How did you come to the final size that you use?

I found this site and thought that there were several great ideas so I created my first custom classic size organizer. But I was just thinking. I am starting to debate (with myself, I know, kind of creepy) if that is the right size for me. I like the thought of it being small and compact. The binder that I use is a 2inch ring zippered binder that has a few internal pockets. I've started reading more here about the use of the 3x5 card style and have started thinking about it.

How did everyone come to the size that you are using today? Since you first started, how many size changes have you gone through?


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Size Debate

Welcome Ghost68!

Deciding on the size of your planner is difficult and really boils down to personal preference. Do you write big? Do you prefer room to write or are you able to fit everything on a small index card? Just a few questions to think over.
I actually carry two planners. One is a 5X8 for work stuff and the other is a compact (3X6) for my personal stuff. My reasoning for this is that I carry my personal planner everywhere I go, so compact is best for this. The work planner usually stays at work, so I like the larger size for that. But, if I do need to carry it around, it is still convenient (unlike an 8X12 size planner).
Not sure if that helped... I think everyone should try the 3X5 because it is so easy to carry and you will probably use it more, but not everyone can write on something so small (Like me - big writing!).
nay nay

My experience

I currently use a 1 inch "classic" size binder for my planner. When I started doing GTD, I used a pocket Moleskine for capture. I moved to the planner because I wanted a larger space to take more notes. Have you considered switching to smaller rings instead of a smaller paper size?

You might also adopt the concept of your planner as "home base" and use a "satellite" stack of index cards or other smaller pieces to make your collection/capture tool really ubiquitous. I use the FranklinCovey 3x5 card wallet as my wallet, so I always have some index cards handy.

Do you procrastinate?

The Short Answer

I have switched sizes more times than I care to count. Instead of committing to one single size, I'm using a "hybrid" system. I use a Classic size zipper binder with one inch rings for my month at a glance calendar, and a hard copy of my Outlook address book. I also have a plastic pouch inside for carrying paper clips, post-it notes, etc.

In addition, I carry a Moleskine Memo Pocket for my hipster cards. I absolutely LOVE my notecards for tasks, projects, agendas, etc. There's something about the feel of card stock...

I have a boxful of Daytimer wirebound pocket monthly booklets that I just couldn't bear to let collect dust, so I keep one open to the current date on my desk at the office. It's my scribble pad for jotting notes to myself while sitting in front of my computer.

I started with a Classic, moved to a Pocket, then a PDA, then back to a Classic, never ends.

Notebooks were common when I

Notebooks were common when I was a child. However grandfather had a Filofax and I thought it great fun. Come the 80s and old familiar names such as 'Filofax' and 'Montblanc' took on new meanings. My stationer, now gone to papeiery heaven, had a display of the 'new style' FFs and I purchased a Personal size one as close to grandfather's as I was able. Although at the time I could not afford the substantial hole punch that went with it I did pick up a ticket punch from a London junk shop, much to my delight and families horror...

Now, like you, I am debating as to whether I should move sizes. Should I splash out on an A5 Filofax and a hipster case or, being tight, stick with the familiar and less expensive. :S

Using the big guy

I use an 8 1/2 x 11 type. I don't know what the name for that one is.

Mine is a Wenger leather zippered unit that I use as a briefcase. I use purchased monthly tabbed pages for the calender and the rest is DIY printed pages.

With the advent of memory sticks and at home DSL I don't take much paper back and forth so I don't need an actual briefcase. I have my papers, a memory stick, my calculator (never leave home without it), my cell phone and the papers inside.

As an Engineer I spend %90 of my day infront of a computer so I don't have a need for something small and mobile. If I have a meeting to go to I just put what I need in my planner, zip it up, and I'm on my way. I take my notes, tear it off and put it in my in folder, and then head back. If I need to go look at something in the plant I have a clip board and digital camera.

My thought on this has always been to use the biggest thing you can. In my case a large planner is not a problem. I take it back and forth to work and keep everything I need in it. I tried a smaller one, I think the classic, when I first started using them but I didn't like it. At 5'11" and 270lbs I like to have something substantial to work with. I was always woried I might accidentally eat a smaller one thinking it was about the size of a sandwhich(for me atleast).

Eternal quests

Wow, this is a hot topic! Seriously! I've switched sizes many times, so many that it's made my planner almost useless at times, because I lose my "history" every time I switch. Silly, I know. For me the requirements were that it had to be small enough to ride around in my purse but big enough to have some decent writing space. I've tried classic, compact, and hipster. I've done Circa and ring binders. I am currently back to using the "compact" size (~3.75x6.75), and I am trying to make myself stay committed to it for a while. I keep being tempted to convert from ring binder back to Circa, however, now that Levenger has the compact size Circa stuff. Someday I might cave and do that...

