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Opinion Editorials

No one gets mad about being too organized: benefits of a planner

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Hand-written calendar planning has become something of an art form over the last few years. The American Genius spoke with a planner enthusiast regarding the benefits of planner use.

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A calendar a day…

While I like to think I have a pretty decent memory, I would be lost without my planner. Having one, concise place for all of my appointments and tasks keeps me from being completely useless.

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The visual format of a planner helps to see everything as a whole and helps alleviate stress you can jumble up in your head from having too much to do. In addition, writing down your events helps you to retain that information.

Benefits of planning

I understand that planning works a little differently for everyone; as some find it more beneficial to have their calendar on their phone. But, because planners have become something of an art form (trust me, there are blogs upon blogs dedicated to this kind of thing,) I wanted to pick the brain of a planner enthusiast.

What are benefits of a planner/calendar rather than a phone calendar?

Haley Elizabeth: There are a lot of benefits, although you can use both. A digital calendar is great to be able to share with family and colleagues, but it does not provide a way to “plan as you go” or add in items as a day or week progresses. A hard copy planner or calendar gives you a place to write in events like an online calendar does, but it also gives you the ability to organize to-do lists, mind mapping, memory keep, and note take in one place to be able to better organize your time based on tasks you have at hand. It is also said that by physically writing something down you remember it better, so like write everything down.

What are the different methods of planning (daily, weekly, etc.)?

HE: There are three main ways to plan, daily, weekly, and monthly. I use all three, mainly because I am insane.

1. Daily planning is really nice for people who need to see every detail of their day, most daily planning has one day on one page of your planner, giving space to organize the day’s events, make to-do lists, and add anything else you may need to write down during the day. I like daily planning because I use my planner to schedule my life but also to remember my life, and daily planning gives me the space to put things like, “bad headache, too much caffeine?” so I can track moods, sickness, stress levels. This is important to me because it allows me to make smart choices based on my past notes on what affected me positively and what affected me negatively, which ultimately influences my productivity.

Pro – Really helps maximize productivity of the day; Gives you plenty of space.
Cons- Daily planners tend to be bulkier than weekly or monthly; Harder to see your whole week in one glance.

2. Weekly Planning pages tend to have a full week on two pages of your planner, these are either in a horizontal layout or a vertical layout. I prefer a vertical layout because it breaks the day into morning/noon/night in mind, but I plan my day based on when I need to do things. Horizontal is great when the main purpose of your planner is to place things that need to happen in the day in no particular order or when your main way of planning is to-do lists for each day. Weekly planning is probably the most popular way people plan.

Pro – You are able to see your entire week in one place allowing you the ability to schedule tasks for days where you are mostly likely able to get them done based on your schedule.
Con – Limited space for days you are really busy.

3. Monthly planning is two side-by-side pages with one full month on them. Most daily/weekly planners also contain a month page for every month. A month page within another planner is great to put big appointments, trips, important meetings, and social events. Although, you can get planners that are just a monthly view. These are great for people who are focusing on long-term projects that really do not need to-do lists but more reminders of when everything is coming up to be able to work ahead.

Pro – The thinnest planners so very light to carry around; You are able to see a whole month of plans on two pages.
Con – Not a lot of space to write in information; Difficult to use to organize daily activities.

How do you keep everything organized?

HE: There are different types of planner systems. They all come in so many sizes, think about how often you want to carry your planner with you – if you want it to slip in your briefcase or purse, you want smaller. If it is mostly for your work desk at the office or home you may want a larger planner.

Ring: You buy a “binder” type planner like an old school Filofax and place different inserts in it every month/year or whenever you want. This is really nice to plan in different ways based on how busy you are. During my time in grad school, I worked, went to class, and had an internship so daily planning worked best for me. But over the summer I worked as little as possible so I only used weekly planning.

Travelers Notebook: Same as a ring bound, it is a cover that you place inserts into. This gives you options when you want to change the type of planning you’d like to do, although these normally only hold a month or quarter of a year at a time. This gives you freedom to also put a notebook or something else in there too.

Notebook: Traditional planners you can buy at Target. Everything is bound in one place, so you do not have to add in extras but it is not always very customizable to fit your needs.

#PlannerPower

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

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Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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