First things first:  snack of the day.


Brown rice cakes and hummus.  Oh man.  So good.


So while I’m munching on that, I thought it was definitely time to give you all an update on my Put Down the Phone Challenge.  Back in August, I wrote about my desire to check my phone less often and included some tips on how I’d actually make that a reality.


Well, I can’t say that I’m ready to downgrade to a ‘dumb phone,’ but my efforts have made a big difference.  At first, I removed major social media apps from my phone (namely Twitter and Facebook), but over time, I reinstalled Facebook because I use it throughout the week to make meet-up plans with friends. I kept Twitter off and didn’t reinstall my list of favorite websites.  Those actions alone greatly reduced my screen time.


Changing my password every now and then also made a big difference. I theorized that a new password would make me think “Do I REALLY need to check my phone?” and it definitely worked. 


Another key was wearing a watch.  I’ve read some estimates that out of the 150 times a day the average person checks their smartphone (!!!), about 15 of those instances is to know the time… and then we fall into a wormhole of Facebook and emails.


I’ve gotten pretty consistent about watch-wearing!


I also got a clock for beside my bed – I was checking my phone in the middle of the night for the time.  At a minimum, the harsh light of the screen would wake me up further; worst case, I’d see a text from someone and start chatting!  Now I have one of those ‘old school’ alarms with red digital numbers – it’s much less startling to wake up and check the time on that.


But probably the thing that made the biggest difference was just acknowledging that I had fallen into a bad habit and wanted to change things. 


I don’t want to be constantly attached to my phone.  There are some times that I really like browsing it, but I don’t want to be picking it up just because I’m just bored, ya know?  Making little tweaks to my behavior – like leaving the phone upstairs through most of the day – really helped me interrupt my habits and change my actions for the better.


On a related note… this year, I also switched to a paper planner!


I got an Erin Condren Life Planner and switched over from my Google Calendar system to a paper-based system.  And I have to say – I love it!   There were some hiccups as I adjusted – I missed a few calls and appointments – but after a few weeks, I figured out a new way of planning my life.


I really, really love the Erin Condren planner, mostly because of the cute and durable cover.  It’s so nice to have family pictures on the front.  I still love many of the aspects of the planner’s format (here’s a complete breakdown of the planner), although I don’t really utilize all the sections as I thought I would.  I mostly rely on the overall calendar and the weekly calendars to plan my days. 


And I went back to just making To Do lists on scraps of paper instead of in my calendar because it got too messy and complicated to put everything in there.  I could probably force myself to write neater (my friend Brandi has the same planner and she is so neat in hers!), but scraps of paper work well for me on the day-to-day thing.


The planner is also SUPER durable.  It has held up really well over the year.  I mostly keep it on my desk, but I do toss it in my purse or suitcase and there are zero tears.


I still use Google Calendar to keep addresses and travel info (so I can easily access it on my phone when out and about), and I use Google Drive to manage my editorial calendars for the blogs and my freelance jobs, but otherwise – it’s paper all the way!


I am thinking about ordering my 2015 planner because I’m starting to have appointments and plans for January (I can hardly believe it).  But I’m not 100% sold on getting another Erin Condren planner – I love it, but like I said, I don’t utilize all its options and maybe there is a better fit for me out there.  Any planner suggestions?


Are you a electronic calendar or a paper calendar kind of person?



  • Melissa @ Mango About Town October 13, 2014, 12:12 pm

    I’ve been thinking about getting a nicer paper planner for 2015 and I found the Emily Ley Simplified Planner. They’re basically perfect for me but the shipping to Canada is outrageous. I’m seriously considering if I can get over the shipping costs haha.

  • ellen October 13, 2014, 12:12 pm

    I dont think I am obsessed with screens as some people are…one I dont have an I phone…I do have a “smart phone” but its pretty lame so that helps. I realized though any screen time around my kid is bad….We have an I pad and he is obsessed….anytime he sees it he wants to watch netflix…it has finaly gotten to the point where I have to hide the ipad from him and give myself a designated time during the day to check things i.e. after he is bed. Since we didnt grow up with these technologies I didnt realize how much it will influence our kids. So I guess just be being around him i have to be really conscious of my own use.
    I love schedulers…i used to use them all the time….When I was in the peacecorps I kept a journal but some of the day to day stuff got forgotten, but I would make tons of notes in my scheduler…things I have compeltly forgotten about…so its really nice to go back and look at what i was doing on those days!

  • Katie October 13, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I prefer calendars where the day is laid out vertically vs. the typical rectangles. I’ve used Gallery leather in the past, no frills, beautiful leather that holds up. But am thinking about going with the Emily Ley for next year just to change it up.

