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The Practically Perfect Planner: Determining the Right Planner(s) for You

10 Jan


For more years than I care to count, I had the messiest planner on the planet. (That achievement did not earn me a single award, however—unless you count ongoing confusion.) I had arrows and scratch outs, pieces of paper stuffed in every corner, schedules taped in the back and reminder notices clipped to pages. It was no wonder I really couldn’t find anything when I needed it or that I ended up missing appointments and other important deadlines.

Then, suddenly, I realized something. I played many roles in my life: wife, mother and daughter, full-time freelance writer and author, friend, and volunteer. Why in the world did I think that I could keep all of the details that went with each of these in the same planner? I needed separate planners! Since then, I have developed four that I use on a daily basis:

  • Family: This planner has large pages for the month as a whole, plus individual pages for the days of the month. I use separate columns for everyone in my family. I put their names at the top of each column and under them; I keep track of appointments, class and job schedules, and upcoming plans. I keep a schedule of current classes taped in back so I don’t forget which child needs to be in which class on which day and time. Other important papers go in folders as well, such as tickets, invitations, and appointment cards for upcoming dentist or doctor’s visits.
  • Work: My work planner is much different. I use it to keep track of upcoming deadlines on articles, steps involved in writing books, interviews that I am either giving or receiving and more. The days are broken down into individual hours so I can map out each portion of my work day. The back area is used for editors’ contact information,
  • Purse: I keep a small planner in my purse with the bare bones of info in it, such as emergency numbers and major activities coming up. This way, when I run into friends at the local thrift store and they say, “HEY! Let’s have coffee on Friday,” I can quickly check my planner to see if that day is free and if so, what time.
  • Me: I also have a personal ME planner that is designed to be more like a diary or journal than anything else. This is for concerns, questions, worries, reminders—and just thoughts I don’t want to lose.

Along with these planners, I also encourage each of my kids to use an academic planner to help keep track of their own assignments and plans.

Wait a minute. What did I just hear? Oh, that was you. Something muttered under your breath about, “Who has the time … ”  or “Four planners means four times more effort” … (You thought I couldn’t hear you, didn’t you?)

I completely understand your concerns, but what you will find, after a little period of trial and error, is that these planners will actually save you time, rather than take it. By keeping all of your relevant information in a central location, you don’t spent minutes scrambling to find papers, contact information, dates, times or other always-seems-hard-to-put-your-finger-on details. You don’t drive to the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t miss an appointment and then have to find another open time period to reschedule it. Best of all, you simply won’t FORGET stuff—and that is one of the biggest time wasters of all.

What is the practically perfect planner for you? Consider the fact that it simply may be more than one.  Take a moment to write down what qualities you want in a planner and then start searching for the one that fits that list best. If you’re like me, you may find that multiple planners will keep you more organized than you ever thought possible!

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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10 Fun and Quirky Upcycling Ideas for Last Year’s Planner

3 Jan

Most people stick their old planner on a shelf, wait a couple of years, and then toss it out. If that works for you, go for it! But if you want to try something different with last year’s planner, consider one of these 10 suggestions – all with minimal DIY know-how required.

  1. File it. Okay, so some people do need to file their old planners. Before you do, though, make it useful. Label the spine with the year. Mark pages that had important events or critical phone numbers. Make it navigable before you stick it on that shelf, and it’s more likely you’ll actually reference it in 2012.
  2. Make a secret box.Love the pretty cover of your 2011 planner? Use it! Flip open the front cover. With a straightedge and a pen, measure out a square on the first page of your 2011 planner leaving at least a half-inch margin the whole way around. Use a razor or X-Acto knife to cut out the square (through all the pages).
    Planner party decor.

    #3: Planner party decor.

    You now have a secret trinket box that will look pretty on your desk or nightstand.

