the NOT To-Do List, you’re giving your lazy self permission to be lazy while, at the same time, giving your productive self permission to get things done.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! 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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It’s Time for a “Time Makeover”: 5 Tips for Mastering Your Calendar

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

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

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

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

Joshua Zerkel

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3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose Time

By Carmen Coker

Having trouble finding extra minutes in your day? These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ‘em!

1. You can never say “no.”

Being a yes-man or yes-woman stems from a longing to feel important/needed or from a fear of hurting/disappointing someone. As a result, you are continually over-committed and over-scheduled.

[FIX] When you always say “yes” to others, inevitably, you will end up saying “no” to many of your life priorities. Having an honest response ready will help you feel confident in sending your regrets. Something as simple as this will do the trick: “Thank you for thinking of me! I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other personal obligations.”

2. You are good at being busy but not productive.

From the outside looking in, you appear like one heck of a busy bee. But from an insider’s perspective, you tend to do something just to do it, even though it may not be the highest priority task at the time.

[FIX] Henry David Thoreau said it best: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Practice mindful productivity (instead of mindless productivity) by only giving thought, time, and effort to the truly significant.

3. You rely on memory alone.

You have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and yet only five to nine items stay in your short-term memory at any given time. The odds are against you! Leaving stuff in your head means leaving stuff forgotten.

[FIX] Here’s one theory of Albert Einstein’s that isn’t taught in school: “Why remember my phone number when it’s in the phone book?” Believe it or not, witnesses claim he did not rely on memory alone to recall his number – and there is pure genius in its simplicity! Find or create your own system to track important information.

Remember:

There is such a thing as PRODUCTIVITY KARMA. If you don’t value your time (or the time of others), then your time will not value you, and … it will slip away.

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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The Top 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Getting organized means…quality of life…high levels of energy and productivity…creating space in your home and life for the things that really matter…being fully present. Getting organized is a huge part of being all you can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.

Given these amazing benefits, what’s stopping you from getting organized? Here are the TOP 5 reasons why you can’t get organized:

1 – Can’t break free from the daily grind

Whether you’ve got one small organizing project to tackle, or you’re looking to organize your entire house, the question becomes: “How do I fit in organizing in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…laundry and housekeeping…Scandal and bedtime?”

Being perpetually trapped in the day-to-day could mean another year (or two, three, or more) passes you by – and still you are no closer to your organizing goals.

2 – Not being prepared for common situations

There are some spots that need organizing regularly, like mail, toys, and clothes. I bet if I ask you to list off the clutter hot spots in your home or the ways in which you waste time, you could list them 1, 2, 3 – without much thought.

You likely know the moments that make you disorganized, and if you let them, these moments will continue to steal away your hope of getting organized.

3 – Not connected to your why-power

Just saying “I want to get organized” will not sustain you. Why? It shows that you are interested in enjoying the many positives that organizing affords, but you aren’t 100% committed to doing what it takes to fully realize those positives in your own life.

If getting organized – whether it’s your kitchen or your attic or your files – is not connected to your why-power (aka your deepest motivator), then you’ll easily fall off the get-organized wagon.

4 – Don’t know what you don’t know

In order for getting organized to work for you, you need a complete organizing system, or know-how. Know-how generally consists of more than just tips like “to organize your shelves do this”. These are what I call surface tips, since they tend to repair the surface of things, and often just for a short time.

If you don’t have the know-how or don’t have access to the know-how, then getting organized can be an uphill climb.

5 – Too many negative influencers

Negative influencers are anyone or anything that hinders your organizing progress, either intentionally or unintentionally (spouse, kids, parents, pets). Despite your best efforts to get and stay organized, these guys just get in the way.

Not understanding how to deal with negative influencers will have nothing but a negative effect on your organizing success.

Did you know…there are not just five reasons why people can’t get organized – there are 26 total? Good news! All of the reasons can be easily fixed. To learn more, go here http://bit.ly/GetTotallyOrganized now. Let me show you how to say goodbye to clutter and finally create the home and life you desire (and deserve)!

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Solve This Productivity Riddle and Save 10+ Hours of Time, Every Time

by Carmen Coker

Riddle me this: What is something that is no-cost to do, but if not done, is very costly? Hint: the answer has to do with time management, goal setting, and being productive in your home, work, and life.

