We love the month of September because we feel refreshed and motivated to jump back into a productive schedule. Of course staying on task between work, kids, and everything else takes a lot of preparation and organization, which is why we were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to the queen of scheduling and goal planning, Erin Condren.

Erin’s LifePlanners have changed the lives of many students and professionals by keeping them motivated to reach their goals with brightly colored tabs and stickers that actually make you look forward to your next meeting or class. Created to help you celebrate each day – rather than dread your to-do’s –  the LifePlanner has made writing down goals with a pen (instead of typing them) cool again!

After leaving the corporate world to be a mom to her twins, Erin launched her business in 2007 out of her house. In her first year of business she sold 1,000 LifePlanners, and now her company does millions in sales annually. So incredible! Read on below for her full story and for her amazing organization tips for kicking off the fall on a productive note!

We’re so excited to be chatting with you as we approach back to school season! With many planners resetting in August, it feels like the perfect time for a fresh start and to set new goals. Your LifePlanner is designed to help women to get organized and accomplish their goals. Tell us a little about how the design and structure of the planner work and how we can best use the planner to accomplish our end of year goals. 

EC: The LifePlanner was designed to truly transform tasks and to-dos into something you wanted to do rather than something you felt like you had to do. I wanted to create a space where you could be inspired and recharged! By combining the function of a calendar with the fashion of on-trend designs and the fun of decorative stickers and inspirational quotes, the LifePlanner becomes a place where you don’t just schedule each day, but celebrate each day! The customization & personalization options we offer allow our customers to truly tailor the planner to fit their style & schedule.

It seems like sometimes the hardest part about goal-setting and planning is the first step of writing down thoughts and figuring out what to prioritize in our busy lives. What is your advice for someone looking to set goals but unsure of where to start?

EC: You’re 42% more likely to achieve a goal just by writing it down! My advice for anyone new to planning is to simply try putting pen to paper. It’s easy to look on Instagram and get overwhelmed by gorgeous planner spreads with stickers and calligraphy, but at the end of the day it’s really about setting yourself up to succeed. Start by writing down things you need to get done and things you want to get done. Make a to-do list and just see what you can accomplish. I guarantee you’ll surprise yourself by how you respond.

We totally identify with the need to write down our to-do lists and plans as opposed to using only digital platforms. Why do you feel like the written notebook concept has resonated with so many people in this digital age?

EC: The first LifePlanner launched the same year as the first version of the iPhone and trust me, the irony was not lost on me. Everyone told me the future was digital, but I truly believe in the power of paper and writing things down. I have always been a lover of lists and I think there is value in physically putting pen to paper; it’s tactile and there’s research that shows it increases productivity. It’s incredible to see how that gamble has paid off. Today we’re seeing millennials with “scroll fatigue” getting tired of the glass screens and reaching for a pen. It’s really inspiring to see a resurgence in appreciation for this kind of “old school” planning. I’m so excited to introduce even more generations to the benefits of paper planning.

You left the corporate world after becoming a mother to twins, which is a move that so many women can relate to. You essentially created a job that worked for your schedule and being a new mom. For our readers who might be looking to launch a new career from home, what advice would you give them?

EC: Surround yourself with people who support you, both personally and professionally. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my husband and the rest of my family. He took our twins to “mommy and me” so that I could spend time printing, collating and designing my initial product. He has always supported my ideas and dreams and for that I am eternally grateful. I also have the best business partner and team who keep me grounded and have helped shape the direction of the business exponentially. I believe that you need a healthy work-life balance to keep you sane and that allowing yourself some personal time ultimately makes you better at your job, so I would advise any aspiring entrepreneur to give yourself a break when you need it! My mantra is “let’s get it done so we can have some fun!” and I truly believe that.

You went from selling 1,000 LifePlanners in your first year of business (2007) and now you’re doing millions in sales annually. So incredible! What key business moments/decisions do you attribute to this growth and success

EC: I think assembling the right team and being able to relinquish control were key breakthroughs for me. It has been quite a journey from “little ol’ me” back in 2005 to my current team. In building a team, I look for people who share an enthusiasm for the product and understand my vision, but also are able to challenge me and tell me “no!” when I need to hear it. It’s wild to think we now have 200+ employees between our L.A. and Austin offices. Thankfully, I am surrounded by a talented team of managers and executives that can focus on the operation while I direct my creative vision towards new products and marketing.

