A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 1 – Why?

(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)
(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)

In the past couple weeks, I  fell down the rabbit hole that is the ring-binder planner. You might know them as a Filofax, Franklin Covey or a Dayrunner. There are other brands on the market as well like Kikki K, Van der Spek, and Gillio, to name a few.Initially, I thought I’d pull together one quick post with all the information you might need to venture into aring-bound planner. What I discovered, however, is that there is more information to cover than can fit into one post. So I’ve created a series of posts that will shed some light on the hows and whys of ring-bound, loose-leaf planners.

I have kept some sort of planner for the several years and never having quite the right one. I’ve used a Moleskine planner, a Paper Blanks, a Hobonichi Techo and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head — and those are just the ones I’ve used since I started this blog! Each one resulted in some sort of planner fail at some point during the year. This year, I thought it was time to consider that a ring-bound planner might be the best solution for me.

To move over to a ring-bound planner, there are a lot of  factors to consider. There’s not just the binder itself, but also the size, material (leather, leatherette, canvas or fabric, etc), the format of the calendar pages and what additional pages will be included. There are also miscellaneous inserts that can be added like zip pockets, plastic sleeves for cards, and dozens of other options I might not have considered yet. So many options!

Artful hobonichi
(Photo via The Hobonichi Tumblr)

In my research, one of the things that made me a little hesitant was the predominance of the “crafty planner.” This is similar to a lot of the Hobonichi pages that have been posted online full of washi tape, stickers and other kawaii elements. I’m not opposed to adding a personal touch, using color to differentiate a to-dos, or including other meamingful elements but I was a little intimidated about the amount of time and energy folks invested in  these “decorated” planners. I want to get organized more than I want to scrapbook, doodle or make a collage.

In the end, just like the Hobonichi Techo or the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a ring-bound planner can be as complex or as simple as you choose. I plan to choose simple though I do have an excess of washi tape. You might choose to make your planner more of a journal or sketchbook and make it as personal, complex or layered as you want. Its all a matter of personal priorities and time.

Ring-bound planners open up so many options.  With those options come the opportunity to choose exactly what you need and the chance to mix-and-match to suit your needs. I’ve been doing a lot research to choose the best options for me. Some you’ll might like but maybe you’ll find your own perfect system as a result.

Hopefully, the next couple posts will help you decide if a ring-bound planner is right for you.

Did I mention the rabbit hole?

To read the rest of the series:

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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh the rabbit hole of planners. I’ve been on the quest for one too. My planner from this year was close but not quite right (several periods of non-use). I suspect I’m going to try the self-publishing route of creating my ideal pages and having it wire bound. But I’m also considering disc binding since that would let me change out pages in case the first iteration doesn’t work. My first planner love was ring-bound, but I also carried a backpack all the time, and now I just can’t afford the space or weight of ring-binding…

  2. I started using ring-bound notebooks (not planners) years ago instead of the ubiquitous bound notebooks and never looked back. The flexibility and cost savings are far better with ring bound notebooks. My work-horse binders are the superb rubbery 22 hole versions by Kukoyo Japan. They are kind of expensive and notoriously hard to find, but worth it.

    1. I’m waffling between a green Franklin Giada and a Filofax Original in teal…. but then there’s the mint green Kikki K…. no, not yet. I like the looks of several different planners. You?

      1. I’ve been using a black compact Franklin Covey Sophia for the past couple of years, with DIY inserts made out of Miquelrius grid paper. For Xmas, I’m receiving a purple custom Van der Spek 🙂

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