Finding the right planning and organizational software to suit your needs can be a time-consuming chore. The perfect planner transcends its direct purpose of helping you organize your time and reminding you of pending tasks. Once you’ve found the right fit, it can become an indispensable tool, supporting and even increasing your productivity. However, with so many applications available nowadays, it feels tiresome to go through several just to find the one that suits you best. Luckily, we have made a round-up of some of our favorite planning apps and methods, with a detailed break-down for each.
1. Planner Pro
The favorite planning app for iOS users, the Planner Pro’s focus is daily life management. Your input can be in the form of events, tasks or notes, and all of them sync with the calendar automatically. There are plenty of useful features such as recurring tasks or projects, prioritizing, day, week and month views… More or less, the Planner Pro has everything you might need for personal management and optimal time organization. Additional options, such as exporting your schedule are available in the paid free version, which costs a reasonable $4.99 per year. While perhaps not the option for particularly complex projects, Planner Pro is a good and easy to use app for personal planning.
Its major flaw are the ads in the free version, but, luckily, it doesn’t cost much to get rid of them.
Trello is one of the most popular planning softwares out there, and its popularity is well-deserved.
It is based on a rather simple board concept, where the user can create a new board for each project, while managing the specific tasks through a card system. Communication and transparency is integral for success, and the makers of Trello seem well aware of it: it is achieved through a real-time chat channel, email notifications and a task assignment system. The tasks are managed in a very clear and well-organized manner, and have some excellent features, for instance the possibility of assigning several people to a task, with one as the project leader.
It comes in both the free and the paid iterations, and the subscriptions are very reasonably priced.
While very practical, Trello does have some minor flaws. For instance, if you have a lot of similar tasks, Trello doesn’t allow copying and pasting the to-do list. Also, some useful options, like the overview of all your projects, are only available in the paid version. Ultimately, Trello is a terrific planner and collaboration software for businesses, but of limited use to a single person.
3. Tony Robbins RPM Life Planner
The Tony Robbins planning system is based on Robbins’ belief that our normal to-do lists actually do nothing of value to bring us closer to achieving our ultimate goals. Instead, we bury ourselves under an avalanche of tasks that rob us of our time and energy. The overall idea is that this planning system is to be used to fulfill a greater vision you have for your life, by both keeping you connected to the big picture of your ultimate goal, and by planning the tasks that need to be done in order to achieve that, on a monthly, weekly and daily level.
Excellent for those who admire and agree with Robbins’ teachings, this system might be too complicated or demanding if you are just looking for a planning system for your day-to-day activities. Also, it will set you back almost $400 initially, plus more every time you need refill pages.
Wrike is a premium organizational and collaboration tool, which, though useful for individual users too, is mostly geared towards businesses. Wrike doesn’t have a limit when it comes to the number of projects and is highly customizable to suit your needs. It also has some unique and very cool features, for instance pinning important notifications, as well as its own document editor.
The free plan is extremely limited, supporting only five users, plus collaborators who can only discuss, but not actually edit the tasks. Professional plans, depending on your preferred number of users, can set you back up to a whopping $150 per month.
Unlike other productivity tools that commonly focus on your to-dos, Zapier actually takes some of those to-do items off your hands. What it does is, following an “if-then” pattern, it completes automated organizational tasks on its own, thus connecting previously separate applications and services. For instance, it can copy files to Dropbox, create new tasks in Trello, prepare you a weather report every day, or sync your calendar with your to-do list. It focuses primarily on productivity and business.
Neither the basic nor the business account are free. Also, the interface could use some simplifying.
6. Analog productivity planning
For some people, nothing beats good old pen and paper. Ultimately, no app is as adaptable as your own system, which is why a lot of people still choose journal-style paper planners. Proponents of the analog system most commonly argue that writing things down is both quicker and more immediate. It also helps memorize them, since many users complain that, by the time they unlock their phone and open an app, a lot of the times they forget what they wanted to enter. Plus, a journal gives you the chance to take notes if necessary, draw flow charts and diagrams.
This system is just too messy and disorganized for some, and it’s much harder to edit.
Ultimately, there is no single perfect way to manage and organize tasks. Your ideal choice will depend on the type and scale of project, the number of people involved, and specific personal preferences when it comes to options and interface. Don’t settle for a mediocre planner, as the right one can visibly affect your productivity and help you reach your goals in a quicker and less stressful manner.