Monday, September 15, 2014

Review of the 7 Minute Life

Do you want a catchy name for a planner? Put a deadline on it. When you hear the name The 7 Minute Life, you want to know more about it. Does it mean that you can live your best life in 7 minutes? That you can get everything important in your day done in 7 minutes? That you can plan your day in 7 minutes? That you have 7 minutes left to live (I jest!)? The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a very different kind of planner. You can tell that just by looking at it. The color scheme, the simplicity, and the layout are all clues (along with the name) that this isn't your favorite presidentially named planner.

So what is The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner? The best way to introduce the planner is to watch this video. It does clock in at 12 minutes (which is ironic, given that the creator of the planner begins the video by explaining that her research found that the average adult has an attention span of only seven minutes, but oh, well!), but it is what made me know that I had to make this planner part of my life. It also made me realize that the $24.95 price tag is a bargain.

Essentially, the 7 Minute Life is about setting 90-day goals and prioritizing your life. Both of these are accomplished primarily through the "5 before 11" method. This methodology entails identifying and completing 5 "high value" tasks before 11 o'clock each day. I have to confess that this is the part of the plan that appealed to me immediately. When I have written about time management and accomplishing goals, my number one piece of advice has been to "front-load" your day. In other words, get the most done in the morning, especially focusing on your more important tasks. This planner is designed to help you accomplish just this purpose!

Now, for me, new planners are extremely intimidating. That's because I am a perfectionist and I want to get them right. They are new and unwritten in and I don't love my handwriting and I am afraid of messing them up (punctuation, or lack thereof, intentional). To that end, I *truly* appreciated this video on using this planner. I hope it is helpful to you as well. A huge bonus is that you can see exactly what this planner looks like. You can feel free to start the video at 1:08 - it's where the relevant part starts.

Finally, the planner itself has no less than about 15 pages of instructions and front matter (I stopped counting the front matter with the start of the monthly calendars) to get you started and to help you with the goal-planning and goal-setting processes, the tracking of mental clutter, and the identification of your priorities and purposes. This is one planner that really wants to make sure that you are able to use it to its fullest!

My Experience with the 7 Minute Life

Le sigh. I love this planner. I really do. My problem is that it is not a homeschool planner; it is a planner for people who work (outside the home I mean!). In fact, when I showed it to Henry, he was really intrigued - he loved it. Having said that, I am learning to make it work for me; I just don't think that I am done tweaking it yet.

The daily contacts is a major part of the is planner. In fact, there is a points value assignment process associated with them and everything. Unfortunately, making contacts is not a big deal in my line of work (homeschooling and working for edHelper). So, I have turned this part of the planner into a homeschool log. I have my homeschool planner elsewhere; here I am logging what we actually get done (which is generally what I prefer to do anyway). But I hate the fact that I have so much blank space left over.

The 5 Before 11 feature is perfect. I love it. It's what I like to do anyway! I'm not sure if the "7 Minute Life" Connections is as trivial as I make it out to be, but I use this feature to remind myself of people I want to call or text. The days go by so quickly, and I have such hermit tendencies, that I find that the week is gone before I know it. I can think about calling my sister all day long, but then I find that several days have gone by and I still haven't done it. Also, there is a wonderful, wonderful older couple at church with whom I like to keep in touch...but I often only remember that I wanted to call or email them when I see them on Sunday. I *need* a section like this to remind me to get in touch on a given day.

The Unfinished Tasks section I use to record...unfinished tasks. Those things that I worked on the previous day that I need to continue today. A "to do" list of sorts. 

The tracking section at the bottom is a work in progress. I am never good at tracking water (and I tend to do it on my Fitbit anyway). Writing down what I eat is also something I do on my Fitbit, as is my sleep tracking, but I am trying to also keep the written record here. Tracking my reading time is a little alarming as I see how much time I spend reading, but since most of it is done late at night, I don't stress too much.

It's the other page in the planner that is eating my lunch. The schedule portion is great - keeping track of appointments/classes, etc. is crucial. I wish there were half-hour demarcations, though. The place to write thank-you notes has me befuddled. I don't write three thank-yous a day. I need to re-purpose that spot. I don't leave or receive voice mails, so I am using that spot to track emails that I need to respond to - that's working quite well. I am using the large blank spot at the bottom for thoughts on my goals and the day (N.B. It's because of the nature of the content on this page - the emails and reflections - that I didn't take a picture).

I have to say that I really do love this planner, but I can't think of it as a planner. I am thinking of it as more of a journal. I still use my other planner for planning and scheduling purposes, but there is definitely room in my life for this product, too. It focuses my thinking and makes me think about things every day that I otherwise find it much easier to put off thinking about. As I said, I am not done tweaking it, but I can see myself buying it again when I finish this one. It definitely has a place in every mom's planning/journaling toolbox!

There are as many ways to use the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner as there are people using it, so be sure to click the link below to see how other Crew moms have fit it into their lives.

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