Ring binder, traveler’s notebook or bound notebook?


People use different types of paper products for different reasons. Some are lucky enough to be able to do everything in one book. I am not one of those people.

Ring binder


I have a personal size ring binder for

  • my bookings calendar
  • my daily to dos
  • long term to dos related to work
  • wallet


I like to throw everything away once it is done. I don’t like completed and invoiced bookings and long-completed to do lists cluttering my mind and my binder. Once they are done they are binned.

I also have many changes to my schedule and sometimes I have to replace pages if I have had so many cancellations, rescheduling and new bookings that my existing pages are more confusing than anything else.

I also have huge problems writing anything extensive in a ring binder. The paper size is too small in relation to the size of the binder, the rings get in the way. I use it mainly out in the field so removing pages to write on them is not really an option. So I can only really use it for bookings, to do lists, and short notes.

I also have an A5 for everything related to my apartment – contracts, account numbers, bills tax etc.

I don’t keep anything client related or that is long term in loose leaf binders because it is so hard to archive after you have finished using them. I prefer everything I need long term to be in one book instead of loose pages that can end up in a shambles. I used to use unused binders for archival storage but that was a pain when I swapped binders.

Traveler’s notebook


I use three of these

  • Larger size (generally A5) for my clients. One book per client. At the beginning of each week I put everything I need for that week’s clients into my cover. In each booklet are contact and invoicing details, needs analyses, record of hours and what we covered during each meeting for each client. This means if, for any reason, another teacher has to take over my lessons, I can just give the teacher the relevant book which they then fill in and hand back to me afterwards.
  • Regular size for my translation work. This has one calendar in which I record what I translated each day and when (I have two jobs so I need to do the right number of hours for each job). It also has a notebook where I write down any questions or words I need to double check. This I can give to the client at any time and they will have an in depth and detailed glimpse into where I am, what I have done, and how.
  • Personal size for my personal things. This is anything to do with me or my personal life. I have found it very helpful to keep it separate from my working life. I tend to have one book for each category (shopping, health, wish lists, bucket lists, ideas for blog posts etc)


Because they are flexible without being difficult to archive. You can swap books in and out easily. You can choose a fat heavy cover or a thin light one, many books or just one or two. And you can choose different colours, covers, inserts to suit you needs.

Bound notebook


This I use for a personal journal. I don’t journal much, but if I do I use a bound journal. I use one per year, even if I have not finished the book by the end of the year. I never look at them afterwards. They are often a way to vent because I don’t generally talk about my personal life or my feelings to other people.

I also have a bound look book where I paste things from magazines that I like or want to look out for. I am on my second one now and they are amazing resource.



Author: Janet Carr

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

9 thoughts

  1. This is really interesting. I always struggle with what to use my TNs for. I am also a freelancer and I do translations and teach. I really like how you use your ring binders. I think I might have to do the same. These are notes one does not need to keep once they are done. Thank you for your insight!

  2. Could you show us the traveller’s notebook inserts you use for clients? That could be very helpful!

  3. I love this review/discussion Janet, thank you. You always have such well reasoned ideas. I shall read it again later and decide, again, what I want. I try to do everything in one binder, but I’m not sure it’s possible even when my life is not busy. Then again it’s lovely to have options.

  4. Really like your approach and that you have a clear point of view about why you use a specific system for different tasks and purposes. Thanks for sharing this.

    I still struggle at times with whether I should use a ring binder or hardbound journal….using both. But mostly bound journals. Like how they keep everything together and easy to archive.

    But then on other hand, like the idea of having flexibility of a ring binder, just in case you want to change things or move things around, etc….

    So it goes……

    Also, really like your binders and covers…..very nice!!!


    1. I love ring binders for temporary stuff but the archiving and finding the information afterwards is a pain. One loose ring and all hell breaks loose! I look at my old archived client records and my heart sinks when I have to try and find something.

      1. Understand…..

        Only way to deal with finding specific items is to have the discipline to keep up a log in some index pages……something I’m not so good at doing regularly……

Leave a Reply