Perhaps you saw this blog post from June of 2014 where I walked you through my Erin Condren Life Planner. As I’m sure is true with you, every year I grow and change and learn, so this new post is going to be focused on those changes as well as some improvements that the EC team has brought to the 2015-2016 planner. I will also review some of my practices that have remained constant, so if you read my earlier review, not all of this will be new, but perhaps the new parts will be worth your while. Oh, and there’s a GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!
Let’s talk paper planners. Good grief, I love paper! L-O-V-E.
Let me say for starters: even if I didn’t run a business, I’d still use the Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP). Why? It makes me happy, that’s why. Also, I’m a list girl, I get high from checking things off (it’s a real thing, yo), and the color brightens my day. But since I do run a business, allow me to proceed.
First of all, I love that EC comes out with her new 18-month planner while I still have six months remaining in my old one. This is the second year in a row that I’ve told myself I’d wait until late fall to purchase next year’s planner. It’s also the second year in a row that I caved and ordered during the summer. Why? Because 18 months! Right now I’m booking well into 2016 and do you know how difficult it is to find a safe place to track future appointments without a future calendar? Ahem.
Please note that while EC has released a horizontal planner (pictured right), this review will be more focused on the classic vertical format. My brain just isn’t wired for horizontal, which significantly benefited one of my sisters whose brain is. (Read: free planner for Shaina.)
The monthly spreads are where I do the bird’s-eye-view picture of life. Here I record events, jewelry shows, appointments, birthdays, contest deadlines for downline, and travel plans. I refer to this spread weekly at a minimum, but often it’s daily.
One thing I love love love about EC is the removable labels in coordinating colors. Each month I select a color scheme, and that’s the label I use for marking my shows. But when calendar movement happens (and it does in everyone’s life), I simply peel up that label and move the show to the new date. If the hostess has not yet settled on a new date, I jot her name down on the side column of the month during which she told me to touch base and then trash the label. These labels are removable, but more than 2-3 moves wears them out, so I’ll just start afresh when we decide upon the new date. A new pack of blank labels is only $2.
To keep things simple when I’m at a show scheduling future shows, I now have the month’s labels washi taped to the side column of that spread. That way there is no flipping back and forth to see where purple is when I’m filling up September. Boom. Done.
Now, some people like having separate calendars for work and personal life, but if you’re in a party-plan business, here’s why you don’t want to do that. Besides the mental chaos that comes from juggling two or more calendars (tried it, ditched it, got the t-shirt and ditched that too), people like to book with successful people and a full calendar is a sign of a successful person. I promise you—the busier you get, the more shows/parties/whatever you’ll be able to book. It’s like there’s some magnetic force that grows with each booking, making your business stronger and stronger. Weird, I know. But still true.
That said, if you peer closely at this picture you’ll see doctor’s appointments, MOPS meetings, my weekly teaching schedule, and Bible study times, all in addition to my Premier business. Try it. You’ll like it.
Can I get a shout out for the EC team? They got rid of the day, afternoon, and night designations on the weekly boxes. Yay! Now you can do whatever you like without feeling like a sheepish rule-breaker. (My apologies to all of you who get a high from breaking them.)
The weekly spreads are where I really live. Down the left side of the page there is a lined section, and that’s where I keep my weekly checklist: work responsibilities, errands, volunteer assignments, thank-you cards to write, and my exercise goals. There are only 21 lines which keeps me from overextending myself…much. I like writing my to-do list there because deciding on a day for each item makes me feel boxed in and then I get grumpy and dig in my heels and nothing gets done. The side list offers structure with freedom.
In the daily columns, I break my sections down into schedule, daily-dos, and blog goals. So on quiet days where we are not running all over creation, I often use that top box for some creative lettering or doodles. (If you want a fun way to learn hand lettering for free, check out the Llamas Love Lettering blog or Llamas Love Lettering on YouTube. You’re welcome.)
If you’ll note in my daily-dos, I have a box that says “weekly list,” which refers me back to my side column. “Daily list” means the checklist I keep on a whiteboard. I got tired of writing down the same darned list every single day, so now it’s on my wall for all time and eternity. Every night I wipe it off and start fresh the next morning.
