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!

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!

Everything You Need To Know About Bullet Journaling And Keeping Your Life Organized

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By Nicole Tinkham

There’s a new cooler way to keep track of your happenings! Go ahead and ditch that non creative planner and jump on board with us as we discover the craze of the year, bullet journaling. Having a creative mind doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be unorganized. We’ll show you how you can be artsy and still have everything in order through a journaling/planning technique that can change your life. Read on for everything you need to know about bullet journaling and keeping your life organized.

What it is

Put simply, a bullet journal is a customizable to-do list, journal, planner, organizer, calendar and note taker all in one book. With this type of journal you can create your own pages which allow it to work with you and your schedule rather than you having to fit your priorities into a pre-made planner like we’re used to doing. Before you get all crazy with your notes and ideas, know that your bullet journal should be super structured and there’s a reason for that. It’s designed for you to be productive, keep up with reaching your goals, and weed out the unimportant tasks that can hold you back. Not everyone is a structured person and that’s fine. Your journal should have at least some structure but you can also make it your own.

Why you should try it

Not all planners will suit your needs. Have you ever bought a planner that doesn’t provide enough room to write the tasks and appointments you need to? Or maybe the planner is too big when you’d really like something smaller. Or maybe you’d like to track something (like a food journal) that a typical planner doesn’t allow for. This is why you need a bullet journal for total customization!

For the creative thinkers who don’t like structure but also need to get organized, this is for you. It’s perfectly acceptable to doodle in a bullet journal. In fact, it’s highly encouraged. You can make it your own and it’s a fun way to get used to organization in your life.

So many times we think having a different list for everything helps us stay organized when in reality, it just stresses us out even more. Think about it. You have your grocery list, your to-do list, your brainstorm of creative ideas list, and more. Having all these different types of lists everywhere can be distracting. With a bullet journal it’s all right there in one notebook making your life easier.

You can set goals for yourself and actually make them happen. Since you can customize this journal, you can include your big goals and areas that you need to work on and fill them in daily. Having your goals and tasks clearly written will keep them in the front your mind so you can achieve them.

You can be totally unique and artsy! Add some color, doodles, fancy handwriting, fun washi tape, and more. This seriously takes planners to the next level.

Every day can be organized differently and you can change things up as needed. You can’t do that with other planners. You won’t get bored and you’ll discover new and better ways to staying organized.

You can add in a habit tracker to help you stay on track with good habits. It’s simple too! Every day you do something right, you fill in a square for the day. This will show your consistency, where you need to improve, and will help you get better at doing that habit. This is especially helpful to visual people who like to actually see their progress on paper.

You can put in as much time as you want. You can set up your day in just 2 minutes or you could spend more time reflecting and jotting down each detail. You can make it super simple but most people like to spend some more time on it and make it look nice too.

You don’t need any fancy supplies, unless you want them! All you really need is a grid journal and a pen. Colorful pens, highlighters, stickers, and other embellishments are just an added bonus.

Different ways to do it

There are two ways to go about bullet journaling: Setting it up 100% yourself as we’ve talked about or purchasing one with premade pages.

It may sound like the premade books go against everything we’ve said about customizing your own journal but hear us out. If there’s a specific goal you have in mind, there may be a journal out there to help you reach that goal specifically. For example, we’ve seen nutrition bullet journals that are set up to plan for meals as well as other things. Even if you go with this option, it won’t be like a typical planner. These are creatively designed and provide you with what you should need to achieve your goals.

If you take the DIY route, all you’ll nead is a gridded journal (in any type and size) and a pen. You’ll be writing everything out yourself but you can use the guidelines below for marking tasks to help you stay organized.

Simple dot = Task
X = Task complete
> = Task Migrated
< = Task Scheduled
O = Events
= Notes
* = Gives task priority
! = Creative idea/inspiration
An eye drawing = Further research required

You’ll also want to leave a few pages in the beginning of your journal open for the index which is what brings everything together. You’ll have to number your journal pages which can be time consuming but it’s definitely worth it in the end. As you work through your book, simply add topics to your index and indicate which page number they are on.

Top tips

•    Create a weekly log where you brain dump all the things you want to get done for the week but not sure which days you’ll do them.

•    Break your days up into time periods. Several tasks don’t feel so daunting when they’re grouped by time and importance.

•    Separate your events in a creative way with doodles or washi tape.

•    Include your reading and movie wish list into a to-do list

•    Get a quality notebook that you absolutely love. We recommend Moleskine.

•    Use a ruler to help you create straight lines.

•    Use planner stencils to help you create fun shapes.

•    Use colorful page flags to help you easily find the page you need.

•    Create a “waiting on” list. This is great for when you place an order for something and are waiting for it to be delivered. Be sure to include the arrival date so you can track it!

•    Have a section to set monthly and weekly goals.

•    Create fun themes by doodling around your lists.

•    Log your memories. Jot down certain words that remind you of a particular event or doodle it.

•    Include a gratitude section.

•    Have fun with your headers on each page. Learn new creative lettering and just have fun with it.

•    Develop a planning routine. Sit down to plan each month, week, and day. Take the time to do this and in the end you’ll be more organized and will actually save yourself time.

Still don’t think bullet journaling is for you? We DARE YOU to give it a try just for a month or two. We totally believe in the power of keeping goals organized and how fun you can make this normally boring task if you do it right. We think bullet journaling will blow your mind! It’s totally different than anything you’ve ever seen before.  Give it a try and be sure to let us know how it goes!