September 15, 2014

The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner (Product Review)

I recently reviewed a book which invigorated me to make some changes in my daily time management. But it can be tricky to know how and when to start. Imagine my thankfulness when I was picked to review The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner by The 7 Minute Life™...a planner specifically designed to help with time management..and in just 7 minutes! Would this be the answer to my needs?

Product Details

The 7 Minute Life™ is a company all about redefining time management. They believe in that in three simple steps: Prioritize, Organize and Simplify they can help you make changes leading to the time management everyone dreams of! They provide time management tools including forms, checklists, audios, videos, and more!

One of their top products is the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner ($24.95). This planner is different than others which have you just list your commitments and obligations...this planner helps you prioritize your commitments, plan out how you are going to fulfill your tasks, and does it all by breaking it down into bite size pieces of just 7 minutes of your time per day!  The company believes in the success of their product to help you with time management so much that they are offering a 100% money back guarantee! If you don't see a positive change in your life in 30 days of use, you can send it back for a full refund!

You can check out their great video to show you how it works...

I was given The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner to review for my own use.

How Did I Use the Product?

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
As soon as the planner arrived, I spent time just looking through it to see what all was included. I was impressed by the sheer volume of sections and yes, rather overwhelmed! LOL! Fortunately, the beginning of the planner is a guide on how the planner can be used and steps for going through the beginning pages.

I freely admit that I jumped right to the Daily Progress Reports because those were the #1 thing that I was interested in.  After I checked them out, I went back to the beginning and started working through the introduction pages all about setting goals, prioritizing my values, documenting my strengths, identifying my purpose in lie...and then more goals. Pages and pages about setting goals and planning for the future.

At this point I rather gave up. I am just not into this kind of thing nor did I feel like it was useful to me as a planner in the capacity of NOT being in a business scenario. 

I jumped ahead to the monthly Calendar and filled out the dates for the months through the end of the year. I skipped the next section "Meeting Planner" and got right to the "good stuff" of the Daily Progress Report.
7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
I was excited when i looked over the two page section (the above is page 1) for this portion. I liked what I saw, but saw things that I could and needed to adapt for my own personal use.  Here are a few sections that I revised...
I changed the voice mail portion to grocery list/menu.

I made this section to include Get Well cards too.

I changed the Daily Contacts to Daily Chores
It didn't take much--eventually I just didn't bother crossing anything out and just used it as I intended. I really try to stay on top of using this portion--especially the 5 before 11 section as I felt it was something new that I could totally use right away to help me with time management.

I haven't used my planner enough to hit the Monthly Progress Report, but I'm getting there soon. I like the concept of it and hope it works as I think it will.

What are my Thoughts on the Product?

I think this planner is a very high quality product. From the time I first flipped through it I was impressed with it's detail and thoroughness relating to every aspect of planning or list making that was included. I love that it is spiral bound and that it has a protective cover. I also appreciated the inner pockets where I could put things like important mail or bills for me to remember to deal with later.

I really felt almost overwhelmed when I was flipping through much inside! So much blank spaces for writing! But the planner as a great "how to" guide at the beginning to walk you through the steps to maximize it's potential usefulness. 

*spiral bound w/plastic cover to protect
*smaller 7.3" x 8.5" which fits better in a large purse or in a bag
*"how to" guide at front to help you get started along with links to more resources
*Excellent for goal setting (personal, financial, work, etc) and planning long term changes
*Daily Progress pages to record 
*Monthly Progress Reports to analyze how you did over the month
*Undated, but with calendars you can create for reference
*Can record daily habits like exercise, sleep, diet and water intake as well as reading and mediation
*can record daily spending
*Allows recording of networking, voice mail, appointments and mailing out handwritten cards
*pockets on cover to hold envelopes or receipts
*Unfinished task pages to fill in
*Meeting Planner pages
*Blank Note Pages

*Concept and design geared towards someone who works in a business setting--irrelevant for me
*Extensive goal setting and planning pages beyond anything I would use or find useful
*Only enough daily reports for 90 days (or 1 quarter of a year)
*Need a new planner every 3 months--at $24.95/planner this works into $100 a year
*Had to make a lot of adjustments to make it work for me

In summary, there were several things that I absolutely loved! My #1 thing that I took out of using this product was the importance of setting 5 high value things to get done before 11am every morning. Planning these out the night (7 minutes!) before gives you a goal to accomplish the next day. I had a great sense of "I did it!" when I could check each one off before the clock hit 11am. My 5 before 11 list could be anything from:
1. Bible Study
2. Wash Dishes
3. Do 2 loads of Laundry
4. Call dentist to make appointment
5. Email Jill about article

1. Bible Study
2. Make Grocery List
3. Set out meat for dinner to thaw
4. Sew curtains for classroom
5. Write Blog Review

But the goal is to always make these be the high priority things that have to be done at the start of your day. I love this concept because I am so guilty about "forgetting" to do something I promised I would do. This takes care of that.

