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Do you ever feel like your to-do list is just a bunch of wishful thinking? A place where tasks go to… well, not get done?
If this sounds familiar, then it’s time you met your new best friend: an accountability planner! This powerful tool can totally turn your wishful to-do list into a ‘done’ list.
In this guide, I’ll share the top 7 accountability planners on the market in 2023 and some tips from my personal experience on how to make the most of your planner.
Quick links for the best accountability planners:
- GoalsWon – Daily accountability planner for goal setting
- Motion – Best accountability planner for entrepreneurs
- Paperlike – Best accountability planner for students
- Tom’s Planner – Accountability planner with progress tracking
- TemplateStack – Accountability planner for personal development
- Clever Fox – Accountability planner with a habit tracker
- Fit Log – Accountability planner for weight loss and fitness goals
What is an accountability planner?
An accountability planner is a unique type of life organization tool that goes beyond mere task-tracking. It’s designed to help you define your goals, break them down into actionable steps, and keep you committed to your tasks, effectively driving your productivity.
What features to look for in an accountability planner?
When hunting for the perfect accountability planner, it’s important to identify the features that align with your unique needs and work style. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, some key features can make an accountability planner stand out and match your lifestyle the best.
It’s a bonus if you can find these features in free digital planners, but some accountability tools give you so much value on a daily basis that it’s totally worth spending a few dollars.
Here’s a list of things to consider when choosing an accountability planner:
- Goal-setting framework: A good planner should help you set long-term goals and break them down into achievable short-term milestones.
- Task prioritization: It should allow you to prioritize your tasks, for example, set a weekly focus point.
- Daily, weekly, and monthly views: These provide a snapshot of your progress over different time frames. The specific layout is a matter of personal preference, but generally, you should be able to see a close-up view of your daily agenda as well as the bigger picture.
- Habit trackers: These can help reinforce positive habits and identify patterns over time. Some accountability planners have habit tracking space on the weekly agenda, others offer a separate place as an ongoing habit calendar.
- Reflection section: This is a space to review and evaluate your progress, analyze results and make adjustments.
- Motivational quotes or journaling prompts: These are optional, but they can be surprisingly effective at keeping you inspired to achieve more.
- Compatible format: A digital planner can be a game changer if you are tech-savvy or often on the go. But some people still work better with paper tools, which is why I included both types of accountability planners in this list.
What are the best accountability planners in 2023?
Best accountability planner for goal setting
A robust daily accountability planner that emphasizes goal setting, GoalsWon is a go-to choice for those who need that little nudge to keep them on their path.
This app matches you with a professional coach who will be there for you every step of the way, helping you define, chase, and achieve your goals.
Each day, you’ll log what you plan to do and review your progress, creating a rhythm of daily accountability that’s hard to beat.
Best accountability planner for entrepreneurs
Geared toward entrepreneurs who juggle numerous tasks and projects, Motion shines as an accountability planner.
With a set of powerful AI-supported features that help semi-automatically organize your day, track your time, and automate routine tasks, it’s more than just a planning app – it’s your true accountability partner.
If you are a solopreneur or an independent professional looking to streamline your work and boost your productivity, Motion is the next-level AI planner that can make your life easier.
Best accountability planner for students
Even though not specifically crafted for students, Paperlike accountability planner makes academic life a whole lot more manageable.
It’s one of the best aesthetic planners if you prefer to plan on your iPad. It helps you break down work and study schedules, track assignment and project deadlines, and manage extracurricular activities.
With its convenient calendars, daily and weekly views, and neat minimalist design, Paperlike is a great planner to hold yourself accountable.
Best accountability planner with progress tracking
If seeing the progress and timelines of your projects is what you are looking for, Tom’s Planner might just fit your expectations.
This accountability planner allows you to create Gantt charts easily, providing a clear visual representation of your tasks and progress.
It’s a great accountability tool if you want a more elegant solution than a usual spreadsheet but don’t need all the extra features that come with complicated project management software.
Best accountability planner for personal development
When personal development is your focus, TemplateStack will keep you organized and make daily planning enjoyable.
This accountability planner provides a comprehensive toolkit for self-improvement, helping you set personal goals, track your progress, set weekly priorities, and reflect on your growth.
With TemplateStack, you can manage multiple projects, take notes, and keep a backlog of tasks that you want to get done.
This tool is also flexible when it comes to notebook styles and offers fun stickers and easy navigation to give you the best possible planning experience.
Best accountability planner with a habit tracker
For those seeking to build new habits or maintain existing ones, the Clever Fox accountability planner is a great pick.
