Show Us Your Planners: A Queer Organization Roundtable

I am naturally a chaos whirlwind. I constantly fight with my own internal brain clutter in order to maintain any level of organization. But then I see my colleagues KILLING IT with their planning game and I say to myself, I want them as my planner role models. So I made them show me their planners. I compiled them into this post, even! I hate that the world of being an organized, planner-type human presents as so straight, so maybe you want to share photos of your planners? Maybe you want to say things about planning too? Enjoy these, and add your own photos and feelings in the comments!


Tiara, Staff Writer

I float in and out of planning systems—I’ll try something, get derailed by a super busy week or illness, and then go without for a while. I’ve noticed that I tend to work better with things up on my wall, so I’m trying out a wall planner! I have a massive weekly wall planner from Typo that I fill in with a schedule generated from Skedpal, an app currently in beta where you key in your To-Do list and it syncs with your calendar of choice to create a schedule—really helpful to create structure where I currently have none! I also made a Kanban board to keep track of the various projects and ideas I have, as well as a book tracker (up on my mirror) and a mood tracker (up on my door). Also I just got some stickers made of friends that I regularly organise hangouts/chats with to stick on my planner! They’re made by Melbourne-based illustrator Jennifer Crow.


Laura, Staff Writer

On weeks when I’m traveling for work, I don’t have much to say in my Passion Planner (which is largely focused on the things I do outside of work). Instead of chronicling how much TV I’ve binged in the hotel room, I like to fill in the empty space with collages.


Jenna, Contributing Writer

I try to fill out this spread every week, but I usually get distracted by the weekend. I use it mainly as a to-do list (actions and events), but also do meal planning/tracking, and keep an account of high-level work outs.


KaeLyn, Staff Writer

My Passion Planner is a focusing tool and a personal/professional diary. I manage my schedule with Google Calendar. At the beginning of each week, I copy my appointments into my Passion Planner. I use it to focus my mind and set an intentional plan for triaging my various to-do lists. Something about putting pen to paper helps me calm my buzzing mind. My favorite thing about my Passion Planner is the space it creates for me to meld my personal and professional plans and reflections, which mirrors how I try to align my life.


Raquel, Staff Writer

I use my sketchbook as a planner, occasionally, when I manage to remember! Recently I’ve been job-searching and I have several side projects hustlin’, so I’m using it more to remember when to show up, where, and how much of my shit to have together. It usually devolves more into a grab-bag of to-do list items and random sketches, as you can probably see!


Valerie Anne, Social Media Co-Editor and TV Writer

I started this new year SO READY to start winding down at night so I didn’t have a screen in my face literally the entire time I was awake and channel my energies into something creative. I also started the year wanting to actively mine for joy because the world is crumbling down around us and I needed to cling to my optimism with both hands; I even decided to laugh at myself when I realized what I had thought was a decal for the front of my journal was actually just a brand stamp on the back instead of setting it and myself on fire! I started off strong, recording one happy thing a day, doodling all the books I read, etc…but I have a bit of catching up to do.


Audrey, Contributing Writer

In June when I realized that I was pretty much failing at everything I cared about, I told depression to go fuck itself and bought a Passion Planner. I’ve never been good at planners but the way the PP encourages you to think about time really works for my brain. I’ve color coded work, other responsibilities, health activities, and personal stuff so that I can keep an eye on how I’m dividing my time. So far I have used it consistently for five whole weeks, and it has already made life significantly less stressful. It was all about finding the tool that was right for me, and now I’m a certified planner nerd.