The next thing I liked was the portion at the bottom of the Daily Progress Report to keep track of water intake, sleep, exercise, reflection, reading and the meals that get eaten through the day...and then the final step to look at my day on paper and answer "Did I do what I said I would do Today?"
There really is power in a check mark!

If I could redesign this planner as a "best fit" for someone like me, I would take out the extensive goal setting pages as they are far more geared to the business world (IMO), but it would be okay to leave a few for the personal goals. I think the place where you note your strengths can be useful, but it isn't something I would want in a planner. I like the mental clutter list to write down all the things in your head that you need or want to do. The place to note unfinished tasks is useful too--I'd like them to be near the daily progress report. I also would love a thick fat full year version!

I think it would be cool to have a business and a non-business version of the planner because I think there would be an equal number of people drawn to each type.

I did appreciate that at the end of the book there was a note that if you became a fan of The 7 Minute Life™ Community you can download additional forms to help with time management for FREE. This includes a birthday calendar, travel checklist, weekly progress report, monthly progress report, daily task checklist and more.

Would I recommend this product?

Yes and no. I would absolutely recommend this product to anyone who is involved in the business world whether in an office or at home. I think it is very valuable and the method that it teaches could seriously improve time management and mental focus relating to your job. It really is useful for keeping everything from goals, to budgeting to networking to contacts to voicemail to planning--to even daily exercise/water intake/sleep/spending all in one place.

But really it was too much "extras" for someone like me who is not in the business world and just wants a great daily planner for dealing with the nitty gritty of home/homeschool/life. I found myself not interested in all the hardcore goal settings, and altered many of the business related pages to fit my needs--which was just an extra step to do every day. 

Will I buy another one, once this one runs out? No, I do not see myself doing so. I just had too many "wasted" un-used pages (the sections that were geared towards business) to make it a worthwhile investment. But I WILL still be using these concepts (like the 5 before 11) in the future.

Want to Know More?

I reviewed The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner ($24.95) from The 7 Minute Life™.

Now that you've seen my review on this product, why don't you head over and see what my other crew members think about it!
Click to read Crew Reviews
For more information about The 7 Minute Life™, make sure you check out The 7 Minute Life™ on their various social media outlets!
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Thank you for stopping by to check out this product review...I hope you will come back and see me again soon--I've got a recipe going up later this week as well as a review on My Student Logbook which I'm very eager to share with you!

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September 7, 2014

Giveaway--Under Drake's Flag

I recently reviewed the product Under Drake's Flag, an audio drama from Heirloom Audio Products and shared how much we loved it! I also mentioned that I have an extra copy to share with one randomly selected reader! You don't want to miss your chance to share this action filled, swashbuckling audio adventure with your own family, so get entered below!
The deadline to get entered is September 14th so make sure you don't wait too long! This is a great product and one that I really think your family will enjoy--I know that we sure did! For more details about this product and what it's all about, why not check out my review?

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September 5, 2014

Under Drake's Flag~ A Swashbuckling Audio Adventure (Product Review)

When my husband and I were first married, we used to take a weekly grocery trip in the evening on Saturday. One of the special things we enjoyed was listening to old radio dramas (the original "soap operas"). We were as enthralled with listening to these stories as we ever are watching them on television. Needless to say, I've always want to introduce my boys to the joys of audio drama. We enjoyed our first ones in an audio drama review earlier this year so I was eager to try out another one with Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Product Information

Analytical Grammar Review
Under Drake's Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions is a 2 hour audio drama full of history, adventure, and strong moral values.  With voice recordings by a cast of acclaimed British actors, state of the art sound design from the the man who did The Chronicles of Narnia audio series and an incredible music score composed by John Campbell (of Adventures in Odyssey, Lamplighter Theatre, and Focus on the Family Radio Theatre), the whole family will enjoy this swashbuckling adventure!  

Adapted from the book, Under Drake's Flag by G. A. Henty, this story is full of adventures on the high seas, and the pitting of faith against fear.  The story is set in the 1500's at the height of Sir Francis Drake's exploration and conquering of the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. We meet Ned Hackshaw who is honored with a spot on Francis Drakes ship, where he meets fellow shipboy Gerald. The two boys have grand adventures fighting off sharks, surviving a shipwreck, battling the Spanish on land and sea and then coming face-to-face with the great and dreadful Spanish Inquisition. The underlying message is one about faith during all times of your life and how with complete faith in God and Christ, one can cast aside all fear.

Under Drake's Flag is available as an instant download ($20.00) or a 2 disc CD set ($29.95). Both versions come with special bonus features including a 30 page study guide and discussion starter as well as a copy of Sir Francis Drake's beautiful prayer. The purchase of the physical copy will also grant you the bonus of a copy of the instant download version PLUS the mp3 soundtrack from the audio drama. 

Under Drake's Flag is recommended for ages 6 to adult.

