This is Part Five of 6-part series about getting started using ring-bound planners. If you would like to read the series from the beginning, check out Part One: Why?, Part Two: Paper Sizes, and Part Three: Binders and Part Four: Inserts.
More than a Calendar:
Once I started researching planners, I discovered that there was more to a planner than just calendars and contact lists. There are pages and inserts to track and account expenses and budgets, track fitness, and so much more. What are your goals for the year and what do you want to accomplish? Whatever it is I bet you can find insert pages to track and organize your goals and activities.
I’m not a good, nor a particularly enthusiastic, cook so I’d like to have my dozen go-to recipes with me so I can stop at the store and pick up the necessary ingredients on my way home. I’d also like to find printables for book lists and web sites to check out. If I can’t find any, I might end up making my own.
The great thing about a ring bound planner is that once I’ve accumulated enough recipes, or “books I read” pages, I can move them into a binder of their own.
Dividers & Pockets:
There are also other planner considerations like tabbed dividers, movable book marks, and storage for loose items like zipper pouches or pockets. Some binder companies will include a starter kit with at least a few of these items included. If they are not your taste, you can make new ones with decorative paper, office supply files folders or whatever else tickles your fancy. Many independent sellers offer downloadable or purchasable designs on Etsy, Ebay and web shops.
A lot of people use a “dashboard” in the front of their planner which is a decorative piece, usually laminated or plastic, and attach sticky notes. This is where to put the “hot notes” or to put a stack of stickies to use inside the planner. This page is also referred to as a flyleaf or page turner.
If you are interested in trying to create your perfect planner using a ring-bound binder you’re probably going to want to invest in a couple things. A hole punch of some sort will make it possible to add additional pages to your book, be they scraps of notes, stray index cards, or printable add-ons. A single hole punch will work fine for on-the-go needs. Just use one of the tab dividers as a guide to punch holes in your new sheet. But, if you plan on adding a lot of customized sheets or printables, you may want to invest in a multi-hole punch with the correct hole placement for your chosen binder. Brand specific punches can be pretty pricey but I found a reasonably-priced adjustable 6-hole punch on Amazon.
I also discovered that I really like my pages to have rounded corners so I’ve been using a small corner rounder I got at Muji to round the corners. Any craft supply shop should sell a corner rounder that will accept about 6 pages at a time for less than $10.
If you get really serious about making your own dividers and dashboard, you may want to invest in a laminator or a Xyron. I have a old Xyron 910 and the nice thing is that you can swap out rolls mid-use and use adhesive, magnet or laminate — if you are feeling extra DIY crafty.
Some folks like to add a charm to their binders to add a little personal touch as well. I’ve seen cell phone charms looped around the rings as well as specifically designed planner charms. So if you feel the urge to “bling it up”, you have options!
Fauxbonichi and Fauxdori: (updated!)
I think the allure of a ring-bound planner is the same thing that makes the Hobonichi Techo and the Midori Traveler’s Notebook so popular — the endless capacity for them to be whatever you want them to be.
In my research, I found an assortment of “fauxdori” pages to turn a Traveler’s Notebook into a planner or vice versa. I also found printable pages for planners that looked like the gridded pages from a Hobonichi (dare I say “fauxbonichi”?). I even found a video on YouTube where someone cut down sheets of Tomoe River paper to fit into a ring binder. So, clearly, with some ingenuity, a ring-bound planner can be whatever you want it to be. While much of this series has been about traditional ring binder planners, there are other options to create a flexible planner. Using a Midori Traveler’s Notebook cover (or one of the many similar style leather covers available from other sources), you can print and bind your own booklets to include inside these covers.
Alternately, you can take the best things about a Hobonichi Techo and integrate it into a ring-bound planner, whether that’s the paper, the layout or something else you love about it.
In the end, we each have to chart our own path to organization and success planning. What method do you think works best for you?
To read the rest of the series: