Planning With Passion

Passion PlannerUPDATE: 

Soon after posting this, a friend informed me that Passion Planner’s founder and CEO openly supports Planned Parenthood. She told me of a social media post of her outside of Planned Parenthood, promising to donate $1 for every “like”. I emailed Passion Planner and asked if the company donates to Planned Parenthood. An employee replied that as a company, Passion Planner funds have not gone to Planned Parenthood. Even so, with the owner so openly supporting a group that kills babies, I cannot recommend buying from them. The planner ideas here still work, but I will probably be changing my planner out with another printable. I may even create my own. Keep an eye out for a post about that.

I’m doing a series of practical posts to help when you struggle with chronic illness, especially when that illness flares unexpectedly.

I recently wrote on How I Plan for Hard Days. Today we are looking at one aspect of how I plan: planners! Those handy things that have driven me crazy for years because I would plan, but my plans always seemed to fall through and my planner was a mess of marked out hopes.

So, how do you use a planner when you know your week (or month) won’t turn out like you want? First, I’d like to look at some planners, then I’ll share how I use mine.

What I use to Plan

I love planners, but most of them don’t work for me. I cannot count how many I’ve bought, downloaded, printed, and discarded because they didn’t work for me. Below are two planners for you. The first is one I’d love to try, because it looks like it just might work for me. I’d love to know if you’ve used it, and how it worked for you. The second is the planner I’m using now.

Living Well Planner

I love the look of Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Planner, but I’m living in Africa now, and mail doesn’t always arrive. I’d hate to spend money on a beautiful planner, but never get it. It’s really not in my budget now either, but one day I want to try it. It looks amazing. If you’ve used this planner, please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it.

Passion Planner

Right now I am using Passion Planner. I really do like it. A lot. It also works for me because by sharing it on social media, I got a free download, which I could print myself. Since shipping stuff here is a problem, the download option is wonderful. I am using the 2017, and just downloaded the new 2018! I also have an undated copy, just in case I need it. If you would like to try before you buy, go to their Download Page and follow the instructions there. All you have to do is Share, Email them the share screenshot, and get a password to get your free download.

This planner has a place for to-do list (personal and work), a blank section you can use for anything (Space of Infinite Possibility), and a block to write in the focus for the day and focus for the week.  You can order the undated planner on Amazon, or the dated planners on the Passion Planner website.

Arc Notebooks

Putting it all together: When I print out my planner, I put it in a Staples Arc Notebook. I love these things! I may one day do a whole post on how I’ve used (and plan to use) these handy notebooks. They are completely customizable. I have this Junior size book that I use for my planner. I print it, punch it with the handy punch (link below), and pop it in. If I make a terrible mess of a page, I can reprint it and replace just that page. Although, I hardly ever do that now that I’ve changed how I plan.

Here are some of the accessories I use with my notebook:

Colored dividers: These let me separate my planner and easily find my note pages, blog idea page, etc. This keeps me on track. Without dividers, I can never seem to find where I put things. These are tabbed, so I can find the right section immediately. You can get the dividers alone or you can get this accessory pack. Keep an eye out for my post on Arc Notebooks. I’ll going to let you in on how I’ll be using these for our furlough next year too.

Sticky Tabs: I love these because I can flag any page to go back and find it easily. I can also use them to mark each month making it easy to go to the  monthly calendar. If I have something I want to do, but don’t know when I’ll get to it, I put it on a sticky tab, so I can move it to next week if this week doesn’t work. I can use a regular sticky note, but these are small, and more durable.

The Punch: I love this! It works on both Arc and Levenger notebooks. I used this to punch my planner so I could use the Arc notebook. I also make my own customizable inserts, making my planner uniquely mine. You can only punch 2 pages at once, but it’s portable and easy to slip into a bag.

They also have a large punch for if you want to punch 8 sheets at once. It’s a bit more pricey, but good if you’ll be doing a lot of organizing and punching. I’ll put more about that in another post.


There are several other accessories I’d like to have one day, but I’ll save those for the post on the Arc Notebooks alone. These are the ones I use in my planner.

How I Plan

This is the best way I can plan at this time. This may change as time goes on, but for now, this works best.

About once a week I block off the “set-in-stone” portions of my week. This includes church, my time with God, my evening routine time, etc. I also pencil in any scheduled Bible studies for the coming week. I realize even these may be changed if I wake to a killer migraine or really bad day of pain, but they are the “do if all possible” parts of my week.

For everything else, I only add daily tasks and appointments as I work on my to-do list each day – after I see how much pain and energy I have. I may pencil in a few things I hope to accomplish that week, but I truly plan each day after I see how that day is going. You just have to adapt with chronic illness.

I often have Bible studies cancelled or rescheduled, and many times my work planned for the afternoon after a study will fall by the wayside because I ran out of energy. When this happens, I just cross through those and reschedule. Because I plan most of it daily instead of weekly or monthly, there is less crossing off, and I follow my schedule more.

Some weeks I put the menu in the Space of Infinite Possibility. Some weeks I put in a verse or quote from Sunday’s sermon that I want to think on all week. At other times I write really important to-do items in large print so I don’t forget it. There are so many possible uses for it.

I am thinking of starting to use sticky tabs to “pencil in” those tasks I hope to accomplish, but I don’t know how the week will go. If this works better, I’ll update you and let you know.

How Do You Plan?

Now that I’ve shared my planner and planning strategy, I’d love to hear from you. What planner do you use? How do you use it so you can work around unpredictable health or life? What tricks do you use to plan for those hard days? Join the conversation so we can learn from each other.

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