80% of the stuff you keep in your home is rarely or never used (NAPO*).
Read that again: 80% of the stuff you keep in your home is rarely or never used!
If you are aspiring to live a life free from clutter (as many of us are), that statistic is pretty shocking. 80%. That is huge. Imagine the space that would remain if you removed 80% of the stuff from your home. However, there are many things we keep for decoration and because we love them - not only because we use them. But even if we said that 30% of the stuff we never use exists for decoration (artworks/ plants/ throw cushions etc), that would still leave us with 50% of the things we are holding onto that remain rarely or never used. I'm going to get a bit controversial here and say - I bet that same figure might apply to the pages in your paper planner.
Now I've always loved a paper planner. There is something about the tactile nature and the ability to see it all laid out before me that has kept me buying them year after year. I tried, but never successfully made the transition to planning via my phone or laptop- I think I'll be a pen and paper girl til the day I die. But one thing was starting to become very obvious with my planner usage over the years - I never used ALL of it.
I would choose my yearly planner, often based on a gorgeous cover decoration, the size, the layout of the weekly or daily spread and then merrily step into the year feeling buoyant and ready to work my new planner to its fullest potential. However, by about March I would start noticing the spare pages - lots of them. Gulp. I would fill up the daily and weekly pages but not the monthly overview. I would skip past the pages set aside for budgeting, for gratitude journaling, for goal-setting and mindfulness or self-care activity tracking. And I would never use the notes pages - not because I didn't write notes, simply because I would always carry a separate note book. This was because the space allocated for notes and free writing in regular planner pages was always so minuscule. I'd never be able to fit everything I wanted to write in the cramped space provided so I just opted out and carried a separate notebook.
By the end of the year I would shamefully slide another bulky hardcover planner into the archive shelves with at least 50% of the pages abandoned or untouched. What a waste: of money, of resources, of potential. But that all changed when I discovered disc bound planners.
I want to share with you the 5 top reasons why a disc-bound planner has become the perfect comrade in my clutter-free life:
1: I can buy ALL the sections I need and NONE of the ones I don't!
At first glance, buying a deconstructed disc-bound planner seems intimidating; "What? You mean I have to put it together myself?" But before the idea of creating your own planner overwhelms you: pause, breathe and read on. Once you understand what basic elements are required, you then get to customize it to be EXACTLY the planner you've always dreamed of. You need the discs which act as the spine to hold it all together, a sturdy front and back cover to keep it contained and protect your pages and finally the paper inserts. Of course there are extra options to increase the functionality (think tabbed dividers) or increase the aesthetics (think pretty card-stock) but these are 100% optional.
The number 1 reason a disc bound planner supports my clutter-free life is that I can just choose to purchase only the inserts that work for me and the way I like to plan. Skip the budgeting pages and the monthly spread - just give me the weekly and daily planning pages with loads of checkboxes. Since I've owned a disc bound planner and bought exclusively the inserts I know I will use (as supported by the evidence in my archived planners), I fill 100% of my planner. There is no end-of-year guilt at the wasted pages anymore. If you want bio-hacking planner pages, you can add them. If you want menu planning pages, you can add them. And if you don't- you can choose to leave them on the shelf and save your guilt and your money.
2: I no longer need to buy a separate notebook!
Previously, I would cart two bulky compendiums around with me - my planner and my notebook. Whether working from the cafe or heading to a client session, I had to take my jumbo tote to fit in both of the volumes that contained my schedule and my notes. Cue Cupid's arrow and the Barry White music because these two separate entities can finally be united as one. The 'one' being a disc-bound planner with the option to purchase blank note pages, which can click straight in between the daily or weekly pages, be scattered at the end of each month or set altogether in their own section. Wherever you want note pages you can have them, and as many as your heart desires. Swoon.
Additional bulky notebook: be gone. Oversized luggage (to cart said additional notebook): you can depart too. Now I have just one item to carry - my planner/notebook hybrid system and it's perfection in an uncluttered life.
3: I can discard the pages I finish with, as I go!
I love a planner with meal planning pages. One that lets me plot the meals for the week ahead, design a special-occasion menu and then discern my shopping list based on that. But once the week has ended or the event adjourned, a regular planner requires you to retain those used pages for the rest of the year. The same goes for budget pages, gratitude entries and notes jotted. In a regular planner every single page will linger with you for the duration of the year whether you will ever refer to it again or not. Carrying around 52 weeks of meal plans is some weighty paper clutter that I could sure do without.
A disc bound planner allows you to effortlessly remove pages with no tugging or tearing. You can remove anything you are no longer using and file for later reference or send them straight to the recycling. Either way, carrying around your history and thumbing through countless spent pages need never bother you again.
4: The core elements are reusable!
Once you have purchased the discs that act as the spine of your planner- they are yours for life. You will never need to purchase another set again. The same goes for your covers and tabbed dividers should you have them. You can buy the core elements of your planner once and then just change out the inserts, year after year. This will save you money, time and the planet's precious resources.
With your standard all-in-one bulky planner, you have to find a spot to store it at the end of the year, complete with the chunky cover and all the pages, even those not required for reference or tax purposes. With a disc bound planner you can simply remove the essential pages and file or scan them and reuse the remainder of core elements. Just imagine the space saving potential year on year.
Obviously, should you be someone who gets bored easily or likes to change your accessories based on season or mood, you can do this without having to purchase a new planner in its entirety. You might consider freshening up your planner cover to a floral one for the start of spring perhaps or adding some bright graphic dividers at new year. With a disc bound system you can simply update only the element you wish to replace. Preventing the purchase of a complete duplicate planner, you will keep both your bank account and the planet happy.
5: You can put it ALL in!
Anyone else ever find themselves scrambling to find that birthday party invite, the business card from a colleague or the menu for the local Thai restaurant?
One of the most fabulous things about a disc bound planner is the ability for it to hold pretty much anything you want. You can buy pockets to attach to the cover which will hold small notes or business cards or buy a disc punch to put the grooves into anything from utility bills to your kids artwork to click with ease into your planner. Don't want to clutter your fridge with that wedding invite? Punch it and add it to the weekly spread in your planner on the date the wedding occurs. Want to avoid the grocery store coupons from floating in your handbag? Punch them and slide them in with your weekly meal-planing and shopping list pages to grab on your way to the store.
The ability for me to keep ALL of the things that I refer to in one compact system without requiring an additional ring binder full of annoying plastic pockets or having a fridge plastered with paper is a time saver and a clutter-buster.
For these 5 BIG reasons and a bunch of little ones too, I have found the perfect match for my clutter-free life in a disc-bound planner. Remember that statistic at the top of this article- 80% of items rarely or never used? Don't let your planner or portions of your planner become part of that statistic. Stop purchasing products which you wont entirely use and start making your planner work for you and your dream of living clutter-free.
I choose to purchase my disc-bound planner system from Jane's Agenda. Their products are superb quality and reasonably priced and Jane is a seriously lovely person who's business I am thrilled to support. If you're still feeling a little intimidated at the idea of building a planner yourself, Jane and co have provided step by step advice on how to do it which you can access here.