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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

Taylor is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and has a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Illinois State University. She is currently pursuing freelance writing and hopes to one day write for film and television.

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Opinion Editorials

If you’re not constantly hustling, are you even living?

(EDITORIAL) If you aren’t hustling on the side, at night, while you eat, and in your sleep, are you really even a person in 2018?

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Back in the day, the idea of “hustling” was something of a negative concept (think Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy). Now, if you’re not constantly hustling, and living that hustle life are you even living? If you don’t Rise and Grind, are you even a real person?

In this fast-paced, “I want it now” society, the assumption is that because we have 24 hours in a day, we must use every second of that time on one side hustle or another to make a few extra bucks, otherwise we’re not being productive. As Guru JP explains below, “being busy means you’re being productive. You do your best work when you’re always working. More quantity equals better quality.”

This has become one of the beliefs of entrepreneurialism: if you’re not working on your startup while Uber-ing at night and walking dogs via Wag on your lunchbreak, you’re not hustling and you’ll never be successful.

One important key of the hustle is to document how busy you are on social media, or else it’s not actually happening. Sharing a daily “rise and grind” pic on Instagram is the only way to appropriately start a manic day of hustle.

Despite what research would say, face-to-face communication is ineffective and computer mediated communication, or communication through text with no context or nonverbal cues, is the best way to relay messages. Also, if you’re hustling 24/7, there’s no way you have time for an in-person meeting when you’re on a FaceTime meeting while hosting a G-Chat team meeting simultaneously. I mean, come on.

The way that you know this is legit is that the hustle is referred to as a “game” which is how you should always describe your career path. Pople like volunteers in impoverished countries, single parents working ONLY two jobs, and people who built a business from the ground up and decided to only stay with that business, have no idea what hustling truly is (especially since none of it was documented on Snapchat).

And, the benefits of constant hustling are immense! You have unlimited time off and can take an unpaid vacation to anywhere in the world – just as long as there’s WiFi.

With hustling, you have so many options on how to make some extra scratch and start six different podcasts that all have a listener of one. Why wouldn’t you want to join this amazing idealism of entrepreneurship? Also, if you’re still reading, you’ve lost the game. Shouldn’t you be on to something else by now?!

Author’s note: In case you couldn’t tell, this entire article is incredibly facetious. Our COO wrote a popular editorial, rejecting the idea of hustling, and I completely agree with her on that. Constantly working to the point of exhaustion is, well, inefficient. Work on one thing, succeed, and then go from there. Ugh.

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Opinion Editorials

The strong case for Texas being technology’s next frontier

(EDITORIAL) Everyone loves Tacos and tech in Austin, but Texas has far more to offer – here’s how the various cities will create the next mecca for the tech world.

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Despite what the movies have told you, Texas is not the place you think it is. Sure, we’ve got cowboys, brisket, and a lot of BBQ, but the Lone Star State is much, much more than clichés. Over the last few decades, Texas has been gaining steam as one of the premier places to live in the country.

While yes, people love a good chicken fried steak or are always looking for an excuse to sneak over to their favorite grocery store, HEB, Texans aren’t sitting idly by when it comes to tech – they’re grabbing the industry by the horns.

Thanks to the state’s business-friendly tax breaks, a year-round predominantly warm weather climate, and a strong state culture, the popularity of Texas makes a lot of sense: Houston, which was once considered a third tier city is about to overthrow Chicago as the third largest in the nation, while also being lauded as our most diverse city.

Let’s repeat it, for all the people in the back: Houston, Texas is more diverse than Los Angeles, or New York.

Affordable neighborhoods are popping up across Houston, which are attracting immigrants from every culture looking for their slice of the American Dream. Houston is seeing explosive growth and a cultural shift away from being a town built on strictly fossil fuels, but now, startups, tech, and umbrella industries are finding their niche in the state’s biggest urban area. Only New York is home to more public companies.

Houston’s medical sector ranks with some of the top care in the world. And with those elite doctors, come the innovative pharmaceutical and medical companies, and the tech that supports them.

When you look at the top twenty metro areas to live right now in the country, four of those cities are in Texas. While some of those reasons are affordability and the signature Texas heat, the state is seeing new residents thanks also to a healthy job market. Since 2010, Texas has added 12.6% more residents, double lapping California’s growth of 6.1%.

Texas’ workforce is bigger than 46 states in the union total population and has doubled in job growth, productivity, and new deals are being struck daily. Texas’ impact on the tech sector is indisputable: Texas has exported more technology than California, again.

Deep in the heart

Startup culture is alive and well in Austin, but while some of our startups are finally beginning to draw VC attention away from Silicon Valley, we know how to slug it out in the land of the bootstrapped beginnings. If your company can thrive in Austin, with so many talented people, and a lot of great ideas, you can make it anywhere (sorry New York, for stealing your platitude).

Austin is still a developing story. As enterprises are opening offices in the capital city, this is helping VCs along the coasts see Austin’s potential as a hub of ideas. The city is still behind the bay area for risk-taking ventures, but given the current climate of investors, there’s a sea change happening.

Giants like Apple, Atlassian, Oracle, Dell, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, and Google are all occupying space in buildings across the Austin skyline. Enterprise companies are investing heavily into the Austin market, and there are zero signs of a slow down. If you need further proof, just look at the traffic on any of the city’s major highways during rush hour.

Dallas is making a hard play at attracting the top-tiered companies as well. When Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos announced put out a call for bids for Amazon’s HQ2, many cities made a play for the site, but now that the final cities have been chosen, both Austin and Dallas both stand to score the shopping monolith.

Oculus, TopGolf, and startups like Veryable, Dead Soxy, and Artist Uprising are attracting some of the brightest minds to the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.

South Texas joins the party

San Antonio is quietly building a case for a burgeoning tech scene, too. It’s not quite there yet on the enterprise or startup level, but the city is widely known for one thing – cybersecurity. Outside of Washington D.C., San Antonio is known as “Cyber Security City USA” to folks in the black hat scene.

San Antonio logged the most substantial growth of all of the Texas cities, adding over 250,000 new residents in 2017 alone. Thanks to a robust military presence, San Antonio is quietly attracting more and more security-minded firms, a feat that’s unique in comparison to what the rest of the state is offering. Military-friendly banking institution USAA is headquartered in San Antonio, as is grocery chain HEB, and Whataburger, with all three companies investing heavily into user experience and mobile applications (aka technology).

If Amazon decides on HQ2 in either Dallas or Austin, that will signal a 200,000+ person addition to the state’s population and economy. That’s a lifetime investment into either city, wherever Bezos, and his board chooses. Coupling that possibility with the already strong presence of Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, and just about every major gas corporation, it’s easy to see why these moves are a huge deal. For the latter, it’s also important to note that every sector is bolstering their websites, their social media footprint, everything that can be done on a laptop is happening – one new job at a time.

As the tech scene develops and changes from a strong west coast-driven model, Texas is benefiting from the change. Many Californians are moving to Texas, which is an article to itself, but one thing remains: the Texas economy has never been stronger, and it’s only improving. The story of tech in Texas is a continual work in progress.

We’re not going to overtake California next year, but we’re making a stand, and people are noticing. If the current economic growth is an indicator, the famous Dairy Queen saying is potent with it’s accuracy: “That’s What I Like About Texas.”

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Opinion Editorials

How one podcast is giving a voice to veterans everywhere

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Veteran and former Paralympic skier begins volunteer podcast as a way to give voice to fellow veterans.

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“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” is the mantra that Joel Hunt lives his life by. As an Army veteran, who was injured during his third deployment, Hunt has seen his fair share of tough times.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury and partial paralyzation in his left leg, Hunt left the army and was in the care of his parents. They encouraged him to try Paralympic skiing as part of his rehabilitation.

While he was initially against the idea, he eventually warmed to it and wound up skiing in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. This accomplishment helped lead him to the path he’s on now, which is dedicated to helping fellow veterans.

Hunt is now the host of The H-Train Show, a podcast he produces in his Denver, Colorado home. His work on the podcast is done strictly through volunteering, and is dedicated to giving veterans a place to communicate.

“It’s something that helps keep me busy and makes me feel good,” says Hunt. “[It helps] to erase the past.” The podcast airs on Military Brotherhood Radio and has had a variety of guests – all dedicated to the significance of veterans.

In addition to the podcast, Hunt also assists veterans through organizations such as Project Sanctuary.

Hunt recently co-hosted an event with former Denver Broncos wide receiver, Brandon Stokley, that brought ten injured veterans to the Broncos training camp for a meet and greet. Accompanying Hunt at this event was his service dog, Barrett, who Hunt has taught to fold and do laundry.

Hunt explains that all of his efforts are dedicated to helping fellow veterans recover from the tragedies of war. While he says that, due to his brain injury, he does not recall deployment, he still carries the tragedies of losing fellow Army members.

Now, being retired both from combat and skiing, Hunt states, “My heart is to help other veterans avoid the fights for life I did. Not everyone can enjoy all the success I achieved, but at least I can help make the journey less of a struggle.”

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