Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner

Busy moms, especially home school moms, are always searching for better time management and life organization strategies. I am no exception. I am a chronic list maker, and thrive on setting and achieving goals, "checking" things off my daily task lists. I was very interested in the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life. 

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is much more than a daily planner. It is an entire life/time management system! The creator, Allyson Lewis, designed this program after a serious health situation in her own life caused her to re-evaluate her life's goals and daily priorities, examining where she wanted to spend time and what was important enough to focus on, eliminating those things that were just taking up space in her life. She used this experience, and her planner, to develop a system of life coaching to help others achieve success in time management and fulfill their life's purpose.

What is the planner like? It is a spiral bound, square shaped planner that is about 8" square, and 1" thick. There is a clear plastic cover overlaying a thick card stock cover, that includes a small pocket on the inside for storing receipts.

What is included inside? The front of the planner has nineteen pages of instructions for starting the program and making it a success in your life. The next seventeen pages are worksheets for implementing the plans, and include pages to sort out your own personal priorities, preferences, strengths, and goals. There is plenty of room to list tasks, set goals, and break down the tasks into smaller, bite size pieces so that you can actually see them move from hopes and dreams written on a page to reality. Following that introduction, there are ninety days worth of daily progress reports.

This is a short video I made to describe the planner in more detail:

What is the significance of 7 minutes? There have been studies that show an average adult's attention span is about seven minutes. Allyson Lewis also emphasizes spending seven minutes at the end of each day to assess your daily accomplishments, record your progress, and plan your priorities for the following day.

How does the system work? There are multiple videos on the 7 Minute Life website that explain the time management strategies involved in using this planner. I found them all very interesting, especially the ones that explain how to use your brain to change your habits. At the heart of this system is teaching yourself to recognize what is (or should be) a priority in your life, and then striving to organize and simplify your life so that your priorities get the attention they deserve. In fact, that is the three steps of this system: Prioritize. Organize. Simplify.

Have you ever felt like your daily task list was just too much to accomplish? I have. Sometimes my list seems so long that I don't even know where to start. It just feels so out of control.

What have I learned from using this planner? I have learned to break down huge tasks into manageable pieces. I don't ever have an uninterrupted day set aside to clean and organize an entire room. After using this planner a bit, I realized that I can take an entire room that needs organization, and instead of writing that in my planner and feeling discouraged that I couldn't accomplish it, I can actually work to see it happen, (though it will take a few weeks), by taking one small part of that room and writing one task a day in my planner. For example, instead of writing "clean & organize the sun porch" I wrote "remove one bag of unused items from the sun porch". At the end of the day, I was able to feel success and accomplishment over doing a small part, and over the course of the week, I was slowly able to see the sun porch come back to life!

What was the most valuable aspect of this planner for me? I would say that I benefited most from the "5 before 11" section of the daily progress reports. In this small section of the daily progress report, I was able to choose five things that were a priority for the next day, and as soon as I woke up and finished my daily morning routine, those were the things that I tackled. Having a goal set to have those five items accomplished before 11:00 made me much more productive. Rarely did I miss finishing my "5 before 11" items. I learned to make sure they were priority items, but not things that were big projects that would get me bogged down. For a goal setter like myself, accomplishing tasks early in the day definitely gives me a mental edge on the rest of my day and makes me much more productive.

Who is this planner for? This is definitely a planner for busy adults, or possibly college students. It is not a student planner.  I think people who are trying to balance work and family life would find this planning system most helpful.

Some adjustments: While I definitely did enjoy using this planner, there were a few things I either adjusted in it to personalize for myself, or would outright change if I could.  The main thing I adjusted was the headings on the daily progress reports. Since my main focus in life right now is home making and home schooling, I found several areas that were not really applicable to my life. I do not have many voice mails or messages to return, and I don't really have daily contacts. My thank you note writing comes in spurts, not daily, and I definitely need more "free space" to write tasks that need attention. I ended up crossing out the headings and using them in completely different ways than what they were intended for.

The other drawback that I found with this system is that it only lasts for ninety days. I am in the habit of using my planners for a year at a time, and my kids call my planner "Mom's Brain". Everything I do is written in there, and I often have to refer back to previous months for information I need. While I love the concept, I am not sure that I could break down my life into ninety day segments like this planner suggests. My life is just more complicated than that, with medical information and school information that I need at my fingertips for the entire year.

I really enjoyed the introductory pages in the front of the planner. I found them valuable and a helpful and simple way to think through my life and choose priorities and tasks. I think it would be a wonderful idea to be able to purchase just those introductory life planning pages as an independent booklet. I would definitely use that in my own life, as goals and priorities change over time. I would also use it with young people that I mentor.

I also found many pages that I skipped over because they just weren't applicable in my life right now. For example, there were pages that had "meeting planning" strategies to write down. I currently don't run meetings. When I started, I thought perhaps I could use them for "family meetings" that we have sometimes when working through decision making, but I found it too cumbersome.

I think it would be most helpful if people could customize their planners with different sets of pages that were most useful for their own life. This planner definitely has more of a "business" tone, but there are many other walks of life that would find the system itself useful. Some pages or headings that I would love to see in future editions of this planner would include a daily devotions tracker, spiritual goals, savings goals (and possibly weekly ways to track savings), prayer lists, more free space for writing uncategorized tasks, budgeting, "screen time" for myself and the kids, and more room for homeschooling needs. I enjoy planning ahead for our home school year, and having the planning pages tailor made for schooling would be extremely helpful.

Final thoughts: Overall, I think the 7 Minute Life time management system is very thorough, and would help any user accomplish more in their life, fulfilling goals and desires. I think one must really buy in to the system and overhaul their life using the strategies included to make it work. I enjoyed the planner, but would definitely make some adjustments to make it more user-friendly for my own life personally.

What is the cost: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner can be purchased on the website for $24.95.

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  1. We at T7ML would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your time and honest feedback. We are working very hard to make this planner be the best for everyone. Again thank you.

    1. Michelle, thank you for the privilege to review the planner!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!