The Big Reveal

If you answered “plan,” then you are close. If you answered “planning,” then you are spot-on! While the former is important, it shouldn’t be confused with or used in lieu of the latter.

Reason being, plans are pretty. Plans make us feel productive. Plans are what people should have. Life plan – check! Career plan – check! Weekend plan – check!

The problem is this: a plan easily becomes stagnant and outdated. More often than not, as soon as a plan is created, it is in need of revision, even though it may be just days (or hours) old and even though a lot of time and effort likely went into the making of.

Planning, on the other hand, is dynamic. It is the action to a plan’s inaction, and it always moves you and your life forward.

This is a vital distinction that successful people have been making for years. Case in point: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was one of only five U.S. Army officers to ever wear five stars (and, oh yeah, who was also the 34th U.S. President), once explained: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

The Ins & Outs

In any endeavor, not just in battle, Eisenhower’s words ring true. Planning is a powerful tool to improve your life – and it’s free. There’s no reason not to do it.

But, hold up! Who has time to throw in a bit of planning in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…Scandal and bedtime?

In the day-to-day of life, planning becomes one of the first things to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. And, if we’re totally honest here, sometimes it falls off the to-do list completely!

However, if you consider that a SINGLE hour of planning saves TEN hours of doing, then the avoidance of planning altogether drains more time than the actual planning itself. Phew! It seems you really do have time for planning after all.

Now that you’ve solved this productivity riddle, here are five ways to become a power-planner:

1 – Make it real.

Allow for a planning morning or afternoon at least once a quarter, and in advance, schedule these as non-negotiable appointments on your calendar. (Yeah, you “know it.” But…do you “do it”?) This step not only sets a positive intention, but it also turns planning from a nice thought into a new reality.

2 – Own it – loud and proud.

When you keep something to yourself, it’s easy to get away with…doing nothing. Tell someone – your spouse, your best friend, or your personal assistant – that the planning process is now a top priority for you.  Saying so aloud to this person should keep you honest.

3 – Take inspired action.

If you doubt its potential, then the planning process won’t ever seriously happen or create fruitful results for you. Read the autobiography of any influential person you admire – no doubt, planning will be part of their recipe for success. Let their example, in turn, reframe how you look at planning and what it can do for your personal growth.

4 – Bring in the heavy weights.

Planning on your own can have low impact. Ask mentors or trusted friends to get involved and mastermind the planning process with you. They will not only introduce new ideas but also challenge you to reach higher than, if left to your own devices, you would ever dare.

5 – Filter, filter, filter.

Infuse your personal priorities into the planning process. Put up a list of your top priorities for everyone to see, and filter all planning concepts through this list. Trusting your priorities is the way to avoid chasing poor-fit opportunities and getting off-track – and wasting time and productivity as a result.

The Bottom Line

Never underestimate the power of planning. A highly productive person uses planning as a secret weapon to save time, exceed goals, and “get stuff done”!

So…how can you leverage planning to improve your home and life?

 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! 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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What Aristotle Exposed About Getting Organized

Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s hard to argue with Aristotle, one of the greatest scientists and philosophers the world has ever seen. It’s even harder to argue, given that his very name means “the best purpose.” Indeed, his advice encourages you to be the best that you can be.

I’d like to take this example of Aristotle’s logic a step further by changing “excellence” to “organizing.” (Here’s hoping he won’t mind me taking a little creative license!)

So…let me ask you: Is your life full of chaos and clutter, or order and serenity? Your answer reveals what you repeatedly do.

aristotle

Need perpetual inspiration? Download the above graphic here for your personal use.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, apply for a complimentary 60-minute Get-Organized Strategy Session today!

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10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized Today

How long have you been telling yourself that you need to get more organized? Honestly. A month? A year? A decade? A lifetime?

No matter how long you have been tolerating clutter in your home and life, you will likely agree that:

  • Nothing good comes from clutter – only chaos, stress, frustration, loss, pain, wastefulness, hassles, and ineffectiveness.
  • Any amount of time is too long to struggle with clutter and the ill-effects it has on your space, time, mind, energy, money, and more.
  • You can get started today, removing clutter and making space for the more important things in life.

