Posts by jbkrisle

15 Things Leaders Do Every Day

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 | 0 comments

I recently discovered this article on Forbes.com. It resonated with me and complemented my trademark presentation on the “12 Most Basic Keys to Success”.  All credit for this blog post is due to the author Glenn Llopis. You can find many more articles by Glenn on Forbes.com.

From this specific article, I am listing the 15 things most successful leaders do everyday. Listen up and enjoy!

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.   

8.  Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent

Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand. 

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel

Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination

Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    Theydon’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12.  Positive Energy & Attitude

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher

Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships

Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.

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7 Lessons Learned (Because I Failed)

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 | 0 comments

Recently I’ve been on a speaking binge. I’m not sure why the flurry of activity, but within the past few months I’ve received invitations to speak at several national, state and local conferences and to a variety of nonprofit organizations.  I’ve enjoyed each opportunity to share my thoughts and meet new friends. I’ve been especially grateful for the excellent references and reviews I’ve consistently received from the groups I’ve been speaking to. It’s been a confidence-inspiring whirlwind of activity.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I failed.  It was a comedy of errors from beginning to end, but it wasn’t really funny.

My presentation fell flat. It was disjointed and probably confusing to the audience. It’s a wonder they didn’t ask me what I was talking about.  Following the presentation, I couldn’t remember anything I said.

This experience has taught me seven important lessons to remember if you find yourself speaking to a group:

  1. Arrive 30 minutes early.
  2. Preparation cannot be underestimated.
  3. Know your venue.
  4. Never assume.
  5. Anticipate what might go wrong.
  6. Punting is OK.
  7. Say “No” When Your Gut Tells You To
  8. Sleep the night before, no matter what.
I learned these seven important lessons the hard way. I failed on every one of them. Considering my speaking experience, there was and is no excuse for the comedy of errors, and more importantly, that I didn’t rebound well once they happened.
I learned these seven important lessons because I made these seven critical mistakes (and I knew better!):
  1. I arrived early, but not as early as I should have. A few extra minutes would have given me time to gather my thoughts, reorganize my notes and give a logical presentation.
  2. My preparation time was cut short. I managed a lot of non-essential tasks during the week prior to yesterday’s event: I should have spent that “free time” fine tuning my presentation and visiting the venue.
  3. I had not visited the venue prior to speaking: knowing the room set up helps prepare you to stand in front of your audience.
  4. I assumed there would be a podium – there was not. This was a first, but it’s now a question I will always ask: “Is there a podium?”
  5. And although I had asked for a projector and screen, I had not anticipated a lack of connection chords, the inability to connect to my MacBookPro, and I most certainly did not anticipate the sudden SNAP of the screen as it tore from the frame and flopped to the floor just before my presentation. I mean, who would EVER anticipate that? (The organizers actually tried to flop the screen over the top of the screen’s frame and for a few minutes my PowerPoint was beamed onto the flopping, buckled screen until my OCD took over and I asked them to turn it off).
  6. My presentation was tightly linked to the PowerPoint slides, and I attempted to give the same presentation without the slides…not smart. What I should have done was reorganized in my mind and hit the high points unscripted and without the crutch of slides. I probably could have done that if I had been better prepared.
  7. This was a very short notice request by someone I know and respect. I said “yes” when my gut was telling me to say “no”. I knew my time was tight and preparation would be tough.
  8. I only had 3 hours sleep the night before the presentation. I was exhausted, which undoubtedly added to my inability to rebound as I normally can.
Failure isn’t fun under any circumstances, but if we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become a springboard to greater success in the future. Remember the saying: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I resembled that remark yesterday.
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Time Management By Quadrant

Posted by on May 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Managing time is never easy. Life moves fast and we all have responsibilities that often overlap, or even collide. Maybe this simple illustration of how I am managing my time will be helpful to you….that’s my hope!

 

Remember, there are only 24 hours in every day, no matter what we do. Make them count.

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I like bacon with my bacon, please.

