A different kind of planner

Here is a little bit about my kind of planner, in case you are interested.

I discovered that if I take a legal size 8 1/2" x 14" sheet of paper, and fold it in half, this yields page dimensions that I really like to work with. They also happen to very closely match the dimensions of the DayMinder Executive Weekly Academic Planner, with Page Size 6 7/8" x 8 3/4". I noticed that I could take the cover off an old DayMinder, and it would fit my planner page format very well. However, used DayMinders of the correct dimensions are very difficult to come by. So, I turned to making my own.

Here is how I organize my planner.

The first 60 to 80 pages are numbered, blank pages. The number of pages varies from time to time because, well... because I like to run out of blank pages at the same time as I run out of calendar pages, and my writing output varies from time to time. When I fill one planner, I examine the uncompleted section, and estimate what the ratio of blank to calendar pages will be for the next period. And as it turns out, I usually go through about 3 planners a year. Try to find THAT at any store: trimester planners!

I really like having blank pages for writing. That way I can draw sketches, designs, mathematical formulas, all sorts of things that I don't want confined to lines on a page. It is also easier to vary the letter height, when that suits my purpose. I number the pages so that I can make references to pages of interest in an index.

Following the blank diary/log pages, I have the calendar portion. I have a laser printer at home, so I can easily print whatever portion and format of calendar I want. I maintain the calendar in a MS Word document, and I wrote a few macros so that I can create weekly pages for any range of dates I desire pretty much at the press of a button. I used to use the two page spread per week format, but eventually my life simplified a bit, and I noticed that most of the space was unused. So, I reverted to one page per week. About 15 or 16 weeks at a time seems best for me these days. Following the weekly appointment calendar, I put in 5 or 6 month-per-page calendars sheets, followed by a year-per-page for both the current and the upcoming year.

I also print out an address/phone section for each planner. I happen to be the publisher of my church's phone directory, so I bind a copy of that directory into my planner so that I can readily capture update information. (Plus, I can look up peoples' names if my memory is a little slow at recall.) Following that are two pages of addresses/phone/email information for personal and business contacts.

Lately I've taken to binding in 3 or 4 pages of blank music staves, so that if I happen to think up a tune that I like, I can quickly capture it before it evaporates from my highly volatile memory. Following that is an index page where I note the page number of important information.

For binding my planner, I am very enthusiastic about the twin wire binding system. In a sense, it sort of combines the properties of the comb (GBC) binding system and the wire coil. The material is wire, but it is bent in the shape of a comb with curled tines. (It almost looks like somebody has taken a wire, and traced all along the edge of the tines of a binding comb.) The advantages are these:

  • The wire comb is very easy to bind, you just slip the holes of the pages and cover over the curled tines of the wire comb, and then use the binding press to squish the combs into a closed loop.
  • You can fold the cover and pages all the way around to the back of the planner so that it lies open to the one page you are working on, thus taking up less desk space.
  • When you do fold the cover and some pages to the back, they remain aligned with the other pages, rather than riding up higher (or lower) than the other pages due to the spiral.
  • The wire binding holds the pages very securely. There is virtually no likelihood of accidentally pulling a page out. You actually could tear out a page if you really wanted to, but it seems more difficult than with a coil binding.
  • The twin wire is less subject to yanking and stretching than the coil. You've all had the experience with coil bindings: you snag the coil accidentally on something, and it stretches out and pulls tight several turns of the coil above and below the snag, rendering it difficult to turn pages thereafter. With the twin wire system, if you do happen to snag a loop, the snag wont go very far because of the way the wire runs.
    The wire goes first into a hole, curls all the way around through the set of pages, then when it emerges from the other side of the page set, close to the point at which it entered the hole, it turns completely around and goes back the way it came, running back down the same holes through which it came up, very close to itself. When it emerges from the hole where it first entered, it then loops over to the next hole and traces the same path there. It is the loop between where it emerges from one hole and enters the next adjacent hole that keeps the binding from pulling tight. The loop catches on the paper between the holes and cannot pull through.

I like the way the cover runs on the DayMinder. It is a 9" x 15" sheet, with two parallel sets of holes either side of the center. In essence, the front cover descends into the coils, wraps around the pages, and emerges back out of the coils as the back cover. This gives it more of a bound book appearance, and I believe it also helps prevent snagging the loops.

Presently I am using poster board for the cover. It is just a little too flimsy, so I took to putting clear contact paper on it. This strengthens it a little, and it is more impervious to liquids. However I am constantly on the lookout for the kind of cover material DayMinder uses for their planners.

Custom Daily Planner, Calendar Section
Custom Daily Planner, Log/Notes Section

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Got it all

Looks like you have got it all in one neat compact planner! Nice work and thank you for sharing! I will be giving this some thought!!!

Happy Day,
nay nay

Sounds like you have it worked out

One question: would you even want to consider disc-binding (Circa/Rollabind) ?
You would be able to add/remove/rearrange pages.
However, if you are satisfied with your current setup, don't change it.
"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)


Not at this time.

I have used both DayTimer and Franklin planners before. I even got the special punch so as to allow loose sheets to be added to the DayTimer. So, I am familiar with insertable sheet systems.

There are two chief reasons why I don't use those systems any more

  • I don't need to. For the way my life runs, my work duties and home activities, I seldom encounter anything that I want to bind and keep with me. That might be in part due to the general drift toward paperless office. I find that pretty much any document I care about, I can get in electronic format.

