Changing Planner Formats: The Right Way & Wrong Way


Planner Formats

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I was watching a video by Carie Harlin of Dispatches From The Frat House and had an ah ha moment.  Carie was talking about all the different planner formats she used last year, and I suddenly realized that it’s okay to change your format as often as you want – as long as you do it the right way.

My life has changed significantly over the last several years and I’ve been trying hard to figure out a planner size and format that works for my new schedule and responsibilities.  But the way I’ve been doing it is the wrong way.  I’ve been going back and forth between planner sizes and not using any planner very well in the meantime.


When I complained to my family about my planner issues, my daughter-in-law said to me:  “Just pick a size then do whatever you want within that size.”

That’s the right way to switch formats.  When you switch back and forth between sizes, you have to re-write a bunch of information every time and that’s no good.  It’s tedious, boring and time consuming.  And you miss things – things that turn out to be important later.

If you stay within one size, you can just pick up where you left off without having to re-write a bunch of information or worrying that you missed something.  Heck, you can use a new format every single week if you want.

Planner Formats

But if you’re switching back and forth between sizes, bad things can happen.

Like incomplete archives.  I’ve always been diligent about archiving my old pages and looking back for important information.  But since I’ve been doing the planner dance the last couple of years, my archives are incomplete.  When I look through them, there’s an odd assortment of pages and lots of them are blank.  In order to get a complete picture, I have to look through several archive books for just ONE year.

Missing information.  I was at the bank the other day and they needed the social security numbers for my kids.  I didn’t have them in the planner I brought with me.  They were in the other one – the one that’s a different size.  I was really frustrated because not having the information meant I had to call the bank later and provide the information.  That’s the kind of stuff that happens when I go back and forth between sizes.

Not knowing where to write something.  If you’re switching back and forth between binders and sizes, when you need to write something important, you have no clue where to write it.

Procrastinating on something you need to do because you need your planner in order to do it and you don’t know which one you’re using.  I’m talking specifically about some financial reports I need to do.  We bought a fixer upper in November and I need to keep track of the expenses in fixing up the house.  Since I keep my finances in my planner, I want to do it in my planner.  But since I can’t decide which one I want to use, I haven’t done it.

So if you want to switch formats on a regular basis, it will work much better if you keep the same size binder. And if you’re willing to do that, go ahead and switch formats to your heart’s content!

 A list of other time management/planner articles is available here.


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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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16 thoughts on “Changing Planner Formats: The Right Way & Wrong Way

  1. Have a little tip here… Or actually it’s a tip from Carie Harling. Not only can you loose important information if you switch Planners, but what if you loose it? It gets lost, forgotten somewhere or maybe stolen? Carie show how to save/backup your pages in Evernote. Soo fast and simple, searchable, safe and cost you not a single daim. Unfortunately I’m on my phone right now, so I can’t share the link. I’ll try to remember posting it here tonight.

    1. I saw that article. I didn’t read it, though, because I don’t use Evernote much. I appreciate you mentioning it, though. It’s a great option if you do use Evernote.

  2. Hi, Patty! Now you know why I still use my “Desk” size planners. About the only thing I have to o when I change planners is change the covers; however, I get bored so easily with my pages that I have begun making my own and simple changing the borders, the colors of the lines, or the graphics incorporated in them. I found that the “key” for me as I switch planners is to move entire sections. I can print my monthly, weekly, and daily pages from the computer, so I do not have to move those. The other sections are color coded and they are all moved.

    Green is finances; red is “Get it done” stuff; yellow is for planning items; blue is reference. The address book section fitted with a et of colored tabs, so I can just lift it out of the binder and move it to the next one.

    I do use Evernotte through my tablet now, but I just started using it,, so haven’t really discovered all that it will do. My smart phone duplicates the planner, but it sounds alarms for my reminders.

    Archiving is done in two steps. My current year pages are kept in an Orange binder on the bottom of my desktop bookcase, but I don’t take the pages out immediately. If I was to actually schedule this, it would be quarterly so that I can refer back if I need to, and that happens a lot. When I archive, I check continuity (dates, subjects, etc.) before completing the planner change. That keeps me from losing things.

    I have stayed with the half sheet binders because I have more than enough room to write in them, but also because I am somewhat vision impaired. Going from legally blind to 80/40 is not bad, but it isn’t 20/20. My eyeglass lenses, however, are noticeably thinner.

    My next project is to convert my planner pages from the old program that I was using to jpg format so that I can use them on the new computer and with the new program m husband got me for Christmas.


  3. Yes, this is why I decided that moving forward I’m sticking with Filofax personal size exclusively. I enjoyed trying out the FC compact but it is absolutely hell to switch between the two; I have no patience for tedious stuff and copying planner content is most certainly tedious!

  4. Yes, I agree completely! I switched sizes three months ago and I am still picking up pieces!! So nerve wracking.

  5. I”m still struggling to find a right size for me. Definitely a Goldilocks conundrum. Personal is too small, and A5/Classic is too big, especially when we’re talking the usually 2PPD setup. I want to wave my magic wand and invent a size between the two. I kind of accidentally have for the paper size, although the binder is a bit of a conundrum still.

  6. This is spot on! I’ve used a Franklin compact planner for years. I’ve been tempted to switch, but always balked at the thought of having to copy information over to a new size. I’ve used a variety of inserts but the size has stayed the same. Now, I’m in a Filofax binder and still have FC inserts.

    1. Which Filofax binder do you have? Do your FC inserts stick out a bit?

      I originally bought a Filofax malden thinking I could put my FC inserts in it but they stuck out enough that it bothered me. I love the FC inserts but the Filofax binders.

  7. I have a personal Holborn. I have a photo of it in this post: I’ll give a more detailed look at it, in a future post. As you’ll see in the photo, the FC inserts do stick out a bit, but I’ve found that I don’t care at all. I love the portability of the Holborn, and am thinking of getting a Malden as well. I only use a few of the FC tabbed dividers which seem to be doing well so far. My homemade dividers, though, are getting beat up after only a month of use. But it’s OK, I have tons of scrapbook cardstock, so I’m happy to make new ones anytime.

    I also have a plastic insert, which came with my original FC 365 binder. (It’s very prominent in the photo.) It hangs even more over the edge and protects the other pages.

    One thing with the Filofax is that the rings are smaller. I’ve had to take out some inserts and am only taking the essentials around with me now. The lighter load is good for my back/shoulders! 🙂

    1. I looked at your post earlier and saw how the pages fit in your FF binder. I don’t think I could handle that. I’m a bit OCD about stuff like that.

      But it definitely gives you the best of both worlds – the awesome binder with the awesome pages.

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