My New Little Obsession | Welcome to 2017

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We say it all the time, where did the time go?  I don’t know about you but personally I am quite happy to see the last of 2016.  If I’m being honest, and I promised I would be, last year really kicked me in the you know where.  There were so many ups and downs both personally and professionally that I just couldn’t seem to get things were I wanted them to be.  Not that the year was all bad.  After all, I started this blog and YouTube channel and found the planner community and that has been a wonderful addition to my world.

Still I have to say that I am super duper excited for 2017.  I’m excited for some of the movies that are coming this year (can I just say Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman), the return of Nick as the Bachelor (don’t judge), and getting my s%*# together over the next 12 months.

I am really beyond excited because of my new obsession that is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite things and that is my bullet journal.  Now I have to give full disclosure that I probably don’t have what most would call a traditional bullet journal but that is the fun of the process.

The traditional bullet journal, designed by Ryder Carroll, can be any notebook where you basically design your calendar and journal to fit your needs.  Normally you don’t do more than the current week that you are in and you can create these collections for anything you need to keep track of.

I had heard of bullet journaling before but I really found myself getting into it after binge watching Boho Berry‘s videos.  I had every intention of waiting until January and starting with a new year but I decided to go ahead and get things started in December and let me tell you that I have been hooked from minute one.

The reason that I say that mine is not a traditional bullet journal is because I am actually using it for collections and pre-planning.  I have the first quarter of the year already set up so that as I am booking clients and setting up business meetings as well as planning promotions I have everything set up.  The added bonus is that I can go through and put in the task for my goals as well as when I need to be working on any projects and not have to think about it until the day that it pops up.  How awesome is that?

If you would like to know more about my bullet journal and how I have it set up then watch the video below and if you have any questions or would like more post about bullet journaling leave that below also.

 

How to Plan Your Month for Success – Functional Planning Series

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We are getting crazy close to the end of the year and each month I’m reminded that there is still quite a few things I would like to get done before 2016 rolls on and we rock in the new year.

It’s so funny how at the beginning of each year we all have these amazing goals or resolutions about what we want to do for the year and then as the calendar counts down we find that list less about how excited we will be to accomplish those goals and more about how we can’t wait to get them done. It could be that is just be but I would be willing to bet any of my lovely high heeled shoes that I am not the only one out there with this thought running through her head. The voice that says, “Let’s just get it done already”.

However, just because the year is ending that doesn’t mean that we can’t set our calendars up for great success in these last two months. After all someone once said, “it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts”. So let’s finish strong.

Here are five of my top tips for planning your month for success:

1. Set aside at least a half an hour to an hour to really plan your month.

How many times do we just put some sticky notes down when things come up or pencil it in without thinking about the full month? If you are like me sometimes the month can get away from you without any thought whatsoever. Add in that we watch monthly plan with me’s that are ten to fifteen minutes long and you can start to think that as long as things are on your list then you are good. This is just reactive planning and we want to be pro-active, right? When you take the time to really sit down and plan your month, and I’m not just talking about the monthly tab in your planner but the whole month, then you are making sure that everything is set up correctly.

So grab a glass of wine (not to big because we want to make sure we stay focused) and look through each week thinking about what needs to get done. Add in all your appointments and scheduled events and then move on to your monthly task and so forth and so on. Take the time to really look at your month and remember that just because you formally planned the month doesn’t mean that you can’t add anything to it or take something away. This is simply insuring that you have a road map for the month to keep you on the right path.

2. Have all your schedules there with you when you plan.

How many times do you have something planned out and your kids, spouse, significant other, whoever adds something that throws your whole schedule out of whack? It has happened to us all, believe me. You just want to go into your room, grab a pillow and scream like you’re Jamie Lee Curtis and it’s Friday the 13th. While that might be a little therapeutic it doesn’t help the over all situation. That is why it is so important to have ever schedule that you manage in front of you when you get ready to plan your month.

