Monday, 31 October 2016

Going Everywhere - Efficiency Tips to Plan Your Week

Whatever your goals are, the best way to achieve them is to get them down on paper and make a commitment. It’s easy to get excited for a goal and rush off and onward into a burnout until our goal crashes and burns. But taking the time to set reasonable goals and schedules to get stuff done is the key to success in almost everything you ever try to complete.

So if your goal is to eat healthier, lose weight, or maybe just avoid eating out as much as you currently do, then an easy but sometimes hard to get used to option is to plan out every single meal you are going to eat for the week. Home cooking can eat up a lot of time though, so one option that combines efficiency with good healthy eating is to set aside a day to prepare every single meal and snack for the week. Preparing food ahead like that keeps us dedicated to the meals that we prepared and can help even us with the biggest cheat meal cravings from breaking the diet. Another big boon to planning out your meals for the whole week is that you can plan ahead and ensure that you get every bit of nutrition that your body needs, including knowing what days you need to eat supplements.

Of course, that’s just dieting and setting up a weekly planner can help with so much more. Another huge part of our lives that could really use some proper organization is our finances. The quick and easy way would be to take your average net income, deducting your bills. This gives you the number that you can use for everything else before you begin to over-spend. You should also get an idea of just how much you spend on your meals throughout the week/month and include that in the deduction from the net, as well as your typical gas expenditure, and everything else that whittles away at your account until you get a figure that you can split between savings and entertainment. Planning out your entertainment budget like this can come off as a little dull, but it’s better than adding credit card debt to your list of paycheck deductions.

Now those two were a couple major examples that everyone should learn how to do, but as I’ve said you can benefit from planning literally anything. You need to start by choosing a goal, anything you want to get done (and hopefully something you can find a way to achieve), and once you make that goal you set up weekly checkpoints of progress. You want to write that novel? Set out to write 10 pages a day and wrap up a chapter every week. You want to fix up the yard? Well that might need some budgeting, and figuring out how much elbow grease you want to put into making that herb garden or possibly how much you have to save up to get that Jacuzzi set up in the back yard.

Everything can be broken into steps, and nothing that you can get done in a day is too daunting to approach. If you have some goals you want to get done, then you really should consolidate and commit to them in your own personal weekly planner.


Halloween Doesn't Have to be Scary for Your Schedule

It’s Halloween and you’re supposed to host a party for your kids, friends, or family. You may feel it’s too late to put some thorough planning into the party you’ve got coming tonight, and you’ll have to sacrifice your schedule in order to get things set up. It’s never too late to make last minute plans (but it certainly helps to have them written out at the start of the month).

So let's get this organized so your last minute preparation can get this party going off without a hitch. Here are the things you should take care of today:
First off, if you have kids to take care of, and you are hosting an adult oriented party, taking care of the little ones is your top priority. Maybe you can draw straws with the friends and see who can take the flock out trick-or-treating that night, or if any of your guests have teens, it’ll be a good time for them to spend time with their younger siblings.

Now you need to figure out if and how your guests are going to be fed throughout the party, is it a spooky pot-luck? There are plenty of online guides that can have quick and easy recipes with the season in mind, which you could share on a Facebook event page for your guests to pick out what they’re bringing. If you have picky eaters, dietary restrictions, or food allergies in your circle, then these should also be posted up on the facebook page before food is set up for the party so that everyone can have a good time. When it comes to distributing items for guests to bring, it helps to list out what you need and then Delegate it to volunteers.

At this late hour, it’s likely unable to get a good established costume theme out of your guests as this puts a lot of pressure on them to scour the remainder of the Halloween stores to find anything that fits, so if it’s a costume party you are hosting, you’ll probably have to skip out on a themed dress-code and center your theming around your decor instead (Which the attention to detail of will of course vary by just how much spare time you have before the party is set to begin).

The worst problem with working out the details of your Halloween party this late is that unless you have the party hammered down for tonight, it’s likely many of your guests won’t be available as they have their own engagements and parties. If you can get everyone to agree to come over through texting and social media, perfect, but if not you may want to take the easier path and compromise your schedule to fit in your Halloween party next weekend so that everyone can still come and enjoy your party while having an excuse to use their costume for this year one more time.

Last but not least, try not to over work yourself to make this event perfect for your guests. While a perfect party is a nice ideal to strive for, as it is the start of the holiday season, it’s best to keep in mind that what matters is quality time with the people you care about.


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Successfully Organizing Your Realty Business

While people outside of the business may find themselves without a single clue of the degree of organization needed to manage a successful realty business, we’re here to help you out along the way.

