I searched for the perfect daily planner for years. While all daily planners are essentially a version of the same elements with different layouts, it’s the method of creating a plan to finish tasks that transformed my productivity. I finally found an incredible daily planner system with a method that keeps me focused to get stuff done. I am excited to share it with you! (Yep, I am a huge nerd!) This daily planner has transformed how I work.
I have something to admit to the internet. Sometimes, I spend more time organizing my task list than actually crossing tasks off my list.
It makes no sense. I know this. But I do it anyway. I can’t be alone in this?
Why would anyone spend three hours exploring a project management app instead of just doing the task at hand?
It’s like a white noise machine for a chaotic to-do list: it just calms me. Also: it is the definition of counter-productive.
I know this when I’m exploring the latest app (things 3) and reorganizing my conference budget (hey,
To tech with it
For years, I tried to figure out the best way to keep multiple projects organized to meet deadlines. I’ve tried every single app for note-taking and project management available on the world wide web and Apple App Store. I have signed up for Monday, Asana, Wunderlist, Nozbe, Trello, Outlook, Producteev, DaPulse, Things 3, Reminders, Good List, Airtable, Numbers, and
I’ve got years of notes in Evernote.
I have notebooks in One Note.
After years of trying every online app and adding projects and tasks and subtasks with tags and deadlines and stars and priorities… to get stuff done, I concluded these three things:
- tech is not the answer. It does not matter how sophisticated an app is, paper wins.
- taking time each
fridayto plan the next week is as calming as a big glass of excellent red wine.
- Are you a checker, crosser-offer, or a highlighter type of task-doer? I use checkmarks. My friend Meredith is a cross-offer. We get along but clearly, checkmarks are better.
The Printable Daily Planner
Last year, I found the answer.
And it was only TWELVE DOLLARS. The Momentum Planner is a daily planner PDF download from ProductiveFlourishing.com and I think I discovered through a facebook ad. I tried the free downloads first and was hooked. It’s a paper planner you print off and add to any notebook you like.
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Here’s why it’s a game-changer
You have quarterly, monthly, and weekly worksheets to focus on the big-picture, major projects (marketing campaign). Then, each project gets broken down into milestone goals (send monthly newsletter). Finally, the daily items – the ones you can cross off – are the details like “design e-mail newsletter” and “revise e-mail newsletter.”
It breaks each major project and goal into check-able (or cross-off-able) chunks to keep the whole project moving along. Plus, you only focus on five per day – which is the opposite of my typical method which is to work on 500 things simultaneously and not get any of them completed by the end of the day.
Get stuff done in style
You can use any notebook you’d like – because you have to print it yourself – and I love Levenger’s Circa series. I like being able to move paper around in a notebook.
Levenger Circa Planner
The Levenger Circa is customizable. You can print anything off and hole punch it into your planner. I use the weekly and monthly planner from Levenger – and add the Momentum pages into the mix. (I also love Day Designer printables!
The accessories, the feel of the paper, and the notebooks are high-quality and can be used year after year. Do you want pockets? Leather? Teal? Rose Gold? Make it your own. This planner will keep you organized in style. Plus, you can make it slim or full, so it doesn’t have to be heavy if you’re toting it around with you to meetings. It fits in my Dagne Dover work bag.
Project Management Apps
Project management apps that can keep all of the details, deadlines, and progress of your projects while your paper planner helps you focus on what needs to get done. I find the apps are excellent for tracking details, but lack the ability to pick out the projects to focus on each day. I have tried nearly every single task and project management app available, and have narrowed down my favorites to a few:
- Evernote (obsessed) for meeting notes and anything else I may need to access on the go (event details, travel details like confirmation numbers, random ideas like a lot of half-written blog posts, and even passwords!)
irtableis OMG incredible but you’ll experience a little frustration at first, as the attributes that make it insanely useful present a little bit of a learning curve. The templates make it easy. Spend a little time getting to know it & you’ll quickly see it’s potential.
- Things 3 for project management, with tasks broken down with dates and deadlines. It’s incredibly detailed but I found it still did not help me stay focused on the things that I needed to accomplish each day.
- Wunderlist to keep task lists (awesome for personal stuff like birthday parties – you can snap a photo of the invitation!) – also shareable lists with teams, family, or friends.
Tips for using a paper weekly planner
- Use an app to keep project details and checklists, if you’d prefer, but use a paper planner to stay focused on getting it done
- GET STARTED: Create a master project list (the app Things 3 would be good for this or just create a simple list on paper) with all of the major goals and projects you need to accomplish
- ONCE A MONTH: look at your master project list and create a list of all the things you need to accomplish that month to stay on track – and break down that list week by week
- ONCE A WEEK: create your list of things to do and map out day-by-day when they will get done
- EVERY DAY: Time block your day to focus on one project at a time, based on what needs to get done, and when you will focus on each project (and be realistic about what you can get accomplished in one day! Add the rest to another day!)
- AT THE END OF THE DAY: Create your must-do list for the next day
- HOW TO ADD TO YOUR TO DO LIST Keep a sheet to capture all of the tasks that need to get done (but not that day) so you can get them organized later – a brain dump. Lots of people recommend the quadrant method, which is helpful to stay focused on the items that matter most.