Best Self

It’s that time of year again….the time when your social media feeds are full of resolutions, motivational quotes, and targeted ads for your local fitness center.


I’m proud to say that regardless of the date, I am constantly a work in progress, a forever student, a self-improvement junkie.

Creative brains, in particular, tend to struggle a bit with productivity, motivation to do non-creative things (and sometimes even creative things), and the ability to complete projects. I spend a good amount of time every year mentoring other creative professionals and helping them to create a schedule that works for them and for their bank account. My inbox is generally full of inquiries from other entrepreneurs in search of direction, as they’ve taken notice to my high-performing ways (probably because I won’t shut up about nerdy productivity and day planning things…but whatever, I preach my passion, yo!).

As 2018 has come to an end, there’s been a surge of questions about my day planning techniques and how to be more productive, so I decided to do two things!

FIRST::: The release of my next educational guide: Kara Marie’s Guide to Productivity for Creative Professionals 

This 28 page guide gives you actionable, bullet-point, easy-to-follow instructions for creating a productive day for yourself, allowing you to achieve the most in the least amount of time and stress, therefore maximizing effectiveness and profit while minimizing anxiousness and frustration. Complete with links to free and additional productivity resources, workbook pages, and chock full of information with no fluff, this is the perfect productivity manual for entrepreneurs and creative professionals. I intended for it to be a quick 5 page list of tips, but it turned out to be a full-fledged manual in true Kara Marie fashion. Download your copy for $25 to start your year off right!

SECOND: A detailed breakdown of my favorite planning tool, the BestSELF journal. Now, full disclosure here, I am a brand ambassador for the Best Self company…which means, if you take my advice and buy any of the products on their website using my code KARAMARIE, I’ll earn free Best Self products. Which is cool for me because I USE THE HELL OUT OF MY BEST SELF JOURNALS. I would never publicly attach my name to something I didn’t already use and adore. And it’s cool for you, too, because you’ll get 15% off with my code KARAMARIE and for every order, they donate 10 meals to families in need. Win win win.

Pictured: BestSELF journal with Self Shield in Natural Leather

Pictured: BestSELF journal with Self Shield in Natural Leather

Now, back to this sexy beast of a day planner slash note taker slash gratitude journal slash goal slayer.

This is a planner meant to be used every day for 13 weeks. It is broken down into sections for GOALS, a Weekly outlook/planner, and a daily planner. Also included are sections for notes and a monthly calendar. Since I’ve been broadcasting my love for this planner on my social media platforms, so many of you have reached out to ask how I use mine, so I thought I’d break it down!



One of the most poignant parts of this planner is the 13-week goal road map. This section guides you to write down your big goals—ones that take a little more time, ones that have many steps to completion, ones that…if you’re a creative brain, you may have a hard time wrapping up. You write down your big goals and then write out 3 main progress goals for the big goal, and then further break that down into 3 tasks you need to complete in order to achieve each progress goal. Breaking these big goals down into bite-sized chunks, and then working towards them every single day is HUGE.

In my photo example, I show the page from my own journal, detailing my goal of getting my first book published. Being able to reference this page every single day forces me to actively work towards this goal and complete it by the time I reach the end of this 13 week journal.



The weekly outlook is a spectacular tool to give you a bird’s eye view of your week’s appointments, your top weekly milestones, and to list and track your daily habits that you aspire to complete every day. In this section,

I start with listing my appointments on the left— remember, there’s a more detailed section for daily tasks, so this just needs to be an overview.

On the right-hand page in the habits section, I list out all of the habits that I WANT/NEED to achieve every day. I’m always working on my daily routine, and use this section to work on things that I have a hard time making habitual —which is generally on the personal end of the spectrum. Things like “exercise” and “no phones past 7pm” are on this list. Then, each evening when I’m doing my daily reflection, I check off the habits if I did them, and total them at the end of the week.

The weekly overview also guides you to think about your 3 big wins for the week, what you can improve upon next week, and what your biggest lesson was.



Ahhhh the juicy bits. The daily planning is what really changed my habits and routines. Every single morning when I arrive to my studio, I pour myself a cup of hot somethin’ somethin’, light a stick of my favorite incense, and crack open the day’s breakdown in this section. There are certain things that are constant, such as the time I wake up, commute time, and bed time. The rest of the spaces are for me to fill in with how my day is going to go down, hour by hour. I give lots of tips in my Productivity Guide on how to structure your day the most effectively based on energy levels and types of tasks, so I won’t get into that too much here, but the point is— I have a roadmap every single day of what I have going on.

In the notes portion, I tend to scribble things, doodle, write notes, and smaller to-do tasks that need completed. I keep this page open to the left of my keyboard (I’m a leftie. Put it to the right if you’re right-handed), so that if I’m working on a task and my squirrel brain thinks of something else I have to do, I can jot it down quickly, and continue on with the task at hand without switching gears.

On the right page, the planner guides you to write down your big goals for the day, and gives you a daily quote that always seems to be exactly what you need to hear. The lower portion of the right page comes later on, during reflection time.

At the end of every day during my nightly routine, I pull out my BestSELF journal again, record my wins for the day, what I’m grateful for, and my biggest lesson learned for the day. If my brain is swirling with lists of things I have to do tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and flip ahead to the next day and write those out. I call this BRAIN DUMP. Getting all those “what I have to do tomorrow” tasks out of my head and onto paper frees me from them until tomorrow, so I can turn my brain off, and go the hell to sleep.


I’m currently on my 7th…SEV-UNTH BestSELF journal. They’re beat up, scribbled on, tattered, torn, stained with coffee, and considered my prized possessions. I finally wised-up and ordered the leather cover and started getting the set of 4 journals, because despite my inability to ever commit to a journal or a planner in the past, THIS planner has STUCK.

I’m obsessed and I’ve gotten so many of my friends, colleagues, mentorship students, and family members obsessed with them, too. It’s not a magic pill, you obviously still have to do the work, it just makes it a whole lot easier to see what you have to do, to break it down so you aren’t overwhelmed, and to encourage you along the way.


Four Sigmatic Reishi Hot Cacao- Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like mushrooms. I ADORE Four Sigmatic products, no affiliation, just adoration. The Reishi Hot Cacao is an easy instant mix that you blend into just 3oz of hot water. Drink this rich elixir at bedtime and find yourself instantly calm and zen like. It’s magical, really.  Another product of note is Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee with Lion’s Mane and Chaga for your work day.  I know it sounds hippie-dippy and ridiculous, but it’s quite tasty (doesn’t taste like mushrooms, either), and the lion’s mane and chaga promote focus and lift brain fog. 

Iconosquare - App for Instagram scheduling! This tool allows you to map out your social media posts in advance to save you time and frustration. - Outsource like a boss. Jen Swedhin of Jen Gets Shit Done is the master of taking on allllll the tasks. Her team specializes in workflows, websites, retouching, and more. 

Tim Ferriss’ TOOLS OF TITANS and TRIBE OF MENTORS- Probably the thickest books you will own, but absolutely incredible information from the top performers across all industries, their routines, their advice, and thousands of motivational nuggets of wisdom to help you along your journey to being a top performer.

TextExpander- This is that nifty program I was telling you about that allow you to assign keyboard shortcuts to anything you want. Email templates, your most commonly typed out information like phone number/email address, social media responses, hashtags, the sky is the limit! TextExpander has rocked my world. To clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from all the junk you subscribed to.

Now go forth and be productive!!! Wishing you all the best in your achievements for 2019!


Kara Marie