Your LifePlanners and notebooks are empowering women of all ages to take hold of their schedule and even larger than that, to accomplish their dreams. Did you ever imagine that your products could be so impactful on the lives of others?

EC: I’m frequently asked what my favorite part of my job is, and this is absolutely it. I designed the LifePlanner to fill that white space on the market that I didn’t believe existed; I wanted to get organized, but I also wanted to be inspired and remain inspired. I just cry when I hear stories of customers who have used their LifePlanner to do remarkable things: beat cancer, lose 100 pounds, get into college, save for a house…it’s such a special thing to get to share. It has surpassed all of my wildest dreams and is something I am so proud of.

Your beautiful notebooks can be seen all over Instagram and social media. Once Instagram took off in 2010/2011, did you immediately know to prioritize the platform and influencer marketing for your business?

EC: I wish I could say YES, of course i knew! The reality is that I’m STILL learning more about the nuances of social media each day! I’m lucky to have an incredible marketing team to help navigate these waters as we explore working more closely with influencers and brand ambassadors, really honing in on this #ECsquad of ours and spreading the message to planners around the world! I’ve seen the power of one-to-one relationships over the course of this journey and I truly believe that developing relationships with influencers will help us connect with more member of the community and continue to grow the brand.

In 2015 you opened a distribution center in Austin. As Texans, we have to ask, how did you make the decision to expand here?

EC: Well everything’s bigger in Texas, right!? As we continued to scale our business, we quickly outgrew our Los Angeles distribution center and had the opportunity to relocate to a state-of-the-art facility that was much larger and had more growth potential. Texas has always been a strong community of core EC customers and it was a natural transition to move production out here as well as open our flagship retail store at Domaine NORTHside in 2017. It’s so impactful to have that brick-and-mortar experience, to flip through the pages of the LifePlanner, see the vibrant colors in person and really have that full engagement with the product. Texas has truly become my second home and it feels wonderful to put down roots. I’m so excited to be a part of this Texas community- y’all really have captured my heart!

What is your personal goal planning and list making strategy on a daily / weekly basis? 

EC: I know that personally I’m my most productive self when I go in with a plan. I rely on my LifePlanner to stay organized so I make a point to carve out time on Sundays to make a game plan going into the week; this way I know not only what meetings and deadlines I have, but also what my kids’ and husband’s schedules look like too. I encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed or simply looking to be more productive in the new year to try using a planner — I know that I would be completely lost without mine!

As the mother of two, and an expert planner, what are your time management tips for other moms who are juggling work and motherhood?

EC: I have to be honest; it’s not easy! Juggling work and family is something we can all relate to. For me, it’s important to really set clear boundaries and timelines for when I’m “off limits.” If I’m going to my son’s water polo tournament over the weekend, that’s the priority. By clearly delineating when I put my “mom” hat on, I can really go all in on that role, as opposed to trying to do both simultaneously. Setting those boundaries and accepting that you can’t do it all, at least not at once, is crucial.

Where do you see your brand in the next 5 to 10 years? Do you see the growing digital space as a threat or do you feel like print and digital worlds can continue to coexist?

EC: I’m so excited for the evolution and growth of this brand! What we’ve achieved in the past couple years has been amazing and looking forward, I’m so charged and excited for the future. We’re navigating a digital world and thriving. I think that ironically enough, the excitement around paper planning is because of this digital environment we live in, so I don’t view it as being directly competitive but more as a complement. Just because you use a digital app doesn’t mean you won’t love a LifePlanner and vice versa! We are always trying to create new ways to improve our products, develop new ones and really listen to the community that supports us so much. I think the next 5 to 10 years you’ll see us exploring partnerships and collaborating with likeminded brands to reach a larger global audience, as well as continuing to open more retail locations around the world. Stay tuned!

Be sure to check out all of Erin’s beautiful planners, journals, stationery and other amazing products on ErinCondren.com! If you have any additional questions for Erin please leave them in the comments below!