You know, these days there’s so much stuff that’s electronic that, at least for me, at a certain point it seems like it’s too much and just isn’t as useful as it could be anymore. I thought that having all these bells and whistles would help my production, but once again it turns out not to be true. That’s why I’ve decided it’s time to go backwards in time, back to a day when I used to log all these things and track them on paper; what a concept right?

First a disclaimer. The images you see are affiliate links; you might be interested in checking them out but at least you know that up front.

Classic Simulated Leather Magnetic Binder - Black
Franklin Cover
Magnetic Binder

Anyway, what you see to the right is the Franklin Cover binder that I actually bought at Staples instead of via the link, and mine is burgundy instead of black, the only two colors it comes in for this model. I happened to be in Staples looking for… well, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but it was actually last June and I felt like I didn’t have any control over what was going on.

I had been traveling at that point for just about six weeks (now it’s a year) and both at home and on the road I felt like I couldn’t keep up with anything. I had things to do at home and then things to do while out of town, and putting them into the smartphone wasn’t getting it done for two reasons.

One, I wasn’t keeping up with things that needed to get done all that well when I had to put them into the phone. Two, the alarms I could hear only let you plan things just under 7 days in advance, and I still can’t hear any alarms for things I put into the calendar.

Thus, I was looking for something, and I came to the Planner. I had used this in my past, as well as used the software package they had (which didn’t work with my computer all that well; I might have to tell that story some day), but the paper version actually worked really well for me.

Studies have proven that we tend to remember things better when we write them down, and that seeing lists helps you get thing done also. Over the years, whenever I’ve needed to get a lot of things done I not only have created outlines or lists, but I then print them out, enlarging them so I can look at them and carry them around with me if necessary. Even now I have a chart that I print whenever I’m leaving town to make sure I have everything I need with me.

I bought the planner and waited until I was back home for 4th of July holiday week before doing anything with it. I did two separate things. One, I started making a list of all the things I needed to get completed while I was home, which included a couple of appointments and a visit to my mother, who lives out of town. Two, I started a second list of goals I wanted to achieve and things I wanted to take care of.

Classic Seasons Ring-bound One-Page-Per-Day Planner Refill - Jul 2014 - Jun 2015
Seasons One-Page-Per-Day
Planner Refill, 7/14 – 6/15

I could do that because while out of town I decided to order the planner refill you see to the left, Seasons, not only because I love colors, but because it gives the ability to chart full days and list a full days worth of notes, lists, or other items. At the beginning of each other are some extra pages where you can carry over things from the previous month or list new things you want to accomplish in the coming month. Or you can plan six months out; that is, as long as you have the pages for it.

How well as it worked for me? That first time I ended up with 18 things on my list and got 17 of them finished. Over the Christmas holiday, when I was home for 2 weeks, I got all but two items completed, and that’s because I kept adding things to the list. It turns out that with the planner I’m really productive, and that includes with writing articles for blogs, mine and for other people (when needed). Also, being able to pass on motivational messages to myself from one month to the next makes me feel pretty good.

Here’s the funny thing. I thought it was just something I was going to be doing, along with my friend Kelvin who’s always kept one with him. Then I found out that my wife had bought one, though not quite the same style as mine, and another friend of mine was starting to go that route as well. Then I did a search on YouTube and found that there were a lot of people who were deciding to either give it a try or were extolling the virtues of planners over technology.

Of course, there’s the small downside that I’m going to mention in the interest of fairness. Unless I have a specific need for it, I find that I don’t travel well with it. Twice I left it in restaurants. While on the road right now I’m not in a leadership position but working in a research capacity, and on weekends I’m too tired to be able to concentrate on many projects so I found it not being all that helpful while out of town.

However, when I have a true need for it, or I want to reconcile things, it’s great having it with me for things such as meetings, where it’s easy to take notes and know they’re on the date I actually met with someone. And being able to sit in the car afterwards and add notes while things are still fresh in my mind… can’t beat that.

There are lots of different binder designs and sizes, and lots of different inserts. Because I pay for the largest planner package they have, I can only fit 3 months at a time in the binder. So I bought this other large binder where I can store all the remaining months in and a sleeve to protect the sheets. That’s unnecessary stuff that I just decided to buy. You can get smaller planners with a day on a page, or a couple of days on a page, or planners that are like calendars with extra note pages.

My final words are that I use Franklin Covey because I like the look, and because I like being able to take all those notes and mark things off when I complete them. There are other brands you might like better, or might want to try, such as Filo-Fax, which I’ve never seen but another friend loves. I’m pimping this one because I use it, but overall I’m recommending that if you’re having problems staying on target with your plans or tasks that maybe stepping back a few years in time might help your focus. Can’t hurt. 🙂

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