First of all, the most important skill in a realtor is have an extremely good paper management system. Paper copies of every significant document are necessary to keep up with every deal and close out sales, but also when your clients see a neatly organized folder for the property they are looking to buy or sale you will establish a degree of credibility that no amount of talk can build. Every single client should have their own folder that is clearly labeled with tabs organizing each essential piece of paperwork to make them easy to consult (and to make sure that you have everything that you need, little paperwork mistakes can cost deals and thousands of dollars). Then ideally you should have an alphabetized fire-resistant filing cabinet with a drawer for each area code that you manage to save time in the long run finding the proper folders.

Of course, there is a lot of figuring out that you will need to do yourself to get a system that makes sense for you and your business. But some basic organizational efforts should be made because nothing can be more stressful than hunting for lost legal documents in a mountain of clutter.

Beyond organizing your client folders, you should also organize your schedule precisely so that you don’t miss any important meetings or call-backs. A client left out of the loop can easily no longer be a client after all. That’s why we advise using our realty planner insert that features a ton of organization tools that you can imagine yourself taking advantage of when selling homes. With that you will know where you need to be each day, and make every call on time when your clients are available that everyone is kept in touch and so that business moves smoothly from start to finish.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Behind The Scenes At STARTplanner

 This is where the magic happens!! STARTplanner headquarters is currently based out of Kristy's garage in good 'ol Cumming, GA. The dream was literally built from Kristy and Jenny dreaming across the country. Remember she is based in Portland, Oregon! While writing this post, because we are growing and changing rapidly, the office is currently still located at Kristy's house. We also have a pickup location in Vickery Village and a local warehouse where most of our planners are securely kept. 

If you have been with us from the beginning our first shipment of planners use to be held in this one building but we have since outgrown that space, hence the need for a warehouse.

We like to say we are organized here at STARTplanner but we can not always promise the office and garage is always this organized! Oh, because friends, it is not! :) 

Kristy and Kara's desks...of course our desks are always this neat and tidy (wink, wink). And a little seating area for when any of you come to visit us:)

Before Kara joined the team this past June, Kristy would tape a piece of paper onto the chair across from her desk that said, "Jenny", and would carry on many conversations with "Jenny" about the business. For those who don't know Jenny lives in Portland, OR, but Kristy is trying to convince her to move here. ;)
This is the prepping station! 

This is Sarah's desk on the right and the one on the left is typically a free for all. 

 Here is the kitchenette. 

Our metal dry erase Goal Crushin' board to keep track of our monthly goals. Want one just like it? Grab the free template here. STARTplanner is all about organization so we love finding ways to keep our "bling" neatly organized.

Custom shelving in our upstairs closet helps us keep our inventory organized so that we can be most efficient while we prep and ship orders. Katie Gerst, with California Closets, has been amazing at making sure we are maximizing our space! And then we add fun tags to keep track of everything! 

Every planner is sealed with our custom pink "Caution"'ll be able to spot this package from a mile away!

This is behind the scenes at our office. Here are some questions that Kristy frequesntly gets asked on social media, along with her responses: 

Will you eventually outgrow the space?

I mean maybe! It is such a hard question to ask. There would be some benefits to moving all operations, productions and storage to one location but for now I love being able to work from "home", being here for my kids if they do need anything and also being able to do what I love! 

Why don't you use an order fulfillment company? 

We could. Honestly, it would make my job a lot easier but I would have to give up a lot of control and I am not ready to do that. Plus, no one is going to love on the planners and pay attention to detail like we do. We literally put our hearts and souls into getting these planners out to everyone and making sure they are perfect. Something else might make sense in the future but for now this is what works. 

Did you build out this space for STARTplanner? 

Before STARTplanner I was a wedding photographer and this is where I ran that company from. We built it out a couple of years ago and it has been the perfect space to adapt and grow as we grow. 

How big is your team? 

Of course there is me, Kristy, based here, Jenny in Portland, Kara, here, who is running customer service. Sarah, who handles Public Relations, Stephen is running SEO, Noah handles all of our social media & marketing, and then Abby, Paige, Melanie and various others who help with packaging and shipping. And of course my husband who always has a Delegate notepad. 

I am trying not to focus too much on the far future because, honestly, I don't know the answers to them. I am just excited about where we currently are and all the possibilities that we have in the future to change peoples lives with a tool that makes you more productive!


Monday, 24 October 2016

Keeping Photography Sessions Organized

Now for any photographer who’s trying to make a career out of the work, it can be frantic to keep track of all those clients, dates, where you need to be and life in general. Even experienced or veteran photographers could use a little help with organization to take the frantic rushing out of their worklife and make everything flow.

Of course, organization is more work that you have to do, but if you get good organizational skills, the time invested ordering everything out for your life will be well worth it. When it comes to photography, you want to keep track of multiple clients and jobs, which is best handled by creating a document where you can check off the stages you are at with each of your current clients so you can ensure that everybody is served in order and that you don’t forget anything important.

