26 February 2016

Free For All Friday No 380 by Laurie

Recently I tried (again) to switch from my massive Filofax to a slim and portable bound-book planner. This was precipitated by two things: a crazy-planner moment at the dentist when I hauled out my A5 Filofax with 30 mm rings to schedule an appointment; and my husband asking me why I feel like I "need to plan so much."

I explained to him that he has admin people at work who take care of all the little details for him so he is free to think of the big picture. I do the same at home. I asked him when our daughter has rehearsals for her upcoming play, when everyone is next due for dentist and doctor appointments, when the dog is due for vaccines, which day the trash bin goes out and which day is recycling. Of course he doesn't know any of that, because I take care of those details. Which I don't mind doing at all, but don't diss my system!

In my binder I have personal and work stuff. Last year I used a separate book for work. But I work from home, and it's more convenient 1) to have one book to reach for throughout the day and 2) to have work stuff with me so I can work on it while I'm waiting for my daughter at her play rehearsals, for example. So I do have a lot in my binder.

But I got to thinking, maybe I could consolidate. In my Filofax I have two sets of monthly pages, for personal and work, in addition to weekly pages. I could put all that info into a weeks-only spiral bound planner. I could put all my notes in my notebook instead of in tabbed sections. This could work!

The spiral-bound weekly planner lasted two days. I have to admit, it was very nice to have my planner in my bag with me all the time. (Usually I only bring my big Filofax with me if I know I will definitely need it). But there were some major things bothering me about the limitations of the bound book.

I like to plan the school year in one book, and through the summer. Usually bound books are either school-year only, which means the summer is cut short, or 17-18 months which is hard to find in a format and size I like. What would I do about that? In my Filofax I rotate weekly pages so I always have a full 12 months ahead.

Also, in my binder my personal monthly pages are not printed back to back so I can insert pages between the months. This is where I keep month-specific info like birthday party planning, travel plans, recurring monthly events (on blue pages) and recurring expenses (on yellow pages). I explained my system in this post if you want to have a look. What I'm doing now is very similar, just upgraded to A5 size.

And another thing: with my binder I can print my own pages and switch formats as much as I want, and still be able to archive all my pages together. In my archive binder from last year I have about 12 different weekly formats, because I printed and used whatever format worked best for me at that time. Yet I'm still able to archive them all together instead of having my year scattered among several bound planners.

So I quickly went back to my Filofax and felt so much better. Yes I could manage with a bound planner, and yes the portability would be nice. But for forward planning and recurring events, I need my Filofax. When I use it, I feel like I'm ready for anything.

Why do you use a ring binder, as opposed to a bound-book planner?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to ask and/ or discuss anything ring-binder related!


  1. I use a ring binder for the flexibility to make adjustments as to what's in it. Simple as that.....

    I also use a nice Design-Y bound journal to record notes.

  2. I use a ring binder because I can add and remove pages as needed/desired. No carrying around dead weight. I also use a ring binder because if I screw up one page, I won't feel as if I've ruined an entire book.

  3. Have you gone back to a filofax then Laurie? I thought you'd been bitten by the Traveller's Notebook bug?

    1. Yes I've been back in my A5 Filofax since August.

  4. I use the lined paper of bound notebooks for designing my week insert. Then I place the sheets in my pocket binder. I could draw my layout on the pages in a bound book. The bound calendars from events that people use are small and streamlined. They combine paper and technology. I rely on the insert in my binder because I created the format and continue to carry a binder. I have not viewed the more comprehensive online calendars in some time. They probably have improved functionality. I adhere to a certain way even if another method could be more efficient.

  5. I use rings for all the flexibility they offer. I am thrilled to be in a standard size right now because I can keep notes and project files in a cheap binder on my desk at work and swap them into my planner binder to go to a meeting and back to the cheap file binder for storage. I can keep my planner rolling; every six months or so I swap obsolete pages and insert coming months pages. I chuck everything chronologically into a storage binder annually so I have a straight-forward archive. I can't really imagine trying to do this in a bound book. I can sort and re-sort as needed, and quickly put my hands on anything I need.

  6. Ring binder all the way, whatever the size may be. The ability to swap out pages is just too convenient. Bound books are great for notes.

  7. So I'm not the only one who gets accused of being 'archaic' for sticking to a developed paper system by the same people who always defer to me for organisational de tails because they know I'll have them easily to hand......