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If you want to get stuff done, you need a planner.
If you want to feel less anxious, you need a planner.
How do I know?
Because I'm the before and after examples of planner use.
I've been extremely overwhelmed trying to manage to-do lists in my head, and I've been agitated trying to adhere to complex systems like Getting Things Done by David Allen.
I'll start by saying that I've learned it's more important to use a physical productivity planner than to not use one.
It doesn't matter so much which physical one you use.
But I do happen to be partial because I eventually stumbled upon a planner that has changed my life.
It's called Goal Crazy.
What's In a Name? The Goal Crazy 3-Month Productivity Planner
I'll admit, I was initially turned off by the name.
Having worked in the mental health field for years, and as a person with anxiety and OCD, I wasn't sure of the founder's motive when he named his product "Crazy."
He even has a C.R.A.Z.Y. acronym he uses within the planner to teach you his approach.
Plus, there are casual references to crazy people and goals.
But as I reviewed the planner and got used to the methodology behind it, I quickly became convinced that his intention was absolutely a good one and that he wasn't using the word "crazy" in a pejorative sense.
Because the system works.
Goal Crazy is more than just a daily planner.
It's the type of planner that is undated, which I find so helpful.
I don't know about you, but I get incredibly anxious when I'm told I need to commit to a very particular schedule.
Ever sign up for a course or challenge that follows a prescriptive daily schedule and then immediately fall behind after day two?
Suddenly, it's the end of the world, and rather than just skipping a day and continuing on with the next one, I feel like the sky is falling and my life is over.
Apparently this is a common phenomenon.
Jon Acuff calls it the "Day After Perfect" in his excellent book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.
It's not a practical response, I know. But mental health is a finicky foe.
Getting back on track, the real beauty of the Goal Crazy planner is the methodology built into it.
When you first open the planner, you'll notice there are tons of pages in the beginning sections related to how to use it.
I admit that this was daunting the first time I went through the process.
It probably took me two or three planners (again, each planner is for three months) to get the hang of it.
But I got better with each successive planner, meaning I incrementally improved my ability to follow the system.
And my life changed so much as a result.
So what is the Goal Crazy Daily Planner and Weekly Planner System?
Goal Crazy starts with a nifty life-balance assessment that has you rate yourself in various areas, from physical health and your social life to spiritual health and your work life.
At the end of the questionnaire / rating, you map out your scores on a grid that becomes an eye-opening visual representation of how balanced your life currently is.
Once you get through a few journals--even just two--you start to see if you are becoming more or less balanced in any given area.
Your life-balance chart will literally expand or shrink, and it becomes obvious which areas of your life need more love and attention.
This has been such a powerful reminder for me of what I need to focus on, even as a person who is not visual at all.
Determining What You Want Out of Your Life
Next, Goal Crazy has you answer questions about your life to get at the heart of what you really want.
What you end up with is a list of all the big goals you want to accomplish broken down into short-term, long-term, and lifetime goals.
From there, you hone in on your one big goal for the next three months.
Setting Your Three-Month Goal / Plan (And Other Personal Goals)
This is huge.
This is the power of clarity and where the Goal Crazy planner really shines.
It's obvious the founder Jason VanDevere honed this system for himself over the years.
It's laid out in a logical way that I haven't yet found in other planners I've tried.
What's great about doing the work to decide on your biggest goal for the next three months is that it pinpoints exactly what's important to you--and then has you work through the steps each month and week to accomplish it.
Because you're always going to have tasks big and small that you need to do each week.
But your most important goal for the quarter will be top of mind, and that means you won't get distracted with shiny-object syndrome and spend your days chasing tasks that don't really matter.
Planning Your Tasks and Habits for the Month / Weeks
Just when you think a productivity planner can't get any better, you realize that even more thought has been put into Goal Crazy.
Because there are mini-systems within the overarching system.
Small details like how to use the three attached ribbon bookmarks to easily find your monthly, weekly, and daily goal sections make you feel like a real human designed this thing.
But that's not all.
There are also physical habit cards you fill out each month and daily areas to track your progress with the new productive habits.
If this sounds overwhelming, it's really not.
It's all built into the system. Go through with it for a few weeks, and you'll wonder why you haven't been planning your life this way your ENTIRE life.
Doing Your Daily Tasks
Of course, the smallest element of any planning process is the daily action plan, and the daily plan is, once again, thoughtfully designed like the other sections.
Here's what you do every morning:
- Fill out the date and your big goal for the quarter
- List three things you're grateful for
- List three things you're excited about
- Decide on your most important task for the day
- Decide on other tasks that need to get done that day as part of your daily to-do list
- Decide on any tasks that would be nice to get done but aren't essential
- Map out / time-box your tasks and appointments in a lined area on the right side of the page
Here's what you do at the end of your workday:
- List your accomplishments from the day
- List your favorite parts of the day (This helps to build gratitude)
- Fill out notes (In reality, you can use the note section throughout the day)
- Identify how you will improve tomorrow
- Mark off if you did your habits or not (You will have already filled out the physical habit card, which serves as a great visual cue each day)
I love that this planner is not just about accomplishing goals. It's also a habit tracker, a gratitude builder, and a life barometer.
I've been able to eliminate several apps that were cluttering up my phone because of how effective Goal Crazy is in so many areas.
It's hard to quantify just how much time I've saved by adopting the Goal Crazy system, but it's a lot.
The Verdict: Goal Crazy Will Be Your New Favorite Productivity Tool
It's so much more than a daily planner, weekly planner, or monthly planner.
It's an extremely well-thought-out approach to understanding what you want from your life--and then structuring your life to achieve your goals.
The combination of education, motivation, life-planning philosophy, monthly calendars, weekly planning areas, and planning templates truly is ingenious.
And the power is in the process.
Digital calendars might work best for some people--and, believe me, I'm a tech lover--but I think there is something to be said for writing down what you're doing each day.
Studies have shown that writing down your thoughts uses a different part of your brain than thinking them or typing them.
So if you're struggling to get your tasks done, or if you're struggling to even know what you should be working on each day, week, and month, then you need to seriously consider Goal Crazy.
It's easy to set up a subscription on the website, and you get a discount for doing so.
I first found it on Amazon, but then I switched over to the subscription through the site once I realized that this planner is the real deal.
Plus, Jason, the founder, seems like a normal guy just trying to provide a useful product for the world.
That's the kind of person I want to support with my money.
I hope you'll think about doing the same.