Bigger Lists, Bigger Rings?

I have been using a compact binder since 2011.  True, not necessarily the same binder for all of that time, but the compact style, yes.  I did dabble back in the personal when I got Lady Godiva last summer.  And while I was able to use the personal again for that time, I did find that I was putting extra inserts in to fill out those big rings.  And that was the entire point of trimming down to the compact, so that I wouldn’t have to carry things I didn’t need just to fill out the binder.

The secret to my compact success is relying on other stay-at-home binders, as they house the information I need at hand for various things, but they aren’t binders that I ever take with me anywhere.  I have my Household Binder, my Happiness Binder (which is in the process of being updated), my Health Notebook, my Spirituality Book, my Knitting Binder, and my Gardening Binder (oh, how I miss flowers!).  All of these separate binders/books allow me to really pare down what I keep in my daily planner.  They each have their own specific purpose, which I try very hard to make sure doesn’t overlap with another binder’s.  When they overlap I get confused about what book contains what information; then, it does me no good to have so many.  I don’t use each one every day, which keeps me from going mad over the number of books I use. 

My daily planner, however, does corral each use for any given day (or not if it isn’t needed).  For example, Mondays are when I add information to my Health Notebook.  So on a Monday I will have “Health Journal” written down as a task.  Once I’ve done what I need to do with it, I cross it off my list and move it to the following Monday.  Another example is writing down what exercise activity I need to do on a particular day.  If it is “Resistance,” I’ll pull out my Happiness Binder (since that’s where the information lives), and refer to the next resistance cycle in line.  (I am thinking of changing the name of my Happiness Binder to something more all-inclusive, like Wellness Binder or something—we shall see.)  In essence, my daily planner points me to the other books if/when I need them.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if I should move back into the personal binder.  Given my many activities lately and the craziness of both my weekdays and weekends, I can’t help but wonder if a personal, with its additional room, would allow for more flexibility.  In my compact, I have a section for projects; each project gets its own colored note sheet.  You can see from the photo below, I’ve got a lot of projects going on as well.

I’ve been thinking that a personal binder would allow me more space for these and other projects should they come up, plus any other inserts I may need, like additional diary sheets.  (The compact, with everything I carry in it, only allows for two months of daily pages, though I am able to get an entire year’s worth of monthly sheets in there which I use for forward planning, adding a notation of the event and putting the details in on the daily pages later.)  I don’t need more diary pages for my personal life—two months ahead is plenty—but for dates of future/in-progress projects and events, this might be helpful.

But is it helpful if that means carrying around more pages on the off-chance that I need them for one event?

My wheels have been turning, especially because I want to make a new planner purchase (to be revealed soon) and I don’t want to buy a size based on what-ifs.  I want to buy the size I will stick with.

After really thinking about it for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will stay with the compact size.  The fact that I’ve only reverted to the personal once since obtaining a compact is very telling.  And during the last few months (or maybe even a year) of using a personal exclusively, I wished for something smaller (the slimline is way too small for everyday use, though it does come in handy for travel).

Plus—and this is a really big plus for me—having limited space means that I am limited to the number of projects I have going at any one time.  It keeps me in check, keeps me from taking on too much at once.  And if I need to add an event to a date that is further than what I’ve got in my planner, I can make a note of it on my monthly pages and add the details to the corresponding inserts when I get home or have time, as all future inserts are kept in a separate binder.

So, with the compact size, I will stay.  I do love it.  It’s worked well for me for many years.  And, I’ve already got a little compact collection going.

And, if in the future my life truly calls for a bigger binder, well I have plenty of those to choose from, too.


  1. I agree, the Compact binder is the way to go. I have been using the Slimline myself. As I don't have any ongoing projects, I really only keep social plans and doctor appointments in my planner, so that works for me. The Compact is a good upgrade, especially as you have the additional systems to keep track of the long-term information. ...and I have also learned that more place for me to put things means more (unnecessary) things get kept.

