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A Conversation with the Creator of the Get to Work Book Planner

A Conversation with the Creator of the Get to Work Book Planner

Published by Leona on 12 May, 2021

I was lucky enough to sit down with Elise - the Creator of the Get To Work Book - a Goal Setting Planner designed to help you get things done one day at a time.

We talked about the challenges that we all face in prioritising, getting things done and how to make sure you are working on the right things for you. 

Elise shared her inspiration, what she loves to hear from people who own the Get to Work Book and what she does to get herself in a creative and work-ready mindset.

It was a joyful conversation and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I love getting to know the humans who are creating in this world.

Watch our chat below:

Learn more about the Get to Work Book Goal Setting Planner

The GET TO WORK BOOK® is a favourite amongst the planner addict and goal setting set, simply because it is a practical daily planner and goal setting workbook that guides you through making progress toward your big goals.

Following is the Transcript of the Conversation


Leona: Excellent. Well, good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon. Elise. So guys, today, I've managed to secure some time, with the timezones, with the lovely Elise from Get to Work Book. And so we're gonna have a little conversation just about the creation of it and just a little bit about the story behind the amazing product that we've been stocking for a couple of years now. So thank you so much Elise for joining us.

Elise: Thank you. Yeah. I'm so excited to be here. And you're right, it's not a joke to get timezones right. So I'm glad it's worked out.

Leona: We've managed to do it quite well. I'm pretty proud. I think we'll start off with just if you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Get to Work Book, that would be wonderful.

Elise: So my name is Elise. I live in San Diego, so California in the United States. And I have two daughters. They are seven and five. And almost as long as I've had them, I've had Get to Work Book, which is my planner business. The idea for it started in 2014 but I officially launched in 2015. And it's a planner that has some goal-setting features to it. So I call it a workbook. And we do two different editions. One goes July through June and one goes January through December. And then from Get to Work Book, from the main planner, there's been a lot of different kind of add-on products or notepads and notebooks that have grown out of it. It's been really fun. I mean, I love doing it. It's a planner that I really truly use. And so I love it as a consumer of it as well.

Leona: Yeah. Yeah. I'm a bit of a fan as well. I love it. It was the first goal-setting and weekly planner that I found just kept me focused rather than giving me so many things to do. It was just really clean and easy and yeah, I love it. I love it.

Elise: That's great. I love to hear that. Yeah. I mean, obviously same for me, looking for something that wasn't going to over structure. Right? I think it can be really easy to... Suddenly you're spending all your time just like writing as opposed to doing. So that's good to hear.

Leona: And that is a trap. That's a trap for young players.  You know, over-engineering their week and overthinking, we have a habit to overthink. So having something that can help you just clearly map it out and keep it simple. Get you streamlined.

Elise: I agree. Yeah, for sure.

Leona: So I'm guessing that having the gorgeous children that you have was the inspiration for the Get to Work Book. Having that added responsibility and the added, I mean, we call it mental load, I'm sure that's what they call it in the States, but just having that mental load of parenthood as well. Yeah. So was that the inspiration for it?

Elise: It was definitely part of it, I'm trying to stay organised and having just one place for everything. And then I had done a few different small business projects before. So I had an Etsy shop and I had other things that I sold. And so looking for something that could structure my own small business and my own process was something I struggled to figure out. I always was like piecing together a lot of different things and it wasn't until Get to Work Book when I realised that, Oh, like, goal setting and helping people set goals, that's what the business can become. That's what it can be. So kind of both, all of it together, it all cumulate, came together. Having kids and then trying to figure out like, what is my niche. And what ties it all together.

Leona: Because you're a maker of things, you love to create. And that's one of the things that first drew me to the Get to Work Book and to you as a creator, was the fact that you are very much hands-on, create things. And so you make your own clothes?

Elise: Mm-hmm. Yup.

Leona: I love it. I absolutely love it. 'Cause you share some of the process of doing that. I think there's cross stitch, that's a new one?

Elise: Yes, yes, that's new.

Leona: And you have been creating your own cross stitch!

Elise: Yes, I did. In March, I debuted this cross stitch pattern that like really came to me so fast and was extremely fun. I haven't touched cross-stitch since then but I'm sure it'll come back.

Leona: I think it comes in waves. It's kind of like for me with journaling. Sometimes I journal and then I'm like, okay, enough, so I'll move on to something else and then come back and then get back into it again.

Elise: And I'm always like, it's always gonna be there for you. You know what I mean? Like, you take a break from a hobby but when you come back, it's still there. Like, no, you didn't lose anything.

Leona: And so what are some of the other projects and things you've got going on at the moment?

