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.