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Saw It On Social: Full Focus Planner

At the start of the New Year, I was searching for a new planner.  I wanted something that blended short-term to-do lists and appointments with long-term goals.  And Facebook was continually suggesting the Full Focus Planner, so I decided to give it a try.

Full Focus is a quarterly planner that is supposed to clear your goals, help you feel less overwhelmed, and help you progress.  It feels and looks like a Moleskin notebook.  And it runs $40 per quarter or $125 per year for the basic planner.

I’m going to cut right to the chase: I hated it.  I bought two, returned the second one, and am still waiting on a refund 6-weeks  later.

Why did I dislike the Full Focus Planner so much?

The first day the planner arrived, I was so excited. I felt like my long-term goals were being sacrificed for my daily work, and a planner that could help me do both sounded amazing…until I opened it.

Intimidating is the first word that comes to mind.  It was clear upon first glance that keeping this planner was going to require learning how to keep it.  So I watched this 10-minute YouTube video.

This video was so overwhelming that I went to a different 3-minute video to learn how to get started.  This video was just about using the daily to-do list pages.  But it was clear that the company expects users to spend weeks developing methods of using the  planner before they will feel comfortable with all of the features.  Who knew a planner could have a learning curve?

I spent another hour trying to find a video that clearly and succinctly explained the method,  but everything was either unreliable sponsored content or rambling drivel.  There were just too many videos.

So I decided to do what the second video said, and try to use the daily pages.  But despite costing $40, the calendars aren’t dated or numbered.  You have to fill that all in yourself.  So I started numbering.  And an hour later, I had a working calendar.

After three days of keeping the planner, I abandoned it.

Thee Full Focus Planner is more work than it was worth.  Numbering pages.  Making lists.  Filling out goals pages each week, each month, each quarter.  Making detailed plans for how to accomplish said goals.  Following up on progress.

People across the Internet rave about how the Full Focus Planner changed their lives and removed worry and chaos from their day.  All it did for me was create one more onerous task to complete so that even the act of making a to-do list felt like work.

And to seal the frustration, I tried to return the second planner I purchased, and I still haven’t received a refund.  I had to call them to request a return label, and tracking that label reveals it was returned to them five weeks ago.  But when I inquire about my refund, I get no response from customer service.  The phone reps are probably too busy numbering pages and making goal lists to get back to me.

Saw It On Social products are purchased by me.  No sponsorships or gifts are solicited or accepted.   The whole point of the columns is to figure out which of the heavily advertised items are worth the money.

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    24 comments

  1. Nadine says:

    I love the Passion Planner, which is designed to serve a similar purposed. Even better: you can download the content of the planner as a PDF for free and test out the system before you spend money on a purchase.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
    • MOcomel says:

      second to the passion planner!

      March 25, 2020/Reply
  2. Mary says:

    Planners are so personal. I enjoy my Planner Pad. It is old school not cool, but so am I. They’ve got a YouTube video, see if it looks like it would fit you. Thank you so much for this blog, I look forward to it every day.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  3. ET says:

    That does sound overwhelming. I’m a very particular person with a short attention span, and really enjoyed the layered living planner – it involves some goal-setting at the start of the new year, and then each month has a theme.

    https://www.herspaceco.com/thelayeredlivingplanner

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  4. Abigail says:

    After trying lots of different planners, I purchased a Leuchtturm1917 (6×9, dotted grid) and drew in my own weekly planner with micron archival pens. Each month takes about 30 minutes to set up, but I get to play with layouts and adjust week to week basised on whats working for me and what is not. No more guilt for not filling in the “grateful” of the day prompt or missing 4 of 5 target habits. Just three sections: the week, tasks, and “-ments” (a section for accomplishments and compliments). All me, all the way, and therefore works for me and my brain.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
    • ral says:

      I use a similar system. I don’t have the “-ments” though – great idea! The planner can’t be anything too tedious for me or I won’t keep it up.

      March 23, 2020/Reply
    • Barbara says:

      I love this idea of the -ments!!!

      March 23, 2020/Reply
  5. Mary says:

    Here’s a link to a Planner Pad video:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xqS7dJ5SN-c
    Thanks, sorry for the one-two post!

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  6. Jenette says:

    I have yet to find a planner that makes me a person who uses a planner. I want it to be big enough and broken down by day, but the day needs to go on past 6 PM. And my weekends are busy, Saturday and Sunday can’t share a page. But I also want tabs on my months because I need to see the big picture and daily tasks. Personalized planners can be so expensive! Appointment books don’t usually have monthly views. i have a friend who just prints out blank Google calendars and hole punches them…may do that.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  7. Jessica says:

    Someone suggested Ink+Volt to me…and I’ve been really enjoying my goal planner this year. It’s easy to use…and I usually just sit down with it every Sunday to review the week.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  8. Nelly Yuki says:

    I highly recommend bullet journaling when all other planners fail. It’s highly customizable and is only as complicated as you make it. I recommend starting with the official video and then googling “minimalist bullet journaling” for best results.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
    • MOnica T says:

      Thanks for mentioning this! I had heard the name before but checking out the official video and learning page is really helpful. I need structure, but not too much structure, and it seems like this method might be perfect for that. I love the shorthand style, and coded annotations. And that I can use my moleksine grid notebooks without buying anything else!

