Welcome to part II of the Upsizing and Downsizing lesson. Once again, thanks, Imy, for letting me do a 'lesson' for Filofax College :)
We will look at downsizing in a similar way to upsizing but we will concentrate a lot more on the logistics as downsizing is a slightly bigger job than upsizing!
So, firstly, why downsize?
Well, as explored in the upsizing lesson, the weight can get a bit much. Also, you might analyse your binder one day and realise that a lot of it you carry around isn't even looked at on a regular basis! Having pages that you don't necessarily need can mean that you're adding weight to your binder when you don't need to. Moreover, having larger rings can mean that you're seduced into cramming more into your Filofax whether or not you want to.
Another reason for downsizing could be because you're using pages with too much space. There are two ways to combat this though; either use diary inserts with a different layout or use a smaller binder.
With all that in mind, we will now have a look at the ways downsizing can be done.
Downsizing Ring Diameter
The first thing you have to be, if you're serious about this, is BE BRUTAL. You need to chop the things that are not used regularly enough to deserve their place in your binder. In order to do this, you must first look at what you need. Diary inserts are a given - but do you need a whole year in there? Could you potentially use two binders simultaneously? One that stays at home and another that goes everywhere with you? If so, the 'at home' one could hold the latter half of the year's inserts while your 'mobile' binder has inserts for the first six months of the year. You may need to do some planner admin every night or two, though.
Add other inserts you have looked at/used in the past two weeks. Put these together with the diary inserts. Now, consider if you need anything else. No? Well, measure how high these inserts are and that will give you can idea of the ring size you need.
Downsizing Binder Size
Again, this calls for a degree of brutality. A smaller binder size not only means limited writing space but also a decrease in ring size too (in most cases) so you need to take two things into account as opposed to just one if you're just downsizing the ring diameter.
Another thing that may be a deal breaker is the layout of card slots, zipped pockets, slip pockets, etc in other sized binders. With a smaller binder, you could potentially see a decrease in card slots and all these nifty extras that you may have found handy in your current organiser.
Real Life Case Studies
Angela (personal --> compact --> slimline)
Having started off using a personal sized organiser, I had no other size to compare the weight and paper real estate with. The personal size was working for me but it started to get heavier and heavier with each day as I added in sheets of info I thought I would need and things like that. And so, I opted to downsize to a compact - the Temperley Affair. This worked well for me but I found that adding in a Flex notebook meant that the weight was comparable to my personal (but still not as heavy). I liked the Compact size and was quite gutted when it had to go back due to a ring problem. Eventually, I took the plunge and downsized to a Slimline. This meant that I would be carrying less than half of what was in the personal!
I found that I had to be brutal but also compromise on what I was to carry. I went through all my info pages and clear envelopes that I carried in my personal and had a really close look at what I needed whenever I left the house. This led to the transfer of only one info sheet! And because of the limited rings, I had to compromise on the diary pages and I only have nine months of 'week on two pages' inserts in there now. I managed to cram in two notepaper sheets (as opposed to about 20 in my personal!), three to-do sheets and a few blog planning sheets too.
Although it can be daunting to be so brutal, the fact that I now carry something less than half of the weight of my personal has definitely been beneficial for my shoulders (as I carry my organiser in my handbag!).
Josh @JoshuaLaPorte on Twitter, his blog and his Youtube
The problem, for me at least (with the A5, link here to upsizing), was that this binder failed to be portable, and I found I didn’t have it with me when I needed it. In addition, the huge amount of space plus the large page size allowed me to develop bad habits relating to inefficient use of space. I would have a whole page with only a few words written on; I’d keep obsolete information in the binder. I had huge numbers of forward diary with nothing entered on yet. In the meantime, the fact that the binder sat on my desk so often made it practically useless.
So I downsized back into my Cavendish. But I’ve found that I was using diary pages rather inefficiently. Many days would only have approximately 50-60% of the page area filled with notes. Because the binder options with 30mm rings are so rare, I decided to try fitting into a 23mm ringed personal size binder again. If I can make this size work, there is a large selection of new and vintage binders which I can use. The smaller ring size forces me to be more economical with my use of paper and space within the planner, which I feel reinforces good habits.
To this end, I looked through my planner to find poorly utilized inserts. The culprit was most certainly the day on two pages diary setup. Not only is this setup very paper heavy, it can make forward planning difficult due to the very granular “view” offered of only seeing one day at a time. The diary also included month views but I did not consult these much except when scheduling appointments. I’ve recently implemented a new setup based on a Cotton Cream Week-on-two-pages diary with extra notes pages leaved between the week views to capture notes and to-do items. This change, plus relocating my wallet contents to a wallet, allowed me to easily fit into a 23mm Domino personal size binder. I find the smaller size and lighter weight to be pleasant changes and I’ve not noticed any issues with lacking space to write things. As with any planner setup change, there is a learning curve during which you need to figure out how to work with the new setup. This process seems to be moving smoothly.
So, Angela asked me to write a few lines about my various Filofax-size changes. My first ever Filofax – bought back in 2010 – was an A5 pink Finsbury. A rather natural choice, because I have used TimeSystem planners for many years in my workplace (back when I was employed), and the T/S was also A5 size. Then, and this won’t need further explanation, the Filofax bug bit me. Bit me hard. And I started buying more Filofaxes, also in Personal size. And soon came the day when I felt sorry for the unused (or “underused”) beautiful Filofaxes I had, and I started thinking couldn’t my Work and Personal Life fit in a Personal binder? And that’s what I did, I changed it all over to Personal. I even wrote a guest post on Philofaxy about it, you might remember the 2PPD inserts in the bright red Malden.
At the same time I was using a Pocket Filofax as my wallet. And – just when things went a bit calmer workwise – I wondered if I could downsize even one step further – into a Pocket Filofax. And, that’s what I did! I used 1DPP inserts , together with weekly and monthly pages. And it even doubled as my Wallet! This resulted in yet another guest post, this time in my Vintage Pink Pocket Malden.
Unfortunately, when my work load picked up again, the Pocket turned out all too tiny. So, back to Personal I went. Then we launched a huge project and after having missed some vital deadlines/information, I returned to my old trusty 2PPD in my A5 Filofax. This time in my A5 Vintage Pink Malden, which I had bought used from ebay.
Will I stay in A5 forever? Nah, probably not. It all depends on how work is developing. Calm times will make me crave a smaller Filofax (I expect to be bitten by the bug again come Christmas), and busy times (beware February ...!) will make me upsize again.
To be honest: I can totally live with that!
One piece of advice though: do not attempt to rewrite the past months (or even year) in the new size. That’s really a total unnecessary waste of time. I just put ALL inserts of a full year in a large IKEA DVD box, label it with the year number and be done with it.
Ok, so I am only human. I have limited experience in up and downsizing so I may have missed some excellent points! To combat this, the homework is to Filofaximy@live.com email in some of your own tips you may have accrued from your own up or downsizing experience. The best tips will be featured in a blog post and there *may* also be prizes :)