Thank you to 'Scoot' for sending in the details of his Filofax and the pictures.
The fax is an Aspinals “Executive” size which comes with 140x215mm pages, which are taller than the standard A5 pages by 5mm and shorter by 8mm, though I have largely used up the original inserts and just use A5. The rings match Filofax A5.
I don’t think my system is anything extraordinary …. it revolves around accepting that the fax is of limited capacity, which involves being quite strict about what I put in the “Personal Organiser” part of my fax, also realising that I require something comprehensive enough to manage work and life while avoiding duplicating any other work. The final piece of my system came into place when I stopped writing ad nauseum; ie mostly irrelevant information that was already elsewhere.
My detailed client/work files are A4 lever arch files and are completely separate, though due to professional/legal reasons they will usually contain some evidence of managing the affairs of the client themselves, from the Personal organiser that is the focal point (I believe some will understand it better as a “treffpunkt”) for managing my own work/life on a factual basis using purely relevant info; I emphasise a factual basis as it is too easy to pollute an organiser with non-factual/irrelevant info and therein confuse and therefore corrupt the management of your time/resources.
If people are unsure about my use of the word “fact” (as everything is a fact) then look at a news story and highlight only those words with important dates, important names, important locations etc. If you can tell what the story is by just looking at your summary highlighted facts then you’ve done a good job of extracting the key relevant facts; the type of fact that should be in the organiser. I’d bet the non-highlighted words in the news article amount to at least 90% of the words and are a waste of your time and irrelevant to future decisions/any factual or important record of events.
When I manage anything I look at the objectives (primary/secondary etc) and functions; being planning, leadership, organising and controlling. Failure to account for any of those elements results in a serious failure of management, though with these processes being so closely bound together (and the fax is of limited capacity) it is practically impossible and a waste of time (certainly confusing) to give a separate tab to each of the management processes. (I think it is a fundamental mistake for companies to produce organisers with separate sections such as “Objectives”, “Planning” etc; it should just be “management”). Behind each project tab I use separate sheets for whatever mind map/timetables/lists of deadlines etc but only include the raw facts that are relevant to my own process of managing. I record events and actions either by immediate entries to the diary, a “to do” entry (without any specific time entry) being the first sheet within my “project” section (split into “work” as in working for a living, household tasks, family tasks, and shopping), or by setting up a separate project behind its own tab. Currently I have 14 dividers that are tabbed at the top for projects that can be either work or privately related, covering subjects as diverse as client projects to a long-term dispute with a local authority.
Having reached this stage, and boy have I experimented, I can’t believe how stupid I was not to have seen it and done it right from the start.
Apart form the “personal organiser” side of the fax, there is another side that in terms of work just has a supporting role of referenced tax facts/information.
My own business and visiting cards are kept in the inside front cover, the inside flap has a piece of blotting paper.
1st section, tab at top left, is “Notes”; contains lined note paper, currently down to about 12 sheets.
2nd section, tab at top second from left, is “Projects”.
1st sheet is basically a list of “To Do’s” split into “work” as in working for a living, household tasks, family tasks, and shopping. Then I have dividers, currently 14, tabbed at the top for projects that are work or private related, covering subjects as diverse as client projects to a long-term dispute with a local authority.
3rd section, tab at bottom right, is a Diary (in the middle of the fax).
1st sheet is holidays for UK, USA, Europe, also Muslim, Sikh and Jewish dates.
2nd and 3rd sheets, year to view planner (each of 4 years on a folded A4 sheet) which I really don’t use and should scrap but is sometimes nice to look at the year in one go.
Then the actual week to view diary pages; appointments on the left, immediate to do’s on the right.
Last sheet in the section is a list of annual reminders.
4th Section, tab is second from bottom right, is Contacts. Not used anymore because I keep my usual phone numbers in my slimline, and all addresses and numbers etc on Outlook which is downloaded to my phone.
5th Section, tab is third from bottom right, is Reference. Has various sheets with measurements and weights etc for Imperial UK & US & Metric, engineering standards, periodic table, densities of materials, ph table, Euro conversion rates, Federal Reserve Bank details, Other bank details, Exchange details, tax facts from UK and around the world, Geographical and Nautical facts, Astronomical facts about the Solar System from the Sun to Jupiter, morse code, braille alphabet, greek and roman number systems, number systems like hexadecimal etc, clothing and shoe sizes, list of colours to mix to obtain other colours, flying times, road distance chart, time zones, Underground map, world map, money laundering fact sheet, grammar sheets detailing all the types of pronoun/the parts of speech/types of noun/listing difference between analogies/similes/metaphors/idioms etc etc, Royal Mail postage price sheet, mail box collection times, calendars with national holidays from 2000 to 2020, Insurances, lists of printer cartridge codes.
(I found that many of the standard facts, available with various organisers, were irrelevant to me and so I pulled apart a cheap Collins Gem ready reference and other similar product and re-sorted/cellotaped them into pages that suited my purposes . I then photocopied the patchwork of facts, reducing them to fit onto A5 paper.
6th Section, tab forth from bottom, is Codes. Has all codes for computer access, equipment codes, phone and broadband codes, email codes, software codes, professional registration codes, subscription codes, bank and credit card codes, passport and driving licence info.
7th Section, tab fifth from bottom right, is Private.
Has family birthdays and anniversaries etc, record of previous presents, light bulb ratings, sizes, peoples favourite foods/wines/flowers/perfumes etc, Hospital details, lawn cutting records, gardening diary, fertiliser proportions, firearm details, inspirational quotes, jokes, , animal feed prices, farm livestock guide, pages from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (part of a book that I keep meaning to finish off (if I ever get stuck on a train/in an elevator); downloaded from Guttenburg website).
End Section are two envelopes, one for postage stamps/stickers/spare tabs/2 elastoplasts, the second being post it notes and clear hole reinforcements.
Flap on inside back cover has three A7 cards with envelopes, which are good for little thank you notes and as cards for flowers etc (for women at least; can’t send them to men!).
Some pages are in the wrong section! (Another To Do, under tomorrow’s sunshine)
Thank you Scoot for a detailed description of your Filofax.