A pretty piece of paper won't simplify your life.

A piece of paper won't simplify your life. It doesn't matter how pretty it is, how many blush colored check boxes or beautifully categorized sections there are. As someone who spends their day creating pieces of paper that people claim will "save your day", I should know. 

We all go through seasons in our lives when we feel like we don't have it all together. Our schedules are packed to the brim and we are trying to balance work, appointments, practices, school projects, feeding our family three times a day and keeping all the socks in the right drawers. As a mother to four young girls, that task of keeping the socks in the right drawers is actually more difficult than it sounds. For awhile wearing mix-matched socks was a thing and I loved it. Now they want matching socks and so I'm back at it again.

For many of us, it feels like most of our life is spent in this space, where we are just trying to get through the day without letting any balls drop. We tell ourselves that it's just today, it's just this week. If only I can get through this month, past this "event", then things will slow down and we can recenter ourselves. And then it comes - a small window of time where everything is finally just right. We feel like we have space to breathe. Our tunnel vision is turned off and just for a moment and we can step back and look at the big picture. We see our kids playing in the backyard and their laughter and play fighting makes us smile. We take the time to pause when our spouse returns home from work - we walk over to them, really see them and ask them how their day went. We have a Saturday free of obligation and allow everyone to stay in their PJs all day and just BE with no agenda, no plan for the day.

I don't believe we can stay in this state, where everything seems to just flow the way it should, at all times. I know that there are times when outside forces tend to take over our schedules. And this is why a pretty piece of paper will not solve your hectic-life problems. If it's all just too much, writing it in neatly organized categories won't help that feeling of overwhelm. That feeling that life is passing you by while you are busy getting all the things done. What needs to happen is a mind-shift. You must look back at those days or weeks when everything just worked, and you must want to make a change. You must want to live slower. This is where some tough self-love comes in. If your life is too busy, you are the only one who can slow it down. It's not difficult to do, but it does require you to set aside some time to take a step back, look at the big picture of what's working and what's not working, and create a plan to make a shift.

And this is where those pretty pieces of paper come in.  If you are ready to slow down, if you are ready to spend your summer with your kids doing some old-fashioned, back-to-basics animal-shaped cloud watching - well then it's time to start planning for that. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I plan so that I can have the freedom to let life happen. I plan so that I can walk away from my desk at 3:30 when my girls get off the bus and they can have me for the afternoon. I plan so that we can have those Saturdays full of nothing to do, no where to be. I plan so that things are either checked off or scheduled for later and I can BE with the people in the room with me.

If you are ready to make that shift we have a few pretty pieces of paper that can help you get there. Our 2017-18 planner collection is now available to order and will help to make July 1st your new January 1st. If you have any questions on which layout will work best for the way YOU plan please email us at hello@sheplans.com and we can help you choose your right layout.

 

 

Redefining Success

How do you define success? Have you ever taken the time to actually put thought into what YOUR definition of success is?

Many of us think we know what success is. We see elements of success all around us - the big houses, the fancy cars, the lavish trips. For years I'd play a game with myself, dreaming of what would happen when I won the big lottery. You know, the drawings that are $300 million+ that quickly become nationwide sensations. I'd dream of how I would spend the money, who I would share it with, and what experiences we could have as a family. When I thought of business success it was close to the same way - always a fanciful dream of what would happen IF.

Then, a few months ago, someone in a business workshop asked the group how they defined success. I sat there, quietly listening to many well thought out plans for success and quickly realized something. I had two definitions of success, and neither of them was MY vision of success. My first was a dream-definition of success that was so big and lustrous that I placed it in my "dream world" scenario - a place that I don't believe I'll ever live. These are the dreams of Chip and Jo knocking on your door on a Tuesday afternoon wanting to remodel your home and feature it on their next episode. These are the dreams of Target picking up your line of planners and being featured on GMA or in Oprah's Favorite Things. And of course I have those idols of business that I admire and would tell myself that "If I am able to reach her level of success" I'd have really made it. I had this dream of success all mapped out, but it was so big that I was in no way connected to it really happening. It was all just fun daydreaming.

