Academic Year Planners: The best options for women

Academic Year Planners: The best options for women

Academic planners (or mid-year calendars) are typically made with students, teachers or anyone in education in mind. They aren’t limited to educators, though! Many business owners who operate on a fiscal year vs. a calendar year also prefer to use academic calendars. 

Whatever your reasons for wanting a calendar that starts in July or August rather than January, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find a great list of academic year planners or mid-year calendars to suit your needs.

(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.)

Erin Condren Academic Planner

Erin Condren Academic Planners (starting at $37) are one of the most popular academic planners on the market, and for good reason. They are beautiful, fun, and super customizable. They include a tabbed and dated 12-month calendar with monthly and weekly spreads, lined pages for notes, detailed pages for tracking projects/goals or exams, inspirational quotes, and a coiled-in sticker sheet. I’ve met so many teachers, particularly those teaching younger students, who ADORE this planner. There are several pretty cover options so you’re sure to find one to suit your personality.

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com

Passion Planner Academic Planners

Academic Planners from Passion Planner ($35) is a powerful option for anyone looking to stay motivated and on track (it runs from August to July). In addition to weekly, monthly, and annual planning areas, it includes questions for regular reflection, a roadmap for short- and long-term goals, and personal and work to-do lists. There are also some fun extras like space for gratitude, blank space for brainstorming, and motivational quotes to keep you going! There are three sizes and three cover options, and a portion of every sale goes to charity.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.com

Commit30 Academic Planner

The Commit30 Academic Planner ($45) is perfect for mid-year goal-setters to track assignments, plan your week/month/year, and to take notes all in one location. There’s space for a yearly vision board, a place to track progress on your habit goals, motivational quotes, blank pages for notes and doodles, and a back pocket for storage. The 7×10-inch planner includes Monday to Sunday weekly layouts, and is available with three different cover options.

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

At-A-Glance Contempo Academic Planner

The Contempo Weekly-Monthly Academic Planner ($22.49) is a clean and contemporary planner that includes weekly and monthly spreads, 40+ blank pages for notes, and a double-sided pocket. Each month is tabbed, and there is one week per two-page spread with lined space for detailed notes; each day has a section for priorities. This 5×8-inch planner has a July start, and a flexible black or purple cover with twin wire binding so it easily lays flat.

Learn more/order: AtaGlance.com

Blue Sky Academic Planner

The Blue Sky Academic Planner ($7.99/$9.99) is a budget-friendly option that includes 12 months of tabbed monthly and weekly pages. The monthly view pages have a notes section for important projects and the weekly view pages include enough a lined writing space for more detailed to-dos, reminders, and ideas. It also features a clear cover pocket, contacts pages, and extra notes pages. The spiral-bound design allows the planner to lay flat. It comes in two sizes and a bunch of fun cover options to suit your style!

Learn more/order: Amazon.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars. I hope you find one you love! If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Thanks!

A great list of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars from BeckyMollenkamp.comA great list of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars from BeckyMollenkamp.com
Undated Planners: The best options for women

Undated Planners: The best options for women

There’s no law that says you can only get organized if you start on January 1st. It’s perfectly okay to take charge of your calendar at ANY time, and these undated planners can help.

Here are my favorite non-dated planners made for creative women BY creative women. This list of the best planners includes daily planners, life planners, custom planners, and more.

(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.)

InkWELL Press Build Your Own Planner

Tonya DaltonTonya Dalton, creator of Inkwell Press planners, who started InkWELL Press in 2014, says productivity is not getting more done… it’s focusing on getting the important things done. It’s about living with intention. Her planners aren’t just paper—they are a lifestyle. When you get one, you join her devoted community of fans, and get continuing education and inspiration from her.

360º Disc Planners (starting at $52) are fully customizable so you can create the perfect planner for YOU. This build-it-yourself system offers multiple covers, undated daily pages (in addition to many dated options), and accessories. Once you get the hang of building your own planner, it can be the best solution and worth the price of admission for control freaks (like me).

