The Planner Pad Organizer

by Brad Isaac on August 27, 2006

In the mail yesterday, I found a direct mail piece promising an extra hour of free time each day if you used the product. Normally, I would throw out this as “junk mail”, but since I am in the business, I went ahead and opened it to see what it was.

Turns out it is a new (to me) paper planner called the Planner Pad Organizer.

I have used nearly every other different paper planner from Franklin, Day Runner, Filofax and Day-Timer. However, I have never heard of this product.

It does have a unique way of planning in that your view is Top-Down and a full week at a time. You begin planning your entire week by listing out the categories you’ll be working. For instance, you’d have a work projects, self-dev., family, and so on. Underneath those headers you’d write down what you want to perform in the period of a week.

Once you finish working in your categories, you’d list your tasks to do for each day. You’d create simple to-do lists.

Finally, you’d move down into the calendar area and make your appointments. The company calls their planning method as a way to “Funnel” your work into more productivity.

To me, it looks like it would be a good spin on the old paper planner methods.

I find it a little strange their mailer didn’t have a business website listed. A simple Google search did reveal they do have one. But it seems like a planner company would be losing a lot of business by not listing their website in their mailers. No?

It seems unique enough I am curious. So if you use or have tried the planner Pad organizer, drop a line and let me know what you think of it. :)

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Ron August 28, 2006 at 6:33 am

This is a great tool that I used several years ago. It works! Drawbacks are its unique size, lack of goal development sheets (though there are blank pages for you to post your goals), and inability to insert paper (on the spiral bound versions). Advantages are you never lose sight of WIN (whats important now), you think on paper and only once-no transfering notes to your planner, and finally your sense of accomplishment rises as the week goes by- end of week evaluation is a breeze/

Brad Isaac August 28, 2006 at 3:52 pm

It does sound like a good system, one question about the notes.. I take a ton of notes and it doesn’t look like there is alot of room in the notes field. Is there more note areas elsewhere?

Thanks for dropping by and posting :)

Ron August 29, 2006 at 6:27 am

Yes in the back are a half dozen or so heavier bond pages. The notebook version might be better though.

Dustin Walper August 29, 2006 at 8:45 am

Is it possible that this planner advocates a system that plans your life a little TOO much?

I’m vehemently against planning out a daily to-do list more than a day in advance. The odds are too great that, in a flurry of unplanned activity on Monday, the rest of the week will hit the fan and you’ll be turning to liquid paper to correct the misplanned actions of your life.

I’m going to be doing a roundup of a number of different systems later this week on my blog, and I think I’m going to include this little tidbit. Good catch!

Brad Isaac August 29, 2006 at 8:40 pm

Dustin, good point, I usually don’t list tasks until the night before or day of. Worst case scenario, I list them after I accomplish them just so I can check em off.

Diane August 30, 2006 at 8:27 pm

I use PlannerPad, and love it. I tend to manually reformat the space on the page, as I don’t have a lot of daily appointments– I make my own lists there, but I find the top, where you write out your goals by area: (or Next Actions, if you’re a gtd type) Pure Gold. I use the smaller size and it’s just right.

My Headings are 80% (the stuff that just has to get done), Waiting For, Office Other, Home, Town (stuff to buy) and Garden.

Brad Isaac August 31, 2006 at 9:33 pm

Diane, sounds like you have a good system going with it. Thanks for stopping by and posting your experience.   Anyone else?

Zoe February 4, 2007 at 11:55 am

I love my planner pad! I used to have so much on my mind I couldnt remember everything but now the second I think I have to remember something I jot at the top of my planner pad and then whenever I am planning my week I then take whatever’s important from the top lists and allocate it into a day of the week (next bit down). I rarely use the appointments bit though at the bottom.

I wrote a blog on this a while ago myself –

Tracie February 17, 2007 at 11:40 am

I have the planner pad & have been using it for about a year – I am in a creative field, so It’s hard sometimes to harness ideas and put them into action. This planner helps A LOT! I write everything that I think of down in one place now & it has helped so much to be able to compartmentalize my tasks & ideas (they tend to flow to the middle section too) so that I can delegate some items & prioritize. I tend to use the top parts more than the appointment section – but find the space appropriately distributed. The only thing that I would love to add is a long term goal section & bigger note section. (The note section is manilla card stock – so it feels like the notes I wish to write there should be of some importance & have longevity – they don’t always- I brain dump) My partners & co-workers some of whom are more logical in thinking, use this plan effectively & cross off tasks & use the triangle effectively.