  • Bulk. The wire binding has a terrific size and weight advantage over those bulky bind-in type of planners. I really do make a point of carrying my planner around with me everywhere I go. When I switched over from Franklin to this home-made version I was so refreshed by the lightness and thinness of what I carried. I never faced the dilemma "do I really want to lug this thing with me? but I should. but it's so bulky and inconvenient for this trip. but..." The planner will fit in many places where other planners cannot go.

I'll moderate that first point a little. Occasionally I do encounter something that I would like to carry with me, after I've done the binding. I discovered that it is a simple matter to run the sheet through the punch, and then take a scissors and snip from the back edge up to the hole. I've found that it is surprisingly secure. I think it may have a slight advantage over a smurf. The mushroom shape of the smurf leaves two rather small ledges of paper to hold the page in. The straight slit that I cut leaves the maximum amount of paper ledge to hold against pulling. I just have to be sure to tuck the ledges in to lie flat.

Thank you for you interest.


Great posts! I am not a circa-fan either and have made my own coil=bound planner in the past. Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn't figured out how to insert new pages into the coil-bound without taking it all apart. And then I was looking at my old circa notebook and realized that I could just cut a slit at each punched hole and it would be just like circa except, like you said, even more secure! I never posted the idea because I guess I forgot, so I am glad you brought it up!

Thanks again for the non-circa notebook ideas! :)

happy day,
nay nay


One curious little trivia point. I went to college in Rolla, Missouri. It was rather amusing to stumble across the Rolla binding system here.

I believe the pronunciations are different. The pronunciation of the "o" in Rolla, Mo, is like the "o" in "golly." I imagine, given its origin, the Rolla binding system must be pronounced as in the word "roll", as in ROFL.

Legal paper

I love the idea of using legal sized paper! Of course you're right about the dilemma of finding a cover. I like using the ring binder system and have yet to find a binder with longer covers (although I will admit that I've been thinking about buying a box of 3 ring binder hard ware to make my own binder planners).

larger binder

take a look at the Russellhazel web site. They have a slightly wider classic size.

legal-size paper folded in half and a question about twin wire

Are you aware of the Planner Pad? Their "personal size" is also the size of legal-size paper folded in half. If by chance you ever want a leather cover, Planner Pad leather covers would probably fit your twin-wire notebook. The quality of the leather cover I ordered was very nice.

By the way, Planner Pad also sells adhesive pouches, one for inside the front cover, and another one for the inside of the back cover.

I'd be interested to know more about the twin-wire binding. Did you buy a binding machine, or do you have it done somewhere?

".. question about twin wire"

I hope I haven't lost you because of my delay.

I've never heard of Planner Pad. I looked over their web site. Were I in the market for an organizational tool, they would be an interesting possibility...

Unless I missed something, their leather covers look quite a bit thicker than I care to tote. Zip-up sides and everything means it's a traveling desk set. I used to use something like that from DayTimer, but I don't care for that much, any more.

The oddest thing about them is that, whereas their photos show twin-wire bound items, they refer to them as spiral bound! That's strange because usually twin-wire purveyors like to differentiate themselves from spiral because of the advantages. Still... I suppose most of the general public is not aware of the distinction, and the term "spiral" gets the idea across more effectively to the uninformed public.

Twin-wire binders: I purchased a machine for my use. They can get rather costly, but some manually operated versions can be had in the neighborhood of $200. With all the planners I've bound so far, and additional general-purpose notebooks I've bound, I guess it averages out to under $7 a pop. That's not a whole lot different from a good bound planner from Staples or Office Max. But my unit price keeps dropping every time I bind a new one, and mine are all...well, mine. They are configured just the way I like them, which can't be had anywhere for any price.

"share and enjoy"

Blank 8.5 x 5.5 refill pages

Does anyone know where you can find blank 8.5" x 5.5" refill pages for my planner? I bought some a few years ago and printed my own forms on them, but now can not find anyone who handles them any more. The ones I had, had three holes on one side which was reinforced with a plastic material and the outside corners were rounded.

Thaks for any help you can provide

Where do you buy a twin wire

Where do you buy a twin wire machine or where do you go to get the twin wire bounding done


My local Staples here in UK will do one-off wire-o binding fairly cheaply.

Staples and various other stationery suppliers will sell you a suitable machine and the necessary wire-combs. Buying a machine and wires is probably only for the committed. (UK) Staples' web site has a Fellowes wire binder for £199 (at the current exchange rate that about $400).

In the UK Viking-Direct also

In the UK Viking-Direct also sell a nice little manual wire binding machine which also binds combs. It is a little cheaper at about £153, though still somewhat pricey.

wire-o binding at Staples


Is there a place to buy a sheet of that cover material used in the commercial "Dayminders"?
Will Staples (or others) punch and thread the cover as per the "Dayminders"?

may be best to go look

The last time I was in the Staples print area (making a copy of the truely amazing and totally awesome novel I hand wrote and never will again because I can't read my writing), the employee there showed me samples of the different bindings and cover materials they have. They can even do hardbound books and I've been trying to think of a reason I need something bound in that way ever since.

Other print shops may offer even more bindings and covers. My advice is to visit places that copy, print, and have office supplies which, for most of us on this list, is something like a trip to the candy store.

Ok, and will check...

I will also check with mybinding.com