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Like it old school? These 10 planners will keep you productive

Like it old school? These 10 planners will keep you productive

Productivity apps are easy to find, whether you want something on the web, your phone, or a tablet. But analog tools still have their place – for many people, the relaxation that comes with actually writing things down can’t be replaced. Plus, writing lights up more areas of your brain than typing does, helping you to make new connections and have new ideas. So for those of you who prefer your productivity tools to be paper-based, here’s ten of the best planners out there:

The Plum Paper Planner

The Plum Planner

    Price: $31

    The Plum Paper Planner gives you everything you need to keep your life on track for the next year, with monthly and weekly views, plenty of room for notes, and extra pages at the end to help you keep track of other details. You can personalize the front cover, picking your favorite design from the Etsy shop and then adding your name. It also comes in wedding planning, teacher, student, fitness/meal, and family editions.

    The Plum Planner's Page Options

      Standout features: As shown in the picture above, you get to choose which weekly layout you want out of four options – something that most other planners won’t let you do.

      The Day Designer

      Day Designer

        Price: $57-59

        The Day Designer might be one of the pricier options on this list, but that hasn’t stopped it from attracting a cult following. It was designed for busy women, moms, and creative professionals who want a way to keep track of everything in their life. If you want to give it a go, you can check out the free library of printables to see if it’ll work with your planning style before you buy a whole planner.

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        Standout features: The daily planning page features a spot to record gratitude daily (a great practice for many reasons), as well as the more usual space for to-dos and schedules. The planner also comes with goal-setting worksheets and summary pages to keep you on track.

        The Passion Planner

        The Passion Planner

          Price: $24.99-29.99

          The Passion Planner was originally created as an insanely successful (over $600,000 raised) Kickstarter campaign, and has become a full-fledged business in the time since. Its goal is to help you break down your long and short term goals into actionable steps, and give you a way to schedule those steps out on a day-to-day basis. You can also download an undated printable version, if you want to test it out.

          Standout features: It has a spot for the focus for each day and week, room for gratitude logging, separated to-do lists for work and personal life (so that each get the attention they deserve), and room for extra notes as well.

          The Spark Notebook

          The Spark Notebook

            Price: $25-35

            The Spark Notebook is the result of another over-funded Kickstarter campaign. The creator, Kate Matsudaira, wanted to create a notebook that had functionality as a productivity tool and looked good enough to carry into a high-powered meeting without being embarrassed. You can get a free printable version of the planner by sharing about the Spark Notebook on Facebook or Twitter via links at the site.

            Standout features: The Spark Notebook is undated, so you can start using it at any time. In addition to the normal yearly and monthly overview, it has a 30 day challenge space for each month, inspiration and questions for each week, and an achievement tracker to keep you on track. The pages are also perforated, letting you rip out a to-do list if you need to.

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            The Desire Map Planner

            The Desire Map Planner

              Price: $44

              The Desire Map Planner was created by author and speaker Danielle LaPorte, to help readers put the philosophies from her book the Desire Map into practice. It comes in daily and weekly versions, so you can pick the level of detail you want.

              Standout features: The focus of the Desire Map book is on realizing how you want to feel and orienting your life around it, and the planners are meant to help you do that. Instead of just having to dos, there are spaces for your core desired feelings, as well as affirmations and “soul prompts” on every page. If you want a holistic view of your life, this is the planner for you.

              The Freelancer Planner

              The Freelancer Planner

                Price: $23-27

                The Freelancer Planner is yet another Kickstarter success. The aim of this planner is to give freelancers one spot to keep track of everything related to their business in one spot, while training them into better business habits. If you’d rather print out your own planner, there’s a downloadable version at the site.

                Standout features: The monthly calendar view lets you keep track of all your client bookings, events, and income for the month. The weekly planning process also helps you sort out your tasks and figure out what should be a priority in your day-to-day work.

                Erin Condren’s LifePlanner™

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                Erin Condren LIfePlanner

                  Price: $50

                  The LifePlanner™ is an offering from Erin Condren’s brand, best known for its colorful design. The planners follow that colorful design, with bright colors everywhere from on the page to the covers to the organizational tabs. The planners come with a two-sided pocket folder and a bookmark.

