Spring Cleaning Your Planner: Clean or Replace Your Binder

Spring Cleaning Your Planner: How to Safely Clean Your Binder or Replace It!

Spring Cleaning Your Planner

Happy April Planner Friends! Well- I am officially back from my Entrepreneurial Spring Break and now that it’s over all I want to do is fill my planner with new ideas and inspiration to carry me through the summer. While I was on spring break, I did some decluttering around my home, sent a bunch of clothes to goodwill, and gave away some of my unused accessories to family members. I really wanted to do what I could to make room and pass on what I could from my life, primarily to show gratitude for many wonderful blessings that have come into my life recently, but also to keep myself in balance. Balance for me is one part streamlining of what I already have, and another part planning for what’s to come. So, in that spirit, the time has come to Spring Clean my planner as well! While I am going through this process, I thought that I would share some ideas to help you spring clean your planner as well! So, this topic is going to be a 10-part series during the month of April, BUT you can come back to this series or use these ideas year round to help you reset your planner when you need it. I hope you enjoy the series and that you will come back to my site often this month to see it unfold! Feel free to share and posts you particularly enjoy as well- that would be lovely!

Part 1: Clean or Replace Your Binder

Depending on the age and wear of your planner, one of the quickest ways to spring clean it is to literally give it a good scrub or replace it altogether. Many of us in the planner community see our planners as an accessory, not just a productivity tool, so keeping our binders in good condition or swapping them out for the season is reasonable. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

How to Safely Clean Your Planner

Correctly identify the fabric of your planner: Depending on the type of fabric or material used for the interior and exterior of your planner, you will use different cleaning products. Make sure to identify each material by checking and labels or paperwork that came with your planner, or by contacting the retailer directly. If you aren’t 100% sure of the material, I wouldn’t risk damaging it by using a product made for a specific material, however, a mixture of warm water and mild soap are a safe bet if you just can’t find the information. For any product you use, make sure to spot check the formula in a small, hidden area of your binder to ensure it does not do any damage or cause the color to run or fade.

Find the trouble spots: Before you begin cleaning your binder, I recommend assessing the damage and determining if there are any trouble spots. Cleaning up your binder is one thing, but dealing with specific stains is another. Don’t proceed with cleaning your binder until you have given it a once over and checked or any trouble spots like pen marks, stains or areas of rust/oxidation on any metal pieces. You will want to address these issues first with spot treatments specifically tailored to your binder material and the trouble spot. There are many different stain specific products available to help you spot treat your binder, like these.

Empty your planner: This may seem obvious to some, but remember to empty out your planner before you begin cleaning it. Check through and pockets and zippered areas and ensure everything is removed so you can get down to work!

Use a light touch: Whenever I’m cleaning any of my accessories, even my planners, I like to use a light touch so I don’t damage the item. You can always go back over areas with heavy build up if you are too gentle on a first pass, but if you are too rough you can do irreversible damage. Just be smart, work gently in small sections and don’t rush!

Let it dry: Once you’re done cleaning your binder, make sure to give it time to dry. Leather and faux leather binders tend to dry in a few hours, but if you have a cloth planner that required more product to clean, let it dry overnight before returning paper to it just in case! We wouldn’t want to ruin our inserts now would we?

If you’d like to watch my cleaning process, check out my 2017 Planner Setup Video where I give my leather binder a thorough clean at the start!

Replacing Your Binder

Of course, if you don’t simply want to clean your planner and want to replace it altogether- that’s a legitimate option. If you’re looking for something new, think about whether you want to swap your style or your entire system! It’s easy enough to swap one 6 ring planner for another in a coordinating size, but its a little more involved if you want to change from a ring bound to a travelers notebook style, for example. To get some great inspiration for your next planner purchase, check out my Planner Resource Guide Post on Picking a Planner! It covers some great basics for what’s available planner-wise to get you thinking about your needs.

I’d love to hear about your experience with cleaning your planner or picking out a new one for the season! Feel free to share your favorite products or planners down in the comments and be sure to share this post if you found it helpful!


April 2017 Free Planner Inserts and Tech Wallpapers!


April is right around the corner and so it’s time for another Free Filofax Printable Insert! Since Spring is about to be sprung, this is a great time to focus on a little spring cleaning! This month’s printable is a checklist of all the essential spring cleaning items that are usually forgotten, so challenge yourself to complete one task a day in the month of April and once you are done, you should have a completed refreshed view of your life! Of course, as I did last month, this printable will be available in both A5 + personal size Filofax equivalents! Of course, I also have your April 2017 Dashboard ready to go as well and when you download the Spring Cleaning Checklist, the Dashboard comes with it!


