How To Organize Yourself Like a Pro With Less Than $5 Bucks

It’s finally Monday again (I love starting the week!)

And here I am as always, trying to improve my productivity and keep myself organized.

A few days ago I was talking about how to organize your gmail inbox using gmail labels and gmail filters.

Well I just ‘discovered’ a new item that is going to help me quite a lot to keep me even more organized now.

The Monthly Planner

The reality is that I needed to buy some double layer DVDs.

And yesterday after some roaming around the local office store, I found some incredible whiteboards.

Magnetized, non-magnetized, black boards, fluorescent boards, digital boards, I was in whiteboard heaven.

I did not go crazy though and decided to bring home one tiny 30x40cm whiteboard (monthly planner) with me.

A Few Ideas For A Monthly Planner

From the top of my head, you can use this for:

  • Important Webinars
  • Skype Interviews
  • Business Chat Meetings
  • Blog Schedule Posting
  • Product Launches
  • Product Development
  • Book Creation
  • Software Projects
  • Etc

Really, you can do just about anything as long as you consider the size of your whiteboard.

I also found some big plastified monthly planners and they were actually cheaper but I was sold on the little one since I want to test how this works out first for me.

The Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule)

The pareto principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes (taken from Wikipedia).

I still use Gmail’s Calendar quite a lot and I’m not giving up on it but I have a very special task designed just for this small monthly planner.

I’m going to write only the activities that bring real results¹ and I’m going to try to do this first thing in the morning for a few weeks.

Then I’m going to determine if this works for me or if I need to adjust this to suit my goals better.

(¹) By real results I mean more subscribers, more sales, better conversions, etc.

Why You Need To Watch The Monthly Planner Video

I just shot the video a few moments ago and I was testing out:

  • a lapel microphone and
  • a hand recorder

I clapped my hands before starting to speak to use that ‘clap’ sound and synchronize both signals together inside Camtasia at editing time (just like in the movies!).

Needless to say, I forgot to hit the record button on the hand recorder TWICE so I actually had to shot the video three times. (lol)

I think the results were good although there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement, but i’m pretty sure I’ll get there.

So let’s just watch it now, shall we?

Monthly Planner Video

Well there you have it.

Apart from the stuttering, uhms and ahs (I don’t do that in Spanish) I think the video message comes through and you can have  an idea of how big (or small) the whiteboard is.


So what do you think?

Do you believe that investing $5 on a monthly planner could maybe improve your productivity, help you keep yourself organized or even better, make you stick to your project’s deadlines?

If you don’t mind, let me know in the comments area in case you have a better idea that works for you. Sharing is caring after all.

Take care and hope you had and awesome start of week!


PS. Special shout out to Jon Olson from The Jon Olson Project for always doing +1’s and teaching me the power behind using whiteboards.

PPS. The music on the video intro & outro, is a song I recorded about 12 years ago… we had a record deal and… oh well enough of that musical past. ;-)

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    • Patrick Griffin
    • April 16, 2012

    Hi Sergio,
    I like that music. You should play more of it for us one day and your new office layout looks super cool too.

    You are certainly getting stuff done at a great rate of knots now.

    Oh and I suppose I should comment on the whiteboard too. The thing that strikes me here is that in an age when we have so many hi-tech options that the low tech approach still has its place.

    I am sure the fluorescent board would have looked way cooler but your $5 alternative is a much better bet.

    But hi or low tech, these things are only any use if we actually use them and I have a feeling that you will be using yours.


    1. Reply

      Hey Patrick,

      We certainly have so many gadgets these days that I also find it hard to accept that a simple pen and paper can work just as good.

      (did you know that Lionel Messi was signed to Barcelona using a napkin?)

      The blackboard with the fluorescent crayons really, REALLY brought my attention but I don’t want to get all that fancy. At least not right now.

      I just want to focus on delivering my message with no distractions.

      I’m glad that you liked the workspace, I’m still working on it but I’m almost done and I’m also honored that you liked the musical bits on the video.

      And finally about doing stuff, well what can I say… there’s a lot of things I did on this past weekend but I’m saving the updates for the rest of this week.

      I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. lol

      Take care Pat and speak soon man ;-)

      PS. I’m getting back to recording and composing for the guitar niche site, I really wasn’t happy about that but what the heck, I’ll just do it.

    • Daniel Sumner
    • April 17, 2012

    Hey Sergio,

    Love the intro mate very professional.

    I have a whiteboard and calender, but I find myself using iCal on my Mac more and more as it likes to my phone via the cloud. This way I always know what I’m doing and were, even down to shopping :-D

    I guess as long as we are organized in one way or another it’s a whole lot better than be disorganized.

    Great insight to your office mate excellent.


    1. Reply

      Hey Dan,

      Man you have the fancy way of organizing then! haha That’s great and I agree, as long as we can stay properly organized, the way we do it is the least important.

      Thank you for the kind comments on my workplace and the video as well. I’m trying really hard to get better at videos these days. ;-)

    • Carmen
    • April 18, 2012

    You should play more of it for us one day and your new office layout looks super cool too.Thanks for the great post.

    1. Reply

      Hey Carmen,

      Glad you liked the music and the workplace setup. Maybe even the article? j/k ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jens P. Berget
    • April 18, 2012

    Hi Sergio,

    That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about buying. Except, I’ve been considering a huge calendar that I will have on my wall. I haven’t bought it yet, but I really do want one, and I’ve found the perfect one at Amazon (well, according to what I’ve seen online).

