Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can You Really Find Balance and Calm in 7 Minutes a Day?

Order, balance and calm play peek-a-boo in my life.  So, when I was given a chance to try out the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner by the The 7 Minute Life in exchange for an honest review, I said, "Sign me up!" 

What Is The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner?

Part agenda, part life coach in spiral bound book, the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a 90-day time management tool that aims to help users unlock their purpose, potential and passion through clarifying priorities and goals, establishing and committing to realistic written action steps and implementing techniques to reclaim productivity aligned to priorities on a daily basis.  True to its name, the planner aims to do all this in just seven minutes a day once a habit of use is set.

What Is Included?

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

In the 7.3″ x 8.5″ spiral bound, plastic covered book that is The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner  you will find:

  • 15 pages of preface and introductory materials that are not to be missed
  • a worksheet for helping you define life priorities
  • a worksheet to guide you in delineating your purpose
  • a worksheet to help you discern the best use of your time right now, at this 90-day period in your life
  • a page declutter your brain by listing home and work tasks  
  • 2 pages to note 90-day personal and work goals on
  • a page for financial goals
  • a page for life goals
  • 6 pages to list unfinished home and work teaks
  • a page to list home repair contact information
  • a grocery list
  • 2 pages to list contact information and comments
  • an annual calendar at a glance
  • a page to list annual projects and tasks
  • 4 90-day-at-a-glance pages
  • 12 monthly-calendar-at-a-glance pages
  • 5 pages for meeting planning
  • 90 days worth of daily progress reports
  • 3 monthly progress reports
  • 6 pages or notes
  • a year-at-a-glance exercise progress report
  • 2 heavy cardstock folder pieces at the front and back in order to tuck loose notes into       

These all add up to a system that can help you prioritize, organize and simplify your life if you use them with care and consistency.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

How I Succeeded (and Failed)

When I received the planner in the mail, I got right to reading the introductory pages in it, which not only tell you how to use the planner, but why you might want to. 

In doing so, I found myself highlighting passages right away:

"Life is about choices.  If you want to be different tomorrow than you are today, you must choose to be different."

"Part of what draws people to the 7-minute system is celebrating tiny 'wins' of actually reaching their daily goals.  Daily, small achievements are good for you."

"If (all your goals, tasks, accomplishments are written down in different places), you run the risk of feeling scattered and becoming disorganized -- chief ingredients to chaos."

" may want to schedule your 'Focus Time' to be held in a different location from your daily environment." 

"You may be surprised to learn that you are squeezing out those things most important to you, while lavishing huge amounts of attention on unimportant things in your life."

"There are four primary causes of mental clutter.  They are avoidance, procrastination, distraction and indecision."

These passages and others struck chords with me because some convicted me while others affirmed directions my thoughts had already been heading in.  Together with instructions on how to use the following pages and segments of the planner, the passages I highlighted set me in motion to start prioritizing, organizing and simplifying my days by completing the priorities and purpose worksheets and beginning to delineate goals and tasks.

Then, it came time for me to use the daily progress reports, which, for me, did not end up being daily.

I truly struggled to get into the habit of pulling out the planner each morning and night and found myself occasionally marking more than one day, using the blank line section on the second page of each 2-page daily progress report spread to make notes on the "missed days", but then forgiving myself for "failing" and moving forward with planning and assessing the day at hand.

Regardless of whether I used the daily progress reports for a single day or multiple ones at a time, I wrote a lot of personal information on them, thus, I am not going to share snapshots of my "used" pages Rather, I will share generic blank photos and explain a bit how I used each section of the daily pages.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

I did not need 25 lines for "Daily Contacts", so I sometimes used the first few lines of this section to list the blogs I commented on (which is something I am trying to remember to do - comment on posts I read instead of just hitting and running with them!).  At other times, I listed people I wanted to call, email or get together with for personal, professional and homeshooling purposes and then checked of when I did.  And, at still other times, I simply left a lot of lines blank.

In the "What I will do... 5 before 11 section", I listed tasks and chores I needed to get done before 11, or before leaving the house on any given day.  I kept these small and manageable and found that listing them, and checking them off really did help start my day off well!

In the "7 Minute Life" Connections section, I sometimes listed people I wanted to see face-to-face, sometimes listed people I needed to connect with by phone or email and sometimes listed a reminder to myself to spend 1:1 time with my children.

I used the "Unfinished Tasks" section both to list truly unfinished tasks as well as ones I had already accomplished during the day beyond my 5 before 11.

I rarely logged "What I Spent" because, well, some habits are harder than others for me to get into.  I am working on this one.

Another thing I am working on is building better personal time habits and, related, building the habit of evaluating how I am doing on these habits.  It became obvious to me that I need to do this when I found myself rarely remembering to check off each time I drank water; found marking how many hours I slept discouraging, so stopped; did not even begin to mark exercise, because my life at this point does not allow much consistent personal exercise time; only sometimes checked "reflection" upon completion of my morning prayer time  and only sometimes logged my reading.  

Further, though I did begin to use the meals and snack boxes first for planning meals and later for marking down what I actually ate, I found the boxes for doing so frustratingly small, so stopped.

Thus, it was hard for me to check many "yes" boxes with the question "Did I do what I said I would today?"  Not a good thing!

On the second page of each 2-page daily progress report, I used the "Appointments" section as intended, listing my appointments.  I also went back and filled in other tid bits of what I actually did during the day at the end of the day on some days, and often found myself wishing the times started at 5 or 6, not 7.

Since I don't get a ton of Voice Mails each day, I sometimes left that portion blank and sometimes used it to write blog or homeschool notes.

Under "Thank You Notes" I wrote the names of people I remembered to reach out to with gratitude via phone, email, Facebook or pen and paper.  At other times, I listed personal gratitude notes for myself.  At all times, I was happy for the reminder to be thankful!

Finally, on the blank lines I listed homeschool notes, personal thoughts and sundry other details and truly appreciated having such an amount of blank space to write daily thoughts, ideas and notes on bound to my planner and goals instead of doing it on scraps of paper that get lost!

Likewise, I found myself filling the blank note pages at the end of the planner quite quickly with notes from books I am reading.  (I am a blank note page sort of girl, I guess!) 

Final Thoughts

"Did I do what I said I would do today?"


I did not do it for the entire period I was reviewing The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner, for, although I wanted to use the planner with full consistency to its utmost potential, I failed to build the habits I needed to do so. 

But, was it a complete failure? 

Not at all.

I made inroads with habits, clarified some areas I need to work on, affirmed some things I am doing well and, thus, appreciated the opportunity to test the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner as a tool for proactively deciding where my focus will be and how I will live the days of my life.

Although the pages of the planner were not a perfect fit for me, they proved a worthwhile tool to help me determine where my strengths lay, where I need additional work and how I turn ideas into action and plans into purposeful reality.  If you're looking for a resource to help you kick start a more prioritized, organized and simplified approach to time management, The 7 Minute Life could help.

Find Out More 

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

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What tools and tips help you find calm and balance in your days?  Might The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner help you, too? 

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