  • glenneth October 13, 2014, 12:35 pm

    check out the circa planner from levenger. love the simplicity and design but also that you can add pages and move things around.

  • Priyanka October 13, 2014, 12:40 pm

    I love planners and love having space to write. I think Erin Condren is a great planner but as I said I need more space so I went for the Emily Ley planner. She has a daily version (which has a monthly page but no weekly) and a weekly version. I would highly recommend checking that one out. The Day Designer by Whitney English is also quite similar. And finally, Sarah over at SHU box recommends the hobonichi techo planner (I heart this one), it has a monthly, weekly and daily version! As you can see, I am quite planner obsessed!

  • Priscilla October 13, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Just curious, was Instagram included in your challenge? It would probably be the hardest social media app. for me to ‘quit’.

  • Linda October 13, 2014, 12:42 pm

    I have a plum paper planner and really like it. I ordered from their etsy shop. Plum Paper

  • Emma October 13, 2014, 12:57 pm
  • Samantha D October 13, 2014, 12:58 pm

    I got an Erin Condren planner after a bit of shopping around… what sold me was my impatience, and the fact that I didn’t have to wait until 2015 in order to use it, I just paid $5 more to get additional months put in. It is definitely pricey and I’m sure there are other planners with a similar look and feel that are much cheaper. I love mine so far though. It helps me keep track of everything, especially my budget. Having a paper planner on my desk and checking it every day helps me to really check in with the different things I’m doing and it holds me accountable. I don’t know why I feel like I can skip a workout class if it’s on my google calendar but not if it’s written down on a paper planner but that’s what tends to happen for me.

  • Chase October 13, 2014, 12:58 pm

    I’m definitely a paper calendar person! I had more messups with an electronic calendar than I do with my paper calendar! I tried it once back when I first got a smartphone in 2008, but it did NOT work for me. I went back to paper quickly! I upgraded and got an Emily Ley ( Simplified Planner for 2015 and I’m very excited about getting to use it!

  • Kristen October 13, 2014, 1:03 pm

    i love the paper planners, i was never very good with online calendars anyway. i definitely want to be less tied to my phone, sometimes i leave it at home when we go out or something just to be away from it for a while. i need to start wearing a watch!

  • Alycia October 13, 2014, 1:07 pm

    Blue Sky planners are great if you only need monthly/weekly/daily slots. The daily slots are nice and big so you can put multiple events/addresses to events. I have been using these planners to keep my client schedule organized for 3 years and love them! They are not customizeable but they come in fun colors and prints. They used to be sold at target but this year I got mine online from their web site.

  • Kate October 13, 2014, 1:08 pm

    We have the Erin condren desk calendar, and I love it! We write our grocery list, to do list, and meal plan for the week on it. It is great to ensure that my husband knows what’s going on.

  • Kelly E. October 13, 2014, 1:12 pm

    For the past 5-6 years I’ve simply used the $1 planner you find in the $1 bins at Target! They are a simple layout with enough room to write appointments and are laid out by day. It’s lightweight and small and doesn’t weigh down a bag of traveling. I mean, I shred planners at the end of the year and move on, so spending $60 on something fancy just isn’t for me. I would rather put that towards something long lasting. I know Michael’s also has them, but they seem to have bigger writing or something. I like the Target ones. I haven’t seen them out yet at my store, but am hoping they return after all the Halloween stuff is gone.

  • Margaret Record October 13, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I converted to a planner this summer and I love it.
    I use a ‘Mead Cambridge’ from Target under $15. Additionally I started keeping track of my daily spending and that was an eye opener for sure.

  • Courtney October 13, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I’m obsessed with my Lilly Pulitzer planner! The fun colors make me want to write stuff down and the layout is perfect for both writing out daily tasks and for scheduling events for the month!

  • Maryea {happy healthy mama} October 13, 2014, 1:43 pm

    I’m in the same boat as you. I currently use an Erin Condren but am considering something else for the next year. I am not loving the day, afternoon, evening, way that the days are broken up. I’ll probably try something different, although I love the customizable covers!

  • Abby C. October 13, 2014, 1:52 pm

    You should try out Plum Paper ( Their family calendars are amazing and you can have seven columns on the side for each week, i.e. You, the Husband, Henry, Baby, Blog, Freelance, Workout, or whatever works for you. Great durability as well.

  • Jamie October 13, 2014, 1:54 pm

    I have an Erin Condren planner and while I love it for all the reasons you listed above I made the switch for 2015 to Plum Paper Designs because the Family planner has 7 customizable rows so I can keep my thoughts and to-dos organized by subject matter (Me, Husband, Toddler, Work, Workouts, Food, Misc.). You can add extra notes pages ot each month, to-do charts, stickers, etc. It is all very customizable. Also, PPD planners are considerably cheaper than EC planners pre all the a la carte options. Check out the shop!