If you are like most, acknowledging the above factors is easy; acting upon them, especially the last one, isn’t.

You may explain away your inaction with: I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. It’s too hard. I’m too overwhelmed. I’ve gotten by so far, so what’s the point? Even so, the reality won’t change – tomorrow, you will either be one day closer to your organizing goals and the home and life you desire, or one day further away.

It’s time to face the stories you are telling yourself about getting organized and set your excuses aside. Here are 10 action items that will help you get more organized today – in less than 20 minutes!

  1. Pick one chore that you’ve been doing but that could be done by another person, like a spouse, older child, or assistant – then delegate it. Permanently. Doing so will free up some “me” time or…some time to get organized!
  2. Consolidate half-full bottles of cleaning or laundry supplies. Doing so will free up extra space in your cabinets and on your shelves.
  3. Create a project/task to-do list for something for which you’ve been procrastinating. Doing so will make you feel as if you are getting things done, and boy – isn’t that a good feeling?
  4. Go through your kitchen fridge/freezer and toss any expired food, beverages, or condiments. Doing so will inspire you to restock with some big-energy foods that will help you be über-productive.
  5. Open your mail that’s been piling up, recycle or shred what isn’t needed, and file the rest away. Doing so will help you finally get rid of that nagging task that has to get done anyway!
  6. Remove three pieces of clothing from your closet that have seen their better days, and recycle them. Doing so will help tidy up your closet – and help Mother Earth.
  7. Clean out your purse or briefcase, making it more orderly. Doing so will make your day lighter!
  8. Choose a never-before-used recipe from a cookbook and plan a healthy, home-cooked meal for this week. Doing so is like milk…it does the body good! (Psst! That’s the most important part of finding life balance.)
  9. Start writing your Christmas cards early, before the season catches you off guard. Doing so will make your friends and family insanely jealous that you have got it so “together”!
  10. Schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off, like one with your hairdresser, auto shop, or doctor. Doing so will help you feel like you are finally getting back on track.

Pick one to do today, or do them all over the next week. Either way, you will feel more energized and organized!

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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All You Need to Know About Time Management

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?

b. A moderately effective person?

c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how? The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-
setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them; as such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in all that “stuff” first, then there is no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time.

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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The Lost Productivity Secret

By Carmen Coker

If you could have a conversation with the late Steve Jobs, right here and now, and he offered you the key to productivity and success – would you listen to his advice?

Why wouldn’t you?! Every era has their icon, and one could easily argue that Mr. Jobs was the king of the computer age, and beyond. His ideas revolutionized the world in which we live. Sadly, he was taken before his time, as many of the great ones are. But he was, in fact, generous enough to leave us with his productivity rule of thumb. So…listen up!

The Big Reveal

When asked the reason for Apple’s achievement and innovation, Steve Jobs explained: “It comes from saying ‘no’ to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Doing too much seems to be part of modern life. Every day offers new chances, friendships, challenges, and ideas. Indeed, the world is a creative, exciting – and busy – place to be.

But are you letting these explorations, if you will, distract you from the most important thing? From making forward progress? From being truly great?

The Ins & Outs

The word “no” is the most powerful weapon in your productivity and time management armory. It’s simple, and it’s free – a true win-win. The problem is that many people find it difficult to say it for many reasons like: maybe you’ll seem rude, maybe the proposition feeds your ego (if you’re honest about it), maybe you feel pressure from others, maybe…the list goes on.

Here are three guidelines to ensure you can say “no, thank you” when you need to most:

1 – Clearly define your vision and priorities.

While this may seem like an oh-yeah fact, human beings often lack mindfulness about these very fundamentals when making decisions, and this can quickly cause a loss of focus. [Tip] It’s vital to separate your vision and priorities into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, going from most important to least important. Keep a master list beside your desk, in your planner, or on your mobile for reference at any time.

2 – Use your vision and priorities to strictly screen all opportunities.

In the busyness of life, sometimes the day-to-day overwhelms the big picture. [Tip] Review your vision and priorities daily to keep them top-of-mind, plus constantly utilize them to screen decisions, big or small, about what you purchase, how to use your time, what projects you allow, and more. Weigh each opportunity according to whether or not it supports your primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. If it doesn’t, then mark it off the list.

