I’m not proud of this, but it’s finally time to admit something…
I’m really crap at using my planner “properly”. What I’m not crap at is DECORATING my planner (can I get an amen?!). Or COLLECTING planners to decorate (can I get another amen?!).
While there’ s certainly nothing wrong with jumping on the creative band wagon when it comes to using planners (get your Pro Pack here, haha), I know that the potential for a planner to change my life in a practical sense is huge. Meal plans. To-do lists. Field trips. Meetings. Photo shoots. Shopping lists. Water consumption (for you planner newbies this is actually a thing!).
I am naturally
disorganized free spirited when it comes to my plans, daily or otherwise, and I haven’t yet come to terms with the effects four children, a small business, and limited rest have had on my ability to remember let alone manage my schedules most efficiently.
Because of this, I usually have a few (really gorgeous) planners circulating in a sea of planner potential calling for me to buckle down and make them more than just a pretty face.
Enter Alexis Giostra: the yin to my yang. The black and white to my color. The order to my chaos. The trenchcoat to my harem pants.
I met Alexis at Southeast Planner Con in Atlanta. Pipsticks had a booth there, I gave a workshop on how to style and photograph your planner, and Alexis was a key speaker presenting on (drum roll please)… functional planning.
That’s right, FUNCTIONAL planning. Known to her groupies as Miss Trenchcoat, in any other scenario I may have been a bit shy about being in the same posse as someone so…put together. But Alexis’s sharp wit and what-you-see-is-what-you-get personality made me want to be her bestie right away.
She puts her money where her mouth is and delivers tons of great information for people trying to get it and/or keep it together. Though she may challenge those of us who use our planners as merely a vehicle for stationery bling, she’s an awesome and dedicated cheer leader that wants to help you succeed above all.
She’s also a YouTube sensation, so you can get to know her too (virtual besties are a close second if you can’t share margaritas in person)! Alexis, you’ve got the mic…
Introduce yourself to our readers!
Hello lovely Pipsticks readers! My name is Alexis Giostra, but I’m known as @MissTrenchcoat all across the internet.
I run my own media company where I create digital content to help you work smarter, not harder! Things like planner inserts, eBooks and productivity courses-all digital of course.
Because of this, I like to call myself a Productivity Guru which basically just means I spend my days thinking a little too much about how I can hack life so I can work less and play more!
Where do you live and work?
I live and work in my little apartment in a wonderful suburb of Philadelphia, PA. One day though, I’ll be living and working from a boat. You can quote me on that!
Where can people find you online?
You can find me and my awesome productivity work online at www.StrangeCharmed.com, YouTube.com/Misstrenchcoat and if you search any social media platform for @MissTrenchcoat, I bet I’ll turn up!
Oh and go ahead and check out my shop www.TheCharmedShop.com if you want to pick up a little something new to help keep you productive or some awesome freebies!!
What are you most passionate about?
Self-confidence. Since I have become a prominent figure in the planner community, I have come to see that there is such a lack of self-confidence out there in the world, particularly with the women who are engaged in this community.
For one reason or another, I happen to be a self-confident person and because of this I am always asked to help people with their self-confidence issues. This is really one of the big reasons I do what I do, because to me, a root issue keeping women from feeling confident is the fact that many of them feel out of control of their lives.
To me, productivity and planning is a way for women to take control of their days and gain the confidence to live their best life.
I love that you’re a talker (imagine me saying that with a Jersey accent). What’s your favorite way to communicate?
Well, I love meeting with people in person but this is 2016 and we all stay in our homes and chat via the internet so I feel like that never really happens anymore. I guess I end up talking to people on the phone or via Skype most often.
In terms of social media communication, I like using YouTube to talk to and share with my audience.
What’s behind your black and white color story?
Well, really my color story is more black and white and TURQUOISE! Turquoise is my favorite color because I’m a March baby and my birthstone is aquamarine and it just so happens to be a female power color as well, which is fab!