Brad Isaac February 17, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Tracie, very helpful post. Thanks. It almost sounds like you’ve been to training on how to use it? Or maybe there is strength in numbers with all of your partners using it too…

I thought the note section looked a bit small as well.

Tracie February 20, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Brad- No formal training – I received info on this product the same way you did – through direct mail. The plannerpad just happens to fit my micro-organized/mad-scientist approach to, well, everything. It is helpful that my partners & I have been able to discuss our individual interpretation of this product & apply ways to utilize it that we wouldn’t have alone been able to think of.

Tabs March 13, 2007 at 2:59 am

I am yet to find a planner that works for me, I am amazed I get things done, but I always have lists and I do tend to get things done, but I know once the planner of my dreams finds me I will add a few peace of mind points to my life. I will have to check this planner out

Great post

Brad Isaac March 13, 2007 at 9:21 am

You must be one of the ‘lucky’ people who can still remember everything. I was that way in my younger days, but find myself slipping here recently as the demands on my time increase. I assume you’ve tried the classic Covey based planners? That’s how I started. They are good, but then I moved into electronic planning with Outlook and Pocket PC.

Don February 28, 2009 at 5:28 pm

hey Brad,

I’m new here, and glad I found your site. The irony of this thread, is that I’d googled ‘planner pad’ to order yet another.

I’ve 6 years of ‘Planner Pads’, and I noticed that it’s dang near a ‘journal’ of sorts too.

Anyway, after going through some personal transition, I’ve gone back to work. I screwed up, and tried using two other systems that have failed me miserably.

I started 2nd guessing my decision (ADD), and was about to purchase a Franklin/Covey system. I’m glad I read this blog. I’m about to go to their site, and order my 7th Planner Pad!

Regarding ‘notes’. You can get the open binder, and add a legal pad at the rear. It works for me.

This system is good for me as I work from lists. Everything pretty much starts at the top, and you ‘move’ it down the funnel, or move it forward.
You can be creative in regards to prioritizing too.

Thanks for everything,

frances July 14, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I gave in to Planner Pads last year after 20 good years of pocket Daytimers. I needed to move to a week by week system, and none of the others matched my needs on that. As a self-employed creative, I have thoughts and papers flying everywhere all the time. The open binder personal system works great for me, if you seven hole punch a sheet of legal paper and then fold it in half, you can slip your entire mind-map / brain dump in as needed. Also letterhalf forms slip in easily.

I found this site while researching what others are using for categories. I am rereading GTD, but think using those categories will be harder on my rememberer than the ones I started with.

My categories across the top are:
Key Tasks / Quick Tasks / Uh-Oh / Need-Shop-Buy / Bizness Actives / Phone-Write-See / Personal

Recently this has begin to morph toward next actions and project lists, and I am beginning to miss things on my lists. Curious to know how others merge styles or organization.

By the way, Uh-Oh is an important column for me. That probably is the closest category to Next Actions!

I use the middle section to attempt to plan my days, but keep my time summaries there with the actions listed as I accomplish them.

My problem has been diary space, which I used my Daytimer for extensively. I have slipped a medium Moleskin notebook into the pocket and keep my day logs and notes there. This will store easily as well, and should be good enough for my business records.

So, all in all, after 3 years trying to transition, I am happy enough to buy the refill this fall. Ideas from others on how they organize their thoughts in theirs would be great.


diane August 30, 2009 at 8:36 pm

I love the format of Planner pad, but hate that they don’t have some of the tabs and sections that Franklin cover has. I use the executive size and find the binder is way too big, too. I’ve used Daytimers for years, tried the Franklin and the Planner Pad, and I prefer the Planner pad format. Sigh! Why can’t I find the perfect planner??!!

frances August 31, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I find the ringed personal size is the perfect planner. I can use my daytimer inserts in it, they are not as wide, but they ring in just fine. I bought the monthly dividers from PP to reuse each year, and then have my normal daytimer sections in front of those wider pages.

