A5 or Personal and One Binder To Rule Them All

photo 5-4 copy

This is a bit like the ‘should I leave my boyfriend?’ question. No one can answer that except you. No one is living your life except you.

It is an eternal merry-go-round that many of us hop on and off over and over. We like the portability of the Personal but cannot fit everything in it and cannot fit larger things in it. So we switch to the A5 and thus begins a short honeymoon period where everything is all rosy-tinted. We can write nice and big, it is easy to print inserts and use existing papers (fold in half, cut and punch). But then the size and weight starts to factor in, it is a pain to carry around all the time so we don’t, and then we start missing things because we need something which is in our A5 but it is at home because it is too big to carry around.

Our internal dialogue goes something like this: I love my Personal, I really do. I can use it as a wallet, carry it with me all the time, it holds everything I want. I love it I do. Pity it isn’t just a teeny bit bigger because now it is getting full and also it won’t hold this large piece of paper which I really need. I know what the problem is – I need an A5. Okay this A5 is perfect. Look at those huge rings and I can use A5 papers folded in half and I can cut large articles out and I can write really big and oh I love this. Pity it is not so big and heavy. It takes up all the available space in my handbag and it is so heavy. Plus I now need to carry a separate wallet. Okay, I am going to have to leave it at home when I don’t absolutely need it. Damn, now I am missing things because I leave it at home and when I need something I don’t have it. So maybe I should change back to personal…….

I am a long-term A5 user who finally admitted defeat a few months ago and switched to Personal + A5. I carry the Personal with me absolutely everywhere I go. It is my wallet, keyring and planner, and holds to do lists and all of the information I need (contact details, client details, notes) when I am out and about (which I am, almost all day every day. On foot). I also have an A5 which holds more detailed information as well as bills to pay, and larger papers. I go through both planners regularly moving information I needed but didn’t have with me/didn’t need but had with me from one to another. I should also mention here that my work involves moving from place to place all day every day on foot. So carrying a very heavy Filofax really ruined my back and my shoulder. It would have been a different story if I drove everywhere or if my work involved sitting in one place all day.

I also used to be someone who wanted one planner that I could use for absolutely everything. But in that I admitted defeat also and changed to ‘one binder I that I can use for almost everything and another binder that holds the rest’ – so I use a Personal as my wallet and EDC (everyday carry) and A5 to hold everything else that I need less often.

This suits my life and my lifestyle. For now. But it may not suit yours.

Anyone want to share their stories?


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

6 thoughts

  1. Excellent post. A recurring dilemma for me. Somehow I keep coming back to the personal because that’s what I can carry almost all the time. But I do love the space of the A5. I can’t sync to calendars, major fail for me. I just don’t like the thought of having two binders. I am an all in one person. I have been thinking of a system where I can possibly make both work. I haven’t figured it all out yet but I know there will be just one calendar.

  2. I solved the problem with a personal and a flex A5!! I love my personal, but everyone needs an A5 format for other things. try it!!

  3. I upsized from Franklin Covey Compact to FF A5, but had difficulties the whole time so I moved back to Personal this weekend. I think it was a combination of binder too big, and diary format fail.

    I didn’t mind carrying the (gorgeous A5 Ascot) binder with me, but I did find that I left it in my bag at night and on weekends. I have a very tiny desk at home and there really isn’t space to lay it open. When I used a FC Compact, I just balanced it on my lap, but the A5 is a bit too wide for that.

    FF A5 Day on One Page – for some reason I had difficulty committing to write tasks on the pages. So I kept using sticky notes. Bad, bad, bad. The shared Sat/Sun was a disaster. Not even remotely enough space for what I need to do on a weekend.

    I also think I have issues with the FF pages. The black print on ivory pages is problematic as I use black ballpoint and pencil, so my writing doesn’t stand out on the page. Not sure what to do about that, as I don’t like blue ink, and I only use color coding sparingly – to indicate my husband’s and kids activities. My previous planners all used other colors to print the day details, so I don’t think I noticed this as a problem before.

    The biggest planning problem was that I had no month or even week view. A5 diary pages are impossible to find right now thanks to the FFUSA warehouse move. I added a bound monthly/weekly planner to the mix last week, but I think it was too little too late.

    Over the weekend I partially moved into a Kate Spade Personal, and I’m trying to find 3.75×6.75 pages. I was printing/punching my own FC Compact pages and I just don’t have the time for that right now. But I’ve wasted two days trying to hunt down DO2P – who knew they’d be so hard to find in April?

    I’m ready to ditch ring binders and go back to bound planners!

  4. I should write a post about this! But a comment is all I have time for at the moment. I recently tried to split my system into a work A5 and a personal for everything else. This seemed so sensible and practical and the work planner needed to move around a lot but ideally did not need to travel home from work, thus making A5 more practical. But I did bring it home every day, and so suddenly I was carrying TWO planners with me in my bag everywhere. I am also on foot all the time and found my bag with brolly, pencil case, two planners, and a lunch was just incredibly heavy. Plus, the work/personal division was doing nothing but making my life a whole lot more complicated than it needed to be. I double booked myself three times inside of a week and forgot to do many things because I wasn’t looking at the right planner at the right time. I think that this setup would work better for someone with more clearly defined work and personal lives, less busy people, and people who are naturally highly organized. For me, it was a complete disaster!

    Anyway, I loved the big planner so much (big rings, write big, big pages!) and found the day planning pages I was using to be so perfect for my needs that I elected to retire the personal and consolidate everything into the Van der Spek A5. We shall see how this goes, but I love this binder so much that it seems likely to stick for a while. The nice thing about my VdS is that it is relatively light weight for such a large binder.

    1. I am so perversely glad other people end up in the same conundrum as I do – that two planners in your bag syndrome has happened to me many times.

      And yeah for the lightness of the VDS!

  5. Have you been in my head, Janet? That’s the exact conversation I’ve had with myself so many times! I’m giving the Classic another shot but I know it won’t be long before I’m back to the smaller size – for all the reasons you mentioned. I haven’t given up and used two yet but maybe I should consider it.

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