What I Learned When I Abandoned My Planner


I had been doing it the same way for 20 years.

It was November of 2016 and the inevitable had happened. The most terrifying, yet most exciting time of my year.

Yes...I had reached the "Time To Reorder" page in my Franklin Planner. The planner that I started using when I first read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The same planner that I sat down with every Sunday, mapped out my entire week, used religiously on Monday (and maybe Tuesday), and then forgot about for the rest of the week until it was time to plan again on Sunday.

Sound familiar to anyone?

As much as I was inconsistent, I was making progress toward my goals. The Seven Habits planning system provides a great approach for people who are learning to plan and prioritize, even if they only stay on track a couple of days a week. Then I was listening to The Tim Ferris Show one day and he mentioned something called the Five Minute Journal. This was and still is a great tool that gets you focused on your goals, your gratitude, your wins, and things you can improve on.

For about a year, I had my journal, and my planner. Two separate books that I looked at twice a day.

But then...I saw a really cool "commercial" on Facebook for something called the Best Self Journal. I decided not to re-order my planner, and buy the Best Self Journal instead. It seemed to be the perfect mix of my Franklin Planner, and my 5 Minute Journal. All of the components were there...except for one!

NO TASK LIST!

What? How dare they? Now, there was a section for you to write down 3 Targets that you wanted to accomplish that day..

3 Targets? Really? My first thought was that people who use the Best Self Journal must be the type of hippies that only have 3 major tasks to complete throughout the day. Not for me...I run a real estate company, have a podcast, a website, a great wife, two kids, am president of the PTO, and am on a few other boards. 3 Targets My Butt.

After spending time in the Best Self Facebook community, I found that Best Self Journal users were achievers! They had just as much, if not more going on than I did. But they were HYPER FOCUSED.

Sure they had lawns to mow, laundry to do, and meals to prep, but there was only room for 3 things in the journal. The three things that would move the needle the MOST to push you toward your goals. When you only have 3 spaces to fill, your mind automatically puts the most important things first.

I tried it, and guess what. My lawn still got mowed, my clothes were clean (with lots of help from my wife of course), and I was still eating DESPITE not having to put every task in my planner. So here are the top 3 lessons I learned when I gave up my planner.

1. Less Is More - Earl Nightengale said once (and I am paraphrasing) that the captain of a ship cant go to two places at once. If you ask where he is going, he will tell you. Just one destination. The next destination is after the first. Approach tasks that way.

2. Your Planner Should Be A Life Planner And Not A Day Planner - You need a place to write your goals, your gratitude, and to reflect every day. I REALLY like the 5 Minute Journal for this. It's a great tool to get you started. You wont need it after a while, but I keep buying it anyway because I like the binding and I am a little bit of a geek.

3. Keep A Separate Agenda Book, Notebook, Etc For Your Day - It was a little awkward for a while when I would sit down with a client and they could see my handwritten goals, and personal stuff in my planner. To combat that, I started leaving my Life Planner at home, and started carrying a notebook. In the notebook, I had just what I needed for that day. It was a great treasure map to take me from morning to night, plus without all the fluff of a planner, there was lots of room for notes, etc. Plus I could tear pages out and use them for notes, coasters, or to make paper airplanes.

AND MOST IMPORTANT

At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you. Wether it is a Franklin Planner, a Best Self Journal, a bullet journal, or some other system, keep at it. Even if you are only doing it three days a week, you are way ahead of people who arent doing it at all, which surprisingly is most people.

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