  3. Planner party decor. Coat the pages with colorful or glittery paint. Once dry, shred and use as confetti.
  4. Gaze at your year as a decorative paper wreath. Follow this simple Book Page Wreath Tutorial with your planner pages to create chic decor out of 2011.
  5. Day planner to art journal conversion.Without having to rip, cut, or shred the pages, your planner can be the base for a fabulous art journal. Create works of art on each page using images from magazines, stamps, paint, decoupage, or whatever your preferred medium.

    The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book.

    The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book.

  6. The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book. Hand it to a young child along with a box of markers, chalk, or Crayons. They’ll know what to do.
  7. Hardcover hack. Convert a hardcover into a PDA/eReader cover. You’ll need a knife, scrap fabric, a few inches of elastic, and glue. Remove the pages with a knife, but don’t damage the spine. Cut an old t-shirt or scrap of fabric to the fit the inside cover. Set your device on top of one piece of fabric. Stretch a piece of elastic over the device’s corner to the back of the fabric. Secure the elastic in place with hot glue, a couple of stitches, or even a staple. Repeat for all four corners. Adhere the fabric to the planner cover, and you’re done! Just make sure everything is totally dry before you insert your device.
  8. Shred the pages of your 2011 planner and use them as package stuffing.
  9. Great year? Turn your planner into a “Yay, me!” file. Mark all the highlights from your year with colorful sticky tabs. Landed a huge account? Tab the day you scored the client. Received a promotion? Flag that day. When you hit a rough spot in 2012, flip through your tabbed planner and remember all your wins from the previous year.
  10. Bad year? Build an effigy to a horrible 2011. Tear out the pages and toss them into a bonfire or fireplace. Say goodbye to each bad day so you can face 2012 with a clean slate!

I maintain an organized shelf of past planners, all labeled and flagged. Yet, as I compiled this list, I realized that I rarely (never?) reference them. In January, I’m going to create a paper wreath with my 2011 planner, and I converted my 2010 into an art journal. Now that I have this list, I will start finding fun uses for all my past planners that have been collecting dust.

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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2012 Limited Edition Datebook Winners!

30 Dec

{Drumroll please …} And the winners of our 2012 Limited Edition Moleskine Planner giveaway that started on Tuesday (read the details here) are …

(If you’re curious: We had 33 comments on the original post, and 15 Facebook submissions. So when we chose random winners using random.org it was between 1 and 48.)

Didn’t win, but still want one of the planners? You can find them on our shop! Just click the links:
Moleskine 2012 Peanuts Pocket Daily Planner (3.5 x 5.5)
Moleskine 2012 Pac-Man Pocket Daily Planner (3.5 x 5.5)

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway(s) and spread the word! We’ve got loads more giveaways, articles, tips & tricks, etc. on the way, so check back frequently. To keep in the loop, follow us on Twitterlike us on Facebook, subscribe to our RSS feed, and/or sign up for our weekly newsletter.

If you have any ideas or feedback, definitely let us know in a comment on this blog, or you can email us at info@europeanpaper.com!

 

Get Ready for 2012 Giveaway! [Closed]

27 Dec

We hope you all had a fantastic weekend filled with family, friends, and food! Now we’re at that odd juncture of holidays and work where no one is quite focused on the daily grind — instead we’re all in a stupor from the sugarplums, massive plates of food, and holiday sweets. But it’s worth it! :)

Anyway, we know this is the last-minute panic for all those who haven’t bought a 2012 datebook yet. But if you’re an EPC fan, don’t worry – we’re here to help! We’re giving away 2 Limited Edition Moleskine Pocket Daily Planners – 1 Pac-Man datebook and 1 Peanuts datebook! [So we'll have two winners.]

Moleskine 2012 Peanuts Pocket Daily Planner on EuropeanPaper.com

The 2012 Moleskine Peanuts Pocket Daily Planner is a limited edition planner commemorating the well-known syndicated daily and Sunday comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz. With a new page per day layout, (and the black hard cover debossed in white with your favorite cartoon character) the 2012 Peanuts Pocket Daily Planner provides planning from Jan 2012 to Dec 2012.

Moleskine 2012 Pac-Man Pocket Daily Planner on EuropeanPaper.com

For the millions of Pac-Man fans, Moleskine released a limited edition 2012 Pocket Daily Planner. The exclusive debossed cover commemorates the vibrant yellow 80′s cultural icon famed for being the hungriest video game hero of all time. Inside is a new page for each day to keep track of all your notes and appointments in 2012.

Both the Peanuts and the Pac-Man Diary / Planners are pocket-sized: 3.5 x 5.5 inches. Like the Moleskine Classic Journals, Moleskine Planners have a sewn binding, acid-free paper, rounded edges, black elastic closure, cloth ribbon placeholder, and a rear expandable inner pocket.

Giveaway Details:

  • For 1 entry, comment on this post with which datebook you’d rather win.
    • Don’t forget to include a valid email address when you comment.
  • For a 2nd entry, head on over to our Facebook page and post about the giveaway on our Wall.
    • Include the shortlink in your post http://wp.me/p1PnL4-fw and tell us which datebook you want to win.
  • This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.
  • You have until midnight on Thursday 12/29 to enter. Winners will be announced Friday 12/30! Good luck!

 

A Gift for All Year Long

20 Dec

Christmas proves to be challenging for me most years. I don’t enjoy shopping, but I want to give personal and meaningful gifts, especially to my family. I’m a firm believer in organized living, with a little crazy chaos, so planners with my own personal added twists allow me to share myself with my family and give gifts that last all year long.

Planners and Datebooks on EuropeanPaper.comConsider these creative ways to personalize a planner for someone you love:

  • Pre-date a planner. My elderly father struggles to remember dates so a pre-dated planner that he can keep open on his kitchen counter reminds him of important family days. Since most of my family doesn’t live near my father, he likes to mail cards. A strategically placed note the week before someone’s birthday allows him time to purchase and mail a card, using the addresses I’ve included in the planner. Then a notation on the special day serves to remind him to make a call, if he’d like. My sisters also appreciate the time I spend filling in important dates in their organizers which saves them significant time and energy.
  • Something to look forward to. Like so many other people, my husband enjoys concerts, plays and other special events. As well as pre-dating his planner, I note the details for date nights that I have planned throughout the year. Many tickets may be purchased in advanced, often online, so it’s not difficult to paperclip tickets in the day planner on the appropriate day. You could do this with sporting events, airline tickets, hotel reservations or any other diversions for the coming year. If you can’t afford to purchase tickets ahead of time, you can note the event and purchase the tickets later. You can even surprise the one you love by adding to the day planner as the year progresses.
  • Sentiments mean so much. My daughter thrives on positive messages. She likes to know that she is loved and thought of regularly. Giving her a planner with sweet notes written on different dates throughout means the world to her and provides thoughtful reminders of her specialness. I also include favorite sayings, quotes or verses to encourage her. Using a variety of notes from family and friends turns the planner into a touchstone as she is away from home at college. A gift card to the bookstore or ice cream shop never hurts either!
  • Other unique touches. An ordinary planner can become an amazing gift with a few little additions. A treasured photo secured to the front inside cover and random photos throughout the planner brings smiles 365 days a year. If your recipient enjoys humor, consider adding jokes or comics at different places during the year. An orange and red leaf tucked into the first day of autumn or a child’s school valentine slipped into February can offer sweet surprises to a practical gift.

As with any present, the personal touches added to a day planner can take it beyond conventional and straight to irreplaceable. Imagine one gift that can be adapted to many people in your life and continues giving throughout the year! It’s a perfect gift.

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Meet the Writer: Beth Hempton is a freelance writer and educator residing on Johns Island in South Carolina. She writes about education, health, food and lifestyle topics for websites, blogs, e-zines and print magazines. Having worn many writing hats from authoring curriculum to newspaper journalism, she views writing as a life skill and as an art form.

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Matchmaking Datebooks: Finding the Right Planner for You

13 Dec

As the year comes to a close, the organized among us will be looking for new planners (and the unorganized likely will receive planners as gifts). Whether you’re using a planner to remember school assignments or to plan out a busy day at work, there is a format perfectly suited to your needs. Each planner is different because each person is different. Learning about each format can help you decide which one fits your personality and your needs.

Daily Format

For those who like to focus on short-term goals and plot out each day carefully there are daily planners. In these types of planners, you are provided with one page per day. This will give you plenty of room to pencil in all of your agenda items for the day in question. Each page usually contains an hour-by-hour breakdown of the day for the most detail-oriented. If it’s important for you to remember dates, some daily planners come equipped with each day’s number on the page. If that’s not important to you, or you simply don’t prefer it, planners also come in the undated variety.

You might ask yourself why anyone would want a planner that was undated. With pages that have no labeled dates, a planner can become a journal that forces you to stay within the bounds of a year still with 365 pages. In this format, you don’t have to use just one page for each day. Instead, you can use multiple pages for note-taking regarding one very eventful day and then skip days without important occurrences. If you’d rather not be tied down to just one page per day, an undated planner would be a good fit for you.

Daily Planner Suggestions:

Moleskine daily planners come in an assortment of colors and styles. Moleskine’s daily planners also come in pocket size and standard diary size and are offered in many different colors, as well as hardcover or soft cover.

Quo Vadis planners are bound in handsome grained leatherette and come in pocket size as well as standard size. The Quo Vadis planners are also refillable and their pages come from paper made in sustainable forests, making them the best option for the eco-conscious.

Leuchtturm’s daily planner is offered in a hardcover version that boasts interior pages made from acid-free, archival paper.

The Exacompta Journal 21 Datebook comes in a standard size with a soft, leatherette cover. Its pages, too, are refillable and are made from sustainable forests.

Weekly Format

Perhaps, for you, daily planners focus too much on the minutiae of each day. If this is true, weekly planners may be best for you. In most formats, a set of two pages is devoted to one week of the year. These can come in either vertical or horizontal format — a distinction that refers to the orientation of each week’s block of space on the page. Other planners devote only one page to a week, providing for a more compact planner.

Vertical planners with an hour-by-hour breakdown allow you to plan each and every moment of their day. These planners are perfect for the busiest people who need to squeeze every bit of time from each day. If, on the other hand, you need to remember only the most important events of each day—like when big projects are due, or crucial meetings—the horizontal format is more suited for you. This format gives you room to jot down events with accompanying times and locations to remember. If you find that you need to take notes during these events—such as business meetings or college advising appointments—you can choose the planner plus notes format, which is a week on the left page, and lines on the right page for notes.

Weekly Planner Suggestions:

Moleskine’s lines of weekly planners include both horizontal and vertical formats and come in all sizes and colors, as well as both hardcover and soft cover. Moleskine’s weekly planners also come in a cahier (pronounced Cai-Yhay) format, which offers an inexpensive option for shoppers.

As with Exacompta’s daily planners, the weekly planners are all refillable. Quo Vadis, too, offers refillable pages and their planners come in handsome “President” and “Minister” formats.

Leuchtturm’s offering in the weekly planner category is a hardcover, standard sized format with a choice of six colors for the cover. Finally, Rhodia offers its eco-friendly “webplanner” in a small size as well as a medium size.

Monthly Format

If you’d rather have a more long-term outlook, monthly planners are for you. Customarily, monthly planners are laid out with one month per every two pages. These planners can come either in a vertical format, opening like any other book, or in horizontal format that opens in a checkbook format. The large squares of a calendar layout provide ample room to schedule events and take notes in each day’s box. Because these planners lay out the entire month in two pages, they are the quintessential planner to see a large scope of time in a quick glance.