Alaina, Staff Writer

Some might say that I over-plan, and honestly, I might agree with them. I use three planners because I have a lot of needs: The Passion Planner for a weekly/monthly/perpetual calendar type layout, the Day Designer for a daily layout, and PowerSheets for habit-tracking/goal-setting. The thing is though, that all three work really well with one another: I do a lot of identifying what my goals are in my Passion Planner and PowerSheets, make a list of what I need to do each week alongside a rough schedule in my Passion Planner, and the Day Designer is more immediate; it’s typically messier, but allows me to create a running to-do list for each day. My setup seems a little intense, but it has really helped me to get things out of my head and turn them into actions. That’s primarily why I use planners. My head is a swirling vortex of fear and anxiety and if I don’t plan, I will be perfectly content to sit at home all day and dream about my future, but never make any steps towards making that future a reality. Planning is also a really great way for me to be honest with myself. Like, this month I’ve got “go to a museum” as a weekly goal, and I have yet to go to a museum. Instead of seeing it as a failure, it’s just helped me realize that it’s not a priority right now, and that’s okay because I’ve done so much other stuff that has made me feel really accomplished this month, like solidifying some sustainable morning/evening rhythms that help to keep me calm and centered. I like my setup right now because it’s a visual reminder that little by little, progress adds up.


Laneia, Executive Editor

It’s taken me YEARS to figure out how to make a planner work for me. I need lots of space to write on each day, and lots of extra room for list-making. If the list isn’t right in my face all the time, I might as well have just not made it, because I’ll never even remember to get the list out. I used to use the Mead Weekly/Monthly planner because of the spacious sections for each day, but it really failed me on the list-making front, so I was pretty excited indeed when Rachel introduced me to the concept of Passion Planners.

Interlude: Rachel and I have been trying out different planners/methods for as long as I can remember, in an ongoing search for a process that will make us so fucking productive and zen, we’ll transcend life itself. We’ve tried all the methods, all the apps. One day she shared a link to their downloadable PDFs (at that time you just had to confirm that you’d donated to their first Kickstarter in 2014, which I had not done, so I lied, which I feel bad about). I ordered my first one in 2015 and have never looked back. THANKS, RACHEL.

I use a classic size Passion Planner to organize my personal priorities and all of the Autostraddle-related things. I block off times in each day to show when I’m supposed to start work and end it, when Eli gets home, when I start dinner, when I go to my room to wind down — everything. I block off my entire day. Not because I don’t remember when I should start work, but because putting these things in the planner makes them mandatory and non-negotiable, which makes me sane. I also use the time allotments to keep up with Slade’s and Megan’s work schedules. Hers is shown using a blue highlighter, his is green. The yellow line across the week is where I do my meal planning. I have four list columns dedicated to work stuff: big projects, small ones, Staff Writers, and an outbox, in order to keep a record of what I’ve made personal progress on. I also started a new process this very week, wherein I put email-related notes and action items on a post-it, and the rule is that the post-it is thrown away at the end of the day, and there’s no transferring items to other lists, so everything on that damn post-it has to be completed before 4pm when Eli gets home, OR ELSE. So far so good!

I use a color-coded system in the monthly calendar layouts to keep up with our publishing schedule. These are all the weekly (yellow) and biweekly (green and orange) things we publish (TV recaps are in blue). I leave out the monthly items because they don’t always go up on the same day every month. I KNOW, SO FASCINATING RIGHT.


Ali, Contributing Writer

I kept flipping back and forth—show you a productive, Instagram-worthy week with color coded everything, or show you my reality right now. Every time I say that I am just, just, breaking out of the mental health void caused by the 2016 election and the white nationalist administration it installed, I realize I am wrong. I am slowly crawling out of this void, and I keep discovering a new void that doesn’t look like void and I think I’m done, but no wait; here I still am. It pains me to admit how much this is affecting me when, throughout most of my life, it has not cost me a lot to be resilient. It feels embarrassing. I can’t get as much done as I used to, I can’t confront people like I used to, and I feel like my worth as a person decreases as a result. I often feel like I am only worth the tasks I can accomplish. The Passion Planner has helped with that feeling. It’s helping me refocus my priorities: on my own art, on my friends, on shit that matters to me and to the world and to my community. And sometimes? Sometimes I fucking fail at it. That’s why you’re seeing a blank week, here. I hate admitting failure. I hate failing even more. But here we are. This planner is my way of clawing out of not feeling like an artist, an intellectual or a good person anymore. It’s a process. I’m learning to love the process again.