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 0 comments

What was it Benjamin Franklin said? Oh yeah, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

I would like to echo that sentiment. Life keeps marching on, but to its own drummer. I may have a certain cadence in my mind, but somehow “life” always overpowers with a heavy drum beat that isn’t at all what I had in mind.

Peaceful tranquility? What’s that? Blissful retirement? Not on your life. Gentle breezes flowing through flowing golden locks…are you kidding me? First of all, I’m a redhead, so from the get go, my vision of how life should be was never going to happen.

Life, and my vision of life, keeps changing. And I’ve been known to remind people that change is good. But the reality is, change is…well, change is change. There’s just no getting around it.

And in fundraising, change is constant when it comes to methods, practices, and creativity, but when it comes to mission, it will remain the same. Fundraisers are taxed with the job of bringing in the bacon – so to speak – and that isn’t going to change.

Recently I had the opportunity to take some time to reflect on my mission, not only the mission of my consulting company, but my own personal mission. I realized that my goal was to change lives, and that I am at my very best when working with people directly.  As I pondered these thoughts, I realized that my current role with several of my amazing clients and past employers didn’t provide opportunities for me to accomplish either my personal or my corporate goals, and a new ah ha! moment was birthed: I haven’t been doing what I’m really good at.

With several past employers and clients, I was hired to meet with donors, but it never happened. I was hired to help with re-organization, but it never happened. I was hired because of my public speaking skills, but it never happened.

We get so caught up in the day-to-day policies, processes, and procedures, that we sometimes lose sight of our original goals and plans. In my case,  I was hired because I am the very best when working with people; not behind a computer, not word-smithing, not managing a database, not strategizing fundraising goals – although all of these things are critical to a successful fundraisers efforts and I can manage each one effectively.  So, yes, I am adept at all of these things, but I am best, I help an organization the most, I have the most success, I am the most effective, when I am working directly with people – one on one, or in large groups, or small groups. Me and them. Eye to eye. Knee to knee if need be.

This recent ah-ha! moment has caused me to reevaluate and instigate personal and professional change in my life.  My focus will continue to be with nonprofit organizations. And my expertise has not changed, but my focus has narrowed. I know what I’m good at, and I plan to work with folks to want to take advantage of that. because that is how I will be able to help them the most.

Thankfully, the nonprofit fundraising gods were listening during my ah ha! moment, and they are helping out. Since that memorable ah ha! day:

  • I have been invited to speak on moves management at a 2013 national conference in Florida. This is one of my strengths, I am one of those strange humans that loves public speaking. And moves management is a fundraising passion of mine.
  • I have recently had two personal visits with two potential donors to two different organizations, and successfully brought home the bacon (so to speak). Lots of bacon.  More bacon than I expected. Bacon, as in, I like bacon with my bacon (most fundraisers do).
  • I have the ability to read an organization’s culture after spending only a few days in their midst, and I can fairly quickly identify its strengths and weaknesses. This allows me to provide support to the organization by suggesting problem-solving practices that will help the organization become more effective, more synergistic, and more successful. I’m working with an organization in California right now on this very thing.
Obviously, I’m thrilled about all of this change in my life. It’s exhilarating to feel like you’re making a difference. The exact opposite of feeling that you’re not contributing. I thrive on success, and action, and positive movement, don’t most of us?

Change is hard…even this recent personal change didn’t come without some pain. But my mission hasn’t changed, I am simply using my talents and experience where they will be most effective in completing my mission, which is to support nonprofit organizations effectively. And I’m doing what I’m good at, using my talents to further a worthy cause by helping  to raise the needing funding for life-changing programs.

Maybe it’s true that death and taxes are the only things we can always count on, and maybe it’s true that life’s drumroll sometimes drowns out our chosen beat, but I still believe we can create our own destiny. It’s all about setting priorities, setting boundaries, and setting goals.

If you’re struggling, I suggest a time-out for your own ah-ha! moment. There’s room for a variety of talents in the nonprofit fundraising world. Are yours being used effectively?

