Benefits of A Printed Organizer/Day-Timer

It doesn’t matter whether you are a full-time businessperson, a stay-at-home mom, a nine-to-five office worker, or a shift worker, you need a system in place to plan your day, and to organize and prioritize all your events and tasks.  No plan means things get left undone, urgent jobs get pushed back, and you forget to do things.

We used to have a notepad and pen or a pile of post-it notes, but these days, digital devices have taken over. Can you remember the last time you wrote yourself a reminder? Most of use our digital devices as a calendar and reminder system, but is it the best way to go? Has a good old pen and paper been banished?

I still use a pad of paper and a pen. I even have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk, with all my daily tasks on it, but many think that’s an odd way to do things these days. I get asked, “Why don’t you just set reminders on your phone?” Apart from the fact that I don’t like my phone pinging at me every five minutes, there are scientific benefits to using a paper planner rather than a digital one. So, if you’re a die-hard digital planner, just cast your eye over these benefits.

Fewer Distractions

Most people automatically think of reminders and notifications when they think of digital planners compared to paper planners. I mean, how convenient is it to have your phone ding at you when it’s time to go somewhere or do a recurring task? But think about this – how many notifications, on average, do you get every day? And how many of those reminders or notifications do you take notice of? Do you wipe them off your screen?  We hear so many dings and notification popups, we’ve become desensitized, to the extent that half the time, we don’t even look at the reminder – we know that those dings are annoying, and they distract us.

Studies show that spending too much time looking at your phone screen harms your brain, so while it seems convenient to use your phone as a planner, all you are doing is compounding the issue. And be honest here, how many times have you started reading a reminder and got side-tracked by a Facebook notification? So much so that suddenly an hour has passed, an hour of wasted time.

When you use a pen and paper to write your daily plan, you give your eyes a rest, and you rest your brain from the seemingly endless number of emails and notifications you get. In short, your focus improves, and you give your brain a much-needed rest.

There’s more to pen and paper than you think, so read on!

Better Memory

You’ve heard this before, but probably you just brushed it aside like an old wives tale – writing things down helps you to remember them better. It is true, but there’s a bit more to it. Not only will you formulate your plans better, but handwriting also stimulates specific brain cells located at the base of your brain that help to increase your focus.

Writing is a physical activity, and that action is what triggers that part of the brain and pushes it into the high-focus mode. When you write a goal down, your brain works hard to make you remember it. A study done at the Dominican University in California found that when people wrote their goals and shared them, making themselves accountable for them, they were more than 30% more likely to stick to them than those who made mental notes about their goals.

Using a digital screen stops that brain triggering from happening; it’s like having a shield in front of you, blocking you from what you are doing. So, in simple terms, writing your planner by hand engages your brain much better than just typing them on a screen.

Better Motivation

When you write longhand, it takes a lot more effort, but it also ensures you are to the point and concise. Sure, typing is faster and easier, but it does make it hard to refine your thoughts and be selective. If you are making the switch from paper to digital, or vice versa, check out your notes – I bet the handwritten ones are more to the point and make more sense than the digital ones.

When we write, we can clarify things, and we can connect mindfully with our tasks and goals. When you draw up a written to-do list, you can abbreviate certain things, but for long-term planners and goals, it’s better to be precise – the relationship between what we think and the language we use is very strong, so when you write a goal down, it sticks in your mind. And how convenient is it to have your goals written down, staring at you in the face?

Less Stress

There are far more benefits to writing your plans than just better organization. It may surprise you, but Japan, probably the top country in the world for digital technology, thrives on using pen and paper. They refer to it, in wit, as a “techno planner culture” and virtually all Japanese people take time to use pen and paper, stickers, drawings, color coding, and so on, to organize their thoughts and their day.

Lots of studies link handwriting with mindfulness and many people who seek therapy for stress-management recommend keeping a hand-written journal, simply because of how therapeutic it is. Much like meditation, writing by hand helps you to sort your thoughts out, and because it takes so much more effort, you learn to be selective about your words. That improves how you define things, such as your goals, attitudes, and feelings. As you write them down, you learn how best to deal with them.

A Healthy Habit

In the same way as writing your plans makes you more inclined to commit to them, writing in a planner is a commitment too.  We tend to cling to the physical more than the digital, simply because it is real. With the digital, with a screen separating you, committing to notification or a planner tends to be lost among all the other notifications, apps, reminders, and other stuff on your computer or mobile device. When you have a physical planner or a notepad and pen on your desk, you’ve got a physical reminder to use it.