3 – Have your no-can-do response ready.

When other parties are involved and demanding answers, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be at a loss as to how to send regrets in a genuine and honest way. [Tip] To avoid bumbling and why-did-I-say-that moments, create and memorize a simple script like: “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other obligations and priorities. Keep me in mind for next time, ok?”

The Bottom Line

Say “yes” to only those experiences that let your vision and priorities shine brightly. A highly productive person knows when and how to respectfully (and authentically) turn down anything that doesn’t sustain his/her values, goals, and dreams.

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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Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

By Carmen Coker

You’ve vowed to finally transform your “clutter mountain” into a “clutter molehill.” Now that your mind is set, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of getting organized?

(1) Have specific goals.

Don’t say: I want to get organized.

Do say: I want to organize my estate.

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities – or no results. Take the time to make specific organizing goals so that you get the fabulous organizing results you deserve.

(2) Calendar it to make it real.

Don’t say: I’ll get to organizing the garage when I have time.

Do say: I need to schedule a day to organize my garage.

If you treat organizing like a regular appointment, you are more likely to take it seriously and follow through on your get-organized goals.

(3) Focus on one thing.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule…

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax paperwork.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task, and one task only, until it is complete. And let that success, as little or big as it may be, propel you onward.

(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Organizing my closet? Yikes! I don’t know if I can…

Do say: Organizing my closet? I’m ready! I’ll save so much time getting dressed each morning…

Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively not only about the process but also the end result, and put those brain waves to good use!

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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Planner Tips

Ashlyn BinderWant to get even more out of your planner? Keep it close at hand as a reminder of your goals and dreams. If you keep it open and in easy view in a corner of your desk, you’ll be able to keep track of your task list throughout the day without getting distracted by email notifications.

Also, be sure to record your contact information in your planner, just in case you lose it. It’s always better to be prepared.

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua Zerkel

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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.

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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

 

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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!

 

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Six Back To School Items Every Student Should Have

Heading to college? You’ve got a lot to pack. Of course, some things may be more important than others. If it gets too crowded in your tiny compact car, you may need to prioritize. Here are a few things that we think should remain near the top of your list.

Backpack or Tote

College students need to haul a lot of stuff around campus—textbooks, homework, laptops, etc. Having a strong backpack or tote will make carrying it all easier. If you can find one with padded compartments for both your laptop and your tablet, you’ll worry less about your favorite devices. Take a look at our selection of trendy carriers to help you keep up with college life.

Click Here to Shop Backpacks and Totes.

Wire Basket or Crate

Sharing a bathroom with a bunch of students can be chaotic. How do you keep track of your stuff? A wire crate is a perfect way to haul your toiletries from place to place and keep them from being used by who-knows-who. Sound like a good idea? Visit TidyNirvana.com and check out LaCrate by Design Ideas. This epoxy-coated wire crate can go right into the shower with you. It holds your supplies but won’t hold water.

2013/2014 Academic Planner by Sarah PintoPlanner

With a new semester of college on the way, you’ll be busier than ever. Be sure you don’t lose track of deadlines, appointments, and fun activities by scheduling them in your planner.

Click Here to Shop for Planners.

Notebooks

Sure, every college bookstore has notebooks. We recommend you pick up a few. While you’re at it grab our Better Than A Yellow Pad—it makes it easy to take orderly notes that you can actually follow later, so you’ll remember exactly what your professor and teammates need you to do.

Cellphone And Gadget Protection

Chances are pretty good you’ve got a new smartphone, tablet, or other device that you’d hate to break during your first semester of the year. Find the perfect cases, carriers, and accessories to add protection and character to your favorite devices at Geekorize.com.

Click Here to Shop at Geekorize.com.

HamperTote by O.R.E. OriginalsA Laundry Bin That Helps Sort Your Clothes

You probably know someone who got a new dark sock mixed in with his or her white clothes on washday. If you aren’t familiar with what happens, that sock bleeds dye in the wash and will turn all those white clothes mint green. Yeah, we know through sad experience. College students are busy, but that doesn’t mean they should skip steps when they’re washing their clothes. The HamperTote by O.R.E. Originals makes sorting simple. It’s divided for colors, whites, and darks, so you’ll sort your wash each time you change your clothes. Washday will never be simpler. Find this cool hamper tote at TidyNirvana.com today.

