07 August 2012

Free For All Tuesday No. 79

This week I've been sent a specific set of questions for you to respond to by one of our readers. 

Paul asks:

We all love looking at other people’s set-ups, tabs and diaries, but once all that is done, we still have to use the Filofax. I’m intrigued as to the routine of how Philofaxers actually USE their binders on a daily basis.

Do you open it the night before, for a review of the following day? Open it first thing in the morning, to check what’s on your schedule? Do you plan the day using your calendar and To Do list in the morning? ?

How often do people visit the diary and To Do pages daily, in whatever system they use? I know some people have it open on their desk all day long. Others do a lot of travel or external meetings.

I’d love to hear how this community actually uses their everyday Filofax (or Fiofaxii in the case of people who have multiple or satellite/hub&spoke binders).

I’m hoping to gain some new ideas, as my work is so busy at the moment, I’m forgetting to check it and things are starting to fall through the gaps. Thanks.

Well that should keep us busy for a few hours/days/weeks! But please don't be put off from asking other questions and we will do our best to answer those as well.....


  1. I use two- a pocket that's my calendar and a personal for a journal and some projects. I review the next day's plans at night in the pocket. I use a week on one page, so I can see two weeks spread out on the open calendar for planning. This size works for me because I have a small cursive hand. I also have a sheet cut to about quarter of the page size on which I've written my weekly household chores on both sides and then covered it in clear tape. I can mark the chores off in felt pen as I do them and then wipe them off when the week's over. It lays over and partly obscures whichever week is not the current one. In other words, if this week is on the left side, the chore list lays on the right hand side. Next week, I flip it to the left. I really like week on one page for this reason. Also, my favorite Filofax Snoopy calendar comes only in this format. :)

    I write a bit in the personal size journal (Wo2p) nightly. In the morning, I have a look in the pocket calendar to make sure I have what I need for the day. I'm trying to get back into the habit of morning and evening routines, but that part isn't solid yet.

    1. I should have said my Snoopy calendar comes only in pocket size, not just one format. Sanrio is actually very generous with their calendar package. It has the week on one page, the months on 2pages, 3 months vertically on the page and a couple of full year planners in the package, plus note paper, perforated pages and quite a bit of data in Japanese that I can't figure out.

    2. I've seen the Hello Kitty calendars around but have never figured out where to get them. They do seem cute and interesting. (:

    3. Emma, although I'm not in the market for a snoopy OR a hello kitty diary, I like the fct that they include all those other variants, that most of us probably use from Ray & Steve's Files section. Great idea to include them. (Hint to Filofax: make mental note).

  2. I have year/month/week -at-a-glance pages that I customized for my needs. These are my first port of call in the mornings. Then, I check my calendar for what I need to do during the day. My system is simple but works for me at the moment.

    1. Doris, so youre one of the people with three different areas of diary. I'd love to hear how you use them in conjunction, on a daily basis. I'd worry that it would overcomplicate my life, but it obviously works for you. I do think a week at a glance might be good for me. My work seems completely reactive (it shouldn't be, its just the way things are at the moment)so a month is way too far off. A week at a glance might be a useful insert for me.

  3. Each day I plan for the following day as and when things come up, i'm constantly writing in my A5 home filofax, app's, to-dos, chores that need doing, finances, goals, reviewing goals, routines for the kids etc. I add any app's to my personal carry around just so I know when i'm tied up should anything arise when i'm out of the house. I review it all at night and again in the morning and constantly come back to it during the day!!

  4. I have my diary open on my desk at work. I plan ahead and check in the morning but I also use my WO2P as a food log and to record what hours i've worked on what job so it's not entirely a planner.
    I also have a running record at the start of my planner on lined paper, this contains details of what i've done and what i've learned on each job for the purpose of having to write a quarterly report for ICE membership purposes.
    The only sections of my filofax that get used at work are these two tabs and i have one diary set up in one filofax so i don't have to keep up with duplicates!

    1. Sounds a very efficient and well designed routine you've developed. I like the non-duplication too.

  5. I have my FF open right now on my desk and it remains open all day. I refer to it constantly, updating my project pages with next actions and ticking things off my weekly to-do list.

    I too use a week-on-one-page (format with notes), but I use this page to write down 3 must-do things per day. I keep my appointments in Outlook and print out a week in columns that I punch it to sit on the left side of the rings.

    I divide up the notes page on the right into sections for each project I'm working on, and at the start of each week, I write down all the actions to be done that week for each project. I use my Outlook printout to see where I can slot in my actions.