Elise: Right now, I am really into pottery. I got a pottery wheel for kind of like as a Christmas gift. Yeah. And so that's been really fun to practise, practise throwing again and go through the process. So I'm really interested in that. I always knit, I pick up knitting and back and forth, it depends on the season. I don't have much need for it in San Diego, but I still, I love to knit. It's so fun. And then, kind of a hobby that I hope to get back into is just gardening, just outside, just small veggie garden. I'm like not great at it but I enjoy it a lot.

Leona: I am adept at not keeping plants alive so the only plants that I can keep are these ones that you see here where they're in water.

Elise: Yes. I have a lot of those.

Leona: And still, it's a miracle that that is there. I walk around and I'm like, I created life. Look at this, it's still alive.

Elise: Totally. It looks great.

Leona: It's amazing. Thank you. Thank you. The one plant that I've got on display. The other thing, oh, about the pottery, about the pottery. Do you find... And I think this is probably the same with most crafts and things that you make, is that you don't need a screen to do it. So it must be lovely to disconnect as well.

Elise: Yes. It's not only, not only do not, you can't have a screen for it, but your hands are filthy. So you can't even like take a break to check your phone. You know, like, it's a very set-the-phone-down project. And this whole year has been so challenging, trying to have some sort of schedule and some sort of balance and I've become completely addicted to all the apps and all the news and all the scrolling. And so it's been such a good thing to be able to separate. Yeah. And I can't even watch, I can't even have TV or anything, I'm in my garage. So sometimes I'll have podcasts but a lot of times just music. And my brain is like kind of shutting down, or focused on this and that's been really good.

Leona: Yeah. I think, yeah. I gave a hand building pottery. I should have... I'll show you later. How great they are. When I told my mum I was doing it, she's like, "Oh, great. So you're gonna have a lot of really bad pottery around your house." I'm like, "yeah, yeah. Guess who's getting it for their birthday, Mum".

Elise: There is such a learning curve. It's such a process and it's an art but it's a science.

Leona: But that's where the magic is. Isn't it? Because like it's the process that actually, that draws your focus and gives you that joy. I guess. It's that process as opposed to the outcome. Unlike a lot of things where you're going for an outcome. And with our work, so hobbies are important for the process, I think.

Elise: Yes, definitely.

Leona: Can you share with me one of your favourite customer stories?

Elise: Yes. I love this question. So my favourite... This is just a general first, then I'll do a specific. I love when people go to checkout and they'll say like, this is my fifth year. Like they've been doing it for five years.

I also love when people say, I tried something else last year and now I'm back. Like, I'm always, welcome back. I think finding a planner is so hard and so I get it. I understand wanting to stick with it. I understand trying something else. I'm always like, I'm so glad you're back. It's great to see you.

I have a customer who uses the project breakdown page. So that's a page where you take a big goal and break it up into smaller steps. Yes, exactly. And she uses the notepad and she uses them for her kind of morning meditation. So every day, she writes the day's date and then she goes through and she has figured out a different item that she puts in each box. Like I honestly, it's her thing. It's really hers. But I think it's like something she's grateful for, something that's on her mind. Like it's just a way that she starts her day. Some people call them morning pages, which I don't do. But I love that she does. And so that's an example where we talked about earlier, I like that the planner isn't trying to tell you how to use it. It's like, this is one way, sometimes I say this is how I use it, but I love when people kind of create their own path for it. So that's one of my favourite customer examples.

Leona: I love that. I love that. I love being able to use... Because as you said, planning is so personal and how we organise ourselves is so dependent on what we've got going on, the things in our life, the people in our lives, the needs that we have. And so having something that's not saying, okay, well, this is how you do it. It's just saying, this is a layout that works with however you wanna work. And yeah, create your day kind of thing. I love it.

Elise: Yeah. Yeah. I think, again, we kind of talked earlier. People I think can get caught up with, "Am I using this right?" I hear that a lot. "Is this the right way?" And, trying to like stress there isn't a right way. But I think for some people that can almost be more overwhelming. Right? 'Cause then it's like I have too many, too many ideas. And so again, trying to model, I try to share on the Instagram feed how different people use it in order to give some sort of different right way for you. You're like, Oh, this will work for me. This will work for me. And pulling those up.

Leona: And that's really important. Understanding yourself... I guess it's the concept of constraint, where if you can do anything and you've got a blank piece of paper, you're like, "How do I even get started?" 

Whereas if you've got a layout that allows you to go, "Okay, well, these boxes can be used for this and these boxes can be used for this." And then suddenly you've got some spots and you can create your own. But it's that constraint that Get to Work Book provides every week.

Plus my favourite is at the end of every month there are the Reflect and Reset pages. I just think they're so important. And the fact... Yeah, I love that from that you created your Big Dreams Daily Joys journal from that concept.

Elise: Yes, the journal.

Leona: Which we stock as well.