Learn more/order: InkWELLPress.com

Self Planner

Cathryn Lavery Best SelfCathryn Lavery co-founded BestSelf Co. in 2015 because she wanted more from her life, and realized lack of time was her biggest obstacle. After too many days spinning her wheels, she figured there must be a better way to create success. She and her partner studied high-performance practices and created the Self Journal and Self Planner. They now donate one meal to Feeding America for every order on their site.

Self Planner ($19.99) is the most economical option on this list. It’s an undated, six-month life planner designed to help you manage your time and plan your life. Use the various templates to get clear on your priorities, mastermind your future, and infuse every day with the things that matter most to you. Available in a black or coral hardcover measuring 7×10”, it includes a back pocket, two ribbon markers, and perforated corners.

Learn more/order: BestSelf.co

The Day Designer

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer planner started this planner back in 2010 as a solution to her own organization and planning needs. She has since sold the company, but her legacy lives on because the beautiful products she created remain largely unchanged. Hers was the first real, grown-up planner I ever purchased, and it remains one of my favorite designs.

Today & To-Do Non-Dated Planner ($39) is a beautiful, book-bound planner with a vegan leather cover (in blush, navy, or rose), gold embellishments and two ribbon bookmarks. It’s the perfect solution for slower seasons, extra projects and life on the go. It includes 90 daily undated planning pages, 13 undated monthly views, 14 undated weekly views, 10 note pages, and goal-setting worksheets.

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com

Dailygreatness Planner

dailygreatness planner founderLyndelle Palmer-Clarke made it her life’s mission to empower others to apply self-help ideas into their lives so they see results. With her Dailygreatness planner, you can stop with wishful thinking, and truly commit to being your own guru and following your inspiration to live the life of your dreams.

The Dailygreatness Business Yearly Planner ($49.95) is designed to help you hit your business goals. It includes a unique combination of an undated yearly planner, finance and budget worksheets, action and appointment planners, and the best personal development tools. Distilled down into a simple daily, weekly, and quarterly structure, this powerful tool will support you in creating the habits of a highly effective person.

Learn more/order: Dailygreatness.com

Passion Planner

Angelia TrinidadAngelia Trinidad launched the Passion Planner on Kickstarter from her parents’ garage. To her surprise, she raised $48,000 in 30 days with the help of 2,000 strangers and friends! She’s on a mission to help people simplify their lives and focus on what really matters.

The Passion Planner ($30-35) includes most of the amazing planning goodies that are in the dated version of this planner (passion roadmap, to-do lists, monthly reflections, and more). It’s available in three sizes and four colors, and you can choose Sunday or Monday start. Best of all: $1 from each sale benefits charity: water, a non-profit that’s dedicated to bringing clean water to developing countries.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.com

The Commit 30 Planner

jenny newcomer commit 30 plannerJenny Newcomer ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the 2016 kickoff of her now wildly popular planners. They are favorites among business owners, moms, and busy women of all types. Best of all, part of the sales of certain planners go to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (Jenny is thriving after ovarian cancer in her early 20s).

The Commit 30 Planner ($24.99-29.99) With both weekly and daily non-dated planner options, these are perfect to start using at any time of the year! You can completely customize what month and what day of the week you want it to start on. The weekly is 7×10″ and comes in black, brown, and teal. The daily option allows for 6 months of planning, is a compact size (5.75x 8.125″), and come sin royal blue, silver, and violet.

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

Enneagram Planner

Jenna Murillo Planner RoundupJenna Murillo is here to ensure a happier, more productive workday for you. Her planners are designed to help you overcome daily chaos and overwhelm to finally start making progress where it matters. “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 and created a planner.” 