Monthly Planner Suggestion:

Moleskine offers a soft cover monthly planner in a large size. This planner is laid out in the vertical style and devotes two pages to each month. Between months there are lined pages on which you can take notes.

No matter what format or brand you choose, a planner is essential for getting your affairs in order for 2012. As for me, though I prefer to take life one day at a time, I find it most convenient to use a weekly format planner with note pages. That way, I can see the entire week on one page and have my cadre of post-it notes plastering the note pages. What kind of planner do you prefer?

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 Meet the Writer: Mary Egan is a recent graduate of Lewis University and is currently interning with a publishing company in Chicago; she also has more pens and notebooks than she knows what to do with. She is the founder of the Jet Fuel Review, a student-run literary journal, and still blogs for them at Lewis Lit Journal.

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10 Winners; 10 Academic Planners … Did You Win?

18 Nov

Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner on EPC

Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner on EPC

The closer we get to the end of the year, there’s always more talk of datebooks, organization, renewal, and resolutions. We want you to be prepared. So we’re giving away 10 Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner to the following 10 lucky winners who will each receive one (1) of these academic planners.

Drumroll please …

Shangching
Troy M.
RachelSkirts
Kyle D.
@FPNOkami
@inkophile
@gourmetpens
Troy P.
Sophia A. R.
Maia D.

**If you are a winner, please leave a comment on this post so we have your email & can get in touch with you ASAP! If you’re not a winner, we’d still love to hear from you ;) **

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway and spread the word! We’ve got loads more giveaways, contests, etc. on the way, so check back frequently. To keep in the loop, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, subscribe to our RSS feed, and/or sign up for our weekly newsletter. If you have any ideas or feedback, definitely let us know in a comment on this blog, or you can email us at info@europeanpaper.com!

Check back later today for the Friday Blogger Tuck-ins post.

 

Giveaway: 10 Moleskine 2011-12 Academic Planners! [Closed]

14 Nov

Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner on EPC

Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner on EPC

The closer we get to the end of the year, there’s always more talk of datebooks, organization, renewal, and resolutions. We want you to be prepared. So get started early with one of 10 Moleskine 18-Month Pocket Soft Cover Weekly Planner we’re giving away! That means 10 lucky winners each will receive one (1) of these academic planners.

Featuring the wildly popular Weekly Planner+Notes format, this datebook covers July 2011 to December 2012. The Weekly Planner+Notes format shows the week’s appointments at-a-glance on the left, complemented by a page for notes and ideas on the right. Also included is an annual overview for 2011-2013 (1 page per yearly view), plus a monthly overview for the 18 months (July 2011-Dec 2012), in calendar format with 1 page per month.


Perfect for throwing in your bag to always have on hand, this pocket-sized planner is 3.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches tall and is just right to help keep your life organized. And did we mention its durable soft cover? That means it can handle traveling with you in any situation and is a bit lighter to boot.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this blog post & include your email address.
  • Tweet the following: Giveaway of 10 #Moleskine Academic Planners on @EuroPaper Check it out! http://wp.me/p1PnL4-7j
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook and tag European Paper Company
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog and link back to this giveaway post (if you don’t link back to EPC’s blog, we can’t see the entry).

We’ll choose random winners from all of the entries. This contest is only open to US residents, and you’ve got until the end of this Thursday 11/17 to enter as many entries as you can. We will announce the winners on Friday 11/18/11!

 

Details Make all the Difference with Leuchtturm1917

3 Nov

Leuchtturm1917 Brand Story

“Details make all the difference.” Founded in 1917, the eminent German company Leuchtturm (which means lighthouse in English) is known for high-quality archival storage albums. Adapting their experience with archival paper quality to a versatile line of notebooks and datebooks, Leuchtturm has an eye on every detail.

