That feeling when you want to start using a ring planner but don’t know where to start…
So many people have asked me how to set up and start using a ring planner. I understand the confusion; I’ve been there too! (I switched from coiled and bound planners at the beginning of 2020.) Deciding to use a ring planner is like wanting to read a new book and visiting a library with an infinite number of options. The process can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Where do you even start?
I got you! Follow these steps to set up and start using a ring planner:
(Just a heads up, this post contains affiliate links. Check out the Disclosure page if you have any questions.)
Before we begin, here’s the first thing you should know: there are two “parts” to ring planners: the ring “binder” and the inserts. Inserts are typically sold separately. So you will need to search for the ring “binder” and the paper inserts to fill the “binder.”
Find a ring planner
This step might seem obvious, but first, you have to buy a ring planner. I use my A5-size planners from Cloth & Paper and Louis Vuitton. (If you’re searching for a ring planner from Cloth & Paper, you’re in luck! They recently restocked their planners. Check it out!)
But you can’t just buy any planner. First, you have to decide what size you want to use. This decision is a hard one if you’re new to the planner community. But only you know what’s best for you! If you have large handwriting, the best option for you may be an A5-size ring planner. You might need a smaller planner like pocket or personal sizes if you like to plan on-the-go. (If you want info on sizing, check out the planner IG accounts I tag below!)
Next, consider your budget. Ring planners can be expensive! So you should first pick a realistic budget for your current situation. If you fall in love with an out-of-budget planner, join the buy sell trade (BST) Facebook groups for planner and stationery companies to find pre-loved planners! Another option is to try saving up for the purchase.
Here are a few companies who sell planners:
If you’re new to planning or considering the switch to a ring planner, TEST IT OUT. Don’t buy any and every ring planner before confirming that you want to use ring planners. Out of the companies I listed above, Amazon (I know, I know) has really affordable options. If you’re not 100% sold on using a ring planner, buy this first before you invest in something you don’t actually want or like.
Decide what inserts you need
There are hundreds of companies that sell planner inserts. This step is why setting up and starting your ring planner system is like that infinite library scenario. Where do you start?
Instagram is my favorite place to find planner inspiration (although Pinterest is a close second). Of course, there is my Instagram account, @theimanimichelle. Go to @planwithtone for A5-size inspiration. Check out @cynthiaplans for A5 and A6 inspiration! For personal-size planner inspiration, visit @planningbyaccident! If you’re looking for pocket-size planner inspiration, check out @malyplans, @creativeplanneraddict, and @keo.gotplans (who has one of the of most beautiful feeds I’ve seen).
Don’t let the planner pictures on IG and Pinterest lead you astray. Only you know what’s best for you! Think about how you currently plan. Do you like to write on smooth paper, or do you prefer paper with texture? Are you a to-do list type of planner, or do you need daily inserts? Perhaps you need both! Will you use this planner for work, or is it your “home” planner. All of these questions will help you narrow down which inserts you should buy. (An important question for me is whether the inserts have lines. I need lines; I don’t like empty boxes.)
Also, consider “nontraditional” types of inserts that will elevate your planning experience. Do you like collecting perfumes? Find inserts to track your collection and wishlist items. Are you a bibliophile? There are plenty of book and reading trackers on the market.
Here are just a few of the numerous planner companies with inserts (some of these companies are printables only, which means you receive a PDF of the insert and print them yourself):
- Peanuts Planner Co.
- Cloth & Paper
- Three Nikkis
- Ellemon Paper Co.
- Minimalish Plans
Don’t be like me.
Experiment and try different planner shops and inserts as often as your budget allows! You’d be surprised at what you might like and prefer with inserts. If an insert is not working for you, figure out why and try something new. (The BST Facebook groups are a great way to try new products or inserts without spending as much money as you would if you purchased directly from the planner or stationery company.)
Here’s a good tip for trying new companies and inserts: If you find something new you want to try, STOP.
Don’t hit the “BUY” or “ORDER” button before searching for a coupon code. Most, if not all of the companies, have coupon codes that you can use.
I hope this helps! These steps are just the few that you must do to start your planner. The rest, like dashboards, dividers, planner cards, and planner accessories, are really up to you and your planning style. If you’re more decorative, you may decide to invest more in dashboards and planner cards. Maybe you’re a minimalist at heart, grab some dividers and get to planning.
If you’re looking for more info, read this post where I share a few tips about finding the right planner for you.