Enneagram Planner ($24.95) recognizes that a one-size-fits-all solution to planning doesn’t work. Instead, these undated weekly planners are made to match your Enneagram number. There are nine (one for each personality type), each designed to embrace the distinct planning style and preferences of the various Enneagram types. I don’t know of any planners like these, and I think they are so cool if you’re into Enneagram!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com 

Hope Planner

Heather Vreelandheather vreeland, creator of hopefuel christian planner for women is a wife, mother, and the creator of The Celebration Society, St. Augustine Social and Littleature Children’s Books. In 2016, she was inspired to design her own daily agenda that helped reorganize her priorities and make room in her schedule to read God’s word every day. That simple goal sparked new life and greater perspective in her normally stressed out days and became an agent of change in her life.

The Hope Planner ($34-47) is more than a weekly or daily planner with Bible verses—this is an all-in-one Christian planner that combines an undated planner and prayer journal to help you be organized and put your faith first each day. This is a beautiful option for Christian women who need a daily planner that helps them make time for faith, just as they make time for tasks and appointments. The undated weekly or daily planner has space for monthly project tracking, goal setting weekly sermon notes, and more.

Learn more/order: Hopefuel.co

Ponderlily Planner

Carina Lawson, creator of Ponderlily plannerCarina Lawson is a Brazilian-born, Arabian Gulf-raised, Brit-wed, higher-ed executive, and twin mum. Like most of the creators on this list, Lawson created her planner for herself to solve her problem of overwhelm. “I’d internalized the message that making time for myself was less important than my to-do list,” she says. “But I wanted space to grow, learn, laugh, and to be honest, sleep, too!”

The Ponderlily Planner (£28 GBP) is made with eco-conscious materials and plastic-free packaging, and is designed to prompt you to dream fearlessly, set meaningful intentions, and take bold actions. The undated weekly planner is available in warm grey, charcoal, or coral, and with Sunday or Monday start. It includes gentle prompts, lists, gratitude reflections, pockets for important papers, and more. This is perfect for European readers: It won’t fly across the world to get to you, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and a cleaner conscience!

Learn more/order: Ponderlily.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best undated planners made for women by women. I hope you find one you love! 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 who are making beautiful products to help all of us get more organized. Thanks!

list of the best non dated planners for women

list of the best undated planners for women

Journaling for Success: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Journaling for Success: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Productivity experts, business gurus, mindset teachers…it seems like everyone says journaling can change your life. You want to learn how to journal for success, but aren’t sure where to start.

You’ve tried to journal, but usually the blank page stares you into submission. After one or two entries, you quit. Or, it’s like you’ve been transported back to your teenage years and you can’t shake the silly “Dear Diary” feeling.

Don’t worry! This guide will teach you how to journal in a way that works for you

This guide is packed with journaling methods and resources to help you get started—and stick with it. It’s specifically for small business owners who want to harness the power of journaling to grow personally and professionally.

 

 

General Benefits of Journaling

Life can get hectic, and it can be easy to get consumed by all we have going on. Journaling is a way to slow down and take time for reflection.

Journaling is more than a feel-good, sound-good activity. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support that it actually delivers real and important results.

What’s more, writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. This frees the right hemisphere to create, intuit and feel. That means writing harnesses all of your brainpower to find better solutions to problems.

 

Benefits of Journaling for Business Owners

Journaling is clearly useful for self-growth, which is useful for business owners. Additionally, there are other business-specific reasons that journaling can help create success. 

Whether you are hoping to launch a new business or wanting to grow an existing one, journaling can help.

1. Journaling sets ideas free.
The brain only has room for so many thoughts and feelings at once. Keep too many ideas locked up in your mind, and you’ll lose some as your brain makes room for others. Getting your brilliant business ideas out of your mind and onto paper captures them forever.

2. It increases productivity.
By releasing your brain from the responsibility of holding onto #AllTheIdeas, you free up space for others to take root and expand. That’s effectively doubling the number of ideas you can generate at any given time.

3. Journaling fills in the blanks.
Seeing all your seemingly disparate ideas on paper can help you (quite literally) draw connections among them. Finding those creative relationships can be difficult or darn near impossible when they’re trapped in your mind.

