Don’t List

Don’t List

Even without knowing you, I can almost guarantee that you have a to-do list. And if you’re anything like me, you have a half-dozen or more! We make these lists all the time with the goal of remembering important tasks, and in hopes they will prompt us to start check items off.

Knowing what you need and want to do is important, of course, but have you ever given much thought to the things you don’t want to do? Probably not.

The truth is, a to-don’t list is probably even more important than a to-do list.

Having clarity about what you don’t need or want to do can go a long way toward helping you live a better-quality life.

There are many ways you can go about creating such a list. You can have make one each morning to help you reduce distractions and focus on pressing priorities. You can create a big-picture one to help you stay on your intended life path. You can also make them for various aspects of your life—professional, finances, relationships, parenting, etc.

No matter how you use them, the goal of to-don’t lists is to reduce distractions, temptations, and obligations so you can stay on your intended path.

Doing the right things is far more important than doing #AllTheThings. Getting rid of tasks and activities that you shouldn’t be doing will free up time and energy for you to do what matters most. And that will make you more effective, efficient, and happy.

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker, Managing for Business Effectiveness

How to Write a To-Don’t List

You need a guide for knowing what to embrace (to-do) and when to intentionally say no (to-don’t).

To do create your to-don’t list, identify what you want to let go of. What actions in your life suck up time, make you feel trapped, or are completely unrewarding? They may be things you want to completely eliminate or just hand off to someone else. Some will be big, others will be small.

Here are some guiding questions to help you think about what should go on your to-don’t list:

  • What are you priorities?
  • What do you want to get out of your (business, relationship, parenting, finances etc.)?
  • What are you currently doing that won’t help you achieve those goals or that aren’t contributing to success?
  • When are you least productive?
  • What do you find yourself distracted by over and over?
  • When do you most often get sidetracked?
  • What activities are you hardest to complete?
  • What do I always regret saying yes to?
  • What do I do out of a sense of obligation, guilt, or “should”?
  • What always leaves me feeling “icky” later?

Here are some examples of items that could end up on your to-don’t list:

  • I won’t answer the phone on the first ring.
  • I won’t immediately say yes or no to requests.
  • I won’t answer email before 10 am.
  • I won’t drink coffee after 2 pm.
  • I won’t accept meetings or calls from someone I wouldn’t have invited myself.
  • I won’t go to sleep after 11 pm.
  • I won’t try to win the regard of NAME.
  • I won’t use “just” or “sorry” without thoughtful consideration.
  • I won’t be lured by gossip.
  • I won’t feel guilty for saying no.
  • I won’t live in the past.

Write your to-don’t list on paper and post it above your desk. Keep a copy in your planner, in Trello, or in an app like ToDon’t so you can always access it when you are faced with a decision. The goal is to start relying on the to-don’t list as much as we get focused on our to-do lists.

Want to learn more? Read How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.

5 Tools to Find Focus

5 Tools to Find Focus

When you own a business, there’s never a shortage of things to do (especially when you aren’t yet able to afford employees or a ton of contract help). The longer your to-do list, the more you can feel overwhelmed the more difficult it can be to find focus.

If you’re anything like me, it’s not always enough to “just do it.” Sometimes you need to force yourself to find focus. These are a few tools that may help.

(Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

 

1. Planner

Trying to remember everything you need to do is enough to make anyone mad. You need to get the tasks out of your brain and stored somewhere you can access at any time.

I prefer a paper planner because, well, I’m old. Or maybe it’s because I’m tactile. Or both. If you also like to put pen to paper and hold your to-do list and calendar, then find a paper planner that suits your personality (I use a weekly now after having used a daily for years).

If you prefer digital tools to old-school ones, then you may like something like Trello or Asana. These are project management tools that act as an editable record of all of your tasks.

 

2. Pomodoro Timer

I love the Pomodoro Technique (I wrote about it here). It’s a super simple way to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. When I use this method, I get so much more accomplished.