So if you would like to download these free inserts, click here to hop on over to my Shop where you can access and print them immediately!


AND- Don’t forget your FREE Tech Wallpapers for your computer, tablet and smartphone! This month’s design is all about April showers with a mod raindrop design in my signature turquoise! Click here to enjoy the digital wallpaper designs!

If you do download these free inserts or tech wallpapers, please let me know about it by taking a picture and tagging me on Instagram with the hashtag #StrangeandCharmed so I can see how you are making use of these goodies. I love seeing your pictures, and I can’t wait to like them and interact with you on IG! Make sure you’re following me @MissTrenchcoat!!



How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year

How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year

How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year

As many of you may already know, yesterday was my live stream called How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year. If you haven’t heard, today is the start of the Astrological New Year as the New Moon Rises in Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. I love New Years, and luckily, there are a few different New Years celebrations throughout the year. You can make a fresh start or set your goals or intentions for your life at any point in the year, no matter what the day or moon phase but I find that if you can pair the positive and refreshing energy of a significant date with your intentions, that can lead to more substantial success. So, that was the heart behind yesterdays stream!

I was joined by my personal astrologist and tarot goddess Madeleine Joan of Written in the Stars and we paired a discussion of practical astrology with productivity. If you haven’t seen the replay yet- I urge you to check it out if you are interested in making a fresh start for the year or if you are interested in some of the more esoteric philosophies of life. The first part of our discussion goes through each zodiac sign and what specific energies the new moon is activating for you, paired with practical productivity strategy. You can use this information to help you set meaningful goals or intentions and help you manifest success for the year ahead! The second part of the video is an open Q&A where Madeleine and I helped some live viewers get some insight and clarity on questions or directions for issues they are struggling with. Now, I realize that watching someone else get an astrology or tarot reading may not seem helpful to you specifically, but I fully believe that the energy of the universe brings us all messages even through the struggles of others. So, if you choose to watch the second half of the video, keep your ears and mind open to receiving messages that resonate to you! If you feel a sense of synchronicity or alignment with a struggles of another, that may very well be the universe sending you a message as well.

I hope you enjoy this video and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the event and if you’d be interested in me doing more content on the topic of energy and manifestation, especially in terms of how we can harness such concepts for our own personal productivity and gain! Leave me a comment below- I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year!

How to Manifest a Successful Astrological New Year

It may be March but did you know the astrological New Year is right around the corner? Monday March 27th kicks off the official start of the astrological year with the New Moon in Aries and this is a wonderful time to hit the refresh button on your life and energy if you feel like 2017 just hasn’t quite gotten off on the right foot! So, to help you find success and learn what is in store for you this year, I am hosting a FREE LIVE EVENT called HOW TO MANIFEST A SUCCESSFUL ASTROLOGICAL NEW YEAR with my friend, fellow empire builder and master astrologist, Madeleine Joan of Written in the Stars!

Join us on Sunday March 26th at 3PM Eastern/Noon Pacific for a star guided and tarot filled reading to help you maximize your productivity and success this year!

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE PRIVATE WATCH PAGE and make sure to bookmark it for the day of the event.

Feel free to invite your friends and share on social media as well via the event link: bit.ly/2017astrony

Can’t wait to see you all there!



Setting Up My New Home Office

Entrepreneur Spring Break Playlist

Setting Up My New Home Office

Lately, I’ve been getting many questions from my community about sharing an updated home office tour. Although I do have this video on my “to film” list, to be completely transparent, the reason I have NOT filmed that video yet is because I’m not happy with my set up right now. Since my move last summer, I’ve been managing in my new larger home office with the furniture I had previously used, but I really want to upgrade a few things to make up for the increase in space. The image above is essentially my office- or at least half of it. The other half is pretty much empty except for a vintage storage unit that I refinished a few weeks back.

Remember, my home office went from about 70 square feet to 200 square feet, and the orientation of the room has also changed, but for now I am making due with what I have. I know I need a larger desk, for example because my current desk, while very pretty, is just too small for the room and for my needs. I have my feelers out for a larger, more antique or vintage style piece that would be more of a focal point in the room. I would love to buy something second hand and refinish it as I did the hutch unit, but, as with vintage pieces, nothing happens overnight.

Now, I do still get quite a few questions about my existing furniture, so I am going to link down below my last home office tour. Pretty much everything I use is the same from this last video so if you are looking for my desk or my credenza- this video will show you a closer look and give you some details where you can find them!

