Pink Manilla folder and scissors on desktop

How to Bind Your Planner

Finding the perfect planner to suit your life is difficult. Not to mention the costs involved in buying and trailing different systems. One option is to design and make your own planner. This means you have complete control over the size and style of your planner. But once you’ve printed out your perfect planner pages you will need to know how to bind your planner. There are more options than you might think.

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Notebook and pencils on blanket

Customise An Existing System

I’m talking about disc bound planners.

There are a few ways that you can use this system for binding your planner.

  1. Buy a disc planner. Start with a disc planner already made. This way you will already have the covers and dividers that you might need. You could simply use this as is and then when you have finished with it, design your own printables to replace the old ones. Or if the layout does not suit you, you could use your own printables from the beginning. There will be the initial cost of the planner, but moving forward you will only incurs costs associated with designing and printing your own printables.
  2. Purchase the discs on their own and create your own cover, dividers and inserts. This option means that you will be designing the entire planner from scratch. You can choose the discs that you love, design, print and laminate your own cover & tab dividers and design and print your own pages. This option would be the more cost effective option if you are going with disc binding, but there will be more work involved. Having said that, the design and creation of your own planner is fun.

If you are going to go with disc binding, you will need some quite specific supplies:

  • A computer and printer
  • Punch
  • Laminator
  • Discs
  • Paper – make sure you choose a heavy paper for this system. You could have this pre-cut to make the printing part of the process simpler.
  • Printable card for your covers
  • Something to trim your laminated covers.

My article Equipment Needed for Designing Printables goes into detail about all the tools you will need to design your own printable planners.

Standard Size Ring Binders

You could purchase a binder from your local stationery store. Or you could already have one unused at home. Typically these will be available in A4 or A5 (or letter if you are in the U.S.). You will be able to find them with pockets on the spine and cover so that you can insert your own design. I find the ones with an internal pocket on the inside cover useful.

If you are going with this option, it will simply be a matter of printing your designs, punching them and adding them to your binder.

This is the easiest and most cost effective of all the options.

You will need the following equipment:

  • A binder
  • A computer & printer
  • Paper – I like 100gsm paper
  • A punch that matches your binder
spine view of lever arch folders lined up - lots of colours like a rainbow

Purpose Made Planner Binder – Ring

There are many companies making beautiful planner binders for a variety of planner sizes. I’m talking about Filofax, Kikki-K, Gilleo, Louis Vuitton (if you can afford it) and more.

Once you have your binder, you simply need to design and print your printables in the appropriate size.

This option is a little bit more involved than the system above as you will need to play with your printer settings for printing your designs.

You will need to have:

  • A binder
  • A computer and printer
  • Paper
  • A punch that works for your planner binder
  • Dashboards & dividers. You can usually purchase these or you could make your own. This article will give you more information about dashboards.

My article, How to Resize Printables goes into detail about how to print your planner printables once you’ve downloaded them.

Purpose Made Planner Binder – Travelers Notebook

Designing inserts for your travelers notebook is another story. To design these, double the end size as you will be folding them in half.

There are two ways to bind your travelers notebook inserts:

  1. Long stapler that will reach the binding of your booklet or
  2. My preferred option, sew down the middle. This is super simple if you have a sewing machine on hand.

Once that is done, it’s simply a matter of slipping your booklet into the TN cover.

Spiral Binding

This is my favourite binding system. It isn’t as easy to replace pages, however, I have my planning style and system down to a fine art. This means that I don’t have to keep changing my inserts. 

To spiral bind your planner there are some DIY systems such as the Heidi Swapp Cinch Book Binding Tool & the We R Memory Keepers Cinch Book Binding Tool. I’ve tried most, if not all of these systems and they are costly and flimsy compared to getting the local printer or office supplies store to do it for you. 

My daily planning is done in a quarterly planner that I design. I have two planners – one yearly, 2 ring binder with inserts such as a yearly planner & finances as well as a quarterly planner that I use each day. I have this quarterly planner bound at my local stationery supplies store for a very reasonable price.

My planner for the next quarter is designed and printed towards the end of the current quarter then I take it to my local stationery store and they give it a card back, plastic front and spiral bind it for me. It is thin enough and light enough to be portable and has everything I need in it.

General Tips for Binding Your Planner

Things to keep in mind when planning how to bind your planner.

  1. You will need a sturdy cover. Laminated card stock will be fine for a complete DIY system.
  2. Dashboards and tad dividers will make your life easier day-to-day when using your planner. TAKE A LOOK AT THIS ARTICLE ON HOW TO MAKE DASHBOARDS. Making your cover will be a very similar process. Simply make it slightly larger than your planner so that it covers ‘all of the things’.
  3. If you are worrying about what to do about pockets for your planner, there are plastic pockets available online that will suit your planner.

Final Thoughts on How to Bind Your Planner

Designing your own planner from scratch is not only fun, but cost effective and satisfying. My article Find the Perfect Planner helps you navigate the process of finding the right planner for you. Once you have decided on which style of planner is right for you, it’s simply a matter of getting started.

Your planning style and requirements will no doubt change over time. The skill & knowledge of how to design your own planner, right down to the binding will save you lots of money in the long run. And really, it’s great fun!

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