Here is the post you have all been waiting to read. Before I share my pros/cons let me say, all these planners (EVO, Panda, High Performance, Clever Fox) have merit. In my opinion, some have more merit than others. Also, to provide context, I am in a different season of life than I was when I first started using planners years ago. I am working full-time with an amazing team, my children are grown (no more shuttle service), I am spinning up several new personal projects, and I am intentionally learning a series of new habits and skills. Your season of life may be different from mine, so if you are looking for a planner to use, weigh it carefully in light of your needs.
Below is my “Wow Factor” grading. I’ll follow each planner pros/cons with my grade. With that, let’s dive in….
- It is OK.
- Very nice!
Pros – Using the Brain Type Theory, they attempt to customize the planner to your unique style. I have a friend who uses another of their planners and the differences I saw seemed sufficient. As stated in Part 1, I liked the reward aspect and the companion phone app. The app was most intriguing to me when I first got the planner.
Cons – Flipping back and forth between the views is cumbersome for most planners, including this one. The extra time involved to score and scan was an extra task I felt I had to do in order to utilize the mobile app. The app gave me very little insight. It gave me a running “score” and a graph but no other interactivity or insights. I felt lack of app features was a missed opportunity. I expected to see insights for improvement and things to try. I expected to get notifications that were meaningful and encouraging to my Brain Type. I expected links to additional learning articles and videos. There was some room for notes in the back of the planner. Not very fun. Finally, the cost was too high for me to buy this planner every three to four months. Yes, there was color used inside, there was copper edging on the pages, and there was a leather exterior–all of which are very aesthetic, but I want something more practical and fun.
My grade = It is OK.
Pros – The encouragement and upbeat videos from the founder made this planner helpful. A series of emails with links to learn and get the most out of the planner appealed to the learner in me. I also liked the daily breakdown of time increments and the pre-printed check boxes for my tasks. There was some space in the back for notes and a pocket for stashing items. The space for habit tracking and the overall upbeat/positive vibe within the planner helped promote an optimistic mindset.
Cons – Like the EVO, flipping back and forth between months, weeks, and days was bothersome for me. While the daily spaces to keep up optimism may be valuable for some, for me it became just another thing to fill out each day. I got to the point where I started ignoring it so I could plan my day and get moving. This planner, like many newer ones, was only a quarterly planner. Also, I like to see my week and days together layed out before me, the lack thereof was a con with planner. I also felt there were missed opportunities to make the planner fun, given the upbeat nature of the founder and content.
My grade = It is OK.
The High Performance Planner
Pros – Unlike the other planners, the High Performance (HP) planner was linear with the month, the week, the days for that week, followed by the next week, until you reached the next month. While there was flipping back and forth, it felt minimized by the linear nature. The planner is spacious with lots of room for writing. Lots of room for reflection. The regular assessments were helpful for accountability. There was lots of space in the back for notes on graph pages. Finally, as noted in the Part 2 of this series, the Life Vision and 1-3 year goals setting was aspirational for me.
Cons – The large format (only format) was difficult for me to keep the planner open on my desk. It took up a lot of real-estate. After a while, the assessments felt repetitive and too many. I would have spaced them out a little more to allow time for personal transformation. It felt rushed/hurried. In our microwave society, I can hear someone saying, “I want to be high performing, now!” Like the Panda, the daily questions in the HP Planner started to become more of a burden than a blessing. I already have a morning meditation and didn’t need my planner to be yet another.
My grade = It is OK.
Clever Fox Planner
Pros – This planner allowed me to see the week/days, priorities, rewards, and habit tracking all on one spread. This planner came with fun stickers, a pocket in the back and a pen holder. Like a few of the other planners, there was goal setting. Only the Clever Fox and HP planners had goals broken across life areas. No other planner I tried, except this one, encouraged mind mapping or a mood board–both fun ways to explore, reflect, and set goals. It is a year long planner–not quarterly. There is also plenty of room for notes in the back.
Cons – Like most planners, flipping back and forth is frustrating. Clever Fox minimized this by keeping the week/days together in a single spread, but you still had to flip back to the month section. Because my days are busy, I found myself drawing a line through the days to portion off the morning and afternoon activities.
My grade = Very nice!
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there is no one planner that “wowed” me. Many of the planners are time consuming if you intend to get out of it everything that is promised. For me, my time is sparse and I want to accomplish as much as possible with the limited time I have. Because of my budget requirements, season of life, and physical space deficits, my current planner of choice is the Clever Fox Planner.
I know there are all kinds of other planners out there. Tell me what your favorite is and why, in the comment section below. As for me, I have seen The Hero’s Journal and Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner advertised more recently. Maybe, if they want to send me one, I’ll use and review those as well.