My quest for productivity has been long and has evolved much over time. One of the key components of how I manage to stay on top of my to-do list is my curated daily and weekly planning workflow. I want to be a paper planner person. I love the aesthetic of the cute planners with lots of colors, stickers, and pristine handwriting but the reality of what I can reasonably accomplish while still being effective is a bit more messy. For this reason, I always gravitated towards the digital planner world. I require programmability, automation, and accessibility and while I still admire paper planners, I know that they are not a feasible option for me.
Back in undergrad, when I was juggling multiple classes with their individual demands, holding tutoring sessions, and living on my own for the first time, I started to notice certain things were falling through the cracks. Either through forgetfulness or lack of preparation I was missing the mark on many little things. I then decided to look for a planning tool that would help me list my assignments, calendar events, and help me stay organized.
Enter Opus One by Piso13! While my workflow has evolved significantly since those early days of undergrad, my Opus One planner has been the staple of my productivity system, the way I stay sane through mountains of coursework, and a joy to work with through the six years we have been together. Because of this being one of my longest relationships I have decided to write this feature and hopefully inspire some of you to make planning a joy.
What are the specifications of Opus One?
So what is Opus One? It is a lightweight, installable app available for all Apple devices with an online version on the backlog (though it is not available on android at the moment). It is designed to provide a paper feel with digital functionality with its leather cover aesthetic, tabs, and notes section. I strongly believe that this planner is the solution for people who enjoy all the functionality of having a digital planner that syncs across devices while longing for the aesthetic of paper planners.
The Opus One layout and functionalities
One of the best things about Opus One is that it allows you to integrate your own calendars and supports multiple clients, even in the free version. The user also has the option to use the native Apple Reminders app to send tasks directly to Opus One, which streamlines the workflow.
The main idea behind this system is that you add tasks to your to-do and then convert them into calendar events, ensuring they do get done instead of sitting on a pile for an eternity. The combination of these two features is something I have found massively useful through the years. The system has two main buckets of tasks: daily tasks for things that need to be completed on a date and master tasks for things that take multiple days or that you are not ready to schedule yet. The program allows you to create categories, which you can use to organize tasks into sub-buckets and color code the system matching calendars and to-dos. You can also link categories to calendars, meaning that when you create events using the task dragging feature, half of your work is already done for you.
Furthermore, the goal system allows the user to compile tasks related to a project into a goal system so that they can track their progress over time and even see how many tasks are left until the completion of the project. The task categories, coupled with the adjustable status of tasks give the user a wonderful level of freedom when they are planning their day.
Other lovely premium features of the planner include gratitude journaling and meeting planners with many more features on the backlog as users vote on their favorites on their feedback page. I personally am very excited for the potential habit tracker and journals since I use the daily notes as a place to dump quick notes on phone calls and ideas I may have before I have had time to send them through my workflow pipeline. The cherry on top is the availability of multiple skins and fonts to make your planner more personal. My favorite is the “Jeans” skin!
How I use Opus One in my weekly workflow
I usually get most of my assignments and have a good idea of what my week will look like on Mondays, so I always take some time that day to set up my week. This starts by having a recurrent task on Opus One for “Planning my Week”.
Reviewing the past week
I start by launching the weekly planner within Opus (also available as a daily planner for folks who prefer a more day to day approach). The initial view allows me to see the previous week, everything that I completed and everything that I did not complete, cancelled, or pushed off my schedule. I love the pie chart feature which visually represents what you spent most time on and the weekly score number (top right corner). I find this feature very useful for reminding me everything that I accomplished but also as a tool to re-evaluate recurrent tasks that may be getting neglected.
In this particular week I have a score of 88 and honestly that is very high for me. I think this score gives a good idea of how consistent you are with your completions but if you are having a rough time, always remember that one task down is better than zero tasks down. Do not obsess over scores. Some times we need to take it slow and that is ok.
Listing my to-dos
The next page allows you to enter the new tasks. I use this time to list every assignment I have for that week from reading assignments to deliverables and I code them with a prefix to indicate what class they are for.
Deciding what to do with pending tasks
The third page of the weekly planner allows you to look at your master task bucket and determine which of those tasks you would like to complete this week. I usually pick a few depending on complexity and how much school work I have for that particular week. You then decide if you want to schedule, send back to master tasks, cancel or delete these tasks. This is particularly useful to keep your master task bucket in check and to periodically review your to-dos. Oftentimes I find myself cancelling certain tasks which are no longer important or need to be done!
