Paper instead of Digital Tools

«Can you tell us about Rachel Solando?» Chuck asked.
She paused. It was more like a hitch, actually, and Teddy watched her eyes turn up slightly, as if she were searching her brain for the right file, and Teddy scribbled «lies» in his notepad, curling his wrist over the word as soon as he was done.
Her words came more carefully and smelled of rote.

In his notebook, Teddy wrote «coached» underneath «lies» and closed the cover.
«Shutter Island» by Dennis Lehane

After trying out a bought DIN A6 paper notebook for daily planning, I switched to a DIY paper notepad. Turns out, they are pretty easy to make. I first thought about using plastic spines for ring binding (you can replace pages but they look atrociously), then using metal spines (nicer but you cannot open it again), before I saw these ClickBind spines:

These spines are available in different sizes, 8 mm for 45 pages, 12 mm for 95 pages, and 16 mm for 145 pages. Shown on the right are the one for 145 pages and for 95 pages. Note that the one on the right is cut down to the size of the notepad — originally they are long enough for DIN A4. As for holding notepad pages, the one for 145 pages works much, much better for me.

You can manually close these spines and open them again. There are tiny pins that are clipped which holds the «ribs» together. (There is a tool to facilitate closing and opening, but I don’t use it.) A YouTube video showed a demo and it looked like they would work. I wasn’t sure whether you can cut them to size, but that works without any problems. Sturdy scissors make short work of the spine itself and you can still close the «ribs».

Overall, it worked out very well. They even look okay despite being plastic, and you can open it on the move to refill pages. In cases where you absolutely have to make sure the binding stays closed, a bit superglue helps. So far, they have never opened unintentionally.

The first prototype of a day planner notepad combines day pages, weekly reflection pages, reminder pages, and note-taking (blank) pages.

A day page. Icons for the time save space (the page is smaller than A6) and the default activities are printed next to the time (blotted out for privacy reasons). On the top right there is a table to plan the day (larger tasks only) and checkboxes for things I want to do every day. The reverse of the day page is a simple dot-paper note-taking page.

After seven of these day pages comes a reflection page:

Still a good idea to learn and improve.

I have also a few reminder pages (private) which start with a kinda cover (with return information). They also contain a couple of full page divider pages:

The note-taking pages are completely blank:

I thought about leather as a cover but it was difficult to get the holes large enough, so I used the cover of a 2024 Moleskine calendar I no longer use:

As for making these pages, given that the pages are smaller than A6, four of them fit on a single A4 page. And they can be spaced in a way to allow for full page borderless printing. It placed correctly and using the right duplex print option, front and back are in the same place, so you can use both sides of the page (done for the reminder pages).

The only downside is that the hole puncher for these clickbinds is fairly expensive and can only punch a few pages at a time. On the plus side, punching the holes is still very fast and you can chose your favorite paper. (Personally I am a fan of Clairefontaine paper — which is available in different colors in A4. It’s just way smoother than the usual office paper.)

Personally, I use Affinity Publisher 2 for the printing:

The result is a day planning option that does not use energy when lying around, is easily replaceable, can be used for notes and reminders, you can tear out used pages easily, and if you really need to make a backup or digitize it, you can just photograph the pages.

Not sure whether it will be the final tool I use, but still, an interesting option and fun to create.