    The reason I need a “real” calendar is that I need the tasks staring me in the face. And I don’t get as much done if I need to be finding the tasks and opening up my calendar (like I do with my iCal) to find out what’s happening today or this week.

    Great advice.

    1. Reply

      Hey Jens,

      Great minds think alike! (or so they say)

      I work the same way you do. I practically need to have the calendar staring at me so I can be aware of what I need to do at all times.

      Gmail calendar does a great job letting me know about it but being able to constantly look at the calendar and the tasks that need to get done, there’s simply no comparison.

      I am more aware now of what I’m doing and I can immediately rearrange tasks with the physical calendar as I go.

      As for getting a huge calendar, I wanted one as well but I didn’t buy a bigger one since I’m running out of space.

      I’m actually thinking of buying several big ones on one wall (product launches, product development, client management)

      Maybe I’m getting crazy (LOL) but it is exciting for me since being an IT guy, I’m used to writing on big walls and having doodles all over the place so it really feels like home for me.

      Hope you can get yours really soon and notice the improvement as well!

      The ones I saw were very cheap so I don’t think cost is an issue at all.

      Take care Jens and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. ;-)

    • Joe Lampo
    • April 18, 2012

    Hey, Sergio. Buenas dias! Joe here,. Great post here, again, and the video was cool. You know,m that Pareto Principle sounds very much like another rule of 80/20 whereby, in a large organization, 20% of the staff produces 80% of the results. Did you ever here of that one? Can’t think of the name of the rule. Anyhow, you seem to be well organized. If I posted a photo or two of what my work area looks like, it would resemble a pit of piled up junk at a New York subway station. My desk (I have 2) on which I usually write is so filled up with papers and books, I usually write, as I am right now, from the dining room table, and one of my cats, Sweetpea, is sleeping on my lap. I wanted to let you know, too, that my first post is up and when you have time I hope you can have a look at it and favor me with your overall comments. I would appreciate your feedback very much. I’m starting to write a second post, and I still have to finish my ABOUT ME page, as well as placing a photo into the header area, among other things. Maybe I need a planner to keep my memory bank juggled. Funny, but a few months ago I did buy a small project planner, and put it in a drawer and never looked at it again! How’s that for organization? Stay well Sergio, and keep on with your excellent bloggin’!

    1. Reply

      Hey Joe, what’s up my man?

      You’re right! The Pareto Principle is actually also known as the 80/20 rule which is what you have just described there.

      I used to work on top of a mess, don’t let the appeareances fool you!

      I’d love to take a look at your site and maybe it is time to hunt down for that small project planner?

      Thanks for stopping by Joe and the kind comments, I really appreciate it! ;-)

    • Linda
    • April 18, 2012

    Love the music and is that a keyboard (piano) in the background there? Love your screensavers :)

    Anyway – about the the I use a regular wall calendar for things – I honestly don’t have any extra wall space in here. The tiny space for my wall calendar is hard to see, so it is not really effective, but that is all I can use for the time being. What I could do though is put something on my closet door maybe that is right smack next to me…just thought of that – might be good for a whiteboard if my other door can go over it – it is a big closet with 2 sliding doors. I will have to look into it :)


    1. Reply

      Hey Linda,

      I’m pretty sure you can work something out with that closet. For sliding doors I think a laminated planner could work best for its light weight.

      Glad you like the wallpapers and the piano in the desk is actually a MIDI controller.

      Technically is not a piano but you can make it sound like one if you want!

      Thanks for stopping by, speak soon and take care! ;-)

      PS. I’d monitor your Alexa rankings for a while if I were you. You’re going to see a huge improvement with Thesis. :)

        • Linda
        • April 18, 2012

        I know piano is not the right word for it – but I didn’t know what to call I see though, that’s pretty neat!!

        I do look at my Alexa rankings all the time, as I got that toolbar :)

        Thanks for the tip on the calendar!

        Talk to you soon


        1. Reply

          Well now you know! lol

          And my pleasure Linda, I’m always around for speaking. ;-)

  1. Reply

    Hi Sergio,

    The portable audio recorder + lapel definitely does the trick. Thanks for pointing it out.

    On the post subject, I’m trying to get better organized by using the mac calendar. I’ve tried this in the past but didn’t commit, it was just a set and forget type of failure.

    If this doesn’t work I’ll definitely go the “paper” route as you did.

    Thanks again my friend!


    1. Reply

      Hey Rod,

      Well I have tried a few apps before that are browser-based but I can’t stick to something I can’t see the whole time, that’s why the monthly planner really helps me out.

      It just bothers me to be see all the to-do tasks there so I do the activities just so I can stop looking at them on the planner. lol

      Thanks for stopping by and let me know how you did with the Mac Calendar. ;-)

  2. Reply

    Hey Sergio! Great post! I just got myself a magic whiteboard. No need to magnets. :-)

    Anyway nice video and the music was good. English is my first language and I stutter just as well, lol. I’ve actually also just started using tele prompters to ensure my delivery is a lot smoother.

    Anyway look forward to learning more from your blog.


    1. Reply

      Hey Manie, I just watched a video where you are using a teleprompter and I could barely notice you were reading man.

      I manage to notice only because I’ve been watching marketers talk straight to cameras for three years but if it wasn’t for that, I’d have never guessed it so great job on your teleprompter skills!

      Thanks for watching and stopping by, hope the new sales funnel you are creating goes as planned with tons of sales. ;-)

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