Then I had a second definition of success that was small - very small. It really boiled down to not failing. My first ever business success was making enough money in one season to purchase product for the following season. Not having to use my own money any longer, that felt like success. And then from there I simply defined success as selling out of planners each season. That meant that I was able to forecast correctly and that customers were still coming back. While that is technically a successful season, it's not a very exciting definition of success.

I realized that I am scared to create a true life definition of SUCCESS. I can name all the things I have that are great in my life, and I believe they are pieces of success. I am able to stay home with my kids - success. I am able to put a meal on the table for my kids and take them out to dinner and a movie on their birthdays - success. I am able to plan summer vacations and sneak away for a date night with my husband - success. But those just-out-of-reach markers of success that push you, that force you to live just a little bigger this year than you did last year, those frighten me because I could fail to reach them. 

I don't have a pretty little bow to wrap this up with. I haven't yet redefined success for myself, but for the first time I've realized the importance of having a real, solid definition of success and doing so has been add to my Q2 Focus Goals. I have been working on it slowly, wanting to really connect with my definition so that it drives me to push myself but doesn't scare me away. If you don't yet have a definition of success for yourself or your business, I'd love for you to join me this quarter in making it a priority. We can share what we've created at the end of June!

 

It's okay to turn off.

Every Sunday I see tons of posts about preparing for the week ahead. How to map out a plan that will set you up for success. Simple life hacks to streamline your week. I'm usually right there on the bandwagon with Fresh Start Sunday where the family spends the morning and early afternoon getting the house ready for the school week ahead of us. But, sometimes it's different.

Sometimes I think the message that isn't being said enough is that it's okay to NOT get ready for the week ahead of you. It's okay to NOT be busy. Society is constantly telling us to get up, get out, be active, make a plan, be the best YOU you can be. If this was the last day of your life how would you spend it? And then add in our internal drive plus the events and activities that are actually necessary to function - well that's just a whole lot of busy. But our bodies, and more importantly our brains, need to turn off, to not have a problem to solve, and to actually... be BORED sometimes. Yes. Bored.

Remember when you were a child and you'd have a weekend at home with nothing much to do? You may have wandered around the house for a bit until you came up with something great to do - and that something was usually pretty awesome. I find that with my own children all the time. It's those times when I force them to turn the TV off that, after sitting around for awhile complaining, they come up with the most imaginative and entertaining games for themselves. Your brain needs this. Busy can be addicting. Let's say that again. BUSY CAN BE ADDICTING. And your brain needs rest. It needs to not always be lead, but to have the opportunity to lead you. And that doesn't happen until you sit back for long enough to let it take over.

So why not skip those soccer games this week? Why not RSVP "no" to those three birthday parties your children have been invited to? Why not just a plan an entire weekend of NOTHING and see what happens. Do those old dusty board games get pulled off the shelves? Do the kids pull out the sidewalk chalk and create marvelous works of art? Do you get to TAKE A NAP on a Sunday afternoon? Do you and your husband have a deep conversation about gummy bears vs gummy worms? By the way ... it's gummy bears all the way.

Life isn't always about scaling the mountain. Sometimes it's about laying in the field and finding cloud animals.

 

Today is a Good Day

You'll hear the words, Today is a good day... around my house a lot.  They've become a motto of mine recently and so I thought I'd share the meaning behind these words with you in hopes that they can help you through your days as well. 

For me, there are few feelings better than the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a productive day. Whether you’ve hit your stride in a project at work or you’ve finally organized that hallway shoe closet, there’s not much better than sitting down at the end of the day and relishing in all that you’ve done.  I believe that achieving that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day begins with how you start your day. By using the right tools and creating a habit of setting your priority for each day you can rock any project you have on your plate! 

I’ve created a little trick for myself and my girls, and I challenge you to implement it in your life. Whether it is simply said aloud in the shower or written into my To Do List Planner, I take a moment each morning to purposefully finish the sentence, “Today is a good day to . . . ” This simple sentence does two things for me – it sets my priority for the day and it gives me the focus to decide what energy to bring to that priority.

