Here in the United States, we create and store most records in in the 8.5×11 inch “Letter” size paper. For years, I’ve spent lots of time reducing and cutting these documents to fit into a personal size planner. I am quite good at this planner origami now and can make quick work of it. It is always handy to have everything you might need with you at all times.
The thing is, I am working hard at maintaining a slimmer system. I’m also trying to train myself to leave more of my work at work. I have always blurred the lines between professional and personal, and while I see no major problem with this I am starting to see that it may be contributing to my lack of focus and procrastination issues. I also realize that a certain amount of my work information, while convenient to have, should probably not be carried in a planner I use for personal business on my off-work hours.
My solution to this was to try out a letter-size binder. These binders are gigantic, and I knew I’d not likely be able to make one work as a planner. But I could see that it would make the ideal reference book; portable enough to carry into meetings, simplicity of print and punch to insert documents, large enough to write free notes, plus a plethora of all sorts of inserts widely available at cheap prices.
I first explored the new options from Daytimer and Franklin Covey. They looked alright but nothing really spoke to me. Plus, they were pretty expensive!
A bit of hunting on Ebay landed a Monarch size Franklin Quest binder from the 1990s. I bid on it and won, and just a couple of days later it was in my hands! Interestingly, there were no real “deals” to be found on these; they seem to sell for pretty substantial coin especially if they are in very clean condition.
Here are some pictures. First with my personal size Filofax for perspective; as you can see, it is a really big binder!
It’s a zip binder which seemed best for this type of use.
There are seven rings, so I bought the proper punch from Franklin Covey. There are several roomy business card slots in the front, plus a secretarial pocket.
A couple of full width pockets in the back. There are two gigantic pen loops.
The rings are perfectly aligned and measure 1.75 inch (a bit over 44mm)!
The beauty of these Franklin Quest binders is the incredible quality and durability they possess. They are not fancy or high-end, but they are built like an old Mercedes and hold up beautifully.
My plan for this binder is to get a set of the clear plastic tabbed dividers which you can stick new paper labels into to divide up the various projects and topics within. For years, I’ve used a set of A-Z index tabs to accomplish this, but I feel like having a tabs for each committee, projects, scheduling, and a general management tab (behind which I can insert a gantt chart to track all of the above, in addition to an index).