I’m a visual learner so paper planners have always worked better for me for scheduling and planning purposes. I’ve tried online versions but the hand/eye and tactile experience of writing something down helps me process a project better. I’m not alone. Science shows that those who handwrite their notes rather than type them retain information better.
Over the years, I’ve found several that have worked for various reasons. My Passion Planner was great and it was when I realized I needed the vertical landscape to best schedule out my day. As a marketing and PR consultant who works with several clients at a time, I need a good way to keep track of my billable hours. While I use a tool online to track my hours when I’m on my desktop, not all my work happens behind a computer (in-person meetings, for example). Having a paper calendar allows me to block out that time so I can keep accurate records.
I graduated from my Passion Planner to Planner Pads and, I’ll admit, this layout made a lot of sense to me. The inverted pyramid approach lets you lay out ALL of your projects needing completion at the top of the 2-page spread, then you filter those items into each day you want to complete them in the second section of the page before you finally drill down and plot them by the hour in the bottom section of the page. The layout lets you start with big picture first then progresses to helping you plan it out by hour/day.
GoalDrvn is a powerful planner, packed with possibilities and bells and whistles, despite its digest-sized shape. What makes this different than the other planners I’ve tried is it makes you focus on your goals in a very analytical way, rather than amorphous. Some planners, like the Passion Planner, encourage you to daydream about your goals. To be sure, there is a time and place for that level of introspection. I would take a Passion Planner to a silent retreat, for example, or use it to help drive exercises around big picture dreams like what I want out of my life, what makes me happy, what I’d like to learn or do more of, that sort of thing. GoalDrvn’s front-of-book exercises encourage that kind of thought process but its format was created to support big goals you’ve pretty much figured out you want to achieve.
The leather-bound book encourages users to identify their Master Goal first and then walks the user through various exercises to help you create action goals. Those action goals should include steps to accomplish as well as a deadline.
Here’s where I think the planner is genius: it includes a very practical yet overlooked exercise. Before you tackle the details of each goal, there is a page that asks you to share what skills sets you need to learn to achieve this master goal, whose help you might want to enlist and what obstacles might you need to overcome.
This simple exercise helped me overcome a major stumbling block.
I used GoalDrvn to plot out the work I needed to get done to successfully complete and publish my memoir. From completing various sections of my book proposal to securing an agent and building a platform, I’ve identified my top goals. But then I hit a stumbling block. This project, as much as it means to me, meant I needed to siphon off time from other projects and my family and that’s not easy when you have two little kids who want your attention and are out of school for the summer, you work full-time for clients who expect you to deliver, and a husband who is constantly training for a marathon or triathlon.
When I looked at this page, I realized I needed to enlist some help to overcome an obstacle. I needed permission to carve out much-needed time to complete this proposal and that help had to come from my husband. He and I agreed to take the kids for chunks of time (and even days) while I holed myself up in a Wisconsin cabin for uninterrupted writing time.
Guess what happened? I finished my book proposal. I knew it needed a few more tweaks before I could send off to my beta readers but it got done.
The rest of the planner is great, too. You can use as much or as little of the bells and whistles as you’d like. It has a section on adding more balance in your life by including a habit you want to develop (such as making it a point to meditating daily or drinking enough water). It also includes little cliff notes version of things so you can move over action steps like a Bullet Journal (which helps since the planner is digest-sized).
Another thing I like about this planner is it gives you 30-minute chunks of time, starting at 6:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m. While I can’t jot down my 15-minute admin stuff easily in 30-minute spaces, I can make note to “admin stuff” in that space and just try to tackle two things.
Since we’re at the mid-year mark, I’ll need to start thinking of which planner to use for 2018 since I have deliverables, events and conferences planned for next year. I’ve been using GoalDrvn for just over a month now and really like it. I’m going to see if I can use it exclusively for the next month and see how it fares against my Planner Pad, since I’ve been using that for more than a year now.
Do you have a favorite paper planner? Which one do you use and what about it do you feel works so well for you?