Why the Mini Binder is the Perfect Planner Size
When I first started creating printable planners, I knew that I needed to find an easy way to integrate the personalized and stylish pages in a format that was easy to use without being cumbersome. The letter size is nice for a large binder, especially if you are planning around a large number of family activities, but a big binder can be annoying to carry around every day. A compact personal sized planner is easy to carry around, but it doesn't always leave much room for actually writing down your plans.
Then I stumbled upon the Russell + Hazel mini binders one day while shopping at the Container Store. They were perfect! They were pretty! They were exactly what I never knew I always needed.The binders are small and thin, about 7" x 9" x 1.5". They can fit approximately 100 pages easily and there is a very stylish selection of extras to coordinate with them.
I usually carry a slim laptop bag everyday to work. There is just enough room to toss a portable external hard drive, a few files, and reading glasses (my eyes are old at a ripe old age of 30-something staring at a computer for 18 hours a day). The Russell + Hazel binders easily slip down the side of the bag without using up precious space. Now I can easily keep a planner with me each day, which has become essential as my husband and I attempt to coordinate both working full time while raising kids, and starting our own companies.
If the Russell + Hazel binders are not your thing, there are other mini binders available at Target and Office Depot. The gold Divoga mini binder (sold at Office Depot) is also a favorite of mine.
What is a Mini Binder?
Though it sounds intuitive, some people think a mini binder is a super small personal sized system. It's actually just larger than an A5 size, and smaller than a full letter-sized three ring binder. It's similar to folding a letter or A4 sized piece of paper in half. The mini binder has three rings in the middle, just like full sized binders, without the extra rings that some personal planners have.
The Mini Binder Planner System
I have a printable planner that I created for myself, also available for sale at Confetti Saturday. I will go into all of the things that make my planners wonderful organizational tools in another post (though I really do think they are the most useful and most versatile available!). The printable planner is a file that you can download immediately after purchasing, usually a pdf or jpg format. My printable planner sets are preformatted so that all you have to do is open the file and print.
If you are starting the mini binder planner system you will probably need a good cutting tool. The planners have crop marks to show you where to cut to make each page perfectly uniform. I like to use a Fiskars Paper Trimmer to easily cut a few pages at a time. If you choose to take the file to a print shop like your neighborhood Office Depot, Staples, FedEx Kinkos, etc., you may be able to have them cut the paper down to size after they print it.
You will also need a small hole punch. The Franklin Covey A5 metal punch has served me well, and the Swingline 2-3 hole punch is adjustable so it is a very versatile tool.
Now that you have planner pages printed, cut down to 6.375" x 8.375", with holes punched, you are ready to insert the pages into your mini binder and start planning.
Mini Binders Are Highly Customizable
You can find printable planners for almost any life planning and organizing scenario. In addition to the typical day planner, you can dedicate one binder to just meeting notes in the office. You can make one section of your binder specific to meal planning so that you can always have a plan ready when the crazy six o'clock dinner rush starts. My personal favorite is the blog planner, which perfectly organizes everything that you need to plan out helpful and engaging blog posts, then gauge their success or failure. Since you are printing out planning pages, you can find a set of planners on a much wider range of topics than the standard calendars available at an office supply store.
Mini Binders Are Visually Pleasant
I have no idea why someone decided years ago that planners had to be either stodgy and boring or pandering and cutesy. Just because I am a mom planning my kids activities, I do not enjoy using a planner with cartoon images of a frazzled mom, or a collection of family-oriented bible quotes. And just because I work full time in an office I do not want plain white paper with black Times New Roman print. I want a little glam and fun in my everyday life. I want to feel happy putting together a plan each day. Printable planners and mini binders give that customization.
Why a Printed Day Planner?
Everyone carries smart phones now, and wears smart watches, and watches smart TVs. Why on earth would we back-pedal to hand-writing our daily activities? Because it really is the easiest way to glance at a days commitments and see what needs to be done immediately. Because other people can just glance at it to see daily activities. I love my iPhone. I use the calendar function daily, and really love to just punch in the next scheduled doctors appointment when I am checking out at the pediatrician, with an alert scheduled so that I will be reminded in 6 months when my kid is scheduled for a flu shot. I totally get how awesome the digital world is and I would be the first to riot if Apple ceased to exist.
But... I also really love starting my day by grabbing a quiet cup of coffee and writing down everything in my brain that I need to focus on for the day. I love having a space to write down random notes and to-do reminders as they pop into my head. I love planning out a meal while staring at a cookbook, and referencing it weeks later when I want to remember that yummy taco recipe. I love jotting down meeting notes, then going back to my desk to see what I listed in the follow-up section so that I don't forget that there is still more work to be done (with deadlines) on the topic that we discussed. Writing may be considered archaic, but it is also effective.