Input Wanted: What Type of Planner Do You Prefer

October 31, 2012

Recently, a group of about 40 of us completed the rise365 Productivity Experiment. It was a great group of folks sharing ideas and keeping each other accountable with being more productive.

photo by ex.libris

One of the conversations centered around planners and organization. This conversation peaked my interest as I’ve been reevaluating the type of planner I use since starting my business.

Having my life organized and efficient is critical to living my best life. It allows me to be focused and make consistent progress while working. Then, when I’m spending time with my family, I can be 100% present with them, knowing my work is taken care of.

In this conversation about planners, there were a number of different preferences when it came to keeping appointments and to-do’s in order. Some liked digital planners, others a physical planner.

Personally, I like the idea of a digital planner, but haven’t found one that I really like. I have tried a few, but have always come back to my physical planner. Plus, there’s just something I like about putting pen to paper that keeps me sticking to the physical planner.

Most of the participants in the experiment actually preferred digital planners, with Google Calendar being the top choice by far! Perhaps that warrants me giving it another try.

I’m curious as to what you prefer. Are you a Google Calendar fan, or do you use another digital planner? Or, maybe you’re like me and use a physical planner. I’d love to know!

Question: What planner do you prefer?


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  • Reply Ann Musico October 31, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Michael – I use a physical planner and like writing my tasks AND then crossing them off when they’re done.  I am a “notebook junkie” – I LOVE a beautiful, fresh, clean, new notebook (planners included) and deciding just what to write in it.  My son Chris bought me some beautiful Moleskin notebooks last year for Christmas – they were among my favorite gifts ever!

    • Reply Michael Good October 31, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Ann, Claudia loves Moleskins too. She loves her journals! I like a new journal or planner, but can’t compete with her. I’ll let you do that. 😉

      Sounds like Chris knows you well. 🙂

  • Reply Rob Clinton October 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Right now, I keep my meetings on my online calendar & I do my planning and goals on a single word document that I print out everyday. I print this one sheet out, to which I have a few important things to do that day and I physically check them off one by one as I complete them. 

    I’ve used a Franklin Covey planner before which was a great tool, and I’ve kept everything on an outlook calendar… But there is something powerful about physically checking off my goals from a simple piece of paper…

    • Reply Michael Good October 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm


      I remember you talking about your one pager that you print out each day. I think that’s a great method. I often do a similar thing for some to-do’s with pencil and paper, but it’s more of a to-do list or mind dump then a goals list. 

      Although, now that I’m thinking, this is what we did during the productivity experiment. Each night before we finished work for that day, we wrote out our 6 most important things to do the following day. Only 6 and then started with the most important one and didn’t go onto the next before the first one was completed. It really helped me focus. 

      • Reply Rob Clinton November 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        Right on, Michael… Awesome focus tool! Yeah,  I’ve also learned from @KentJulian one time that there’s a huge difference between a task list and a goal list. That check off sheet changes everything when they switch from to-dos to actual goals you’re working towards. That was huge for me…

        • Reply Michael Good November 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm

          Rob, I tried your method today and, I must say, I really like it! What I did was write out my regular to-do list/things to remember. But then, I decided what was really important for today and made another list of about 7 goals on a separate sheet of paper. It’s working great! I’m right on track to reach all 7. So, thanks!

          • Rob Clinton November 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

            Michael very cool, Awesome! So glad that’s working… Yeah, it’s changed everything for me… 

  • Reply crystalmgood October 31, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I love physical planners, something about writing it down, jotting notes, and then checking it off as it’s completed. I do think there are perks to digital planners, like setting reminders, and reoccuring meetings. But I still like my pen & paper 🙂

    • Reply Michael Good November 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Hey Crystal!

      Agreed, there is something special about a physical planner. Hope you and Andrew are well!

  • Reply James Dibben October 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Warning, I am a nerd!

    I just upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5.

    I love using Siri for appointments and reminders.

    “Remind me to take out the trash every Monday at 6:45 am”

    That reminder was created in seconds while I was driving down the road.

    “I need to meet Julie next Friday at 7pm.”

    That calendar appointment was created in seconds just now as a test.”

    My iPhone and my wife’s iPhone can access my Google Calendar and I can access it via my gmail page. It updates on all devices in real time which is very handy for new contacts I add.

    I always have my phone with me so it makes sense to use it for appointments and reminders.

    • Reply Michael Good November 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm


      That sounds like a pretty sweet setup! Good to know Siri is working well for you. I’ve hear others say they weren’t too impressed.

      Also, the syncing capability sounds like it’d be really nice. Others in the productivity group mentioned how they really liked that especially with coordinating their schedule with their spouse’s. Like what you said.

      • Reply James Dibben November 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        I wasn’t expecting much from Siri either.

        The problem is everyone else was spending their energy asking Siri dumb questions instead of putting it to work.

        “Wake me up at 6am tomorrow”
        “Set a timer for 20 minutes”
        “Find 1800 SE High Drive”

        I never used the timer with my other phones. Too many screens to navigate. Now I just hold down the home button and tell Siri what to do and it’s done. 

        My wife doesn’t use her iPhone calendar like I do. She likes to use a wall calendar. I have my calendar synced on her phone but I don’t know if she ever looks at it, ha.

        • Reply Michael Good November 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

          Wow, being able to set the timer like that would be great. I do use my phone’s timer, but you’re right. I have to navigate through a number of screens first.

  • Reply George DeJohn November 1, 2012 at 1:05 am

    I love this topic. What can I say, I love making lists. Just making a list can make the stress if getting things done seem to fizzle away.

    I’m a big fan of hand written notes as well. Something about taking a big red pen and scratching through a completed task is a reward in itself.

    I still use the calendar on my phone to keep track of daily meetings and appointments, but goals are always on paper.

    • Reply Michael Good November 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm


      That’s a similar system as some of the others described here. That seems to be working well for folks. Thanks for the input!

      By the way, congrats on the second child on the way. I noticed that in a recent post of yours.

  • Reply Michael Wright November 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I enjoy writing things down instead of the digital devices.  They are more “in your face” in a sense and they have character – Makes ’em more real to me.

    • Reply Michael Good November 26, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Yeah, I hear you, Michael. Those are some of my same thoughts. 

  • Reply Blaise Blue March 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    You strike me as a daily planner kind of guy. You need three things in your planner: A monthly calendar, A daily calendar, and a page where you can stick notes in between each individual day.

    Although I really wish we could design our own calendars it’s sad to say we cannot. Or rather you could within a given limit if say you know how to make books. But chances are it’ll be hard to find that perfect planner or even a quiz to give each of us the slightest idea of what’s best for us all individually.

    But yes I say get a small binder planner and get something for each month, each day, and enough space for notes. Make sure you write important things on both the monthly and daily so you don’t forget. 🙂

    • Reply Michael Good March 21, 2014 at 6:42 am


      I love the idea of a custom planner. Since I wrote this post, I have started using a digital planner and love it. There’s still a place for pen and paper, but I like a digital aspect to a planner. I’ve found that with many of the digital planners available, you can customize them, at least to a certain extent.

      Thanks for the input!

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