    I think "Wellness Binder" would be a great name for your Happiness Binder. I agree, it is a much more inclusive name. Staying fit and healthy - emotionally and physically - are the keys to being well and happy. "Well" makes me think of making the right decisions, not just the best "right now" decision. Think: this slice of cheesecake would make me happy "right now" but this carrot will make me happier in six weeks. ;)

    1. Yes, well, I do admit to keeping a lot of unnecessary information and doing a lot of unnecessary things, meaning keeping track of things that I may or may not need. I like keeping this information, but do I NEED it? Probably not. And ultimately, it creates more work for me. But I must like setting up notebooks for reference purposes and what not since I keep doing it, lol. I will say that creating the (current) Happiness Binder kept me sane and gave me something to focus on when my anxiety was so high that I could barely get through the day. Now that I don't "need" the Happiness Binder (which I'm thankful for), is it necessary to keep it? Maybe not, but considering it could have saved my life in a way, I can't disassemble it either. And now these little projects hold information, yes, but some hold dreams and things to aspire to. :)

    2. Well, if keeping track of all of these things has brought you to your happy place, then I say...keep it up! I think that until you reach the stage where something therapeutic becomes annoying, it's probably a good idea to keep going with it, especially when it is filled with dreams!

      You can always try to step away, but I think that if you ever do decide to not put any more entries into your Happiness Binder, you should keep it intact. One - at the very least, it's a wonderful memento of your strength; and two - stress could come back, and it would be nice to have a system already in place. :)

    3. Hence why I can't dismantle it. I will, however, be updating it -- I'm keeping my "survival" notes, but also making small changes to reflect more of what I need now, too.

  2. Wow, those are many binders! I only use two planners, my faux-Filofax for everything and a ring-bound planner just for college stuff. To be quite honest, everytime I use the latter I'm annoyed that all my info is not in one place (I'm such a minimalism fan, haha!), but on second thought, I know it's the best thing. To be honest, too, I never take my binder out of home... it's like a private part of me, and I never really miss it outside.

    I want to creat a personal home binder for me (you know, those sturdy carboard ring binders) to store personal info that I don't need to refer to all the time (fitness ideas, bucket lists, fun ideas, "someday" projects, etc). I'm inspired by home management binders I find on Pinterest, but tailored to my needs (single, twenty-something, college student). Truth be told, I've been flirting with that idea for too long... it's time to make it happen!

    Oh, that purple compact looks beeaauuutiful!!

    1. Lol, it is a lot of binders. But like I said, I don't use each every day, and that's the only way the sheer number of them don't drive me crazy. ;) Most of them, though, are for reference purposes. The hardest part was setting them up, but once they're done, there's not too much else to do with them (unless of course I decide to change things up). So, with that said, if you're thinking about creating a home binder, I think it's a great idea. When I start a binder, I first create a list of the sections I want to include, then a list of items I'd put in each section. I let that list sist for a bit to see if any other ideas pop in my head. Then I might start putting the binder together, but not labeling the sections, just in case I change my mind about something. Once I'm pretty sure I've got what I want set, I then go ahead and make my dividers and type out lists. This is not to say that there aren't tweaks here and there. But I dont's create my own dividers (I used the ones from Filofax) and I use my label maker to create the labels for each tab. Doing it this way allows me to easily change them if I decide to do so -- I remove the old label and slap on the new one.

      Hmm. Maybe a post on creating binders for reference purposes is in order... :)

    2. Yeah, I agree. It's better to make a list and wait for new ideas or changing the previous ones in a way that makes more sense, otherwise you'd create a picture perfect binder... that you'll not use or like in a matter of days.

      I'd love to see that post! xx

    3. I will put it on my list! I am in the process of creating some new binders but it might be a while before I get this post up. But happen, it will. :)

  3. I am so curious about your new purchase! Also, good for you to keep doing what you know works for you. You have some beautiful personal size binders, but the weight would be a lot more. And more importantly if you know you would just overload yourself, don't do it. Your life sounds busy enough as it is!

    1. :D Once I get my new binder, it will definitely be posted here!

      Thanks. Yes, it's hard to NOT use a binder for how beautiful they are. But the reality is that I'd have to carry more just to fill them, which is the exact opposite of why I started down the compact path. And I've been perfectly happy with the compact since buying them. So I am definitely staying with that for now, until (if) my needs every change, specifically if I ever needed to carry more than two months of daily inserts at a time.


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