  • Erica October 13, 2014, 1:54 pm

    I loooove the Time Master calendar by Payne Publishers. They come in different sizes and the layout is perfect. It’s not quite as cute as yours with the family pics but I’ve used them for years and love them.

  • Amanda October 13, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I’ve used this weekly planner from gallery leather for at least 5 years now. I get a new one every Christmas! I like it because I take a big tote bag to work and it’s super easy to toss in and the leather makes in durable.

  • Mikella October 13, 2014, 2:13 pm

    Filofax! I literally love my filofax. It’s definitely investment. You could spend anywhere from $30-$150 when you first buy the actual book, but the great thing is that you only buy the pages that you want. So when you first buy the book it will come with lots of inserts, but you can decide which ones to keep and then take out the ones you don’t keep. Then when you buy the refills for the next year (which are very cheap- $12ish?) you can buy just what you want or need.

    Also, there are tons of youtube tutorials of people showing the ways that they use different features. I haven’t really watched them, but I do know that people have creative ideas for the various inserts.

    I bought the Finsbury Raspberry (;328) in the personal size, but I kind of regret it. If I had it to do over, I’d get a larger size like the A5 and I’d get it in a more professional color.

  • Breanna October 13, 2014, 2:50 pm

    I just made the switch to the Emily Ley Simplified Planner from Erin Condren. So far I am liking it, and SUPER excited for January to get here so I can make the official switch. The only downfall is the price, ouch! But well worth it for an avid paper planner user.

  • Carrie (This Fit Chick) October 13, 2014, 3:02 pm

    I’m 100% a paper schedule kind of gal.. I always use a planner and refuse to use any app! I need to write it down or else I feel cluttered!

  • Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change October 13, 2014, 3:14 pm

    I’ve heard great things about Emily Ley or Whitney English, but personally couldn’t do the price at that time. I ended up ordering a Kate Spade 2015 planner from Lifeguard Press – and LOVE it. I had an Erin Condren, and found the layout didn’t work as great for me. I love just having it open! Someday, I’ll find a perfect fit — or maybe just design it myself!

    • kate October 13, 2014, 6:19 pm

      Thanks for mentioning the kate spade planner! I almost bought the one from Whitney English but it was $73 with shipping. I think I’m going to compromise with the KS one.

  • Alex @ True Femme October 13, 2014, 3:20 pm

    I’ve been using an EC Life Planner since March (I think?) of this year and I really like it. However, it was my first one and similar to you, I don’t use all the sections as suggested. I think I may try and customize it a little bit more but overall I like it! For me it’s just taken some time to figure out how to “style” the things I have to do (list, checklist, appointment times, etc.)

  • Aine @ Awkward Irish Girl Blogs October 13, 2014, 3:23 pm

    I’ve definitely been slacking with my paper planner but I much prefer it! It feels like my to-do lists are more concrete when I see them written in pen 😉

  • Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate October 13, 2014, 3:34 pm

    I just bought those brown rice cakes from TJ’s yesterday! I love them with almond butter and chocolate chips but I bet hummus would be awesome too! And I’ve always wanted an Erin Condren Life Planner-they are so cute!

  • lisa valinsky October 13, 2014, 5:10 pm

    I use a paper planner and Google Calendar, but I really only use Google’s for work, so my meetings sync with my coworkers. Otherwise, I’m all about writing things down.

    My current planner is from Plum Paper Designs on Etsy: It’s a little pricey, and a little bigger than what I probably need, but it’s pretty good so far.

  • Traci October 13, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Excellent snack idea! I have to try rice cakes with hummus. As far as the planner discussion, I plan on reading everyone’s comments because I am 100% a paper planner person and always looking for the best kind.

  • Sara October 13, 2014, 5:41 pm

    I just gave up on trying to use electronic planners and went back to paper. I got a Planner Pad a few months ago and so far I love it! The website is pretty old school but the planner itself is great.

  • Lindsey @ SimplyLindsey October 13, 2014, 6:31 pm

    I’ve been debating about getting a paper calendar again ever since I saw the Emily Ley Simplified Planner. They are super cute and very functional (the layout is incredible). The only reason I haven’t ordered it yet is because I’m not sure how much I’d stick to using it after I’ve been using google calendar for a few years (my husband and I easily share events this way too). Maybe I’ll give it a shot in the new year!

  • Caroline October 13, 2014, 7:48 pm

    Filofax!! So fun and so many options. I have the personal size Malden in ochre. Highly recommended.

  • jacquelynn October 13, 2014, 9:19 pm

    I love my erin condren planner! I also started munching on the rice cakes lately (the buttery carmel), but the plain ones with hummus sound good!

