Juggling to do lists and daily tasks is rough. Add going after big dreams that you’re not sure you have time for into the mix? Forget about it. I’ve been feeling like I need a tool to help me focus on getting done the things that matter to me most. Enter the Productivity Planner. I’ve been hearing about it everywhere so I finally decided to make the plunge and purchase it for myself. It’s been great you guys! Here’s an honest review of what I loved, what I’d change, and whether or not it made me more productive. The short answer? Yes. They’re not paying me to write this Productivity Planner review, but if you click one of my affiliate links, I might get a few cents from Amazon.
How it works
There’s a few pages at the beginning of the Productivity Planner that have productivity advice from experts like Stephen Covey and Tim Ferriss. Read these. The advice is gold and it stands for the foundation of how the rest of the planner is set up.
The planner is designed for a classic 5 day work-week. At the beginning of each week is a weekly planning page where you fill in the most important tasks of the week. Following that is a page for each day of the week. Each day, you’ll fill in the date and list your most important tasks of the day, as well as how long you think it’ll take you to do each one. You fill in a little bubble for each 30 minute block of time you spend on the task. At the end of each week is a Weekly Review, in which you write out what went well, what you didn’t complete, what you learned, and what you need to do next week.
Who it’s Great For
The Productivity Planner is awesome for someone who feels like they have a lot on their plate. It’s designed to help you prioritize the most important things and stay on task. It helps break down big, abstract-feeling goals into small, actionable steps.
How to Make it Work For You
Of course, like anything in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. I’d be remiss in my Productivity Planner review if I didn’t tell you that. It doesn’t make you more productive if you don’t use it. Here are some other tips I picked up on from my first month of using it.
Tip #1 – Do the MOST IMPORTANT thing first
Each day, I would write down the most important thing for the next day in the #1 spot… and then promptly ignore it. My flexible nature definitely was not here for rigidly following yesterday’s taskmaster, even if it was myself. I always want to do the easiest or most satisfying thing first, not the most important. Which leads us to the lesson that…
Tip #2 – The most important thing is usually the hardest thing
I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be true for me every single day. I open my planner and see what’s listed for #1 and immediately want to skip to the next tasks, even though I KNOW it’s the most important. The
many days that I let myself do this, I often didn’t end up coming back around to the most important task of the day. That’s why it’s so important to do it first. If you don’t prioritize it, it won’t get done.
Tip #3 – The Productivity Planner Works Best for One Goal or Project
At first I was using it as just a general planner and including things that I wanted to get done at work, on the blog, and around the home. I began to realize that I didn’t have enough room to write everything down each day. Also, while life isn’t perfectly compartmentalized, I certainly have some pretty definitive boundaries for when I work on what. I only work at work while I’m at work, and I don’t really need to use up precious Productivity Planner real estate for that. Home life and blog life aren’t as clear cut, but I don’t struggle as much with staying productive at home. I don’t need to write down that it’s my night to cook dinner. My stomach won’t let me forget that.
As such, I decided that the best way to use the Planner is to keep it for blog tasks only. The Productivity Planner has been huge in helping me stay on top of things that could easily slip to the wayside.
Tip #4 – Don’t overestimate how much you can get done in a day
Am I the only one who gets overeager when thinking about what I want to get done the next day? I start writing down what’s more like a wish list than a to do list. And then when I don’t get to everything, I beat myself up for never getting the things done that I want. Using the Productivity Planner to prioritize the list helps so much because at the end of the day, I’ll at least have gotten the most important thing done, even if it’s not everything I hoped for.
Tip #5- Break tasks into smaller chunks
One of the biggest issues I had when I started using it was that I would write down big tasks that would take 2+ hours each. Even if I had enough time for them all, it was demoralizing looking at such ominous to-dos. Instead of starting on the tasks right away, I would stall and the day would get away from me.
By breaking tasks into chunks of 30 minutes, 1 hour tops, I feel motivated to jump in and just get it done. The excitement I feel for finishing one task energizes me for the next, and before I know it I’ve completed all the things that are super duper important.
Here’s a concrete example for how this works. Normally I would write down the task, “Write blog post,” which seemed pretty straightforward. But now I break the task into several smaller tasks such as:
- Outline post
- Write rough draft
- Edit and add links
- Create social media graphics for the post
It feels less daunting when I sit down at my computer to write and I’ve actually been finishing a lot more posts this way.
Tip #6 – Don’t underestimate how much you can get done in 25 minutes
Estimating how much time something will take can be really tough, especially at first. I was surprised to discover that I really underestimate how much I can get done in 25 minute chunks. It doesn’t feel like a big commitment, but I can crank out a lot of work when I stay focused. This makes it easier to follow tip #5 and only schedule in small chunks. The small bursts of energy seriously do wonders for your productivity.
Tip #7 – Plan the next day’s activities the night before
Remember how I said that when I sit down to blog and look at my first and most important task, I don’t want to do it? That’s really problematic if I don’t write my list the night before. Because if I’m writing the actions right before I’m about to execute them, suddenly the most important doesn’t feel so important anymore. I’ll write what I feel like doing in the #1 spot. Writing out the list the day before is such a huge help.
Tip #8 – Don’t be afraid to take action
When I’m working on a project, I always fall into the trap of doing way too much research. I felt a little defensive writing that, because a big part of me feels like there’s no such thing as too much research. My problem is that I’ll research things fooooreeeeever and never take action. Having action items with time goals attached is helping me do a better job of avoiding the trap of passive action. There’s only so far you can get with research and planning before you need to start doing things.
Tip #9 – Have some grace for yourself when things just don’t go according to plan
There have been multiple days when things come up and I don’t finish a single task on my list. This can feel like such a bummer. It’s been helpful to remind myself that it happens. Just try not to let it derail your whole week. The sooner you recover, the better. Give yourself a little grace and move on.
Tip #10 – Don’t forget to celebrate the wins!
Once I complete something big, I always kind of gloss over it and move on to the next thing. I really love that the planner makes space for you to look back and celebrate your wins. It’s really encouraging to see how much all those little blocks of time add up. Don’t forget this step. Being grateful for past wins is the fuel to keep you going.
The Final Verdict
So would I say that the Productivity Planner has actually helped me to be more productive? Definitely. It’s been instrumental in prioritizing tasks and coming up with a strategy to get stuff done. But at the same time, I only get out of it what I put into it. I still have to work hard and stay focused in order to be productive. If you have big dreams you’re going after and need help prioritizing those, this planner can definitely help you in that.
Have more questions? Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help in any way I can!