198 Unboxing the TOP Planner 3.0

Unboxing the TOP Planner 3.0


Celebrating my 50th birthday today, I take you on a roller-coaster ride that was the journey of creating the TOP Planner 3.0. Ever wondered how a revolutionary planner springs to life? Unfold the saga of its creation, the challenges we wrestled with, and how our strategic planning came to the rescue.

More importantly, understand the significance of four levels of planning that were critical in this journey and learn how they can be your secret weapon in managing your projects and goals.

Get ready to harness the power of the TOP Planner 3.0 to master time management, organization, and productivity.



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Hey, hey, hey, everyone, Happy July 11th. If you were listening to this on the day it launched, it is July 11th And guess what? It happens to be my big 50th birthday today. So I have a big announcement for you guys. You may already have seen. We've been sharing it out. We're so excited The new top planner 3.0 store is live today, and so I can't wait to dive in on this episode, to share with you the history of it, what's different and some planning lessons that we learned along the way, because, to be honest, we almost didn't get this out to you guys in time. So let's go ahead and share this exciting story with you all.

Welcome to the WorkLife Harmony podcast. I'm your host, megan Somerle. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, i'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, i'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, at Megan Somerle, with the word harmony, and my team will send it right over. Hey there, welcome back to work life harmony.

So if you are listening to this episode on the day it actually drops and is available to you, which is July 11, then you are listening to this on my 50th birthday. So here we are, july 11, night. What 2023,? it is my 50th birthday, and so we thought this would be a great opportunity to share the big announcement of something I am thrilled to introduce you all to, which is the fact that, as of today, we have released the new and improved top planner. This is actually the top planner 3.0. This is version 3.0 of the planner, and so I want to take some time today to quickly just kind of give you the backstory of the planner, but then I want to tell you what has stayed the same and what has changed and why we made those changes. But, more importantly, i'm going to be very transparent with you guys. We almost didn't make this date of getting the top planner 3.0 done, and if we did not hear inside the business practice what we preach and use all four levels of planning this would not have happened because we had to make some big pivots along the way. So I'm going to be sharing that with you so that you can also get a better understanding of what are these four levels of planning and how do they tie into big projects like this.

So, first and foremost, quick backstory on how even the top planner came to be, because if you're new here in work-life harmony, you don't know the history of this. Years ago, when I was taking, i used to do cohorts of people through the top program. Now it is something that is available to anybody at any time that I was taking a small group of women through the top program and I had developed worksheets that they would use for their weekly planning, and so we got into a discussion around looking for good planners to use when using the top framework, and there are some planners out there that will certainly work for you. And finally, one of the women in the program just said Megan, would you please just make the planner for us, like, make a planner that exactly aligns with your top framework? So I had to take some pause for thought and think is this something I can embark on? So I did, and the very first version of the top planner that came out was a coil bound 12 month dated planner that leveraged all the right layouts etc to go along with the top planner, and we had a very, very limited edition of those. They sold out very quickly And once I kind of saw the reception that people had with the planner, I realized I needed to actually lean into this and make this something that was going to be more flexible and easier for people to pick up and use at any time.

The top planner 2.0, which is what has been around now for several years, is the undated version so that people can jump into using this at any time And instead of it being coil bound, that's when we made the transition to having binders and then you can buy the insert separately, Again giving maximum flexibility so you could start it at any time And you can decide how many months out you want your planner to go. That way, you would buy the binder once And then every 12 months, you could just get new inserts And you could decide and have the complete flexibility and control, because that's something I really like in a planner. So, again, this has been out for quite some time And we always take feedback, always looking for ways to improve. So we've been collecting suggestions for changes to the top planner for quite some time now. Now, at the end of last year, in Q4 of 2022, we were doing the annual planning for the business for this upcoming year And I knew that this was the year that it was time to collectively take all the feedback we've gotten and create the new version of the top planner, Just based on inventory levels. The timing was going to be right. So at the end of last year, we made the commitment with the goal of July launching the top planner 3.0.

Let's pause on kind of the planning side And I want to first tell you what's different, what is the same with the new version top planner 3.0. So here's what is the same I have not changed the planning framework, right? So it's still going to be a weekly and monthly planning planner Meaning I don't believe in daily planning pages. So it still has the same weekly layout, it still comes with 12 months, it is still undated, it still allows you to pick the color binder that you want, and that way you have complete flexibility of using this. So those core principles that are so incredibly important with a planning tool, those are still the same.