And if habits aren’t your thing, using a physical planner could be the first step in making a positive change. Research has shown that new habits take anywhere from 21 to 66 days to form which means, you only really have to use a paper planner for a month or so before it becomes a habit – not long at all.

Combining all these steps leads to the critical points of productivity – writing your goals and daily activities by hand will make you more motivated, more organized, and more productive.

Now, have I managed to change your mind? If you are considering taking a paper planner for a trial run, there are a few tips to bear in mind.

Evaluate What You Need

Think about a typical day in your life. Do you get so busy that you occasionally forget things? Try a basic daily planner with dates. If you prefer to draw up long, detailed to-do lists, you want a planner that has the space for that. If you prefer a planner that you can track both long and short-term plans that helps you track things and boost your productivity, look for an appropriate planner – a yearly, page-a-day diary is the most common one.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Set a limit. Is a $50 planner any better than a $5 planner? Or a pad of paper and a pen?  You don’t need to spend a fortune, make sure you get something that suits your needs.

Have a System

Think about what you want to write, what you want to track, and then think about how you want to do it. You could use colored stickers for indicating importance, for example. The important thing is not to make it complicated – it’s no good if you can’t read and understand your planner!

Import Your Data

If you have a digital system in place already, make sure you go through every tracking or planning app and your calendar to transfer the data over. If you have recurring goals, make sure those are added in the right places in your new paper planner, too, to make the switch as seamless as possible.

Try it For One Month

Go on, take the challenge. Try using a paper system for just one month and see how you get on with it. Set a reminder to make sure you complete your daily planner every day and try to make it into a new habit.

Productivity is directly linked to your adoption of good habits, great systems, and useful tools, as long as they work FOR you and not AGAINST you. You don’t have to go completely paper; you can have a combined system of paper and digital, again, as long as it works. And if it works, make sure you stick to it.

Some people find using manual paper planners are simply not efficient, but in an increasingly digital world, there is strong evidence in favor of using a paper planner. It could well be one of the easiest steps that you take toward being healthier and more productive.

Success – Packaging Does Matter

Your Professional Appearance
Your Professional Appearance

Being well dress does have a profound effect on how you are perceived in the workplace and on the way you are considered when opportunities of type arise.  So, here are a few starter thoughts regarding workplace dress and appearance.

Principle 1

You are not dressing for a job interview.  Your are dressing for success, which means you are dressing to have an advantage in the everyday competition of the workplace.

The packaging does matter; being well dressed can improve your success because:

  • You will feel more prepared for the workday
  • Being well-dressed projects more power and authority
  • It can help your appearance/presences by offsetting the losses of youthful physical attributes as you age.

Principle 2

Think of your office suit or outfit as a uniform, and treat as one. Always clean, wrinkle free, and well cared for…etc.

Color matters: your daily dress should project

  • Power,
  • Professionalism,
  • Preparedness,
  • And respect for the companies’ dress code and, if visiting a client, the client’s dress code and expectations

Principle 3

Impressions do matter; subliminally, as well as in direct relationship to the respect, consideration, and treatment you receive from others.

Quote – Don’t let business control your life

Drive thy business, let not thy business drive thee. — Benjamin Franklin

— Benjamin Franklin

What Is A Competitor Battle Card?

In theory, competitor battle cards are not that hard to put together. All it takes is a little bit of content to use to persuade clients in a sales environment. What many people find is that being concise is a challenge. It takes some time and practice, but with a little bit of planning and overall know-how about the industry, any person can start putting together cards that work.

What are competitor battle cards?

The simplest way to describe competitor battle cards is that they are short, to the point pieces of information about a business that paints them in a positive light directly against the competition. Videos, graphs, spreadsheets and simple text are all used on different cards.

Once these battle cards are put together, they are given to the entire sales team. When they are in any type of battle against the competition when talking to a potential client, they can easily refer to these cards for quick rebuttals.

It’s important to stay very current with these battle cards at all times. A company doesn’t wanna have too many, but they do want to have a little bit of variety, so sales representatives do not sound repetitive to the people they are talking to.

It depends on each business how these cards are put together. Some companies do it as a team effort, while others will have a few specific people focus on what needs including.

The importance of in-depth research?

Putting battle cards together is easy, but only after thorough research is done. To create the best battle cards possible, in-depth research on every single competitor needs doing. Knowing the competition is crucial for success in this world. A good starting point is every competitor’s website, but going beyond that and understanding them is going to give businesses an edge.

Research the general market and potential customers as well. Every business’s competitor battle cards are going to be slightly different depending on what they are selling. Being able to relate to locals will always give a sales team an edge if done correctly. Most customers want to know that they are dealing with a company that feels like part of the community.