Heather, Senior Editor

I have tried basically every kind of planner, calendar, and task list ever conceived by mortals — analog and digital and apps apps apps — and nothing ever stuck, until Laura Mandanas sent me a Passion Planner earlier this year. It changed the game for me. It’s everything I’ve ever needed in a planning tool: monthly calendars, weekly calendars, note-taking blank pages in the back, encouragement, reminders on how to focus and what to focus on, and it’s grounded in the concept of perpetual gratitude. I have the full-size guy and it is one of my favorite things I own. I’ve already donated to the new Kickstarter to get my 2018 one!

Most mornings of my life I get up, eat a bowl of oatmeal, take my medicines and vitamins, brush my teeth, ride my bike or do yoga, shower, mediate, and then sit down at my laptop by 10:00 am to get going with my day. Only most days, though, because I have advanced endometriosis which flares up at least once a month and makes it impossible for me to get out of bed or leave my house. On those days, I still mediate and work (I just do it lying down with a bunch of cats piled on top of me). I used to put my bike rides and yoga workouts on my planner but it just made me feel even worse when I couldn’t do them because I was in pain, so now I put them in my Good Things That Happened box when I’m able to do them because they make me feel really good and it’s dumb to let feel-good things make you feel guilty when you have no control over them!

I like to use Post-Its in my planner because it allows me to be flexible and move things around when I need to, and it also gives me the freedom just to chuck out a whole list and start over if things take a turn during the week. There are a lot of moving parts that make Autostraddle work and they don’t always move as seamlessly as we’d like them to. I keep a large 5″ x 7″  Post-It that’s basically a running to-do list on whichever side of the planner isn’t the half of the week I’m living in but I took it off for this picture because you wouldn’t be able to see the calendar if it was on there and also it’s full of editorial secrets.

Blue Post-Its are meetings or appointments, yellow is social media, pink is personal, and purple is plans with my gal.

My favorite part of my planner is the Space of Infinite Possibility. Every week I cut out three cats from this coloring book I bought at CVS and color them in and then when I read something I like, or get a good piece of advice, or hear a thing that makes me feel warm in my heart, or need to remind myself of something (for example to be gentle and loving with me as much as I am with other people), I just write it in the cat space like they’re my own personal cartoons. I love to flip through a bunch of pages at a time and see what the cats were talking about on any given week. It gives me solid insight into my own brain, like a Pensieve but more adorable.

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 544 articles for us.

58 Comments

  1. Omg ya’ll are really getting me on this Passion Planner train. I remember there was an article on here a few months ago (ish?) about Passion Planners and I was like, “blah blah whatever latest organizational tool I probably wont stick with it”. But now that I see more of it in action, I want to try! Thanks friends <3

  2. I had organizational OCD in college and grad school. Because I was always reading something (Women’s Studies and English for undergrad, Modern Lit for grad school) I had to plan out exactly how much to read every day in order to have it completed by the next class. I had a similar method for writing papers. It really worked for me and I never fell behind! Now I’m a boring adult and have no need to plan my day-to-day life…

  3. I didn’t think I could love this site any more than I did, but now y’all tell me you’re fans of Passion Planner too? <3 Ugh my heart. I live in my Passion Planner; everything is color coded and I block off chunks of time, I track my water intake and I track my vitamins and bike riding to work. I am also super into using stickers (Michael's! Coupons and sales, don't ever pay full price it's not worth it!). I glue pictures in, tape stuff, draw, color, etc. It lives on my desk at work during the week (where it stares at me and makes me feel like I'm letting it down if I'm not adding things to it!).
    (First time posting an image, here's hoping it works!)

  4. Planners YES! I want a passion planner someday but for now I hand draw a calendar on any loose pages (lined, not lined whatever; I used to marble my own paper for this but I don’t have the time anymore). I tend to just make about a 6 month calendar at a time or per school term whatever I need. Then I color code all my ongoing commitments and responsibilities, while writing in and checking off anything else going on. For this summer, I’ve been doing that but also keeping a weekly checklist of books I’m reading, friends I’ve seen, and things that I needed to do. I don’t know if that will continue past summer though, my calendar situation tends to catch all that except books. My journal also tends to be somewhat like a planner occasionally, sometimes I use it to fill in what I’ve done on my calendar. Also this has been a helpful reminder that I’m almost done with the calendar I last made and I need to make a new set of pages and figure out my life again.

