I joined the PLOTTER posse

After humming and hawing for months about getting a Plotter, one magically appeared in my mailbox. (The Plotter fairy knows who they are and I am eternally grateful!)

The binder came in a bright orange, paperboard box with glossy black foil logo and branding. The box is sturdy and worth holding onto to store your inserts.

I chose the Bible size (aka Personal size, if you speak Filofax) Horse Hair II 6-Ring Leather Binder PLT5016 ($149) in green (I know, shocker!). The Bible size binder is approximately 7.25″ x 4.5″ (180mm x 115mm) and the insert papers are about 6.75″ x 3.75″ ((170mm X 93mm).

I’ve always been a fan of the personal/bible size planners. They are small enough to carry around and, when open, don’t take over your whole workspace.

Plotter binders do not come with any inserts so that $150 only gets you the leather cover binder and some paper informational sheets.

I purchased more inserts from Plotter then I thought I would (and then realized I didn’t need all of them). I would say that one of the best things about Plotter is the paper that they use for their inserts. The To Do List Refill Memo Pad (006) ($6.80) and Plain Refill Memo Pad (003) ($6.80) use the same paper just with different printed details (or no printing).

The Blue Paper Refill Memo Paper ($6.80) is just fun. It is as smooth as the standard papers but a little bit thicker and features a 2mm grid with a wider center line both horizontal and vertical to create four little quadrants on the paper.

I love how the color seems streaky like it was painted on with a watercolor brush. Not to mention it coordinates beautifully with my planner cover.

Seeing the Plotter next to my planner, which is a B6 size, it’s clear to see how slim and compact the Plotter is.

My Set-Up:

My plan for the Plotter is to use it to organize my new life as a freelancer and small business owner.

So, the first thing I did was set up dividers for:

  • Personal/Home
  • The Desk (Blog/Patreon/Etc)
  • Product Development
  • Freelance Work

Instead of using the Lifter pages from Plotter, I dug out a “dashboard” page that I had in an old Filofax. Its a piece of heavyweight, translucent paper with gold foil dots. This is a place to stick post-it notes and to protect my actual papers from rubbing on the cover. Under the dashboard is a divider I made using some scrapbook paper and my Cricut cutting machine*.

The rest of my tabs were made from all the green paper that I had in my stash, because… green! I haven’t added any text to the tabs yet, maybe I’ll type labels on one of my old typewriters. That seems like a good way to label my tabs. Until then, I just know that the big dots is my personal section and so forth.

This week, as my first non-job week, I made myself a little calendar to organize my time. I have scheduled a lot of meetings and appointments so I needed to be able to see my week and when I would actually have time to work. Thanks, blank paper for making it easy to turn the binder lengthwise and make a quick week-at-a-glance page.

In the back of the planner, I pulled a plastic sleeve from my old Filofax (find a sleeve on Etsy) to hold loose items like postage stamps and a few stickers as well as the Band with Lifter that creates a vertical elastic closure as well as protecting the back of the binder.

My One (Kind-Of Big) Quibble

The only issue I’ve had, thus far, with the Plotter binder is that the inside edge on the leather is sharp and pokey. The outside edge is smooth and feels soft to the touch but the interior edge rough and even startled a friend of mine who was looking at my binder and it poked him in the hand.

For the price of these covers, I would have hoped the edges would have been trimmed, smoothed or sanded so that the experience from all sides would feel premium. My plan is to try sanding the edges myself. If anyone has experience with leather working, any recommendations for smoothing this edges would be greatly appreciated.

The Inserts I Didn’t Use

After adding in some of the accessories and refills that I already had or made myself, there were a few refills I didn’t end up using.

  • Lifter 2pcs (010) ($6) – I recommend just cutting a piece of pretty cardstock to the same size as the refill paper and then use a hole punch. The plain black plastic Lifters are boring. Make you own with photos, old calendar pages, a postcard or other fun paper that speaks to your soul. Black plastic is not soulful, IMHO.
  • Fastener Case (024) ($12): I thought this was going to be a single zipper case for loose paper ephemera that would fit on the rings like paper. Oh no. It is a two-pouch design that must be slipped OVER the rings. In order to even try it, I had to remove all my pages, close the rings and then slide this OVER the rings. It’s weirdly bulky for a brand who seems to pride itself on clean, simple designs. I removed it immediately and put it back in its little cello bag. Buh-bye, you dopey little thing. Zipper pouches are widely available on Etsy to fit personal/bible size binders and cost about $5-$8.
  • Project Manager 6-Color Assortment Refill Holder (008) ($6.40) These flip open sleeves are just odd. I’m not sure I understnad the best way to use these so I just haven’t put one to use yet. Maybe if I have one specific project with multiple steps or a specific client, the Project Manager might make sense to use but for now, they are going to stay in the box.

Overall, I can’t believe how much I like the Plotter so far. I’ve used it for a little over a week and I like that I can add or remove pages easily. The Plotter lays flat easily and the small binder rings make it a lot less annoying than the large rings in older Filofax and similar 6-ring binders. The small size does force me to be more selective about how many pages, sections and accessories I include in the binder.

I love that ring binders are coming back into favor and that companies are experimenting with how we use these. I’ve always been a fan and I’m delighted to find a new way to use them.

* If you are interested in cutting your own tabs for your Plotter, Filofax or other 6-ring planner, search Etsy for Filofax SVG or cutting files. I don’t remember which SVG file I purchased or if I made them myself. If you have vector based software, you can make your own as well. Let me know if you want a post about making tabs.


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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh, that green! It’s lovely (& unfortunate about the inner edge finishing – mine are not that way but maybe that’s a function of the Horse Hair II). Will be anticipating how your journey progresses!

  2. Maybe it’s the specific type of leather you selected? Mine is smooth and beautifully finished.

    The Project Managers are great, they’re basically little file folders. I like them better than just dividers. Makes it easy to keep track of notes/schedules/sketches/etc. for a specific project or slice of my life that I don’t necessarily need to keep in the notebook on a daily basis. Easy to remove and still keep all the pages together, and easy to put back in. For example, I have one with accounts, password reminders, contacts, etc. that I like to have with me when I travel. One for medical stuff with notes, schedules, and contacts – easy to slip back into the notebook when we go to an appointment. One for keeping track of notes and ideas for some volunteer work I do. It’s almost like having separate notebooks for each one, but much more compact and organized.

  3. The disconnect in price between the binder and the paper is amazing. If you thought the Traveler binder was money…I have the Plotter paper which works reasonably well and is amazingly priced. It is cream paper and do I remember all the tut tutting about cream paper. I look at this as products priced at different price points for different people though so I’m not too concerned about affordability. The yacht people need Plotters 🙂

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