I'm running this post early because it's ready and I'm excited. I apologize for the lack of photos. This is just way too text-heavy, but there is a lot to say and not too much to show yet. More visuals will come soon(ish).
Got your coffee? Good. Me too.
At the end of October I shared my plan to launch a day planner / goal setting workbook in 2015. At the end of August is when I came up with this idea.
This concept developed out of my plan to write a book (like a self-help book) about goal-setting. But then I realized that I really just wanted to blog about goal-setting. I also realized that people don't need to read about goal-setting... they just need to set the goals. Goal-setting is a sort of polarizing thing. You either think it's super boring and a waste of time or you think it's fascinating and believe it's changed your life. (Guess which camp I fall into?) Reading about goals won't convert you from Camp A to Camp B but setting and working towards goals might.
The thing about goals is that it's so easy to be like, "I am going to climb six mountains this year!" or "I am going to launch a podcast this year!" It's harder to break those tasks down into smaller, manageable steps. And then it's even harder to actually schedule and accomplish those steps.
Enter my planner.
I wanted to make something physical that could help you think about what your objectives are, then would help you break down those objectives, and then most importantly, would help you schedule those objectives into your days.
The thing about a paper planner is that not everyone needs it. I would never suggest that everyone buy this planner. I would never be as hopeful or crazy to think that THIS planner is THE planner for everyone. That would be absurd. If you already have a killer system, whether it's on the computer, on paper, or in your head, that's amazing. You're ahead of the game and I don't think you will want this planner.
But. If you are a paper planner person already and haven't quite found one that's working, the GET TO WORK BOOK™ is probably worth a shot. If you're not a paper planner person already, but are feeling overwhelmed and disorganized, the GET TO WORK BOOK™ is probably worth a shot.
How's that for a sales pitch?! Can you tell I have a marketing degree? ;)
So that's the background. Here's the meat.
I knew before I really started conceptualizing this that I needed someone else to design it for me. I have a decent idea of what looks good and I have moderate skills at making things look good, but this needed to be on another level. My PSE skills were (obviously) not going to suffice here. (<--- this is what we call a gross understatement.)
At WDS last summer, I met Steven of Jolby and Friends, the design house that had done all the branding and paper products for the conference. I was very impressed with the look of WDS and after browsing the J+F website I felt like this could be a good fit. Steven and I had a call in September and I told him a bit more about my ideas for the planner. We talked about how even with so much digital these days there were still some people who appreciated the real feel of paper and loved a notebook and pen. We talked about how this planner could be an idea record and Steven said something awesome (though I'm paraphrasing because I didn't write it down)...
"I could see how someone would buy this every year and have a row of used planners on their shelf like trophies - a record of their creative thoughts."
I wanted to stand up and applaud. But since I was already doing anxious laps around my office I just said,
J+F and I agreed on a budget, I took a deep breath and we got to work on design.
So let's talk design.
I had (and have) a few non-negotiables. The planner had to be spiral bound. It had to be well-designed, but not over-designed. It had to guide you but not stifle you. It had to have tabs for each month. It had to have built in features for brainstorm or list making space. It had to be simple: I don't like "flourishes" in my planners. I like space to work in my planners.
Those are not very complex things. This is not a very complex idea. It really boils down to this: a good planner doesn't get in your way. A good planner GETS OUT of your way.
But I also wanted some extra features that I hoped would set this apart.
1) I wanted an eight-column to-do list. What this means is that there are weekly spreads with eight columns. Seven are dated (M-S) and the eighth gives you a spot to write three action items for the week. What are the big three things you would like or have to do? Stick them in there. Then schedule them (or the smaller tasks that make up them) throughout the seven days. Since coming up with this concept in October, I have been using the method myself and it's been awesome. It's really helped me to know my main focus(es) early in the week.
2) I wanted a REFLECT & GOAL SET page at the end of every month. This is just one sheet that gives you space to highlight what's upcoming and what's happened. I broke the monthly goal-setting section down into three categories, "to think on" "to work on" & "to complete" and that alone is helpful in processing through your work flow. Not everything needs to be accomplished right away. Some things need to percolate. This gives you the space to do that.
3) I wanted "project breakdown" pages and we came up with a clean design that makes sense. I used one of these pages when I was working on the huge task of redesigning my blog and it worked well to tackle smaller items one at time and see what was left and what had been accomplished. I believe this system is helpful, not hindering and look forward to sharing more about this with you.
4) I wanted a motivational aspect. Like most planners, this book will have a full spread for each calendar month with boxes (that looks like a normal calendar). It will also have a perforated calendar page that can be removed from the book. That page will have a smaller numbered calendar on the bottom portion and the top portion will be a graphic text print (like what's shown above). You can leave it in the book or you can tear it out and hang it on your wall for the month. When the month is over you can tear the calendar part off (it should also be perforated) and have a square piece of inspiring art. (This first version and the 2016 planner will combine my favorite sayings and J+F killer illustration abilities.)
Those are the four main things that we have worked tirelessly to make awesome. We have also worked tirelessly to make the whole book awesome.
This first round - the academic planner (July 2015-June 2016) that will launch for presale in late spring - is going to be in black and white (and gray). Eventually, I can imagine releasing more colors, "a teal version" with shades of teal, "a green version" with shades of green (you get the idea) but just one colorway is what is planned for now. The black and white is part of my "design that doesn't compete with your ideas" idea. I get that color is cool. But I think there is going to be enough going on with your own ideas, projects, pens, highlighters, plans and goals that you won't miss the extra color and I know you won't miss the flourishes.
EDIT : there is nothing academic or school focused about this planner - this first launch is just lining up with the American school year. After this launch, planners will be yearly (Jan-Dec) and "academic" (July-June). (So two planners a year.) There will be a 2016 planner for sale next fall in addition to this first launch.
The best part about the spiral bound is that down the line I will have a lot of flexibility to make these books more custom. You might want more brainstorm pages or more project breakdown pages and I will be able to make that happen. The cool part about the art print calendar pages is that down the line, I will be able to partner with artists and creatives and make years that are based around their inspiring work. I will also have some great artwork that might transition well to prints, posters, mugs, tshirts, etc. There are a lot of cool and best parts. This is the coolest and best (business) thing I have ever done.
So that's the update. Right now we are at the end of the book design process and are moving on to the illustration design process - so far things are looking great. I am going to be reviewing paper stocks soon and will ideally have a book (that first CRAZY EXPENSIVE! book) in my hand in the next few months to share some real peeks of.
If this does well, I have so many plans to scale and expand on this venture. This process has been so inspiring and fun. And even if I sell NONE, I would almost say it's been worth it to really think through the creative and motivational process and come up with something that I hope is going to help others make progress.
Big things happen one day at a time. Let's schedule those days.
all images and text shown here are copyright 2015 Elise Blaha Cripe