                  Standout features: You can choose between two layouts (vertical, shown above, or horizontal), pick from a variety of covers, or even upload your own cover. The planners have a mix of lined pages, designer blank pages, graph pages, and motivational quotes to help you blend positivity and productivity into your life.

                  Brittany Garner’s Daily Desk Planner

                  gsdplanner

                    Price: $5

                    You might prefer a printable planner to a pre-bound one, whether it’s because you use a Filofax (or other DIY planner system) or just for sake of convenience. If that’s the case, Brittany Garner Design’s daily desk planner has you covered.

                    Standout features: Aside from the flexibility that comes with being a printable, this planner also has a spot for meals and exercise – something that’s easy to overlook while you’re trying to get work done! You can also note down ideas as they come up and use the schedule section to keep track of your appointments.

                    The Daily Planner Pack

                    Daily Printable Planner Pack

                      Price: $12.49

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                      Like the previous planner, this is a printable planner pack from Crossbow Printables. It contains more pages though – different views for daily and weekly tasks, a monthly and yearly view, a page for notes, a goal-setting worksheet, a meal planner, and more.

                      Standout features: This planner pack has the flexibility of choosing which views you prefer and being able to build your own customized planner. It also has sections for meals and water consumption on one of the daily pages, and there are enough different types that at least some of them will fit with your life, no matter what your needs are.

                      The Emergent Task Planner

                      The Emergent Task Planner

                        Price: $12-14

                        The Emergent Task Planner was created to help you find order in a chaotic workday. The planners are designed around the three ideas of focus, assessment, and time visualization. They come in different sizes and bindings, so you can choose one that works best for you (or print your own at home for free).

                        Standout features: In addition to keeping you focused on a limited number of tasks, the Emergent Task Planner also lets you make time estimates for how long things will take and then keep track of how long they actually take. This lets you become a better planner over time, giving you a more realistic view of what you can get done in a day.

                        The Behance Action Method Planners

                        Action Journal

                          Price: $6.50-17.50

                          The Action Method planners come in a variety of sizes and bindings, from small pads to larger journals (like the one pictured above). They use the Action Method of productivity planning, from Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen, which helps you to sort out tasks from notes and backburner items.

                          Standout features: The Action Method planners only have so much room to write down your tasks, so they force you to say ruthlessly focused. The dot-grid pages are great for designers or anyone who wants to take notes or sketches throughout their day, too.

                          Featured photo credit: Gwenaël Piaser via farm5.staticflickr.com

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                          Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                          Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                          You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                          But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                          To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                          It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                          “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                          The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                          In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                          Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                          1. Start Small

                          The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                          Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                          Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                          Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                          Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                          Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                          It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                          Do less today to do more in a year.

                          2. Stay Small

                          There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                          But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                          If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                          When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                          I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                          Why?

                          Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                          The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                          Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                          3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                          No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                          There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                          What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                          Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                          This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                          This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                          4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                          When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                          There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                          Peter Drucker said,

                          “What you track is what you do.”

                          So track it to do it — it really helps.

                          But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                          5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                          Peter Drucker also said,

                          “What you measure is what you improve.”

                          So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                          For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                          For writing, it’s 500 words.
                          For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                          For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                          Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                          6. All Days Make a Difference

                          Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                          Will two? They won’t.

                          Will three? They won’t.

                          Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                          What happened? Which one made you fit?

                          The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                          No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                          7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                          Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                          But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                          What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                          It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                          The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                          It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                          It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                          8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                          Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                          Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                          When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                          The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                          Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                          9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                          The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                          Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                          You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                          But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                          So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                          If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                          This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                          The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                          Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                          10. Punish Yourself

                          Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                          I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                          It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                          You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                          No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                          The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                          But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                          11. Reward Yourself

                          When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                          Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                          The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                          After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                          If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                          Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                          If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                          In the End, It Matters

                          What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                          When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                          And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                          “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                          Keep going.

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                          More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                          Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                          [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                          [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                          [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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