Another requirement I have is for whatever binder I use to have decent pen loops. They need to be large enough to accomodate my rather fat multi-pen. And I want two pen loops, because I also carry around a Pentel PH158 dry lighter 8-color pencil. I usually have to do some sewing and hacking to add my own pen loops to binders. Anyway, that's just one of my pet peeves.


Making "classic" size work for me

I've tried other sizes, but "classic" really is the one for me.

I tend to have a *lot* of balls in the air at any given time, so my calendar consists of monthly tabbed calendars as dividers with two facing pages for each day nestled in between. This gives me room for "to-do" lists, phone calls / emails, notes, and a timed schedule (I currently use 2ppd reference pages from Day-Timer but am working on a DIY system to replace them).

One fold will fit a letter-size sheet of paper neatly and safely into my planner; yet the planner is still small enough to fit in my laptop bag, or even my everyday purse if I go light on other things.

Some things I do to keep the size of my classic planner manageable:

-- Use a slip-tab or snap-tab closure binder instead of a zipper binder. It saves you almost an inch each in width and height.

-- Choose the smallest ringsize you can live with. I've finally worked my way down to a 1" ring size, and it holds more than I thought: 3 months of 2ppd pages, 12 months of 2ppm divider pages, my huge address/phone book, a couple of note pads, my business card filer, and a score or more miscellaneous/reference/project tracking/etc pages.

-- Be wary of lumpy stuff. Those zipper pouches that fit in your binder are dangerous. Pen loops are for pens, zipper pouches are not. One seemingly petite dispenser of adhesive flags takes up the space of 1.5 months of 2ppd pages. If you must carry stuff like that, choose carefully: the flags that come in a pad rather than a dispenser take up about 1/2 or 1/3 the space for the same number of flags.

I'm still working on figuring it out!

For me, it really comes down to how much space I NEED. In high school, when I had tons of assignments and such I had to keep track of, our school actually provided us with some cheesy classic size planners. This worked really well then as it allowed a lot of room for writing things down yet I didn't really consider it that big or much of a burden to carry around since I already had a backpack full of books. Of course, every year when I got a new planner from the school, the first thing I would do is rearrange it to my liking. I didn't really realize until now how picky I was about things like that but I guess that's where it started.

From there my next planner was one of those monthy ones you buy at a calendar shop (since I worked at one after moving out to Colorado after highschool) and that worked pretty well for keeping track of basic things like schedules, quick notes, and the like. I think it was one of the gardening artwork type planners but it provided just enough room to write on and I loved that planner a lot. Had to put packing tape all over the cover to "laminate" it since it was getting a little overly loved.

From there, I moved around in Colorado a bit more and got another job at an office supply store because of my office supply fetish. I picked up one of those nice leather classic size binders on clearance for super cheap but it's unfortunately collecting dust right now since it was too big to fit in the purse I was using at the time. A year ago, we got the DayRunner Poetica refills that I fell in love with (it was their smaller size 6 ring planner size) so I picked that up at work and found what I thought would be a new purse/planner combo at Wal-Mart that had one section for the planner, one for money and credit cards, and a pocket on the outside for my phone. What it DIDN'T have was a proper shoulder strap, just one of those little handles. That became annoying pretty quickly though I gave it a few months worth of time to try and adjust to.

So I picked up another binder that would fit in my current purse and transfered the Poetica refill over to that. That worked out pretty well for a while. Then two things happened: First, I decided that my purse was just a bit bigger than I wanted it and was starting to show some wear and tear (considering it's probably about 4 or 5 years old now and that's been the only one I've used) and I was putting too much garbage in my purse that didn't need to be there. Second, I started eyeing a digital PDA/internet tablet device instead. So I bought a new purse that was smaller than my old one but would fit the PDA I was considering just fine and then some. Well, finances got a bit tight, as they usually do when one is considering a bigger purchase, and they're actually coming out with an upgraded model of the tablet I was looking at sometime in Spring of '07 so I'm playing the waiting game on that.

In the meantime though, my old planner doesn't even begin to fit and all of the ones that we sell at my work are a bit too big or not what I'm looking for. We had a customer come in to get a planner she had made bound up (not using these templates though. I'm not sure if she made it from scratch or found another place) and I was inspired to make my own at that point.

Due to the size constraints of my purse and my unwillingness to buy a larger one, I've decided to go with a slightly modified Hipster PDA format because I'm not at a point in my life where I need to write down a ton of things or have a huge to-do list. I'm still figuring out how exactly how I want to set it up but I have at least settled on that size for the time being. As life goes on and I'm not able to cram as much into that size, I might go back to a Classic size but for now, I just need something small and compact that I can keep with me easily.

Narrow down to 2 choices?

A favorite subject here it seems. I use a classic 8.5 x 5.5 in. (3 hole Staples brand leather planner) filled with diy planner pages, and calendar pages from an ancient verson of the pc program calendar creator plus, and some custom pages. This is the center of my gtd and somewhat-covey planning and financial & exercise records. It travels in my briefcase to and from work but that's about it. I tried a frankin-covey small size pocket (or was it compact?) size and hated it after about 2 mins. and dumped it after 5 mins. -- the page size seemed awkard and I dislike the proprietary size and holes. And it was too big to be carried and too small to hold lots of informaiton to be written on comfortably.

Despite my dislike for the pocket size planner I use index cards in a wallet (Levenger). I find I don't take the classic planner outside of work & home & briefcase trips, the 3x5 cards are more convenient to field location, school meetings, etc. I carry them all the time. The 3x5s are mainly capture devices. Although I have blank pages for capture in my classic planner, I use the 3x5s and a notebook for that 99% of the time. I copy some calender and sometimes action information on 3x5 cards - esp if I think I'll be doing scheduling on the run during the week -- but generally this is an inefficent thing to do -- re-copying all the time.

My suggestion is to evaluate the classic or larger size as a home base vs. the portable 3x5 and -perhaps- vs a hybrid of both.

switching to levenger circa

i put an order into levenger yesterday for some 8 1/2x11 circa stuff. i'm going to try that as my next "search" for the right system. i'd been using just a cheapo binder and some DIY templates, outlook printed, some custom sheets. but i found that the inability to fold the binder cover back and right really made me not use it. so i'm hoping that the circa system works better...we'll see.

Between Sizes...

I've been between sizes a few times as well... Letter to Classic, Classic to Letter. The biggest barrier to me was the sheer size of the letter-sized planner when open. It's - what? - 19"x12"?

So I was pretty convinced Classic was the size for me and finally gave into my urge for a Circa leather notebook. Well, I love love love this thing. So much so that now I'm actually wishing I'd gotten the letter-sized Circa. I use the thing so much, I actually spend more time shrinking and cutting and punching than I would spend if I could just punch a letter-sized sheet of paper and go. For the record, Circa's Junior pages are not quite Classic (half of a letter-sized = easy cutting!) and they're not quite A5 -- they're 8 1/4" by 5 5/8". Good luck cutting that to size efficiently from a letter-sized sheet! You can do with half a letter size, but it sticks out kinda funny.

Oh and the big plus is the way the leather notebook folds back on itself, the footprint is no bigger than a pad of letter-sized paper...

Anyway - rather than spend almost $100 on the letter-sized leather notebook, I'm keeping my Junior and I bought some letter-sized supplies to try and make my own as a "test drive."


pocket size

I tried many different forms and sizes. Ultimately if it didn't fit in my pocket I didn't keep it with my all the time. So I have settled on 4x6 index cards, 4" is just about perfect for fitting in my back pocket. I really don't understand why 3x5 cards are so popular. They are too small for me.
Alternately, folding a letter-size paper in half and in half again makes a nice 4.25x5.5 size, also good for my pocket. I have a post somewhere around here that explains how to print 4-up with rotation so you can fold the paper into a mini-booklet.

Booklet Software Utility

There is a piece of commercial software called Clickbook that can produce booklets from anything. I have had it for years and used it off and on -- more on since I got into this community.

Contrarywise, if you find the booklet-making instructions you mentioned, please share them. They might be sufficient for some folks.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


Clickbook looks good, but I didn't want to spend $50 just to be able to fold paper. Especially when I can do it for free. I posted a template that explains it, but the template can't be viewed yet, until it's approved.

Here's the gist:

A letter sized paper folded in half, then in half again makes a perfect 4.25 x 5.5 page, just right for a back pocket. You can fold it lengthwise first to get a booklet with pages that turn like a book, or widthwise first to get a booklet with pages that flip up like a reporters notebook.

Each piece of paper makes four pages. You can nest booklets together to make booklets with many pages.

I cut out an attractive cardboard the same size to use as a front and back cover. I also punched a hole in the upper left and put a binder ring through it to hold it together better.

Here's how to print: print your calendar pages, forms, or document to PDF as regular letter sized pages. Then do the following:

1. Download Multivalent (a java .jar file)
2. put your PDF in the same directory
3. open a CMD shell and type:
java -cp Multivalent20060102.jar tool.pdf.Impose -dim 2x2 -layout "3u,2u,4,1" mypdffile.pdf

It will make a new pdf mypdffile-up.pdf that has shrunk, moved, and rotated the pages so you can fold them into a booklet.

Now, this will make each 4 pages into a separate booklet. If you want to nest the pages to make, for example, a 12 page booklet you need to give the correct layout:

up to 4 pages: -layout "3u,2u,4,1"
up to 8 pages: -layout "7u,2u,8,1,5u,4u,6,3"
up to 12 pages: -layout "11u,2u,12,1,9u,4u,10,3,7u,6u,8,5"

I'll leave bigger booklets as an exercise for the reader... but for the programmers out there who might want to wrap a script around this, here's the formula:
for i=0 to (n-1)/4
layout=layout & n-2*i-1 & "u," & 2*i+1 & "u," & n-2*i & "," & 2*i+1 & ","
next i

Multivalent links

Home Page
The Impose tool that was described

I will check this out 'cause I might roll this functionalty into the software I am writing. Look here for more info

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I love the quarter page system (QPS)

I've been using 8.5 X 11 with a nice leather 3 ring binder for my work system and a quarter page system (folding a letter-size paper in half and in half again makes a nice 4.25x5.5 size) to carry with me everywhere else and at home. The information is different in each system so I don't have to sync the two. For both systems, I use only letter sized templates, calendars and lists on my computer and print them out. Though most of my planning, thinking and note taking is done with pen and paper, I do type and print my GTD lists once a week to refresh and clean up my paper world. This makes for a good backup plan as well.

For the quarter page system (QPS), I print using the 4-pages-per-sheet printer preference . Once printed, I cut the page in fourths and slip them into a plasitc portfolio folder with pockets that I cut down to size as well. It fits in my pocket. It is super portable and durable and the pockets keep the paper from spilling out. With plain paper printing and cutting, I don't need a special printer, unlike index cards. The laser printers at work do just fine :) I can also easily cut down blank or slightly used printer paper for my blank QPS sheets. these are greate for capturing.

Quarter page


You know, I was thinking today about trying a quarter-page size, since I'm getting a rollabinder & rings next week sometime. It's still small enough to fit in a purse, and far easier to chop out of letter sheets.

With my previous setup I was using stock index cards rather than chopping them out of letter stock. So 3x5 was convenient. But if I'm moving to paper (still undecided, I'll have to try it out) then quarter page will probably be a lot more convenient. Interestingly, my printer handles the quarter pages better than the 3x5 stock in the manual feed tray.

Since I only use a few forms now, changing my templates to quarter page is easy.

Anyway, I'm waiting to see how index cards do in the Rolla before I make the switch. No need to borrow trouble at this point.


Changing systems

Several years ago I changed from a Classic Franklin to a Compact Franklin. I hated it almost immediately so I went back to the Classic. Much to my delight the FC store happily allowed me to exchange stating they wanted me to be happy with their product. I gave them back all that I did not write on and it was great. I feel a certain allegiance to them because of that . Levinger has some beautiful things also.

old thread- new post-- sizes

After reading GTD two or three times, I've been thinking....
Does anyone ever change sizes or formats just for fun? I know that it could derail your whole "system" but... with all the productivity Pr0n... it's just so fun... Index cards, paper, tabs, boxes, levenger, circa.......
you know, if all you are really carrying are lists and a calendar...
Or should I stop .. and commit to one 'system'??


i say...

life is too short... and if being organized brings you joy or a sense of enjoyment - keep with it.
some people spend hundreds of dollars trying to find something that they find fun and enjoyable and STILL can't get organized to save their lives...
i say we are the lucky few... and we should do what makes us happy :o) Yay for changing planner systems~!

my artwork

Fun with paper

Hi Newbee, yes, I have to say that I enjoy playing with different ideas. I don't always adopt them as my "real" system, but I always have to really try them out for at least a little while to see if they work. Like, over the weekend I had fun learning openoffice, making myself some new hipster templates and building a top-bound circa hipster. I tried it out for a day or so, but I'm keeping my Compact Circa notebook as my main system. The hipster is neat, and I bet I'll find a way to fit it into my workflow eventually.

So yes, I consider all this to be a fun (and occasionally productive) hobby!


I drive myself crazy!

Hey newbie! Well, quite honestly, I am starting to drive myself crazy with the constant need to change my planner. Actually, I have always done this, but now that I found this site, I do it much more frequently. I have been here for a few months and have probably spent a couple hundred dollars (which if this is my hobby, doesn't really bother me) and have changed sizes and systems too many times to count... I recently went back to my Moleskine notebook which I love, but I am already thinking about switching back to a top folding circa AGAIN! UGH! Like I said I drive myself crazy, but I am sure glad there are others out there who do the same thing!!!
nay nay!

The Thrill of The Chase

Count me among those that enjoy switching formats, sizes, etc. There is no "best system" out there. I, too, have changed productivity tools several times since discovering this site. Its far more enjoyable to diddle with the tools than actually getting anything done!


Roberto - you make me giggle!

"Its far more enjoyable to diddle with the tools than actually getting anything done!"

This is soooooooo true!!
smiles, nay nay

Is there a way to

combine the use of 3x5 with the planner? That's what I am working on now. I have my simple hipster which is a stack of clamped index 3x5s and my Classic Planner. I love the "capture" idea of not letting anything slip through. I would like to have my entire life as I presently know it to be "contained" as much as possible. I realize the unforeseen is always present but I mean in general.

Use both?

