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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 April 22, 2021

                          How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

                          How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

                          Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

                          Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

                          In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

                          One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

                          “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

                          Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

                          Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

                          Motivation Is Not the Answer

                          How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

                          If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

                          We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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                          Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

                          Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

                          How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

                          Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

                          1. Define What a Win Looks Like

                          In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

                          Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

                          Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

                          When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

                          4 Steps to Define a Win
                          • Know the outcome you desire.
                          • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
                          • Write the outcome down.
                          • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

                          Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

                          As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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                          Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

                          2. Evaluate Your Activity

                          Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

                          Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

                          Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

                          Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

                          • Do now
                          • Plan to do it later
                          • Delegate to someone else
                          • Delete it

                          Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

                          • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
                          • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
                          • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
                          • Does this activity have to be done at all?

                          Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

                          3. Prioritize Your Calendar

                          If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

                          First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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                          It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

                          “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

                          Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

                          “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

                          Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

                          It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

                          4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

                          We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

                          Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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                          Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

                            But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

                            “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

                            Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

                            Use these questions to reflect on your day:

                            • What went well?
                            • What didn’t go well?
                            • What can I change?
                            • What do I need to start doing?
                            • What do I need to stop doing?

                            The Bottom Line

                            Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

                            Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

                            “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

                            Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

                            That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

                            More on Creating Healthy Routines

                            Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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