Strange & Charmed HQ Office Tour

I hope that this helps those of you looking for answers, for now! I do intend to one day film a full office tour, but not until I feel pleased with the room, which I am sure you can all understand!


Introducing the Upgraded Empire Building, a Modern Approach to Building a Successful Online Business!

Welcome to Empire Building, a Modern Approach to Building a Successful Online Business, created by me, Alexis Giostra. Empire Building is a self-paced online business course that teaches my 5 Pillar Method for Building a Business Online using tried and true methods and principles that I have learned as I have built my own media business over the past 8 years. Whether you are looking to start a Blog or YouTube channel to earn an extra income, or want to start your own Online Shop that gives you the flexibility of working from home, Empire Building is your guide to setting up and maintaining a successful business online!

At the Core of Empire Building is a lesson plan of 6 Video Lecture Modules that include guided workbooks with numerous activities and worksheets to help you apply the lessons of the course to your business. The first five modules of the program cover each of the 5 Key Pillars to Online Business Success, and the sixth module, Business Administration, will cover key topics aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs should know in order to manage their business successfully.

The 5 Pillars of Empire Building

The Empire Building Model is a structured blueprint for building and marketing your online business from the ground up. The model begins with Branding, the foundation of a good business and is crowned with Income, diversifying monetization so you can earn more while working less.

Within each module is a wealth of information, tips, tricks and a series of worksheets designed to help you make the most of the content while creating the foundation of your own business. These worksheets aren’t just learning activities, but powerful tools that will help you build your business as you work through them.

Bonus Upgrades

Empire Building now includes 4 NEW Upgrade Blueprints to cover some specific topics in depth outside of the individual Blueprints, as well as a few Video Master Classes on dedicated topics.

The 4 Upgrade Blueprints Include:

  • Writing Your Business Plan
  • Creating Click-Worthy Headlines & Content
  • Pricing Strategies
  • Email List Building

Bonus Master Classes:

  • Blogging Master Class
  • New Year Business Planning Session
  • Planning for a Successful Holiday Promotion

New Content & Updates

Because the climate for online business and digital marketing is always changing, as a member of Empire Building you will automatically receive all future content and updates to the program. Although I have some amazing bonus content already created, I am always planning more and new content and resources are added to the course multiple times a year!

Mentorship & Business Consulting

But great content, bonus’ and continuous updates are just the beginning! Empire Building is also meant as a mentorship opportunity where you can get my help and advice while you are creating your own business, piece by piece!

Private Facebook Group

As a member of Empire Building you will be given access to a dedicated member’s only Facebook community where you can interact and network with the other students within the course. Empire Building boasts a roster of many excellent online business owners and entrepreneurs with a variety of business’ and experience. Here is a sampling of the types of business you can network with inside the Facebook group:

  • BUSINESS SERVICES: Business Coaches, VA’s, Editors
  • HEALTH & WELLNESS: Wellness Coaches, Nutritionists, Trainers, NPO, Women’s Wellness
  • FINANCE: Accountants, Bookkeepers, Financial Planners
  • IT/WEB: Designers, Bloggers, YouTubers, Social Media Pros
  • SPIRITUAL: Reiki Practitioners, Tarot Readers, Astrologists, Ministers
  • ARTS/CRAFTS: Writers, Novelists, Hand Crafters, Musicians, Actors, Fine Artists, Makeup Artists, Photographers

Mentorship with Alexis

An additional bonus of Empire Building is that you have access to Alexis as your personal business mentor. This means that any questions or concerns you have about your situation can be brought directly to her and she will work with you to ensure you are getting the answers, support and resources you need. Empire Building is truly a unique program, because as a member you are given direct one-on-one access to the creator and Alexis will give you her best advice to help you advance in your situation!

Optional Consulting Path

Empire Building also includes an optional consulting path where you can upgrade to receive one-on-one calls with Alexis to help you apply the lessons in the course to your business and get you moving forward with a personalized plan for your year. You can choose to purchase this path of the program outright OR you can start with the basic Blueprint Path that gives you access to everything mentioned previously, and then upgrade to consulting by simply paying the difference between your initial investment in the program and the current price of the consulting option.

The consulting option is called Architect Path and it includes:


Deciding Your Path

To recap, let’s cover the options you have to join Empire Building and work with Alexis to build your online brand and business moving forward!