This is the planner I’m currently using, and it has everything I need to keep myself on track with my goals all year long.
Alongside regular planning layouts and habit trackers, it has pages for vision boards and mind maps, as well as spaces for weekly wins and reflections to monitor your consistency over time.
7. Fit Log
Best accountability planner for weight loss and fitness goals
Fit Log is a perfect accountability planner for fitness enthusiasts as it specializes in helping you track your health and fitness goals.
Whether it’s creating workout schedules, tracking your diet, or recording weight loss progress, Fit Log is designed to keep your fitness journey organized and on track.
This planner helps you set and achieve various exercise goals by keeping you accountable with detailed progress tracking.
Accountability planning is better with a partner
While planners are amazing for personal accountability, there is one more thing you can use to give yourself that extra boost of motivation: an accountability partner!
An accountability partner is essentially someone who keeps you on your toes, ensuring that you’re upholding the commitments you’ve set for yourself.
It’s like having a personal cheerleader who also isn’t afraid to call you out when you start to slack off.
It’s not just about having someone to report to – it’s about fostering a relationship that encourages mutual growth and success.
How to make the most of your accountability planner
Just having an accountability planner is not enough; you have to actually put it to good use.
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I got all excited about a new planner, filled in the first few pages with vision boards and big goals, only to forget about it after a month.
In fact, I’m exclusively buying undated planners now, so they don’t go to waste if I ever slip again. This way, I can pick up right where I left off and make good use of leftover pages.
Of course, it’s easier with online planning apps: you can get all kinds of reminders and digital nudges to stick to your goals.
I feel like they take over part of your job of staying accountable, especially those tools that leverage artificial intelligence to help you be more productive.
Besides, with online planners, you can always start from a clean slate if you’ve gotten off track.
Anyway, just like any productivity instrument, it’s not just about having it; it’s about knowing how to use it effectively.
Here are some steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of your accountability planner:
1. Set measurable goals
Choosing the right approach to setting goals is the first step to achieving them.
Make sure your every goal is not vague, like “I want to get fit,” but something you can measure, such as “I want to run 5k in 30 minutes by the end of July.”
The more specific your goals, the easier it will be to track your progress and adjust your plan along the way.
If you have a lot of goals and sub-goals, you can also use a visual goal-setting tool like Goalscape to map everything out and see the continuous progress.
2. Personalize your planning style
Not everyone’s brain works the same way, so why should we all plan the same way? Your accountability planner is a personal tool, and it should totally reflect your individual style and preferences.
Experiment with different layouts, colors, stickers, and types of planners.
Whether you prefer classic paper planners or online project managers, choose a tool that makes it really easy for you to stick to.
You might be a minimalist who prefers a sleek, black-and-white design, or maybe you love splashes of color and inspirational quotes. Whatever it is, make your planner your own!
2.1 Design your own accountability planner
If nothing you find inspires you or seems quite your style, you can totally design your own accountability planner.
Start with one of the free planner templates on Canva and make adjustments according to your planning style and personal aesthetic. Then print it or upload it to your tablet – and enjoy your planning!
3. Break down goals into tasks
Here’s a secret: big goals only seem scary – inside, they are just a collection of small tasks.
Breaking down your goals into easy-to-manage chunks and prioritizing them properly not only makes them less overwhelming but also gives you a clear path forward.
It’s much easier to focus on writing one page a day for your novel than thinking about the entire book. (That said, one page a day might be too slow with all the amazing AI fiction writing software tools available to writers today!)
Make sure to celebrate every small victory, give yourself credit for even the tiniest steps in the right direction on tough days, and before you know it, you’ll have reached your big goal!
4. Track your progress
One of the most satisfying things about using an accountability planner is seeing your progress.
Planning apps like SmartTask have detailed analytics out of the box and track your progress automatically in an intuitive visual way, presenting your project’s status with charts, graphs, and data-based insights.
Regularly reviewing your progress toward your goals will not only motivate you to keep going but also help you identify any obstacles or patterns that might be holding you back.
For example, if you notice that you are consistently rescheduling the same task, it might be time to reassess and adjust your plan.
Some good paper planners also have reflection sections to review your progress regularly before you plan the next week or quarter.
And even if your accountability planner doesn’t have it, you should do it yourself by going back to yearly goals and asking yourself whether they are still relevant and whether you are still moving toward them.
Final thoughts about accountability planning
There you have it – the full guide on the best accountability planners and how to use them like a pro.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, student, fitness enthusiast, or just someone looking to enhance personal development, the right planner is waiting for you somewhere on this list.
The path to achieving your goals has never been clearer. Happy planning!