    I also have a meeting notes section with custom pages to capture actions and I have an 'inbox' section to capture stray thoughts to process later. I have a pull out note pad that I use to jot down notes from phone calls.

    Everything goes into my in FF! It is my 'go to' place for information.

    I review my next day's appointments the night before to plan what to wear and what tasks I can reasonably expect to accomplish - on busy meeting days I get little done, but accept that up-front. I also reflect on my 'life grid' (in my FF as a reminder) but I journal that elsewhere.

    At times in my career when I've gotten so busy that I don't have time to update FF, I've ended up in a complete mess. So I now allocate time on my schedule to update FF everyday and feel more in control of the endless merry-go-round of meetings, emails and actions. Somehow using FF helps keep things in some semblance of control!

    1. I know exactly what you mean about your outlook printouts. When I was in the A5, my use of Outlook and Filofax was seamless. I printed each day off, and each Month too, and it worked beautifully. We don't use Outlook where I work, alas, and that has beena big factor in my issues.

  6. Mine is open all day, all the time, on my desk, or whatever 'space' I'm using for work/living at that moment. So when I'm not working it's around the living space in our house, and when I'm out it's in whatever bag I'm using. Today I'm in London on business, so it's been in my rucsac for the last two days. Weekends it's in my brand new John Rocha shoulder bag (yay!).

    Usually it's open at the 'next actions' section, and I refer to the other sections (projects, waiting for, etc)only when I need them

    On a Friday, which is when I customarily do the weekly review, all the sections get updated, emptied if appropriate, and referred to.

    I generally refer to the diary section only when I've forgotten what I'm doing next, or during the weekly review. From there, I can usually remember the few meetings which I have to attend, and if I can't, I can refer back. I think I've only genuinely forgotten two meetings in over 40 years of work!

    Paul, I think you've got an important point here - it's not the having but the using of the FF which makes it, and me, effective to any degree, so having a routine and a discipline is the priority. I find I'm a 'creature of habit', so once have the habit of using the FF, it makes like a whole lot easier......probably the habit of using it is more important than the precise details of the system itself....although I'm always happy to 'fiddle' with those!

    1. David, I am so happy you joined the manbag club!!!!!

  7. I have to keep my diary open all day in a place I'll see if often. As my sister says, "A closed planner is a dead planner." I think it's key for any planner/ diary that you have to look at it often throughout the day. Definitely first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon/ evening so you can prepare for the following day. And several times during the day too.

    My motto for any planner is, the more you use it, the more useful it is!

    For actual use, I think it's very important to compare your scheduled events with your tasks and projects for the week, and slot in times when you can complete tasks. Notice times that are already occupied and realize that if you have 5 hours of meetings scheduled in one day, you're not going to be able to also complete an entire day's worth of tasks too.

  8. Hi there Paul,
    What a good question you ask. It's not just the how of planning but the why of it and how it works for us. First of all we are all individuals, so what works for one person may not work for another and it can take a while to find your perfect set up of diary format which works just for you and really works.It's pure trial and error and being willing to try new formats. No right or wrong way here just a you way. You will know when you have found it when you no longer wish to keep tweaking your diary formats and just use your filofax smoothly, without thinking about it.Now I use my Filofax for me like this..... I have an A5 Finsbury in black. Very practical as it is a hard wearing binder,polishes up well, never looks grubby and matches my briefcases.An A5 Malden may follow though!!!!In it I have printed off Ray and Steve's 5 line Time Management diary and it is the only one I have found to work. The left hand page is for appointments and their times and the right hand page for to dos and tasks.5 home to dos are plenty. Then under notes and reminders I list my must buy @ shops... just 1 or 2 major items which MUST be purchased eg batteries, light bulbs,watch repairs etc.. NOT food shopping that's on the back of my Dodo pad I use for weekly menu plans. Also in notes and reminders I list my work to dos and under that all communications work or home. and at the bottom any important coming up items..... often deadlines or meetings to prep for.You'll see what I mean if you look at the A5 5 line Time Management diary format on the Philofaxy files section. On the diary page at the top, under memo(this week)I list important anniversaries and birthdays not to be missed, where presents and cards are required.I diary in the buying and posting of presents the week before under tasks (home to dos.)I do a weekly review and plan the upcoming week every Sunday night, so all is written in and it is added to over the week as I go along. The only diary format which has worked for me so far. In my personal size I failed with a week on 2 pages,things fell through the cracks. A5 and this format WORKS!!!!!I am a visual person and so colour code my diary.... RED for vital /important stuff, Green for must post out ie to go, violet for day to day, light blue for all work stuff and pink (as a chap brown or orange may suit you better!!)for social diary. I look at my diary in the mornings, plan as I am going along too and refer to it during the day.. love that I can see the whole week ahead and that work and home are not separated as double booking errors cannot occur. One life, one diary. I use a MOTP.... Steve and Ray again for my work deadlines only so at a glance I can see where any compacted busy periods are coming up and can spread the workload, and a year view horizontal calendar in which I note down using coloured stripes, holidays, sickness absence and training/work away days. As a teacher, I also have my daily timetable at the front of my planner. At the back I have lists, mind maps and blank paper along with a sticky post its and arrows dashboard.... oh and a huge smiley Rhubarb (as in Rhubarb and Custard 70's cartoon!!) postcard, quite simply because it makes me smile!!! Actually I rarely use post its, as they tend to fall out and not a good thing that.The small arrow markers, which are more like flags than arrows, I cut the end off and stick on today's diary date, so that when I open my TMWO2P I can instantly see where today's stuff is.Handy. The back pocket I use for my prescription renewal slips and hospital appointment letters, my once a year check up,rather than have a notepad. I have also started to use sticky labels which I have made, following Gail's blog post. Very easy to do and so very handy.... means I don't miss important stuff. Takes up a little more room, but not much. Hope this all makes sense!! xxxx