Maybe the nonprofit gods will smile down on you too!

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Just Get It Done!

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 | 0 comments

Reposting a blog post from the past…hope you enjoy it!

I’m moving. And working. And stressing over both.

I’ve packed for 7 straight days. I just want to get it done.

As I was packing, while responding to business emails on my iPhone and scrambling to find 20 consecutive minutes to draft copy for a client, I realized that my current craziness is actually pretty normal for a fundraiser, or a leader, or a mom.

Aren’t all of our days filled with the critical tasks that must get done, the tasks that are the actual backbone of our professional efforts, and in between we field calls, answer emails and draft copy?

Fundraising is a whirlwind of thought, activity and production. It’s the tossed salad on the nonprofit buffet table. It’s a kaleidoscope of actions.

And that’s what keeps us on our toes. The fact that we cannot stop, we cannot forget, we cannot miss one donor, one dollar, one touch, one outreach, one opportunity without possibly missing out on a great partnership.

And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? We never know. We never know who, or what, will lead us to that next great collaboration with a donor.

Right now, I am not sure which box has exactly what in it, let alone which action will introduce me to a new friend and lead me to a potential donor. But I know the process, and I follow it. I am watching and tracking and communicating. I am paying attention. I am listening.

And I will unpack every box and I will contact every prospect. Because that’s what I do. I dig to the bottom, I cross every “t” and dot every “i”, I cover every base, I send every thank you and make every call. I get the job done.

Because at the bottom of a box, in the copy of an email, at the end of a call, I will find what I’ve been looking for. And everything I have done will have been worth it.

That’s why I do what I do.

That’s why we all do what we do.

We dig to the bottom, we pay attention, and we get it done!

We are fundraisers. We are leaders. Hear us roar! 🙂

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Thomas Jefferson had it right.

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 | 0 comments

One of my favorite excursions when visiting the East coast is a trip to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The house and gardens reflect the personality of this great American leader.

On the official Monticello website, there is a page dedicated to Thomas Jefferson’s canons of personal behavior. Today is a good day to revisit these canons and remind ourselves that how we conduct ourselves and how we treat others is a reflection, not only on ourselves, but on the organization we work with, the cause we believe in, and those who have tied their name to it.

Quoted directly from monticello.org:

Thomas Jefferson often took the opportunity to advise his children, grandchildren and others on matters of personal conduct. Over the years he developed a list of axioms for personal behavior. Some were his own invention; others derived from classical or English sources.

Jefferson’s most extensive list is the one he sent to Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, a young granddaughter, while she was visiting her older sister and new brother-in-law. It appears that, later in life, Jefferson pared his list down to ten canons. Here, in response to a request from the new father of a baby boy named Thomas Jefferson Smith, Jefferson listed a “decalogue of canons for observation in practical life.”

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
  6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
  9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.[2]
What are your Top Ten Canons of Personal Behavior? If you don’t have a list, start with this one.  I’ve learned that having a list of standards against which I measure my actions and decisions helps me to stay focused, ethical and productive. Over time, (and it wasn’t always easy, for a long time I loved seeing gray instead of black and white) it has become habit,  it’s just the way I do things. Life is easier when you have a foundation of principles to work from. Go forth and be amazing!
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Donors are not ATM’s

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 | 1 comment

A recent training I attended gave me pause. In a particular session, which I attended with a group of nonprofit executive directors, the focus was on financials.

On this day of the financial training, as we were reviewing balance sheets and applying the “acid test” to determine a nonprofit’s financial standing, one organization was upside down with a ratio of .0494:1.05 (.05 in assets to every $1.05 in liabilities – not a good situation.)

The facilitator asked the group to comment on what should be done based on the negative ratio; one participant responded: “You better get out and get more donations!”

