5 Planner Hacks That Will Change Your Life

By Nicole Tinkham

planner.jpg

It’s the beginning of a new year and if you’re gearing up to make the most of it, you probably purchased a brand new planner and you’re ready to go. Maybe planning and staying organized last year didn’t work out so well or maybe you’re just totally new to this. In either case, we understand the struggle of organization. It can be completely overwhelming looking at a book full of tasks that need to be done. Or maybe you forget to open up your planner altogether which makes having one pretty pointless. Don’t worry; we have 5 planner hacks that will change your life and help keep you organized throughout the whole year.

1.    Don’t include everything

There’s two types of people in the world; those who don’t (or rarely) write important things down and those who write every single little thing down. They key is to find that sweet spot. You have to write some things down but jotting down too much just becomes overwhelming. If there’s something you do on a daily basis without much thought, it doesn’t need to go in your planner. For example, you’ll want to have your dentist appointments marked down in your planner but it’s not necessary to schedule time to brush your teeth every day. You should hopefully be in the habit of doing that daily already.

2.    Plan to plan

We know you want to use your planner and stay organized but the problem normally lies in something as simple as forgetting to sit down and plan. You just need to get in the habit of doing so consistently. Schedule time to sit down and plan for the day, week, and month. It may only take you 15 minutes but it won’t get done unless you plan on getting it done. So how exactly do you plan to plan? We recommend setting an alarm to go off on your phone as a reminder. You should also schedule things into your planner at the same time every day. So for example, you can plan your day at 9:00AM daily, plan for your week every Sunday at 9:00AM and schedule for the month on the 1st of every month at 9:00AM. The more consistent your timing is, the easier it is to form the habit of getting it done.

3.    Use only one planner

If you think having one planner is difficult to keep up with, you’ll drive yourself bonkers with multiple books. Sometimes it may seem like a good idea to separate your home life from your career to-dos but we advise against that. You’ll find yourself flipping back and forth between the two planners which will only make the process more confusing. Plus this is exactly why colorful highlighters, pens and washi tape were invented. Instead of using a whole different book, color-code your tasks to keep them separate but all in the same spot.

4.    Personalize it

Your planner is a very personal thing and should be treated as so. It’s important to choose a planner that will suit your needs. For example, if you do a lot of traveling, a compact planner may be perfect so you can easily take it everywhere with you. But if you take a lot of notes, a larger planner may be ideal for you so you have enough room to write. Get a planner that’s your own personal style. Fall in love with it so you can love using it. Also consider a bullet journal for total customization.

5.    Physically check things off your list

Checking a task (any task, big or small) is so incredibly satisfying. It’s so satisfying that it actually pumps you up for the next task on your list. That being said, actually check off or cross out completed tasks. Oh and don’t stress over the tasks that don’t get completed. You can just move these over to a later date or make a separate list of these tasks to be completed whenever you have the extra time. Remember that you can only do your best so don’t beat yourself up over what doesn’t get done.

Make this year the year you don’t give up all hope on your planner! We know it’s not easy following a planner consistently. It takes some time to plan everything out and it’s so easy to forget to open it up and get planning. But once you’re on a roll with doing it, it’ll become much easier and planning ahead makes everything else easier too. You don’t have to be a super organized person to make a planner work for you. Just keep it simple, be consistent and don’t put too much in it.

Have you had success with your planner? Let us know your top tips in the comments below!

4 Simple Steps To Staying Motivated

By Nicole Tinkham
4 Simple Steps To Staying

I’m the kind of person who never gives up. People ask me all the time how I stay so motivated and consistent and I never really know how to answer them. I’ve been reading a ton of personal development books over the past couple years so I guess all of that information has been somehow absorbed in my brain and now it just comes naturally. But I really took some time to think about how I got to where I am today. The first thing I did was set a goal for myself. I set a big goal. One goal that would make the other things I hoped and dreamed for in my life become my reality. Then I created a plan, took action, and never stopped. I have many systems that I follow to keep my life organized and on track but here are 5 simple steps to staying motivated that will help you get started.

1.    Set a goal

Write down your biggest goal and have a vision of it. Include every detail down to the places you’ll vacation when you make more money to travel or the flooring in your dream house. How does achieving your goal make you feel? You’re no longer dreaming. You are now PLANNING your future.

2.    Know your why

Next you should make a list of reasons why you want to achieve your goal. At least one thing on your list must have an emotional connection.  This is the one thing that will keep you going when you want to give up. It’s the one thing that makes it worth fighting for.