Blueprint Path

Blueprint Path is a full membership level of Empire Building that includes the following:

  • Full Membership into the Empire Building Course Website
  • 6 Video Modules and coordinating Blueprint Workbooks and additional resources
  • 4 Bonus Upgrade Blueprints & 3 Bonus Video Master Classes
  • Access to the Private Facebook Community
  • Unlimited Q&A Mentorship with Alexis
  • All future updates and upgrades to the program

Architect Path

Architect Path is a full membership level of Empire Building that includes the following:

  • EVERYTHING listed above in Blueprint Path
  • One (1) 60-Minute Quickstart Consulting Call with Alexis
  • One (1) 90-Minute Business Planning Call with Alexis

So, are you ready to get started building your own online business with me? Great! I’m so excited for the chance to work with you, but you will need to act fast to secure your spot in my consulting path. I only open limited for the Architect Level Path at a time, so if you want in on serious one-to-one consulting with me, you need to act fast!


How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills?

How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills?

The internet is a wonderful, terrible place! Filled with information, content, opinions, many of us turn to the web to find answers, solve problems and get information, but I think it’s resulted in a gradual and general lessening of our own critical thinking skills. In this day and age, with so much information, content and advertising being thrown at us from every angle, I think it’s more important than ever that we be able to discern what information is real and what information actually matters to us and our lives. That last part is interesting, isn’t it? You’d think that we know what information pertains to us that we need to pay attention to, but actually, I find that many people spend and waste time on information that is of no essential use to them and ultimately allows it to detract from key information they may critically need. From a productivity standpoint, I find that talking and working with my students on overcoming issues of prioritization and task management ultimately leads to the solution of needing better critical thinking skills to better filter out relevant work from busy-work. The distinction between which makes the difference between a successful worker and an overwhelmed one! So let’s discuss critical thinking skills now and uncover some ways to improve them.

What are Critical Thinking Skills?

In order to improve on your critical thinking skills, I think it’s first important that you understand what critical thinking skills actually are! Critical thinking is defined as  “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” (Via CriticalThinking.org) Essentially, critical thinking skills are the ability to process information accurately so that you can then act on that information correctly.

Why are Critical Thinking Skills Important?

I’ve already given you some food for thought in the introduction of this post as to why critical thinking skills might be important to you, however, there are many more key applications and reasons why you would want to pay attention to how developed your critical thinking skills are and even make an effort towards improving them. On a very basic level, everyone has some critical thinking skills, as all of us think and use the information that we receive to do everything from basic mundane tasks to complicated projects and problem solving. All of us are wired within our brains to use the information around us in order to keep ourselves alive- this is basic human instinct, and because of this our default state is to use information selfishly to our own gain. Ever talk to someone who could take anything you said and find a reasoning why they are right and you are wrong? That’s the self preservation bias of our brains at work manipulating reasoning to make an argument that supports our own personal world view. The problem is, with something like 7 billion people on the planet, most people have completely unique world views and experiences. Yes, there may be areas of overlap, but no two people have the same life so no two people have the same world view. Which means that when we have to interact with others, which is quite often, in order to manage our lives to the best of our ability and move ourselves forward, we need to have more advanced critical thinking skills so we can solve problems.

How can We Improve Our Critical Thinking Skills?

As I mentioned earlier in the definition of critical thinking, these skills are a discipline, which means that you can develop them or you can loose them if you don’t actively use them. Think of your critical thinking skills like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets, but the more you ignore it, the weaker it gets. So, if you want to grow your skills, you will need to take a disciplined approach to exercising them. So here are three strategies I recommend making a regular part of your day if you want to see an improvement in your critical thinking skills.

#1. Question Everything

Most of us receive information and we just accept it. No questions asked, someone online states a fact and we believe them! Doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong, we blindly accept what we are being told. Now, I blame part of this on our educational upbringings that have conditioned us to accept the ideas and information of those in a position of power (even if that position is purely imagined) and society generally rewards people for not asking questions and just accepting things at face value. Accepting what we are told is easy- that’s for sure, but putting your brain on autopilot will not improve your critical thinking skills. So, when you are given information, any information, get into the habit of questioning it. Ask yourself “why” something is happening or whether or not something is true or false. Evaluate the information and think about it before just passively accepting it. Now, this does NOT mean you need to voice your questioning to others publicly. If your boss gives you an assignment, you don’t need to ask them “why” they are assigning it or what the purpose is if you don’t already know, but on your own time, think about why and question what you are being asked to do. It is only once you have formed a clear opinion or come to a reasonable conclusion that some task might be unnecessary or that certain information you received may be erroneous that you can bring it to the attention of others. Critical thinking is not about speaking before you know, its about thinking before you act.

