Beginner’s Guide to Planners


This is a post for people, who like me have just got into using a paper planner and are a bit overwhelmed with the choices and what to do with your planner. First thing’s first, the people who have beautiful, well decorated planners didn’t spend overnight getting their planner to get where it is. It took a lot of time to perfect a system. As the saying goes Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your planner. My advise is to start small and then build.

Well obviously, you’re going to need a planner. Buying a planner can be quite difficult – especially as there is not a filofax shop anymore that stocks a full range of Filofax planners so you can go and look at them before you buy. My advice is to go to somewhere like WH Smith, Colemans, Paperchase or Staples and have a look at the different sizes and get a feel for them. Although you’d think an A5 planner is great because A5 is small and manageable – the planner is a lot bulkier than you expect and it can just be too big for some people to carry everywhere. I started with an A5 planner many years ago and it was just too big so I downsized to a personal. Recently I bought a mini filofax and it is great as a German word of the day diary and a wallet. I’ll also probably use it as a travel companion and put flight info and things like that it in.

It is difficult to pick a planner if you are not seeing it in person, and it is always a gamble to order online. I really struggled with the idea of getting a Mini to use as a travel journal and wallet. It took me a long while to search on different sites to see if it was the right size for me. In the end – setup videos on youtube about Minis (not just the Mini Malden) and asking a few questions on Filofax for Philofaxy Fans (including asking people if Passports fit in it) really helped me reach my decision and when it came I know I had picked the right size.

Now you may so to a store and find a planner you like for a good price, however if you have your heart set on a particularly planner and you don’t find it, a few good online sites to try are: Nigel O’Hara, Ebay, Speedy Hen, Filofax or any of the shops listed above. Shopping around is always a good idea, you tend to find some really good deals around May-June time, as it is half way through the year and some planners are yearly, so some shops sell them off. I got a A5 Original from WH Smith in May time for 50% off. I then got a Original Personal for 66% percent off from Nigel O’Hara in June. Fantastic buys. I recently got a Mini Malden from Germany off ebay, it was a really good deal – and even with shipping – which was quite alot it still worked out much cheaper than buying it in the UK. Another option is to try a Filofax for sale group such as: Filofax and Pens for Sale – however looking over it I’ve not really found some bargains on there so I’ve not bought anything from there, I am also a little sceptical about buyer’s protection – so I feel more secure buying from a different site.

Next up, some essentials you really are:

A diary of some description – A filofax usually will come with an insert so you’ll be good to go for a couple of months. If the diary comes with an out of date one and you need something past – I found the cheapest and most reasonable would be from Paperchase. They are a good starter option to get you going.

Next I recommend getting yourself a hole puncher. You can buy the filofax ones but not many people have really rated them. I got a multiple punch one – it does from an A5 through to a mini and covers all my needs. It’s well built and I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy another one so I am really happy with it.

Another good buy is something to cut paper with – I was looking at guillotines but instead decided to get for a cutting matt, a cork board ruler and a Stanley knife. It worked out much cheaper than a guillotine – I like it better for cutting crop marks better (when cutting on a guillotine you’ll likely to cut off your crop marks before you complete you cutting session – this doesn’t happen with a Stanley knife). In additional, I thought it would be less hassle to change a Stanley knife blade when it becomes blunt than a guillotine blade.

That’s basically it for getting started. Other people have pretty dividers, nice clips or stamp their planners – but it can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly. So a good idea is just to start small and work out what you want to use your planner for. What sections you might like, how you’ll use it. Then work on personalising it. Functionality after all is more important than cosmetics.


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