 

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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!

 

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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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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!

 

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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

 

 

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Time Management

One big part of managing your time is figuring out how much time you spend on each task. With a world wide web of distractions one browser click away, electronic organizing can take much longer than you expect.

With a paper planner, completing a task is as simple as pulling out your planner, checking off an item on your list, and making any notes that you need for later.  There are no batteries to charge, so your schedule is always available. And you can take meeting notes without leaving an impression of rudeness.

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Color Coded Schedule

Prioritize your daily tasks and keep track of progress towards personal and career goals using color.

I use yellow to highlight tasks that must be completed that day.

Pink indicates activities or plans after work.  With a busy work schedule it can be easy to forget other plans you have made.  I’ve found highlighting these plans in my planner helps me remember.

I’ve been trying to stick to a personal fitness goal this year.  I draw orange dots on the days I fit in a workout.  It’s rewarding to see the progress I make every week towards this goal.

Color Coded Schedule

 

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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

 

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National Memo Day

Serenity Memo MousepadTake this down: May 21st is National Memo Day.

Fun Facts:

  • In 1968, a chemist at the 3M company was trying to develop a super-strength adhesive, but instead created a low-tack, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. 22 years later, in 1980, they finally figured out how to use this adhesive, and the Post-It Note was born.
  • The yellow color came about because the development team borrowed yellow scrap paper from the lab next door.
  • In 1978, the residents of Boise, Idaho became the first to try Post-Its, with free samples throughout the city.

Today, there are all sorts of note-taking products to help your brain manage its workload. Celebrate National Memo Day by noting which notes you need.

 

 

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The Basics of Organizing

You can say a lot about organization specifics – the best way to organize a junk drawer, great strategies for handling bills, or the proper order for your medicine cabinet. Sometimes, though, it’s just handy to live by basic organization principles and apply them where needed. Try applying these basic organizing rules to your daily life:

  • Everything Has a Home: or, as the old saying goes, a place for everything, and everything in its place.
  • Decide Quickly: it’s easy to spend more time thinking about the easiest way to accomplish a task than it would take to do it the hard way. Pick a strategy and get it done.
  • Delegate: you can’t do it all – don’t be afraid to let others help you.
  • Be Honest about Time: it takes time to plan, time to communicate, and time to execute. In your schedule, give your self enough time to plan and give every project a time cushion – you never know when a short simple project will hit an unexpected snag.
  • Follow the Rules: just as children perform better and are happier when given boundaries, when you develop and follow your own rules, you spend less time arguing with yourself and more time accomplishing your goals.
  • Establish Accountability: let someone else know of your goals, whether it’s a trusted family member or a professional co-worker. It can provide some powerful motivation for keeping with your plan.

Like the old proverb of giving a man a fish, if you apply these rules in your daily life, you’ll stay organized for more than just a day.

Do you have any organizing rules you live by?

 

 

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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.

 

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Clean Up Your Schedule

April PlannersHave you ever heard of burnout? It’s a term used to describe a mental state, similar to depression, which comes from excess stress over a long period of time. It can lead to decreased motivation at your job, more apathy and neglect in your personal relationships, and even more illness due to a decreased immune system.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it is time to take a closer look at what you do each day. Filling your schedule to bursting doesn’t let you live more – it can actually lead to burnout and make your life less satisfying.

So how do you clear the clutter from your schedule? The first step is to get it written down. Write down all of your daily tasks and appointments for the coming week. (If you don’t have a planner, we have great April start date designs.)

Then, as you go through the week, take some time to see how much your actual behavior matches your schedule. Periodically write down what you’ve actually done right next to your planned activity. At the end of the week, you’ll have a real record of how you spend your time to analyze.

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted, whether you’re working on an onerous project at work or listening to your daughter in the junior high school orchestra concert. If your analysis shows that you spend a lot of your time pursuing distractions, try cutting a few of them out of the picture. You might be surprised how much a little increased presence can help you enjoy your life and ease your burnout.