Do you have a hole punch for your planner? If so, you could punch the index cards (you would have to experiment to see how best to line up the holes) and move them in and out of the planner as needed. I used the Franklin Planners for years and used to incorporate a small memo book, into the planner by sliding the back of it into one of the many slots. It let me write or draw random stuff without having to figure out what category it went in.

Lisa PT

I'm all for classic

The classic size works for me. It keeps everything together, including calendar, pens, paper, phone lists and miscellaneous handouts from meetings and such. It either sits in my desk or travels with meetings.

And it's also easy to find refills, because it's quite standard.

hpda advantages?

Classic is easiest to find refills for, i agree.

A question for 3x5 users: what is the advantage of the cards? rather than, say, a to do list in your moleskine or planner? Or the advantages of having your projects on cards rather than in a planner section? I'm just wondering, and curious.



My old 3x5 system was based on a tickler file in a wooden box. Having tasks on 3x5s in a box made it very easy to move them around, sort them, reschedule them, etc. I could acquire stock cheaply that was colored, lined, grid, or plain. For a while I had an extensive color coding system that had to do with the type of task and the recurrence (in the case of housework and meetings). When I was using cards that way, though, I was not printing forms on them, I was using them straight out of the pack.

But the primary advantage for most users is the size. You can stick a pile of them in your back, front, or shirt pocket and be ready for anything that comes along.

For myself, I'd put one meeting on a card, then take notes on the same card. If the meeting had to do with a project, I'd then file the filled-in card in the project section (all without opening any rings, punching any holes, etc.). The 'done' list was in another box, and a month's worth of done stuff was an inch or so thick stack, easily held together with a rubber band.

Now I use a quarter-letter size in a rollabind notebook, which is quite a bit lighter and thinner than a similarly sized leather zip planner. I find the Rolla rings almost as handy as a file card box for re-filing stuff, even though it does require the special hole-punch.

Anyway, it's all about size and weight and flexibility. If you love to write all over your pages, then the larger size is better for you. If all you need is to jot a quick thought while you're on the go, then a 3x5 stack might be your thing. Some people combine the two--leave the heavy binder on the desk and just take a short stack of 3x5s to the grocery or whatever, then re-file when they get home.



I chose 3 x 5 cards because I like the size. For me a planner absolutely has to be "hands free" portable. 3 x 5 notecards fit easily in any of my pockets, leaving my hands free for keys and coffee. Now that I've worked out the bugs on how to best display & file my cards, I am completely sold. There is also something about the feel of cardstock...


It's 3x5 for me . I

It's 3x5 for me . I struggled a long time with different sizes but I have to say 3x5 is what I go back to.
Which is a good thing. Look at 3x5 this way you get 100 pages/cards for a buck. Cases are pretty darn cheap if you look in Target in the back where they sell the cards . I have a blue plastic envelope style one that serves as my ok i can't leave the house without this planner for under $2.50 unless you want to count the cards I got that day and then your up to 5 whole dollars.

Recently I added 2 new job duties which brings my Role count at work up to 4/5 depending on if I need to sub for someone. Each role has 4/5 constant ongoing projects. Everything requires lots of writing and moving and sharing of ideas between people. I cant imagine doing this with regular lined paper much less the fancy planner paper.

When I added the new job duties I knew I would need a new holding pen for the paper brought on by it because some stuff I just don't need every single day. My answer? Rubbermaid's index card file box in black at a whopping $1.50 from the back of Target. I still want to get a few more cases as I am developing new hobbies and I'm sure my home roles will increase as they tend to each year. But until then I have a desk organizer here at the house with lots and lots of paper clips. So I will use those until I can get more cases.

I know there was a question about long term storage of index cards. My family loves to give out boxes of chocolate for gifts. So I have those empty boxes sitting staring at me all the time . So I just use those . The best thing about that is they cost me nothing so if i throw them out when I'm done with them who cares?

Elaborate on storage

So, Senior Notecardo, can you elaborate a bit on your methods for displaying and filing your cards? Or did I miss that on another thread someplace? I'm trying out 3x5s again.

I agree about cardstock. I was able to buy individual sheets from Office Depot, and I got various colors of the parchment type. It's very pretty... I cut 3x5's out of it and then print on those.

p.s. To get even more "hands free", you could use a Camelback for your coffee... :)

Notecard Display & Storage

A week of vacation did me some good, as last week I - Roberto Notecardo, actually had two ideas for handling my notecards. For months I had been admiring the Levenger Bleachers, but knew I could never sneak this purchase past my wife, nor would I have enough room on top of my desk (more the former than the latter reason, though).

Display - I have taped four clear plastic 3.5" diskette binder sheets to the wall next to my computer desk. Each sheet is designed to hold six 3.5" disks, but they also do a dandy job of displaying notecards. Since they are made of clear plastic, I can now scan 24 cards at once without physically handling them.

