Today I’m answering the hot topic question of this time of year and that is: Which planner should I buy?!

Actually… I’m not answering that question!

What I’m going to talk about is the difference between having a great planner, and being a great planner. And all the things you need to know to have your plans result in fabulous actions.


Here for the links referenced in the show notes? 

Heart-Centred Business Planning System: tashcorbin.com/planner


Let’s get started!

Yes, it is that time of the year. That time of year when 20 people a day ask into the Heart-centred community, “Which planner are you buying for 2019?”

I totally get it! As a stationery nerd, I understand that we all want to find that magical planner that makes our lives easier, helps us feel super organised, and helps us to achieve our big goals for the next year.

But here’s the thing: If you’re looking for the magical right planner, then chances are you won’t magically fix all of your self-organisation issues, because there’s a difference between having a great planner and being one.

Yes, there are some amazing planner tools out there, and yes, they do a really great job of getting things out of your brain and onto paper, and I love using planners. I even create and sell my own!

But I want us to have a conversation so that you can go into your planner hunt and forage with your eyes open, knowing that you’re not just relying on an inanimate object to fix something that you want to work on.

Here are my hot tips…

1. There are different roles for different things

For example, there’s a big difference between a business planner that sets you up with a clear plan for the year, and a business planner or daily planner that helps you map out what your priorities are each day.

They are two different things that have two different purposes, so whilst you might find that you are really excited and get lots of juicy stuff done when you use your daily planner, if you don’t have the big picture sorted then chances are you’re going to be focusing on the wrong actions because you’ve always got a short-term focus.

We need to make sure there’s a good balance between long-term planning and short-term planning.

There’s also a difference between planning and self-management (the doing and the implementation) so a lot of the planners that you see out there are actually self-management tools. They are a daily tool or a weekly tool to help you self-manage.

Again, that’s not giving you the big picture and helping you to focus down on the right and most powerful activities.

If you sit down to do your daily plan each morning, but you’re not looking at that big picture and ensuring that you’re focused on the important things (and not just the fun and urgent things), then chances are you’re not focused on the right activities.

I actually see that there are three key layers to set yourself up with that planning.

There’s the:

1. Yearly big picture
2. Monthly focus-down
3. Daily self-management

If we can get those three layers working really well, chances are you’re going to see much better results than simply just doing the day-to-day planning, or doing the big picture plan and never looking at it again for the entire year.

We want to make sure that you have a great balance.

I find that for yearly business planning, I do it best when I have some form of review and strategising planner, so I will get mine printed if I buy an electronic version because I think better with pen and paper, and actually a lot of what I do in my yearly planner is done with my partner, Honest Dave. We like to celebrate the year that was and review it together so that we can make sure we’re on the same page.

The 2019 Tash Corbin planner (which I don’t have printed yet #batchingmypodcasts) is something that will again involve doing a review of 2018 and setting your goals for 2019.

We know that there’s no hard separation between what we want to do in our business and what we want to achieve in our life.

For me, my business creates what I want in my life, and my life creates what I want in my business.

Those two things are blended and integrated very beautifully and that’s why I sit down and do my year focus with Honest Dave with pen and paper.

What we usually do sometime between Christmas and New Year is we’ll go to a lovely wine bar, have cocktails near a beach somewhere, or go somewhere really fancy, and we’ll spend an afternoon doing our review and setting our goals for the following year together.

It’s a really beautiful connecting process for us, and it’s one of our favourite things to do at that time of year.

I recommend sitting down with a paper planner and getting everything out of my head. If you can do it with another person, that’s great! 90% of what I do in my physical planner doesn’t need to go to my team before I refine it and make it into an implementable business plan in the second stage of that process.

The second stage of that process for me is my month-by-month planner.

I use an Excel spreadsheet and it has at least my next 6-8 weeks in front of me. It will have what I’m focused on, my projects for each week, what I’m promoting, what content is coming out, and then any extra notes or things I need to be aware of. I sit down and update that spreadsheet every single week. I’m looking at what’s happening in the weeks ahead, what did/didn’t get done last week, and it’s a view to a page.

Something that I’m going to do is in the bonus for this podcast episode, I’m going to give you that spreadsheet as a template. It’s got some fun colour-coding stuff in there and comes with a little video to instruct you on how to use it because for me this has been the gateway between my yearly plan, and the day-to-day project management for my team.

I’ve been using that spreadsheet for about two years now, and even when I go into Teamwork for management, we still have a month-to-a-view Excel spreadsheet because we can see everything at a glance, and there’s a difference between being able to see your medium-term future at a glance, and knowing what you need to do each day.

Again, these are the three layers:

1. Yearly plan and setting the big picture. I review it at least every quarter, if not more regularly to just make sure we’re checking in and that everything is still relevant.

2. Monthly focus-down. My spreadsheet with my month per page view that I update every week, but I set the agenda at least six weeks in advance so that we can work towards it.

The more my team is getting ahead of things, and the more we’re starting to be able to see the future more clearly, the further and further ahead that spreadsheet page gets.