4. It weeds out bad ideas.
Journaling allows you to look at your business musings in black and white. This judgement-free space can help you more accurately evaluate which truly have legs—and those that sounded better in theory. Letting go of bad ideas quickly will keep you from wasting time and money on them. Even better, it can help you learn from them and perhaps reshape them into good ideas.

5. Journaling creates a record.
Tracking your ideas from fruition beyond implementation creates a record that can later be quite useful. When an idea comes to life and is successful, you can accurately reflect on how it all happened. This can help you re-create what led to your best ideas, and help lightning strike again.

Small business owners can use journaling to capture and track ideas for new businesses or offers. It can also help with brainstorming content ideas, planning social media, or mapping out sales funnels.

To get even more ideas for how journaling can help you and your business, check out How 14 Business Owners Use Journaling to Grow Their Businesses.

 

How to Journal for Success

There are as many ways to journal as there are people. Your journal is your own, and you can create it and use it however best suits you.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to help.

Journaling for success
As a business owner, a journal can be incredibly helpful in going from probable hunch to profitable reality (see above). You can use a journal to do biz-y things like hone your elevator pitch, brainstorm solutions to your customer’s problems, keep track of competitors and how you can separate from the herd, reflect on your values or your “why,” brainstorm ideas for scaling, dream about the future, and more.

No subject is off limits
Using a journal for business is great, but you don’t have to stop there. You can capture ideas of all sorts. Record your nightly dreams, write out a bucket list, jot down favorite mantras, or just jot down any random thing that pops into your head. If you do this all in one journal, you can later look for connections between seemingly random ideas. Or, you can use separate journals for different concepts.

Put pen to paper
Many studies have shown the benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Not only does it help you better retain information, it activates more areas of the brain to better unlock memories and trigger creativity. If you’re physically able, put pen to paper when you journal instead of typing or dictating.

Let it flow
Freewriting is a powerful journaling method. You write without stopping for a set length of time or until you fill a certain number of pages. Even if you only write, “I don’t know what to write,” you just keep going until time is up or the pages are full.​ The purpose is to free your brain from editing (or censoring) in real time. This allows our deepest feelings and ideas to flow. 

Too much can be too much
For journaling to have the greatest affect on your life and business, it helps to do it consistently over months and years. That said, too much of a good thing can actually be too much. Research suggests that doing it every day can be overwhelming, and that three to four days a week for 15 to 30 minutes at a time is ideal.

Shake things up
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut with anything, including journaling. If you’ve been doing it for a while and are feeling creatively stunted, do something unexpected. Write with your nondominant hand, try audio entries rather than handwritten, head outdoors or somewhere new to journal, use crayons, etc. Experiment from time to time to keep the creative juices flowing.

Let go of perfection
Nothing is a bigger killer of journaling (or any creative outlet) than perfectionism. Remind yourself that your journal is a private space only for you. Write quickly to help free your brain from worries about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The more you can learn to accept and embrace bad writing, the freer you’ll be and the more rewarding journaling will become.

Try using prompts
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. When you encounter writer’s block (and even the best writers do from time to time), journaling prompts can be a useful tool to help the words flow. More on that next.

The only rule with journaling is there are no rules! Treat your journal like an accepting, loving confidant, or like a free therapist. The more you open up to it, the more it will reveal to you.

Journaling can be messy, and that’s okay. In fact, in journaling and in life, in the mess is often where we find the magic.

 

Best Journals to Buy

If possible, use old-fashioned pen and paper to journal. Research has shown that people learn better and retain more information when they write things down instead of type. Even so, journaling in any form can be incredibly beneficial, so don’t let this be the thing that keeps you from starting!

Most stationery designers offer blank journals that are beautiful and may help inspire you to start writing! If you’re like some people and don’t want to “ruin” a pretty journal by actually writing in it, then consider using a basic notebook.

 

Read This: The Best Journals to Buy

 

You can also maximize productivity (and ensure you don’t forget to do your journaling) by having your planner double as a journal. Most daily, weekly, and even monthly planners have space for taking notes.

Prefer digital journaling? You can use the notes section in your phone or computer, or choose among the many online options for capturing your thoughts. Penzu is a private, totally customizable online journal (also available as an app) and Evernote has a very robust notekeeping desktop and mobile app that can be used for journaling (along with any business/personal notekeeping). Both programs have free versions.

 

Journaling Exercises

Still unsure how to get started? The easiest journaling practice is to simply take a few minutes and reflect on your day or dream about the future.

Each day, take out a sheet of paper (or your journal or planner) and answer one or several of these questions:

  • What made yesterday great?
  • What could have made yesterday better?
  • For what are you grateful?
  • What do you want to accomplish in the coming years?
  • How could you push closer to those dreams today?

Some other journaling exercises include things like writing out a simple pro/con list for a challenge you’re facing, doing a brain dump to get all of the thoughts in your head onto paper, a to-do list or a list of big-picture goals, or just writing uninterrupted for 10-15 minutes about a thematic word of the day (family, community, mindset, change, hope, etc.).

If facing a blank page feels overwhelming, but you want more variety than what I’ve already suggested above, then you may love using journaling prompts. These are questions or other starters to unlock your brain.

A few examples of prompts include:

  • Words to live by…
  • What I wish others knew about me…
  • I’m most content when…
  • What I’ve learned from mistakes/failure

If you love journaling prompts, check out these posts: Morning Journaling Prompts, Creative Journaling Prompts, and Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery.

The ultimate guide to journaling for success for business owners, plus prompts to get started

Planners for 2020: The best options for women

Planners for 2020: The best options for women

It’s my favorite time of year—time to order fresh new planners for the new year! This popular post highlights more than a dozen of the best planners made for creative women business owners by creative women business owners.

I’m an old pro at this by now. I’ve been using paper organizers forever (seriously, I’ve tried and failed digital options many times), and this is the fourth year that I’ve put together this roundup. 

What I’ve learned is this: There isn’t one option that suits everyone. That said, I’m hopeful that among this great collection of planners you can find the right one for your organizational and inspirational needs.

(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 Ashley Shelly Planner

Ashley ShellyAshley Shelly Planner Roundup has a passion for planning and organization—on paper and in her environment. Her brand’s tagline is “Create Your Best Days” because she knows planning is such a huge part of a woman’s day (and life!). She created a planner that combines scheduling, to-do lists, and inspirational planning. “I believe function and inspiration are the key ingredients in a perfect planner,” she says

The Ashley Shelly Planner ($44.95) features a combination of organization and inspiration. It includes a weekly layout on two pages with equal space for all days of the week. Each day has a section for your schedule, to-do list, and notes or meal planning. I love the Creative Spreads, which are positioned at the start of each month, to help you get inspired and set goals. It has a hard, semi-gloss cover, and measures 7.25 x 9.25 inches including binding.

Learn more/order: AshleyShelly.com

 

Life Planners

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, and a friend encouraged her to sell her designs in June 2004. The rest is history.

The LifePlanner™ ($50+) is the ultimate planning system to get organized, achieve your goals, and preserve memories in one stylish space. This feature-packed design boasts two-page spreads per month, three layouts (vertical, horizontal, or hourly), stylish 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 (and I know teachers love this one!). There are so many accessories you can use to personalize and make yours a true reflection of you!

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com

InkWELL Press 360º Disc Planners

Tonya DaltonTonya Dalton, creator of Inkwell Press planners started InkWELL Press in 2014 to pursue her passion of providing productivity tools, training and education. She believes “in ending the glorification of busy. No one can do it all, but we can take what we’re given and develop a system that allows us to manage our days in a way that leaves us feeling happy and fulfilled.”

