Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: The 7-Minute Life Planner

Recently I was given the opportunity to review a product from a vendor known as The 7 Minute Life.  A seven-minute life…we must be talking about an insect or something.  No, according to the founder seven minutes is about the length of an average adult’s attention span (and this product is meant for adults).  I thought I could focus for much longer than that until I started to watch the introductory video for The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner.  It was twelve minutes long and I had to restart it three times because the phone rang, my son ran in, and the dog knocked something over in the kitchen.  So I guess this woman knows of what she speaks.

Now before we begin the review, you have to know where I’m coming from so it’s time for embarrassing but true confessions…

  • I write reminder notes for myself often—on the backs of receipts, envelopes and occasionally Post-Its. They accumulate with mail, things I’ve printed from the internet, and papers from my son and husband and are often lost until the thing I wanted to be reminded of has passed.
  • I love “to do” lists and checking things off (sometimes I add things I’ve already finished just for that little jolt of good feeling of crossing it off), but I jot things down in the order they come into my mind with no regard to priority.
  • I’m terribly distracted from tasks.  I used to think that meant I was multi-tasking, but the truth is if I carried something for one room to another (to put it away) I would see three things in the new room that needed to be done and never get back to the first room I was straightening. 
  • I wear multiple hats in life—I homeschool my son, teach at our co-op, lead Discovery Kids at church, and try to keep our home. 

What I Received—a 272 page, wire-bound notebook (roughly 7 1/4 by 8 1/2 inches) with plastic covers. Inside were exercises to determine my priorities, discover my purpose, set goals (personal, work, financial, life), list unfinished tasks, keep a contact list, track exercising and more.  The bulk of the pages are made up with 2-page spread daily progress reports—enough for 90 days. They’re undated, so you can jump in at any time—no need to procrastinate for the start of a new week or month or whatever, nothing wasted if you miss a few days.

How I Used It ---you might think I was tempted to plow ahead to the daily progress pages and start writing in my to-do list as usual.  Well, I was tempted but since this was for a review I thought I should at least start the way the creator of the product intended.  There’s a whole series of Getting Started Videos on the web page (you can view these now, with no purchase required).  After viewing them, I found a few quiet moments for myself, sat down with my planner, and assessed my priorities. My top three ended up being Faith, Family/Friendships, and Health.   Working on Discovering My Purpose was much harder as I struggled to separate “purpose” from “tasks I have to do” but having the question “At the age of 85, I will know I have fulfilled my purpose when:” helped me to organize my thoughts.

With that in mind, I found filling out the 5 things I would do before 11 much different than my typical to-do list.  Since Health was one of my priorities (I am a cancer survivor and since my hysterectomy my blood pressure has been creeping up) I scheduled my Couch to 5K sessions during this time.  Regular exercise is a key in lowering blood pressure, but up till now I would save exercise until after schoolwork and daily chores was done (and then I might feel too tired and end up skipping it entirely).  Now I don’t feel guilty about scheduling time for myself because it fits into my priority—and let’s face it, if I’m in poor health I won’t be able to meet my other obligations.  Since making it a priority, I’ve seen my blood pressure average drop 20 points! The Planner also helps me track health priorities with boxes to track water intake, sleep, exercise, and reflection (which I count as prayer and meditation).

The Planner seems to be geared towards folks with wage-earning jobs: there are work goals, unfinished work tasks, a place to write names and numbers from voice mails, etc.  I decided for me, work would be anything associated with my teaching (at home, co-op, or church) and my blogging.  So my unfinished tasks included picking up science project supplies and completing blog posts.  My daily contacts aren’t customers and vendors, but websites with history information or books to find at the library (and in some cases other homeschoolers, bloggers, etc.).

What I Liked—I actually loved the 5 Before 11 section and the overall principles to Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify.  I’m getting closer to the 8 glasses of water per day and track my intake of cultured foods (another health priority) along with sleep and exercise.  I gained a lot of insight into myself by completing the Priorities, Purpose, Strengths & Weaknesses, and Goals worksheets. Most of these evaluation tools are available for free on the 7 Minute Life website.

What Didn’t Work For Me—The size doesn’t make the Planner convenient to carry in my purse. If something came up at 4-H meetings or church that I needed to remember  I would have to write notes and appointments on separate pieces of paper and then transfer them to the planner when I got home.  This may not be an issue for folks used to carrying briefcases or something similar.   Even with adapting things to my “line of work” I still found sections like Voice Mail useless for me. 

The Bottom Line--- I will continue to prioritize my daily tasks with the 5 Before 11 system, making sure those items are helping me meet my goals and fall within my priority categories.  I don’t know if I will buy another planner when this 90 days is up.

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner retails for $24.95.

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