Sunday, June 8, 2014

Help! I want a Planner - Where Do I Start?

So you think you want a paper planner and not sure where to start?
Maybe you've watched a few videos or maybe you have joined a few planner groups and are feeling more confused than ever about where to start.  Unless you have an unlimited income (in that case, I take PayPal Donations) the best advice I can give you is to sit down with some scratch paper and scribble out some notes (kind of a brain storm session) of what you want and need to have in your planner.  List your Need to Have in one column and Want to Have in another column.

Now that you have your list made out you can start considering what type of system you might want.  I will give you a little bit of information on both spiral bound and ring bound planners - but keep in mind that there are other systems out there as well.

Spiral Bound Planners -some are just no more than a calendar and some are much more involved and can include multiple sections.  You cannot move sections around in a spiral bound planner unless you are very brave and willing to take the chance on ruining pages.  You can permanently remove pages by tearing them out.  Spiral planners come in a variety of sizes, from very small to full size 8.5" x 11".  Some planner brands (Franklin Covey, Daytimer, etc.) offer covers for spiral bound planners.  These covers come in a variety of materials from leather to fabric and a range of price levels.

Ring Bound Planners offer you the ability to easily customize by moving sections around, removing sections and adding in your own custom sections.  You can buy inserts pre-printed, you can purchase insert templates and print your own or you can design and print your own inserts.  Ring Bound Planners come in a variety of sizes ranging from very small to full size 8.5" x 11".  Ring Bound Planners also come in a variety of materials from Leather to Fabric and everything in between.  Prices of Ring Bound Planners vary greatly - you can pick up a used planner at second hand stores, Ebay or from Buy/Sell Facebook Groups.  Some brands retain their value and can even increase their value - all based upon supply and demand.  A used binder is only worth as much money as the buyer is willing to pay.  New binders can be as inexpensive as $15.00 or can be as expensive as several hundred dollars.
Some new binders will come with inserts and some will not - make sure you are aware of what you will get when you commit to purchase.

My advice is this - once you have made your list, you also need to determine if you want to keep your binder at home or bring it with you everywhere you go.  If you are bringing it with you, how large of a planner do you want to carry?  When I started out I thought I needed to have everything in my planner so I was using a Classic Size (8.5" tall by 5.5" wide pages) Franklin Covey and I wanted to have it with me at all times.  My initial investment for my planner was probably only a few dollars.  I am sure I purchased it second hand at either Goodwill or a tag sale - it has been so long that I honestly don't remember.  It was huge and heavy and I definitely did not need all the information that I tried to put in it - I tend to suffer from the "More is Better" syndrome.

I do know that up until this past year I did not utilize my planner to it's fullest ability - primarily since it was too big to carry with me.  I sat down and really analyzed the sections in my planner.  Did I need a cleaning list?  No, I have been keeping a house for over 25 years, so I don't need a list to remind me of what to do.  Did I need a list of blogs I like?  No, they are saved on my computer and on my phone.  I went on like that until I was down to just the basics that I needed to have at all times - information that helped me function better and not hindered me by being too cumbersome to carry.  I made the decision towards the end of last year to try out a Franklin Covey Compact size (4.25" wide x 6.75" tall pages) and I couldn't be happier. I am now able to take my planner with me everywhere I go and my calendar, contacts, notes and lists are always with me.  I was able to easily consolidate down into that smaller size by eliminating the excess that I didn't need.

I went even smaller when I discovered the Filofax Brand of Planners.  Filofax "Personal" inserts are only 3.75" wide by 6.75" wide.  Daytimer, Dayrunner, Gillio Fireneze, Van der Spek, Filofax, and Kikki.K, are a few of the brands that carry a planner equivalent to the personal size and all of these brands have the same ring/hole configuration so inserts can be moved between the different planners.  Most of the brands have their own name for the Personal Size, so pay attention to dimensions of the inserts, not the name of the size.  Franklin Covey compact size inserts also have the same hole configuration, but the inserts will be a half an inch wider than the other brands.  Some binders will easily accommodate the extra width and some will not.
Now, having said all that in relation to sizes - you need to be very aware that the personal size is one of the only planner sizes that have the same hole punch configuration across the various brands (there are exceptions, so do your homework).  Hole configurations for larger and smaller sizes of binders are usually NOT the same across the various brands (there are some exceptions however).  In the larger sized planners you are not only dealing with rings that have different hole configurations, you might also be dealing with different page sizes (an example is the American standard 8.5" x 5.5" versus the European standard A-5).

 Click Here for an overview of American and European page sizes. has a great article on the hole spacing between various brands.  In fact the Philofaxy Blog is one of the best out there in regards to information and although their focus is on the Filofax Brand, their articles and information are defiantly NOT limited to just the Filofax Brand.

For more advice, I have a list of planner blogs listed on the right sidebar that you can look through and you can also check out for videos (yes, there are planner videos - planner nerds have their own unique sub-culture) -keywords to search are Filofax Planner Setup, Planner Setup, Franklin Covey Planner, etc.

My advice is to start with an inexpensive system first until you get an idea of what is going to work for you.  Once you have figured out what size works the best, then figure out what inserts work the best, then figure out what planner cover will work the best (if you are doing ring bound).  If you think a ring bound planner is what you want to have then look at Ebay, Secondhand Stores and Facebook Selling Groups.  Spiral bound planners can be found at most of your office supply stores as well as Walmart, Target and Kmart.  There are also companies that specialize in complete spiral bound planning systems.

Personal Planners are just that - "Personal".  One size does not fit all - my needs will be different than the needs of a college student and vice-versa.  Anyone who uses a planner knows that as we evolve and change our planner system will usually evolve and change at the same time.

Don't worry if your system is not perfect - it probably never will be, but it should be functional and you should have fun along the way as you try to attain the ever elusive "Planner Peace".

Thank you for stopping by - please let me know if you have any questions and remember I am not an expert - I am just a seasoned traveler along the Planner Peace Highway.....

Have a Plantastic Day!

Take Care & Wishing You Much ♥LOVE♥ from The 3 Sparkle Frog Gals!