I was very sorry daytimer never figured out how to do a week at a glance for people who needed more room for planning. I spent years trying to work that out before I changed over. Just bought my refill for my second year of Planner Pads. This and the moleskin diary are the ticket for my needs.

Kenneth September 5, 2009 at 9:21 am

I have used paper organizers or electronic organizers since the late 80s. I still prefer Stephen Covey’s original “perspective of the week” Planner pads are about the only ones I have found that gives you the same amount of space for the weekend days as for the week days. I make my own Stephen Covey style Compass Cards.

The pads work well for my combination of a value based and gtd system. In January I will be switch to the executive ring binder so I can have more personalized pages. I have been using the same lambskin binder with the spiral executive refills for almost 10 years.

If you are new to planner pads you could check out the close out section of the website. You can usually find a partial year spiral binder for about $7.00. It will give you an inexpensive way to give it a test drive.

Elizabeth September 14, 2009 at 11:33 pm

I tried the planner pad after trying just about everything else (Covey, daytimer, dayrunner, electronic PDA, online organizers). I have ADD, and I find writing things on paper helps me remember them. I like the PP layout better than anything else I’ve tried. (I use the smaller size, with the looseleaf system). I just wish they offered the kind of variety their competitors do. This year I’m going to order extra note pages and see what I can do to make mine more aesthetically pleasing, since I’m visually oriented. Like others in this post, I’d appreciate any customizing suggestions.

Kara Harman November 11, 2009 at 4:12 am

I’m getting my first Planner Pad delivered today, and cannot wait. Been reading comments, have studied Jan’s Organization tips from PP’s website and already – Big Sigh – feel myself supported in so many endeavors. Loved Jan’s thought’s on Procrastination and why we may do this. Knowing is Winning.

Will update after using.

Thanks, Kara

)oug January 3, 2010 at 1:17 am

Have used for over 10 years The Planner Pad! It’s just a great, efficient organizer that keeps things focused on the week at hand. So easy to plan and take inventory of what needs to be done for the Day and the Week in one easy viewing. Also, not near to bulk of the big names (which I’ve used … and just don’t like). The price is right as well. Always been pleased with this product … I’m in the invesment management business and my top areas are Key Tasks / Clients / Prospects / Portfolio Mgt / Campaigns / Family / Personal

Good luck,


NL January 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Very poor customer service, not interested in addressing issues

Nathan March 26, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I’m a fairly new PP user, since Nov 2009, but it’s the first system of many I’ve tried that just seems to work.

I also follow the GTD principles, and the way I work it, I use the weekly pages with the following columns: Online, Work, Contact, Home, Errands, Read/Review. The last two are on the same column, and this leaves me a couple open for notes or inbox. You don’t have to fill out all your daily tasks at the start of the week–there’s nothing you HAVE to do in the PP system–just put stuff down there that you really, really want to try to have done that day. Check it done there, or in the lists above.

I have a spiral-bound executive-size, and use the writing space opposite each monthly calendar for my Projects list. I have too many to fit them on a weekly column, plus, I don’t want to keep re-writing them weekly. But this means every month I have to move them forward, which is a pretty good frequency for rethinking the list.

I don’t make full use of the notes section in the back. I use one page for someday/maybes, another for waiting-for and delegated tasks, and another as a log for evaluation bullets. On a couple planning/goals pages I have some GTD notes: checklists for weekly reviews, my areas of focus, the natural planning model… but I don’t find myself using those notes very often. I probably should, but I keep a lot of long-term notes on my iPhone. For day to day working notes, I carry a pocket-sized moleskine cahier, and for project planning or longer notes I use a legal pad that I carry in the cover for the planner.

Lastly, I also print out a weekly checklist on an index card that helps me remember and track daily and weekly tasks like taking my medications and cleaning the cat litter box. And doing a weekly review.

I wouldn’t call it a perfect system yet, but I’ve been refining it over the last five months. The PlannerPad is a great foundation for a GTD system.

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