I've Been Using the EVO Journal for a Month, and I've Never Been More Productive
Once you settle into a routine with a system for managing your everyday tasks, it can be tough to consider doing things any other way.
I'd been working with an extremely detailed to-do list in the Notes app of my phone for more than four years, and that was working well for me. Then, I stumbled on an ad for the EVO Planner one day on Instagram.
Rather than being about checking off boxes in a to-do list, EVO is designed to help users align their processes with how they think, and that definitely caught my attention. I reached out to the company, who generously gave me one of their unique journals, and it's honestly made me feel more focused and productive than I've ever been.
EVO planners are specifically crafted to help users find their flow. It's not just about being mindlessly productive, but instead about helping people find the joy and meaning in what they do, so they can get things done in a focused and intentional way. It also helps people identify what makes them happier and more effective, and encourages them to continue those actions. More energy and alignment with the self means more focus.
One of EVO's most interesting features is that they sell four different types of planners for four different Brain Types. Before they purchase an Evo planner, users take a Brain Type Assessment quiz which tells them whether they're an Alchemist, Oracle, Explorer or Architect. Each planner is designed slightly differently, with individual focuses, to help its owner find their flow.
The daily planner also pairs with a progress-tracking mobile app to make up the EVO Flow System, which gives feedback on your evolution through the process. Each journal costs $49.97 and contains 90 days of daily pages, 14 weeks of weekly pages and four months of monthly pages, to give flexibility depending upon how the journal is used.
Before the team at EVO could even send me my planner, I had to take the Brain Type Assessment quiz to see which of the four categories I fell under. After answering a few questions (to the best of my ability) about how I think, how I see the world and how I get results, I was eventually fitted with the Alchemist Brain Type.
It told me, "You need variety and to share your discoveries to thrive. You are great at creative problem-solving and coming up with out-of-the-box ideas." That sounded about right, so I shared my result with the EVO team, who quickly shipped my planner out to me.
(EVO Flow Planner System via Project EVO, LLC)
When it arrived, I was thrilled that it came in such elegant packaging. The journal came in a black housing that clasps shut, and the simple design of the journal immediately caught my eye. The cover is denim-blue and has a unique texture, and the EVO symbol and alchemist badge are a complementary copper color that stands out nicely against the blue.
(EVO Flow Planner System via Project EVO, LLC)
Inside, I learned a lot more about being an Alchemist and what that says about me. Each point sounded accurate, and I was happy to be paired with a planner that would help me find my flow. I received the planner on Feb. 7, which was a Friday, and set out to begin the journal the following Monday.
First, I had to fill in February's calendar. Because EVO can be picked up at any time during the year, I had to fill in the dates and special days myself, but that wasn't a big hassle, and actually got me thinking about the rest of my month and upcoming events in a holistic way. The journal also asked me to pick a monthly focus, list projects and to-dos, and then come up with monthly goals in various areas, like health, relationships and money. I had to really think to figure out what these goals would be, but once they were concrete and written down, I felt I had something real to work toward, and felt motivated to pursue them each.
Next, I created my weekly plan for the week of Feb. 9 This page had me list all of my top-line to-dos, both for work and in my personal life, then pick the top three in each category. It also asked me to come up with to-dos in the different areas I'd previously created monthly goals for. I found this interesting, because it turned my top-level goals into action items for the week, making them more tangible.
When Monday came, I set out to fill in my first daily page as well. Here, it asked me to start each day with gratitude by listing things I'm grateful for, and then to write down how I'll be sharing my discoveries for the day. It also gave me a space to write about wellness and fun activities for the day, and a big lined area for notes and ideas—which I deeply appreciate as someone who's always having random thoughts spill into my head.
But my favorite feature is actually the way that the EVO planner breaks down the day's priorities. At the very top of the page is a place to put the most important priority of the day. This area gave me space to divide the priority into up to three sub-tasks, and to estimate how long each segment would take. Below that was a list for all of my other tasks for the day, including spaces for estimating time spent, and a spot for prioritizing tasks.
