by Michael Schechter
I, along with 1,046 other Kickstarter backers, have recently become the proud owner of The Week Dominator, a new weekly planner from the team behind the NeuYear Calendar. Now before jumping into my thoughts on the product, there’s something I should make clear: for someone writing on a site that’s all about pen and paper products, I’m not a huge fan of pen and paper products. Paper and I have always had a complicated relationship and even when I use the stuff, I count on a combination of my scanner and Evernote to help me live as close to a paperless existence as possible.
That said, there is one major exception to my paper-free existence; despite being an OmniFocus-using, plain-text-file-wielding junky, every day of my life is lovingly planned on a piece of paper. For years that planning has taken place on one of David Seah’s Emergent Task Planners (or the ETP to those of us in the know). Every morning I sit down and transfer any notes from the previous day’s ETP. Next I open up Fantastical (my calendar app of choice) and pull in the day’s appointments onto the ETP’s schedule. I crack open my digital task manager and pull out any tasks with a hard deadline. If the ETP shows me that I have additional space in the day, I choose my “three big rocks” (or however many rocks seem reasonable) from my task manager, and I schedule them all into my day before forging ahead. Last, but not least, I close my calendar, minimize OmniFocus and count exclusively on the ETP to guide me through my day.
For years this approach has served me well, but recently I’ve found the need to think in terms of weeks rather than days. So when I increasingly found myself going back to my digital calendar and task list to see a broader picture of my work week, I started to consider my options. At the time, nothing I found fit the way I like to work. What I wanted was a weekly ETP, but I also didn’t really love Dave’s free downloadable weekly planner. (I also wanted to buy an existing product rather than having to print something out). And just as I was preparing to go down what would have likely been a very nerdy rabbit hole of testing out replacements, The Week Dominator was announced.
The Week Dominator was designed to work with a wide range of time management principals and methodologies (such as GTD, Pomodoro, Three Big Rocks). Initially this had me worried, as many products attempt to achieve this level of flexibility by creating beautifully designed, yet extremely vague options. This is far from the case with the Dominator as the NeuYear team took great pains to balance flexibility alongside a clear structure that makes it easy for even the biggest paper-newbies to jump right in.
In addition to the two-page weekly planner, the Dominator includes a 2015 and 2016 calendar. It gives you a dedicated space at the beginning to write about your goals for the year, as well as a place to set your monthly goals. As you move through the book, each week’s planner is followed by a related two-page spread.
This includes a one-page canvas for capturing your ideas, a weekly habit tracker, and a place keep a log of new people or key relationships you’d like to stay in touch with. It even has a dedicated space for capturing your your weekly wins. While I conceptually like their idea of Week View using the planner and Week Re-View using the additional spread, it is more than I want or need.
What I’ve quickly come to love is the planner itself. The 52 seven-day, two-page spreads are all undated, making it easy to skip a week without having to waste a spread. The left column the first page gives you a dedicated space for setting your three key goals for the week. And below that is an open space that I use to keep track of them items that need to get finished that week, but may not yet be ready for a time slot.
The section for each day of the week gives me space to pull out three big rocks for each day. I have a reasonable amount of dedicated space where I can capture things will need to be done throughout the day, but like my weekly approach, may not be ready to be scheduled. I also have a daily calendar that takes me from 7am until 9pm right below this. At the bottom I even have a space that can be used for additional hours or to capture daily gratitude (something I’ve never done before but am rather enjoying). The 8.5“ x 11” book takes up more desk space than my 4“ x 6” sticky pad of ETPs, but the ability to stick to a system that has always worked for me, along with the added benefit of a week-long view, is well worth the additional real estate.
While the product is well designed and well made, there are a few things I’d love to see refined over time.
Between 52 pages worth of planners and 52 pages of secondary spreads, it’s thicker and more substantial than anything I would want to throw in my briefcase or to carry around the office. While I’d never want to lose the calendar in the beginning, I’m hoping that there will eventually be a thinner, planner-only edition in the future which would help cut the book in half.
Considering the Dominator stays on the desk at my day job, I’d also like to see a weekday edition that eliminates Saturday and Sunday in favor of adding the goals column on page two of the weekly spread.
As minor as this may seem, I want to be able to see my weekly list of goals while keeping the book folded in half on my desk. The lighter color scheme used for Saturday and Sunday allow me to cheat by enabling me to create my own goals column on the right hand side of Page 2, but I’d prefer to be looking at the same page structure on Thursday and Friday that I use on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There’s also a part of me that would love to see the Wins section in place of the final column on this page.
While minor, I’d also prefer that they include hours for every day of the week, rather than only having them every other day. But I also see the benefit to having a space that feels open when planning for the week (and, let’s be honest, it is easy enough to just write them in myself). Like my ETP pad, I’d love to know or see if smaller formats would ever work for the planner. However this very well may be the process of moving to an 8.5“ x 11” spiral notebook after years with a 4“ x 6” sticky pad.
While the book is well made, I believe the design and structure take a front seat to the materials used to create the final product. I’m happy with the quality, I’m just not sure it will appeal to those who love a good bit of notebook porn.
It’s still early days, but this is the first alternative that I’ve tried that hasn’t sent me running back to the Emergent Task Planner. The Week Dominator builds upon what Dave Seah and others have created, while also doing a wonderful job of balancing flexibility with clear structure. If you have been looking for a better way to manage your week, and you care more about sound structure than over-the-top quality, I believe The Week Dominator can go a long way towards helping you to actually . . . you know . . . dominate your week.
Michael Schechter lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife, three young daughters and dog. When not working at his full-time job in digital marketing or raising his family, Michael writes about self-improvement and productivity at BetterMess.com.