3. The day-to-day management. This is where I find those online tools to be super helpful.

If it’s just you and one other team member, Asana is a great tool to use for this. Claire Barton, Aerlie Wildy, Laura Dick, all the organisation/planny beautiful ladies that we know in the ladyposse all recommend Asana, and I also recommend it if you’re just starting out with self-management, or you only have one or two team members.

For my team, we’ve now moved to Teamwork which is a little bit more in-depth and a little bit more involved. We moved because I now have five team members working for me and we have some job-share roles as well.

It’s really important to me that the tools that we use for day-to-day management are helpful for my team, effective for my team, and that they are actually value-adding and not making my team spend hours a day managing the plan instead of doing it.

I want them to be quick, simple, and easy to use but also very effective for managing things where we have cross-team responsibility.

There are lots of other project management day-to-day tools that you can use.

I know that the temptation to use a daily physical planner is very high for self-management, but there’s a big limitation that it has. It will make it much harder for you to bring on someone else to help you with your business because it’s not like you can just scan your planner in and send it off and be like: “This is what I did all last year.”

If you’re going to use a daily planner, you need to be considering if you’re still systemising and capturing what it takes for you to run your business in a way that future-proofs your self-management and allows you to outsource and bring on more team members.

This is where I really let myself down in my first few years of business.

Business growth strategies journaling scaling growth

One of my top business growth strategies is to use a PLANNER!

I dabbled and experimented, but ultimately I kept making the excuse that I was a pen and paper person and that’s really the strategy that works for me.

Now I’ve been able to work into the way that I manage myself and my idea of using the pen and paper thing. What I do now is log in to my teamwork and see my tasks that are for that day, and then I will go and do them and tick them off in Teamwork. Then, if there’s extra time (there usually is because I’m very fast with my work and don’t have a lot of things to do in my business these days), what I’ll do is set myself a little challenge. I’ll do a small checklist on paper, or pop something into my journal, or break out my texters and come up with a few ideas to tick off and have a little game with myself.

These extra activities are not the core-foundational things that I need to do for my business, they are future-proof fun things that let me be flexible with the extra stuff I want to do in my business.

This is one of those times where I get to play with my “toy box.”

They’re the three layers I like to have working in my business.

It’s been an experiment for me as I move forward in my business. What you need to do is find something that works really well for you. I’m not going to prescribe a planning and implementing process, because what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.

There are lots of people who love using spreadsheets every single day and ticking things off. They could spend 1/3 of their day doing it and it feels good and like time well spent.

For me, I want to be in action and doing things.

I want to be:

  • Recording, creating and planning my future
  • Doing Facebook lives and engaging in the Heart-centred group
  • In my business doing things more than I’m in a project management software typing up all my tasks for the next day

Find a system that works for you, but the only way you’ll find one is by trying them out.

Remember, it goes yearly big picture, short-term future, and daily self-management.

2. Make sure that whatever planner you select is a living document

One of the big pieces of feedback I got after the 2015 planner was that a lot of people filled it in, loved it, and were so inspired by it, but then they forgot about it.

One of the things that I’ve incorporated into the 2019 planner is a monthly review and the setting of priorities on a month-by-month basis. Plus, we have that amazing Excel spreadsheet template that you can use to do your day at a glance. We also have live workshops that go with it, so we’re bringing people back to having a conversation about their goals and plans, and reviewing on a regular basis.

In 2019 we’re going to be doing quarterly reviewing sessions, so anyone who buys the 2019 planner will also get quarterly reviewing/planning sessions so that you can check back in and make sure that it’s a living document.

Now you’ll see in mine that there are post-it notes and extra notes.

I have my six 2018 feelings and intentions which I wrote in pen and then revisited in March, June, and October to leave comments in different colours on how I’m feeling about them so far and whether I’m on track.

I’m really excited to say that the October review looked very good.

One thing that was looking like it was getting lost was my sense of connection, and I think that had a lot to do with moving countries.

It’s a really good thing to come back to your planner, whether you decide to use a yearly planner like this or whatever it might be. It doesn’t work on the shelf, you need to come back to it.

The final thing I wanted to say about planners vs planning is:

If you’re trying to change a behaviour simply by purchasing an inanimate object, it’s pretty much the same thing as buying an Ab Roller and expecting it to get you those washboard abs when all you do is hang your clothes on it.

If your issue and the reason why you’re really excited and drawn to finding a planner is that you feel like you’re not organised enough, or it feels like you don’t know what your business strategy is, no planner is going to fix that.

What you need to do is set yourself up for behavioural change.

What are the behaviours that you’re doing regularly that are not aligned with the way that you want to show up in your business?

If it’s that you’re not trusting your business strategy, you should find a business mentor to help you review your strategy regularly and ensure that you’re on the right track.

If you want to find out more about the planner and the workshops that come with it, head to tashcorbin.com/planner.

The planner in and of itself will not help you become more focused and organized and aligned in your business, but combined with the workshops and regularly coming back to it, it will help you move towards that if that’s your priority.

If you have any other insights and “aha’s” from this episode, make sure that you use #podcastaha and the episode number (167) when talking about it in the Heart-Centred Soul Driven Entrepreneurs group. I always love seeing any questions or aha’s that come up from each episode!

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist