5 Planner Hacks That Will Change Your Life

By Nicole Tinkham

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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!

New Year Checklist – 10 Things Every Artist Needs To Do

By Nicole Tinkham

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Getting ready for the New Year doesn’t have to be crazy and overwhelming with serious goals and planning. It’s great to have some goals laid out, an idea of where you want to be by the end of the year, and to get organized too. But we also think it’s important to HAVE FUN!! On this list of 10 things every artist needs to do for the New Year, you’ll notice that something fun is included in more than half of the tasks on the list. And if you find a daunting task you don’t want to do, turn it into a game or reward yourself for completing it!

•    Have a new sketchbook ready to go (open it up every day!)

•    Get organized for peace of mind

•    Make a list of things you want to learn – Plan to attend an art workshop, save YouTube videos, buy a new art book, or subscribe to an art magazine

•    Plan something fun – we all need a break. Plan a vacation at some point next year or even a staycation if you have nowhere to go

•    Have your goal and action plan written down

•    Plan regular friend and family time! It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own little world that we forget to spend time with the ones we love

•    Have an open mind – Do something wild, crazy, unexpected, out of the norm, and anything that takes you out of your comfort zone

•    Buy fun colored Post-it Notes to write yourself positive notes and reminders

•    Change up your art room for creative inspiration and more room for new supplies 🙂

•    Get your artist portfolio in line

We believe that having fun is the best way to start the New Year, wouldn’t you agree? Doing something you enjoy is easier to stick with than something you don’t. Start doing some of the things on this list, have fun with it, and don’t stress about starting a new year. Tell us, will you follow this checklist when heading into the New Year?

How To Set Goals In As Little As 7 Days

By Nicole Tinkham

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Let us first begin by saying it does not matter when it is; it’s always the perfect time to start setting goals. We’re writing this blog just in time for the New Year but if you’re reading at a later date, that’s perfectly fine! Goal setting is something you should do throughout the year anyway. Our golden rule is to start setting goals whenever you feel ready to do it! We’ll walk you through goal setting in 7 simple steps (or 7 days) but just beware; you do not want to skip one of these steps. Not following through with the activities on each day could result in you not reaching your goals and just feeling frustrated. We’ll start with a mass brainstorm to figure out what your main goals are, break those big goals into smaller ones, create an action plan, take action, keep the momentum going, and then evaluate your performance. Ready to get started? Read on for your day #1 agenda.

Day #1: Brainstorm

BEFORE you get started today, you should get in your thinking zone. Find somewhere quiet with no distractions. Get away from clutter and straighten up the room if you have to. Turn off your phone and anything else that may distract you during this session. You can listen to some calming music, light your favorite scented candle, grab a coffee, and whatever else comes to mind to put you in your happy place.

Once you get in the right mindset, it’s time to brainstorm everything you would like to see happen in your life in the next few years. Write anything and everything down! We’ll be narrowing down this list later so just go crazy with it. Think about health goals, career goals, relationship goals, and financial goals. Anything that pops in your head should go on your list. It may be difficult to think of ideas at first but once you get rolling, the ideas will flow.

Now that you have a long list going, we’re going to prioritize your goals. Is there one thing on the list that will help you achieve some of the others goals you have written down? This would be your ASAP goal, or the goal you’ll want to get working on right away. This should also be a very specific goal. Ask yourself “By doing this, what do I aim to achieve?” This will narrow down any broad goals even further. For example, if you have “I want to become a painter” on your list, you may end up changing it to “I want to become a landscape painter”. Being clear on your goals will help you in the following steps of breaking it down and creating an action plan.

Before moving on, we want you to start BELIEVING in yourself. If you don’t do this, you’ll be doing this entire goal setting session for no reason. Believing that you can actually achieve these goals is the key to being successful. We know this can be difficult to do especially with those big goals you have written down. Some of them might seem crazy! Keep in mind working on your belief is something that you should do daily and it does take some time to switch your limiting mindset. Based on your goal, write down an affirmation. Something like: “I am an incredible landscape painter with amazing skills”. Repeat this over to yourself for at least 10 minutes a day, every day.

Day #2: Break it down

Welcome to day #2! This is our favorite part because now you’re probably excited about the goals you wrote on your list yesterday. That big goal probably seems pretty daunting though, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll be breaking that goal down into mid term and short term goals which will make it easier for you to tackle it.

Take that main goal and dissect it into several short term goals. Consider the different phases of achieving that goal. What will need to be done along the way?

Your short term goal should be a SMART goal meaning is should be Specific (clear on what you want to achieve), Measurable (must be able to review progress), Attainable (can you get it done with the resources you have?), Realistic (can it actually be done?), and Timely (must have a deadline). Now take that SMART goal and break it down even further into action steps. What is the process you’ll need to take in order to reach that specific goal by your set deadline?

