The To-Don't List: for Your Monthly Planner

Much like how our to-do list is a reminder of what we need to get done daily, a to-don't list is a list of things we do that we'd like to let go of. Our to-don't list allows us to reflect on what we'd like to change and reminds us to make those adjustments. It can include things that don't add value to our day and we wish to stop entirely. It could also be things that do add value that we'd like to ask for help with. 

Even if we aren't making those changes in the moment, we're jotting them down for a later time when we can visit them and make and action plan. Personally, I also like to list items on mine that I want to look into later and might be a distraction at the moment. 

1. Changing or Eliminating To-Don’ts

You can do whatever works for you of course. I designed my own day planner to have a monthly to-don’t list. That way I’m jotting down items that come to mind monthly. As a result, if I haven’t already addressed them during the month, the list will be there as a reminder for next month.

For example. You might find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your social media news feed. You realize it’s the third time that day you’ve done that for ten minutes. That’s a half hour! You write it down in your to-don’t list - “stop mindlessly scrolling of social media. It’s a waste of time.” By the end of the month if you haven’t addressed this yet, make it a goal for next. For instance, check in on your newsfeed once in the evening when you have time, or even less depending on how much you want to reduce your screen time. 

Some other examples might include:

  • Avoid listening to gossip. It isn’t helpful to anyone
  • Don’t say yes to be nice. Unless it genuinely works for me, I end up giving half-arsed help
  • Stop beating around the bush. Because others can’t guess what you want - tell them


2. Getting Help with Your To-Don’ts

On the other hand, you might be doing tasks that are too difficult for you, you simply don’t have time for, or you’re just plain sick of. 

If it’s work/business related you could use your to-don’t list as sort of a wish list of tasks you would delegate to someone if you were able to make a hire or outsource to a freelancer. Not only will it help you to decide or make your case when it’s time, but it will also help you create a better job description, and ensure you have enough work to make it worth the employee or freelancer’s while. 

If it’s not work-related, maybe there are things you can ask your spouse or a family member to take on. Maybe there’s a task or two a friend, or neighbour can help you get off your list if it's not too much of an ask.

Also if you’re a parent, your to-don’t list might help you decide on some chores your children can help with.

Some examples here are:

  • Ask for help with email marketing. It takes me a while since I’m not an expert
  • Ask for help with meal planning. I’d like opinions before not after the meal
  • Ask for help putting away the dishes. It’s not a complex chore, but I’d like some extra time to relax after dinner



While you won’t be able to let go of every task you dread, keeping a to-don’t list will certainly help you reduce some of the things that don’t add value so you can fill that time with things that do.

Why not give it a try? Mine is a simple list I keep in the back of my monthly sections of my journal. That way I know where it is. If you need some help getting started with your monthly journal, I have a printable version available on Etsy.

Thanks for reading!


Monthly Planner : Budgeting Inspiration

What's the cost of a cup of coffee? You might be thinking around two dollars. So every morning on your way to work or school you grab a cup of coffee because "what's two dollars?"

Five days a week for four weeks is $40, and that's if that cup of coffee is only two and you only buy one.

The point of me sharing this article is not to shame you for buying a morning (or second) cup of coffee. It's to help you think about spending with intention. Maybe you want to include $40 a month in your budget for coffee because it's important to you, maybe you had no idea you were spending that much and want to start bringing a travel mug most days.

Whatever works for you. I just know how helpful it is for me personally to include a budget in my monthly planner so I thought I would share some ideas for inspiration. If you've ever asked yourself "where does all my money keep going?" - this one might help you find some answers.

Why include a budget in your monthly planner?

Have you ever asked yourself, "where does all my money keep going?"

This will help with that.

By no means am I an expert in budgeting or finance. My math skills are average at best, my accounting skills basic, and the system I put together in order to track my finances is nothing more than simple addition and subtraction. 

The reason these pages work for me is that they create structure beyond glancing at statements and balances. They give a bit of perspective having everything all in one place. Tracking spending can also be a bit of an eye-opener. 

Below are the pages used in my monthly planner for your use as inspiration for you to create your own. You can also download them in my monthly planner package on Etsy you don't feel like making your own.

1. Monthly bills checklist

These numbers are made up for the example.