Elise: Oh, good, good. Yes. Yay! Yeah. I love this. It's that same... In the planner, of course you have it as a monthly format and then in the journal, it's weekly. And so there is a chance... And I do both, I personally use both. Because when you scale down to a week, you always have different things then that end up being important at the month. Right?

And I've just found that so much of goal setting has to do with reflection. It has to do with like, where am I at? Where did I come from? Like this past couple of weeks, how has this felt? And then where do I wanna go from here? Like if I don't do that reflection, my goal setting feels kind of abstract or it feels like influenced by other people. It helps if I do that personal.

Leona: Yeah. I find, yeah, reflecting each week gives you... How often do we just have things coming at us from everywhere, all the time, and it's becoming more intense especially with the last couple of years. Like it hasn't been easy for anyone to manage. Yeah. The additional world of a pandemic on top of everything else.

So I find that reflection is really the only way that you can find what you did well and choose to do more of that. And make conscious intentional choices. 'Cause without reflection, you're not, you can't really... It's kind of like analysis. You're analysing the week before to understand what, and make conscious intentional choices for the following couple of weeks.

Elise: Yeah, for sure. I think if we don't do it, we can end up continually setting goals that we don't reach, or continually having extreme expectations. And something I talk about in the journal and try to stress is just like, not making your check-in, not making your reflection, this emotional, sad. Some people are like, I got nothing done. And then they have this like almost guilt and they feel bad trying for the next week. And I'm always like, it's just information. So if you wanted to run five times last week and you ran zero times. Then this goal, this week, maybe you wanna run once. You wanna get outside one time. And so trying to use it to just like set your expectation instead of being continually feeling like we're failing ourselves.

Leona: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's how you build confidence in yourself, is through the tiny steps. And once you have that confidence, then you can kind of do anything. Once you understand what realistically you can do in a week, that's when you understand how to set goals that you can achieve.

Elise: Yes, exactly.

And I think it's just, it's practise it's practise setting goals and seeing them succeed or it's practise coming up with a really big idea and then executing. And so the next, and even when you talk about, you can talk about this a lot. When you fail, you still gain so much information. Like you still learn so much about maybe why it failed or for you, I'm sure there's plenty of products that you stock that you end up having to really mark down, and then you learn, you're like, "Okay, that's not gonna click." "That's not what they want right now." And so it is good information even when it's, oh, so frustrating.

Leona: I feel like people tie their value as a human so closely to what they achieved and it's really, yeah. It makes me sad because so much of our work is nothing to do with we achieve.

Elise: Right.

Leona: But at the same time, using a process or using incremental steps to achieve something is more about taking time and understanding yourself and understanding what you're wanting. Yeah. I really, really kind of believe and it's taken me a long time to unhook from having my worth tied to what I achieved, but getting there, it's still in progress.

Elise: That's all we can do, you know?

Leona: Yeah. That's exactly right. So tell me about your working life. What's the first thing you do when you sit down in your workspace? How do you clear your head, get yourself ready?

Elise: Yes. So this past year is a bad example. My kids have been home, and if you kind of hear them in the background, they're actually home today. But so I've really struggled because I recognised this... I always sort of knew but I think this year, I recognised even more how valuable large stretches of time were. And I used to have, my kids went to school and I had childcare. So piecing it together has been difficult this year.

But I still know that a lot of what really helps me feel set for the day is to visually clear. So clear my desk, just the act of putting things away is so helpful and gets me in the right framework. And then clearing my email. So I only do my email, I check my email, I respond to email at my desk. And making sure that I start a workday with that email either cleared or very close to clear. Maybe sometimes I'm thinking about something that I can't respond. But those are two steps, that clear desk and that clear email. And then I feel like I can kind of take a deep breath and start. Which is good.

Leona: That's a really great... I leave my emails for lunchtime and I probably shouldn't. Because I tend to, and I've started recognising in myself, that I'm thinking about them.

Elise: Yeah. And I find that sometimes... So I struggled to look at them and then yeah, I think about them. But if I don't look and I don't know what's there, that can also be stressful. Right? Like for me, 'cause you're like, what is there? Yeah. I wish I could wait until lunch but I think I would worry what's happening.

Leona: Yeah. Well, you're taking it off your plate really, you're taking it off your mental plate. But yeah. Excellent. And what can you... Whenever you're getting into your crafting - your making mindset, what can you not do without?

Elise: I think I like to... I guess part of, because of how I work, right now, just being busy, with the kids here and work, I try to really batch, even my hobbies. Like even my fun craft things. I still like to think like, okay, today I'm, for selling, for example, like today I'm going to cut out my pattern. And like, that's it. I'm just gonna try to get that done. Or with pottery, it's like, today I want to throw six little bowls or whatever.

