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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
Do you use a physical planner? I’ve tried so many of them over the years, but I had the worst time finding one that I could actually stick with using. It was a vicious cycle of buying a planner, using it for a week, then letting it collect dust while I felt super guilty about not using it for the other 51 weeks out of the year. It was so bad that I swore off buying planners at one point!
For years, The Bullet Journal Method was my go-to. I still love Bullet Journaling but wanted to find something with more built-in structure. After hearing rave reviews of the Full Focus Planner for YEARS, I finally tried it a couple of years ago. Now, I’m on my ninth one, and it’s one of my top five time management tools…so I think it’s safe to say I’ve found a winner!
In this review, I’ll walk you through the basics of the Full Focus Planner, so you can see if it’s a good fit for you. I’ll cover:
The Full Focus Planner is a paper planner invented by productivity expert Michael Hyatt. It works a little differently than a traditional planner because it’s oriented around goal setting and keeping you on track with realistic daily to-dos.
Each Full Focus Planner only covers one quarter of the year. It’s also an undated planner, so you can start using it whenever you’d like.
At the beginning of the planner, you’ll find Goal Detail pages that help you identify what you’d like to achieve during the quarter and break each goal into actionable steps. There are also traditional one-spread calendar views for each month and some planning pages to help you envision your ideal workday and track project progress. The rest of the planner is made up of thirteen weeks’ worth of Weekly Preview pages and daily planning pages.
The idea is that you start with big quarterly goals, then break each one down into to-dos that will move you toward the finish line. Each day, you choose your “Big Three” goals, which are your must-do tasks for the day.
It can be easy to fall into a rhythm where you just scrape immediate tasks off the surface each day and never really “dig in” to bigger goals. If you’re feeling frustrated over how much progress you’re making each day, the Full Focus Planner has a lot of built-in features to help you take something from the big-picture stage and break it down into actionable steps.
Most of us split our time between personal and professional lives, and it’s easy to keep track of both and set goals for each in the Full Focus planner. I love that it’s not solely focused on work or home life.
Dated planners make me feel like I’m wasting pages if I don’t start filling things out right away in January or August. Since Full Focus Planners are undated, you can use them whenever you like! Most people use one per quarter, but I just use it from the day I get it and go until I run out of pages.
It costs $42 to buy a Full Focus Planner for one quarter, but you can get a discount by purchasing a year’s worth of planners at once for $142.76. The price tag was one of the biggest reasons I resisted buying it for so long, but for me, it’s worth it for the overall increase in productivity.
If you want to use all the included goal-setting features, you’ll need to set aside a fair amount of time at the beginning and end of each quarter to invest in thoughtful goal-setting. That said, you can absolutely hop right in and start using the daily pages immediately, then decide if you want to use the other features later.
Personally, I don’t use all of the goal-setting features every single time I set up a new planner. I prefer to track my goals digitally and in my bullet journal – for me, the daily layout makes this planner worth it.
After using the Full Focus Planner for over two years, these things made it stand out from other planners for me.
Narrowing down my daily goals to three main tasks totally changed my productivity and helped me focus on what’s important. Once I’ve set my top three tasks, I know that no matter what else gets done, I’ll feel accomplished at the end of the day.
Aside from the Big Three, I find that the “other tasks” column has enough room for a realistic amount of work I can accomplish in one day. I tend to overload my schedule, so having limited space helps me get real with myself about what’s doable.
I’m an early riser, so I especially love that the day starts at 5 am. I don’t time block my entire schedule, but I like seeing appointments or time-sensitive tasks to help me visualize my day.
The other half of each daily spread is a dedicated notes page, which is one of the most essential parts of the planner for me! I use this section daily to take notes on meetings, tomorrow’s tasks, or other reminders that don’t fit anywhere else.
I look forward to the weekly ritual of reflecting on the previous week and what I have coming up next. The questions always get me thinking about what’s working, what I’ve accomplished, and how I want to move forward with intention! I’m not always 100% perfect at filling these out but when I do it really helps me visualize and plan my week.
At first, I thought the planner only being quarterly would bother me, but I ended up loving it. You can set tons of goals in the first quarter, but by the time you get to the second or third quarter of the year, things might look a lot different! It’s nice to refocus and shift as needed every three months. Plus, it makes the planner less bulky than having a year’s worth of pages in one place. When it’s time to change to a new planner I love using that time to reflect on my goals for the next three months and break them down into short actions items.
So many planners squeeze Saturday and Sunday into one page like an afterthought! I like the space to plug in personal life tasks on the weekends, so it’s helpful to have full daily spreads for Saturday and Sunday, just like any other weekday. I don’t always do work tasks on the weekends, but I still love using that Top Three section to plan out any chores or errands I need to accomplish for the day.
Most of the goal-setting pages. I used them in the first couple of Full Focus Planners I bought, but now I only use the daily pages and weekly reviews. I think the goal-setting pages are fantastic, but after doing them several times I felt like I was repeating the same information.
The calendar pages. There’s a full-sized calendar for each month at the beginning of the planner, but I prefer to use Google calendar.
I don’t follow strict quarters. I use a new planner whenever I run out of pages (which usually doesn’t fall right on the first day of the quarter). However, it’s never been confusing to use my planner this way!
My Full Focus Planner review wouldn’t be complete without a couple of hacks to help you get the most out of using it. Here’s what I suggest.
1. Set realistic goals. Get honest about what you can accomplish in a day, week, or quarter. I like to start with the “rocks” in my schedule, like appointments, deadlines, and launch dates. Then I fill in the rest of my tasks around those must-do items.
2. Break everything down into small tasks. Smaller tasks are easier to check off your to-do list and keep track of without getting overwhelmed.
3. Embrace the Big Three. At first, it can be tough to boil your whole day down just to three action items. But after you get used to it, it’s a huge productivity boost to figure out what’s truly important and what can wait.
I always buy mine directly from the Full Focus Planner website. That’s where it’s easiest to find different options for covers and binders. Plus, you can bundle four planners together to save some money!
I love it! As I shared above, most planners don’t work for my brain, and I would forget about them after a week or two of use. (The thought of all that wasted money and paper makes me cringe!) The Full Focus Planner changed my mind about planners and has positively impacted my productivity – I highly recommend it, especially if no other planners have worked for you so far.
You can find the complete list of tools I use daily on my Tools and Resources page. Head over there to see all my favorite websites, software, course creation tools, and more!
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