So now let's talk about some subtle differences that you're going to see with the top planner 3.0. First and foremost is just the quality of the design. So we made the investment of bringing on an amazing professional designer, simone. She is in Australia Shout out to you for doing a beautiful job with this planner. And so you're going to see, while the structure is the same, the design has just really really been leveled up. Now, one of the you're going to see new offerings in the planner store.

You all know I am passionate about pink, but I understand not everybody is, and so we had had some requests to say while we appreciate your love of pink, it'd be great for those of us that don't like pink to have a planner that maybe didn't have pink in it. So you will now see that the inserts come in two options One is just the standard, which has some pink in it, and then the other one is a completely gray scale option, so there is no pink anywhere on the inside of the planner. So if pink is not your thing, you can now choose to get a gray scale version of the inserts or the standard version of the inserts. Now, another subtle change is one of the parts of the planning process is around the how we reflect at the end of our weeks and months, and so in between each of the weekly pages there's always been space where I kind of have some prompts to help people reflect the right way on their week, to figure out what to keep the same, what to change, et cetera. And so you're going to see some updates there on those reflection pages, and I think you're really going to like some of the questions and thoughtfulness that we've put into that. Now here is the biggest change that you are going to see, and this is where, quite honestly, the top planner at 3.0 almost did not come to market on time And, to be perfectly blunt, it's coming to market almost two weeks later than what the original plan was, because the goal was for July 1. And here we are releasing it on July 11.

So the changes that I just mentioned were all in the works. They were planned. Now, right before it was time to actually go to print and get test prints of everything done, we came to find out that a integral piece of the binder itself So the top planner 2.0, the inserts were a 7 by 10 paper size, so it had a custom binder to go with it. And inside of binders you know, you've got that metal piece with the three rings that you open up. Well, the metal piece that works with a 7 by 10 planner size is no longer available.

We find out, like literally nowhere, all of the companies, both US based, international based, were no longer producing that size And they were only producing the two standard sizes, one being full size notebooks that you think about, where you put 8.5 by 11 pieces of paper, and then the other one which some people call classic or journal size, which is kind of half the size, so that your paper size there is 5.5 by 8.5, which is kind of typical size when you go to buy a little notebook or journal at a store. So we find this out just as we're getting ready to go to print. So we had to take a step back and I had to make some tough choices on what direction we wanted to go based on this information. Namely, the only way to keep the 7 by 10 size was to switch back to hard bound or coil bound, which really gets rid of a lot of flexibility. So what you are going to see now available with the top planner 3.0, is that we are no longer physically able to produce the 7 by 10 size, so we are now offering two sizes again to open up even more flexibility for everyone. So we have a larger size, which is true 8.5 by 11 inserts, so each piece of paper is a full piece of paper size, so it's a little bit larger than what the top planner 2.0 was. And then we also now have a smaller size, which is more that journal size, so each piece of paper is 5.5 by 8.5. And I've been playing with both. I'm actually really loving. I've been doing my weekly planning for a little while now in the smaller size and I absolutely love it.

Now this may not seem like that big of a shift, but because the ratio of the inserts changed like 7 by 10, then going up and going down. That meant that our porcimone, the amazing graphic designer, had to rebuild everything twice, so had to rebuild it all for the bigger size, rebuild it all for the smaller size. This was no small feat. This also you're going to see. Another change in there was we actually had some people who loved hot pink as much as I do and wanted to see that as a binder option. So we now have four colors instead of we had the three before. So now you're still going to see the same light gray, the same dark gray, a softer pink and then the hot pinks. We have four different binder options. So again, if you love pink, you can go all in. If you don't, you can get binders and inserts that have no pink on them at all. So that's kind of the core fundamental changes that you're going to see. It still comes with the pocket page. We have bookmarks now available for both sizes that clip into the binder, that help you quickly open up your planner to the page that you need.

But I want to take a couple minutes and kind of talk through how we were able to pull off something this big of a change, kind of at the last minute. So I have had other episodes before talking about the four levels of planning. So we have and where I start all my students is mastering weekly planning. All right, we don't do daily planning, we do weekly planning. So weekly planning is where we get very detailed, where we're actually mapping out what we're going to do and when we're going to do it in the upcoming week. We do that every week.

The next level up from weekly planning is monthly planning. Obviously, we do this once a month and this is where we start to understand how much time we're going to have for the month and kind of pencil in when we believe certain projects are going to be done. Now, the next level up from that now, inside of the top program, you learn weekly and monthly mastery. The next levels up from that is quarterly planning, which is what we do in the plan of Palooza community, and annual planning, which we also do there as well. Now, quarterly planning is obviously done every quarter and out. There is where we're starting to map out 90 day, all of our milestones kind of in the next 90 day window, and then annual planning. Now, once you've learned all of these, the real power is in how they work together and support one another. So when you have mastered weekly and monthly planning, now we're ready to introduce more of that strategic planning that we do in quarterly and our annual planning sessions so that we're able to finally work from that kind of strategic all the way down.

So, as I mentioned last year, when we were doing our annual planning for the business, we had mapped out that we knew we wanted to launch the new top planner ideally at the start of Q3. I wanted to kick it off on July 1st Now because we had had that goal set when we stepped in and did our Q1 quarterly planning for 2023, we knew where we needed to be in order to make that July 1 date that we set in our annual planning. So we were able to say okay, by the end of Q1, we knew that we needed to have all of the designs ready to go so that we could be doing test printing through April And that gave us plenty of room to get the printing done before July. Now I always want to plan in buffer time because, you don't think, a lot of pieces out of our control. So my goal was to have everything ready to go at the end of May so that we had the month of June to take photos, get all that stuff ready to go. So we had our Q1 goal of having all the prints and everything ready to go.

Now we hit that goal, but just as we were getting ready to step into our Q2, that's when we discovered that we were going to have to do some significant regrouping. Now we learned that right at the end of Q1, so that then, when we sat down to create our Q2 plans, we had to back into what was going to be realistic for us at that point, knowing that we thought we'd be going to test print at the beginning of Q2, but now we needed another month to be able to go in and do all of our redesigns. So, collectively, we met as a team, looked at best case scenario, worst case scenario, and we all felt comfortable changing our go live day to today, here, july 11th. Then, as we stepped into our monthly planning, we were able to pinpoint key milestones that we would need to hit along the way in order to achieve that. So without the annual plan, without the quarterly planning, without the monthly planning, what would have happened is we probably would have waited till March to even start this entire project and then we would have found out way too late that there's no way we could have hit July and, honestly, we probably would have been lucky to have even made Q4.

So this is the power of utilizing all of these different levels of planning when you're working on longer term, more strategic goals, because when you have this due date out in the future, like we did we were discussing this last November to say, hey, we want a July 1 launch date. Right, that's seven months out into the future, eight months out into the future, because we had established, all right, what are some of those milestones that we need to see. Along the way, when we were doing our quarterly planning, we were able to absorb the changes needed, do some re-planning and notice yes, we did have to change our final date instead of a July 1 move to July 11th. But if we had not done all of those key milestones and that high level planning again, we wouldn't have started as early as we did and then we would not have been able to have recovered from the supply chain challenge as quickly as we did, and then we would have pushed our launch date so much later. So I always am very honest with my community on sharing some of the challenges that we have and when we have to pivot and re-plan. But I thought that this would be a great opportunity to kind of share with you a little backstory of how the planner came to be, the exciting new changes that we have available for everybody. And no, we did not hit our July 1 date.

But, man, it sure is fun to show up here today, july 11th, on my 50th birthday, and celebrate the launch of Top Planner 3.0. So, if you are ready to go check it out, just head over to thetopplannercom. You've got pictures, i've got clips of everything, a video, all of that. We have some amazing bundles where you can actually get your binder of choice, your inserts, your bookmarks, along with some digital training, so that I love to say that this is actually the planner that teaches you how to plan. And for those of you that have been using the old Top Planner 2.0, you'll have the opportunity, when those inserts run out, to discover which size you want to work with. And, as always, we do have the digital version available as well, which is something you can use in good notes, and we've updated the digital version to match the physical design as well. Again, thank you to the amazing Simone. So happy planner shopping and I hope that you are as excited about all of these changes as we are Getting on top of all things, time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over.

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