Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #79: Q&A + ProAction Planner Review

January 31, 2022

We interrupt Saturday’s midlife crisis (is that what this is?) to bring you some show notes!

In all seriousness, I truly appreciate all of the thoughtful comments. I am doing some reflection, I am not making any sudden moves, and I am going to work on finding a therapist and/or life/professional coach (note: if anyone has done the latter and has recs, I will take them. Most of the physician coaching programs out there are multiple thousands of dollars and that is just . . . a lot of $. Maybe worth it, but not a decision to make casually).

But first: some notes!

Section 1: Q&A

1- Thoughts on how to build regular delegation into one’s life. This was a great question! I encouraged the listener to a) make it entirely routine and b) ask yourself questions about how you feel about the process – are there mental blocks that have been preventing you from doing this sooner?

2- Shared idea for the caller working nights – the Erin Condren vertical layout! The boxes are unlabeled so you could easily have things in any order you wanted (evening / night / morning?). Then, this listener asked about which planners go to work with me. The answer: 1-2, usually my Hobonichi Cousin + an additional daily planner (such as FFP) if I am using one.

Section 2: Mini-Review

Today’s mini-review segment features the ProAction Planner! This has elements of Planner Pad (cult fave) and Full Focus, all rolled into one fairly compact yearly package. It retails for $47 and is made in the USA.

from their site.
Note: the creator emailed and offered to send this to me with no specific requirements to review or share.

Zoom in for great pix of the weekly layout here!


Great weekly layout that is intuitive to me

Very nice and functional paper, very little show through and no bleed-through

Professional design

Packs a lot into a relatively slim package

Lots of goal setting and habit tracking content


Coil does not feel as heavy duty as some

Some areas with ‘blank’ boxes and no dot-grid

Only one cover option and fairly generic look – can be a plus or a minus depending on your preferences!

Send me your Q&As!

Probably recording for next week tonight, so please get them in if you have them! Leave a comment, email me, or try a voice memo below!


  • Reply N January 31, 2022 at 7:53 am

    Sarah, I sent you some thoughts on a senior executive coach who would likely be willing to work with you for.nominal rates (long time reader of blog) via your BLP recording (your contact email ID did not work for me). Good luck!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 31, 2022 at 8:00 am

      wow that’s amazing – thank you! will look into it!

  • Reply A January 31, 2022 at 8:01 am

    My best friend from law school is a professional coach and the most empathic person I know.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 31, 2022 at 8:54 am

    I started working with a therapist in September and I think she’s served much the same purpose as a coach plus helped me identify areas where I tend to get in my own way. With the pandemic many offer zoom sessions which are extremely convenient and because I went in our health insurance network, it costs me $25 a session. I’d recommend asking your PCP for a rec or even just searching on your insurance website and going from there. It’s been life changing for me. I think I was in a similar situation to you—40ish and general malaise with life and periods of complete overwhelm, but not sure how or what needed to change. Also, a high achieving upholder here. 🙂

    Good luck! Taking action itself is so freeing.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns January 31, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    I appreciate the planner reviews early in the year as I like to buy mine early! You reviewed the W222 in January I think and I bought it in August and started using it in November. I’ve been really happy with it and think I will buy another one for 2023, but time will tell!

    The question about what you bring to work made me go back and look at your wardrobe goal post to get ideas for a work bag. I will be going back to the office 3 days/week in March so I need a bag that will easily fit my laptop. Pre-covid I was using a backpack but I think it may be time to upgrade? But I don’t want to spend too much on a work bag so I’m still mulling over options.

    I think seeking out a therapist/coach would be really helpful. I did therapy last fall and it was so helpful! It’s nice to talk to an impartial third party that can validate how you feel. She kept saying how hard the stuff I was dealing with was and it was helpful to hear that – and then to get concrete tools to use to set boundaries/process things/etc.

    • Reply Cb January 31, 2022 at 3:09 pm

      Backpack, backpack, backpack. Spare your shoulders.

      • Reply Jen January 31, 2022 at 3:33 pm

        Agree, maybe there’s a stylish or grown up version but as a hybrid worker pre-pandemic i found any other style of bag just not as practical especially when lugging a laptop … but i am also a public-transit commuter mostly by subway and walking (when i was in an office) or cycle commuted in the nicer months. Backpack was essential. I stuffed a smaller purse inside so i could use that to go get coffee, etc.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 31, 2022 at 3:53 pm

          I use a plain black backpack w/ the kids but have a very comfortable tote for work (but I am not a commuter – drive to my parking space and walk like, across the street only!). My only complaint is it doesn’t zip. NEED one that zips!

    • Reply JKDublin February 1, 2022 at 6:54 am

      The Away backpack is very ergonomically friendly, well laid-out, and as far as backpacks go, pretty slim and doesn’t make me feel like I’m headed off to school. It also safely holds my laptop, coffee flask, notebook, planner, pens and other bits without feeling too bulky. It’s an investment piece, but if mine went missing, I’d buy it again in a flash.

  • Reply Amy S. February 1, 2022 at 10:02 am

    One idea for your listener question about delegating: Set up a weekly schedule. I used a weekly planning pad from Inkwell Press & mapped out the routine things that need to happen every week (Ex: Mondays- grocery pickup & wash produce, Wednesdays- kid laundry; Fridays- wash towels). I also have a list of daily stuff like wipe counters and vacuum under the table. I communicated that these are “ideal” and that of course childcare always comes first. But I’ve got a list/schedule posted so I’m not constantly thinking about it. My partner & I finish up whatever didn’t get completed, so it helps keep us on track as well.

  • Reply Lori Vande Krol February 1, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Sarah, thank you so much for your awesome review of the ProAction Planner! I agree with everything you’ve said and am actually working with a new printer this year to hopefully offer some different colors and/or versions of the cover. This one is good, and I am confident it will hold up, but would like to consider different options. Getting the cover and binding right was much more difficult than I ever expected. I always love to hear suggestions from planner lovers, so if your listeners want to share their favorite types of covers/bindings, I am all ears.

    Thank you again and I wish everyone a wonderful 2022! Happy planning!
    Lori Vande Krol, Creator of the ProAction Planner

  • Reply Laura February 1, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    Sarah, 2 podcasts that have really helped me are 1. “Life After Medicine” with Dr. Chelsea Turgeon: (she interviews healthcare workers who have left medicine for something that better meets their life needs and goals, and those who have adjusted their careers to work better for them), and 2. “Self Compassionate Professor” with Dr. Danielle De La Mare: (she interviews those who have left academia or figured out a way to make it work better in their lives). These could fill in during the meantime while you find a coach/therapist to work with, or supplement it. Chelsea has a healthcare worker burnout course as well.

  • Reply Lani Inlander February 6, 2022 at 8:09 am

    I may try this planner as the Full Focus has not been as great as I’d hoped. I think I need the weekly layout like the last planner I used. You know I need everything to be “pretty” though, so looking forward to more options. In the meantime, might I suggest just covering it yourself with pretty heavy duty wrapping paper? Or old fashioned collaging it like we used to do with our Chandler’s in high school ;)? Would also welcome a non coil option.

    • Reply Lori Vande Krol February 7, 2022 at 10:51 am

      Great ideas, Lani! I have a client that had her daughter decorate hers with stickers 🙂 I will make note of your comments for the 2023 planner as I’m working with the new printer. I’d love to offer a non-coil, lay-flat version but it will depend on feasibility as I want to keep this at a reasonable cost for buyers. Thanks again!

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