Sometimes life feels like a triathlon: wake up, run to get kids ready, think about what I will put on their lunch bags, oh yes – now I need to get ready while thinking about my endless to-do list (that I have written somewhere but darnit! Where did I leave that little piece of paper that had that list?). Then ah!!! I forgot about the phone meeting that starts in five minutes and I still haven’t taken a shower. And I still need to work on my business plan. Yes my friends, that’s chaos I have endured since becoming a mom, entrepreneur, and really, an adult.
A year ago I decided I couldn’t continue doing life and business like this and I needed serious organization and planning on my days. Afterall, the saying goes “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I was foolish enough to think that I had a photographic memory and didn’t need a planner, I mean – who uses pen and paper nowadays?! I was wrong. REALLY wrong.
In the past year, I have embarked in a journey of planning my days using several tools. I have tried them all – from the traditional post-it notes and grocery-style lists, to actual planners that prompt you on writing not only your schedule, but affirmation messages to get you through the day. I want to share with you my top choices so you don’t have to feel like you’re running a triathlon looking like a disheveled Muppet.
Launched at the beginning if this year, this planner is the creation of renowned high performance coach, Brendon Burchard. He is a best-selling author of High Performance Habits (great book by the way) and has developed a performance system based in science. His planner was highly anticipated and I got my hands on this one as soon as it launched.
The planner is loaded with useful information, links and questionnaires (Whole Life Assessment and the High Performance Habits Assessment) that force you to assess your life holistically. It is an eye-opener and at least provides a guide of what changes you need to make in order to get to the next level of accountability with your work and personal life.
The planner is divided in three sections: month-at-a-glance planning, weekly evaluation and daily planning pages. It forces you to start every day with questions such as:
- “If one word could describe the kind of person I want to be today, then that word is…”
- “One action I could take today to demonstrate excellence or real value is…”
It also forces you to jot down a message to yourself and prioritize your day with three goals.
It has generous space for the hourly schedule were you can expand on what to do throughout the day and forces you to evaluate and reflect on your day with more thought-provoking questions such as:
- “A situation I handled well today was…”
- “Something I realized or learned today was…”
And then comes the best part: you score yourself from 1-5 on six areas: Clarity; Energy; Necessity; Productivity; Influence; and Courage.
The real value from this planner comes from the Whole Life Assessment and the High Performance Habits Assessment. It is a thorough way of looking at your life and see what changes need to happen. The monthly tool has you taking a shorter version of these assessments to measure your improvement on a regular basis.
You definitely need a good 10 minutes every morning and 10 minutes (or more!) every night to make sure you plan/assess your days and get full value for this planner. Overall os a great tool, although it can feel a bit overwhelming at the beginning when you are trying to understand it. If you are someone who loves assessments, measuring and doing a lot of introspective work while planning your days – this planner is a winner.
This was my first introduction to my recent obsession of planning my days/weeks. I purchased it last year and have had a solid year of usage.
They have different versions of this planner but my favourite is the Pro version. This planner was designed by Michael Leip, when he was overwhelmed by the symptoms of Lyme disease, traumatic brain Injury and cancer. He turned to proven research in positive psychology and neuroscience and created this system to get his life back on track. And it worked.
The Pro version is also divided in monthly, weekly and daily sections you get to plan ahead. All sections really reinforce the idea of finding a “what” you need to do, but most importantly a “why” and what distractions you need to avoid to accomplish your daily tasks.
The weekly planning forces you to give yourself a pat in the back on what you did right the previous week but also what you will do to improve on it. It divides your planning in Personal; Work; Family/Friends; and Relationship. This planner is all about making you think about the habits you want to create and believes that by writing them, it creates an extra level of commitment which carries through on the daily planning pages.
Both the weekly and daily sheets force you to divide your week/day in four big projects, which makes the weeks/days more achievable as tasks don’t seem as overwhelming when chunked in four.
My favorite part of the daily planning sheets is the area where you need to write down what exercise you are committing to. Every. Single. Day. Just having that prompt there and seeing it on a daily basis is enough to commit you to doing some kind of movement and don’t forget about it. Another favourite part of the daily planner is the area where you have to list three things you are grateful for – it forces you to start the day with gratitude and somehow this works! It changes your mindset completely. You end your day celebrating your wins and acknowledging how you will improve for tomorrow.
The hourly scheduling portion of the planner is on the smaller side, so if you are someone who likes a lot of detail, there won’t be enough space for that.
When you receive the planner, you are given a special link which walks you step by step on how to use it.
After using it for a year, I have really seen improvement in my planning and performance – and exercise routine! I just wish the hourly daily section was larger and the monthly pages were “rippable” so I could always have my weekly plan in front of my instead of flipping back and forth.
This planner is a bit more different from the last two I talked about. This planner is more specific to people struggling to map, execute and track their social media/digital strategies for their businesses. I could be used as a personal planner as well, although you should know that the main purpose for this is to establish measurable plans for content creators.
If you have a business and struggle with keeping your social media posts current or don’t know how to plan ahead and pen-and-paper is your friend, this you MUST get this tool.
Not only it is aesthetically beautiful (ok, it definitely skews female), but it comes with stickers, printed holiday calendar and social media theme ideas.
Most importantly for me, it comes with a space to track your success. It forces you to track certain areas of your digital strategy and at the end of the month you have to assess how far or close you came from your goals.
If you blog, create content, manage your own business’ social media and want a better planning tool that forces you to set goals, track and measure – The Content Planner will be your biggest friend.
There is a plethora of tools out there. These are my three favourite ones. My verdict: I really, really wanted to like the High Performance Planner, but I think the Panda Planner Pro continues to be my favourite. Coupled with the Content Planner, there is no reason why I should ever feel like a discombobulated Muppet attempting to run a triathlon!
Let me know below what tool works for you. I’d love to hear how you stay organized. In the meantime, you can always download my free organizational tool.