Using the Pomodoro Technique can be as simple as setting the timer on your phone. If you like fancy tools (or want to really ensure distraction-free work by putting the phone away), then you may want to invest in a timer.

  • The Saent button is a high-tech smart device that helps you launch pomodoros (working sessions), block digital distractions, and take timed breaks. It’s fancy, but pretty cool. $59
  • The Miracle TimeCube starts a countdown as soon as you turn it over. It doesn’t get much easier than this. $20
  • Keep it simple and classic with a tomato-shaped kitchen timer … this is tool the technique was based on; if it was good enough for the founder, it’s good enough for anyone! $6.99

 

3. News Feed Eradicator / Rescue Time

Stop the scroll! For many of us, the biggest source of distraction during the work day is social media. Whenever we feel stuck, overwhelmed, or disinterested in work, we fall into the rabbit hole that is Facebook or Instagram.

The *free* News Feed Eradicator extension for Chrome is simple to install and automatically quashes the Facebook temptation. With it installed, you no longer see a busy newsfeed filled with cat videos calling your name. Instead, you just get an inspirational quote (I use the Feminist News Feed Eradicator to get empowering quotes!). If you tend to use your laptop or desktop computer for work, install this extension today! (And don’t worry, you can still see your notifications so you won’t miss anything that’s actually directed at you and may require your attention.)

Don’t think you are wasting time on social media? Put it to the test. Install RescueTime (there is a free basic version) to see exactly how much time you are spending on specific sites and applications each week. Seeing the report in black and white may be enough to shock you into changing your habits.

 

4. FlowState

Writer’s block is a tricky beast that can be difficult to tame. One way to push past it is to make yourself write nonstop—even if it’s awful—until you get into the flow and unleash the good stuff that’s hiding within.

That’s easier said than done for most of us. We put pen to paper and then nothing. We internally edit and don’t allow ourselves to let loose.

Enter FlowState. This app (only available for Apple users, OS X or iOS) allows you to set timed writing sessions in which anything you write will disappear if you stop writing for more than seven seconds. Terrifying, but also a great push.

 

5. Headspace/Calm

You’ve probably heard that meditation can help you remain calm and focused, even in the face of incredible stress and overwhelm. But how do you actually do it?

If it’s new to you, it may feel silly. It may even seem impossible. That’s why I love the Headspace app (and even switched from the free to the paid version after a few months). The short, guided meditations tell you exactly what to do and make it really easy. Plus, the guy’s British accent is quite soothing.

I don’t use the Calm app, but I’ve heard from many people that it’s also a fantastic tool for beginning to experienced meditation.

 

Final Note

What works for one person may not work for someone else. There are a ton of great books all about how to reduce distractions, get more focused, and increase productivity. Keep reading until you find systems that work for you.

Here are a few suggestions to help you find focus:

  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)” by Gretchen Rubin
  • How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything so They Can Achieve Anything by Erin Falconer
  • Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt
  • Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs” by John Doerr
5 tools to help business owners find focus
Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique

Staying focused isn’t simple. Even when you have pressing deadlines and a to-do list in your planner, it’s easy to get sucked into social media or into a funny text exchange with your biz bestie. Heck, sometimes doing laundry seems more appealing than sitting down and actually working on your business. That’s why I love the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a simple way to force yourself to focus.

How to use the Pomodoro Technique to find focus and get things done in your business.

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break work into intervals, separated by short breaks. Each interval is called a “pomodoro” (Italian for tomatoes) after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used when he developed the method during college.

Here’s how it works:

  • Choose a task you want to accomplish.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Eliminate all distractions (that means turn off the phone and log off Facebook!).
  • Work on the task nonstop until the timer goes off.
  • Take a 5-minute break.
  • Repeat.
  • After 4 intervals, take a 30-minute break.

Does it sound insanely simple? That’s because it is. Yet, it can really work.

Remember: Nothing is set in stone. You can adapt the Pomodoro Technique to better suit your style. The intervals can be longer or shorter than 25 minutes. The breaks can be longer or shorter than 5 minutes. You can do more or less than 4 intervals before taking a long break. Your long break can be as long as you like. You can do as many intervals as you want in a day. You can use the technique every day or just for certain tasks. You can do it for many days in a row and then not use it again for months.

Make it your own!

I don’t use the Pomodoro Technique all the time. When I do, though, I end up with far more checks on my to-do list. I tend to use it most when I have a big project that I’m dreading or just can’t seem to get motivated to start.

Also, I don’t like setting a timer—it feels too intrusive when it rings. Instead, I often use my vinyl record collection as a timer. One side of an album is usually about 22-minutes long. So, I drop the needle on an album that motivates me and then sit down to work without any other distraction. When the music stops, I get up to flip the album (and maybe use the restroom) as my break time.

Of course, no productivity hack works for 100% of people (here are some other ideas from 30 business owners if this one isn’t for you). You won’t know if the Pomodoro Technique suits your personality, however, until you give it a shot. If you do try it, or find variations that work particularly well, tell me about in the comments below!

How to use the Pomodoro Technique to find focus and get things done in your business.
My Business Tools

My Business Tools

Before I give you the rundown of the business tools I use and how much I spend, let me offer a little food for thought. If you’re still bootstrapping #AllTheThings in your business, consider this:

Not spending money may be costing you more than you realize. Let’s say your hourly rate is $50. If it takes you 5 hours to manually post to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, that’s $250. If a social scheduling tool costs you $20 a month, and a VA would take 2 hours to load it up for $60 a month, that’s $80. So … $250 vs. $80 …  the decision now seems like a no-brainer, right?

It’s hard to part with money, especially for something you could do yourself. But if you actually think through the time you spend vs. the low costs for automation tools, it quickly becomes clear these programs are worth their weight in gold.

Here are the 7 tools that I’m willing to hand over money for every month (that’s saying a lot because I love my money!).

Also, I’m totally transparent. There are affiliate links for each of these business tools. You’ll pay what you would anyway, but if you sign up using my link, I get a small reward (typically in the form of a free month or discount on my fees).

7 business tools worth every penny

 

The 7 Business Tools I Use & Recommend

1. Podia

launched my first course in 2017 and thought about bootstrapping it using YouTube and a password-protected page on my website, but then thought better of it after chatting with other more experienced course creators. I started on Thinkific, but in 2018 I upgraded to Podia. You can read here why I made the switch, but in short I’ve become a die-hard Podia fan. It allows me to host my courses, sell digital downloads, and manage my membership community. It does more than the competition and costs less. You can’t beat that.

Investment: $79/month

2. Honeybook

It took me years to finally admit I needed a customer resource management (CRM) tool. The truth is, though, I was so sick of manually sending my coaching clients applications, welcome emails, invoices, contracts, homework assignments, and more. Honeybook now automates all of it. I have a custom workflow that handles everything from the point of a client inquiry to their end-of-engagement survey. I can’t even tell you how much time this saves me each month, so it’s absolutely ridiculous that I waited so long to spend a measly $40 to do it (and it’s less if you pre-pay for the entire year. If you need a CRM, use my link to get 50% off for your first year. No more excuses!

Investment: $40/month (or just $20 with my promo code)

3. QuickBooks

I finally stopped my Excel spreadsheet madness this year and started using QuickBooks like a grown-up business owner. It integrates with my business bank account/debit card so I don’t have to remember to manually track expenditures anymore. I can categorize income/expenses and it adds repeat items automatically. I also use it for invoicing, which is leaps and bounds better than my old-school method of making them in Word and tracking them in Excel.

Investment: $10/month

4. Acuity Scheduling

I really resisted paying for a scheduling system. Why pay when I can just add events into my iCal? The truth is I have a ton of appointments—virtual coffee dates (integral to growing your network), interviews for my podcast and for the masterclasses for my membership community, and discovery calls for my coaching work. Managing all of that was cumbersome back when I had to go back and forth via email to nail down times with people. Now I can just send a link and they can book themselves into my calendar. The system sets different available times based on the type of appointment, and it integrates with my iCal and my Gmail, so I can easily block off time without having to go to the Acuity site.

Investment: $15/month

5. ConvertKit

When I started my email list in 2016, I used Mailchimp because it was free and easy. As my list grew, I wanted to do things like automatically send my opt-ins, create automated welcome and sales sequences, and segment my list based on purchases. That’s when I switched to ConvertKit. I paid someone about $200 to help me set everything up, but now it’s pretty straightforward to add new opt-ins and sequences, write regular newsletters, and manage my subscriber list. Also, paying for a list based on its size has made me more inclined to prune cold subscribers on a regular basis (something I never did before because I was so caught up on vanity metrics). Now my list is more engaged than ever, with an average open rate of 40%.

Investment: $49/month (I was paying $29/month, but recently moved up to the 1,000-3,000 subscriber plan)

6. Zoom

For the longest time, I used Skype (free) for video calls. The problem, though, was figuring out how to record those sessions if needed. Also, they didn’t allow for group calls. I like to provide recordings of my coaching sessions so my clients can review them as needed. Also, I host virtual co-working and masterminds for my membership community, so I need to be able to host dozens of people. Enter Zoom. This very cool, and super affordable, tool solves all my problems. I’m also using it to record my podcast interviews.

Investment: $14.99/month

7. SmarterQueue

I don’t know if I have the words to describe my love for SmarterQueue. I’ve been using Hootsuite for free for years, and I hated the idea of paying to schedule social media posts. I only switched to this program recently, and it’s already my favorite tool. It replaces everything I managed on Hootsuite (Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn), plus can manage Instagram and Pinterest. What’s so great about it? You can create content categories—tips, blog posts, quotes, as examples—and fill them up with evergreen content. Then you can let those posts recycle as many times as you want. There’s also a cool drag-and-drop calendar where you can plot out which categories will be used at which times on which accounts. Like, seriously, this thing is so incredibly robust for the price. I can’t get over it.

Investment: $19.99/month

In all, I spend $227.98/month on tools for my business. At a billable rate of $100/hour, I’d have to handle all of those tasks in less than three hours a month to make it worth the DIY route. Impossible.

If you’re reading this thinking, “Oh boy, that sounds familiar. I am totally DIYing things I shouldn’t,” then take my advice and start investing in your business. It’s really true that you have to spend money to make money. Just be sure to spend it wisely!

Oh, and if you’re a paper planner kind of person like me, check out this list of my favorite planners.

Planners for 2019: 12 Must Haves

Planners for 2019: 12 Must Haves

This is third year in a row that I’ve run this list of the best planners made for creative women business owners by creative women business owners. These lists are—far and away—the most popular posts on my blog. If you’re finding me because of this post, I’m so happy you’re here!

I’m a coach for women business owners. When I start working with my clients, almost all of them feel overwhelmed and scattered. They have so many ideas, but lack a clear plan of attack. Sound familiar?

I love a pretty planner (I mean, I’m like a giddy school kid when I work on these best planner lists!), but it’s unlikely to help you much if you don’t first get clear about your goals. That’s why I highly recommend you download my free checklist to help you create strategic goals (instead of a random to-do list) before you dive into your shiny new 2019 planner. It will help you get clear about what matters most, and finally develop a system for prioritizing your ideas.

Okay, now let’s get to it! I hope you have as much fun reading about these 2019 planners as I had pulling this list together. This year’s list includes some of my favorites from previous years, along with a few new ones.

Among these 12 planners, I’m hopeful you’ll find just the right one for your organizational and inspirational needs!

 

This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I may receive a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.)