When I was managing a retail store I had to do the schedule for all the employees and I tried to do the whole month before the first so that everyone could schedule themselves accordingly, especially during the holidays. Let me tell you that trying to manage scheduling 12-20 people around when you need everyone there was not a fun task. I had a rule that if you had a request then it had to be in no later than the 15th of every month. Which means if you needed a day off in November I needed that request before the 15th of October. This is a practice that I have kept now that I work for myself. I make sure that I am contacting any and everyone that I need to by the 15th or the 20th at the latest to firm up dates.

I have my book club and any other obligations in front of me and any family schedules also when I sit down to start planning. I wish I could tell you that with this method those last minute items won’t pop up anymore but unfortunately life is life and whether we like it or not those little schedule bumps always show up. Yet when you start out with as much information as you possibly can then they are fewer and farther between.

3. Look through the goals that you have for the year and integrate them into your monthly task list.

Our goals should be what keeps us productive through the year. Whether they are short term, quick goals or a full whopper of a year-long goal, they should be one of the first things that you look at. Now I know some of us don’t have formal, written out, multi-task goals but you should have some game plan as to what you want to accomplish for the month.

Here would be an example. Let’s say that you don’t have a full goal list but you know that you want to spend more time with your kids for the holidays. That is a goal. So when you are planning your month then try to figure out exactly how you can do that and plan accordingly. Maybe you can be a teacher’s aid in their class for the day or take them to the petting zoo or pumpkin picking. Whatever it is be sure to add it in.

What if you are a blogger or Etsy shop owner and you haven’t written out goals but you know you want to increase your readership or your client base. Well you might want to stop and think about how you can reach these new readers or maybe you need to learn a new program to advertise more. Those might be task that you need to add in.

4. Start with the most important task and work your way through the list.

When I was in school and would come home with homework I always started with my English assignment. I was good and English and could get it done quickly. I hated math and that was the absolute last thing I worked on. Sometimes that would mean that I was up way later than I wanted to be because I had to get it finished and the later it got the harder that math seemed. Now why didn’t I start with the thing that I didn’t want to do first and then I could have breezed through the other? Because that is what we do as people and as planners.

How often do you know that you need to schedule a check-up for the family or an appointment with your tax attorney but instead you put in movie night first or you YouTube binge videos? When you are really planning for success sometimes you have to put in the not so fun things first and then go from there.

Steven Covey use to call it putting in rocks. You always start with your heaviest rocks and then add the pebbles last. The idea behind this was that you could get the heavy rocks in and then add the pebbles around them. As great as this is I like to limit my heavy rocks because I have found that if all you are doing is heavy lifting sooner or later you get tired and nothing else gets done. For me I try to stick to only two or three really big things for the month depending on how big they are.

The most important part is that you start with the things that really matter and then move forward. You can always make time for the small stuff later.

5. Keep a running list of anything you didn’t accomplish.

This tip isn’t to encourage you to not get everything done but more to not beat yourself up if life gets a little out of hand and you don’t get through your list. Sometimes there are time constraints that can’t be helped or emergencies that come up without warning and that it okay. The important thing is not to blow off what you already set out to accomplish simple because they do. Too many times we have something written down to get done and then we lose track of time and think that we are going to get back to it later but we leave it written right where it is and we never go back to that page.

Try having a separate sheet of paper or a special spot where you put the things that didn’t get done. This way when you start to plan your month you can reference back to that place and be able to add it back in. I do have a rule about this for myself though. If I have added something three times and it still has not gotten done then I stop and re-evaluate it. Do I really want to do it? Is it worth my time? Is it important to a goal or value I hold dear? If the answer is yes to at least two of those questions then it get top priority and I can’t do something I really want to do until it gets done. I also tell someone else about it so that I am held accountable for it. I have to be honest and say that it doesn’t always work but for the most part it has helped along the way.

I hope that this ideas have given you some great thoughts for your next monthly planning session and that they help you have a productive and fun last two months of the year.

As a bonus I am doing a special Friday only price for my November inserts. Today only you can get the printable monthly pages and the monthly stickers for only $5. That is almost half price. Be sure to head over to my shop and take advantage of this wonderful offer before the end of the day.  You can click on either image to take you to the inserts.

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Let’s keep the conversation going as always. What have you found that helps you plan your month more efficiently? What tip are you most likely to try? Is there anything you would add? Leave your comments down below.