How are competitor battle cards used?

Once the cards are put together, it’s time to make sure the sales team understands exactly how they are used. It’s one thing to relay information to a potential client, but it’s another to do it at just the right time.

Sales representatives can practice when do use certain cards. There are identifiers when opportunities arise, and they need to pounce on that. Some questions lead the discussion in the right way. When a sales representative controls part of the conversation, they can shine.

New competitors are always going to be rising, and old competitors might fall by the wayside. What worked a year or two ago might no longer be a valuable battle card at all. Businesses need to focus on the tools that work. It’s not so much about the number of battle cards, but the quality.

A Quick Guide to Creating Competition Battle Cards

Why Use Competition Battle Cards?

During the B2B sales and marketing processes, if there’s one question that the buyer is sure to ask, it will be some variation of “how does your product stack up against X competition?” Maybe the prospect is interested in a certain feature, price, or benefit – regardless of the specifics, your reps need to speak intelligently about how your product or service compares.

The struggle is that in any B2B sales role, there’s a lot of information to remember. The ability to retain every nuance of their product or service is no large feat, let alone the details of every competition.

That’s where competition battle cards come in. They’re essentially a cheat sheet for your sales reps. When a prospect brings up the competition, the rep can open the battle card and have instant access to that company’s product information and disadvantages in a quick, digestible format.

Instead of the classic “I’ll get back to you on that one,” the rep can speak with authority on how your company’s strengths differentiate from your competitions.

How to Develop Your Battle Competition Cards

Step One: Pick the Competition

Maybe you’re in a crowded market, and you have 50 businesses that could be called true competitions. Do you really need 50 battle cards? Maybe, maybe not, but don’t get in over your head. Start with the top five competitions that come up most in conversation. Don’t forget the biggest competition of all – status quo. Use these to test out your battle cards, finesse the design/information, and only then expand to the full sphere of competition.

Step Two: Research

Put on your detective hat – it’s time to start digging into your competition’s dirt. Try to find out pricing, service fees, product descriptions, general business data, etc. Some of the information will be available on their website, but other good sources for information are any company webinars they offer, Glassdoor employee reviews, and customer reviews via G2 Crowd or TechValidate.

Step Three: Review

Once you’ve compiled the research, it’s time to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and best responses to those strengths and weaknesses. The battle card should include more than just the company’s pricing structure, for example – it should state clearly whether or not they’re cheaper or more expensive than your company, and if cheaper, a clear response for why your higher price is worth it for the prospect.

Competition Battle Card Best Practices to Remember

Don’t Stuff Battle Cards with Fluff

The sign of a good battle card is one that reps actually use, so the goal for anyone creating a battle card is to fill it with information that’s actually relevant. Especially when using a template, it’s easy to fill the page with random information that, while accurate, will not help the reps during sales calls. A lot of battle card templates include a spot for the competition’s address, for example. If you think it’s likely that the rep will need that information, then include it! If not, there’s no reason to waste that valuable real estate on irrelevant info.

Keep Battle Cards Clean

The design that is. You may be tempted to put every bit of strategic research you were able to find into the template, but keep in mind that a battle card crammed with text isn’t going to serve its purpose. The design should be minimal and very easily scannable so that reps can get the insight they need at a glance. Remember that the sales rep will likely be multitasking while they access this information – holding a conversation with the prospect while searching for that competitive golden nugget that will help him or her close the deal.

Best Practices for Leveraging Battle Cards

Establish Expectations

These battle cards are a resource for sales reps, but they’re also a way for your company to ensure a unified response to questions about competitions. It’s important that the sales team knows not only that the battle cards are available, but also that using them is expected.

Centralize Access and Track Usage of Battle Cards

If you want reps to use the battle cards, you must make them easily accessible. You may want to consider uploading all of the battle cards to a cloud-based sales content library that serves as a one-stop-shop for sales rep resources. One of the great things about centralized content libraries is that you can see how often the battle cards are being used (and by whom). It’s a great way to track the effectiveness of the efforts and see which competitions are coming up most in conversation.

Keep Battle Cards Updated

An outdated battle card is worse than having no battle card at all. If a rep confidently states a competitor’s prices are higher than they are (based on old data), and the prospect finds out differently, that prospect will no longer trust anything the rep says. Make it a standard process to review the battle cards on a regular basis.

Include Battle Cards in Training

Any new sales rep should have a solid understanding of the competition, so be sure to leverage the battle cards as a training tool as well as a sales tool.