 

The Day Designer Planner

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer faced an overflowing email inbox, a hand-scribbled to-do list, a pile of meeting notes, and felt overwhelmed and disorganized back in November 2011. She needed a solution—quickly. That’s when she came up with the Day Designer™. It was my first “real” (non-drugstore) planner, and I remain totally smitten with it.

The Day Designer PlannerThe Day Designer ($59) is the original daily planner. It’s a simple and easy system created to help women find balance and productivity. There are yearly and monthly glances, but this one is all about the daily pages. There is a focus on the top three things you need to do each day (my favorite part!). There’s also a ton of space for events, to-dos, notes, meal planning, gratitude, and more. I really love the inspirational quotes. If you’re a daily planner user, I doesn’t get better than this!

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com


The Refresh Weekly Planner

Jenna Murillo Planner RoundupJenna Murillo has felt a sense of magic with paper since childhood. She’s energized by turning a blank canvas into something beautiful. That’s what led her to planner design. “Designing a product that’s a stunning and functional tool for others was always a dream,” she says. “In 2015, fueled by the encouragement of friends and family and a fire inside of me to create, I fulfilled that dream.”

Refresh PlannerThe Refresh Weekly Planner ($39.95) is back for 2019 slimmer than ever before, and featuring three cover design options (I don’t know how to choose among them!). The Refresh Planner includes an updated pocket design, goal-planning pages, monthly and weekly spreads, and a notes section. It’s all beautifully bound with hard covers in a new, lightweight design. Plan for progress and take some serious action on your goals with the 2019 Refresh Weekly Planner. This one always makes my list because it’s so pretty and practical!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com — Get free shipping when you use my link!


Inspired Year Planners

Kathy Pine Planner RoundupKathy Pine started her first company at age 25. After navigating the challenges of balancing entrepreneurship and early motherhood, Kathy realized she had a passion for helping women pursue their dreams and she began making inspirational and practical paper products. She created her first planner with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017. Now the Inspired Year planner is the flagship product of her One Love Paper Co.

Inspired Year PlannerThe 2019 Inspired Year Planner ($49) is the ultimate goal-setting calendar for busy creatives who are juggling it all. Its no-nonsense approach, functional design, and roomy pages provide everything you need to stay organized and inspired. It’s designed with goal-setting and work-life balance in mind. It’s uniquely suited to manage your busy days while making space for your dreams. My favorite part of this planner is all the incredibly helpful and inspiring annual, quarterly, and monthly goal-setting exercises. The “wheel” activity really opened my eyes!

Learn more/order: 1LovePaper.com


The Life Planner

Erin Condren Planner RoundupErin Condren left 12-hour days in the apparel industry to become a stay-at-home mom of two. She developed a case of cabin fever, and searched online for career opportunities she could do from home. She began making cards for friends, as birthday gifts, new baby announcements and hostess gifts. Her friend encouraged her to sell her designs at a “shopping party” at her home in June 2004. The rest is history.

The LifePlannerThe LifePlanner™ ($50+) is the ultimate planning system to get organized, achieve your goals, and preserve memories in one stylish space. This feature-packed planner boasts two-page spreads per month, three layouts (vertical, horizontal, or hourly), stylish design elements and inspirational quotes, coiled-in stickers, and a two-page goal setting spread. It’s ideal for anyone who loves scrapbooking or is otherwise artistic. There are so many accessories you can use to personalize your planner and make it a true reflection of you!

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com


Perfect Project Planners (digital download)

Eve TokensEve Tokens Planner Roundup says she created a planner to keep her life on track. “I was using a bullet journal for managing my personal life, Trello for my online business, and my phone calendar to keep track of both and random other appointments,” she says. “It was too much, and I found I was getting less done than ever before.”

The Perfect Project PlannerThe Perfect Project Planner (£27 or $34.91) is designed for bloggers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs who need a planner that does all the things. Download and bind this planner and use it to track everything you need for your blog/business. Key features include a 2018 review, goal planning for 2019, important dates, book list, 2018 and 2018 Google Analytics overview, weekly stats tracking, quarterly financial goals, project idea areas, 90-day sprint planning, and more. I love this one for bloggers (or any business with a blog) and for anyone who hates lugging around a heavy planner.