So I like to set a little mini goal, even for my fun and stuff, because it kind of gives me something I'm working towards. And then I also have like a stopping point and I'm not just stretching. So I like to have it. And sometimes it's written down, sometimes it's just in my head, but I like to have kind of like a, what am I trying to do today?

Leona: Yeah. Yeah. I think within, and again, it's that constraint, within every bit of freedom, there has to be structure. And I'm a big believer in that. And I suppose that's why I love planning and I love stationery and I love all this. Because it's through that structure of your planner and setting up your day that you're able to have the freedom to be creative.

Elise: Exactly. Yeah. I think, you said it earlier, when you have that framework or you... A blank piece of paper is so overwhelming. For me, it's like a weekend of no plan at all. It's almost like, hah, I feel like I could get almost, I'm like, what should I do? How do I relax into that? I'm better to build something into it. Some sort of framework into it. Otherwise it can feel like too much sometimes.

Leona: Yep. And also I find that if I don't have some kind of constraint around, especially relax time, I feel unproductive at the end of it.

Elise: I know. I know.

Leona: And I think that because I don't necessarily say, for three hours, I'm going to watch TV. So I'll find myself watching TV for probably four or five hours. And then I'll feel guilty.

Elise: Right and if you knew that like Friday afternoons, or that you knew you needed a midweek Wednesday afternoon. If you gave yourself that time, then it could be enjoyed with so much less guilt. You know?

Leona: Yeah. That's exactly right. And we shouldn't feel guilty for relaxing.

- Okay - So I have a little quiz that I like to do, which is a one or the other.

Elise: Perfect.

Leona: So this little quiz is a one or the other. So I'm just gonna run through them and answer quickly. And if you would like to expand on anything, let me know.

Leona: Digital or analogue?

Elise: Definitely analogue.

Leona: I knew you were gonna say that. Early or late?

Elise: Early, for sure.

Leona: Quiet or noisy?

Elise: Definitely quiet.

Leona: Inside or outside?

Elise: Ahh, I wanna say outside, I feel like that's a right answer, but the truth is inside, the truth is inside.

Leona: Are you a hard cover or a soft cover girl?

Elise: I think I am hardcover.

Leona: Introvert or extrovert?

Elise: Definitely introvert. I can fake it, but I'm an introvert.

Leona: Pen or pencil?

Elise: Pen, for sure.

Leona: And the most important one is coffee or tea? Or neither?

Elise: Definitely coffee.

Elise: Did we match up on all those?

Leona: Most of the them, yes. I think I'm a soft cover, for the most part. 'Cause I'm a fidgeter, so I love to like bend my notebook, which is probably not the best thing for them. And I'm a definite pen girl. All the way.

Elise: Pen, for sure, yeah. Even like when it means that my book is all crossed out instead of like erase. It's still, pen is it. And I try to not, we didn't talk about this, but I know that some people can really struggle with a new notebook or a new planner. 'Cause you're like, oh, I don't wanna ruin it. And I'm just like you have to, even like tear that first page, like do something to get over the guilt of starting it.

Leona: Yeah. That's exactly right. One of the things I wanted to tell you, before we head off, is how much there was one thing that you do that I have found works so well for me. And I'd never even contemplated it before. And it's such a simple thing, which is when you completed something, to highlight it, as opposed to crossing it out.

Elise: Oh, yes. This is my current work planner and if you look, it's all like yellow, yellow highlight, highlight, highlight.

Leona: I love it. How often do you cross something out and then you're like, oh, what was that? You can't read it because you crossed it out. But if you highlight, then your page is full of colour, and there's just some kind of psychological win for you, having, seeing all that colour on the page and being like, yeah, I did that.

Elise: That's my favourite thing that people tell me that they do now. And I just love it. I love to hear that. So that's great.

Leona: I'm an advocate for it. Naturally, I tell people it was my idea.

Elise: Right. I don't care. As long as, the more people that do it, the better.

Leona: Excellent. I just want to say thank you so much.

It's been such a pure joy to talk with you and to go through all of this with you and talk about where the Get to Work Book and the Big Dreams Daily Joys journal comes from and to understand a bit about your life and the life of a maker and a creator. So it's been really beautiful.

Elise: Thank you. Such a pleasure. I'm really glad this worked out and I'm so glad that in Australia, people like Get to Work Book. That's great.

Leona: They love it. They love it. I start getting emails in about February from eager customers and then also in early, early October. Yeah. they adore it. And I also get that feedback you mentioned before - You know - this is my third year, this is my fourth year, I love it, I'm so glad to find someone in Australia... All of that.

Elise: Yes. Good. That's so awesome.

Leona: Thank you so much Elise for your time and we'll see you soon.

Elise: Thank you.

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