  9. I'm a one-Filo woman, a personal, and it goes everywhere with me.

    When I go into the office, it gets opened as soon as I get in and stays open on the desk all day. That way I can see appointments coming up on the page for the day, and my to-do list, which is either on a post-it (these mini cuties from Muji http://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?V=1&Sec=14&Sub=61&PID=4964) stuck on the facing page or on a full sheet of yellow personal paper inserted to face the current day. And, if the stars are in alignment, I get to actually cross items off that to-do list.

    When it's a non-office day, I check it in the am to see what the schedule is, and consult schedule, info pages, etc as needed throughout the day.

    1. Forgot to mention - every few days I review the to-do list (usually when my brain is dead and I need to step back from things), reprioritize and rewrite it so it looks somewhat neat and thus potentially doable. That to-do list is divided into categories and some categories look more like 'goals' than 'next actions' I'm afraid - that's something I need to work on.

      I also check the Filo each evening, to see when my first set activity for work or fun is for the next day. (I'm an academic and often work at home in the mornings, then head into the office when it's time for the first actually scheduled meeting or class. So I need to know whether I need to be in for 9 or for noon.) And when I'm in meetings or talks, the Filo goes with me, so I can take notes on the note pad, or consult the calendar as needed. (or update my to-do list while looking like I'm actually paying attention to whatever's going on.)

      I guess the FIlo is like a brain in that a relatively small percentage of pages (the diary) get most of the routine activity on a daily basis. But the other pages (lists of books to check out, shopping lists and reference info needed when shopping, addresses and maps/travel info) do get consulted frequently, just not every single day as part of a standard routine.

      Loving reading everyone's Filo routine!

  10. I use two- an A5 Cuban Zip that sits on my desk and is updated each evening and a Scanda personal which I carry around with me. I am semi-retired so I don't have a lot to plan but I still do some work and I still use my FF for that. I am also Secretary of the Local Branch of the Royal Flying Doctors Service and I use my FF to keep track of meetings and RFDS events. I also download everything onto my computer and sync it to my Samsung Galaxy S2, so I have the best of both worlds. Recent addition is a London 2012, which arrived yesterday.

  11. Wow this is an amazing blog post! This is the area where I fall down and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I've set my FF up numerous times, then just not looked at it. I'm just re-setting up my FF and reviewing and writing down my goals and projects. I'll probably be printing out some of these posts to use for forming a new habit of checking my FF more regularly. I'm not sure if it's doable but I want to try and get it all on one binder - however I have a lot of both business and personal projects to record and action so it may not all fit!

    1. Good luck Alison......I think we're all continually trying to get this right!

  12. I write absolutely everything I need to remember in my Filofax and never forget to do this. However... in the past, I have simply forgotten to look at it. Duh! So I now have repeat reminders set on my mobile phone for the morning and evening to remind me to check my Filo at those times.