Typically your checklist will go something like:

  • Contract Signed/Retainer Paid
  • Session
  • Edit
  • Sneak Peak
  • Gallery Posted
  • Order Complete
  • Thank You Sent

You may have more correspondence with your clients sprinkled in there, depending on how much you want to discuss with them the details of the job, but overall a list like this will help sort you out and keep you on track no matter how many clients you have.

You may also want to consider your work life and what kind of hours you want to work. If you have solid hours that a customer knows that they can get a hold of you, that is a boon for business. So do your best to make a schedule that you won’t have to cheat on, so that you’re always there when your clients need you.

In general, the biggest thing you can do is to organize personal planners for your work so that you can keep track of names, numbers, dates and workflow so that you get your reputation as a person who gets the job done.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

You Don't Need to Plan Everything but You Need to Plan for Everything

When it comes to organizing plans for the future, it’s (super, super) easy to get a little overzealous with planning out your agenda. However, it’s possible to be too into every detail of our plans that we don’t know how to react when something doesn’t go right. Still, getting out your daily planner and only writing down the important time slots can help you efficiently handle your most hectic days.

When you plan out big days, you might want to organize how everything will go (especially when you get the family involved) so you can fit the most into these days. Often enough, though, this can be agonizingly stressful when a plane is delayed for and hour and you had every minute booked for the next 3 days. It can turn a whole trip into a frantic mess. Now if you cut out this every waking minute business and focus down on important times and dates, meetings, conventions, weddings, a night out with the girls.. Anything worth writing a date down for, is worth planning to do but not necessarily planned out.

On top of planning out important dates and reservations, anyone looking for self improvement will want to start planning out just how much they want to do every week. Plans for cutting down calories and cheat days, just how long you can spend on jogging or at the gym, how much you want to read for pleasure or study in the week. If bettering ourselves is what we need to feel satisfied in life, then planning and recording our progress goes a long way in boosting self esteem, earning positive feedback and also helping to achieve the goals that we set out to get done.

While we’d sure like it if life was all about reservations and weddings, and all our plans were set on the good things, it’s also important to plan for any accidents that might come up. Whenever disaster strikes you want to be ready and know what to do. Just having names and numbers planned out can be what it takes, sometimes you need to plan out an evacuation plan for your family in case of fire. When you want to be safe and ensure everything goes well, you need a plan.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Meet Our Pen Pal!

Have you been looking for that perfect pen holder for your spiral bound planner? Look no further! Meet our Pen Pal! Pen Pal is a beautiful gold loop that sticks to the inside back cover of your planner to hold that perfect pen. Don’t we all need a pal that supports us, helps us to shine, and is always close by?
Here's a short video to show you how to use your Pen Pal:
One thing we love about our new Pen Pal is how multi-purpose it is. Check out these other uses for our Pen Pal:
Sunglass or Eyeglass Holder: Never misplace your glasses again! And now you don't have to worry about them getting scratched or bent in your purse.
Pen Holder: Not just a planner pen holder:) Who else has been at the bank drive through and have been looking everywhere for a pen?  Now you can always have a pen on hand! 
Can't wait to see how you use your Pen Pal! Use #STARTplanner to share with us:)  The back of our Pen Pal is a 3M strip allowing you to have a pal anywhere you need! 


Monday, 17 October 2016

Having a Solid Schedule Doesn’t Mean Being in a Rut

We all have that one friend who like to “live in the moment” and who never plans anything out. Invariably, she or he is the one who shows up late to events and can’t seem to get their life heading in quite the right direction. You might even be the one who doesn’t want to live on a schedule (which wouldn’t really make sense considering you’re here of all places). This friend is also quick to judge people who schedule their lives using planners with comments like, “I don’t want to be in a rut” or “That’d just make me too predictable.”

Here’s the thing, though - just because you write down what you need to do for any given day doesn’t mean you’re even close to being in a rut. All it really means is that you’re more likely to 1) succeed at your day-to-day tasks and 2) be more successful in general.

However, that should not and does not equate to being in a rut. Not in the least. If you write something fun into your schedule (wine/coffee with friends, date night with significant other, extreme napping, etc), does that make whatever you did less fun? If you write down the things you know are coming up soon, you’ll be more prepared by having work completed by the time the event arrives (and be smart enough to commit to anything the following morning, assuming some combination of drinks and your best friends are involved) and have more fun for it.

Look, there’s certainly something to be said for letting loose occasionally, but that doesn’t mean it should be a philosophy you live by. In pretty much any case, writing down what you’re going to do (whether a daily routine or a one-time event) is going to help you get things done, achieve higher tiers of success and really spend your free time doing whatever it is you love to do.

Really, if that’s what a rut is, we’re ready to sign up for that and we’ll make sure to jot it in our planners.