The last portion of the weekly planner calls for scheduling!
You can easily click and drag tasks into the day you want to complete them all while being able to see what your schedule looks like that day and how many other tasks you have already sent to that day.
I think it is especially important to remember to not bite more than you can chew and to not over-schedule yourself. For example I spread assignments in a way that I don’t have to listen to multiple lectures on the same day or read multiple chapters on one sitting. Instead, I look at spreading the work evenly so that I don’t become overwhelmed. Likewise, it is very important to be able to estimate the time and effort a task will take correctly and understanding the concept behind these tasks is key for this. I have been known to underestimate a task on occasion and that ends up sending my whole week plan for a spin. Which brings me to the next feature!
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix can be launched independently or as part of the daily planning workflow. Admittedly, I don’t use this every day though I know people who swear by it. I have become very good at spreading my work evenly over the week and therefore do not need to prioritize my day. However, on the occasions when I have overbooked myself or underestimated a task that ended up taking the whole day, the EM has been a godsend.
In case you are not familiar with this system, I will give you a quick run down. You list all your tasks and then decide on their importance and urgency. This way, tasks that are urgent and important get done, urgent but not important scheduled or delegated, important but not urgent planned, and not urgent and not important cancelled. To me, the greatest thing about this system is helping me realize which tasks need to be deleted from my day to make space for the truly important ones.
A very common concern for new users looking to integrate a new tool into their workflow is How hard is setup going to be? Setting up your planner for the first time is incredibly easy and I would honestly say it would take no more than 30 minutes for first time users. Here is a short check-list of things to do to help you hit the ground running:
- Give the app access to your calendars so that it may populate it into the app.
- Give the app access to your native reminders so that you can inbox your old reminders straight to Opus.
- Once you have this inbox set up, you can move all your old reminders to it and it will automatically be sent to your planner.
- Create the categories you will need. To do this go to the Main Menu > Edit > Categories.
- Common categories include school, work, self care, and projects.
- Make sure to link the categories to their respective calendars in your computer if you have that partition.
- Create any recurrent event and accommodate imported events.
How my life has improved since I have been using this system
I can be a bit of a scatterbrained person. I am easily distracted and I have so many random thoughts throughout the day only to forget about them before I can record them. I struggle to keep track of everything I need to do and I am a very visual person. Opus One has provided me with an outlet to not only schedule my to-dos and conveniently look at my calendar but also a place to capture my random thoughts before I can send them through the workflow pipeline. It shows me my tasks in a way that is easy to grasp and allows me to break down my day in manageable chunks. Furthermore, it supports notifications, so I get pinged by my phone when I am supposed to do something. I find great comfort in opening my planner every morning and knowing exactly what needs to get done that day and in preparing my upcoming day before bed.
Like every productivity system, Opus One is not perfect. The perfect app does not exist but I do genuinely believe it has made my life easier. Some of the issues I have encountered along the way are certain system bugs (which do get patched eventually though maybe not as fast as I would like), occasional syncing issues between my devices, and I personally find the mobile version a bit clunky.
I went on a quest for other planners prompted by the syncing issue only to find myself back to Opus One after two months. The main reason for this was none other platforms I tried offered me the versatility and hit my main needs like this program does. I do use Notion every day as part of my workflow as well, but I do not see it as planner and it lacks the functionalities described above or requires too much manual labor to make it work with formulas etc. I prefer to use it for my project development, note taking, and as a second brain.
Pricing and support
So what is the price tag? The free version of Opus One is a completely functional planner that includes the daily tasks and master tasks, weekly planner features and weekly view of your calendar (though not the 7-day view or other advanced views). The premium version sits at an affordable 24.99 USD per year on the AppStore! Making it not only one of the most affordable planners out there but also offering a great value for your buck. The premium expands on the program by offering the mission builder, goal setting, meeting planner, and personal compass which are wonderful to get your life planning to the next level
The Piso13 team is also very responsive and have always been very quick to help me out whenever issues have risen. You can submit tickets and they usually get back to you within the same day.
I hope that you find my system helpful and this short description can help you developing your own productivity system. If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check our How I Use Notion to Organize My Life and as always feel free to share your thoughts and comments!
This is not a sponsored post nor am I receiving commissions from this links.