My Productivity Planner Vortex

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Hi! My name is Wendy. I am a productivity nerd and a planner addict!

Productivity planners are seemingly the perfect answer to my dilemma of wanting to live a more focused and productive life. However, I want to tell you a brief tale about how focusing on HOW to be productive was actually COUNTERproductive in my life!

Last summer, I purchased the Best Planner Ever, and I have used it faithfully since. In fact, I was SO enamored by the planner that I sent comments to the developer, letting her know what I liked and didn’t like. (Unsolicited feedback, you know is the very best kind. 😉 I do my part!)

As the end of 2015 neared, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new, slimmer 2016 model and eagerly ordered it as soon as it was released.

When January 1st rolled around, I met the new year armed with the 2016 version of Best Planner Ever. I was SO excited to dive into this new year and embrace the productivity my planner would bring.

However, I started to notice that my Facebook feed was littered with one planner after the other, touting more perfect solutions to my disorganization, lack of focus and tendency to over-schedule my life. These other planners led me to believe THEY might be the answer to my out-of-control world. I found myself knee-deep in planner shopping before I ever knew what had hit me! Why, oh why, am I so drawn to these ads? (Google and Facebook know a bit about this conundrum when it comes to Google searches and ad placement, by the way! Where else would all those ads on Facebook have originated?)

The commitment that’s required to fully utilize a planner reminds me of the commitment that is needed to embrace a Capsule Wardrobe. And in my case, planner shopping was becoming an addiction when I already had the Best Planner Ever siting on my desk! Like my mom always said, “You should leave with the one who brung you!” The Best Planner Ever and its designer, Jennifer Dawn, have taught me to set goals. This has been a long-time struggle for me. This planner has already helped me make huge progress in this area.

I’ve decided this:

The Best Planner Ever and I have a good thing going. We’ve set goals together, made appointments together, planned dinner together, and even de-cluttered together. I am officially committing to no more planner shopping. I am truly sorry, my 2016, 6-month, chrome-cover edition friend. Please forgive me. From this day forward, I am fully committed to you and all your wonderful features!

Creating My Capsule Wardrobe

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First thing’s first- What Is a Capsule Wardrobe:

Planning a Capsule WardrobeThe idea behind a Capsule Wardrobe is to carefully choose a certain number of pieces of clothing (I say 40) that bring you joy and wear them for three months.

Unfancy says this about a capsule wardrobe:

Now I always feel like I have something awesome to throw on, be it Sunday brunch or a client meeting, because every single item hanging in my closet is something I would love to wear right this moment.

Next- How to Work Your Capsule Wardrobe:

Setting Up Your Capsule WardrobeAs you select the pieces for your Capsule Wardrobe, be sure they are pieces you can easily mix and match because you will want to get the most use from those items. You will wear these items for one season (approximately three months).

During the next three months, do not shop for clothes. I repeat, do not shop.  Focus all your clothing “energy” on the 37-40 items in your capsule wardrobe, mixing, matching, and optimizing what you have.  In doing so, you’ll find renewed creativity to invent new outfits so that you don’t tire of your selections. And by limiting your decision making, you will reduce decision fatigue and anxiety.

During the last two weeks of the three-month period, take inventory of the items in your Capsule and decide what you need to move out and replenish with something different for the upcoming season. Perhaps you will need to purchase something new, or you may decide to pull from a seasonal stash for the upcoming season. When the two weeks of planning, shopping and renewing are complete, begin wearing your new capsule for the next three months.

Last- Why the Capsule Wardrobe works for me:

As my journey toward a less cluttered, more focused life has progressed, I have purposefully adopted a Capsule Wardrobe. Implementing a Capsule Wardrobe is certainly not something I just “did” one day. It has been an intentional step in simplifying my life, and it requires careful thought and consideration. But the payoff from a simpler dressing routine, less clutter, and clothes I love is enormous!

Be sure to read next week’s blog post for my big “ah ha moment” when I discovered that the Capsule Wardrobe beautifully parallels simplified business philosophies.

 

Tidying Up My Finances

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In last week’s blog post, I introduced Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and explained how I began my tidying journey.  After I purged my home of junk and clutter, I had an overwhelming desire to declutter everything in my life.  The thought echoing in my mind was:

Everything must be tidy.

How much joy could I experience by having my entire life tidied?

Tidying Up My FinancesCredit Cards

The need to simplify went hand in hand with the Profit First philosophy. As I walked through the Profit First method of accounting and banking in my company, I realized tidying up my finances needed to come next.