Learn more/order: Gumroad download


The Bulletproof Business Planner

Yvonne “Yvi” HeimannYvonne Heimann Planner Roundup set out on a mission to integrate her work and life passions fully, simply, and in a way that would do what “planners” are actually meant to do—magnify our greatness! After years of trying to find the perfect planner, app, or productivity tool, Yvi decided to revolutionize the planner industry. The Bulletproof Business Planner (formerly known as ProtoPreneur Planner) empowers us to cultivate our life’s The Bulletproof Business Plannerpassions and bring our deepest desires to life.

The Bulletproof Business Planner ($59) empowers you to design (not just dream about) your destiny. It helps you become the most clear-minded, productive, motivated, inspired, and kick a$$ version of yourself. It’s like a best friend who remembers and reminds you of your most important projects and dreams, encourages you to track and be proud of your personal accomplishments, workouts, and everything in between. I love this one because it’s undated so you customize it to fit your schedule. Plus, the leather-look cover is GORGEOUS and durable. This is a beast of a planner!

Learn more/order: AskYvi.com


The Happiness Planner

Mo Seetubtim always dreamed of having an inspirational brand that people love. Her dream finally came true in March of 2015 with the launch of The Happiness Planner. It’s a beautiful journal designed to help people become happier and more fulfilled by embracing positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development.

Happiness PlannerThe Happiness Planner® ($46-$59) will help you not only manage your to-do list, but also live a truly happy and fulfilled life in alignment with your core values, personality traits, and strengths. There are four main elements: the Happiness Roadmap (become more self-aware and set fulfilling goals), the Planning Pages (stay focused and motivated on monthly goals), the Daily Pages (fill your days with inspiration), and the Reflection Pages (learn from the highs and lows of each week/month). As a mindset coach, I absolutely adore this comprehensive approach to a planner!

Learn more/order: TheHappinessPlanner.com


How to Craft Strategic GoalsTired of checking things off your to-do list,
yet feeling totally stalled?
Use this free checklist to craft meaningful goals
that actually move your business forward.


The She Plans Planner

Ashley StaumAshley Staum Planner Roundup‘s dream started late one evening while in grad school. In order to avoid studying for a few hours, she decided to design her own planner to stay on top of everything on her plate. She fell in love with the process of designing that first planner, and continued to make her own planners each semester and later for co-workers. In early 2013, she began selling digital versions and now physical planners.

The She Plans PlannerThe She Plans Planner ($20-$46) had some big changes for 2019. There are now daily, weekly, and monthly versions so you can choose the one that fits the way you plan. There are full 7x9-inch sewn notebooks in monthly ($20), weekly/quarterly ($38), and daily/quarterly ($46) offering the size of a traditionally bound planner with the ease and simplicity of a sewn notebook. This year’s layouts include extras like a unique 4-page weekly spread in the weekly planner, and both week-at-a-glance and full Sat/Sun pages in the daily planner. New this year is a loose daily planner with tabs for those who love a binder system.

Learn more/order: ShePlans.com


Rule The World Planners

Ilana Griffo Planner RoundupIlana Griffo decided to make a planner when she couldn’t find one that fit her needs. “As a design student, I wanted a place I could doodle, take notes, and stay on track of my classwork,” she says. In the last five years, Griffo’s planner has evolved to reflect her creative journey and her customers’ needs. Rule the World Planner

The Rule The World Planner ($36) is full of goal-setting tools bound to help you crush your goals. From budget-planning worksheets to inspirational quotes, this planner is bound to make this year your best yet.