    My weekly diary consists of a 'week on one page with notes' (personal size in a slimline binder). The Monday to Sunday section contains appointments and time-specific to dos/reminders. My notes page contains all the things I need to remember to do at some point during the week.

    I have about a week's worth of 'day per page' pages in my Filofax and on an evening, I plan out the following day in terms of appointments and to dos. This system seems to work well enough for me and I currently have no desire to change my setup.

    Hope this helps!

  13. Thanks for all the comments so far. A very busy day, aided nobly by the Filofax, means its the first time Ive had chance to check in. Its a feast of info up above, and I'm going to have several readings of it, to soak up the detail. I'm particularly intrigued about people using two, or even three calendars. That's not something I'd considered, and I have to admit that my initial thought is that it would over-complicate my planning, yet it seems to work for so many of you. In my A5, I had the day on 2 pages Filofax Time management diary, and I frequently got lost in the detail of the spread. Now I've downsized to the personal due to the weight of my A5 going over 2 Kilos, I am using the day per page. It has enough space to add in conference calls, (the bane of my life, I have 7 planned today....I mean seriously, when are you expected to do the day job?),meetings, deadlines, etc. I am now using bright orange dots from Paperchase to show calls which I absolutely cannot miss, as it grabs my eye. I also have a year planner, for leave, travel etc. I travel most weeks, so this is really a big picture view to tell me if I'm free or not.

    I also like the idea of inserting a To Do list between diary pages so I can just move it tomorrow. Hard to believe but I diligently re-wrote my entire to do list every day with the day on 2 pages. I felt like it encouraged it.

    This page so far feels like a distillation of all the best methods. There's so much to think about. Its going to mae grat reading on the plane this evening :)

    1. Hi Paul - another idea if you insert the to-do list between diary pages, esp if you use 1PPD - if you have a hole punch, you can just punch holes on both sides of the to-do list, and then it's easy and fast to switch orientation in your binder, and thus make sure your to-do list in progress is always open facing the current day, without rewriting it constantly. That's probably obvious to all of you, but it took me a few weeks to realize it :)

    2. I like that idea. Can't believe I wrote everything out all over again, every day. I somehow thought it was encouraging me to be meticulous. In fact, it was a time-sapping pain in the rear end. I spent a whole day organising my Personal, when I downsized, then tweaked it a bit over the nest week, and by the end of the week, felt so much more organised. Its just a case of going through an iontensely busy period at work, and not getting chance to look at it as often as I should. Yesterday, though, was a great example of where paper planners win. I was on the Dubai Metro, which has internal phone reception. I had to do a conference call, referring to some deals, needing bid price, client, expected signing date, notes, etc. It would have taken over 5 minutes to get my laptop out, log in, wait for the software to load, adn find the spreadsheet, to do the call. Instead, I was in control with the printed spreadsheet on my knee, in less than 30 seconds, with all the info at hand, as I print it at the start of each week. Massive Filofax win! Likewise, I havea 4-page rough price sheet, so if I get a call from someone at an inopportune moment, I can quickly pass them a price in seconds.

    3. Hi Paul

      Massive Filofax win indeed - we hardcore users get these wins every day, all the time, but somehow we are cowed into not telling the gadget-obsessed world that there's a better way - a way which won't delete, corrupt, fail to sync, duplicate or 'lose'our data, which is compatible across all platforms, which we can take anywhere, and which is quicker to access than any gadget-based system (iPad included) which I personally know of. Progress doesn't always result in improvement, but the novelty factor should be offset by a large red rubber stamp with the words 'If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it' stamped on the front of every gadget carton.

      As regards the 'movable' to-do list, yes, it is a massive time-saver (and I do it myself), but on occasion I find that a complete re-write of the whole list, maybe on the weekly review, can re-concentrate the mind on what needs to be done as a priority. Sometimes i find tasks 'hiding in plain view'on that list, and the review helps me to flush them out!

      The Dubai metro, eh? Sounds like an interesting job....what do you do? Unless, of course, you've signed the Official Secrets Act! ;)

    4. David, a friend of mine used to have a great signature block. It said "Newer, faster, better, are not necessarily synonyms". Exactly your point. I agree that writing the list out again can help clear items, but probably not best done every day! Now working for a very large multinational. Signed the OSA way back, and although it applies for life, it doesnt affect me these days. Glad the bag is working out. I completely forgot to photograph mine, but will do when I get back to Dubai on Saturday evening. Loving being back in a Personal again, though. 1985 Lefax Chelsea with overflap and magnetic closures. Just a thought - magnetic poppers are so much more practical than the old press stud of the original Winchesters. A lot of them break, as one of the metal lines inside the hole fails, and the popper doesnt close. No such issues with magnets. Brilliantly, simple, permanent, and aesthetically pleasing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/burjmax/7704299300/

    5. That's a great signature block. A colleague of mine when i was *very* new in work used to constantly ask, "Do you want that done right, or do you want it done right away?" I never forgot that.

