Monday, July 11, 2011

The Woman's Success Planner

Okay everybody, hang onto yourselves. This is a big one!!

I first discovered the Woman's Success Planner when Amy commented about it in my Interesting Planners I've Never Tried post. I couldn't resist buying the entire year's worth of planners. Thank you Amy for pointing this planner out to me!! It. Is. Amazing!!!!

First of all, you need to go look at Rori's review of the Woman's Success Planner Third Quarter, then take a look at her follow-up post on how she's using it.  When you're done, come back.

My friends, you know I've seen a lot of planners. I can easily say this is the most comprehensive planner I've ever seen. It incorporates planning, goal setting, journaling, household routines, personal growth and more all set into the planner's structure. I spoke with Pamela Adams Henrie, the creator of the Woman's Success Planner, and she said she does a ton of reading and research to produce these planners. Let me explain.

Each planner holds one quarter of the year. I started with the current quarter, July August and September, but you can jump in any time.  I'll pretend we are starting at the beginning of the year and walk you through.

Here is a photo of the goal setting pages at the beginning of the year. (These particular pages are from my First Quarter 2012 planner). I love how the worksheets get you to think about what you want and how to get there. The fairy godmother question made me cry!  It just gets you to think very specifically about what you want to change.  (Click on any of the photos for a larger view.)
After the beginning goal setting pages come the monthly and weekly planners. The months are embedded in the weeks and incorporate monthly goal setting, household tasks, and monthly tips to motivate you.

Here is the Monthly Tasks page. Each month there are lists of seasonal maintenance and decoration inside the house and out, and a list of fruits and veg in season, which is a wonderful reference. There is also a big space to list your ongoing tasks:
Every month has a Focus. For October 2011 the Focus is The Power of Truth. (For all of 2011 the theme is "The Power of...". For 2012 the theme is "Create...")

When you open the monthly calendar (printed on recycled card stock which is darker and heavier than the other pages to allow you to find the monthly calendars easily) you see the entire month across the two-page spread with a motivational quote at the top, Blooming Ideas down the side, and space for Notes at the bottom of the pages. Here you can also see how I've written my Fly Lady Zones into the monthly pages:
When you turn the page, next is the Monthly Goals page that helps you break down your goals to focus on all month. You can see the top left section is a breakdown of goals by theme; below that is text discussing The Power of Truth, October's monthly Focus. Top right is a space for you to make notes on your focus on The Power of Truth. Below that is space for your personal or work goals. And at the bottom right are suggestions for Traditions which I absolutely love. Especially now that I have kids I realize how important traditions are.

The right page is weekly goal-setting with topics of Weekly Personal Goals and Tasks, Every Week Tasks (household cleaning and maintenance) and below is a meal planning worksheet for the week including a shopping list.

I use the meal planning area like crazy because usually my husband is the chef, but he just doesn't have time anymore with his new job so it's up to me to feed us. I use this space not only for meal planning but also notes on what my picky daughter liked and didn't (no onions in the meatloaf next time!) and any special ingredients this week (as in, what was on sale) that I can incorporate into meals.

The paper is recycled, cream colored with tiny flecks in it, and super-thick. I use Sharpie pens, Sakura Microns and Staedtler Fineliners and there is absolutely no show-through or even shadow on the opposite side of the page! The paper is spectacular.  (And a side-note, all Success Planner products are made in the USA.)

Then you turn the page and it's your weekly schedule spread. Click on the photo to enlarge because there's a lot going on with these pages. At the top of the pages are reference calendars for last-this-next month, and a motivational quote on the monthly theme.
The weekly spread has all seven days as full-size columns, which I love. This particular week didn't have any holidays, but holidays are printed on the day spaces. The tops of the columns are organized for your appointments AM and PM.  Below that is a section for your tasks with prioritization tips. Below that is a section to help you consolidate phone calls or errands.