The word decide is a very important word here.  The emotion you decide to bring is just, if not more, important than simply setting your priority. If it’s that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day that you’re working for, you need to decide to bring motivation, joy, energy and passion to that day’s purpose. Instead of saying to yourself, “Okay, I guess it’s time to start cleaning the garage,” you can decide to bring some energy to the task ahead of you, put on some music and say, “Today is a GREAT day to organize the garage!”

 

The 2017 Collection

Are you ready for it? Because it is ready for you! Our 2017 Collection is now available and it's, as always, better than ever!

While we aren't a true "build your own planner" company, with all the options we have it really does feel like it. To simplify it for you, here are the decisions you'll need to make...

  1. Choose your layout:: Weekly, standard | Weekly, appointment | six-month Daily
  2. Choose your cover design:: Navy Stripe | Pink Gingham | Navy Dot | Floral Pattern
  3. Choose your cover material:: Hardcover vs. Softcover

After reading through all the details visit The Planners page to see the designs and shop for your new planner.

CHOICE OF LAYOUT

This season we have three interior layouts to choose from. The Weekly, standard and the Weekly, appointment are our two weekly versions. In trying to determine which weekly layout is right for you, you simply need to ask yourself - do you plan more by your to do list or your appointment schedule? If it's your to do list, then the Weekly, standard with it's wide open daily columns, is The One for you. If you plan your week more by your appointment schedule, then the Weekly, appointment with times from 7:00am - 8:00pm (on the half hour) is calling your name. What truly sets all of our weekly To Do List Planners apart from other weekly planners on the market is the Weekly List. A large notes section where you can brain dump your to do list, meal plan for the week, jot down meeting notes, anything your heart desires. Of course it also comes with notes pages at the back of the planner and a newly designed goal planning system throughout the planner to not only set some big, exciting, scary goals, but then to actually put them into action throughout the year.

Our third layout is our new, six-month, Daily Planner. While your first reaction may be, "why only six months?" believe me, there are many reasons we've decided to create a six-month planner. The initial reason was paper quality. I've worked over the years to ensure that our weekly planners had the highest quality paper. When I set out to introduce a daily planner I quickly realized that if I kept the same paper in this planner the size of the planner would simply be too big to handle. You'd be carrying around an encyclopedia. I toyed with the idea of lowering the paper quality to make it work, but that idea simply did not sit well with me. Then I had the idea of making it only six months. This would make it the same size as the weekly, and more portable that even the current daily planners on the market. I could keep the same great paper, and you now have the ability to refresh your planner in the middle of the year. You know that wonderful feeling of starting a with a fresh new planner on January 1st? Wouldn't you love to have that feeling again in July? Our Jan-June 2016 Daily Planner was the first to be introduced and it was a surprising hit. We sold out quickly, restocked, and sold out again. And so it's back for another season. Who knows, maybe I've just stumbled across the next best thing since sliced bread!

CHOICE OF COVER DESIGN

This year we have four cover designs - a design for every style. The Navy Stripe is our take on Northeastern Preppy. Simple navy lines with a pop of pink. The Pink Gingham, on the other hand, is Southern Preppy all the way. Pair it with a glass of sweet tea and you are all set. The Navy Dot is a subtle classic because simple is truly the new beautiful. Lastly, the Floral Pattern which I like to call the statement necklace of the collection. Bold and beautiful it will brighten every morning.

CHOICE OF COVER MATERIAL

Over the years I've worked hard to try and make the quality of our books the best it can be. They are books made of paper and wire so they do bump and bruise when you knock them around, but I want them to be as durable as possible. This year you have two very durable options to choose from. The hardcover is made of chipboard - think of a wire bound text book material. It's quite sturdy, is bound with a gold wire-o binding, and has protective gold corners. The softcover is made of a flexible synthetic material and is bound with a silver metal spiral - so sturdy that I don't believe I could bend it if I wanted to. With two quality choices like these, it is simply a matter of preference - are you a hard or soft cover person? 

I'm excited for you to look through the collection; to see which layouts, designs and materials you will choose to combine. Let us know if you have any questions. I'm always here to help someone build their best planner.