Planner Conundrums

Nothing in life really stays the same for very long, does it? I should know this by now.

Last Wednesday some stuff went down at work and suddenly my world (professionally) turned upside down and my formerly sufficient Compact Finsbury with the Week on Two Pages diary inserts suddenly wasn’t gonna cut it anymore.

Room…I needed room. And lots of it.

Overwhelmed but still craving color, I went straight into the Filofax bin and grabbed my A5 Aqua Finsbury and loaded up some Day per Page Business Style inserts.

Of course, you are all very familiar with my ongoing gripe about Filofax’s lack of tabbed months, or even the ability to tab out a month’s worth of daily pages with someone elses monthly pages. This is a feature I use heavily, both in my personal and professional planning. But hey, Filofax, you know best so whatevs.

Undaunted, I simply did what I used to do back in the day…stuck one page marker ruler in the appropriate Filofax untabbed month and another to mark the day.

Lame then, lame now…but I digress.

While this setup gave me room galore, which trust me, I appreciated and made full use of for the rest of the chaotic week, the thing was HEAVY. And bulky. No way I was going to lug it around 24/7 like I was doing with my Compact.

And, not wanting to give up my awesome and beautiful Compact, I took out all but the weekly pages and made it my wallet. This way, I figured, I could carry it all the time and still use the Weeklies for an overview until I got back to my cement block of an A5, which would be laying somewhere (at home or on my desk at work) open and waiting like the cumbersome behemoth that it is.

Carting the A5 brick around in my handbag along the Compact as wallet and everything else I carry on a daily basis was back breaking and required a humongous handbag.  I knew by the weekend that it probably wasn’t going to work, and remembered why I moved away from A5 in the first place.

Okay, back to the bin and this time I tried Filofax Day on Two Pages (didn’t I start the year with those? I can’t remember anymore…) and stuck Q3 & Q4 in a Personal binder.

After copying to present in full detail mind you.

Yeah, if using a Compact has taught me one thing, it’s how awesome those small rings are when it comes to writing on all areas of the pages, on either side of the rings. Not so with a Personal; the fat rings which allow for more than a couple months of 2ppd to be carried also make it a complete pain in the ass to write.


So, I moved my wallet stuff BACK into a regular ol’ wallet and tried the 2ppd in the Compact. Using it as my one, everything planner (which means some To Do pages, note paper and the like), I could manage a paltry 2 months of two pages per day.

Which two would it be, 1 past month and the present month, so I could refer back? Or the present month & 1 future, for forward planning?


Fail. I need a bare minimum of three months for work (1 past, the present month and 1 future), ideally six months. Do I spend the money and order the FF Personal Day per Page to only use the last 4 untabbed and untabbale months (which I was told will fit in  Compact), or do I go back to the bin once again?

Back to the bin. This time the Franklin Covey bin. They, at least, have tabbed months and I remembered really liking the 7 Habits Two Page Per Day inserts I tried at one point, when my life was busier.

Life lesson: Never, EVER toss out planner pages from a current year that you’ve quit using for one reason or another. You may be back. And if you’re me, you will be for sure.

These are too wide for a Filofax Compact binder, so I also took out a FC Compact binder (Compact being their equivalent to Filofax’s Personal size) and set that up.

Yes, that means I copied everything AGAIN. My right wrist was killing me at this point, but I was unstoppable. A veritable juggernaut of planner dubbing.

Or flat out crazy. I have yet to make up my mind on that one.

Anyway, here I am in the light of day with an ancient, resurrected FC binder and 7 Habits 2ppd inserts, hoping for the best.

You were very patient and read a lot, so now I will reward you with some pictures : )

Here it is. Just an old FC “Compact” binder, black smooth leather, that they don’t even make anymore.

Inside front. Love the flowered fabric lining and the secretarial pocket. Four card slots and an ID window (in which I have Tarot of Trees “Strength” card, in case you were wondering). The pen loop is also stretchy : )

Right now I have Sept through Dec in it, along with one tab for capturing any notes, quotes, etc. If I decide to stay with this format, I will probably add more stuff to it.

Open to the day, two pages per day. A wonderful three-section To Do list and appointment calendar on the left page, with extensive room for notes on the left page. Line spacing is terrific and very usable.

Just a view from the top….

Interior back. The black plastic thing on the left is just a backer insert so you can write smoothly with no bumps (and the end few pages don’t get crinkled). Love the additional secretarial pocket in the back, plus the gusseted zip pocket.

The back. The smooth leather has worn like iron and still looks brand new. Something to be said for quality.

My only issue with Franklin Covey stuff is that it isn’t Filofax. This is a good thing or a bag thing, depending on my mood. A good thing because I do love the FC inserts (with their oh-so-glorious TABS) and, although limited in color and selection, I have never had an issue with the quality of the binders. Bad because FC doesn’t add that addictive chemical to it’s stuff like Filofax does so it is “just a planner”, as opposed to the metro/ retro chic of “a Filofax”.

And there is no FC-ofaxy web community. Or Flickr group.

What I’m gonna do for 2013 is entirely beyond me, but for now I need to quit dubbing around, re-copying, obsessing and just settle in to a system that will help me stay on top of my new duties and responsibilities, all the while remaining sane.

For now at least, this is seeming like the best solution to my new work sitch, so in this case function will outweigh form and/or coolness. And addiction for that matter. Sometimes it has to I guess.

Stay tuned – who knows if I’ll still be in this system next week…

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Josh LaPorte
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 18:11:44

    Well, I fully feel you on the it’s-great-but-it’s-no-a-filofax vibe. I will suggest DayTimer, which you can order to start any quarter, fits into your personal size filofax, and has the proper tabbed months which interfile between the daily pages for each month a’la FC. Paper is crap, though. Best compromise for me so far.

    I also would love to have 3 months of day pages in my planner. I use 2ppd and even with my big Cavendish rings I can only get 2 months in, plus the full year’s worth of monthly tabs. The monthlies let me (squeeze) write all my appointments in, and I use the backsides to track my big projects for the month. But sometimes I do want to dig back and see what date I did _____. I always figure if it’s that important I can go home and look at my archived pages.

    I can’t see how y’all are fitting into compact binders. My 30mm ringed binder is barely big enough to contain everything I feel that I need to have. But, I do use it as wallet too, and it does my work AND personal planning, and serves as an extensive reference binder.

    Do take a look at the DT stuff. You can order to start next month, I believe.

  2. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 19:06:41

    @josh: thanks for this…i have used daytimer in the past and although i love that they have the monthly tab system, the paper is way too thin/crappy for my heavy hand and penchant for black gel ink pens, and i also have not found a format by them i can get comfortable with. the line spacing they use is cuh-RAZY. i can’t see that small, let alone write.

    i know, i know…who says you have to stay within the lines. i’ll tell ya who…my raging OCD ; ) my handwriting is huge, loopy, juvenile and messier than most doctors. when i go outside the lines with DT, it just looks like someone gave a pen to an elephant (albeit a very intelligent & creative one) and they scribbled all over the page.

    i do love their hot sheets though…total win!

    the compact worked for the bits of my year that were simple. i used weeklies in them and didn’t have much going on. not so anymore! i fear there may be no way around an a5, but for now i am resisting that like grim death.

    ideally i’m a one binder kind of girl too. in my fantasies my planner is my wallet, planner, archive, reference book and journal. all on great, fountain pen worthy paper, in cool designs with awesome line spacing and in a fashionable yet functional, superbly constructed leather binder.

    then i wake up….


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