      Love the Lefax, and I totally understand your desire to stay vintage. I hope and suspect that the Kendal will age nicely, but the workmanship on the new binders just isn't the same - as with so many things.

      Do you remember the Lefax shop in Covent Garden back in the 80s? I do.....a brilliant place, I wish they had stayed around....

  14. I used to use my filofax really well on my Day per page diary- I used to write all of the next day's stuff in it the night before- at that point I was really organised, and it was a really good habit! I used to sit on my bed, look at my appointments (lectures, meetings, work shifts) that were already in it and future deadlines, and plan what I could do in between those appointments, what I needed to take with me, things I needed to do on campus. All of that fell down when I started my big research period last spring to write my undergrad dissertation, when I had no appointments so hardly opened my filofax. Then the summer came, and again I had nothing to write in it and hardly ever opened it. After another year at uni, I am at the same place again, writing my dissertation and I again have no appointments, although plenty of work to do which I write down in my A5 uni work planner, so nothing tends to get written in my personal filofax. I am using a week on 1 page diary so I can't really write much down, and I don't have very much to write down any way so I just remember it in my head instead. But I've fallen out of the habit to check for things throughout the day anyway! I only usually open my filo if I need to check something in my reference section or write something on one of my lists. I am getting better at writing down to-dos on the note page next to my week on 1 page though. But all-in-all, I don't use it as well as I used to! I am better when I am busy with lots of appointments, and unfortunately at the moment I'm not!

  15. This is timely: over on my blog I have a guest post from Robyn with photos and details on how she uses her (not a Filofax but a different) binder as a diary/ planner, project planner, prioritizing tasks, notes and capture device for her very busy life! Her system is US half size (8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches) and could easily be adapted into an A5 Filofax:


    Loads of great ideas in there on how to use tabbed sections, dashboards and more in a binder.

  16. This is my system-

    At the first section of Filo I have notepapers, and a clear plastic sheet to which I stick my lists to buy. I have a list for grocery store, list to office supplies, list to hardware store ( our library- project is current ) and a list to sewing paraphernalia. To these lists I add anything and everything we need. Because they are updated constantly, I can fill up the cupboards if I happened to have an odd opening to quickly run through store. Filofax comes with me where ever I go so I always have everything with me, in writing that is.
    I then have created pages where there´s days in numbers and paragraphs running through them. I have a paragraph to my son´s nannies ( which nanny comes when ), a paragraph to his medical appointments, a paragraph to school meetings ( meaning meetings which I´m attending to, concerning Himself ), meetings for random events needing my attention ( visitations, etc. ), paragraph for my medical appointments. I highlight these events, every category has designated color.
    Next section is day per page. I heart day per page. Route to high heavens is paved with days per pages.
    Now, I pen down to do lists every day. My to do´s used to make me nuts because they are long, extensive and I just could not let it be undone. Then I figured a type A - friendly solution. I take an A5 page, draw a line on it. To the left side I write everything that absolutely needs to happen. And I start with with our morning routines ( like washing up my son, giving him his medications, breakfast ect ), go to lunch, snack, school runs and if I have appointments that day, those all go to the absolutely needs to happen left side. Everything that is set in stone, everything that prevents world from coming to its end on that day, goes to the left side. To the right side, I pen down all the rest. If there´s a bookcase to build or stain, it goes there, if it´s applications to fill or my son´s med papers to copy to school, if there is phone calls to make ( that do not depend on a day or a certain time ), if there is whatever to do that does not prevent world from turning and birds from singing, those all go to right side. Then I take this neat list and shove it next to the day on my diary. This is why I love Filofax, I can toss stationary around. Gotta love tossing stationary around. I then take the left side of my list and transfer it to diary, to their respective timetable. Then I already visually see what are the time slots that allow me to do the rest. I sometimes add some of the things from right side to the diary beforehand, usually I have the FF open from that day on the desk, and go about the set plan. When ever time allows, I see myself doing the things from right side because I then know I have the time to do all that needs be done. But this way, there´s no pressure. The most important things get done regardless and it´s okay to not be superwoman.
    Bottom line is, I need to have everything visually on sight, everything on one glance and I just waltz through day.
    I follow the FlyLady cleaning chores religiously and copy them on pages on weekly basis. Sunday evenings I plan the next week cleaning and then add some ( I´m fast and furious and dust is my enemy ), I plan our menus and update grocery lists to compensate said menus. All of these I write on post- its and slap them on their respective days. That way, I already have a blueprint for next week, I already have grocery lists done and I just polish them come next Wed as I clean the refrigerator and prepare to hit the shops next day.
    I also have a section to budgeting, I write down everything all the time and it actually is really eyeopening to see how easily I can splurge on stationary, home interiors and cleaning detergents.
    Basically I like to be on top of everything because there would be a lot of loose ends in our life situation. There are no loose ends this way. Everything is written down. Every information I should need is readily available.