 

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Setting Boundaries for Your Small Business

How you organize your time, work space, and personal life are key ingredients to your small business’s success.

How successful you are in your chosen workspace depends on how well you’re able to set boundaries around your work life. If you previously worked for someone else, most of your working life was probably decided for you-what time to start work, where to sit, how your day is structured, and much more. When you work for yourself, it can feel liberating to set all of your rules-but rules are, nevertheless, still necessary.

Setting some basic boundaries around your work life will help your define your business. This is especially true if you work at home. Consider the following:

Space

  1. How will you set up your desk?
  2. If you work from home, how will you define your work area?
  3. What supplies do you need regularly, and how will you order them?

Time

  1. What are your work hours and days going to be?
  2. Are you going to work evenings or weekends?
  3. How much work do you want to take home with you?

Interruptions

  1. How will you deal with your kids wanting to play when you have an important project?
  2. Will you take personal phone calls during your work day?

Remember, it’s your business-you get to define how you want it to work. Think about what worked (and what didn’t) at your last job, and use that as a starting point for how you’d like your business to be set up.

Joshua Zerkel

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Taking Control of Your Time

 Time Management Skills to Help You Prepare for this Year

62354_lrgcaseHow many times have you started your day with a mental list of the things you wanted to accomplish, only to fall onto your pillow at night with precious few of those items actually done? It happens to me all the time, even though I know how to avoid the problem. Hopefully, you’ll make a stronger effort than I have and you’ll apply these tips regularly enough to make a difference.

Taking control begins with a plan. Remember our earlier scenario? We woke up with a mental list of things to do. That’s the first mistake. A mental list is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. The first thing we need to do, before anything else, is turn that mental list into a written document. Now you have a contract between yourself and the clock and you’re obligated to your portion of it. The clock will give you the time. It’s up to you to keep your commitments.

Ok, so we have a list, now what? Sometimes a notebook or notepad is all we need for our daily list, but what if our things to do are time-sensitive and labor intensive? What if they have to happen in stages? Sometimes these things happen with other people. These are called appointments and they usually happen at a specific time. What if we need to finish a project before we go to an appointment? Now that sticky 60624_lrgcasenote is looking pretty inadequate. It’s time for a calendar.

Daily, weekly, or monthly planners are designed to help you accomplish your tasks on time without the stress of a last-second rush. Choose the format that’s best for you and write your list there. Decide what needs to happen when and which items are the most important. Mark the most import tasks as priority items. Use letters or numbers to distinguish your hierarchy of needs.

Now that you have your list written in your planner by priority and all your appointments are scheduled, it’s just a matter of following your schedule throughout the day, right? Not quite. Often you’ll find at least one item on your list that is just a bit too large to tackle at once. Whenever possible, break large projects down into smaller parts that are easier to finish. If you plan ahead, you can work on each piece of the project throughout the day, week, month, whatever is necessary, so you can accomplish your task on time without overdoing it. The secret is to constantly look ahead.

Don’t overschedule your day. It’s easy to look at our list and say, “That’s easy. It should only take ‘x’ amount of time for this.” But you’ve probably noticed activities often take longer than planned. Always schedule more time for each project than you think you need. A good rule of 38426_lrgcasethumb is to add ½ of the time again for each project. If you think a project will take 2 hours, plan on 3. If you think something will take 20 minutes, plan on a half hour. This will give you a cushion so you can transition from one task to the next without feeling rushed. (Sometimes this still isn’t enough.)

Fine-tune your schedule over time. The more often you schedule your day or week, the easier it will be to get it right. Keep track of how long your daily routine lasts, so you can more accurately plan.

Leave time open so you can relax. Schedule time to work on your hobbies or to read a book, or just take a break. Constantly rushing will wear you down and could even lead to illness.

Personal aspirations are very important. If you’ve dreamed of learning the guitar or dabbling more into art, you’ll never get there unless you schedule time for it. We wear a lot of hats—employee, parent, neighbor, child, or coach. Sometimes we forget that our personal goals, hopes and wishes are as important as any of these. Improving our talents and fulfilling our dreams makes us happier people and who doesn’t like to be around happy people? Plus, the more we improve ourselves, the more help we can be in all of those other roles we play.

