Get Your Life Together for 2019 Ft. Ink + Volt
Looking to get your life together for 2019? Well look no further because in this video we give you tips and a solid foundation to help you achieve your goals with Ink+Volt.
Sure, this year you could buy another planner that you’ll write in once or twice and never pick up again, or you could invest in a planner that actually inspires you to think, organize, plan, and reflect so that you feel compelled to use it consistently. That’s exactly what we’ve found the Volt Signature Planner achieves.
We were lucky enough to chat with Kate Frachon, Brand Manager at Ink+Volt to learn more about the company, her tips on planning effectively, and what sets them a part from other productivity brands. Read her interview below.
Make sure to download their free planning worksheets here, and if you can, snag a planner of your own! We truly stand behind them.
Q - Could you tell us a bit about the birth of Ink + Volt in 2014?
A - Ink+Volt started as a Kickstarter. Our founder Kate Matsudaira had been envisioning her perfect notebook for years, and after trying basically everything on the market, she decided to design her own. She was looking for a balance of functionality and modern, sleek design, with a focus on doing important work (rather than just getting more done every day).
In order to do a small print run for her planner design, she needed $14,000, so that was the Kickstarter goal. She met that goal in one day and went on to raise $138,000. She knew she had a hit on her hands! The next year, she did another Kickstarter and raised $460,000.
Ink+Volt evolved over the next few years into its own independent business, with multiple products including the planners, a meeting notes pad, a gratitude journal, and much more, in addition to selling a collection of products from other creators.
Q - What separates your notebooks and planners from other popular brands on the market?
A. Our planners are about more than just getting things done. Our goal is to make people more successful, which means accomplishing more of their goals and doing more of the work that really matters.
Our planners are focused on goals -- users set a yearly theme and big yearly goals, and then every month there is a check-in page for people to set monthly goals and make sure they are making progress on their yearly goals.
Every week is broken down into daily time blocks -- morning, noon, and night -- because we believe in making time to do deep, focused work every day. Scheduling yourself down into hourly increments rarely works and usually sets you up to be a slave to your calendar, as opposed to being in control of the work you do and being proactive about working on the things that will truly move you forward.
Q - Do you believe there are any benefits to using traditional notebooks instead of mobile note-taking apps?
A - Absolutely! Studies have shown that people who take handwritten notes on paper have far superior retention to people who take notes on a computer. There is definitely a connection between writing by hand and a deeper understanding of the things you write.
When it comes to your planner and your weekly schedule, writing by hand is a way to take your plans more seriously. With digital, you can erase and start over as much as you want; with a paper planner, you have to really think about what you want to write and then give it the space it needs on the paper.
For many of our customers, writing in their Ink+Volt Planner is a weekly ritual that they do on Sunday night. It’s a time to get in tune with their goals and the week ahead, and to set themselves up for success by zeroing in on what matters most.
Q - We think one of the most challenging parts of using a planner is remembering to write in it each day. Do you have any tips to help people stay consistent with their planners?
A - Our planners are small enough to throw in your bag and carry with you all day long; having it with you all the time, of course, is an easy way to keep your planner on your mind
If you’re new to using a planner, you can set up a digital reminder on your phone to check in with your planner throughout the day until it becomes a habit. It also helps if you really commit to using the planner -- by filling out your goals, your yearly theme, etc -- because then there is incentive to check on these big picture goals throughout the week to make sure you are on track.
Q - Just how important is it to use the weekly and monthly features of a planner? Is it enough to plan out your days one at a time?
A - Planning one day at a time is kind of like flying by the seat of your pants. There will always be more work to do -- it is up to you to make sure that you aren’t just being reactive, and that you are actively choosing what you should be working on each day.
The best way to know what you should be doing every day is to know where you want to be going in the big picture. If you know your yearly and monthly goals, you can easily weigh your possible daily tasks against those goals and ask: will this help me make progress towards those important goals?
If the answer is no, then you can do your best to refocus or delegate those tasks out. If you’re only working one day at a time, you’ll never know if you’re headed in the right big picture direction.
Q - Ink+Volt planners include several questions throughout their pages that compel you to dream and reflect. We are firm believers in asking the right questions. How important is it to include these types of questions when designing the planners and journals?
A - The day-to-day grind can be very overwhelming; we believe it’s important to take a step back regularly to think big and reflect on what you are doing every day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to just be “busy” and not actually making progress towards what really matters to you.
Q - What has your team learned about yourselves in creating these productivity tools for others? Do you all use the Ink+Volt systems? Did some people go from never using a planner to using one every day?
A - As far as I know, we all use the Ink+Volt Planner! I was not a planner person before working at Ink+Volt -- I actually helped Kate test out early iterations of the planner for the first Kickstarter, and it was hard for me to tell her what I liked/didn’t like because I didn’t have much of a planner framework!
However, the system really works for me -- and I think it works for a lot of traditionally “non-planner” people, because it is less structured than other ones on the market. Instead of feeling forced into this hour-by-hour format (which my days rarely follow), you instead think about your big picture goals, which can be about anything from work to personal goals.
Then you plan out these flexible days that are all about getting 1-2 really important things done, and then letting all the other work fall into place around it.
I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but I know I have learned the importance of writing about my goals -- not just writing them down, but getting into the journaling questions about why each goal is important to me -- really helps them to stick in my mind and become more real.
Q - We love your guys’ Instagram -- it’s a mix of gorgeous imagery, thought-provoking quotes, and blog excerpts. What is Ink+Volt’s goal when using social media platforms? How did you guys come up with the concept and aesthetic of your feed?
A - Our goal is really just to connect with our users. We have always believed in sharing as much knowledge and help as we possibly can, so we try to answer every person who connects with us on social media and help them with any questions they ask.
The aesthetic of our social media has developed over time as our branding has evolved, but the design that inspired our planner -- sleek, modern, minimal, striking -- has always been at the heart of it. And we always love a good flat-lay. :)
Q - Being a female business owner is such an inspiration but not without challenges, I’m sure. What advice does Kate Matsudaira give to other women looking to turn their passions into businesses?
A - One key idea for Kate in developing Ink+Volt was to do as many small, free experiments as she could before diving in all the way.
For example, the Ink+Volt Kickstarter didn’t just happen.
First, she wrote a blog post explaining her idea for the planner. That was free. Then when that got such a big response, she set up a signup box on her website so that people interested in the planner could get updates. Also free. Then she started designing some planner pages and sharing them, and getting feedback from her readers. This took time and she got help from a designer friend, but again, low-cost investment.
All that is to say: she vetted the idea a ton before investing the time and money in launching a serious Kickstarter, and again did multiple Kickstarters before deciding to launch Ink+Volt as a business.
Another key idea for Kate is that pursuing your passion is not always a good idea. Just because you love something does not mean it will be a successful business.
It is better to have a successful business that allows you to live a good life, than to pursue your passion to the point of constant stress and anxiety. Just because you are passionate about something does not mean other people will want to invest or support it. The author Cal Newport talks a lot about this idea -- in order to be successful, you need something unique and valuable to other people.
Be open to the idea that your business might evolve and change -- possibly away from the thing you are actually interested in.
Do as much customer and market research as you can and be flexible. If your passion is not something that people seem interested in supporting or paying for, it might be better left as a passion that you can still enjoy in your personal life. Pursue the ideas that seem to be resonating with people and seek out feedback regularly to help you stay in tune.
Q - Who would you invite (dead or alive) to your dinner party?
A - Barack and Michelle Obama, Jenny Holzer, Oprah Winfrey, Lindy West.