I’ve been using planners for years and finally feel I’m at a point where I have a streamlined system that works well. One of the factors in that was ensuring I have a specific place for each thing I plan, and being selective about what I put in my planner so it doesn’t get clogged with unnecessary distractions.
If something doesn’t quite feel right with your planner, you’re continually running out of room or you feel like you’re re-writing things too often, adding pages you never refer to later or can’t find things, then it sounds like it’s time for a change up in how you’re planning your week. The best place to start is to strip it back to the bare basics. What do you actually need to track in your planner? And what things can you take out of your planner to free up some space.
10 Things I don’t put in my planner (and why)
1. Themed planner sticker kits
I did this for a while but it just wasn’t for me. It took too long to set up the week and I’d inevitably end up with not enough room either because the stickers themselves took up too much space, or because I custom made the stickers to fit certain planners (and then the stickers had to have a small writing space because the sections of the planner were small e.g. vertical planners).
I’m a functional not a decorative planner so nowadays I mainly use just icon stickers.
2. Meal planning
I used to meal plan using sticky notes on the monthly calendar:
Sometimes I do meal planning in the weekly spread, sometimes I don’t. I usually just refer to my list of recipes I make often and choose a few as I go. I make sure I have my kitchen stocked with the ingredients I use frequently so it doesn’t really matter what order I cook things in.
I don’t do anything that resembles journaling beyond a reflection of the week for the purpose of pinpointing strengths, weaknesses and ways to improve. I’m someone that treats my planner as just – a planner. I don’t do memory keeping.
4. Sticky note dashboard
A sticky note dashboard would add way too much bulk to my planner. Plus some planners don’t come with a big enough coil to do this anyway.
I don’t take my planner with me, I prefer to plan at my desk and take photo of it. Taking the photos is actually what prompted me to start sharing spreads online since I was already taking pictures of my planner. If there’s something that pops up during the day (those random ‘little things’) I add it to the notes section of my phone. I don’t bother re-writing it in my planner unless it’s something I need to follow up at a later date that week.
5. Budget and bill paying
I used to put budget and bill paying on the monthly calendar, but I don’t really use monthly calendars anymore (at least, not in the traditional boxes format).
Instead I have a separate A5 size arc notebook that I keep things like bill pay checklists, seasonal cleaning checklists, last time I did… etc. Basically ‘reference’ type pages that I don’t need to take with me, and everything I don’t put in my actual planner. If you’re trying to decide what to keep where, see this post.
As for my approach when it comes to the rest of budgeting / money management, I used to use a printable budget planner..
…but now mainly use these digital spreadsheets for budgeting:
6. Period tracker
I used to use a printable but have switched to using the notes app on my phone as it’s more subtle and convenient.
7. Daily planning
I very rarely do daily planning let alone properly scheduling things. I don’t like planning to a strict schedule of times. It’s too inflexible. As soon as you miss one thing or something takes longer than you expect it to, it throws the whole day out. I find planning in such detail is a waste of time for me. I much prefer to just work off a to do list for weekly planning, and allocate things to a day only if they have to be done that day.
On the rare instances I use a daily planner it will usually consist of a giant checklist for that day anyway.
Sometimes I categorise the tasks by time and that’s about as far as I go in terms of scheduling.
Week 17 (Part 2): Daily planning using to do lists categorised by time
8. Anything home maintenance
I use separate printables in my ARC notebook (like with the bill pay checklists). I used to use 3 ring binders and plastic sheet protectors (so I didn’t have to punch holes on the pages and waste room on the page for binding rings).
The only thing I use a binder for now is filing tax records. I find them too bulky and heavy for frequent use.
9. Exercise trackers
I do a 1hr walk each day and some yoga stretches before bed and that’s enough for me. I don’t go to the gym or do weights, treadmill, exercise bike or any of that. So tracking exercise isn’t really going to provide me with any useful information or make me realise something I don’t already know.
It’s more of a habit that I already do, so I don’t need to plan or record this. I used to put it in my habit tracker but now I don’t really bother with that anymore since I wasn’t really getting any benefit out of recording it.
10. TV show tracker
I don’t watch TV so have no need for a TV show tracker. Even if I watched TV, I doubt I’d set up a TV show tracking page, it just doesn’t seem like a good use of time. I’d probably just put it on a sticky note and move it from week to week.
More planning tips:
- How to Choose a Printer (Including the best printer for printing printables and planner stickers)
- My all time favorite planner supplies
- Choosing a planner: Horizontal versus Vertical versus Hourly planners (which is right for you?)
- Life Inspired Weekly Planner Review (Lined Horizontal + Checklists Layout)
- Clever Fox Weekly Planner
- Plum Paper Horizontal Lined + Notes (and a comparison or colorful versus neutral)
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