business of writing,  Publishing,  the writing life

Planning All the Things

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of a planning junkie. I’m not always as meticulous with my planning as I should be, but when I am, I’m far more productive. I started to get back into my meticulous planning habit this past September when I discovered my life felt like it was sliding off the rails with so many to-dos. 

I had to move my “coven whiteboard” to a spreadsheet because it grew way beyond this…

Where my planning really shines, aside from my obsession with business and project spreadsheets, is in my day-to-day paper journals, and in 2019 I’m going to work harder to make planning fun again!  I know, that sounds like a silly campaign slogan, but let’s face it – planning can be boring.

Oftentimes we start with these stark journals, and if you’re creative about it, you use colored pens, highlighters, stickers, and decorative tape to liven it up.  Of course looking pretty isn’t the only reason to do this. Color coding can help you figure out what needs to be done at a glance and what can be put off. Stickers can be very personal and functional to help you track goals or habits.  All this decoration can boost your morale and motivation, as well as make you happy (instead of anxious) when you see your planner.

Before you add anything, planners can look like a boring way to plan.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

I view planning as an imperative way to prepare for my week. When I don’t prepare, I tend to slack off more and not stay focused on my goals. When I follow the plan I end up with more free time! Probably because I pick and choose what is important to me and prioritize what absolutely needs to get done, and what doesn’t. 

So why not just use an electronic to-do list and your phone calendar? While those tools certainly have their place, there’s something about writing out the schedule longhand that helps me stay grounded. It’s more solidifying that way, and I find I keep to the schedule better. It’s a mental thing.

A glimpse into my crazy schedule.

What kind of planner to get? 

There are so many different types of planners available these days. I saw some neat ones at Office Depot earlier this week for $20. November is the time to get them. But for the planner junkies out there – there’s the Happy Planner (often sold at craft stores, like Hobby Lobby), the Erin Condren planner, the Panda Planner, the Passion Planner, the Get To Work planner, and the list goes on and on. Some planners are built for scheduling, others for goal reaching. Hell, they even have planners just for moms.  Finding the right planner can take some time.  The Get To Work and Erin Condren planners are pretty neat with all the features they offer, but they’re pricey.

The two-page spread for each day of the Panda Planner.
I often found myself using one page for 2-3 days so I didn’t feel like I was wasting paper.

The Panda Planner has a two-page spread per day, which I found was overkill for me and made me anxious. The Passion Planner was the one that worked for me best by giving me a weekly overview and not making me feel overwhelmed. I also like the price of it. But it took me a few years of back and forth before I finally made that choice, and even then, I’ve seriously considered splurging for an Erin Condren planner. However, they are dated only, and the one I want is $88 with shipping. Passion Planner runs me about half that at $44 with shipping.

My New 2019 Passion Planner

I use the Passion Planner for my life and my writing. However, for publishing, I use Corinne O’Flynn’s Author Productivity Publishing Planner from That’s a good place to track everything from new releases, sales, word-counts, events, newsletter swaps, advertising campaigns, launches, publishing due dates, and series planning because it goes so much deeper than a regular planner. Plus, I don’t want my Daemonolatry, day job, and day-to-day life stuff on my publishing schedule. It may be overkill because I do put important publishing stuff in my regular planner, but only because that’s the planner I carry with me everywhere. The publishing planner stays right there on my desk along with the desk pad calendar (for everything non-publishing).

The 2018 Publishing Planner from 

My Planning Tips

You’ll notice a lot of my planning is rather parochial and a mish-mash of hurried notes on the go. That’s because I fell out of the habit of giving myself an hour of planning time every Sunday. Shame on me!  That Sunday hour of planning time is crucial to keeping yourself both productive and sane. This coming year, I vow to make the planning more like a meditative, creative exercise in time management. 

Something you should all know is that it’s a proven fact that the most successful people are planners. They produce at a higher rate because they plan, and they prioritize. They are constantly reviewing their plans.

My advice to those of you new to planning is to experiment and have fun with it. Just like most things, finding your planning comfort zone is a matter of trial and error. However, if you do nothing else, schedule that 1 hour on Sunday night (or your equivalent start day to your work week) to plan your upcoming week. Make it a habit and stick with it. It’s amazing how quickly a schedule can get derailed when you miss a planning session.

Some of my planner stickers, tape, and pens. Yes, I bought this stuff specifically for planning.

So, what kind of planner are you?

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at


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