5 Feb 2015

how to choose your binder contents

Did you get a new binder for Christmas? Perhaps you snapped one up in the January sales? I remember when I got my first one back in 2008 or 2009 (not sure which year it was now) and it was such a novelty that I wanted to put everything in it. Though I'm not using a binder this year, I thought it would be nice to do a post on choosing what to put in your binder as I wish I had something like this to guide me through setting up my first binder.

With a wide range of inserts available from many brands, it can be quite overwhelming to decide on what you need and what you want. The best thing to do here is look at your current planner and write down a list of sections you currently have in it and used. If you don't use a planner, think about what you'd like in your planner, write it all down and then question yourself - would you use that section? Can that section stay at home instead?

This way, you can narrow down the stuff you really need to have with you when out and about. It's so easy to overstuff the binder which is, not only bad for the rings, but is also bad for your back as a stuffed binder can weigh as much as a brick if you're not careful. 

In the beginning, I would carry around a whole year's worth of inserts (week on two pages), a year planner, plenty of notepages (I'd guess at around 20-30), some addresses and some sentimental photos of my family. With experience, I've stopped carrying around the address inserts because I never used these when away from home, the year planner was redundant as I barely looked at it and I only needed about five sheets of notepaper at any one time! In terms of the diary inserts, I slimmed this down to just six months' worth which meant I could justify adding in a few sheets of inspirational quotes like I did last year.

Notepaper is an easy way to unnecessarily bulk out your binder so my advice here is to really think about what you're intending on writing down. Can you make do with five and then do a one-in-one-out policy? Do you have time for that? If you're reviewing your binder every week, this might be a feasible system but if you only have time to review it once a month, you may need a few more.

By removing bulk that you don't need to have with you at all times, you can personalise your binder by inserting quotes or inspirational pages. It can be quite monotonous only having the necessary inserts so it's nice to just add in something different.

To-do sheets are similar to notepaper inserts because it can be quite easy to put too many into your binder. I used to like having about fifteen at any one time but then I realised I only really used three lists: to buy (i.e. to save up for), to read and a blog post ideas list.

Something I really recommend is regularly reviewing your binder and its contents. I reviewed mine every three months where I would remove some diary inserts from weeks that had passed and hadn't been looked at for the last month or so - these inserts would be archived - and I would also review my notepaper and to-do lists at the back to ensure that everything in there was present because I needed it to be. Binders are heavy things - why make them heavier than they need to be?

It can be hard to guage how much you really need in your binder to begin with so maybe see how things go for the first two months and then tweak it from there. 

I hope you have found this post useful :) - I'm by no means an expert and can't give individual advice and a lot of this can be found through experience. However, a post like this was something I was looking for when I first purchased a binder so I thought it would be nice to pass on some things I've learnt over the years.


  1. While I love having a ton of past inserts in my planner, it really did take up space that I just didn't have to offer those older pages *sigh*, so I normally keep a month and a half of dailies, and call it good. I do, though, have to keep addresses as I most of the time need them most while I'm out and about. That, and it only takes up one page for the addresses that I need!
    The beauty of the ring-bound planner, though, to each their own on what they add in!

    1. That is the best thing about a ring binder - you can chop and change midway through the year without disrupting the integrity of a bound planner. Once you start ripping things out of a bound planner, the glue and binding goes all funny!

      Sounds like you've got a solid set up going too :) hope it carries on working for you :) x

  2. I will admit to doing the same last week.
    It's amazing how much junk I had in my filo that was taking up space.
    So I reorganised ... Addresses, any "reference" inserts (stuff I refer to but don't need regularly) maps! (My filo is really old) ... All gone or moved to another binder I keep at home.
    Then I ditched the standard section dividers that you can buy that don't fit what I need it for and created my own that suited me.
    So I've gone from using 30% of an overstuffed filo to a much slimmer version, 80-90% of which I use regularly.

    1. Wow - sounds like you had quite the clear out and overhaul! Hope your new set up works for you but at least you know that if it doesn't, you can change it as it's so versatile :) x

  3. Another tip if you just carry five blank pages at once (which is what I do): write on the backs, too. I used to forget to use the backs, but with only five pages, I have to.

  4. Where did you get your cute paper clips notes and doodles page inserts? :)

  5. Where did you get your binder? and all those cute insert pages ?


    1. The binder is from Smythson. The inserts are from a variety of places including Kate Spade, Smythson, Paperchase, etc x