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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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planner

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 actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.

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Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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