Storage - Files are the backbone of my entire system, so I borrowed an idea from Levenger and created mini 3 x 5 file folders for my notecards. I glued a paper "info pocket" (similar to that which Pendaflex offers in hanging files) on the inside left side of my letter-size file folders. This info pocket is the perfect size in which to hold a 3 x 5 file folder. In this mini file folder I keep "archived" cards pertaining to that particular file's contents. It keeps the notecards neat/organized. For "active" cards, I have glued in a second info pocket which allows me to display cards within the file without co-mingling them with other documents. It's really slick!



Bob -- very interesting system you have made! I like it and have been struggling today with my newest planner... I think you just saved my head from exploding! :) LOL
nay nay

Back on the classic

I have switched sizes several times. I have also switched between paper and digital several times. When I was in college I carried a compact sized planner with 3/8" rings (no I don't know how I found this) in my back pocket. After I graduated and started working I acquired a used Palm III and went totally digital for 8 years in a successive list of Palm PDAs. Immediately after reading GTD I started with a "pure" Hipster, a stack of blank 3x5s and a binder clip. This seemed to be the greatest idea since silicon wafers. I quickly discovered DIY Planner and built a complete HPDA system. I found the Franklin Covey version of the Levenger International and a pen to fit into it (stock Cross sliver ballpoint fits great). This continued until I discovered the Moleskine. I have switched back and forth trying to create the perfect system. This included having separate systems for Home and Work and integrating with several digital back ends (txt files, groupware apps, personal Wiki).

About three weeks ago I realized that my system had a major problem that I needed to solve, Project planning. The Hipster was great for capture and action tracking. My Mole did capture and longer journaling. I could use Txt or a Wiki for research and archiving. Yet I had no flexible project planning system. By flexible I really mean instantly creating a new project or archiving a finished one with no overhead or technical barriers. I tried using the Wiki for this and it was just to complicated. But I do suggest having a Wiki, it's very usefull, just not for project management.

This is when I committed to trying a Classic sized planner. I started slowly, with only some notes pages and a standard half page 3 ring binder. This worked so well that I went to printing a set of DIY pages and cutting and punching them. Soon the limitation was the three ring binder, so I got a "Blue Sky" 3 ring from Office Depot. It was inexpensive, has a magnetic clasp, and the rings are on the side not the spine so it lays very flat on my desk. I kept the '07 monthly calendar pages and put my DIY in for the rest. It has been great and I feel that I have as much control over my projects now as my hipster gave me over my tasks.

I set my classic up loosely based on DavidCo's GTD suggestions. I have 8 tabs: Notes, Actions, Waiting, Projects, Agendas, Meetings, Someday, and Misc. Then I have the calendar pages behind these. I made my own divider with card stock, purchased for my original DIY Hipster, and Avery SwifTabs with printed labels on them. The SwifTabs are awesome and very sturdy. I have posted several customized pages in the directory that I needed modified for my system including a Projects list and Meeting and Notes pages (this is for the Meetings tab).

cruss hcity net

I use two sizes - A5

I use two sizes - A5 (equivalent to American classic) and 3x5.

A5 is half A4 (equivalent to American letter), which is the easiest size to find in Malaysia. Just fold the A4 in two and cut. No wastage. That's the main reason for my choice of A5.

3x5 - this is more portable to carry around, but has less space for me to scribble in. Cutting the paper to the right size also requires a little more planning and time than the A5. Plus there's some wastage, too. But ... I have some really sweet Levenger 3x5 plastic folders that I have sliced down the middle to make the front and back covers for 3x5 notebooks, so that's an incentive to cut 3x5 paper whenever I have some free time to do it!

I do exactly the same

[Hi, I'm new.]

I've just recently converted to the hPDA. Dealing with my projects and deadlines was getting ridiculous and with an adoption under way, adding a child to my life and commuting required that I systemitize my schedules and my workflow. I am in love and I am never coming back.

Classic: I have been using a classic size planner forever. I used to buy the Day-Timer or At-a-Glance stuff, but since I came accross D*I*Y, I am never going back. I use a week at a glance pages, with month at a glance pages as well, which allow me to plan six months at a time. I presently have deadlines set in late October that are already in the planner. This I leave at home.

3x5: On an everyday basis, now I carry a hPDA. I needed to lighten my load since I have a 1 1/2h train commute. It's been two weeks and I'm blown away. I carry two week at a glance cards (current and next), current month at a glance card, my to-dos for each current project, my to buy for each current project, one card for what will need to be input in the classic planner when I sync in the evening, dedicated cards for meeting notes, teaching and lessons, book and research notes, story ideas and painting ideas, plus a small stack of non-dedicated cards that can be added elsewhere or given away. Roughly 30 cards. I made a cover with which I had laminated. I used a small eyelet to attach a plastic loop for my bullet space pen. All of it held together by a clip.