Now, I am pretty sure she was kidding, but there was that fleeting moments when the only thought in my mind (after much self-editing) was: REALLY?! And it prompted me to make this short blog post to remind all of us that our donors are not a go-to source for money when we’ve mismanaged or planned poorly.

Our donors are not ATM’s.

EVER.

Executive directors have the responsibility to manage a financially solvent non-profit organization with AT LEAST a 1:1 ratio of assets to liabilities. And that really isn’t enough, because there is no room for error.

If the ratio begins to slip into the negatives, and the liabilities are greater than the assets, the Executive Director’s responsibility is to make changes within the organization to offset that dip. And where do you do that? Typically in your largest expense items: personnel, programs, etc. , or you can borrow money – not a recommended practice, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Donors are volunteers. They are partners. They are supporters. But they are not ATM’s.

I absolutely believe if management is doing their job, a donor will never be called upon to “save” the organization.

And that’s that.

REALLY.

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Philanthropy rocks.

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 | 0 comments

I’ve been a nonprofit person for decades. I’ve led organizations. I’ve raised money. I’ve lifted heavy boxes. I’ve swept floors after events. I’ve collected dues. I’ve managed silent auctions. I’ve built fundraising plans. I’ve drafted marketing content. I’ve packed boxes. I’ve done research. I’ve written grants. I’ve crafted mission statements. I’ve redirected entire vision statements so they align with the mission. I’ve told stories. I’ve shared experiences. I’ve spoken to large audiences. I’ve visited members. I’ve met with donors. I’ve recruited staff. I’ve made a lot of people very happy and I’ve pissed off a few. I’ve gotten down and dirty. I’ve been dressed to the nines. I’ve raised a lot of money. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask.  I’ve been honest, I’ve been creative, I’ve been direct. I’ve over-promised, and I’ve also over-delivered. I’ve failed a few times. I’ve disappointed on occasion. I’ve surpassed expectations more. I’ve learned, and I’m still learning. I’ve become a pseudo-techy. I’ve succeeded. I’ve survived.  I’ve been lied to and I’ve been a confidante. I’ve critiqued, edited, created, built up and torn down, pushed, pleaded, and even sometimes been silent. I’ve raced right into the radar and I’ve stayed under it. I’ve led and followed and done both at the same time. I’ve excelled. I’ve surpassed. I’ve underwhelmed. I’ve wiped sweat from my brow. I’ve torn my jeans. I’ve ruined clothing. I’ve involved my kids. I’ve shared with friends. I’ve moved all over the US. I’ve travelled internationally. I’ve worked. I’ve played. I’ve made lifelong friends. I’ve built relationships.

But no matter where I was, what organization I was working for, what my title morphed into, what my responsibilities were, who liked me, who didn’t like me, what I was doing, or what I wasn’t  – I was always working for a good cause, something I believed in.

I am a nonprofit professional. I work with people who share a passion to make a difference. And for that I will always be grateful.

I love what I do. Philanthropy rocks.

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Your Board and Fundraising

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 | 1 comment

Next week I will be facilitating a 3-hour Board Training workshop in Washington DC. Our focus is on the board’s role in fundraising and how each unique member can be effective in helping with a nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts.

As I’ve prepared for the training, it’s become very apparent to me that many board members don’t see themselves as fundraisers. Even more concerning, they don’t want to be involved in fundraising.

There are differing views on a board member’s role in fundraising for a nonprofit organization, to be sure. But to me, it seems like a no-brainer. Of COURSE they should be involved.

Your nonprofit board is not staff. They are not paid representatives of your organization (typically), but they are a critical part of your organization’s team. They have signed on as ambassadors by agreeing to serve on your board. They have often signed agreements to donate hours, money, resources. If nothing else, they have allowed you to attach their name to your organization. They are important. They are influential. They are key players…and not just in policymaking decision, but in fundraising.