Below that is a Health Tracker (which is wonderful because often we women are so busy taking care of everyone else, this reminds us we need to take care of ourselves too!). There are spaces to check off that you're drinking your water, eating your five fruit and veg per day, getting your exercise, and a space to personalize to track medication, vitamins, or anything else you want. (Let me just say, it's easy for me to THINK I'm getting my 5 a day, but when I started recording it I realized I wasn't!!)

Along the very bottom of the pages are daily tasks that are numbered so you can check them off (to give yourself credit for those daily chores as Pamela told me, very clever!)  Next year's planners have added an 8th blank space for you to fill in yourself with any daily task:

I love that household chores are written in a checklist so you know what needs to be done each week. The monthly pages hold your monthly and seasonal chores, the weekly pages list your weekly chores and the weekly schedule has your daily chores. This makes it so easy to accomplish household routines and keep up on chores.

Click on the photo below to see how I have adapted the spaces to record learning activities I do with my kids, and a separate section on blog posts. In the space at the left I write my Resolutions for the month and anything else I want to focus on:

Also I marked out "sort mail" because I only get mail twice per month, and added "laundry" because I have a tiny washing machine and if I don't do at least two loads each day I fall woefully behind!

When you turn the page after the weekly schedule, you come to the End Of Week Review which gets you to reflect and record what went well or not so well, gratitude/ inspirations, and any other notes. I use the space at the bottom left to record Financial things like weekly totals for checking, savings and credit cards, major expenses that week etc. I had never done an end of week review before, but after having done it once I'm hooked. This is an extremely important exercise to keep you on track!
On the Notes page at the right I journal, and this is where I do my monthly review at the end of the month.

Then you turn the page and it's the goals for the next week. Below you can see my notes on how I use the page on the left for multi-step lists, and the goals space on the right page to focus on my goals that week:
After the three months in the planner there are month per page calendars for nine more months. So for example, in the January-February-March planner, the monthly calendars go all the way through the end of December 2012:
I love that holidays, moon phases and notable days like Tax Day are printed in the monthly calendars.

Then after the monthly calendars there is a planning page carrying you through an entire additional 12 months, with several pages of notes at the back of the book. So in the First Quarter 2012 planner, you get Future Planning for all of 2013:

That gives you two entire years of planning in each quarterly book.

At the very back of the book there is a plastic sheet to hold business cards and a top-opening envelope to hold any bits:

Inside the front and back covers are tips and instructions on how to use your planner.

I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed the first couple of days I used it, because there is just so much to this planner. But it even says not to feel like you have to do everything all at once, but do things as you are ready for them.

A big difference between this planner and any other I've used is this one holds you accountable. Not only does it help you set goals, but it checks back to make sure you are actually doing things to reach those goals. The weekly evaluation is especially important to help you reflect on your progress. And this continues throughout the year.

The first two pages in the July-Aug-Sept quarter are Midyear Planning to get you to reflect back on what your Annual Goals were for this year, decide which are still relevant, and get you back on track if you've gone astray:

The first two pages of the final quarter of the year are a Year End Review to get you to reflect on your year:

So throughout the entire year you set goals annually, mid-year, monthly and weekly. You then review each week, month, half-year and year.  This is absolutely amazing. You can track your progress and evaluate your goals along the way.

Included in with my planners was this little silver binder clip, which I adore beyond reason:

I use it to mark my pages so I can flip back and forth between my current monthly and weekly sections.  I could have clipped it so my planner would open straight to the current month and week spreads. But instead I decided to have it open to my monthly and weekly goals pages, so I see them every time I open my planner.  So when I open it to the left of the clip I see my monthly goals:

And when I open it to the right I see my current week's goals:

I ordered the year's worth of planners for my sister, and we received our planners on the same day. When we spoke on the phone that day she said, "I feel like today is the first day of the rest of my life!" I feel the same way. Whatever your goals are, this planner is an excellent tool to get you there. The motivational themes and quotes give you direction; the plethora of pages for notes and journaling mean no idea will escape uncaptured; and the goal setting pages get you to focus on what you really want.  And like I said before, the regular reviews of your accomplishments allow you to know exactly where you are on the path toward your goals.