I also carry a moleskin for writing lengthier texts.

hello and welcome :D

It sounds like your system is working out well :D
my artwork


It is. :D

I already could not find my brain without it. Only after two weeks.

Many sizes, still searching for Nirvana

I started my planning life with a letter-size Franklin planner, which as someone already pointed out, is roughly the size of a coffee table when opened. :-) It was not lap-friendly, and I had a lot of trouble keeping the required space clear on my desk to use it. Never mind taking it "everywhere" as endorsed by the Franklin methodology.

I then cycled through each subsequent smaller size, and I'm current using their "Pocket" size, which gives a page size of 3-1/2" x 6" This is a perfect size for carrying around, I can use it in the car, put my grocery list on a daily page, etc..

The problem? Sometimes it's too small! Mind-maps usually happen out-of-binder on a letter-size page, as do project notes and such. And sometimes it's too big! Especially if I just wanted to remember the name of the book I was going to look for over my lunch break, and don't want to haul the last two months of my life to the bookstore just for an author's name.

I'm moving to a DIY Rolla/Circa system in the classic size, but I'm planning on using it in "landscape" mode (discs on top) to maximize my writing space without giving me anything too unwieldy to take to a meeting. I'm also thinking about making a 3x5 Rolla hipster (a flipster?) that I can use for my lunchtime walkabouts, and a letter-size archive notebook/mind-map repository.

So basically, I'm settling on a size by not settling on a size. :-) But I think the cause of all my "switch-itis" is that my planning/jotting/storage needs vary based on context.

It was given to me

My current planner is in a FiloFAX/TimeSystem binder branded with the name of a previous employer. It takes A5 sized paper. The original inserts were clearly laid out with feint (grey) ruling.

After leaving that company I switched to using FiloFAX inserts as these were easy to buy in an national chain of high-street stationers. These inserts weren't quite right. The layout wasn't as clear plus they were multi-lingual. And only day to a page. I wanted something closer in look to TimeSystem day pages, which I had seen about 15 years earlier on a business trip to Stockholm. That was day to a view or two pages per day. With that style I could keep my appointments diary opposite my briefing notes. I began to think about printing my own forms but never could make the time to do more than sketch my preferred layout.

A couple of years of the high-street style forced me to look for something closer to what I wanted. Again the thought of designing my own forms was put on hold when I found something suitable at ... FiloFAX with their Time Management professional pages with two pages to a day. Like the company branded pages these have clear unobtrusive layout and feint grey ruling. Nearly there. The main issue with these refill sets is cost. I could live with the inconvenience of minor divergence from my ideal. But I still think about designing my own forms.

Sometime soon I will have to make a decision about whether to continue with this FiloFAX/TimeSystem binder. After many years good service it is showing its age. The leather strap is spliting, which was caused by my stuffing too many blank forms in the binder at one time, and will snap across the stitching that forms the hinge. The 6-ring loop is cutting through the leather on the inside. It will all fall out eventually. I hope it will last another full year (until end of 2008) by which time I will have finished re-training and have time to think about other things.

I don't recall how but I stumbled across this site about three months ago. Visited a few times on and off. Then I started thinking about designing some forms that I need for my new career; reflective journal and professional development plan. The professional society has pro formas for these but they are A4 sized (and available only in Microsoft Word format). I want something that is A5 sized or trimmed A4 landscape. Then I can carry these around to interpreting assignments and when necessary in my de-brief after the event note down my progress, dilemmas, training needs, etc.

I've got the designing bug. Hence I'm here every day, every hour. Started out as light relief from writing course papers until I realised that there were a few ideas in GTD (or rather how some people here were using GTD) that I should incorporated into my professional practice as an interpreter.

So when my training finishes (in about a months time) I will embark on forms design for my new career and preparation of diary inserts for 2008. These diary pages will be based on the FiloFAX but with alterations in layout to suit my preferences; for example, I don't use the delegation boxes --- there is no one to delegate to in my job. Some pages from D*I*Y Planner will make it in there too but unlike the company branded and FiloFAX pages I find the typographic design a little too intrusive. Sorry Doug. I'm dyslexic and the heavy font weight for page headings and the graduated rules impose themselves too much on my vision. I want something there as a guide rather than as a frame. More pencil line than final brush stroke. Wish the D*I*Y Planner forms were downloadable as Scribus files then I could tweak what are for me highly intrusive elements.

As for size I will stick with A5. Easy to get paper. Staples, WHSmith, Partners, the independent stationers near to Fenchurch's cafe, even the printer cartridge refill shop rond the corner all sell reams of A4 paper. I've real desire for fine quality paper so the bog-standard photocopier/printer paer is adequate for my needs. I have a FiloFAX 6-ring punch and a paper trimmer so punching and cutting A5 forms is a doddle. I will soon have a Rollabind punch too (thanks Jon) so I can experiement using that binding system before the leather binder gives out.