      March 24, 2020/Reply
  9. pam says:

    Have you tried the Franklin Planner? They are well proven for the last 20 years, i know all sorts of people who use them as the page formats are very flexible to your preferences. My entire company, husband and even a SAHM crafter find them so useful. even as your needs change year to year you can change the types of pages and formats

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  10. Natalie N Rasmussen says:

    I really like the Ink and Volt planners. They are not nearly as intimidating as what you tried and they are a nice blend of long-term and short-term planning.

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  11. JW says:

    Highly recommend Panda Planner!!

    March 23, 2020/Reply
  12. RHIANNA JOBE says:

    Work recently got all of us the Best Self Journal/Planner. I like it but I am admittedly not a planner person. I am a digital calendar and post it note person and it works well for me.

    March 24, 2020/Reply
  13. Meredith says:

    Have you tried the Savor Life Planner? I think it started as a beauty planner originally, but I use it for work and personal life. It’s great for time blocking and divvying up weekly to do’s. It’s been a lifesavor and is really flexible without being too free form (ie. bullet journals). Comes in 90-day undated format and just released a more professional looking version this year. https://savorlifeplanner.com/

    March 24, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Just received it last week, giving it a try.

      March 24, 2020/Reply
      • Lin says:

        I found there to be too much blank space in the savor planner… a lot went to waste for me. It was cute though and I think would be good for a more creative person who likes some structure.

        April 4, 2020/Reply
  14. Jennifer says:

    Not a planner recommendation, but a refund one. If you haven’t already, you may want to call your credit card company and work through them to get your money back. I did this several years ago after an item I returned had been “delivered” for weeks, but I couldnt’t get anything out of the company who sold it to me. Good luck!

    March 24, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Amazingly, after this post, they reached out and processed the refund.

      March 24, 2020/Reply
  15. caitlin says:

    I have vivid memories of using my planners in grade school as doodle pads and not much else… ADHD will do that to a person. I scraped by on brains and teacher pity, but I’m afraid I’m still not really a “planner” person. Right now I have a no-frills daily planner for work and a Trello for personal use. Sometimes I use any.do on my phone for really urgent REMEMBER TO DO THIS ASAP things… and I’ve just made a written list for non-urgent quarantine projects.

    I am so disorganized but I’ve never found one product that fits my braindump needs. Maybe I should look into project management apps?

    March 26, 2020/Reply
  16. Lin says:

    So I love planners, am all about getting my crap done, but also never found a planner that really worked for me consistently and didn’t weigh 800 lbs. I can’t be bothered to do the bullet journal.

    I’ve used the full focus, while it was ok it was a bit overwrought, as you noted. And a recent podcast by Michael Hyatt soured me to the brand overall – but I have to remember he’s built his whole company on the books and planner products he sells, and with the downturn he’s pushing hard as ever. I wish he could step back and take a more measured approach (like acknowledge not everyone has their full salary right now), but so it goes. I won’t be buying another.

    I tried the Passion Planner as one of my friends was obsessed (and I even bought $70 of stickers from Etsy to personalize it. Ha.) Not enough space for my daily to dos in the weekly setup. Only lasted three real weeks.

    Alright this brings me to the planner I’ve been using for two months and LOVE. It is an A5 six ring binder I bought on amazon for like $15. And I fill it with inserts from minimal planner companies. Note that the planner community is a total rabbit hole, so I’ll just recommend cloth and paper for their beautiful layouts and one stop shopping. I have monthly, weekly, and dailies for about the next 2-3 weeks and it keeps my planner light while letting me have the space I need to plan. Would recommend. Plus they are INCREDIBLY stylish (who knew highlighters could be in neutral tones) and just look good. I’m on their waitlist for their next restock of black leather A5s with larger rings, which will be heavier but I’m expecting will also be essentially an accessory. Just so you don’t get trapped by decision paralysis, personal and A5 are the most common sizes and given your use of the FFP I’d say go A5. Buy a cheap amazon binder to start and some inserts that fit your needs, and go from there.

    Thanks for all the good & thoughtful content, always!!!

    April 4, 2020/Reply
  17. Lydia Claire says:

    I know this is a very late comment, but I’m a big fan of Appointed’s Year Task Planner. You also might want to try Agendio, which is fully customizable. The options can be overwhelming, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can really create something that will work for you.

    April 9, 2020/Reply

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