My brilliant sister also pointed out that this planner is like "a syllabus for our lives."  You know how in college you had a syllabus for each class where you knew exactly what assignments were due and what material would be covered on each date? This planner is like that, for your actual life.  Each time you turn the page, there is what you need right now.

In a couple of days I will review the Address Book, which you might have guessed is way more than just an address book!  I have also ordered the gorgeous yellow leather cover which I can hardly wait to get, but will have to wait until my in-laws bring it when they come to visit at the end of this month because I can only get documents and books through the mail. I got one for my sister and she says it's "like buttah" and so soft, I can hardly wait to get my hands on it!

Even if you decide not to use this as your main planner, it's an invaluable tool for goal setting, evaluation, journaling, household routines, healthy living and motivation. This planner would be wonderfully useful for any woman at any stage of life.

Each planner is 8 1/2 x 6 inches which makes it extremely portable. I hardly notice it in my bag, which is great because I take this planner everywhere with me to capture ideas and plans.

Please note these are slightly wider than a large Moleskine and do not fit into Moleskine covers (I tried all of mine and the book is wider). If you'd like a cover you should definitely check out their gorgeous hand-made (in the USA) leather covers here.

If you decide not to get a cover that's fine too, the laminated heavy card stock will certainly survive whatever abuse you dish out. I have to say I really like the seasonal colors of each quarter: ice blue for Jan-Feb-March, green for April-May-June, yellow for July-Aug-Sept and an autumnal red for Oct-Nov-Dec.

You can buy just one quarter, half year, or entire year at the Success Planners website. There are also loose-leaf pages if you want to use a ring-binder system.

***Edited to add: The Success Choice now does overseas shipping!  Click here to contact the company for more information. Also, you can follow Pamela on Twitter.

I know this post was extremely long but I haven't even covered all the possibilities for this planner. The Success Choice website has lots of information on how to use this planner to enrich your life. Please check out their website for more information about these amazing planners!


  1. SQUEEEEE!! This review is EXCELLENT! Glad to know about the goals area in the beginning of the year quarter! It just gets better and better with this planner, I swear.

    Glad that Sandy liked it too! (Did she by any chance take any pics of the inside of the leather cover?)There is a pen loop, right?

    I can't wait to get the rest of the year and the cover and address book!!

    How are you integrating FlyLady daily stuff? I've changed mine every week when it dawns on me that there's nothing this planner CAN'T track or help with haha

    (and yes I know that's a whole lot of !!!)

    Fantabulous! I have been waiting anxiously for this post :D And thanks for the links!

  2. I forgot, I had to read it again:

    Like a syllabus for your life

    !! It's so true!!

  3. Rori it took me a little while to figure out how to incorporate Fly Lady without overlapping, because this planner incorporates so much of the household cleaning stuff. I figured it out this way: I use the Fly Lady Zones for deep-cleaning each zone from the ceiling corner cobwebs, windows, detailed dusting and other deep-clean stuff that only needs to happen once per month. For just about everything else, the Success Planner's lists have it covered!

  4. Sorry I didn't answer: Sandy hasn't sent me any photos of the inside, but she said there's lots of pockets for cards and a checkbook, the planner and address book fit into the cover together very nicely, there is a ribbon to mark your current page, and there is indeed a pen holder! I can hardly wait until mine arrives! I handle my planner all day every day, and the soft brushed leather will add a whole 'nother dimension to the enjoyment of using this planner!

  5. Is there a way to send these to England? There's only the option of America or Canada on the website.

  6. Hi AF, I don't know if they do international shipping. (I have a US postal address.) You can contact them to find out:

  7. Laurie, this review is fantastic, I want one.

    You have inspired me to blog. Please have a read and lend me your opinions & ideas
    Thank you

  8. The idea is good (although I'll admit I'm put off by the gendering, which seems kind of unnecessary), but the form factor is lacking. I would really like to see these pages redesigned with the same functions, but a better use of fonts and space, to have more visual appeal.

  9. verbminx, that's interesting. My sister also said she would prefer a different font (she likes sans-serif) but I like the handwriting look of this one. We each have our own personal preferences.