For my review, I received a physical copy of the audio drama and the 30 page study guide/discussion starter.

How Did We Use This Product?

This product came in the mail. It is a beautiful 2 disc CD set which includes a small study guide (about 15 pages) in an inside pocket. Underneath the study guide, I found a copy of The Prayer of Sir Francis Drake.  Once I looked the product over, I decided I wanted to save this audio drama for our first big trip, so I popped it in my car to keep for later. When we had a 4 hr trip to summer camp this August, I popped it into my vehicles CD player.

The CD played as expected and jumped right in with an introduction and then began the tale. 

My passengers included a teenage friend, Little Britches and his 6 year old friend Maya. Once it started, it amused me that it was me and my shotgun passenger (the teenage girl) who were enraptured with the audio drama. The other two of my passengers...well they fell asleep. LOL!

Because I was driving, I did not use the study guide that was included, choosing to just enjoy the audio drama. We listened to the adventure again on our way home from summer camp--this time my son requested it and listened to MOST of it before falling asleep again.

Since then we have listened to it 2 more times--and fortunately, he hasn't fallen asleep.

We never used the study guide, though I did look at it. I think it would be great to use in conjunction with the audio drama--and I probably would have, if I had been a a passenger each time instead of the driver. 

I plan on playing this audio drama again when we make our trek down to Panama City Beach, Florida this fall so the whole family (including Love-Of-My-Life) can enjoy it and I think I will use the study guide at that time. 
I compared the study guide/discussion guide that is part of the physical cd set with the 30 page one that is given as a bonus with purchase of the audio drama. Long story short, the one in the CD set is shorter. LOL! Here is a comparison:
The study guide included with the CDs is more concise. It contains comprehension questions related to the audio drama and then asks questions relating to the dramas events that make the reader think more in depth with reasoning for actions, scenarios and statements. There are also a few vocabulary words from the drama that can be looked up.

Here is an excerpt from the 30 page study guide of the same two sections. You can see that there are far more questions. In some of the other sections there are also at least 4 or 5 vocabulary words. It's much more detailed and allows for more "rabbit trails" in the Thinking Further section.
The same can be said for the Bible Study portions in the back of each.
In the larger study guide, you can see that there is a very nice study guide on the three topics including several verses to read.

The study guide that comes with the physical CD is shorter and a little more difficult to read, though it does still include scripture references.
I did not receive a printable version of Sir Francis Drake's famous prayer (it would be included with purchase) but the prayer is written on the CD case.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

Little Britches:
"I liked it. I liked everything about it. Just everything. Oh but I like the joke about the "beautiful armpit" the best." (if you have heard this audio drama, you would know what he's talking about. LOL!)
I enjoyed this immensely. As I said above, I was captivated by the story and felt it was very well done. The teenage girl with me agreed and we both found it interesting, exciting and funny. Even though it was rather predictable at times, it still made for good entertainment and an enjoyable car ride. The quality was superb--it was just like listening to a movie.
I felt the message of faith and courage rang true throughout the story and that it gave a good historical peek into what Christians of the time were experiencing during the Spanish Inquisition. I found that I wanted to do research on the topic to learn more about it as it's an era I don't know much about.

Any cons?
There were a few times when the dialogue mentioned going to heaven after death (something we do not believe to be true in our faith), but they weren't very often and they didn't detract from the primary message of the story.
I really don't have anything else that is negative because it really was just a wholesome and enjoyable product.
I now want to read more of G.A. Henty's books, and I hope that they are put into audio drama form because I will happily add them to my collection!

ETA: There IS going to be a new audio drama released this year! It will be coming out in November and is called In Freedom's Cause, the story behind the life and legacy of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce! So excited about this!

Would I Recommend This Product?

Absolutely! I had actually already purchased a copy of this audio drama BEFORE the review started, but it was (and is) still sealed up because I hadn't had time to use it yet. The review showed me that I was right to make the investment and I am so thankful that I can share my unopened copy with someone else! (Yep! Giveaway coming soon!)
We will absolutely be waiting for the next release and will snap it up when it is available (HOPE IT'S SOON!). I know our family will be continuing to listen to this story for many car trips to come! It is just so nice to know that the story is going to be family safe! 
If you buy it but aren't satisfied there is also a 90 day risk free why not take a chance?!

Want to Learn More?

We were just one of the 100 homeschool families reviewing Under Drake's Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions. I hope that you will check out what some of the other families have to say about this product--maybe you can see them with the study guide in action...
Under Drake's Flag Reviews
You can find more information about Under Drake's Flag by *liking* their Facebook page:
Thanks for checking out my product review today--I have 3 more coming this month that include a Daily Planner, a Student Logbook and a Writing Curriculum! I hope you will check back in or become an email subscriber so you won't miss a single post!

JUST A REMINDER BEFORE YOU LEAVE---don't forget to get entered to win a copy of this audio drama for your own family! 
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