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Top picks for best planners

Planners, Calendars & Journals, OH MY! (Top picks for planners)

This timely guest post comes from my uber-organized, proficient planning, brand-strategizing friend Victoria Vitarelli and originally appeared on her website, V Dot V Marketing.

A hope is a dream without a plan.

I often get asked, “how do you keep track of your ‘EVERYTHING’!?” Juggling my clients, my kids, my mom and life in general. I’ve gotten to the point if it’s not written somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

I have notebooks, whiteboards and paper scraps all over for the urge to list and do a brain dump. I have figured out over the years that I need to be disciplined every day and keep one main repository as an extension of my memory. Journals for different topics or goals do not work for me because the arteries of life often bleed into one another.

So I keep my system to a family whiteboard, google calendars merged together and a paper planner – currently diving into Self Journal.

Since my very first job out of college, I’ve kept a notebook to write down my notes – from meetings, calls, thoughts, ideas. I had a plain spiral notebook to “get the job done” and a de rigueur Filofax.

Today there is an onslaught of planners, calendars and such! For me – a lot of fun! However, I have a friend who is paralyzed by the choices to make the purchase. Here are four questions I asked her to help her with her decision.

  1. Do you want to fill in the blanks or have a white canvas? How do you set your goals? Best practices say to write out your big goals; distill them down into weekly and daily to-dos. Depends on your style and what makes you productive vs busy. There are planners that have the year/day date written out and are very structured. They are designed to deliver the general best practices in keeping a goal and getting it done so you don’t have to think about that aspect. There are journals for very specific goals e.g. fitness, business, parenting. Daily Greatness has many specialized versions. If you have your own structure or want to be more creative about your pages, try the Bullet Journal system. You make the rules, but there is a system to writing it down. Here is a video. Bullet journal “porn” is all over Pinterest and Instagram. There are some beautiful, truly amazing works of art out there!
  1. Are you carrying it around everywhere and anywhere? Weight matters!  Certain paper stocks can get heavy and depending on what you use to write with, the ink can bleed through light paper. Details…Details…Most planners have the weight listed on their respective websites. And depending on if you want a defined calendar style e.g. 30 days or week at a glance, full year by the day, quarterly etc. this can make a big difference in weight as well. Also there are various sizes from 8.5″ x 11″ pages to small pocket styles. Think about what you will be carrying this in – purse? briefcase? pocket?
  1. Does brand/color/style matter to you? Once you decide on white canvas or fill in the blank style and weight- the search narrows down. There are hundreds of journals out there by designers, planner brands, etc. I found a Lily Pulitzer planner with every page in her signature style. Some white canvas, purists will stick to a classic marble notebook or the ever-reliable Moleskin.  Both are sold in all kinds of stores in addition to online outlets e.g. Staples, bookstores, Target and boutiques.
  1. How much “woo-woo” factor? We use this term affectionately. There are some that have messages of inspiration and faith as well as planning out your dream days and life. An example is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner. Per the description, “This planning system incorporates your inner and outer worlds; your gratitude and your goals; your Core Desired Feelings into your daily regime”. Personally, I enjoy seeing a good Zig Ziggler or Aristotle quote to inspire me. And then there are days when it’s just about checking the box and getting stuff done without guru sounding pep talks. This one is very interesting, The Sacred Circle Planner – starting on December 18th, the Winter Solstice. Per the description, “Through the use of Divination, Affirmations, Archetypal Wisdom, Goal Manifesting, and specially designed Spiritual Practices that keep you in sync with the seasons–you have the opportunity to craft a whole new you this year!

As you go through the many other lists and ideas the key is to start somewhere and think about how you get stuff done NOW! You can always shift or try new styles or methods as the year goes on. The key is to find something that is going to support your goals and motivation. These are tools to help us get the job done and get to our destination! The discipline to follow a system is KEY no matter what you use. Happy goal setting and getting stuff done!

Check out Vicky’s video where she test-drives some of the best selling planners and journals.

Also, tune into this recent Plannerpalooza podcast from the “Best of Both Worlds” team of Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger who take planner enthusiasm to a whole new level.

Are you a planner perfectionist? Which one(s) do you use? Please share in the comments.

How a Business Clean-Up Can Bring Marketing Success

You know that feeling when warm weather comes and you want to open all the windows and doors and air the house out? Clean out closets and throw out the collected winter clutter?

It happens to most of us. A new season comes and we have the urge to purge (and clean).

But what about our business? Shouldn’t it get a renewed look and de-cluttering too?

When was the last time you took a day off? Yes… a whole day off *gasp* to do a little clean up on your business.

What Kind Of Cleaning?

There are two clean-up projects you should do once or twice a year.

The first one is more of a clutter buster.

Get rid of old files bogging down your computer.

Move your images and big files off your main computer and put them on an external storage drive. Look at your credit card statement and note any recurring business expenses that you don’t need. Those little $9.99 monthly programs and subscriptions add up.

Open up the virtual windows of your business

The second clean up project is a mental cleanup

A mental cleanup?