360º Disc Planners (starting at $52) are full customizable and allow you to create the ideal planner for your lifestyle. No more trying to fit your schedule into someone else’s idea of how it should flow. The 360º Disc system offers multiple covers, page formats, and accessories. You can choose undated daily, horizontal weekly, vertical weekly, monthly, or goal setting spreads. It can take a bit to get the hang of building your own planner, but for control freaks (like me) it may be the best solution and worth the price of admission.

Learn more/order: InkWELLPress.com

Dailygreatness Planner

dailygreatness planner founderLyndelle Palmer-Clarke os a recovering self-help junkie who’s read all the books, been to all the seminars, listened to all the DVD’s and followed all the gurus only to realize that something was seriously missing from the picture—applied knowledgeShe made it her life mission to empower others to apply self-help ideas into their lives so they can start seeing results, and created the Dailygreatness planner to help.

The Dailygreatness Original Yearly Planner ($49.95) combines a yearly diary, goal and appointment planner, and daily tools for self-mastery. It includes space for appointments, reminders, gratitude, intentions, and evening reflections. This beautifully designed undated journal, with 488 full-color pages, will inspire you to upgrade your life and achieve your goals. Why wait for January 1st to start achieving your goals, when you can start today. 

Learn more/order: Dailygreatness.com

The Commit 30 Planner

jenny newcomer commit 30 plannerJenny Newcomer searched for years for the perfect planner that would help keep her busy work and home life in order. Eventually, she decided to create our own and manufacture it in the USA. A successful Kickstarter campaign funded the initial 2016 production run, and now this planner is a popular choice among entrepreneurs, moms, and busy people of all types.

The Commit 30 Planner ($29-36) is designed to help you crush your goals and dreams by focusing on 30 Day Challenges every month. I freaking love this sleek little planner, which comes in weekly (Sunday or Monday start) or monthly formats. It includes vision mapping, planning and goal setting pages, life and work to-do lists, note pages, a back pocket, and motivational quotes. Best of all, part of the sales of certain planners go to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (Jenny, the creator, is thriving after ovarian cancer in her early 20s).

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

The Best Self Planner

Cathryn Lavery co-founded BestSelf Co. in 2015 because she wanted more from her life, and realized lack of time was her biggest obstacle. After too many days spinning her wheels, she figured there must be a better way to create success. She and her partner studied high-performance practices and created the Self Journal and Self Planner. They now donate one meal to Feeding America for every order on their site.

Self Planner ($19.99) is the most economical option on this list. It’s a six-month life planner designed to help you manage your time and plan your life. Use the various templates to get clear on your priorities, mastermind your future, and infuse every day with the things that matter most to you. Available in a black or coral hardcover measuring 7×10”, it includes a back pocket, two ribbon markers, and perforated corners.

Learn more/order: BestSelf.co

Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets

Lara Casey is passionate about helping women get unstuck, unrushed, and living on purpose instead of by accident. Because that was her story, too. She created PowerSheets to help women make what matters happen, right where they are. She wants to get women asking themselves what makes them tick, what do they most want to cultivate in their lives, and what are the things they’ve always wanted to do. I love that!

The PowerSheets®  Intentional Goal Planner ($58) is a best-selling goal planning tool for a reason. They help you uncover the right goals for your season of life, have goal coaching on every page to keep you motivated, and include seasonal worksheets to refresh and refocus your goals. Plus, you get access to a free library of downloadable pages (including things like a meal planner, finance tracker, reading list, and budget). I highly recommend this system for anyone looking for a very in-depth, comprehensive approach to setting big goals.

Learn more/order: CultivateWhatMatters.com

The Day Designer

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer planner 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 ($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. If you prefer a daily planner, I doesn’t get more elegant and practical than this.

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com

Passion Planner

Angelia TrinidadAngelia Trinidad wanted to create a planner that helped people break down their short- and long-term goals into actionable steps that they could complete over time. From her parents’ garage, she launched Passion on Kickstarter, and to her surprise raised, $48,000 in 30 days with the help of 2,000 strangers and friends.