3.    Create small tasks

Now you want to take your big goal and write out all the things that must be done in order to achieve that goal. By breaking your goal down into smaller chunks, you can actually start taking action by putting these things on your daily to-do this. You’ll feel so accomplished checking those off your list every day knowing that you’re one step closer to reaching your goal.

4.    Work on yourself

When things get ugly, you have to take a step back and focus on yourself again. As we get so involved in what we’re doing to reach our goals, we can easily get lost. Things start to become more difficult and we lose our momentum. When all you want to do is give up, revisit your why. Maybe things have changed and you need to now take a different route. That’s perfectly fine. The important thing is to get your focus back. Read some personal development books or listen to some podcasts to help you gain a positive mindset moving forward.

Remember that you are not a failure when plans change. You’re just learning more about yourself and who you want to be. The time spent working on one goal just to have it morph into something else is never wasted time! The important thing is that you always continue moving forward. Things may come up in life and slow you down but never let these things hold you back.

How to take effective notes during a meeting

By Nicole Tinkham

Note-taking-BLOG

Office meetings are probably not the highlight of your day and we totally get that. Sometimes it feels like they drag on forever meanwhile work is piling up on your desk. But on the flip side, very important and innovative discussions can come from meetings. This is why you should be there, be alert, and take excellent notes. If you struggle with getting everything written down as it’s being said or if you find yourself zoning out, listen up! We’ve got some effective note-taking tips that can make you love meetings and taking notes. Well, we can’t actually promise that but at least your notes will be legible and effective. Let’s begin with why you should be taking notes in the first place.

Why take notes?

•    Helps you remember- Not only are you listening and talking about a certain topic but you’re also writing everything down. This will help you remember what was discussed in the meeting.

•    Keeps you focused- By taking notes, you’re actively listening to what’s being said and are more focused on the topic of discussion.

•    Points out any issues- Things come up in meetings and often times issues are pointed out. If these types of things weren’t documented there would be no way to improve on them when they’re forgotten.

•    Provides proof- If there’s ever a future debate on what was discussed in a meeting, you now have proof!

Be prepared

By now you know to bring a notebook and pen with you into every single meeting, right? Great, that’s the most important part! But there are also a few ways to prepare for the meeting. Think about speaking points you’d like to make, arrive early to get a good seat, and wake yourself up. Sometimes those afternoon meetings can be a drag so be sure to grab your coffee ahead of time.

Remember the 5 W’s: Who, What, Why, Where, and When

Taking notes based on the 5 W’s will ensure that you have all the important information and tasks written down. Keep in mind that you won’t always need all 5 W’s. Too much unnecessary detail will only clutter your notes.

Practice shorthand

Abbreviating can speed up the note taking process so you can easily get everything written down. It also saves room on your pad of paper so you don’t run out of space. There are certain shorthand systems that can be used (Gregg Pre-Anniversary, Gregg Anniversary, and New Era Pitman) or you can do your own thing. Be careful when making up your own abbreviations though as they can be super easy to forget what you meant when you read back over your notes!

Have structure

The structure of your notes depends on what type of notes you’re taking and your personal style. If notes are action steps, bullet points will probably be the way to go. Visual note taking is another option where you doodle or sketch your notes. Just remember to pay attention and jot down the important stuff. It can be easy to get carried away especially if you’re the creative type! Also consider an app on your smartphone to help organize your meeting notes. You’ll probably have to try a few out to determine the one that works best for you. No matter the structure, be sure to include some key info at the top of the page: Date, name of meeting, topic, etc.

Be selective

There’s no way you’ll be able to write down every single thing discussed in the meeting. This is where you’ll have to use your judgment and jot down only the most important information. This would include tasks, decisions, questions, key facts, and follow up.

Type your notes

Since you’re writing down notes quickly, you’ll often leave out some information. You must type your notes immediately after the meeting while it’s still fresh in your mind so you can fill in the blanks. You may even want to email your notes to those who were not able to attend the meeting so this is your opportunity to clean up and organize them. Tip: Take your list of action notes and throw them in your calendar right away so you don’t forget about important tasks.

TIP: While we live in a technology-driven world, taking notes on a computer may not be the best option when in a meeting. Your keystrokes could irritate others and your screen can block you from what’s going on in the meeting. The paper and pen option keeps you alert and involved.

While we can’t make your meetings any more exciting than they already are, at least we can help make the most out of note-taking. It’s actually pretty simple when you think about it. Jot down the most important notes as clear and organized as you can. Ever zone out during a meeting? Even when you’re totally focused on the discussion, it’s easy to just forget about taking notes altogether. Start making it a habit. At first you might find yourself writing every single thing down but with practice you’ll get it just right.

What’s your best note-taking tip? Comment below to share your secret strategy!