#2. Face Problems Head On

It seems quite clear that the default mode for human behavior is to avoid problems and conflicts. This isn’t true of everyone, those who enjoy drama and manipulation due to an overactive need for self preservation love to exploit conflict, but most people avoid it if they can. People even go as far out of their way as possible NOT to solve a problem, mostly because they are afraid they won’t be able to solve it, which would conflict with our sense of self preservation that often tells us not to do something we can’t do in case it makes us look bad. No wonder the world has a disproportionate problem to problem solver ratio! Well, if you want to develop your own critical thinking skills, you need to break the cycle and face problems head on. Don’t avoid them, address them as soon as you are made aware of them, and begin using your reasoning to question and understand the situation and ways you can solve it. You will not be able to solve 100% of the problems that you face, but you will fail to solve 100% of those you choose to ignore.

#3. Understand and Overcome Your Perspective

As mentioned earlier, each of us has a world view or perspective that is unique to our personal experience in life, the preservation of which is a primary function of our egos. We’ve all heard anecdotes about how letting our egos get in the way can stop us from solving problems and making progress, and it really is true, when we rely too heavily on our own perspective and fail to understand the perspectives of others, conflict ultimately arrises. Now, I’m not suggesting that you make it your mission to understand the perspectives of everyone else in the world- that’s an impossible task and one that really won’t help you improve your critical thinking skills in the near future. Instead, what you can do is to seek to understand your own world view, personal biases and perspective so that you can consciously overcome your ego during moments of potential conflict. So, how do we seek to understand our world view? Again, ask yourself some questions, especially around your values and beliefs. If you struggle to identify what your values and beliefs are, you need only to turn on some 24 hour news coverage to hear the stories of the day and pay attention to your opinions on issues. Many people find that when it comes to their personal values or beliefs they “tow a line” for some prescribed ideology or another, without truly understanding or even caring about the issues at hand. Again, the default for human beings is not to question, to avoid problems and to protect ourselves in a conflict, but when you force your attention on your values and seek to understand why you are partial to one thing over another, you may find that long held beliefs seem irrational to you or things you thought were important to you really don’t matter much. Understanding your world view isn’t something you will be able to achieve overnight, and like the previous two strategies, it requires a discipline to execute in order to improve your critical thinking skills overall.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and the concept of improving your critical thinking skills. I’d love to know what you thought of this topic and any specific areas you may be interested in having me explore in a future post to round out this conversation and provide additional detail or insight. Leave me a comment or question below!


My Entrepreneur Spring Break Playlist {March 2017 Productivity Playlist}

Entrepreneur Spring Break Playlist

My Entrepreneur Spring Break Playlist {March 2017 Productivity Playlist}

I don’t think I mentioned this, but yesterday was my birthday (yay for me!) and I’ve decided that I am taking the rest of March as my own personal business Spring Break! I always remember in college that my spring break fell around my birthday which was awesome, but ever since then, I’ve failed to really take time off to rest and relax during this pivotal time of year for myself. Well, now that the launch of Empire Building is done, I’ve cleared my schedule and plan to spend a dedicated amount of time focusing on myself and my personal interests. I’m not going to pull back 100% from my business, but I do want to devote most of the hours of the day to doing my own thing. I’m not entirely sure how my days will be spent, but I can say that I really want to focus on meditation, physical activity and reading. I also have some personal home projects I want to accomplish, like organizing and decluttering some spaces that have been neglected. I’m thinking a life purge is in order and I’m looking forward to doing some spring cleaning and letting go of the old to make room for the new!

Of course, I’ll need some great tunes to listen to while I work on these projects, so today I’m sharing my Entrepreneur Spring Break Playlist with some of the songs I’ve been loving lately that seem to always empower me to get up and moving!

I hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy this playlist! Even though you may not be able to take a Spring Break, I’d love to know how you’d spend some extra personal time and maybe even how you can incorporate some simple activities into your days this week to take advantage of the Spring Break energy in the air! Let me know in the comments!


Successful Launch, Chanel Birthday Unboxing & Meal Prep {Work Week Vlog 5}

Successful Launch, Chanel Birthday Unboxing & Meal Prep {Work Week Vlog 5}

In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my latest Work Week Vlog to my YouTube Channel! This vlog is another week in my life episode that shows you the behind the scenes of my life and business from Monday to Friday. In this episode, I am focused on the successful completion of my launch for the upgrade of Empire Building, I unbox and haul a few different fashion and beauty related purchases, share the birthday presents I’ve purchased myself and meal prep!

