If you follow my blog you’ve probably noticed I don’t do ‘traditional’ weekly spreads – I tend to just use different forms of checklists.
These are my go-to tools for making lists:
1. Discbound notebook
If I could only use 1 notebook for the rest of my life it would be a discbound notebook. After you try it out and realise you have the ability to add, remove and rearrange pages as often as you like, it’s hard to go back to a normal notebook!
My favorite discbound notebooks are:
- ARC A5 size (with the sturdy leather cover)
- Happy Planner Classic size (the Happy Notes book)
- Happy Planner Classic half sheet
I keep an entire notebook just for list making with tabs to organize everything – business to do, blog to do, life to do etc.
2. Dot grid or lined paper
I used to never use dot grid paper but now I probably equally alternate between dot grid and lined. If I’m doing a brain dump e.g. at the start of each month on a master task list, then I’ll use lined as it keeps things neater. If I have time to be a bit more creative e.g. weekly spreads, then I tend to use dot grid paper.
My favorite page size is around 7″ wide x 9″ high. I’ve been using my Happy Notes with my printables more and more as A5 is just a bit too small and A4 is just a bit too big. For inserts at this size I either resize a printable I’ve made using my printer’s menu (only takes a minute – tutorial here), or I use some Happy Planner Inserts.
I tend to alternate between these:
- Happy planner classic size and classic half sheet lists
- My checklist printables
- My anything list printables
- Free printable dot grid paper I made (download it here, existing subscribers can login to the library here) in my ARC notebook
- Colored lined list paper I made (it’s letter size but you can resize following this tutorial)
3. Colored pens
Colored pens are ideal for color coding, and adding color to what could otherwise be a boring list. As lists don’t really lend themselves to using too many stickers, washi tape etc. ..
I like the Frixion erasable pens – specifically the ones with the clear lid (they’re harder to find but way nicer to write with more and better colors). I also like the fineliner style but I’ve only seen them in Europe.
4. Colored highlighters
Colored highlighters are obviously great for color coding lists. Just make sure you use quick drying pens. I prefer to use ballpoint pens (especially Smiggle pens and the Papermate Inkjoy 100) with highlighters – they’re less prone to smearing than gel pens.
My favorite highlighters for lists are:
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- Wax highlighters – no smearing as they don’t need time to dry – I like the Thorntons Office Supplies wax highlighters
- Stabilo Boss and Staedtler Textsurfer – the chisel end is 5mm which is the same as the dot grid spacing for most bullet journal notebooks – they come in pastel and bright colors too!
- Erasable – I like the Frixion erasable (bright colors only though, the pastel are so light it looks like you haven’t even highlighted anything)
- Dual tip highlighters – the thin and fat ends are good for dividing up a page for lists and underlining list titles
More highlighter reviews
- Pens & Highlighters Smear Testing: Which ones don’t smear
- Best highlighters for planning
- Favorite dual tip highlighters for planning (roundup)
- Best highlighters for bullet journaling
5. Color coded checklist paper
Color coded either by writing the checklist on colored paper, or using different colors for different categories.
Download my free color coded lines notes paper here.
If you want pre-made colored paper, MAMBI have tons of lined and checklist colored pages.
Read more: Favorite Happy Planner Refill Inserts
6. Colored dot stickers
Ideal for color coded lists instead of drawing checkboxes, or adding to the bottom corner of the page to act as a key and help you find lists easier in your notebook or planner.
Another alternative is to get white dot stickers and choose your own colors using highlighters – like I do with date dot stickers.
7. Self inking stamps
Self-inking stamps are the only type of stamps I’ll plan with. They’re quick and there’s no mess like with normal stamps. I really only use the Frixion erasable stamps:
I also like the MAMBI checklist stamp:
More supplies you could use
- Flag list stickers – plenty in the Happy Planner sticker books
- Colored washi tape – use for strips on the side of the book to flag popular lists or could stick some tape underneath the heading if you like to plan using minimal color but still want to color code
- Checklists stencils – I find the columns on the stencils are too narrow to fit more than 2 words but if you write small they might work for you
- Checklist stamp – I tried this once but the lines tend to be either too widely spaced or too close together so I rarely use them nowadays. Plus it was hard to perfectly line up the stamps
- Colored pencils or zooms – if you want an alternative to highlighters (tend to be cheaper and last forever!)
- Ruler for dividing up a page (I like the Poppin Ruler as it’s heavy and doesn’t slip, also work well with stitched notebooks that don’t tend to lay flat)
More planning tips
- 50 Category Ideas for Color Coding Your Planner
- After trying more than 20 pen brands, these are my top 5
- How to use functional icon planner stickers
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