We are called to steward our lives well, and regardless of the personality God gave us, that involves some level of planning. As we grow and mature into adulthood and in the Christian life, we will be entrusted with more responsibility. At Blessed is She, we set out to make your prayerful planning smoother and, well, more prayerful.
A Planner for Your Season
In that vein, for the last several years, we have offered two different planner layouts to fit whatever your needs are in this season of your life.
So which one is better for you right now? Which one will be the most useful tool in the prayerful stewarding of your schedule?
We called in two BIS writers on two different planner "teams" to share which planner layout they use and why it works with their particular personality and needs. Bonnie Engstrom shares her passion for the big planner, and Gina Fensterer explains why the mini makes most sense for her life.
So pretend you're sitting with your girlfriends over a cup of coffee and they're telling you all about what helps their life function...
Team Big // Bonnie
I love my BIS planner.
I use the academic year layout and I’m on team big. I tried the mini planner one year and my life was a mess. There may come a time when the Mini meets my needs better than the big, but I think that time is many years away and so, for at least the next decade, I’ll be team big.
I know teachers who use the BIS big academic planner for their lesson planning. As a college student, I would have loved this planner for keeping track of my meetings, due dates, and extra curriculars. But I am the mom of many, so I’ll tell you how I use my BIS big and why it works so well for me.
First, a note about the academic layout. I have eight kids attending two different schools. My husband teaches and coaches for a third school. Everyone in my home lives according to the academic year so it just makes sense for my planner to be on the same schedule. And when I think about the crazy busyness of the end of the calendar year, I shudder to imagine having to begin a new planner. No, thank you!
But I love setting up a new planner each summer. I pull out my set of pens and stickers (like the planner stickers from Sweet Little Ones and the BIS shop) and I grab the previous year’s planner. I go through my new big planner, adding birthdays, marking favorite feast days, and noting special anniversaries.
In the Notes section in the back, I copy the dates of my godchildren’s birthdays, Baptism dates, and First Communions. I add doodles of fireworks for the 4th of July and pink and purple candles for each Sunday of Advent. It’s nothing special, but it’s fun and colorful and I like it.
Now, I love this planner because of it’s size. It’s not bulky, so I can slip it into my diaper bag or a tote bag; but it’s large enough that I have a spot for all my lists and schedules. There are ten people in my family and each of us has an assigned color in the planner: purple for my eldest, bright blue for one son, green for another, gold for my husband, and navy for me. Black ink is used for whole family events. (I keep my pens in a pouch like this, which is always on the front cover of my planner.)
As dentist appointments, track meets, and playdates are scheduled I write them down in the roomy squares of the monthly layouts. The same page offers a note section on the far right and there I jot down extra information, like fasting requirements for lab work, details for School Spirit Week, and the claim information for that time I accidentally swiped a car in the gym parking lot.
But wait! There’s more!
The Monthly Section
Each Sunday afternoon I sit down with my planner, pens, church bulletin, school and classroom newsletters, the upcoming forecast, and the sports scheduling app. Referencing the monthly layout and every other resource, I write out our daily schedule for the week. I meal plan, write To-Do lists, and complete the grocery list which grew throughout the previous week.
None of it has to live in my head because there is room for all of it—a place for everything and everything can be in its place, written in color-coded ink of course. It’s glorious!
Monthly Notes Section
A favorite feature is that each week has a full page dedicated to notes. I use these for planning parties, taking notes during ministry or IEP meetings, and jotting notes during phone calls. I always use the page for the week the event will occur so it’s always easy to find. I never have to wonder where the invite and shopping lists for my kid’s birthday party are, because they are written together in the week of his birthday.
And of course, I am able to do all of this —organize my life and the lives and schedules of nine whole other people—because the Blessed is She big planner has enough room for all of it.
Team Mini // Gina
I was in college with my dream on-campus job, sitting down with my new boss, when I became a planner user. It’s not because I’m a “type-A” personality who knew I’d fail miserably if I didn’t once and for all figure out a system to manage my time and commitments.
No. My boss told me, “Gina, you’ll start using a planner to stay on top of your courses or you can’t work for me.”
That was a gut-punch reality check.
So I used that planner, loved every day working that college job, graduated, and promptly ditched my planner habit.
I share all that because even a non-planner can appreciate a well-done planner and make it work in her life! If you are like me, a more “go-with-the-flow” type of person, you may just find that you love the Blessed is She mini planner, too.
More Than a Planner for Me
This planner is made with the Catholic woman in mind. This is “not your grandmother’s free church calendar” that we all bring home from our parishes during Advent.
This is a beautifully-designed planner with more than feast days listed through the year.
Need a refresher on the mysteries of the Rosary? Those are here, as well as all the prayers in the Rosary (having the Apostles’ Creed nearby is always handy, since I forever mix it up with the Nicene Creed).
Need an examination of conscience? Also here. I bring my mini along to Confession (because it’s easily portable!), pray with the examination, and then write down the date of my confession so I can keep track. No more “Bless me Father… it has been… um… I don’t remember but less than five years?”
Love to pray novenas but you forget when they begin? This planner has a sweet list of novena start dates to help you remember them.
I never knew I would appreciate those things in a planner until I used it. The BIS planner keeps me coming back to it over and over because it works to integrate my daily life tasks with my spiritual life.
And now I’m once again a regular planner user, and still a “go-with-the-flow” kind of gal.
No Time Slots + Free Spaces
That’s why I love the mini, too. Since it doesn’t have time slots on the daily pages, I don’t feel like I’m scheduling all my daily to-dos in any given hour.
I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, and my family runs on a routine rather than schedule.
Having the “check the box” list works perfectly for me, so I can jot down appointments and their times, as well as more minor things on my “want to get this done” list so I can track them.
The Goals Pages Keeps Me Focused
I think I love the mini planner most because not only is it portable (it truly does slip easily into a tote bag or diaper bag), it helps me to keep my life focused on the big picture with the Lord’s will in mind.
Each month begins with a page to pray with a theme, to bring any concerns to the Lord before I start adding that month’s to-dos. It also includes my favorite page of all: the goals for faith, family, and fun and a section to record prayer intentions. These pages–the prayer and goals–keep me focused on the most important things with Christ at the center of all my days.
What Team are YOU on?
Let us know in the comments below! Happy praying + planning!