For years, I had accumulated credit cards. Any time a store offered a deal, discount, free shipping, or friends and family pricing for card holders, I signed up immediately. After all, I rationalized, it’s a bargain. I would be a bad steward if I didn’t take the card. I realized, however, that in order to receive free shipping on an order and redeem my $10 discount, I needed to spend $50. That just caused me to spend money on things I didn’t need and that did not bring me joy. Managing the “discount” credit cards actually cost me a large amount of energy and money, brought distraction, and cluttered up my wallet and finances. I no longer wanted to use my energy and brainpower to manage the many credit cards in my wallet. I begin to cancel them and cut them up one by one, and therefore, tidying up my finances. 

Tidying Up My Finances with MikeMy Profit Assessment Meeting with Mike

When I first started implementing the Profit First methodology in my own company, I had a strong desire to become a Certified Profit First Professional, so I applied to do so with Profit First. The first step in my journey to become certified was analyzing a Profit Assessment on my very own business with Mike Michalowicz, the author of Profit First!  We scheduled a conference call and went over the details of my Profit Assessment. During that phone call, two main points of focus came to mind:

  1. Our business was going in too many different directions. We needed to tidy up and rid ourselves of the services that were not profitable. As Mike taught in Profit First, The niches are in the riches. One specific area of low profitability immediately came to mind, it was something we had maneuvered around for years. Mike guided me to the reality that this particular service needed to be let go in some fashion. We needed to create a laser focus.
  2. My company could no longer use a credit card. Even though it was the kind that was paid off from month to month, for me to be a purist and embrace Profit First system fully, spending on a credit card just wouldn’t work. The money needed to be spent in cash via a debit card.

I needed confirmation that the right thing to do was cut up my company credit card. My initial plan was to take a month. As recurring bills hit the credit card, I would change the billing to a debit card. But I’m not much on an ease-into-things-kind-of-girl. When I make a decision, I like to start right away. I realized almost instantly, that we had to get rid of the Amex. I pulled everyone’s credit card and started paying for all our bills with a debit card.

That month was painful! I was paying for everything twice- the credit card bill with the charges in arrears and the current monthly expenses as they occurred. However, the joy I felt the next month when I didn’t get an Amex bill, made the pain worthwhile. I no longer dread the 17th of each month when I would receive a bill that was somewhat of a surprise. (I don’t like surprises. As a company, we focus on no surprise bills for our customers. This new method of tidying up my finances and paying for things up front fell right in line with that philosophy.)  

Now, I know how much money I have available all the time and I’m truly living the Profit First focus. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post – Grasping Opportunities. 

The Beginning of My Tidying Journey

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Marie Kondo Tidy UpIn the Fall of 2014, I read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and had no idea that this one small book would launch me on a year-long reading and re-thinking journey from cluttered confusion to calm profitability.

Profit First turned the traditional method of accounting on its ear (more about that here) and although I struggled with the idea at first, it made a HUGE amount of sense to me!

Next, while ice bound, in February of 2015, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. (Ask any Texan how many seasons we have, and they will say two – Summer and ice. When ice storms hit, they make driving almost impossible, so we do our best to stay off the roads.) The weather that caused me to stay home for two days gave me a unique opportunity to focus on this small, hardcover book and its process.

The book addressed challenges I had faced my entire life:

  • Clutter
  • Accumulating “stuff”
  • Binge shopping
  • Buying items and then not knowing what to do with them.

I had an inability to make decisions about where to put things, and it stressed me out more than I realized. Marie Kondo’s methods and philosophy of doing one large purge and tidying up in your home and life rang true in my mind. This was the answer to the question I didn’t realize I had been asking:

“How can I simplify my life?”

I decided now was the right time. I followed Marie’s advice and picked up each item in my home, touching the material and asking her one critical question:

“Does this spark joy in my life?”

As I started the tidy up process around my house, I noticed I felt less stressed and more calm.

One of my huge “aha moments” while implementing the Marie Kondo tidying method was that once I rid myself of things that did not bring me joy, I couldn’t buy any NEW items that didn’t bring me joy!

I admit to you that I still struggle a bit with how to find that joy in the store as I’m shopping. Much of that challenge probably has to do with the fact that I do a lot of online shopping. I can’t touch the item when I’m browsing online to see if it brings me joy. However, I can order it, touch it when it arrives at my house. If it doesn’t bring me joy I can ship it back, thanks to my ever-patient daughter, Marissa, who takes packages back to the post office.

Be sure to read next week’s blog post on how finances were the next stop on my personal journey of tidying my life.