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Innovative Paper Planners (and more) from WeekDate

Innovative Paper Planners (and more) from WeekDate

"I Need From" Pad from WeekDate

    For any number of reasons, some people prefer paper to electrons for keeping track of their schedules, to-do lists, and other organizational needs. If you’re one of those people, you simply have to check out the products available from WeekDate.

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    WeekDate planner - open

      WeekDate makes one of the most innovative paper planners on the market, their namesake WeekDate Weekly Planner. The WeekDate is available in a number of attractive, stylish covers, but what really sets it apart from other paper planners is it’s accommodation for recurring events. The three-panel design allows you to list recurring monthly events on the top panel, recurring weekly events in the bottom panel, and one-off daily events in the middle – which means you don’t have to re-enter that monthly doctor’s appointment or that weekly status meeting every time you flip a page in your planner. The efficient design and clear layout make it easy to see everything at a glance, so you can quickly find available times for new meetings or see what’s up next on your agenda. ($34.95)

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      The WeekDate system is also available as a wall calendar, which would make an excellent addition to a would-be organized family’s kitchen wall. ($34.95)

      WeekDate has just announced a new product that appeals to the lifehackista in me, the I Need From Pad (or “INF” for short). The INF is a tabbed shopping list, so you can easily create and add to separate lists for, say, the grocery store, the home improvement store, the kid’s school clothes, and the pet store – or wherever else you find yourself needing to shop on a semi-regular basis.  Pages are glue-bound, like a memo pad, so they can be removed easily to take just the pages you need when you’re headed to a particular store – leaving the rest intact. ($9.95)

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      I’m less impressed by WeekDate’s What Did I Wear When? Pad, which allows you to record your clothing choices for various events so you can avoid showing up next time in the same outfit. It looks incredibly functional for the task it’s designed to do, but I’m not sure I see the need for it. Then again, anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly a fashion maven – I do my best to wear clothes that more-or-less match, but being seen in the same outfit more than once isn’t really on my “to-worry-about” list. More fashion-minded people may disagree – perhaps the What Did I Wear When? Pad finally scratches an itch you’ve lived with all your life. ($13.95)

      (For a different take on the What Did I Wear When? Pad from someone who did find it useful, check out the review from Right Brain Organizing.)

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      In the interest of fair disclosure, I should mention that WeekDate has been a sponsor of one of Lifehack’s contests, the Spread the Love contest we held last February. But I’m not promoting them here because they’ve been a sponsor – they became a sponsor because we love them! Lifehack has been singing the praises of the WeekDate system since well before last Valentine’s Day; Lorie Marrero write them up almost a year earlier, saying “WeekDate is one of the most creative things I have seen in a while.”

      So give WeekDate a look. It’s not too late to pick up a calendar for 2009, and it’s never too late to get your shopping organized.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

      This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

      The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

      The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

      Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

      Curiosity

      Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

      People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

      Patience

      Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

      When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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      Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

      A Feeling for Connectedness

      This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

      A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

      The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

      How to Self-Taught Effectively

      With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

      1. Research

      Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

      Learning the Basics

      Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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      Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

      What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

      Hitting the Books

      Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

      Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

      Long-Term Reference

      While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

      My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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      2. Practice

      Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

      A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

      Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

      Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

      3. Network

      One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

      These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

      Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

      Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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      4. Schedule

      For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

      Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

      Final Thoughts

      In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

      If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

      At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

      More About Self-Learning

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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