Friday, January 22, 2010

DIY Planner

OK, so I needed a planner for the new year and was frustrated on several fronts... first, planners are just plain expensive! I had a hard time justifying spending between $20-$80 on a planner with a bunch of fluff that I didn't need. Next, it was hard to find one with the page configuration I wanted. Monthly, weekly, daily, note-taking space, etc. "If I could design my own planner page, it would be different" I told myself. Third, if I did by one of these faux leather beauties, I be a nervous wreck to write anything in it! I'll have to take up calligraphy to keep from marring these pages with scribbles and notations I make on a regular basis! I finally forgot about the whole rat race and decided to make my own!

The 8.5"x11" Folder Planner

- Cover -

- Inside -

Before you start thinkin' "Good gravy! The boy's gone nuts!", consider the following benefits:
  1. The Folder Planner is not expensive to produce. Many of the supplies you may already have at home or at the office.
  2. It's not too precious to mark up however you like. You can write on any surface, from the pages to the covers of the file folders.
  3. It's completely modifiable, from how YOU choose to layout the pages to, well, anything else! You can lay them out on the computer or you can decorate a blank page by hand.
  4. It's repairable, customizable, and for crying out loud, recyclable! You could almost say it's a "green" product!
Sound like a good deal? Let's talk about the financials then.

Here are two price lists, one for buying all the required materials in mass if you need to get everything necessary to make the planner. The other list is a breakdown of the exact cost of materials used to make the planner, and it's cheap!

Total Material Cost (according to Office Depot Prices)
  • File Folders: Box of 24 - $6
  • Printer Paper: 1 Ream (500 sheets) - $6
  • 2" Prong Fastners: Box of 50 - $4.50
  • 2 Hole Punch: $10
TOTAL: $26.50 (about the cost of a small, low-end planner)

Cost for Materials Used
  • File Folders: 14 used - $3.50
  • Printer Paper: 70 sheets used - $0.84
  • 2" Prong Fastners: 2 used - $0.18
TOTAL: $4.52

Construction Steps
This thing is pretty much a no-brainer to create, but it does take a little elbow grease and neatness to be practical. I used a blue folder for the front and back folders, just for aesthetics, but it isn't necessary. I have 14 folders in my planner; 1 folder for each month of the year and 2 for notes or whatever I want to use them for. I also used a label maker to create the names on the tabs, but again, this is optional.

Step 1:
place 5 sheets of paper into each file folder. I chose to have each sheet of paper represent one weeks worth of dates (Monday to Sunday). Looking on a wall calendar, each month usually occupies 5 weeks, though they aren't always full weeks, so having 5 sheets will cover all 5 weeks. Make sure the sheets of paper are neatly stacked and placed in the exact middle of the folder. Neatness will make using this thing much easier!

Step 2:
Arrange the little arm guide on the 2 hole punch and adjust it to a reasonable place so that you can punch the bottom holes and the top holes for your prong posts to be inserted. I adjusted my punch so that the holes closest to the edge were about 1.75" away from the outer edge of the folder.

Again, you'll punch the first set of holes, then flip the folder over and punch the second set. As a result, you will have 2 areas to insert your prong posts in each folder.

Step 3:
As you punch out each folder, slide it into the posts you've inserted into the first folder. Punch and stack until all 14 folders are done and inserted. I found that the folders may not be exactly the same width, but make sure they are aligned well after they are all stacked together, for neatness sake!

Step 4:
Insert the second piece of your 2" prong fastner into the prongs. It is the piece that has the 2 sliding bars on it. Slide it in place and, while pressing down on the folders to make sure they are tight together, bend each prong down into the compression bar and slide the little bars on top of the second prong to keep them in place. (See the photo to find out what the finished piece looks like.) I then used a pair of needle nose pliers to crimp the sliding edges of the little bars tight to keep them from sliding around anymore. This is where a manly man with tools comes in handy!

Step 5:
After compressing the folders together and securing the prongs, your unit is finished and ready for labeling. This is the creative part! Use a regular pen, marker, rubber stamps, scrapbooking supplies, go sketch crazy, or use a label maker to make the names for each month in the inner 12 folder tabs. I labeled the outer folder "2010 Planner" for identification purposes and if I made another for 2011, I could identify the year. Also, I named the last folder "Note" because I am an avid note taker.

The function of the outer folders are up to you; important contacts, notes, recording passwords, need to know info, sketches & drawings, to-do lists, outlines, website URL lists, ideas to remember, etc.

Ideas About Function
How I have decided to use my planner is I'll fill out the weeks and dates a month at a time, just before the month that I will need to keep track of. If I have dates that I need to write down that haven't had the pages labeled out yet, I'll write them on the front cover of that month's file folder. That gives me an "at a glance" list of date information that can then be filled into it's proper spot when I get to that month and lay out the pages with the day and date labels.

If your not crazy about having to lay out the pages by hand, feel free to lay out your pages on the computer and insert them before you assemble the planner. That way it is ready according to your design and is neatly layed out. I tend to be a sketcher and note taker, so having the flexibility of a blank page is liberating for me, but feel free to lay the pages out as you choose.

Sure, it doesn't have a leather cover or a built in calculator, but it's VERY functional and dirt cheap to make! Enjoy, and if you whip one of these little babies up, send me some pictures and let me know what you decided to do in yours!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark, long time since I last saw you. I think your planner makes so much sense I'm going to make one for myself.

    I checked out your website, found you on the Arts Council website in their visual artist directory, as I was perusing info about how and why to join.

    You have done well, progressing with your education and your work. I've heard that you teach at our Alma Mater, Ivy Tech. I can picture you doing that.

    I'm guessing you still freelance? We all that ingrained in our heads by Joan, didn't we? I have been freelancing for the past 15 years or so. Now that my kids are grown, I'm looking at developing my business further. I just have to get away from folks who get me confused with an employee. Ya know what I mean?

    Well, kiddo, I just wanted to say hi and let you know I still like your work! Keep hanging in there!

    Nancy Griffin
    Comrade in art, circa 1998