The whole black and white fetish is just part of my editorial aesthetic. I love magazines and I love anything that is simple and clean yet bold. Nothing is simpler, cleaner or bolder than black and white!
When did you know you wanted to work for yourself?
Strangely enough, working for myself was never on my to-do list, although friends and family often told me that they saw me running my own business in the future.
I guess the idea first stuck in my mind when I read “4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris. That’s probably when I got the first idea that one day I would like to do my own thing on the internet that paid my bills and gave me geographic freedom.
I’ve always been fascinated by the internet and thought of it as the modern day version of the Wild West! People could go to the internet and discover a fortune! It just took me a few years to really understand what I would do and what an online business would look like for me.
Then one day I struck gold and it all came together in my mind and within a few months I was quitting my corporate Fortune 50 job!
How do you use stickers to help you stay on track (even if they’re yours :))?
I think stickers can be really functional in your planner and that’s the way I like to use them. A sticker with a particular icon on it can represent a specific task in a simpler way than writing the task out on a list.
Plus, stickers are fun and they stand out so I think it has a better visual association to help you remember a task. See, stickers can be productivity tools- I totally believe that!
What’s a challenge in your life?
Usually waking up. Seriously, I think I need a new mattress or I need to start working out because waking up is hard and if I don’t get up early enough it ruins my productivity for the day.
What’s an exciting idea you’ve had recently?
I’m hiring an assistant, finally! That’s the most exciting thing to happen to me in a while!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very young the first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an Egyptologist. I even went to college for art history and took on a minor in ancient art. I was really good at it!
If you had an extra two hours in the day that you had to spend doing something for yourself what would you do?
I would finally nail that whole skincare regimen I’ve been failing at for like my whole life!
Apocalypse is near: last meal?
Maybe a Filet Mignon with scallops in a creme sauce! I made that for dinner last night.
What are you reading?
I do most of my reading via Audible so I usually have a few books going at one time of different genres.
Right now I am re-listening to How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie as my personal development book. I’m listening to Always Hungry? By David Ludwig as my health and wellness book.
Finally, for a fun fictional read, I’m in the middle of an alternate history fiction series by Orson Scott Card called the Tales of Alvin Maker, specifically I’m on the book Heart Fire.
What’s your karaoke song?
What’s NOT my karaoke song?!?
What’s your dirty secret?
One of my great productivity secrets that I think most people would be shocked and appalled by is that I don’t think you should do everything on your to-do list.
I think people do too much and I think if we exercise self-restraint and do less, we will all be happier. I know I’m happier when I don’t do things!
What is your pet peeve?
People who overshare on social media.
Who do you look up to?
Nearly everyone, I’m only 5’1”. Hahahaha! What, not the answer you were looking for? So, I can’t say I really have someone that I want to be like or look up to in the sense that their example guides me.
I think in many ways, what I am doing is something new or at least a new spin on things. I feel like I need to pave my own way, and try as I might to get inspiration from other great leaders and business people, there is no one person who stands out to me.
To compare myself to anyone would result in limiting my own potential.
What quality do you think is most important in a best friend?
Honesty. I think that’s the most important quality in a human being.
If you could give the average planner girl one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t compare yourself or your planner to anyone else. You do you! Plan the way you want, decorate the way you want, have fun and if you get some things done along the way that’s icing on top!
Thanks for hanging out Alexis. I will forever be gleaning bits of productive goodness from your Boss Empire (is that a hashtag yet?!).
If you’re interested in planner inserts that are low on fuss and high on style, you can get Alexis’s planner printables here (I esp love the project planner!)… and if you want to reward yourself for productivity with totally fun, colorful, and arguable unnecessary stickers sign up for our sticker club now! There’s definitely a place in this world for functional AND fun.
Alexis, next time karaoke 😉
ps. Get other great planning inspiration from Jennifer Reyes of My Purpley Life