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Planners are some among the most useful productivity tools. They are affordable, help with time management and target tracking, and often double as an emergency notebook, contact list, and much more.
However, there are so many options out there that it is hard to choose one.
I say this from experience…
Should you go for the minimalist, easy-to-carry pocketbook, or for the bulkier but more comprehensive journal?
Should you trust the professionals to create the perfect planner, or should you get crafty and make one yourself with customized categories and lists?
The point of a planner is obviously to keep as many things and ideas in one place. You don’t want to waste time and money trying out several journals or worse, using many at the same time. Information will get lost and things will be forgotten.
In this article, I will talk about my favorite planner and where to get it, as well as deciding which tool works best for you and even building your own.
My Favorite Planner
I’ll write this out straight away: my favorite planner is the Best Self Journal. I’ve been using it for almost two years now and I haven’t looked back.
As a business owner, I find its concept very effective. It works on 90-day cycles, which has a psychological study behind it but also coincides with many business planning principles and practices. It is great for setting goals, keeping track of those goals, and keeping yourself accountable.
It has a goal setting section at the front, monthly calendars for high-level planning, weekly planning sections for habit tracking and review, and then daily pages for your daily tasks along with some good inspirational quotes.
At the back of the notebook is room for noting and brainstorming – basically blank pages for anything really.
It costs $30, which is less than 30 cents per day and in my opinion a good investment. If I had to find room for improvement, I would personally like to see more free space for brainstorming, note-taking, and even doodling.
How to Choose Your Planner
Let’s say that the Best Self Journal is not for you. That’s absolutely fine, as almost everything in setting productivity processes and tools, what works for some may very well not work for you. It’s all about your specific needs and thought-process.
The fundamental concept is: find out what you want and then adapt the tool to that. You need to have a framework in place before you can find your perfect tool because it’s the process and not the product that you want to focus on.
Helpful questions to ask yourself when designing your framework include:
- Why do you want to use a journal?
- How are you going to use it?
- What do you want it to do for you?
- Do you enjoy writing in a paper planner or are you more digital leaning?
- Can you see this really being a part of your daily life?
Another thing you can do is gather input. Of course, reading this post in the first place is part of that.
But you can also join the Real World Productivity Group and ask other members about their favorite planners.
It can be especially helpful to get advice from people in your same field, as they may have already optimized the way they use a tool according to their business. So, ask your peers, friends, and family – you might be surprised what you find out.
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned not wasting time and money trying out several journals. However, if you truly don’t know what might work well for you, just start.
Get the journal that seems like a good fit – don’t worry too much about it just get it and start using it.
You’ll figure out pretty quickly if it’s working or not. Then do the important part: list out WHY it’s not working well, or what you really like about it. From there you should be able to find your next journal that will be a great fit for your productivity and planning.
Do It Yourself
There is nothing wrong with deciding that no one can create a planner for your business and private life better than yourself — especially if you have already tried a few and know what you like. Go ahead and incorporate your favorite elements to build your own.
It takes less than you may think. When I did mine, I just created a Google Doc and printed it out. I made sure to print on both sides and fold the pages in half so to get a great number of days out — definitely more than any commercial planner I could have bought.