The Top Thing You Must Do for Functional Planning

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We all say that we want our planners to be more functional but how many times do we get caught up in the pretty of it all. I for one an not immune to the gorgeousness of the sticker selection on display both on Etsy and YouTube. How can you be when we are getting hit left and right with colors and styles and washi’s of epic proportions. However, if we want our planners to be more functional I am going to share with you what I think we have to do first. Are you ready because this is going to be beyond belief? It is going to change lives. It is going to knock you back on your heals and make you sit there in stunned silence for about two seconds. Okay here we go….in order to make your planner more functional this is what you have to do…are you ready…here it is…

I know, simple right? Are you okay? Do you need a minute? Maybe a sip of water? I mean it really is mind-blowing right? That something so simple could be the key to having a functional planner. Maybe you would like me to explain.

See so many times as we are getting caught up in the pretty of stickers and washi and kits we might not ever use we forget why we bought the planner in the first place. Now if you purchased your planner just to decorate it and use every sticker you could find then by all means continue on and God speed. However, if you bought your planner to journal, to scrapbook, to God-forbid plan, then this is where we sometimes jump the track.

Full disclaimer here. I am not against decorative planning. In point of fact I use quite a few stickers in my own planner and have a golly good time doing so. I peruse Instagram and Facebook planner groups same as you and oh and ah over the pretty spreads like every other planner girl out there. I even will admit that I have a planner girl crush on a few sticker designers out there and flock to there pages, YouTube videos and Instagram accounts like a good little planner girl should. That being said I just believe that their is more to planning then how pretty your spread looks. I think it can look good and function at a high rate of return also. There, I hope that clears the air.

Getting back on track, I want to talk about getting to the heart of why you plan and using your planner to it’s fullest potential and to do that you need to start with function. Look you would never buy a cup and expect it to act like a plate even through they are both dishes. Everything has a purpose and to get the most out of your planner you have to use it for what YOU INTENDED IT FOR (GREAT TWEET)!

So let’s get real. Not all of us bought planners for planning. That is perfectly fine. No one ever said that “pure, traditional planning” was the only thing a planner was good for. There are any number of ways that you can use your planner but first you need to sit down and figure out why you have your planner and how you want it to function.

To start here are a eight questions that should help you figure out if your planner is functioning the way you intended and if not then you might want to think about how you are using it and if you can re-work it so that it can.

  1.  For what purpose did you purchase your planner?
  2. When you look back over the last month or two months have you been using it as you intended?
  3. If not, what is causing you not to use it as you planned in the beginning?
  4. Do you have the tools, supplies, and resources to use your planner the way that you want it to be used?
  5. If you could plan your perfect week in your planner as you intended when you bought it, what would it look like?
  6. Do you find yourself worrying about what others might say about how your planner looks if you shared it?  Does that hold back how you are using your planner?
  7. If you could describe how you want your planner to work to someone else how would you do it?  Looking at your planner, is your current style living up to that description?
  8. What can you change to bring your current style more in line with how you want your planner to function?

If you picked up your planner as a journal but you cover every inch of the page with stickers that leave no room to write then it isn’t functioning the way that you intended. If you wanted your planner to act as a scrapbook or memory keeping book but you have no pictures or stories in there then once again it isn’t functioning as you wanted. You have to figure out what you want your planner to do and then do it (GREAT TWEET).

For me I want my planner to work as a planner. I want to be able to look at it and see my plans for the day and the week and to use it to keep me on the right track to reaching my goals. Yet it has taken me almost this whole year to come up with a system that works for me in that direction. I had to realize that I needed to move beyond the pretty and go back to just writing down my day before I could figure out which stickers could work for me and which couldn’t. Sometimes that is what you have to do.

At the end of the day, we each think differently so we each plan differently. We each have different goals and challenges in our lives so no two people’s planners should look alike. You have to find what works for you to achieve what you want your planner to function as. Once you do that then you are well on your way to staying on track; wherever you are headed.

Let’s keep the conversation going as always in the comment section below. What have you found that helps you keep your planner functioning as you intended? Do you have multiple planners? How do you keep them all running separate and correctly to achieve what planned?