The Passion Planner ($30-35) is designed to encourage you to plan for the future, reflect on the past, but most importantly, act on the present. It includes a step-by-step guide for mapping out goals, mind mapping for achieving them, monthly and weekly calendars, and space for monthly reflections. It’s available dated and undated and comes in three sizes. Best of all: $1 from each one sold benefits Malala Fund, a non-profit working for a world where all girls can learn and lead.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.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.”

The Refresh Weekly Planner ($39.95) is back for 2020 with three fun new cover design options (they are all great, but the Kennedy, below, is my fave). The Refresh Planner includes a pocket design, goal-planning pages, monthly and weekly spreads, intentional space for weekly action steps and gratitude notes, and a notes section. It’s all beautifully bound with hard covers, so it won’t fall apart by April. This one always makes my list because it’s so pretty and practical.

Also, don’t miss the Enneagram Planners if you love that personality test. They are so cool for helping each type actually plan in a way that makes the most sense to their unique needs!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com 

My PA Planner

Alexandra Stearn  tested numerous planners over the years, but none offered what she needed. She out to create the ‘Champion’ of planners—one with a place for everything, that addresses her productivity and time management problems, and is second only to actually having a personal assistant.

My PA Planner ($39-$49) is more than just a planner, it’s a road map for your success with everything you need to turn your vision into a reality. It’s designed for creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who want to make the most of their gifts and lives. Think of it as having your very own 24/7 personal assistant helping you to stay on top of your game, stop you from feeling overwhelmed and help you make every single day count. There is a place for every goal, project, idea, thought or intention.

Learn more/order: MyPAPlanner.com

Hope Planner

Heather Vreelandheather vreeland, creator of hopefuel christian planner for women is a wife, mother, founder of Occasions Media Group, and the creator of The Celebration Society, St. Augustine Social and Littleature Children’s Books. In 2016, she was inspired to design her own daily agenda that helped reorganize her priorities and make room in her schedule to read God’s word every day. That simple goal sparked new life and greater perspective in her normally stressed out days and became an agent of change in her life.

The Hope Planner ($34) is more than a daily planner with Bible verses—it’s an all-in-one Christian planner that combines a daily planner and prayer journal to help you be organized and put your faith first each day. This is a beautiful option for Christian women who need a daily planner that helps them make time for faith, just as they make time for tasks and appointments. It’s an undated day planner with space for monthly project tracking, goal setting weekly sermon notes, and more.

Learn more/order: Hopefuel.co

Ponderlily Planner

Carina Lawson, creator of Ponderlily plannerCarina Lawson is a Brazilian-born, Arabian Gulf-raised, Brit-wed, higher-ed executive, and twin mum. Like most of the creators on this list, Lawson created her planner for herself to solve her problem of overwhelm. “I’d internalized the message that making time for myself was less important than my to-do list,” she says. “But I wanted space to grow, learn, laugh, and to be honest, sleep, too!”

The Ponderlily Planner (£35 GBP) is made with eco-conscious materials and plastic-free packaging, and is designed to prompt you to dream fearlessly, set meaningful intentions, and take bold actions. It available in either dated or undated weekly layouts, and comes in several beautiful colors. There are gentle prompts, lists, gratitude reflections, habit trackers, and more to hold you accountable and help you celebrate triumphs. This is perfect for my European readers: It won’t fly across the world to get to you, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and a cleaner conscience!

Learn more/order: Ponderlily.com

Rule The World

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. 

The Rule The World Planner ($35) is full of goal-setting tools bound to help you crush your goals. From budget-planning worksheets to inspirational quotes, it’s bound to make this year your best yet.

Learn more/order: Amazon.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best planners for 2020. I hope you find one you love! 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 who are making beautiful products to help all of us get more organized. Thanks!

The best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.com
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