Friday, 14 October 2016

Making Today Count Toward the Future You Want

It’s super easy to get intimidated when you’re looking down a long list of things you want to get done. You get that twist in your gut and can’t quite figure out how to handle all the big things in life. Often enough we set out with a ton of ambition, but a week later decide that waistline wasn’t worth skipping out on cake at that party, or that going to a movie every month is worth delaying your vacation to the Bahamas.
Whatever your goals are, you need to start by writing them down and figure a way to prioritize them. You could even alphabetize them if you have no other way. Take on one goal at a time, too much change too fast will just burn you out (no matter how much you wish could just change everything on a whim). Even scaling the side of a mountain means moving up one arm's length at a time. 

For every big goal, you need to create a set of small short term goals (little ones to let you know you’re on track). Want to get into that size 6 (maybe smaller, maybe larger, whatever you’d feel comfortable in)? Set out to lose 2 pounds every week for a month. Each week, weigh yourself and see how close you are to your two pound diet, then adjust your routine accordingly to make it closer the following week. Using this method, you’re making this lifestyle change goal oriented instead of some arbitrary (and intimidating) idea like “I want to lose weight.”.

Let’s say you want to really want to go on that trip to the Bahamas. Unlike a weight-loss plan where you adjust your week based on the last week’s results, you’ll get the best results (and deals) when trying to budget money for a future trip. Writing and tracking a budget for all your spendings helps you get a grasp of where you might be able to cut some cash to put into your vacation fund. Budgeting like this also gives you the reward of planning out dinners eating out, or your monthly flick at the theater. You’ll never have to entirely give up these indulgences as long as you plan ahead.

You don’t have to delay saving for that vacation, but you also don’t have to feel pressured into getting all the cash at once. These small goals make today count toward your real pursuits.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Relocate Easier With a Moving Plan in Place



Ah, the excitement of moving to a new place can be so refreshing. There’s something wonderfully cathartic about wandering around a new neighborhood and finding new sights and sounds to experience (not to mention your new favorite restaurants), but that’s after the move itself. Even if you’ve hired movers to lug your furniture and packed boxes to your new place, there’s a lot on your plate when relocating.

Moving is one of those things in life that everyone eventually gets around to doing, but nobody really does it often enough to actually be good at it.

Because of that, it’s (super) easy to forget some basic and important steps to make your new home functional the moment you arrive, Sure, it’s easy to remember transferring your electricity and cable (with shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones on the air), but other utilities and services like water and trash as well as mailed subscriptions and updating your address with your DMV, bank(s), lenders and mobile device providers often get neglected until reaching out to them becomes an emergency. That’s where a moving planner comes in.

Even sitting down to write out everything you need to do on a scratch piece of paper can get overwhelming and there’s still a chance you might forget something. Our moving planner comes with five pages of lists and space for notes so you don’t have to keep track of everything on your own. Even things like setting your moving budget and tracking donations has a place on this excellent resource.

Don’t let some seemingly small oversight on updating your gas bill leave you shivering in cold showers for a week, especially when our printable moving planner could’ve helped you have things ready as soon as you stepped through that new door for the first time.



Giving Back: Lily's Run 2016

Here at STARTplanner we try and allocate a number of planners to donate each year for a good cause. We started this company with one mission – to change lives and we know by blessing some individuals it can do just that. Our co-founder, Kristy Dickerson, lives in the same neighborhood as the Anderson family. So when it came time to donate some of our planners, Lily's Run just seemed like the perfect fit. We were able to donate our Legit Planners to all of the winners in each race category.

Here's a little bit about Lily's story...

"In September 2009 Lily was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that came in the form a large tumor in her abdomen. Lily endured several rounds of chemotherapy, surgeries, a stem cell transplant, radiation, and anti-body therapy. She completed her treatment in October 2010, however in 2012 Lily's family was given the news that her cancer had returned. On December 15, 2012 Lily went to be with Jesus and some of her cancer friends in heaven. During her eleven years on this earth, Lily managed to touch the lives of thousands through her ability to "shine on," even in the toughest of times. (Just visit her Facebook page, which has over 17,000 fans and counting!) One of many ways Lily truly shined, was through her "pay it forward" heart. Lily's Run, an annual 5k hosted by Kingdom Kids Charity, gave Lily the ability to grant wishes to other children that she met during treatment over the course of 3 1/2 years."Lily's Run

We love donating to causes in our local community, and the icing on the cake is when we have the opportunity to be present and participate in the event in some capacity. Taking a few hours, or a day, or a week, to stop what you are doing and give your time to others is something we should do on a regular basis. It's an eye opener... an awakening... a reminder of what is truly important in life.

Co-founder Kristy Dickerson and her son, Roman, had the opportunity to participate in the Lily's Run 5k.

It is always nice to get outside, be active, participate in community and support a good cause. Kristy states, "It was apparent Lilly's light is still shining bright, inspiring others to live a 'yes life'!" Something we believe in as well, living a "yes life"!