It has taken some time to work out the kinks in my planner system. Here is a list of things I wish I knew when I started. Some of them are no-brainers that I can’t believe took me so many weeks to figure out!
1) Size matters. Before I got my first personal sized ring-bound planner a few months back I had always used larger planning “mediums” if you will. Moleskines, assorted spiral-bound planners, and even large binders. I soon realized that if I wanted to keep my Filofax small and portable I needed to trim more than just my inserts. After trying to find stickers and flags that were the right size for my chosen inserts I realized that I could just buy the pack of $1 skinny page-marker Post-Its and trim them down. Easy, removable, and cheap. I use these for my weeks. I also found $1 Avery stickers 500+ per pack. They are the perfect size for my month inserts.
2) Notepad secrets! You can find very, very cheap and super cute notepads everywhere. Everyone knows you may have to trim them to fit your planner, but how should you put them in there? I tried punching them, but I wanted them to be easily removable and to save time. So I started clipping them in. This worked okay for a few months, but they were still hard to get out of my Filofax. Finally while battling with the notepad, trying to keep the glue attached when tearing off more sheets to put in my planner, a light bulb lit up in my head. I realized I had been doing it all wrong, clipping the papers in without the glue would make them SO much easier to remove and save time by eliminating the fight to keep the glue attached. DUH! I clip my notepad paper to a Spider Man post card (it provides a smooth and sturdy writing surface, and allows for some geek decor in my planner).
3) Save paper with dry-erase. I began my Filofax adventure printing cute little journaling cards and using them for to-do and task lists that could be carried from week to week; or could be used just for the day. In an effort to save paper and ink I thought about creating my own to-do list, laminating it, and using it with a dry-erase marker. Then I stumbled upon this free printable and made a dry-erase to-do list for myself and step-mother. You could do anything this way from lists to calendars.
4) On writing… I use my Filofax for more than just planning. It houses all of my ideas, thoughts, and dreams (at least until archived). This includes my journal and doodles. I was printing my own ruled paper until I fell in love with the Filofax ruled paper. I really liked the small lines for the pen I was using (Sanrio 3-Color Erasable Frixion). Then I switched pens because I was running out of ink far too quickly (and frankly did not want to keep buying ink cartridges just so I could have a cute pen because I didn’t really use the erasable feature). When talking to my beautiful bright partner over a meal about it he asked me why I don’t use my calligraphy pen. We took a calligraphy class together a few years back and I purchased a cheap Manuscript italic nib fountain pen for $5 Hobby Lobby. It had been stored away in my craft supplies. I loved writing with a fountain pen, but back then my journal did not have compatible paper for the job. I pulled it out and tried on some unruled paper I had DIY-ed and much to my surprise it did not bleed through. It did bleed through the Filofax paper, but I’ve always preferred unruled paper for journaling anyway. I can make three sheets of personal-sized unruled paper from a single letter-sized piece. At $5 a pack that makes $5 for 1500 sheets of personal-sized paper vs. $6 for 48 sheets of unruled Daytimer paper (cheapest I could find). Even if I wanted a more fancy paper, it is much, much cheaper to DIY unruled paper. Here is the pen and ink I use:
You can see the ink through the page a bit, but not enough to cause any problem reading the ink on the other side. I never used the cartridges that came with the pen, just the converter. I love writing with it and hope to get a better quality one soon.
5) Business cards do not need to be held in a plastic card-holder page. Envelopes make great holders for cards that do not need to be looked at all the time. I keep my customer stamp cards, a password card, and some other bits in a small felt envelope that was intended for a gift card. It sits in the back of my Saffiano in the notepad pocket. It helps keep spare papers or sticker sheets snug in there without any sliding around.
6) Printable tab sets save a few steps of the tab-making process for what can be a very low price. I purchased a set of polka-dot tabs for less than $2 on Etsy and they look great! Instant, uniform, and easy.
7) Anything can be a marker! For some reason when I first got my Filofax I had tunnel vision when it came to page markers. I was thinking only in terms of paper clips and stickies. Then I realized that anything I can punch holes in and add a few slits to can become a marker that doesn’t require open rings. I use a bookmark my daughter made as a marker for my journal spot. I moved it to my notes from a journaling workshop I’m attending a few weeks this month for privacy reasons.
8) Archiving. I was at a loss on how I wanted to archive my spent pages. I tried using another planner, binder clips, and envelopes. I disliked the fact that all of my methods included the sections being all together. I had thought about making some tabs or separators but then I found a small (just a bit larger than my planner) file folder from Target (dollar spot!). I use it to divide up my sections and when this is full I will toss what I do not want to keep, and store the rest. I will probably clip or tie them together, wrap them in a cloth, and add them to my bookcase.