Motivational Monday: “Sales Don’t Make A Show”

Today is Joan Mitchell’s birthday. Ms. Mitchell was an Abstract Expressionist painter in the 1950’s who was known for her use of bold colors and sweeping brushstrokes to create paintings inspired by nature. So let’s celebrate the day with one of her quotes. If you want to read more quotes, ArtNet NEWS published a series of Mitchell quote on her birthday a few years ago. HERE is the link. (And, yes. I know she did not like white. She probably would not approve this graphic I created. I, however, love white. After all, white is the presence of all colors.)

"Sales Don't Make a Show"

Joan Mitchell Quote

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2011 SuZan Alexander

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. We celebrate the birth of the Civil Rights Movement leader here in the United States as a holiday. Every year I plan to join a gathering, a walk, celebrate with a day of service to others, something, and yet, the day slips by before I remember that I never scheduled a way of recognizing the day. This year, I planned ahead to join a walk and day of service. However, the  “feels like” temperature outside is predicted to be in the teens… nope… these pictures will have to do.

(In case you are wondering, these images are from a visit to Washington, DC a few years ago, which was the first time I visited since the Memorial was completed.)

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Preparation and Planning Blog Posts

Yesterday, I shared some time management and organizational tips. Today’s subject expands on those categories but focuses primarily on blog planning. I will make this a short post since I realize not everyone maintains a blog. But, for those of you who do have a blog, I think you are going to relate to this post. And, I think you will love the blog planner solution.

Cautionary Tale:

Last year, I started exploring ways I could plan blog posts in advance. I cobbled together a system, and, while it was not perfect, it allowed me to see the benefits of having a plan, as well as the advantage of using an editorial calendar. Unfortunately, life happened, and I spent a few months of unplanned obligations that took me away from my studio, my research, my plan… Guess what got neglected? Yep. My system fell apart because I was writing blog posts as they came up on my make-do editorial calendar. I now know writing and scheduling the posts in advance is a FAR better plan. Lesson learned.

Enter Ultimate Blog Planner:

This year, I found Designer Blogs Studio and their Ultimate Blog Planner. Oh. My. Goodness! Talk about “eye candy”!! Oh la la! These pages are beautiful. I have already been opening the notebook I assembled just to feel like I am confidently in the driver’s seat this year. In addition to being beautiful, the forms and planner pages are packed with information to help you plan and schedule your blog posts. I will be scheduling at least one day in the coming weeks completely devoted to planning posts so I can enjoy these pretty pages plan the posts and start writing – in advance. I am looking forward to putting these little beauties into action.

As we are winding down this “series” of planning and organizing, I wanted to pose this question to you. Do you have any planning tools that work for you? Are there areas or topics you would like more information about? Let me know in the comments … because you know I will be working on my Editorial Calendar in the coming days.

Wishing us ALL a productive 2018! Have fun planning and organizing!

Quick Tips for Time Management

While I may not have always been a goal setter, I have always been a time management fan-girl. I have always made lists, maintained follow-up systems, etc. Over the years, I had a system that I loved using and worked well for me. This system relied heavily on Outlook to set reminders, maintain contact information, … it synced with my smartphone… BEAUTIFUL. However, recent software updates rendered all the work setting up my beautiful system practically useless. And, apparently, since customer needs are low on priorities these days, it left me looking for ways to sever my dependence from that system. Enter (cue the trumpets) – my lovely little bullet journal, and a few bonus tools.

Bullet Journal:

If you are looking for a way to organize and track your daily tasks in a customized way, the Bullet Journal is your friend. You can learn how to get started by clicking HERE. One of the many positives of this system is that you do NOT need a special journal or tools to get started. However, the journal I use is a Leuchtturm 1917 you can find on Amazon , as well as other places. I selected the journal with grid pages because I feel like I can “decorate” and make the pages a little more graphically pleasing. A little eye candy always makes me happy and, therefore, I look forward to showing up to populate my journal each day. I also like that I can choose what I’m tracking, like daily water intake, weather, social media, etc. There are so many ideas on the internet for pages and subjects to include in a bullet journal. I love, love, love my bullet journal.

Follow-up/”Tickler” System:

I worked in offices where reminder systems are referred to as Tickler Systems. This solution is an old-school, low-tech, solution I have personal experience using. And, since I have little faith in relying on a modern, technology-based reminder system after Outlook has repeatedly let me down, I returned to my old-school tickler roots. Folders. Yep. You read that right. Folders. I have twelve, beautiful, decorative, colorful folders labeled for each month. I also have thirty-one plain white folders labeled 1 through 31. Each monthly folder holds a checklist for that month (more below). The current month folder is at the front of the cabinet with the numbered folders filed behind it. I file anything time sensitive (like hotel reservations, doctor appointment reminders, call for entry information, course registrations, etc.) in the folder for that day. The next month starts all over again. Again, it is low-tech but it works for me right now. HERE is a full description of the folder tickler system if you are interested.

Checklists:

As I mentioned already, I created checklists for the tasks and follow-ups that I routinely needed to do, which is another post entirely. But, for the folder system, I created a quick and easy spreadsheet for each month.  The spreadsheet has the name of the month with two columns below. The column on the left is numbered for each day in that month. The right column includes things that need to be done on that particular date year after year; like birthdays I want to remember, due dates for quarterly tax reports, domain name renewal deadlines, reminders to change your copyright date (hint, hint)… you get the idea.

Time Management Tools:

I am sure you have heard the adage: “Work smarter, not harder.” I agree with this moto and often have those “slap your forehead” moments when I discover ways I could simplify and streamline my processes. Thanks to my bullet journal, I have an idea of how I need to break down my day. For example, I may spend an hour each day writing, an hour post-processing images, …  But, I rarely adhere to that kind of schedule and usually push through until I complete a task at the sacrifice of other tasks on my list. Since the Pomodoro Technique time management topic was a common reoccurrence in courses, reading materials, etc. I decided I needed to check it out for myself and I skeptically took the idea out for a test drive this past year. (I have linked the website that explains how the blocks of time work. Just click on Pomodoro Technique. ) I admit that my skepticism was misplaced and I honestly think I am more productive on days I set my timer and work in blocks of time. At first, I used a kitchen timer. You know the magnet type that you can get at any box store? I put it on my file cabinet and set it for my blocks of time. I was using a lot of batteries and did not always take the time to reset the timer for the next block of time, so I  started exploring other options. There are several apps for your smartphone, but I like using the Focus Keeper app. You can set the block of work time for a longer amount of time (like a 50-minute block rather than 25-minutes), and the timer automatically sets itself for breaks, etc. No resetting once you get it going. Yeah! As an added bonus, I find that I actually get up out of my chair and add more movement to my day.

BONUS:

I highly recommend Sebastian Michaels’s course “21 Days to  Creative Abundance“. I have a reminder set to go through the course every 6 months. And, every time I go through the course, I always get something new to put into practice.

Now, it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite system? AND, if you use a bullet journal, please share some of your favorite pages. I would love to see them.

Tomorrow let’s talk about blogging and how an editorial calendar can be your friend.