I believe a bill checklist is an important tool for anyone to have. A week before the beginning of a new month I gather my bills (mostly emails) and fill mine out. If it's different each month and I don’t have the amount yet I use the average amount and adjust later. I then total the amount of all bills due that month and move the number over to my budget sheet.

Note: this might seem obvious, but it’s helpful to use this list to put due dates in your day planner.

2. Monthly budget 

Note: these numbers are made up for the example.

On my monthly budget sheet, I include how much income I expect to come in as well as how much I expect to pay toward common categories like bills, groceries, entertainment, gas etc.. Sometimes it’s helpful to think ahead here. Do you have any events to attend, gifts to buy, or maintenance to schedule this month? Write down what it is, and how much it will (or you think it will) cost. Once you have all items in there, total all the amounts and that will be your budget for the month.

3. Budget tracker

This is exactly as it sounds. My budget tracker is simple. It includes a column for date, description, and amount. I write down any purchases made that month. At the end of the month, I total the amount to see how much I’ve spent in total. I also categorize my expenses (using the categories in my budget) to see how much I spent in each area. For this layout, using highlighters is helpful for distinguishing the categories when adding the numbers. I found it blended together simply writing the word.


At the end of the month, I compare my budget to my actual spending. I look to see how I did overall as well as in each category. While your numbers might be way off the first month you try, I found by tracking how much I was spending each month, I was able to set a baseline. This helped me set better and more realistic budgets for myself later. Personally, I find tracking helpful in itself as you’re holding yourself accountable. Since everyone is different, it’s a matter of finding what you’re comfortable with.

If you'd like to check out my monthly planner on Etsy - here's the link to my store - Autumn Smith Creative

If you enjoyed this post you might also like my post on goal tracking using your monthly planner.


How to: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

A while ago I posted some homemade bath bombs to social media. Since then I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial on how I made them so I thought I would put something together using my favourite example, Rose Oatmeal. This is a great DIY project for beginners!

Much like other DIY projects, the end result is that you’ll have bombs that are much less expensive than purchasing the finished product. This recipe doesn’t make too many, but I prefer making mine in smaller batches. Smaller batches allow you to make a few different scents if you’re making many to give away as gifts. Also if you are experimenting or just learning, it’s less wasteful if things don’t go exactly as planned.

I’ll jump right in, beginning with what you need, and go through the steps one at a time!

1. Gather all your tools and ingredients

You are going to need:


  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup food grade citric acid
  • 1/4 cup epsom salt (I’ve also used sea salt as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Oatmeal flakes (optional)
  • Rose pedals (optional)


  • Bath bomb molds*
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk

* I’ve read that a meat baller works in place of bath bomb molds, but haven’t tried it myself

2. Mix together dry ingredients

Using the whisk, mix salt, baking soda, and citric acid in the medium sized bowl.

3. Melt and add coconut oil

You can melt your coconut oil (carefully) by placing it in a small bowl and setting it on top of a cup of hot water, stirring it until melted.

Once melted, add it to the dry mixture and stir until it starts to look like wet sand - or snow just because I’m Canadian.

4. Add essential oils

I added 30 drops of essential oils here. For this batch, I used tea tree oil, but there are no rules of course! Pick your favourite, or a combo of favourites, and add them in. You can also go without if you prefer scentless.

Once you have your oils in there, mix your creation some more until it’s well blended.

5. Decorate (optional)

Use a hand blender to grind up a handful of oatmeal flakes and rose pedals. Then put them in one half of your mould. Avoid creating a pile because the mixture needs something to stick to. Just make a small layer at the bottom.

6. Put them in the mould

Pack the moulds as tightly as possible and squish them together. Wait 3 minutes before removing. Don’t worry, you don’t need to stand there and hold them the whole time. I wrap mine with rubber bands so that I could walk away and do something else.

7. Unmould

Carefully take you new bath bombs from the moulds and place them on a soft towel to dry, but out of reach of children, pets, and curious spouses. Try to avoid moving them around and let them dry for 24 hours so that they have a lot of time to dry.

Note: after one hour, my boyfriend casually grabbed one on his way through the kitchen because he wanted to see how they turned out. My thinking is he may have given it a slight squeeze because he exclaimed something across the house about how solid they were. It lived and I laughed, but be sure to communicate with others not to touch :) 


Hope you enjoyed my tutorial - and your own DIY bath bombs!