  5. I was going to include a picture of my terrible ADHD organizational system, which is mostly loose paper from small notepads attached to my desk by cat magnets. Highlights include some words illegible even to myself and a plan for this week that doesn’t actually go past today. (In this particular case it is a “waiting on reagent” problem, such is science, but I’m not going to pretend that’s not an issue I have.) But it turns out I’m not technically savvy enough to do that.

    I always toy with the idea of getting a planner, because things that start off seeming organized make me feel more capable of being organized in them. Like, I refuse to have lab notebooks that aren’t gridded, because if it isn’t my notes will be a mess. And I imagine it might help my ADHD to have a masterplan to refer to, but what ends up happening is I get a planner and then can’t motivate myself it put the stuff into it. I need a planner to plan the time to use my planner.

  6. I use Google Calendar with reminders for a lot of my to-dos and appointments (bonus points for my watch pinging me when I have to be in a video call), but also journal/keep track of gym, alcohol, sex, stomach, etc in a Hobonichi Techo which, like, I LOVE. Got it in Japan, but you can get them in the US too. http://hobonichilove.tumblr.com for ideas or https://www.1101.com/store/techo/en/ to buy. Super love this thing.

    • So, INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, one of my friends had a calendaring disaster recently. I was looking to give him a planner to cheer him up and came across the Hobonichi Techno, which I fell in love with instantly. I’m a Leuchtturm1917 #bujo person, but the photos on all of the reviews I have seen of this planner just make me want to stroke the pages like the creepy paper-lover I am. I’m still drooling over images of it.

  7. These are all so cool! I’ve never used or even heard of a Passion Planner, but at the moment I’m bullet journaling. I get to decide what each week and month looks like, and it neutralises my constant need to buy notebooks, because I use my bullet journal for EVERYTHING. I’ve been doing it since January and I LOVE it, making each spread can be really therapeutic and has definitely become part of my self-care.

    I don’t know how to embed pics, so here’s some insta links in case you care at all:
    A typical weekly: https://www.instagram.com/p/BW5lg9BAfGz/
    A typical monthly: https://www.instagram.com/p/BX1GTTGA-Is/
    Music recommendations: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQtUNybAZ8j/
    Books/films list: https://www.instagram.com/p/BPYgyjPj0pG/

  8. Bound note books and papers with boundaries my wackadoodle dysgraphic handwriting is suppose to stay inside of stress me the fuck out.
    It’s like being given a vat of batter and being told you have to pick a baking pan blind folded and you only get one. One pan for ALL of the batter. Of which you can’t tell if it’s gallons, half a gallon or what. All you can see is vat that you have been told contains batter. Any batter that doesn’t fit in the randomly selected pan will get poured on to the floor, which you alone will have to clean.

    If I have to do planning or a checklist I use wide ruled loose leaf and a binder or note cards and my personal short hand. Program reminders of deadlines and appointment in the calendar of my phone.

  9. This is PERFECT TIMING!!

    I have my very first, brand new, Passion Planner sitting unopened in its box on my desk RIGHT NOW.

    And I have a lot anxious and excited feelings about it and I need help sorting though them all and…. AHHHHHH 🙂

  10. I am feeling very good about ordering my first Passion Planner last week! I’ve been using a print out of the pdf for the past few weeks, after envying a coworker hers, and it’s been working out for me. I use it more for focusing my personal life than planning, really, but it’s helping me sort stuff out. I’m also using it to do a pixel a day to color code my moods and get a bigger picture version of how things are going.

    Otherwise, I rely on Google Calendar and a small planner notebook at work.

  11. So, growing during “let’s all use our class agenda” time, I would ditch school I hated planning so much. Would passion planners work for someone like me? Where would I start?

    • One teacher in high school gave us bonus points for bringing our planner to class. I dutifully brought it. Then she decided that we had to show we were using the planner to get the bonus points so that ended that for me. During college, grad school, and having a business I was fine with out a planner. Then two years ago I got a job where I schedule home visits with 35 families give or take. That finally forced me to purchase and use a planner.

