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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

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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