How A Simple Handwritten Calendar Helped Me Defeat Overwhelm

There was a time I could simply never get ahold of my calendar. Commitments entered into a calendar would never be noticed again. Digital reminders were excused and promptly forgotten. I couldn’t even tell you what day of the week it is, let alone the date.

I tried digital calendars. Some paid, some not. Eventually, Google Calendars made the most sense for us. It’s shareable which means I can delegate the task of entering appointments to all concerned. But still, I needed more help when it came to keeping the calendar in view. Once an app is closed, it’s out of sight and… out of mind.

weekly-hand-drawn-calendarOne year, I started drawing out my calendars by hand. I would start each week and month with a hand-drawn calendar in my journal. Nothing fancy. Just basic grids. Then my commitments were written in by hand. Here’s what a week spread looks like.

In this day and age, it sounds so silly to do that. Starting out, I did feel a bit of a fool. But one Sunday evening, while I was laying out my calendar while watching TV with my husband, it clicked.

Writing down all my commitments by hand actually helped eliminate overwhelm. First, it helped me remember them better. There are lots of studies indicating the connection between writing something down and retention. That was definitely true for me.

Second, the act of setting time aside to do this, helped me think through each day and how I was going to manage the day. For example, if I have several commitments that day, I would go through in my head and envision how the day would go.

What can I fit between this appointment and that? Can someone else do this so I can have this on my calendar? Or, this is a shorter work-day which means I must finish XYZ the day before and so on.

It is said, that athletes often envision themselves reaching the winning line, and that convinces them they are already winners long before the race begins. It’s the same here. By visualizing your days, they automatically become less stressful. You feel more in control and you’re more likely to have a good day because you’ve already laid it out in your head.

You could argue that a digital planner can do that too and you’d be right. It all boils down to whether you can make it work. I found digital planners too easy to set aside. I had a tendency to add to the list but never sitting down long enough to review it. And that is the key…

120816-how-a-simple-handwritten-calendar-helped-me-defeat-overwhelm

The review.

If there’s anything I learned this year, it’s the power and tremendous value in the review process. No matter what it is you have in mind. Long term or short term goals. Weight loss, being more mindful, being a better boss etc. If you don’t review, you don’t know how far you’ve come, you don’t know how much further you have to go and you don’t know how to fully maximize your days. Handwriting things slows you down so you can that.

That’s why I started publishing a printable planner for bloggers 9 years ago. When I started, I still wasn’t completely sold out on pen and paper. As I grew, learned more, and am not fully committed, I’ve tweaked the planner each year into a significant tool to help bloggers achieve their goals.

The best thing is, the planner is 100% FREE. Claim yours today.

5 Tips to Invest in Your Business Blog on a Budget

5-tips-to-invest-in-your-business-blog-on-a-budget

Blog, they say. That’s the best way to get your small business noticed, to raise your search engine rankings, to increase customer engagement, to imprint your brand on customers, and much more. It’s true that blogging has a lot of benefits for helping small businesses get noticed. But it’s not always an affordable form of marketing.

Many small businesses struggle with investing adequate funds into their blogs because the capital doesn’t stretch as far as they hoped. As a result, the blog ends up published on a low-quality platform with short, unuseful content and poor imagery. This is unfortunate because when your blog is low-quality, performance tanks and your business receives virtually no benefits from blogging in this oversaturated market.

Fortunately, a lack of funds doesn’t mean your business is doomed to fail. You simply have to make some small changes to your blog and reallocate the funds to do the most work within your blogging platform.

  1. Let your blog pay for itself

There are currently bloggers out there making more than $10,000 per month with their blogs. Though this makes up a very small portion of the bloggers on the web, it illustrates the possibilities. Most businesses don’t focus on monetizing their blog because they don’t want to take their attention away from their primary business plan. But if you’re in need of money, monetizing your blog is a great way to raise it.

Through measures like affiliate marketing, advertisements, paid sponsorships, and products, you can reap decent profits from your writing efforts. It might be just an extra few hundred dollars per month, but that’s more than enough for most small businesses to develop quality blog posts and promotions each month.

  1. Take advantage of freebies

Though the quality is often in question, there are thousands of free tools, software, and resources at your disposal. Use these for both marketing and content generation purposes. Here’s a list of some of the free tools you’d be foolish not to use.

  • Templates and blog themes
  • Security plugins
  • Social media
  • Google AdWords, Trends, and similar tools
  • How-to blog subscriptions
  • Photo editing software like Pixlr
  • Email services like MailChimp
  • Infographic and video software like Canva
  • SEO tactics
  • Google Drive

There are more tools out there, but this is a good place to start.

  1. Social media is free and effective, so you might as well use it

Social media was mentioned in the list above, but it’s so important that it’s worth covering in greater depth. Blog posts have the potential to go viral on social media, reaching billions of viewers. As a small business, you can join Facebook, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and most other relevant social media pages for no cost.

Once you’ve established a solid profile and generated a following, you can begin promoting your blog through this channel in order to enjoy the many benefits that blogging yields. Also, all of this is usually free.

If you have a little extra cash, invest in Facebook advertisements for your blog or business. These are fairly inexpensive and extremely effective, as they reach a wide audience. Facebook is also very good at targeting users who may be interested in your content by scanning search results and past purchases for individual customers.

  1. Hire interns to develop quality content for cheap or free

Many students majoring in communications, marketing, or English need internships to graduate, and content writing will fulfill the requirement for most. Work with local colleges to set yourself up as a business that can give interns an opportunity to learn and perfect their craft for free without setting you back.

Note: Taking on interns is about more than free labor. You have to provide a solid educational experience for each student so you can remain a qualified internship provider and continue getting quality content from these “employees.” Make sure your office is set up for such an experience.

  1. Update efficiency within the department

It’s the inefficient processes that will result in wasted labor and lost revenue that could have gone towards your blog. Your content creation team can improve efficiency in several ways. First of all, create an editorial calendar that shows which blog posts are to be published and when.

Using project management software, cloud content platforms, and other types of free or affordable software will have your teams working faster and better. Discuss regular ways that you can make content creation more efficient in order to optimize your budget.

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