  12. Thank you for posting this, Ali! I struggle a lot with organization, especially with keeping everything written down in one place – it got to the point last school year where I wound up writing my to-do items on my arm each day because I couldn’t commit to using a planner. The Passion Planner looks perfect, though! I’m so excited to give it a try!

    I can’t tell from looking at the site or Kickstarter – does anyone know if the academic vs. calendar year planners differ in any way apart from the start/end dates? Thanks!

  13. I am addicted to my Passion Planner as well. And in addition to it being The Best Planner, I love that I’m also supporting a young woman who was like “all the other planners suck I’m going to make something better” AND THEN DID.

    Heather, your cat quote idea is brilliant and I am 150% going to use it!!

  14. have been considering getting a passion planner for a few weeks but wasn’t sure how to transition to using a planner after a year of freestyle bullet journaling. completely sold on the idea after reading about heather’s use of post-its. <3

  15. I’m pretty solidly on the bullet journal train still! Without a planner I have zero concept of the passage of time or my responsibilities, and bullet journaling gives me a badly needed traditional artsy crafty outlet after years of doing only digital art, so it’s the perfect motivation to keep my planning up to date. <3

    https://analogselfcare.tumblr.com/post/157719117451/i-decided-to-do-kikis-delivery-service-for-march
    https://analogselfcare.tumblr.com/post/162221974066

  16. The Bullet Journal is the only planner system that ever worked for me. It actually helped me deal with my ADHD a lot. I really like that it’s a combination of to do lists and a planner and that it is so flexible. I don’t stick to the system 100%, I added some things I needed and it works just fine.

  17. I got really into the Happy Planner this year. It seems to be big with Christian Moms but there are a ton of people on Facebook who make stickers for it. I’m very into decorating it but keeping it functional. Though I’m probably switching to the mini size next year bc I’m using my phone for my lists more so I need a bit less room.

  18. This is a great post, thank you! I love seeing your planners and systems, very inspiring!
    My Passion Planner has helped me a lot since I got one 1 1/2 years ago (thanks to you guys) but I also struggle very often because it’s just so damn hard to keep it up continuously. And it’s also not a magic tool that solves every problem. Nothing is. So for a big part of this year mine looks very similar to Ali’s. :/ And every blank page can feel like failure. But it’s not! It’s just a blank page! And they make the colorful ones look even better in contrast!
    I just ordered one for 2018. 🙂

  19. Y’all abilities to maintain physical journals / diaries for work life and make them beautiful too is low key giving me anxiety… What does that say about me? 😮

    I use iCalendar with different colours for different accounts because I ALWAYS have a device on me and I use it for deadlines, meetings and projects. For my to-dos I do a weekly to do list on a short hand notebook at the beginning of the week. I of course never manage to accomplish it by Friday (yay procrastination).

  20. I remember reading a previous article about the Passion Planner. This time I’m sold. I gave my money to the kickstarter (which is saying a lot as I am in not spending mode until my wife gets a new job.) But I’ve been feeling a bit out of focus as of late. I had a 5 year and a 10 year plan that went pretty well. Currently however it’s a bit more day to day. I had work that followed my passion and now I just feel tired. So maybe it’s time for more introspection, and the Passion Planner seems like a good way to stay organized and to be reflective.

  21. Well, I bought a passion planner at last, because of this, and now I have to wait for it to actually get here, which sucks. I’m hoping it is a fraction as useful for my brain as all of you. In the meantime, I’m so – comforted I guess? To have solid confirmation I’m not the only one still trying to get out of this mental health void.

  22. I have a desire map planner/calendar I was really into at the beginning of the year but at some point that fell apart. I think b/c it’s too big/bulky for carrying around in my purse and I need something smaller. It’s also weirdly hipster spiritual (idk how else to describe it) and I’m not into that. I am looking into other journals/planners mentioned here. I am not sure if bullet journaling is for me because I am not good at drawing/art, but if I could make it work with stickers or something that doesn’t involve me fucking up some kind of artsy thing…like all the designs I see here are so intimidating and there’s no way I could ever do something like that.

  23. I’ve ordered my 2018 Passion Planner after seeing it talked about so much on Autostraddle. It’s only September but I’m so excited for it to arrive! I may have to steal Heather’s cat idea because it is too cute.

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