A5 is a convenient size for writing upon. Smaller than that and my writing becomes too cramped. As one part of my dyslexic profile is poor fine motor control I need space on the page; bigger is clear. Bigger makes for readable. A4 would be too large to carry around plus there would be too much white surface to reflect the light. So A5 is a good compromise.

It may have been given to me but I'm sticking with it. Making adjustments aong the way to suit my personal needs.

Multi-coloured Paper Planner...

A4 would be too large to carry around plus there would be too much white surface to reflect the light. So A5 is a good compromise.

May I ask, have you ever tried pastel colours instead of white and if so did you find it helpful?


Never been tested

My dyslexia has only been formally assessed over the last couple of years. The psychologists haven't yet run Meares-Irlen test on my visual perception. However, I actually prefer white paper to write on. (Also reading black text on white background --- yet another reason for hating red letter editions of the Bible.) With A5 sized paper there isn't too much area plus the binders are more managable --- fit in the hand whereas A4 ones don't.

Classic is the best middle ground

I've mainly used a classic size binder, three ring, leather inexpensive Staples brand, filled with DIY and custom forms (pretty much like Doug's how-to suggestion). I tried a Franklin Covey compact size and 3x5 cards. The compact I hated, odd size too big and too small, and proprietary - I abandoned it within hours.

3x5 cards are a viable alternative. However, for me, they do not serve well as a main planner. It's said that 3x5s are portable, but the way I use GTD I have a lot of projects, almost 60 (like David Allen reports he has - I take seriously anything that's more than one step is a project - works for me). Add that to all the other things I want to track (finance, health measures, travel costs), then you have quite a large stack of 3x5s, more than can fit in your pocket (coat pocket maybe).

So, essentially I'd have to carry some kind of 3x5 folder or box - not portable in the same way as taking a thin stack of cards held by a binder clip.

At this point, for me, 3x5s are not any more portable than the classic planner. And the classic planner pages have more room. And it's cheaper and easier for me to print & cut DIY forms of the classic size. Thus, classic size is the hands-down winner (for now).

However, I still keep a small stack of several cards in my shirt pocket - portable. They're mainly used as capture devices. I have blank and/or notes pages in the classic planner for capture, but rarely use them. Once I capture things on 3x5s, the 3x5s go into a sleeve in the classic planner - ready to be processed during the next GTD review.

In addition, I have a few 3x5 calendar cards on which I copy my essential calendar information. This way I can schedule things on the run when needed. I'm not sure this is a good idea, I don't like the copying part, it's spending too much time on planning rather than doing. On and off I used satellite action cards, less so than I used to - same reason, too much fussing with planning - I wanted to simplify.

There you have it - I've settled on classic with 3x5 supplement.

I am a "classic" type of gal...

I always have been a little more favorable towards the "classic" size. It isn't too big and it isn't too small for what I need. I have been using planners since I was in middle school, a habit I picked up from my mother. At the time, I would tote around my assignments in it. As years passed by, I am still using it to jot notes, keep dates handy, and STILL the assignments (I am a college student!).

I just love the functionality that I get with my planner and the size. I have tried the smaller ones, like compact, and it just wasn't enough for me. The letter size is just too big for my taste, and too much to lug around. I can just slip this into my day bag with my magazine or book of choice and a couple of snacks, and be on my way!

Chiming in 3 years later.

I just finished sewing my very first felt pouch to hold my loose-leaf quarter-letter (5.5 x 4.25) sized planner. Although the majority of my paper is quarter-letter, I can easily integrate half-letter (fold once) or letter (fold twice) sized paper if I need something larger.
So I have the best of 3 worlds.

I eventually learned to the let the perfect planner find me. It's an incredible feeling!


I'm thinking of re-doing my planner system. Too many of them on hand.

Circa: check.
Now onto...fountain pens.
This new office supply kick is getting mighty expensive real quick.

Jeepers I've been all over the place

I have been from 3X5 to Senior Desk size with planners over the past 15 years. So, I am now using a Moleskine 5 X 8 with quad paper. I've had it for the past three months. Simplification, simplification. I just write in days, schedules, tasks, etc., wherever I want, along with notes from meetings, etc.

I can carry it in my computer bag or purse. It's quick and easy and VERY unstructured. And I don't mess with refills or pages that are not quite what I want.

Planner doesn't mean forms

I learned the frustrating way that planner doesn't mean forms or even a binding. My current set-up was inspired by the Hipster PDA. In a recent post I said, "a binder clip or elastic is a little too loose leaf for me." My pouch allows me to remove and replace the papers I need easily, and I find that I like the ability to shuffle pages around without worrying about a binding.

It's not an index card set-up, but it works for me. Finally.

If you're reading, SusanBeth, you now have another convert to the "wonderfulness of index cards"--ish.