Learn more/order: IlanaGriffo.com


The Ashley Shelly Planner

Ashley ShellyAshley Shelly Planner Roundup started designing planners soon after creating The Budget Notebook, her first official product, because customers asked for it and she felt the time was right. “I’ve been a planner user for years, but I always wanted to improve on the designs I saw,” she says.

The Ashley Shelly PlannerThe Ashley Shelly Planner ($44.95) helps women create their best days by planning on paper. It features the perfect combination of organization and inspiration. This functional planner includes special features that guide you through organizing and staying inspired throughout the year. It includes a weekly layout with schedule and to-do list sections, and a spot for due today and dinner, equal space for all days of the week, and a hard, glossy cover (7.25x9.25 inches including binding).

Learn more/order: AshleyShelly.com


The Anchored Press Devotional Planner

Anchored Press is part of the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.Deana Uhrig created a planner to help women keep organized and help them find daily time with God. Her biggest prayer is that her planner keeps people focused on God as they plan their days.

The Anchored Press Devotional Planner ($49) is a Christian planner full of Bible verses and devotional content. Each weekday includes a devotion written by a different (godly, gifted, and inspiring) contributor that focuses on a specific theme. Following each, you’ll be guided through a full week of reflecting and growing in that area of your life. Also included are meal planning, goal setting, notes pages, prayer request pages, pockets, and other organizational tools.

Learn more/order: AnchoredPress.com


Fulfill Your Dreams Life Planners

Anung VillayAnung Villay Planner Roundup is the mastermind behind Courageous Creativity, a place for introverts and homebodies to go on with their life and live with some adventure.

The Fulfill Your Dreams PlannerThe Fulfill Your Dreams Planner ($9.99 – $14.99) will help you plan and prioritize your dreams. You get pages to mind map life goals. Each step is spelled out for you so you can take your time. There’s plenty of space to add new ideas (and even add you own little designs). Everything gets broken down from your big ideas, all the way down to what you need to do this week to get there.

Learn more/order: CourageousCreativity.co

This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.
This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.

 

There you have it! My list of the best planners for creatives and entrepreneurs. I hope you loved this list of planners for 2019, but if you know of one that you think should be included, just let me know in the comments below. I love finding new planners to include in the future. Also, if you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Help me spread the love for these amazing women creatives who are making beautiful tools for us all!

Thinkific vs. Podia

Thinkific vs. Podia

Thinkific vs Podia for online course and membership hosting

Last fall, I launched my first online course. I’d been wanting to do it for at least a year prior, but two things held me back—what will I teach and how will I figure out the technology?

The answer to the first question came to me during a mastermind call. I spent 10 minutes telling a fellow business owner how she could use LinkedIn to grow her photography business with corporate clients. Then she said to me, “you should really teach a masterclass on LinkedIn” and a lightbulb went off. Duh! I know LinkedIn incredibly well, so why not make that the subject of my first online course?

That thing you know so well and you assume everyone else does too?
That’s probably the prime topic for your online course.

The answer to the second question about technology wasn’t as simple. There are so many course-hosting platforms available, and every online educator I asked felt passionately about a different one.

After hearing the same answer from several people and doing a little online research, however, I settled on Thinkific. It seemed fairly intuitive to set up and the costs and fee structure looked similar to other platforms.

In the span of one week, I wrote, recorded, uploaded, and launched my first course. I earned a little less than $2,000 from my initial launch, and a few thousand more in the months following.

I was perfectly content with Thinkific … until a few months ago. At that time, I was preparing to launch my VIP membership community and wasn’t sure if Thinkific was the best platform to host it.

That’s when my business coach introduced me to Podia. She and many of her clients were using it to host courses, sell digital downloads, and run memberships. She promised me it was cheaper and more robust than Thinkific.

I’d never heard of the nearly 4-year-old company, and I was immediately skeptical. I’m from the Show-Me State; I have to see things myself to believe them. I did some research and talked to others using the platform. Turns out, my coach (as usual) was correct and I made the switch.