Leuchtturm Notebooks on Europeanpaper.com

Leuchtturm Notebooks on Europeanpaper.com

Known as the “world’s leading supplier of postage stamps and coin albums” Leuchtturm1917, which is still family owned, has designed their products to fit every lifestyle. Whether you are a student, professional, stay-at-home dad or mum, or just a notebook enthusiast, Leuchtturm’s modern line of journals and datebooks can be for you.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Choose from hard or soft covers.
  • Each notebook has numbered pages and a blank Table of Contents.
  • Matching elastic closure & cloth ribbon placeholder.
  • Eight perforated pages in the back for quick notes.
  • All notebooks & datebooks are threadbound for durability & so you can lay the book flat.
  • Labeling and archival stickers for the spine and front of the book are included.
  • Rear expandable pocket in all Leuchtturm books for mementos, notes, or receipts.
  • Bleed-proof, acid-free paper.
  • And soo much more … :)

From durable thread-bound construction and fountain pen friendly paper, to numbered pages and a table of contents, Leuchtturm’s range will grab your attention for uses in the home, office, and abroad. Check it out for yourself on EPC.

 

Crazy for Rhodia Notepads? Rhodia Drive Contest! [Closed]

27 Oct

Rhodia 2012 WebPlanner on EuropeanPaper.comCan’t get enough Rhodia? Rhodia Drive just announced their contest for 20 Rhodia 2012 WebPlanners! Check out their post here and fill out the form for a chance to win ONE of the 20 webplanners they’re giving away. You’ve only got through Monday 10/31 to sign up, get the word out, and cross your fingers for luck before they announce the winners next Thursday 11/3!

Plus, you still have time to enter our giveaway for a Rhodia Treasure Box! See the original post for details on how to enter. Be quick – the winner will be announced tomorrow!

Foolproof Tips for Organizing Large Projects in Your Planner

25 Oct

My planner is my lifeline. I bet you feel the same about yours, too. Without diligence, though, it can become a mess: over-stuffed with sticky notes, lists and meeting notes jotted on random pages; receipts stuffed in the front cover; phone numbers scrawled across the margins.

Get Organized with EuropeanPaper.comPlanners should keep us on track, but our planners can derail our best intentions simply because we’re not using them effectively. You use your planner to set goals, budget your time, and schedule to-dos. For bigger projects, a planner allows you to map the tasks associated with the successful completion of those projects. Yet, when it comes to those bigger projects, many of us make one mistake with our planners that can cause last-minute scrambles or even missed deadlines.

Whether you use a daily, weekly, or monthly format, there is a simple fix to this common error: Schedule backwards. With this process, you can focus on a strategic action plan rather than a seemingly endless list of to-dos.

You receive an assignment, so you mark the due date in your planner. It seems logical, right? But if you continue to plan for projects to run smoothly and on time, you are setting yourself up for failure by only putting in the deadline date.

Let’s say your boss gives you two weeks to put together a sales presentation. On the day it was assigned or on a separate sheet of paper:

  • Break the project down into all the individual tasks associated with completing that project (gather numbers from team, create slide deck, meet with accounting, write talking points, etc.).
  • Batch similar tasks together to conserve time where possible.
  • Number the tasks (or batches) in the order in which they need to be completed.
  • Next to each task, write down the amount of time you estimate that the project will take.

Flip to the day before the due date. Write on that early date that the project is due. That way, if snags or problems occur, you’ll have some padding built in, and if all goes well, you’ve given yourself an extra day to run through your talk. And if you’re working on a project with other people, it’s smart to plan for an additional padded day just in case you have to pick up slack for team members.

With the list of tasks, schedule backwards. Place the last of the numbered items on your calendar, moving backwards in time. Pad each task by a few hours or even a day, if your schedule allows. This also helps define priorities in your planner, so when you come across scheduling a task on a day you have another project or event, you can move the task ahead or star it as a high priority.

Bonus: Because you pad the deadlines for each project or task that comes in, when things do run smoothly, you’ll find yourself with pockets of empty, unscheduled time. Use those moments to clean out and organize your planner so that you start your next project with a clean slate.

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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