Daily To-do List: for Your Monthly Planner

How many times have you picked up a new notebook, day planner, or even an app with the intention of getting things better organized? You get it all set up, only to stick with it for a couple of weeks and forget about it. I think of it kind of like the first day of school. We tell ourselves, this year I’m going to be on top of my assignments, and take tidy notes. However, a month in and that plan goes out the window.

I’ve done it many times. In my late teens and early twenties I was particularly bad for buying a day planner and forgetting about it for a few weeks at a time. During my time away from my planner I was basically flying by the seat of my pants. Mistakes were made. Tasks fell between the cracks or snuck up on me last minute. I still performed well at work, and on college assignments, but inside it felt like chaos.

I simply wasn’t taking the time to plan my days properly and I was paying for it.

Things got better when I started creating my own journals. I found the layouts I created were less limiting than the day planners that were available to me. 

I also changed the way I planned my day. Certainly, I’m still not perfect, nor do I strive to be, but I think this method is what has kept me planning consistently for the past few years.

1. First things first

The method means nothing if you don’t dedicate a little bit of time each morning or evening to planning. I’m not talking a half hour. I’m talking ten to fifteen minutes tops. Take a look at your journal in the evening, reflect on our day, and plan the next. Alternatively, this is done in the (early) morning, reflecting on yesterday, and an action plan is made for the same day.

2. Create lists to pull your daily to-dos from

When you’re first starting out, this will take a bit more time, but it will be worth it. Start by creating a backlog of items you need to do. I typically give it a time-frame of one month so that it isn’t just one continuous blob of text. You might also want to create a “later” list of things to explore later that aren’t a priority now. A “to-don’t” list is another one I recommend if you’re feeling ambitious. It’s simply a list of tasks that you would like to phase out or explore doing differently. It can also become an inspiration when goal setting.

3. Find a daily/weekly spread that works for you

Some folks like the pre-made day planners that offer time blocking / appointment slots, others like plenty of blank space. Be as creative or not as you want. It’s all about preference. If creating your own from a notebook or binder, I recommend completing the layout for at least the month in advance, if not the entire year. That way you can plan ahead a little. Also, you might lose some gusto when it comes to the end of the week and you haven’t yet drawn the next (been there). Mine is simply the days of the week and a notes section with space to write underneath.

4. Start planning

Here’s some tips and tricks:

  • Put appointments under the proper date as soon as you can - write it elsewhere or text it to yourself if you don’t have your planner on you
  • Pull daily items from your mind of course, but also refer to your notes and backlog 
  • Pick five to seven priorities for the day - if you don’t have that many or want to focus on less that’s okay too! 
  • Also, pick one or two activities that will get you active, or that you find relaxing and put them in as well

5. Task management

  • Avoid simply putting the project name such as “build fence” or “PowerPoint presentation” - break it into tasks like “pick up supplies for the fence” or “write presentation copy”
  • You might also want to avoid including tasks that are too small or simple like “email Jeannie,” unless emailing Jeannie is a task that’s going to take a considerable amount of time you may want to simply jot it down in your planner as a reminder
  • Carry incomplete items to the next day. Alternatively, you can move them to the next week or cancel them completely.
  • Don't include items that you do every day. Writing things like “do the dishes” or “make dinner” daily will result in boredom

But what about weekly?

I have tried to plan my week out in advance before, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. It honestly made for a messy bullet journal as I had to keep moving this around. It also came with undue pressure - I’m not done this yet or I can’t do that yet.

If I have an appointment or due date, I write that out in advance under the date absolutely. If I have something I want to get done that week, but I’m not sure which day yet, I add it to the notes section in my weekly spread.


Also, I thought I would add. When you finish your tasks (work, projects around the house, chores, homework etc.), don’t keep adding onto the list and burn yourself out. The idea is to remind yourself to keep a proper work-life balance. Enjoy yourself. Get active. Relax. 


I know I’m more productive and motivated when I have an action plan each day and I’m hoping you will too.

If you’d like a head start on your planner layouts, I have a printable version available in my Etsy Store.

Happy planning!