Over the years I have been on the quest for the perfect diary or daily planner. I think I have tried them all! Bound diaries with 1 page per day, 1 page per week, 2 pages per week, and more. I have never liked the inflexibility of pre-made diaries - I don't like the time constraints of hourly/half-hourly times from 7am to 7pm listed - does anyone actually schedule their day using all of these? And there is never enough space to write myself reminders and to-do lists too!
A few years ago I discovered the Day Timer daily organiser system, which is a ring-bound system, where you buy your cover/case and you seperately buy the planner inserts that suit you - they have heaps to choose from! I liked the flexibility of this system, being able to choose/change what you like. I liked the 'Desk' size best - which is similar to A5. It is not too big to leave open on your desk, and portable enough to carry around all day. And while this system kept me on track, I still felt that there was plenty of room for improvement.
I originally started with a black zippered binder, then moved to this lovely pink leather one. The black one was great, because it had a large pocket on the outside, which was great for carrying extra stationery supplies, my phone, etc. I never did up the zipper, so I thought this was a bit of a waste, and when I saw the pink one reduced to half price, I had to have it! It served me well for many years.
But recently I have changed from the pink leather 7-ring-binder to an A5 2-ring-binder folder. When I wanted to add in extra papers (that weren't bought from Day Timer), I found that punching seven holes was a nightmare, and I wasn't about to spend $50 on a 7 ring hole punch! It was also pretty inflexible as A5 plastic pockets don't line up with the 7 holes, so really any other inserts that I put in there, had to be purchased through Day Timer - sneaky marketing on their part!
I decided to try a simple A5 white binder, that I bought at Officeworks - you can see it here. And I love it! It is so easy having only 2-rings - it makes hole punching a cinch. Because the cover is white with a clear overlay, it was super easy to just slip in this cover sheet that I whipped up using some scrapbooking supplies, and now I have my own personalised system that has not cost me the earth to create!
For the inside front cover, I cut some patterned paper to A5 size, added the bottom of a gorgeous polka dot envelope I received an invitation in, and into this I slotted my 'Personal Information' card. This came with my original Day Timer planner, and it was looking very old and tattered. I just cut around the edge and added a little flower punch that I had, to act as the pull in/out tab. The card lists contact information in case the planner is lost (so that it can be returned to me) or in case of an emergency (it has emergency contact details).
I can now have A5 plastic pockets (which you can see here) in the back to hold additional paperwork too. I made a cover sheet to put in the first plastic pocket (just green patterned paper and a ribbon glued on), so that it creates a streamlined look, rather than seeing random bits of text/images that are on the paperwork in the sleeves.
I also have a business card holder which holds some addtional stationery, like post-it notes, adhesive page dividers, clip tabs, and our reward cards from school (always handy to have at the ready when I am out and about!).
By the way, I have stopped calling it my 'diary', and changed to my 'planner'. After all, it helps me to stay planned and on track, rather than just documenting appointments and deadlines. I use my Outlook calendar on my email to document all of my appointments, so this is more like my calendar/diary, whereas my planner is for staying organised!
As with any system, you have to be open to trial and error! I have a number of templates that I use to organise my home/work information in my planner. I will share my favourites with you really soon!