So don’t downplay your own hopes and dreams and say that you don’t have time for them—that other things in your life are more important. Instead, work them into your daily schedule and give yourself a chance to grow and to feel the joy of achieving the things you’ve always dreamt about. Unless you take the time to schedule you into your life, the obligations and stress of the day will push you out—and one day you’ll look back and wonder where all the time went. In fact, there are those who not only wonder where the time went, but where they went as well.

Don’t let that be you. You have a wonderful day ahead of you. Don’t just have a good day by accident; make a good day on purpose.

 

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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.



 

 

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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

 

 

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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. 

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Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

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Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

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Daylight Saving Time Ends November 4, 2012

Don’t forget to “Fall Back” this weekend. Winter is on its way with shorter days and longer nights. It’s time to adjust our clocks to fit Mother Nature’s schedule. We suggest turning all your clocks back before you go to bed, but after your children fall asleep. It will give you one more hour of quiet at the end of the day. Changing the clock can also serve as a great reminder to change all the batteries in your smoke alarms.

 

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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

 

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Scheduling Success – Making the Grade

CorX Magnetic Dry Erase Combo by Board DudesAs my grandpa used to say, “Homework is the key to a better life.” Sometimes it’s hard to see that fact, but it’s still true that the more education a person receives, the better off they are financially and in other areas. But the years-away reward of a successful career and life often loses out to the constant distractions of the moment. Here are four essentials to help you complete homework assignments on time:

1. Set up a schedule command center – When you’re dealing with several different classes, sometimes simply setting up a homework schedule can take a lot of time. Rather than shuffling papers through your backpack looking for assignments, post them all up where you can see them. Use a corkboard to post up each class’ syllabus, then make a priority list on a whiteboard. Or you can combine the two with the CorX Magnetic Dry Erase Combo.

2. Prioritize – Separate the whiteboard into spaces for each class, and list your short-term sand long-term assignments for each. Leave a section for the assignments due this week. When you sit down to do your homework, list all assignments due this week in the “Due this Week” section. Then break down longer-term assignments into tasks and list them in each class section. This will help you estimate the time you’ll need to complete long-term assignments, and make it easier for them to find their way to the “Due this Week” list.

3. Do not disturb – While working on your homework, limit distractions from cell phones, TV, and video games. Multi-tasking rarely works on mental work, so these distractions can eat into your productivity and make your homework take longer. (It’s an interesting experiment – time yourself doing homework with the TV on and with the TV off. You’ll notice the difference.)

4. Pace yourself – You know your limits. If you struggle with certain subjectsSafe Kitchen Timer by Kikkerland and find yourself getting frustrated, then take a break and give your mind a chance to regroup. Eating dinner or spending time in a different location on a hobby can give your brain a chance to unwind. But if you’re easily distracted, setting a timer can help ensure that you get back to your homework and finish it.

What strategies have helped you finish your homework on time?

 

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Organize Your Family Schedule

Color Coded Family Calendar dry-erase whiteboardIf you’ve ever seen a busy railway yard, you have some idea of what family scheduling is like. There’s activity everywhere, and everyone’s competing to get where they need to go. If you find yourself double-booking activities or stretched thin as the family chauffeur, try laying out the schedules side-by-side in a central location, where everyone can see it. This will help you plan your errands around other activities, and catch appointment conflicts before your week becomes a train wreck.

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Organize Your Family Schedule

Color Coded Family Calendar dry-erase whiteboardIf you’ve ever seen a busy railway yard, you have some idea of what family scheduling is like. There’s activity everywhere, and everyone’s competing to get where they need to go. If you find yourself double-booking activities or stretched thin as the family chauffeur, try laying out the schedules side-by-side in a central location, where everyone can see it. This will help you plan your errands around other activities, and catch appointment conflicts before your week becomes a train wreck.

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GO Tip: Organize Your Calendar

Franklin Covey Planner StickersIt’s funny how the simplest tasks get left behind when you’re in a rush. Dedicate five minutes at the beginning and end of each day to review the tasks you need to accomplish and record appointment details in your planner and on your wall calendar. Using calendar stickers makes it easy to mark and notice your appointments, and when you use them with your planner, you’ll have all your appointment information in one place.

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