Using Planners Effectively – A TOT Community Spotlight

Paper planners have immense benefits. From helping us remember things better, to keeping everything in one place, or staying focused on the task at hand, writing down our goals and priorities in a physical planner does a lot of good.

Today, we’re showcasing two people who’ve successfully integrated The ONE Thing Planner into their lives so that you can build on their successes and create your own.

Ann Donnelly, Small Business Owner

As a digital marketing consultant, coach, and single parent, Ann Donnelly first adopted strategies from The ONE Thing after realizing she needed to make big changes in her life. The time management tactics she had been using weren’t consistent and didn’t help her achieve what she was capable of.

When business projects loomed, there was generally too much work for the little time she had. It forced her to begin planning every minute of her day. However, she didn’t take that approach to her personal goals and ambitions. When there wasn’t a project on the horizon, rather than working in the same proactive fashion, she took a more laid-back approach. She credits the planner with changing that.

How do you use the planner?

“I don’t use it for every little appointment I have. I use it to track the big blocks – this is when I’m working and this is when I’m off.”

When it comes to time blocking, Ann doesn’t use The ONE Thing Planner to track every detail of her life. Instead, she uses it to take note of big blocks of time like when she’s working and when she’s not. Then, she transfers these blocks to her Google calendar, where she can specify in more detail what she plans to get done (or when to give herself some time off). She’s learned that time blocking is useful for her time off, as well, and not just for her planning time and important goals. And how she’s using all of her time is recorded in her planner.

What’s your favorite feature of the planner?

“Bringing it all together is what makes it useful.”

What Ann appreciates the most about the planner is that it brings all of the productivity tools she uses into one bound, simple book.

The planner contains sections for a variety of tools used in The ONE Thing – from the 4-1-1 and GPS to the 66-day calendar – and it allows her to reflect on what she’s accomplished over the prior months and quarters. To her, having all of The ONE Thing’s training, planning tools, goal setting, tracking and time blocking included under one cover is convenient. As Ann explains, “For me, all the ONE Thing stuff is brought into one place, which makes it very useful.”

How has the planner helped you achieve your goals?

“One of the most important things is planning your time off. Even if it’s not your ONE Thing, it’s important to plan around it. If you don’t, everything else gets out of whack.”

Ann has many balls to juggle. Whether it’s spending time on her daughter, training, or work, she’s got a lot to keep up with. With all of her responsibilities, she admits it’s difficult to remember to take care of herself. So, she benefits from using the planner as a self-care tool, reminding herself to do simple things like eat lunch or plan for larger events like a vacation.

When it comes to her career, the planner has helped Ann adopt a mindset of accountability. She tracks quantitative performance metrics that measure her own productivity. For instance, Ann notes how the planner, in conjunction with the 4-1-1 (which, as she reminds us, is also tucked neatly inside) helps her see how many leads she needs to generate, how many calls she needs to make, and how many meetings to set in order to reach her goals.

What is a benefit of The ONE Thing Planner that you didn’t have previously?

“The ability to go back and look at where you’ve been and having [this information] all in one place is that much easier.”

All too often, we’re too busy to really take note of all we’ve done. However, the planner makes this a moot point for Ann. Her productivity journey throughout the course of the year is documented, and shows her where she’s been, where she’s struggled and what she’s accomplished. She’s then able to celebrate her wins and set larger goals that will lead her to bigger and better outcomes.

Kim Vuong, real estate team owner

As a member of The ONE Thing community since 2016, Kim has a clear memory of what life was like both before and after incorporating The ONE Thing into her life.

Kim was growing her real estate team at a rapid pace, earning recognition as one of the top teams in her market. But even though her professional trajectory was taking off, she was overworked, and her lack of priority left her nerves rattled. Her body was telling her that the way she was approaching her business wasn’t healthy or sustainable. At this point she sought out a better way of doing things and her ONE Thing journey began.

How do you use the planner?

“The thing that got me started was connecting deeper to my purpose.”

Although she was initially intimidated by incorporating a new system into her life, Kim felt ready for the positive changes the planner would bring to her productivity. She knew that successful people were hyperaware of how they used their time, and she wanted to do the same. She started small, with a simple habit of opening the planner each day to track her 66-day challenge.

What’s your favorite feature of the planner?

“My favorite feature is still the top-of-mind focus of building my habit.”

Kim has more than succeeded with her first 66-day challenge of opening the planner on a daily basis. Despite the fact that there are so many other tools to take advantage of within the planner, she comes right back to touting the benefits of using it to establish and grow habits. She recognizes she’s in the early phases of her journey, but she’s used the planner to continue to build powerful productivity habits one day at a time and reflect on what she’s accomplished within the same simple book.

How has the planner helped you achieve your goals?

“Every day I keep repeating to myself, ‘Progress over perfection.’”

When it comes to being her most productive self, Kim knows it’s an ongoing journey. But when she gets clarity on what she wants, the rest falls into place. The planner is helping her build, find, and maintain this clarity. By utilizing the planner, she knows she’s giving herself the best chance at success by consciously outlining a plan for reaching her goals.

What is a benefit of The ONE Thing Planner that you didn’t have previously?

“The great thing about this planner is that we have a whole community connected with us as well as to help support [our] progress moving forward which I’ve learned, for myself, is huge… Just being around a group of like-minded people who are so supportive of each other just feels so good.”

Something that stands out to Kim as a benefit of The ONE Thing Planner is the community that accompanies this planner. As she explains, there is a whole community around The ONE Thing to support her and help her progress. It’s a judgement-free zone where she wants to continue to pursue her goals as well as discuss her challenges and successes. Unlike using Outlook or a Google calendar to track your day to day, those who use The ONE Thing planner best succeed together.

Are you ready to start your own journey toward greater productivity with The One Thing Planner? If so, you can pre-order the latest version here. If you’ve already started on the road toward accomplishing your goals with a ONE Thing planner, we would love to hear your own experiences with it. Share what you’ve learned and what works for you in our Facebook Community!

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