Not every board member is able to donate funds to an organization, although all should be asked. But every board member can help with fundraising in many ways, including the following:

  1. Recommend your organization to their friends and colleagues
  2. Identify their personal and professional circle of influence and recommend potential donors based on their knowledge of the person or organization
  3. Sit on your organization’s development committee
  4. Attend your organization’s events and participate in the storytelling
  5. Attend civic and community events and share your organization’s story
  6. Join the CEO in potential donor visits
  7. And the list goes on….
Signing on as a board member for a nonprofit organization is more than just adding a name to the letterhead, it’s a commitment based on passion for your mission and confidence in your efforts and leadership. It’s not a surprise that many board members don’t think of themselves as fundraisers, not many do. It’s not a role many seek after. But with training and a little information, there is rarely a better fundraiser than a motivated board member. It’s worth the effort.
We can’t expect board members to know how to fundraise, or to even understand their role in fundraising, without providing them some basic training and information. It should be part of every organization’s annual planning retreat.
If you are a board member, you are a fundraiser. You may never have to ASK, but you will always be carrying the message.
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Do Be Do Be Do

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 | 0 comments

I am underwhelmed by a lot of things, including my own organizational abilities at times. But today I am overwhelmed with the to-do list that greeted me so cheerfully this morning with multiple beeps and toots from my MacBook and iPhone. I wanted to holler – “I surrender, you win!! May the sound cloud in the great internet void beep forever, but please PLEASE leave me alone!”

To do lists save me. They are also my worst enemy. I love them and hate them. I follow them and ignore them. I create them and then redo them.

My name is Jean and I am a listmaker. “To do or not to do” that is my question. Daily. Hourly.

And there you have it. I can make lists like no one else. Getting them done is another thing altogether.

What IS it about a list that makes me, a) feel organized, and b) feel overwhelmed, and on occasion, c) feel satisfied? A list, to me, is everything and nothing. It gives me direction (which I often don’t follow). It outlines a plan (which I typically rearrange). It provides structure (which I reject). And there is the crux of the problem…I reject structure.

Lists are structure in outline form. They guide us to a goal (which is probably identified on yet another list). Lists help us prioritize the multitude of lists we have in our minds and on paper and online.

Lists and more lists. They may be the death of me, and that’s simply not an option….soooooo…..

I have come up with the following solution: I have a single list that I work from. It happens to sync between my iPhone and my computer, and I can print it out if I choose. It allows me to check off what’s accomplished, push a task back on the calendar that I can’t get to as hoped, and beeps me everyday (once) to remind me that I have a list.

This list has helped me tremendously. I used to sub-list my lists…you know, school, church, home, business…but now I simply use one list for everything. If I have a dental appointment and need to take information with me, it’s on my list for that day, which might very well be the same day I have a grant proposal due, and a lunch date with an old friend, along with a manicure, and a conference call with a client. EVERYTHING is on the same list.

There are a lot of apps online that do all these wonderful things, and I have used several, I think you have to try them out until you find the one you like best. My favorite was using TASKS on Google Calendar before I bought the Mac…it was simple, showed on my calendar and I liked it.

HOWEVER, since I’ve had my Mac, I’ve realized that there are better, more inclusive apps available…and so I made a list of them. And I searched for a list as well, and found several. If you want to check them out see the list of lists below.

List # 1. 

List # 2.

List # 3. 

List #4.

My go-to list maker for a long time was the simple REMINDERS app. It worked for me. Not too complicated, not too simple. I can schedule by date and time, add recurring dates, edit, alter, move, delete and check off as I so desire. That’s my kind of list.

And then I found AWESOME NOTE (aNote) and my life changed forever. It syncs with Evergreen, my calendar, my Reminders list, my Notes, my – well, you name it, it probably syncs. I don’t know what I would do without it. I can add travel notes (which I used to keep in Notes), journal entries (which I would scribble onto a calendar near my desk), and anything and everything. If you really want to organize your life, I highly recommend aNote. Claim your life back. Dominate the beeps and toots. Take control, and do it with  a good to-do list management system

Now that should give you something to add to your to do list!

As for me…well, Do be do be do!

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