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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 July 16, 2019

                          6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

                          6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

                          Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

                          Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

                          What to have for dinner tonight?

                          Which route to take to work?

                          How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

                          How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

                          Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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                          No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

                          Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

                          Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

                          Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

                          Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

                          How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

                          Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

                          You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

                          When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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                          1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

                          Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

                          I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

                          2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

                          5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

                          By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

                          For example:

                          If the problem is “always late to work”…

                          • Why am I late to work?
                            I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
                          • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
                            I feel so tired in the morning.
                          • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
                            I slept late the night before, that’s why.
                          • Why did I sleep late?
                            I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
                          • Why did I drink coffee?
                            Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

                          So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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                          3. Simplify Things

                          As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

                          Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

                          4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

                          Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

                          Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

                          Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

                          5. Think Laterally

                          Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

                          ‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

                          Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

                          Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

                          6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

                          Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

                          Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

                          The Bottom Line

                          There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

                          Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

                          Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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                          So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

                          More About Problem Solving

                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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