  • Jen October 13, 2014, 9:29 pm

    I have an Emily Ley planner for 2014 (daily) and for 2015 ordered her weekly one. I’m still contemplating a circa from levenger for my to-do/notes since you can add pages …. Maybe just a notebook? Or switch totally to circa? Would 2 be crazy?! 😉 HA!

  • Cheryl October 13, 2014, 10:11 pm

    Hi Caitlin! Since you’re a super list maker (like me), you might find bullet journaling helpful. ( I’ve started using it in addition to my paper planner and it’s great at helping organize my thoughts and lists for different projects. Since you can create an index, you have all your lists available so you can refer back to them. This is especially helpful for ongoing projects. Thought you might be interested! 🙂

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed October 13, 2014, 11:41 pm

    I love my outlook calendar at work, but I don’t really use google calendar or my phone at all for that. Maybe a paper planner is for me? I love writing to do lists and if I’m packing for anything, you better bet I have an extremely thorough hand written list haha.

  • Christina October 14, 2014, 12:23 am

    Paper all the way! I’m a tutor and I need to be able to see all of my upcoming appointments at a glance, esp when I’m scheduling with my students. I’ve tried a few times to use an electronic calendar, but have never found one that lets me see a whole month at once, and be able to read the entries.

  • Annie October 14, 2014, 5:19 am

    Hi Caitlin!
    Long time reader. I LOVE my Erin Condren planner. I am on year four, I believe. I use it for my running log, daily appointments and dinners.
    I have used your “less screen time” tricks as well. The watch is ideal.
    Have a great day and keep the positive/happy blog going, I love it!

    • Caitlin October 14, 2014, 9:57 am

      Thanks for reading 🙂 🙂

  • Mallory October 14, 2014, 10:01 am

    I love those Brown Rice Cakes 🙂 Also, I have been using the At-A-Glance planner. It’s a monthly calendar, with weekly planning. Lots of space to write out daily schedules, but it doesn’t have lots of extra “features,” which I tend to not use anyways. No frills, but very nice organization. Good luck 🙂

  • lia October 14, 2014, 10:40 am

    try the planners from (although I checked today, they are a bit late this year). They converted me from computer to paper and I am really a fan.

  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork October 14, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Though I’m all about the electronic calendar (less stuff to worry about makes me happier), I am huge on reducing my screen time as much as possible. Our phones never come in the bedroom and it’s in my purse most of the time, both at home and at work. I find if I open Twitter or Instagram (because I “should” as a blogger), I get sucked into what seems like at the end of the day a big time waster. I do love connecting with people, especially via Insta, but what’s it worth?
    Good for you for reducing your screen time and finding a way that works for you! You and your family will definitely benefit from it!

  • Lauren @ October 14, 2014, 4:01 pm

    I use Whitney English’s Day Designer – found on Etsy. I love this thing. It goes everywhere with me. In the beggining of the book, there are several life goal worksheets which is awesome to help establish your (relationship, career, spirtual) goals for the forthcoming year. I highly recommend. Plus they are ridiculousy cute.

    Xo, Lauren

  • Tricia October 14, 2014, 9:02 pm

    I get a $10 planner from target every school year that works just great. It looks very similar to yours in terms of features. I’ve never had any issues with covers ripping. Yours is prettier/more fun though.

  • Inez @ Pancake Saturday October 15, 2014, 9:30 am

    I’ve been using the Erin Condren Life Planner this year as well. I have the same photo cover as you and love seeing my pictures, but I think next year I’ll be switching to the Emily Ley Simplified Planner (it seems a lot of people in the comments are!). One thing I’ve missed this year is having a page per day. I really like to write 🙂

  • Alina October 15, 2014, 10:54 pm

    I’m a paper planner girl (almost) all the way- I use my iPhone for reminders, but my paper planner for work, social activities, and all my school assignments and couldn’t imagine going fully digital. Last year I had a Moleskine and really liked it, but this year I opted for something a little bit cheaper and ended up getting a Peter Pauper one, which I really like! It’s slim so I can fit it into my purse, but still looks cute and has a little pocket on the back for slips of paper! It’s pretty simple inside, but broken down just the way I like it (2 pages for a full week, and 2 pages for a full month at the beginning of every month).

  • alicia October 16, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Calendar suggestion: is a great site. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve heard of it as we seem to have similar taste. check it out. she has a calendar out. she is hysterical so I am sure it will be great.

  • Alicia October 16, 2014, 7:11 pm

    I purchased a customizable planner on etsy– I want to say the shop is called Plum Paper? It is VERY similar to the Erin Condren planner except waaaaaay more affordable.

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