The State of Grace

Size Does Matter

Posted on: July 19, 2011

I’ve always used an A5-sized planner.  Even when I used Franklin Covey, I used the Classic size instead of the Compact size.  I’m not sure if it really worked for me.  I think, again, I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  There were still times of disorganization, but I just attributed it to the stressfullness of my life and job.

I had to really sit down and figure out what I needed in a planner.  I need something that I can put everything in and keep with me at all times.  I know some people separate work and personal binders, but I think it would make me very anxious when planning something to not be able to see what was going on in the other binder.

My biggest problem is having a million thoughts running through my head and needing a proper place to organize them — a “brain dump.”  And if I don’t catch (dump) these thoughts as I have them, then they either are lost forever or, if I try to keep them in my head, creates a very chaotic place causing much stress and anxiety.

The only solution is a portable-sized Filofax.  So I’ve chosen a Personal Malden.

How do I make it work?

I hated that there was no room to write so I added a blank page between my week on two pages and I started writing smaller.  What makes it okay visually is highlighting my appointments and making checkboxes for to do items.  I started highlighting my checkboxes as well so I can scan through the week and see what has to be done.

I hated writing on the left side because of the rings.  My solution for this was to place my agenda/diary in the middle so that it would be even on both sides and even taking the page out of the binder if I needed to.  Now I know that may seem like a really big hassle to have to pull the page out, but I had to weigh my options.  It’s a small price to pay for the sanity I get from portability.

The one thing I haven’t found a solution for is the monthly calendar.  I have to see my whole month and I think that is a big reason why I chose the A5.  But really I only look at my monthly calendar once a day.  Again, weighing my options, I chose my brain dump over a nice-sized monthly calendar.  What I may do is have a huge one on my desk at home to look at once a day.  I’m not sure if that’s the solution though.  That’s still having to sync two diaries, and I’m not comfortable with that.  For now, I’m just writing smaller and highlighting.

Lastly, I had the problem of archiving personal pages (even A5 pages since I live in the U.S.), but I just purchased a 5.5 x 8.5 binder from Staples for $6 and re-punched the pages to fit.  That is a huge binder for such small pages, but I don’t want to be hunting down binders that fit and I’d like to have the same binder for years to come on the shelves.  Plus, I can put A5 pages in them as well.

Basically, I divide my sections into:

  • Lists — Quotes, Shopping, Prayer, Music, etc.
  • Recipes/Menus (this will be the first to go as my planner gets full)
  • Info — Any info I need to keep with me at all times
  • To Do (long-term things that don’t go into any specific week)
  • Brain Dump (a section of just blank paper to jot down thoughts that need to be organized later)  I used to use a small Moleskine for this but now I just created a section for it.  And I keep a page marker to flip to it quickly.

I’m sure this will change a bit, but that’s what I love about my Filofax — it’s flexible and when I change, so will it.

[I’ll post pictures later]


5 Responses to "Size Does Matter"

Thanks for this Grace!!

For archiving personal size pages I use Mead binders that are exactly the size and holes of the personal Filofax pages. I don’t know if they make them anymore. A few years ago I googled them and found them online, and ordered a bunch. That was awhile ago though. I wonder if you could find cheap binder/ organizers somewhere and use those for archiving.

I used to use 2-ring A5 binders for archiving A5 pages, just re-punched the 2-holes. That worked pretty well.

I may also look into Franklin Covey archive binders for the compact size. That may work.

This post is brilliant! You’re absolutely right about the portability of the personal size! I’m just going to have to figure out how to make it work!

I did get some el cheapo graph paper from WM today that I’m cutting to fit ( a la SNARLing’s videos) and I hope to use that for a daily “log” type thing. Then I have everything together all the time!

Excellent post, thanks again!

Thanks Rori!

I used to work for a very busy attorney who was nominated by Pres. Bush to head a committee on top of keeping up with her clients. She was very busy and she used a purse-sized monthly calendar. The ones you find at the dollar store with cute kittens on the front. She had tons of meetings and would write them really small in the square. It was she busiest calendar I’d ever seen but she made it work for her.

I figured if she can write that small on a monthly square and make it work, I can make a week on 2 pages work for me.

Malden! Love mine. I have a Crimson personal size as my “Brain Central.” Right now I use 1 page a day, 2 pages per week, and a fold out, multi-year planner. I am reconfiguring tabs and archiving what I can just to make it less stuffed looking. My tabs might look like this when I am done: vitals, daily, weekly, notes, lists, family, read, buy, do (long-term), and quotes. We’ll see.

I enjoyed reading your post., and take care.

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  • Grace: I use a handheld punch (with one punch). It's tedious but worth it. It does overlap at the bottom but does not interfere with anything. In fact, I
  • Kristy: I just bought the A5 filofax. It was driving me crazy that I could not fund anything to fit at office depot. What did you use to hole punch? When you
  • ~AspireToBe: Absolutely inspired! I cannot believe you are a beginner in this art form - to me, your capture of your day is brilliant! An amazing way to record t


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