Day #3: Action Plan  

Now we’re getting into the good stuff! This should excite you. You are literally planning for success in reaching your goals. This is where some research comes in. We’ll all have very different goals but you may need to look into different strategies for achieving your goal. Weigh the pros and cons of different ways of doing things to figure out what will work best for you. What exactly do you need to do in order to reach your goal? You may start with learning something about what you want to do. Maybe it’s educating yourself on different nutrition plans or a system for saving money.

Make sure the action items on your list are detailed so there’s no second guessing yourself when doing them. You’ll know exactly what needs to be done. You also want to organize the action steps so you know what you should be getting done first.

Based on your action items, create a daily checklist of what you need to be doing each day. This just narrows it down even further to help keep you on track. You can transfer this to do list to your phone so you always have it on you and can check things off throughout the day.

Day #4: Take action

This is where the magic happens! Without this key step, none of your goals would ever be accomplished. It’s great to have a solid plan in place (what we’ve been doing up until now) but none of that matters if you never get started. We know it can be scary but just start with the first task on your list. Don’t think twice about it, just get it done. There’s no time for procrastination so make this the first thing you get done in the day.

Days #5 and #6: Keep going

Congrats!! You made it through one day following your action checklist. Now it’s time to celebrate your completion. You did an amazing job. Go ahead and do your happy dance 🙂
Now it’s time to move on to the next list. Keep on going!! Each day may only produce small results but those results add up over time. You have to build up your momentum so you can become unstoppable. If there’s ever a time you feel like giving up, remember why you started in the first place.

If you find yourself procrastinating, work on tasks in 25 minute chunks of time. This will keep you focused and little breaks in between will keep you from burning out. Continue to check in on your action plan to be sure you’re still on track and in line with your goals.

Day #7: Evaluate your performance

The final step in this process will determine how quickly you reach your goal. And that last step is to reflect on what you’ve done so far and measure your progress. Without doing this step, you won’t be able to adjust and improve on the areas you are weak in. That’s the whole point of reflecting. To look at the areas in which your strengths lie, where your weaknesses lie, and where your errors were made. From here, you can tweak and improve your action steps. By the way, your action steps are never set in stone. It’s important to update them when something just isn’t working out. It’s ok! Do not give up when things don’t go your way. Make the appropriate changes and move forward.

There you have it; How to set goals in as little as 7 days. But don’t think that your work ends there. Continue to work on your daily check lists and action plans. Keep evaluating your progress and make adjustments when needed. And most importantly keep adding to your list of goals! There’s so much you can accomplish in this lifetime if you put your mind to it. Stop pushing them off thinking they’re too big for you to actually achieve. Following these steps and breaking down each goal makes them more manageable so you can totally do this!

9 Quick Tips To Get More Done That You Can Start Doing Today

By Nicole Tinkham

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Ever wonder how certain people get so much done in a day when you can barely handle one task on top of everything else on your plate? No, these people aren’t magical genies. They just know how to get organized and focused. They know how to block out distractions and prioritize so they get the most important things done first even if they don’t feel like doing them. It goes way beyond creating to-do lists, although that is a step in the right direction. In this post we’ll explain 10 quick tips to actually taking action and getting more done, all of which you can begin today!

1.    Make a list – you won’t remember everything (even if you think you will).

Tip: Use your smartphone for this so you always have your list available.

2.    Plan your day out – Think about what you want to accomplish ahead of time. Create your to-do list either the night before or first thing in the morning before starting your day.

3.    Only worry about the most important tasks of the day and get those things done first. Everything else can wait if you don’t have time to fit them in.

4.    Keep your end goal in mind – this will push you to get those not so fun tasks done.

5.    Schedule time in your day to complete the important things and actually set a timer when you get to work.

Tip: Get super focused for about 45 minutes on one task then take a little break and walk away from it.

6.    Get rid of distractions. Turn off your phone and make it clear to your friends and family that you are in work mode.

7.    Have a positive mindset – Instead of saying “I wish I had time to do this” tell yourself “I will make time for this”. When a negative thought enters your mind, replace it with a positive one.

8.    Always  move forward even if you have to take baby steps. No task is too small if it’s moving you toward your goals.

9.    Don’t overwhelm yourself with a long list. Keep it short.

So often we overcomplicate things in life. One 5 minute task that we don’t want to do could seem like it takes hours to complete. And it could if you let it! They key is to get focused on the most important tasks and not let distractions get in your way. Get the things you don’t like doing out of the way first so you don’t procrastinate all day on them and end up not doing them at all. Remember to get the dirty work done first so you can play in the art studio later!

Tell us, how have these 9 quick tips helped you get more done?

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 Make & KEEP Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Nicole Tinkham

HOW TO MAKE & KEEP YOUR

2015 is almost over. Yes, you read that right, and you might agree when we say that this year has absolutely flown by. For most of us, we welcome a brand new year because it often gives us a chance to begin a new season in life; out with the old/bad and in with the new/good. If you’ve ever sat down and spent time mapping out your goals for the year ahead, you’d probably agree that creating a list of things you hope to achieve in the upcoming year is actually the easy part. When the New Year rolls around, you’re inspired to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do. For example, you might try and lose weight, save money, take a vacation, go on an adventure, do new things, etc. However, after the first few months the excitement begins to fade, you lose interest, and all your plans get pushed aside. In fact, only 8% of people actually complete their New Year’s resolutions (according to research from the University of Scranton). This happens when you don’t have a set PLAN. You can’t just create a list and magically expect those things to happen. It requires a lot of consistency, effort, and persistence. We believe that 2016 is going to be a great year for you, and we can help you stay on track with these 12 tips.

1. Choose something you really want
There are two types of New Year’s resolutions. There are the things you know you should do and the goals you actually want to achieve. For example, you know you should quit smoking but you may not be ready to do so at this point. If your heart isn’t in it, you’ll seriously struggle making a commitment to it. Only include the goals you’re passionate about and really want to accomplish.

2. Narrow your list down
You can come up with a massive list of things you’d like to see yourself accomplish in the next year, but are you being realistic? While we’d love to see you reach every single resolution you may have, you must narrow your list down to only a few goals so you can actually achieve all of them. Focus on the goals that will add the most value to your life.

3. Create a plan
Larger long-term goals are daunting but can be broken down into smaller, simpler steps. Create an action plan that gets you closer to the big picture throughout the whole year. Let’s say you want to start selling your artwork. The first step you may take is attending an art workshop to improve your skills. The next may be to network in your community, followed by setting up an online store, and so on. Achieving these mini goals will keep you focused on the long-term goal.

4. Be Specific
Instead of having the goal to exercise more, be specific by saying you plan to go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 pm. Don’t be vague in your resolutions. If it’s unclear, it becomes hard to judge whether or not you’re on track. Set specific days and times for your resolutions.

5. Schedule TIME
As you would an office meeting, pencil in time for activities that will help you reach your goal. Living such hectic lifestyles, sometimes we need to set aside time for ourselves. Some tasks may only take 15 minutes a day in which case you can do them on your lunch break. Ones that take longer should definitely be put on your calendar with a reminder alert on your phone. We suggest creating a schedule ahead of time to prepare you for what’s ahead in the week to come.

6. Always be thinking about it
Listen up because this is KEY to keeping your resolutions. Write them down! Keep them in front of you at work. Read over them before you leave the house. Talk about them. Think about them every single day. Visualize yourself achieving them. Don’t let your goals slip out of sight. Once they do, you’ll completely forget about them.

7. Record your progress
It’s a good idea to track your progress. You can see how far you’ve come, which will encourage you to keep moving forward. The way you do your tracking will depend on the resolution. Apps, spreadsheets, simple notes, or a diary are just a few of your options. You’ll also have to determine how often to record. Is it something that needs to be recorded weekly or just once a month?

8. Celebrate
Celebrate the small victories too. You don’t have to wait for the main goal to be completed to give yourself a pat on the back. Celebrate and enjoy the process of getting there. Remember, sometimes it’s all about the journey. Treat yourself with a special dinner, a small gift, a party, or whatever it is that makes you feel special (because you are!).

9. Work with a friend
Encouragement from a friend is the best way to stay on track no matter what your resolutions are. Friends push you, challenge you, and help you become a better person. Don’t forget to do the same in return. Talk about your goals and struggles frequently even if you don’t share the same resolutions.

10. Forgive yourself
Don’t become frustrated if you fall out of sync with your resolutions. You’re human and it happens. The important thing is to get right back into it with even more determination than before. Don’t stop going after a goal just because you fell off track for a little bit. Pick up where you left off and keep going!

11. Be positive
Always have a positive attitude when it comes to your goals. Believe in yourself. As soon as you begin having doubt and negative thoughts, everything will feel like it’s falling apart. Don’t let it happen!

12. Reassess your resolutions
If something isn’t working out no matter what you do, it’s ok to modify that goal. You don’t necessarily have to ditch it entirely. Make small tweaks so it’s doable in your life. If you can’t manage to save a certain amount of money and pay your bills at the same time, drop down that amount of money. No big deal.

Having a support system goes a long way in helping you achieve your goals. We want to see you SUCCEED! You are capable of so many amazing things and there is no better time to push yourself and create the life you want. We recommend that you pick out a morning or afternoon in the next few weeks to start writing out possible goals for the upcoming year. Get a cup of coffee, a writing pad & pen, and begin to jot down a list of things you’d love to accomplish in 2016. It’s free to dream, so don’t be afraid of writing down huge & scary goals. As you go deeper into the process, you’ll begin to narrow down your list and decide on goals that are reasonable and doable.

We’d love to hear about your process of choosing yearly goals. Leave a comment below with some of your resolutions for the New Year and we’ll cheer you on throughout your journey. Good luck and happy New Year!