    And I agree, there's no reason why this planner has to be women-only. But I do think women are more likely to use the tracking, evaluation and household tasks lists than men would. Just my own opinion.

    Karen I have posted a comment on your blog! :)

  10. I read about this last week and I am waiting anxiously for mine to arrive! I hope it comes today. I am in another planner rut frustrated with my planner pad and although it seems silly, my life just doesn't feel on track without my planner being on track. I am thrilled to read all of the positive reviews and can't wait to get it to feel that "I'm getting everything together!" feeling. Hopefully this will be the one I have been searching for!!! Dea

  11. Laurie, thanks so much for reviewing this planner! I love mine and am pleased that you found it so interesting. If the quarter planner works well, I'm seriously considering replacing my FC planner (which I have used for YEARS) with the binder version of the Success Planner. I am also considering keeping the quarterly version instead as I like the idea of having a handy book I can keep in my purse. I'm so excited at the possibilities! Amy

  12. This planner is out of this world! And I wonder how long it took you to write this amazing review!
    This planner seems to leave no excuses for procrastination and disorganization. Truly stunning, all the points they thought of!

  13. LOL Christine it did take me awhile to review this planner. There's so much to it I was like, "Where do I even begin??"

    Amy I'm also tempted to get a binder that will fit the hole-punched pages. But I know how I am with binders, I'll stuff the thing so full it will be too heavy and I won't want to take it anywhere. One thing I love about this planner is it's so slim and portable I take it with me everywhere, which is great for writing down everything that comes to mind.

    Dea I hope you love it! Let us know what you think! :)

  14. I like the look of this, but maybe there's too much feminist in me to buy it...? I don't see why it's a woman's planner (presumably because of all the household chores in it - I can't imagine a man's planner having them! Which is exactly why I am cavilling...).
    I'm sorely tempted to take the bits I do like and recreate into my A5 filofax...

    Great review!

  15. Amanda, I see your point and a few years ago I would have agreed with you. But as a stay at home mom, most of the housework falls to me because I'm the one at home all day. It's really easy for me to feel overwhelmed with all the housework duties, and I find the lists really help me stay on track.

    Technically there's no reason why a man couldn't use this planner but I think it's more appealing to women with the journaling space, reflection, and thought-provoking tips and quotes. I take care of other people constantly, and it's nice to have something that focuses on me for a change.

  16. Mailman delivered my Success Planner today! I am "playing planner" right now and am in love with it. I am wondering how you guys are using the Monthly Tasks vs. Monthly Goals. On the July 2011-Monthly Tasks page there is the section Ongoing To Do List, and on the July 2011 Monthly Goals Planning there is a Personal/Work Goals section with lines to fill in. I have a lot of personal and work to-dos each month, I was thinking of using the To-Do monthly section for personal and the Personal/Work Goals section for Work To-Dos. I can't decide.
    I love love love the paper, the breakdown, the to do in house and yard, and the traditions....Laurie I took your suggestions and put my fly zones on the monthly calendar layout - there is so much info here I feel like I have only scratched the surface! It's going to be a struggle to write little enough on the weekly spread, but I am going to try my hardest! I'll keep you posted. I'll be interested to hear any suggestions on the monthly to-dos and goals sections. Seeya!

  17. Dea I'm so glad you like your WSP!

    This is how I'm using my monthly Goals vs Ongoing Tasks spaces:

    My goals all go on the monthly goals page. I like how I can break my goals down by topic.

    On my Ongoing To Do list for the month I write steps and/or details of my most important project for the month. This month it's learning activities to do with my kids, especially to get my son confident and ready to start kindergarten next month. Once they are in school my August Ongoing To Dos will be finding a job, and all the steps and people to contact for that.

    Hope this helps! :)

  18. i just tried to buy it and couldn't find it.
    help I love it!

  19. In my post, the links are in blue. Click on the very first "Women's Success Planner" in my post, it is a link that will take you directly to the product purchasing page.

  20. Thank you for such a great review of this product. I just found my new planner system and ordered it! I am so excited to receive it so I can start using it!