Thinkific vs Podia for online course and membership hosting

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Thinkific vs Podia

Here are the top 5 reasons why I chose Podia over Thinkific, and why (several months later) I’m so glad I did.

1. Lower prices*

I started on Thinkific’s free Starter plan. I was happy to not pay a monthly fee when I wasn’t sure if I’d sell a single course. The problem? I had to fork over 10% of every purchase to Thinkific. Plus, at that time, the basic plan didn’t allow students to pay via Paypal (that’s changed since then) and I couldn’t offer coupons. I also didn’t get a custom domain, couldn’t do much with email integration, couldn’t have affiliates, and tons of other limitations.

Within a month or two, I was on the Business plan at $99 a month. This took care of all the shortfalls mentioned above, but it represented a pretty big investment for my business.

For $79 a month on Podia (less if you prepay for a year like I did), you can host courses, sell digital downloads, and have memberships. You can have a custom domain, easily integrate with ConvertKit (or use Zapier to convert with Mailchimp), create coupons and discounts, set up affiliates for your programs, allow students to pay via Stripe or Paypal, and so much more.

2. No transaction fees

Best of all, neither of Podia’s programs include transaction fees. Even if you only pay $39 a month, you never have to fork over a percentage of your earnings to the platform. Paypal and Stripe still take their fees (there’s no way around that), but that’s all. Pay a monthly fee and nothing more.

Thinkific, on the other hand, takes 10% transaction fees when you are on the free plan and 5% when you’re paying $49 a month. No thanks.

3. More options

As I mentioned earlier, the impetus for me looking into Podia was the launch of my VIP membership community. Podia is set up to host memberships as one of its core offerings. Thinkific, on the other hand, added basic membership capabilities but that’s not it’s primary business.

I love that I can use Podia to host courses (like Thinkific or Teachable), to sell digital downloads (like Gumroad), or to house my membership (like MemberFul or Kajabi). It’s like a one-stop shop.

Of course, my guess is Podia isn’t as complete in any of those three areas as the task-specific sites I mentioned as alternatives. But for now my course, download, and membership needs are all fairly basic, so I love the convenience and affordability of housing everything in one place.

4. Easy switch

What really sealed the deal for me was when I learned Podia would migrate all my content from Thinkific at no extra cost. They do this for all of their Shaker ($79/month) users, regardless of where your content currently lives. Plus, Podia’s founder, Spencer, offered me a 30-minute video call where he walked me through exactly how to use the platform.

The tech piece is what typically keeps me from trying something new. They eliminated that issue and made the switch a no-brainer.

5. Unbelievable service

As you can probably guess from what I just mentioned about the migration and initial call, Podia has incredible customer service. And it doesn’t end after you’ve paid them.

I’ve used the site’s chat feature to ask dozens of questions in the last few months. Every time, I’ve received a quick response, usually within minutes. When they don’t know the answer, they quickly find out. When I asked questions about membership billing, they did some research and got me answers—and then turned them into a helpful resource on the site’s FAQ section. Even more, they have offered to fix problems or make changes on my behalf rather than simply sending me instructions or directing me to the FAQ section.

This former skeptic is now a believer. I understand why my business coach raved about Podia. It’s easy to use, pretty comprehensive, reasonably priced, and the service is truly second to none.

This is the first time I’ve written an endorsement of a single product. I don’t do this lightly, but I really believe Podia could be the perfect solution for many of my readers’ needs. If you’re preparing your first online course offering or wanting to start a small membership, Podia may be the most affordable option. As a bonus, you can make more money by selling digital downloads (you can turn old blog posts into an ebook using Canva).

Want to give Podia a shot without making a big commitment? You can by signing up for their free 14-day trial. If you try it, let me know how it goes. Share the link to your Podia offerings in the comments below this post!

* Edited 11/1/2018: Since this post was originally written, Thinkific has changed their pricing structure. They’ve eliminated their transaction fees, but it still costs $99 per month to get the same features that Podia offers for $79 a month.