As you may already know, I work for myself full time as an online entrepreneur. I create and sell digital productivity tools, including digital courses, info products, printable productivity inserts, and ebooks. The best part about my business, to me, is that my income is mostly passive- meaning, when I make sales, I don’t necessarily need to do anything in order to process orders. I have intentionally built my shop as a self-serve area where orders are automatically processed and customers have immediate access to their purchases. Of course, this type of business means I have a very flexible schedule, however, I do tend to keep pretty regular business hours, as I do usually have a steady stream of work associated with the content creation and digital marketing I do to keep my business growing.

These vlogs are my attempt to share a deeper look into my business and the way I live so that any aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners can see how I spend my time, how I plan out my work, and how productive I really am! Of course, I do like to share fun lifestyle goodies as well. As they say “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

I hope you enjoy this video and if you do, please consider clicking through to my YouTube channel and supporting me and my content by subscribing!


3 Life Saving Productivity Tips You Can Learn from SCRUM

3 Life Saving Productivity Tips Learned from SCRUM

3 Life Saving Productivity Tips You Can Learn from SCRUM

As some of you may already know, I recently read the book SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland! Now, this is a productivity book that has been suggested to me many many times, and I’m glad I was finally able to fit it in because it really is quite a gem of a book. In my mind, SCRUM picks up where my perennial favorite Getting Things Done by David Allen leaves off. Where GTD is all about organizing tasks and being efficient, SCRUM focuses on teamwork and project management. Now, while not everyone works as part of a team (myself included) their are a few strategies found in SCRUM that I think should be used by EVERYONE who is trying to move projects and goals forward- no matter what type of work you do. Let’s review:

Concept #1: Inspect & Adapt

In scrum, the concept of Inspect & Adapt is used almost like a mantra for checking your work. In the book, the author describes previous methods of project management used within the technology sector that essentially ignored the concept and led to project management disaster. When you check your work as you go, insuring that what you are working on it is functioning and still part of the goals of your project plan, you know you are moving forward and have little to tweak or go back to once you reach the end of the project. No matter what work you do, this concept applies because we should always make sure that what we are working on is actually functional and still necessary so we don’t waste our time on tasks that don’t matter or don’t work! Every time you complete a task, make sure the next item on your list is still relevant as well and you will avoid doing more work than necessary.

Concept #2: 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule is a concept that I’ve relied on for a long time and it’s an essential rule for various businesses and situations. The 80/20 rule means that 20% of your effort will end up producing 80% of your real results. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it and almost unbelievable but true! When I worked in sales and marketing we learned that 20% of our products drove 80% of our sales, and 20% of our customers did 80% of our total business. So it makes sense that most of what we do to achieve a project or goal really doesn’t have a heavy weight on the outcome. Instead, it’s the essential 20% of tasks that really achieve our ends for us. Now, this is something that fascinates me personally because I am always striving to understand what exactly the 20% is in my business so I can cut out the excess fat of the other 80% of my work that is really either a waste of time OR just minimally moving the needle. In order to evaluate this for yourself, when you start off with a project plan, I suggest identifying the key tasks that need to be completed in order for your project to come to a minimal form of completion that fulfills the basic goals of your project. Then make a weighted list of other tasks that would be nice to complete if you have time once the minimal work is complete. That way you focus your time and energy on the essential parts of your project and set aside tasks that you would like to do if time permits!

Concept #3: Impediment Removal

The final concept of SCRUM that I think is essential for anyone to use in their own work is impediment removal. Meaning that as soon as you see or experience a roadblock to your work, an issue, a setback, that you deal with it as soon as possible. In the SCRUM framework, the manager has the responsibility to remove this impediments, so if you do work for someone else, make them aware of issues immediately. But, if you work for yourself, you are going to have to get your hands dirty and deal with the problem. That doesn’t always mean that you will have a perfect solution for it- I think it’s reasonable to evaluate your situation and decide to sidestep the issue completely if it doesn’t have any bearing on your project (sometimes issues come to us as distractions, not actual problems), but taking action immediately means you can move quickly through your tasks without having this issue hanging over your head or having to make accommodations for it.

I hope you found these tips insightful for your productivity! If you haven’t read SCRUM yet, I would recommend checking it out, here is a link where you can get it online and if you want to get it as a free book on tape from Audible, here is that special link I used to get 2 FREE audio books instead of their normal offer of one! Let me know what you thought of the book and these tips down in the comments.


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