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2019 Planner Review! Drumroll please….

I love planners. My first planner was made by Franklin Covey. I started using it as a new engineer at Boeing. They sent us through the Franklin Covey Time Management Training, which was powerful to help identify your big rocks, your values, down to your specific goals.

I carried around my brown faux leather three-ring binder with green and white pages daily for years. It was a place I could open to help remind me of who I wanted to be when I’d get frantic and outside of myself. After several years something about that particular planner started to not work for me.

I had consciously chosen to approach work and life like a man. I worked on my goals with laser-like focus, cutting out anything that got in the way. Yes, I was successful, but I was also burnt out, struggling with chronic fatigue and a back injury that wouldn’t go away.

Finally, someone wise said to me, “CrisMarie you’re trying to out-masculine the guys. You can’t. If you’re going to be successful, and feel better, you’re going to have to use your natural energy of being a woman.”

I realized that I had adopted the masculine or patriarchal values of the culture to “get by.” I saw feminine values as less-than, frivolous and unnecessary. Here’s what I mean by patriarchal or masculine versus feminine values.

For the last couple of years, I have connected to my own feminine energy and now value it. Of course, we all, both men and women, have feminine and masculine energy. I had just been overusing the masculine and not even valuing the feminine.

So how does this all relate to planning?

Well, I took Susan Clarke’s Get Unstuck class and learned about her amazing Mandala approach to goal setting that really transformed my planning process. With Susan’s Mandala process she values both the get-it-done energy of the masculine, as well as, the self-care of the feminine. They have equal weight!

When I used her Mandala process, I was able to accomplish my goals with much less muscling-through and resistance, and I felt supported, happy, and alive. My energy came back. I started my own coaching practice. I started having fun.

Boom! Mind blown!

Now, when Susan Clarke and I create our planner with the process and space for your Mandala’s as you go through the year, I search for a planner that addresses both the masculine and feminine side of planning. So here’s this year’s planning review.

Go Time Planner by Susan Hyatt

Price $49

Monthly and Daily pages

This is a great planner for women who want to reach out and make connections to grow their business and make an impact, while also taking care of themselves. It has monthly and daily pages.

In the front, it gives you tools for making connections, having fun, taking care of your body, and planning your quarterly focus. It’s a nice blend of the masculine and feminine approach.

This is a great planner for coaches, solo-entrepreneurs, therapists, or anyone who needs to market through connecting. It has fun and inspirational quotes from women throughout.

Cons: There is such a high demand that production is delayed. It doesn’t have as much room for the yearly planning as I’d like. I am using it in paper copy at this time. So I can’t tell if it will also include quarterly planning pages at the start of the quarter. I hope so!

Panda Planner

Price: $24.97 up to $27.97

Monthly, Weekly, and Daily pages

This planner has science on its side. It encourages you to plan and review, which helps you learn from your mistakes. It helps you link your big picture down to the specifics. It has monthly, weekly, and daily pages.

The monthly pages include the month-at-a-glance, as well as, This Month’s Goals, Distractions to Avoid, This Month Wins, Insights Gained.

The weekly pages include Big Wins, How I’ll Improve, Things I Will Do to Make this Week Great, I’m Looking Forward to, Habits I’m Focusing on Developing, Learn Something New, Passion Project, Projects, Top Goals. Whew! That is a lot to fill out!

The daily page has sections for Gratitude’s, Excited About, Affirmation, Focus, Exercise, Today’s Priorities, as well as, the Schedule and To-Dos. It also encourages you to review your day and identify Today’s Wins and How You’ll Improve.

This is a hardback book. It comes in all sorts of colors, which makes it attractive to me. A nice feminine touch with scientific masculine structure. You can start this any time of year. You fill out the dates.

Cons: When you are at the start of a month, it takes significant time to fill out the month page, the weekly pages, and the daily pages. Some may say this is good because it really helps you align. I was too impatient at times, and I found myself skipping sections. Also, I found I ran out of weekly pages before the daily or monthly pages were used up. So I had to abandon the planner with a lot of unused pages if I wanted to keep using weekly pages, which I did.

Unbound by Brant and Annie Wiedel

Price: $40 with free shipping

Monthly, Weekly, Project Planning pages

This planner is great for you project-planners out there. It has a great front planning section, including Self-Reflection, which looks at your life from the future, how you spend your time now, identifying what you love, what depletes you, a fear you want to release, big dreams, and your annual motto.