And at the very end of the day, the journal also gave me a place to fill in bubbles to track how I did that day. How would I rate my flow for the day? Did I feel grateful, and get the chance to share my discoveries? There, I could also record my biggest takeaway from the day.
At first, this felt like a lot to keep track of every day, but I quickly understood that the process saved me way more time than I took up. For example, starting the days with gratitude and an understanding that I'm sharing my knowledge made the work feel more worthwhile. I'm lucky that, as a writer, I'm constantly sharing what I learn and discover with anyone who'll read my articles. I try to reach out to knowledgable people, take in their insights and convert them to an accessible format that anyone can pick up. That's a big motivator for me, and I don't know if I understood that fully before EVO.
Prioritizing all of my work for the day also made me a more effective person in ways I couldn't have anticipated. By prioritizing everything at the start of the day, I always knew exactly what to start working on when I finished one task, and I found that I was getting distracted by social media or random articles less frequently because I was eager to hop onto my next assignment. After all, I've always found that work time passes more slowly when I'm bored and trying to waste time than when I'm actually trying to apply myself. I'd much rather get stuff done.
Estimating the amount of time that each time would take also made me recognize that I was terrible at predicting the time I spend doing different things. Over time, that's changed. I understand what I'm capable of, and when I need to go easy on myself, and now I can predict within 15 minutes how long something will take nearly every time. Plus, after the planner suggested I divide certain unpleasant tasks into 30-minute chunks to tackle over the course of a week, I don't have days I dread because I get stuck for hours doing something I don't feel like doing.
After every day of using the journal, I'd also scan my progress using the EVO app, which tracks and tallies your scores. While I think having an app is a nice touch, I don't know if it adds too much to my overall experience. I also found it slightly frustrating that the app seems to sign me out every day, forcing me to log back in. But my lack of reliance on the app might just be because I check off every one of my boxes every day—which speaks to the strength of the journal's focuses. I find that the metric that moves around the most is the self-graded flow score, which depends a lot on my day-to-day.
(EVO Flow Planner System via Project EVO, LLC)
Even if I was productive every day, I wouldn't give myself perfect 10s all the time. If I had a headache or I had slept poorly, for example, I'd see that my flow suffered. Other times, when unexpected tasks suddenly popped up, I would get driven a bit off-course.
For those times I wasn't feeling particularly motivated or focused, the app also had some tips for me, including focusing on the day's most important task to get at least one accomplishment out of the day, taking small breaks every hour and rewarding yourself for a job well done. All of these have been critical in feeling more productive, as well as happier and healthier—and I've proud to say I've checked my most important priority off my list every day. Understanding my progress and making adjustments when I was lagging behind helped me understand how I work as well.
At the end of each week, the planner asked me to review my favorite moments and what I learned during the week, which set a great tone for heading into the next week, and at the end of February, I was really proud of accomplishing all the little things I'd set out to do.
After more than a month with EVO, I don't know if I want to work any other way, and I feel like I'm working better than ever. Of course, that might not all be due to the planner. As it happens, I also started using EVO just a couple of weeks after I started working from home full-time, and some of that added productivity might also be from the quiet solitude I have, and a new lack of interruptions. Even if EVO only contributed 50% of that, I'm happy to have it in my life.
As EVO planners cost nearly $50 each, I think you have to be pretty serious about wanting to find your own personal workflow and boost your efficiency to take the plunge. However, I think it's absolutely worth the price given everything that EVO has taught me. Of course, I only used the Alchemist journal, so I can't speak to the efficacy of the Architect, Oracle and Explorer planners, but I trust that they produce similar effects. Even when I do get to the end of my planner, I believe that I can take these insights with me and keep up this level of satisfaction with the work I'm doing. I'm getting more done while feeling less burned out, and that's a magical thing.
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