There’s one good thing about not being allowed to take your laptop with you on a flight: you just might fall in love in with paper again. Maybe you will reach into your carry-on and bring out a humble paper planner and a pen to mark anything that needs to be done.
From my own experience of using a bullet journal with a few pages devoted to productivity planning, I can say that paper planners work. You can customize them to your needs and print them out to stick to your cubicle wall or tag them to the refrigerator door — and they come with another big advantage.
Paper Planners Are Easy to Make
Making your own paper planner is about scheduling the specific. I had earlier demonstrated how to make your own PDF templates for just about anything. Sketch it out on paper first and then fire up Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.
In fact, making your own printables is easier than searching for the right one on the web. For instance, searching for the perfect printable template for your unique office task or business could be a tough ask. But if you are feeling lazy, let’s rummage around the web.
The Top Free Printable Planners You Can Use Right Now
Do go through the sites mentioned because some other planner hosted there might be a better fit for your needs than the one in this list. Also, you can always take these ideas as an inspiration and make your own!
Let’s start with a simple template you can use as an experiment with the habit. Daily planners are easy to find and make. But sometimes you need a bird’s eye view of the entire week to get some perspective. You have to sign into the Resource Library on the site before you can download the free planner template.
The neat PDF planner by Cristina Castro Moral structures your week around goals, tasks, campaigns, email management, and ideas.
If you are a small business owner, do check out her barebones Monthly Calendar template in the resource library.
If you have ever deep dived into a search for excellent paper planner templates, then David Seah hands out a few pearls. It’s great to have a daily planner and a weekly planner. But chaos is inevitable. This paper planner just might help you keep your sanity.
The instructions are on the page, but the basic idea is to improve your sense of time by factoring in the last-minute tasks that pop up and disturb your flow.
It is difficult to stay on plan when chaos at work bombards you. This planner could help you become more mindful about your sense of time and the jobs that need to be done.
Project planner templates come in all shapes and sizes. The most common ones (obviously) fall back on Microsoft Excel and its pre-installed templates. Vertex42 creates many excellent templates for Microsoft Office. This project scheduling template is easy to use because you don’t need to be an Excel maestro.
Vertex42 creates many excellent templates for Microsoft Office. This project scheduling template is easy to use because you don’t need to be an Excel maestro.
No need to fumble with Excel formulas or macros. Just insert a new row when you need to and the formatting is automatically applied to the data you enter in the cells.
The description says: the template is designed for those who just want to enter task descriptions and start/end dates and have a great looking Gantt chart created automatically.
Time management requires one key skill most of us are bad at: delegation. When you are working on a project, you can’t just pass on a task to someone else. You need to do it with some precision and on time. The basic Handoff Holder free printable template is the first learning step.
Use the rows and columns to hold the responsibilities, projects, and tasks you need to hand off to someone else. The simple checklist and the time estimate will help you monitor the progress of the delegated job.
Productivity Flourishing is a valuable resource for tips to get things done. I would also recommend the next free template to improve the way to meet your strategic goals.
Checklists are great. But a powerful checklist runs on the energy under it. The Momentum Planner is designed to break down the big rocks (your office projects) and chunk them into neat little piles. Use the sections in the printable to lead with the key objectives for the day, week, and month. List the infinitesimal small steps you need to take for progress and use them to build momentum.
The site gives you three Momentum Planners for free. Grab the next month’s Monthly Momentum Planner, the Weekly Momentum Planner, and the Daily Momentum Planner at the end of each month.
I know someone who has a trip checklist glued to the inner side of his carry-on. Makes sense because a checklist is a simple but powerful tool to prevent memory mishaps. It is a brain dump which takes a few minutes of your time, so try it next time you decide that your memory slips.
Try it with your next trip and this free business trip checklist.
This free printable is available as a Word template. You can edit it in your browser or in Microsoft Word and add a few other loose ends to wrap up before a trip. The list is divided into four neat action categories. The advice to print several copies of the list is well taken.
Stay on in the Office Templates gallery to download this travel expense tracker for Excel. Having your own custom template helps, even though there are numerous apps available for logging your travel costs. Then, you might have to submit travel spends for reimbursement or for tax deductions. Use with Excel and print it out to keep a running record of your expenses.
I can’t seem to move away from Dave Seah’s bounty of free templates. But the excuse is that his template ideas cover key areas you might miss in other template sites. For instance, the Concrete Goals Tracker is designed for the person who does not have someone monitoring progress. It is a self-accountability tool you can use if you are a solo-preneur or working on a side hustle.
The visual tracker will help you see the progress and review the big goals that are at the heart of your objective. You can also repurpose the tool as a report card when you are trying to learn a new skill.
So far, we have looked at printables that force you to organize your thoughts linearly. How about something that gives you space for freeform writing? The Chronodex isn’t a typical planner. It is a scheduler which takes advantage of our familiarity with the round face of a clock.
As you can see above, a typical page pre-formats a 12-hour day in a radial grid. The wedges stand for different phases of the day. Assign your tasks to these slices of time and log your wins.
You can annotate extra information or notes anywhere on the page. Use the radial grid as a mind mapping tool with the help of some lateral thinking. The instructions to assemble your own Chronodex diary are provided with the downloadable PDF.
One printout and a bit of tape, that’s all you need to ramp up your office productivity. Though this is not a “planner” printable, it is a printable worthy of a space on any cubicle wall. Microsoft offers documentation that you can copy and print. But this Windows 10 cheat sheet comes ready for your printer.
The 42 shortcuts help you with window management, the Start Menu, the Task view, and Cortana. Do note that the list only refers to Windows key shortcuts (not shortcuts made with modifier keys like Ctrl or Alt). You can see how easy it is to create these shortcut productivity cheat sheets with just Microsoft Word and a printer.
It has long been established that work life isn’t worth it without a good life at home. The secret is an optimal work-life balance. One of the most productive people I know works three jobs and has a balanced life at home with all his responsibilities. His secret is planning and the discipline to stick to it.
Dave Seah also thinks that life balance is measurable. The grand total at the end of the day should spell “happiness”.
He encourages you to download the free planner and edit it because one size does not fit all. The PDFs have two parts. The first helps you track your core areas in your life. The second works like a to-do list to log the important stuff you get done in the core areas of your life. Use both to understand what makes you happy at both work and home.
Try a Printable Planner for a Slightly Low-Tech Day
Check online stores like Etsy. Take a stroll through social sites like Reddit and Pinterest. Or just do a Google search. Smartphone apps have flooded the ether, but simple paper planners and templates are holding their own in the digital age.
I have no votes for over-scheduling, but I like the idea of putting down the broad strokes on life in a piece of paper. There is a cognitive joy of ticking it off with a bold pen. What about you?
Are you someone who lives by the to-do list? Has a planner helped you become more productive? Give us your best planner ideas that can be printed and tacked on an office wall.