The best journal/planner for business planning and productivity

Following on from last weeks blog about planners and journals I thought I’d let you know how my testing went! 

From top to bottom Lux Productivity, Simple Elephant, Inspire Now (with added bat sticker!) and Action Day. Photo and styling by Jess of  Stitches & Stars . Pencil case from  Handmade Nottingham .

From top to bottom Lux Productivity, Simple Elephant, Inspire Now (with added bat sticker!) and Action Day. Photo and styling by Jess of Stitches & Stars. Pencil case from Handmade Nottingham.

The journals I compared from top left clockwise; Simple Elephant, Inspire Now, Lux Productivity and Action Day.

The journals I compared from top left clockwise; Simple Elephant, Inspire Now, Lux Productivity and Action Day.

I first bought an Inspire Now journal 2 years ago when I wanted to get organised, be more positive and start a new business. I loved using it as a productivity planner and gratitude journal, and used it to track everything from money to gym programmes. Each one lasts 6 months, unless you manage to leave it on the tube with £80 of John Lewis vouchers inside - but that’s another story! However, after buying my fourth or fifth copy, a lingering feeling that it wasn’t quite perfect for me grew. 

I considered going down the bullet journal route and creating my own 100% personalised diary. I’d watched my daughter create a BuJo, but she spent so long creating pages that she then lacked the enthusiasm to ever fill in! So I decided this would take too much of my time to both plan and make. After spending a while trying to find the ‘right’ journal I narrowed it down to four options to test drive.

Even with online reviews and pictures, I found it really difficult to decide which option would work best for combining business planning, general family organisation and positivity. Hopefully this review of all four might help you decide which journal could work best for making your business goals and dreams come true.

The Inspire Now Journal costs roughly £20-25, is available in four colours, and has undated numbered pages. My Pros; 3 different coloured ribbons for marking your pages, plenty of room for all tasks, notes and scribbles. Encourages you to look at long term, short term, weekly & daily goals for all aspects of your life. Room for a daily and weekly reward and daily gratitude. Also has pages for finances, books to read, movies to watch, holiday packing and contacts. Cons; only covers 6 months, though this is probably because it’s already quite heavy. No pen loop. Looks dirty and spine tends to break before 6 months is up - I am fairly clumsy though.

Inspire Now

Inspire Now

Action Day

Action Day

Action Day 2019 planner, costs £15-20, available in turquoise or black. Pros; lasts a year, has a pen loop, is light, short concise yearly goals section, calendar and day pages are dated and have bank holiday etc info on. Week to a 2 page spread means you don’t have to keep shifting tasks onto the next day. Cons: only one ribbon! Is very restrictive - I don’t like the hourly boxes for tasks, wouldn’t work at all if you have big writing! As it’s dated and I didn’t want to return it, I’ve decided to use this one first. I’ve had to adapt the set up a bit to add in daily gratitude, exercise and rewards as well as adding section tab stickers to make it work for me.

Simple Elephant planner, £20, blue only. Pros: comes with (somewhat pointless) free stickers and a fancy gift box. Has a pen loop and 3 blue ribbon page markers. They send you lots of bonus pdf content which looks great; covering goals, 80/20 rule, Parkinson’s law, morning rituals and positivity. The journal covers a full 12 months and, as the instructions are emailed to you, is still pretty lightweight. It starts with affirmations, gratitude and top 5 goals for the year. It then has space for a mindmap and vision board. A monthly overview with handy space for notes precedes the 2 pages to a week spreads. There is some room for weekly goals, successes and improvements as well as daily tasks. There’s also loads of room for notes at the back of the book. Pages are numbered and a handy elephant icon pops up sporadically to remind you to look at your goals. Cons: although its deliberately simple there is a lack of excitement and inspiration about it. There is nowhere to really reflect on the week or month or review your progress.

Simple Elephant

Simple Elephant

Lux Productivity

Lux Productivity

Lux Productivity Planner, £22, undated and in a choice of 7 colours. Pros: has two coloured ribbons and a pen loop. Pages are dated and the book starts with a contents section before a brief how-to and an area to write long term goals. Each day takes up a page and is laid out on a dotted grid with areas for tasks, progress, exercise, water consumption and the day’s hourly schedule. At the end of the week there’s a page for reflection; wins, gratitude, goals, self-improvement and habit tracking. Next up is a page for notes, ideas and lists. At the end is a finance tracker, a savings page, project planning pages and more space for notes, all on dotted paper. This is my daughters favourite. - probably as it is similar to a bullet journal. Cons: only lasts 6 months, not very much room for daily gratitude or notes/shopping lists. Very much focused on success and a bit dry and grey.

I also looked at the 6 minute diary, which is incredible for self development and mindset but really needs to be used in conjunction with a separate calandar diary. And the Success Planner which has lots of features I love (and is UK made and supporting a local business) but is in a colour I wouldn’t associate as mine and is a bit too rigid in it’s half hour slots. For me it's too focused on success rather than happiness.

I think after all of this I’ve concluded the only way to have the perfect planner is to create your own! I don’t think I’ll ever have the time to make a bullet journal so for now I’m going to keep trying new journals until I find or make the one.