There is a tendency with entrepreneurs to forget why we are running a business.  By now you may have realized that running your own business is not easy. As a matter of fact is can be downright hard some days. Like – “I’m done with this” hard.

There’s a reason you keep going.  Why? Do you know the answer?

To (re)find it. It would be beneficial to take another day off! *gasp* TWO days off?!?

Yes! Another day off. To reconnect with your goals and vision. To remind yourself why you’re doing what you do.

Grab a fresh notebook and a brand new pen. Go somewhere that you can think and get away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you want to achieve, in business and in life?

Take a moment to think about what it is you want.  If you want to have a business that allows you to travel, are you structuring it to allow that? If you want to only work 30 hours a week, are the plans in place to do so? Do you have an income goal? Write down what you want your life (and business) to look like.

  1. What’s your secret sauce? What makes you stand out from your competition? What is something you do, that your customers or clients LOVE?

This is the magic of your business.  I’m guessing you have competition.  What do you do to make your business the best choice?

  1. What do they need to learn from you? What can your unique specialties do for them?

Once you get clear on your secret sauce, think about what your ideal customers want from you. When can you deliver this information to them? How do you think they want to get it?

  1. How are you reaching your existing clients? How are you reaching new clients?

What’s working? What’s not?

  1. Where does my best business come from?

If Facebook brings you the most business, focus most of your online marketing efforts there.

What Does This Have to Do With Marketing?

Everything.

It all flows together.

See you do have a vision of what you want your life to look like, but we get caught up in our day-to-day activities. We tell ourselves, “tomorrow, I’ll really hire that VA”,  “Next week, I’ll get started on social media”,  “Hopefully, by next year I’ll be able to work less hours if I can hustle now”.

Start to structure your business around the life you want now, then decide where you need to be productive. What needs to be more efficient? What type of support do you need?

Make your business work for you.

Focusing on what your secret sauce is, changes everything you do. This is how you stand out with your unique voice, perspective, and services. This is how your ideal client will find you. They’ll be drawn to you because you resonate with them.

Knowing what your magic is, allows you to write more freely, and promote your services with the right marketing copy and connect with your audience they way they need you to connect.

Once you start thinking about your marketing with your customer or client in mind, it doesn’t feel so hard. And you’ll have a clearer sense about where best to reach them.

You’ll notice that your blogs are getting read.  Your emails are getting opened. Your social media posts are getting likes and comments.  Why? Because you have cleaned out the stale marketing efforts that are no longer serving you. You have reminded yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’ll remember what makes you stand out.

Now, open up your calendar and pick your two clean-up days, to.

  1. Clear out the clutter
  2. Set your one-on-one day with your business.

You’ve got this!

Having trouble with your clean up? Let’s schedule a “clarity call” so I can help you make way for marketing success!

6 Ways to Grow Your Business or Your Brand This Month

Whether you are interested in social media success, online branding, networking or business development, there is something for everyone over the next few weeks of November.  Most of these events – if not free – are a great value, worth your investment of time and money and some don’t even require you to leave your desk!   So if you are feeling like you need a bit of jump start this month, don’t miss these great opportunities.

Personal Branding 21 Day Challenge –  Nov. 1st – 30th,  Online
When you sign up, personal branding megastar Jill Celeste offers 80 personal branding activities, challenging participants to complete 21 of them by the end of the month. It’s perfect for any entrepreneur who wants to attract more clients to his/her business.
$39.99; Register here 

The Half Day Solution – Nov. 5th, 8:30am – Stamford, CT
A free introductory event with Fabienne Fredrickson leader of Client Attraction Business School focused on strategies and solutions for overcoming entrepreneurial challenges.  (There other events in VA and WA – check the site).
Free; Register here

Launching “Disruptive” Brands And Loving It  – Nov. 7th,  9am – Rye, NY
The fantastic monthly Women Entrepreneurs’ Network meet-up will learn from Jason Dorf CEO of The Goodnight Family LLC about  innovative growth strategies for start-ups.
$20 donation; Register here

“Understanding Google Analytics” – Nov. 14th, 8am – Darien, CT
This month 341U will host Google guru Kate Hamilton Miller who will share how to use Google Analytics for actionable insights, custom reports and conversion tracking.
$25; Register here

“The Art of Success!”  – Nov. 14th,  1pm – Online
A free webinar to teach you how to design a Brand that will make you look GREAT…online, in print and in person!  Hosted by Robin Dann of Studio G Creative Design & Brand Development.
Free; Register here

“Online Marketing Masterminds” – Nov. 18th, 5:30 – Stamford, CT
Internet marketing veterans Ryan Lee and Mary Agnes Antonopoulos will be sharing their step by step strategies for building and monetizing an audience online through blogging and social media. All proceeds from the event will go towards Operation Hope.
$35; Register here

With all of these opportunities, I either personally know the host , speaker or sponsor or I will be attending the event or BOTH!   So please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about any of these events.

Are there other events this month on your do-not-miss list?  Please share!