At the bottom of each column is another lined section with four lines. This is where I track my mileage. Sometimes if I’m feeling ambitious I write down my lunch plans for each day, but that usually feels too confining for me.
Now here’s something I’m so excited about sharing with my Direct Sales peeps. You know how we all want to track all the things we need to do to help a hostess have a fantastic party? It only took me eight years to come up with a system that worked for me, but I finally found it.
Post-It creates this cute little guy that fits perfectly in the EC vertical column boxes. So I create my hostess checklist on him and stick it to the hostess’ show date. Then, as I go through the preparation for her party, I can track what’s been done and what needs to be done.
My checklist includes:
- Happy – If she books several months out, two months before her party I’ll send her a fun little text or some snail mail reminding her about her show. This gives her plenty of time to let me know if she needs to reschedule and helps me keep my calendar full.
- HP – Did I give her the hostess packet of catalogs yet?
- HCV – Have I sent her our hostess coaching video on YouTube? (I know, I know…in person is optimal, but right now that’s not always an option.)
- Invite – what type of invitations did she select (evite, text-vite, Facebook, or postcards) and have I created that for her?
- 1/1 – Did I share with her about our company and how a business like this might benefit her or someone she knows?
- 2 week – Did I send out the two-week reminder text?
- 1 week – Did I send out the 1-week reminder text?
- 48 hours – Have I touched base to confirm and let her know my arrival time?
This practice has been life-changing for me. For one thing, if a hostess changes her date, that post-it moves right along with her. I keep a few of these ready to go on my dashboard so that I can quickly pop them into my weekly pages as I book shows. This way I can mark immediately that I gave Holly Hostess her catalogs. Ten minutes later it’s too late; my overloaded brain has forgotten.
(Side note: I read that it takes seven years post-childbirth to recover full brain function. What the heck is that about?)
THIS AND THAT
There are countless ECLP reviews out there for you to be able to peruse the entire LP online, but that’s not the focus of this post. So instead I’m offering you this smattering of pictures that cover the parts that I am not reviewing. I love every single one, but you’re a big girl (or boy). You know how to use lined pages and zip pockets. I assume.
Erin Condren, Inc. has experienced explosive growth in the past several years. This summer they opened a new warehouse in Austin, TX to keep up with demand. And I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you—they are experiencing growing pains. It seems like each order I received that shipped from that warehouse had something wrong with it, usually regarding the quantity ordered. At one point I was convinced that someone in the Austin plant wanted to sabotage the company.
My best guess? The shipping department is working too fast and under too much pressure, and therefore isn’t paying the best attention to, say, the fact that I ordered four of the snap-in StylizedSticky notes and they only threw one into my box.
But here’s the thing. The EC team will make it right. They might still be talking about persistent ol’ me in the customer service department, but they took care of each and every order discrepancy. They have several methods for reporting errors, but my personal favorite is via chat—which it appears is only available during business hours (I’m writing this before 6 on a Saturday).
A tip for you: do not order Ready-To-Ship items unless you absolutely must. It seems that, because more care and attention is put into personalized items, they are shipped correctly. Every planner cover, acrylic item, holiday card, personalized label, piece of stationery, and sticker I’ve ever ordered has been correct. The only troubles I’ve experienced were with non-personalized items.
$10 OFF REFERRAL CODE
Have I talked you into giving one of Erin Condren’s products a try? You can use this code to receive $10 off your first purchase. The $10 discount expires 30 days after activation, so keep that in mind. If you use my discount code, not only will you receive $10 off your next order. I will as well! Then you can get your own code to share with your friends as you get excited about EC. It’s one of the many things I love about this company. (You need to click on the link above and create your account through that link in order to receive the $10 discount. The discount code will be sent to your email within a few hours of signing up.)
Because of course! I’d like to raffle off TWO 2015-2016 Erin Condren Life Planners to TWO lucky winners. One planner will be vertical and one horizontal. Please be sure to enter the correct raffle based upon your preference . . . unless you just don’t care.
Due to shipping costs, this raffle is limited to the USA. But if you can figure out a way to make it work using friends on US soil or an APO, go for it. I love creativity when it comes to getting what you want!
Good luck, and may the best planner win!