Keeping A Minimalist Planner for 2016

Within the planning community you can find all kinds of styles of planners, planning methods, decoration techniques; planning is as versatile as life is! However, I haven’t been able to find too much on planning as a minimalist. Over the course of a year, I’ve developed my own methods that I’d like to share with you. If you find this post helpful, please share it and help spread the word! Minimalist planning does exist!

Choose Your Weapon

Planners have become like clothing, shoes and purses: there are hundreds of designs to choose from to appease hundreds of different tastes. Pick something that YOU like and YOU enjoy. Like hot pink? Grab a planner that is as neon pink as they come. Like pattern? Get the loudest planner you can! Grab the size that is most conducive to your lifestyle.

What I’m trying to get at is: your planner doesn’t have to be black, white, gold, or marble in order for it to be minimal. Although I fit the stereotype of preferring neutral items in my own life, there isn’t a color scheme all minimalists follow.

You’ll be using your planner every day and loving it is very important.

All of that in mind, you don’t want something that is overly bulky, or large. You want a planner that is tidy and easy to transport, if you’re interested in portability. I make my planner double as my wallet, which is very handy when I have doctor appointments. I can pay and easily find a spot in my schedule for my next visit, as everything is on-hand.

What I Use

I use a Filofax Domino in Personal size. You can view product information over on by clicking here to open a new tab, or window.

The Happiness Planner

I’m also very interested in the Happiness planner, which I discovered in December. I’m not an affiliate, or anything like that. The Happiness planner focuses on happiness instead of productivity, which will help you to be more productive in the future. It’s a great idea, and worth looking into. You can learn more about that by clicking here to open their website in a new tab.

Get Organized

Assuming you already have inserts for it (most planners come with a years worth of inserts, but you can also snag mine for free by clicking here) and some sort of dividers, lets build your planner.

(Keep in mind that some planners are spiral bound, and you can’t change a thing about the layout).


Do you like to have business first? Money? The calendar? Tons of blank paper? The beauty of a ringed binder is that you can create a layout that works best for you. I enjoy having blank paper up front so I can jot down notes and ideas quickly.

Maybe you’re more concerned with the calendar and having your availability at hand for work, or pleasure. Great, throw that in first.

Get There Quick

I like to use paperclips to help mark the pages I frequent. This way I can get to the pages I use most quickly, so they’re always readily available for work.

I use Kate Spade Expletive Paper Clips. You can view their product information by clicking here to open in a new window, or tab.

Ink It

I like to keep my favorite pen in the pen loop 100% of the time. Having a pen on hand is vital to the success of your planner.

If you’re planner doesn’t have a pen loop, you can purchase adhesive ones online.

My 2016 Planner

I made a video outlining my exact layout, for your viewing pleasure.

It outlines what my preferred layout for 2016 is, and how I plan to use my planner.


Obviously this post is geared towards people that like to have a paper planner, like myself. I’m not ready to transition my personal life into digital format yet. I do, however, keep our work schedule on our iPad.

If you don’t mind being digital, having everything on your phone/Google calendar would be ideal (speaking in minimalist ideals). It takes up no space, doesn’t require paper/pens, and is readily available always.

I do have family that run their lives this way, and they find it to be wonderful!

I’m just not there yet, and enjoy my planner too much. Which is one of the reasons I make it run double duty as my wallet.


The name of the game in terms of minimalist planning is to try to keep your planner as clutter-free as possible. It’s all too temping and easy to shove receipts in there and let them lodge for a month, or more.

I like to go through my planner every time I return home; it’s part of my ritual. Come through the door, de-coat, de-shoe, greet the kitties, grab my planner, clean it out. This is a habit that took several months to form, but it’ll be quite useful in the future (T and I are starting to be more stingy with out budget in order to save up money, and going through receipts daily is becoming a new part of my life).


This is a touchy subject, as many people that keep a planner like to deck it out with stickersandbannersandstampsandclipsandbookmarksandgelpensandwashitape. I, too, used to fall into that category, but found it far too time consuming and distracting.

Instead of taking time to plan, I found myself playing with tape and stickers. Isn’t the point of a planner to help you achieve? To help you manage time and be productive?

Now I decorate by color-coding my entries. I find that the color variation alone is enough to make me happy, and help to jazz up the monotony.

Skip the Extras

In my health tab, I used to have several workouts written out. I never used them, opting for video workouts. Instead of helping me to better myself, they took up valuable space in my planner.

Be realistic about the extra sections that you toss into your planner. If you’re passionate about it and it is something you do every day, you probably don’t need a section for it in your planner. If you are lackluster and not really involved in a hobby, or activity, it probably doesn’t need a section in your planner either.

I like to approach my planner like a school planner. Where I went to High School, we were given free planners on the first day of school. It was great! They contained our bathroom permission logs, and we needed them to leave the classroom, but also had a calendar and a week on two pages, an area for notes…

I focus on scheduling and work, which is all a planner is really meant to do. If you stick to the basics you’ll be more likely to have a clean, clutter-free, productive planner.

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