How You Prepare For The Day Impacts Your Perform

The concept of working from home or freelancing is becoming quite popular. As regular jobs become very demanding and even uncertain, there are thousands of men and women who prefer working out of the home. While working from home is certainly a great idea for supplementing the main income, there are many who still do not believe that it could be the main source of income for earning the bread and butter for the family. While the debate still continues, we will now be looking at a different aspect of work from home.

When we are in a regular nine to five job, we have to follow a rigid routine whether we like it or not. We need to wake up at a particular time, complete our daily morning chores in a hurry, and get ready to travel to our workplace. There are specific dress codes in some organizations that have to be followed. Even otherwise, we cannot afford to go to our workplace in our nightgowns or other such casual attire. We do give quite a bit of importance to the way we dress. It does impact the way we look and the way people perceive and think about us. According to experts, it also could impact the way in which our work efficiency is in the workplace.

Home-Based Work And Dress Sense

In this article, we will try and find out how the way we dress could also impact our freelancing work and work that is done from the comfort of our home. We also will try and find answers to the question of how to prepare for the day when working out of the home. This will be useful to housewives and women in particular who are happier working from home taking care of their children and family. Even many men find it convenient and less stressful when they work from home on a freelance basis. Freelancing is also referred to as telecommuting, and those who belong to this category are increasing quite rapidly. According to some studies, the number of telecommuting workforce in American has increased by a whopping 80% from 2005 to 2012. Hence, there is no denying the fact that working from home has certainly taken roots, and it will continue to grow quite strongly.

Should I Dress Up Formally?

When working from home, many of us tend to take things easily, and often, there is a laidback attitude to it. While this might look convenient and easy, according to experts, the way we dress for our work has a role to play as far as our efficiency and productivity are concerned. Switching from working at an office to working in a home could be a challenge, and it is a big change. Hence, you should try and answer the question of whether you should dress up formally even while working from home.

Yes Dressing Does Impact Your Work From Home

Though there is not much of a consensus on our work-from-home productivity and the way we dress, studies have pointed out that there are certain types of clothing that can influence the psychological process of the wearer. It also could alter his or her perception. People who work from home and who are also formally dressed tend to become more serious and more focused on their work. It does not mean that the person has to wear blazers, tie, and shoes, but he or she should look formal when they look at themselves in the mirror. Wearing informal and home-dresses often tends to make a person-friendly, laid back, and this could have a ripple effect and could impact the way in which you work.

Why Being Dressed For The Occasion Helps

The way we look and the way we dress has a direct bearing on our productivity level. However, this does not mean that we should be uncomfortably dressed in our endeavor to look formal. There is nothing wrong being in Pajamas provided it is neat, pressed and not crumpled and dirty. Getting on to your workstation straight from your bed should be avoided. There are some basic lessons in the discipline that one should follow. If you look at workers and even business persons in countries like India and China, they treat their workplace as a place of worship. Hence, they believe that they should go to their place of worship neat and clean. They are of the firm opinion that they should open their computers and their telecommuting set up after they have taken their bath or after they have freshened up.

The Proof Of The Pudding Lies In Eating

There are many people who are of the opinion that being dressed casually does not impact performance at home in any manner whatsoever. They also do have a point, but one should know the difference between being casually dressed and being downright lazy and unkempt. The latter should be avoided at all costs. If there are people who still believe that dress does not have a role to play, let them try out three different scenarios.

  • You could try and be in your normal office dress, perhaps without a blazer or tie. You could start working and find out as to how it feels after a couple of hours of work.
  • You could be in your casual clothes but be sure that it is comfortable and cozy. A T-shirt with jeans is a perfect example of being casually dressed.
  • You could be in your nightgown or pajamas which you might have used for your nights’ sleep. Try working with these dresses on.

There are research studies to prove that the level of concentration and focus is certainly much higher in the first two types of dresses. This is perhaps because of the subconscious mind that tells your conscious mind to perform better when you are either formally dressed or casually dressed with decent outfits.

Conclusion

In fine, though many people may not agree that the way we dress in our homes has a role to play in our freelancing and home-based assignments, science and logic prove otherwise. Hence, there is nothing wrong being decently dressed when you are at your workstation. You should learn to respect and revere your work. Yes, there are also other things like the ambiance and work environment that you have. It should not be noisy, and the ambiance should allow you to concentrate on your work properly. It all boils down to individual mindsets and other attributes. At the end of it all, it does make sense to be decently dressed without going overboard and imposing strict dressing codes on you while working from home.

Quote – never wait for inspiration

I am a believer in regular work, and [I] never wait for inspiration.

— Jack London