Next, it takes you through your goal planning process, from themes to goals, to goal specifics, and generating a timeline. Then it gives you several pages for project planning.

It has monthly pages and weekly pages. The monthly pages include the Month Focus, Goals, Gifts, and Reflection. The weekly pages include two pages for a week-at-a-glance and then two pages for planning, Weekly Focus, Morning Routine, Goals, To-Dos, Habit Tracker for each date, and a space for breaking down goals and projects.

It has nice white paper and is clean looking. Brant and Annie developed this planner last year and were gracious enough to send me the planner to test and review. To me, it has more of a masculine approach and feel.

Cons: It’s heavy. It only comes in muted colors, which don’t suit my taste. It doesn’t have a daily page, which I really enjoy. No real beauty, color, or whimsy to it.

Danielle LaPorte, Desire Map Planner

Price: $50 (up $6 from last year)

Weekly and Daily page versions

This is a great planner for any woman who wants to connect to her desired feelings, which I encourage every woman to do. Danielle helps you realize, everything you do is so you will feel a certain way. So why not first start with how you feel and then work backward to what you want to do?

It starts with a two-page annual area to list your Core Desired Feelings, Major Intentions and Goals for the Year.

For each month, it has a two-page month at-a-glance with easy to find cutouts and inspirational words. Each week has a two-page horizontal spread with a top area for three big picture things to get done this week. In addition, each week has a two-page notes spread with Soul Prompts, Stop Doing, Want to Change, and Gratitude areas.

There is an annual strategic focus section and weekly big-picture two-page spread for notes. She has nice inspirational quotes. This is a great blend of feminine feelings and masculine action.

It has a nice spiral-bound, colorful, and sturdy cover.

Cons: I used this planner for a bit in 2018 but then abandoned it because it had too many prompts that didn’t fit for me on weekly basis. The paper is thin. The month-at-a-glance doesn’t have space for writing goals.

Erin Condren Life Planners

Price: $44 to $65

Monthly and Weekly pages

This is a great planner for a woman who loves beauty. This is the most beautiful planner I’ve encountered. She gives you lovely thick paper, colorful pages. You can get all sorts of accessories, stickers, and supplies. Plus, you get to customize your planner with the cover (over 30 designs), the binding, the orientation of the weekly pages, vertical or horizontal. WOW! It has three pages of planning in the front. It has a two-page monthly spread with colorful tabs. It has an extra page at the end of the month for notes.

This planner wins the complete feminine award. If you don’t get this planner at least go buy some beautiful things on her site. It’s A-MAZ-ING!

Cons: It’s all feminine. I need daily pages, and to get those you have to buy an extra small little booklet. This doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t have a big picture planning process. I purchased one of these beautiful planners and looked at it all year longingly, but it just didn’t work for me.

Bullet Journal

Price $24.95

Index and Future Log pages

I have to say I thought this was a joke when I first purchased this planner. It’s pretty much a blank book with dotted and numbered pages. It comes with an Index, a Future Log, numbered pages, and directions on the process in the back of the book.

You are buying a process with a book that works with it. It starts with an index that you build as you fill in the pages. So if you drew in February’s month-at-a-glance on page 30 and 31, you’d list that in your index. It also has three fabric bookmarks, which allow you to mark your current key pages. It comes in three colors: black, emerald, and blue.

Once I learned the process, I started to LOVE this planner. Yes, it’s a pain to draw in the month grid when we shift to a new month. Yet, I get the flexibility of drawing it in just the right place in the book. I can also put other important information right in it and index it. For example, if we have a strategic meeting, I can put the notes from that meeting right in the planner and make a reference to it in the index, rather than putting the notes in a random notebook and losing it.

Best part yet: I get to draw in Susan Clarke’s Mandala in it! When I finish one Mandala, say in three or five months, I can put the next one in. I can draw in Susan Hyatt’s Quarterly Communication Plan in every quarter. It really suits integrating my own strategic, project, and planning tools the way I want them used.

I can make it feminine by decorating it with my own stickers and washi tape when I feel like it. You can also purchase a less expensive book with numbered pages that you can apply the same system.

Cons: If you’re not a neat drawer, your stuff will look, well, messy. (This is why Susan, won’t use this one!) The outside of the book doesn’t have the variety of colors to shift from year to year – no purple, no pink. It takes your time to draw in the items you need and the prompts you want to fill out.

That’s a wrap for 2019. Good luck with your planning process. I’d love to hear from you what planners work best for you!



CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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