Now that we’re a quarter of the way in to the year, I thought it was time to share my review of the Big Picture Planner from Design Aglow. I wanted to make sure I really put it to the test before I shared my thoughts on it; I’ve mentioned it here previously in my post on Planners, Systems and Working with Intention.
Short version? I LOVE IT. Should you buy it? YES.
Ok, that was easy. Now lets talk about why I love it! Grab something to drink, this is going to take awhile.
How The Big Picture Planner is Designed
The Big Picture Planner, first and foremost, is simply designed beautifully. This is to be expected from anything that the team at Design Aglow creates; their design aesthetic is one that I love. The layout is fresh and clean, and the best part is that it is super easy to customize it and make it your own. All of the files are provided in a format that you can fully customize yourself using either PhotoShop or InDesign.
The planner is not tied to a specific year. You print it yourself and you add the dates to the pages. This means that you can start using it tomorrow, and you can use it for the next five years if you want. No more buying a planner every year!
There are binder cover page templates provided, including one for the front, back & the binder spine in several sizes. I chose photographs of my favorite places to print so that just looking at the planner makes me smile.
I loved the colors that it came with, and originally I was going to stick with them even though they did not match my branding. Once I made a trip to the store to pick up divider tabs and a binder, I decided I had to change them to match the gold, black and pink of my boudoir photography branding. I used this tutorial by Allison Wyn Design to create the gold effect on all of my pages, and modified other items to be pink or black. Now it matches my thank you notes! (Cards from Target, envelopes from Paper Source in Blossom.)
I found white tabs with a gold accent on them, and since my logo is my signature, writing my labels to coordinate with them was perfect for me.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Also included was a 16 page how-to tutorial, Setting Yourself Up for Success, which guides you through their method of transforming your goals into achievements. I printed this as well, so I can easily refer back to the Big Picture Thinking page and Goal Action Worksheet.
Each section has a lovely opening page with a photo and a quote – which you can of course customize. I used one of my photographs from Yosemite for this page, and a favorite quote from Jonathan Fields – “When you align what you do with who you are, you’ll become what you need to be.” One of my personal favorite mantras.
The Daily section includes a Week at a Glance page and a Daily Page. Since this is your planner — and you are printing it yourself — you can print as many pages or as few as you need. Some days, I skip the Daily Page. So I only printed two months worth to begin with, and then I only need to print more when I run out.
I also chose what to print two sided, and what pages to print only single sided. Since I wanted to keep my planner thin, I printed almost all of it two sided. I’m currently storing it in a much larger binder though because I have pages from two other projects all stored together in one binder.
The Monthly Section came with a suggested task list that I’ve kept as is for now, knowing I can change it in the future. I look over it the first week of every month, as I write out my monthly calendar.
The Marketing Section is incredible! First there are tips to help you plan a successful marketing campaign, plus a worksheet to help you lay it all out. (Again, print only a few, print more when you need them!) The Social Media and Blog Tracker is great for helping you track your numbers as they grow – how awesome to look back over the year and see how all of this planning has helped your business!
Since you can customize everything, I took the Future Marketing Ideas page and made a Future Blog Post Ideas page as well. Now I have one place to reference whenever I need a new idea of something to write about!
The Financial Section has Income Reports and Expense Reports, plus balance sheets for tracking. I do all of this online, so I have only used this section when I need to jot something down to enter later. I do like the overview page for monthly totals, since it is so important to know your numbers!
The Contacts Section is something I don’t currently use – as a boudoir photographer, I do not normally work with other vendors and venues. I only printed two pages for this section so that I would have them if I ever needed them. I’m considering making some custom pages to include login information for my vendors that I use in case something ever happens and my husband or my assistant need to access them and they don’t have the information they need.
The Workflow Section is where you can truly see that this planner was created with the professional photographer in mind. This section is so handy for keeping things running smoothly. I have a workflow list in ShootQ, but since I am a tactile person, having a computer checklist has never worked well for me. I prefer having a list written out that I can mark things off on as complete. This one is great! Of course, if you’re not a photographer, you could edit it and make it fit your needs. For example, as a blogger? I could note each project – maybe a sponsored blog posts? – all of the information that I normally need to gather, and then check off the items I normally have to complete for a project.
I’m always making notes of books to read, websites to check out – so the Inspiration Section is handy for keeping those lists all in one place. The Notes section is where I keep all of my lists.
How I Use It
As you can see, I use some sections more than others. Some of them I am sure I will modify in the future to work for me even better. As it is all laid out so well, it was seamless to start working it in to my life. You can even see it in its home on my Standing Desk, where I start off every day checking it to see what I need to do that day.
The Negatives to The Big Picture Planner
The only cons I can see to this planner is that I didn’t need some of the sections. Since I printed it myself, I just skipped over those sections and didn’t print as many pages for them, and I’ll either remove them in the future completely or replace them with something more useful for me.
The Perks of This Planner
There are many reasons that this planner is great, but I think first and foremost is the fact that it is so well laid out (and thought out) and includes everything you might need — and if it isn’t there, you can easily customize it yourself and add it. I also like that you print it on your own, so you can print what you need as you need it. In my case, go to MyCreativeShop every time I need to print something as I can’t print myself.
Included with the Big Picture Planner is access (at least for 2014) to a Facebook group with the Design Aglow team and other who are also using the planner. This is great to help get ideas and tips for how to use it if you are stuck, or inspiration to print yours! I’ll admit, I was so worried about it being “just right!” that it took me several weeks to print mine. Then I reminded myself that I only had to print a few pages at a time, and I could always tweak it later!
In addition to the Facebook group, there is a newsletter with additional tips, tricks and perks (files!) for you as well included with the purchase.
All around? I highly recommend the Big Picture Planner. If you haven’t already, go get yours. It will help you streamline your business and how you plan your days to achieve your big goals! No more letting the little things get in the way of getting the big things done – working with intention!
I purchased this planner from Design Aglow and paid full price for the planner. I was not given a copy of the planner or asked by them to review the planner. All opinions on this planner are completely my own. In full disclosure, I do make a small commission if you use the links to Design Aglow in the post above to purchase your own copy of the planner. Thank you for using them to make your purchases and helping to support the site!
Upcoming Workshops & Events!
Speaking of working with intention – have you signed up for our Dreaming Bigger workshop for ALL creatives (photographers, bloggers, wedding planners, writers, painters – you name it!) with The Scobeys in Atlanta on April 29th? Use code ATL30 to take $30 off of your ticket — we can’t WAIT to see you there!
If you’re in Nashville, Tennessee (April 24th) or Charlotte, North Carolina (April 27th), come out and join us for our FREE events there! All of the details are on our Speaking page to sign up to get your seat and all the details!