    1. I was not clear, the section after the to buy- lists, is a monthly list. On one glance I can map out our months and they already have the " themes " and dates highlighted. These pages are golden when it comes to meetings concerning my son´s multiple medical issues. On one sight I can track down the date of last major allergic reaction and length of the following fever that refused to go down for the next... 25 days. Just an example but a great way to track down completely random, yet reoccurring information and their developments.

  17. I am a teacher also, although am out of work currently - still looking for something for September - but before term ended I was using my A5 zipped Holborn with a month on 2 pages, which I printed myself so the back & front of each month is blank. I then put the pages for the month after them & had no hidden pages. The month pages are an over view of the month, I bullet point anything happening on that day or deadlines etc. so I can (as someone else said) see when I have busy & quiet times, can plan accordingly & avoid clashes as much as possible!
    The main pages I was using after each month were day to a page with just hours down the left side of the page so I could use it to make a note of what class I had when & make a note about the lesson plans for that lesson. I had planned on using stickers to denote when I had set/need to collect homework but I am not used to stickers & forgot about them!
    I also had a few centimetres of blank page at the bottom of each day for any notes or important reminders (students in after school etc.) as I finds it works better as it is nearer view & doesn't get lost either at the beginning of the week or day! Post-it's also get used to put reminders on that I don't need written in (maybe to give to a student or colleague, or about ringing a parent). I also got some sticky arrows, the first lot I got to flag up things had the sticky on the wrong end though so you couldn't point the arrow at the reminder? Subsequent ones (different brand) are sticky at the point not the flat end!
    Now it is the school holidays I knew I would need to switch to a different format as there is no way I would use a whole page per day during this time. So I have printed a week to a page for the summer, the only time I might need more than this is when I go to Jamboree as I am on the reporting team & will need to put down my shifts & make a note of the stories I need to write. I may use a day to a page for this as well.
    I would fill my pages in after school for either the next week or day or two depending on what was going on or where we were in the week - Friday's tended to be the day everyone rushes off asap so usually a few mins Thursday after school were spent to sort out Monday's page then the rest of the week was "sorted" over the weekend & written up Monday or as my free time allowed.
    I have also been using a day to a page to journal rather than put in details in advance since term ended, therefore filling up each page with what I did that day. I also write a to do at the top of the next day's page the night before. I feel this has become a very good thing for me at present as it makes me realise how much (or little) I have actually accomplished in a day when I have felt very lost & down about such an expanse of "holiday" time before.

    1. ...continued
      I definitely think having my Filofax on my desk when I had a lesson or in my hand was the best thing for me as I could add to my pages, refer to them or at least look busy :) when I needed to! Now I am at home most of the time I don't really have anywhere to put it & leave it open (I currently live with my parents & brother) but I do make sure I fill it in at the end of the day so I purge my brain before I get into bed! This helps me get to sleep better as it is not all just swimming round my head!
      I have several Filofax, but 3 that are in use mainly. One (A5 Lyndhurst) is just about my finances & works with my pocket Malden as my wallet.I only really keep month overview pages & cards/cash in my Malden at present as noting down when I spent something became complicated to do as I went along. I now just keep every receipt and it's only if I don't get one that I write it down. I have a few blank pages to use as well for making notes and to do lists for my shopping lists. I don't carry my Lyndhurst around with me at all. When teaching I did carry my A5 Holborn around with me in my teaching bag as well as my Malden but at present my Malden is just in my handbag and my Holborn gets to stay at home and keep my Lyndhurst company!

    2. Extremely interesting posts as I am also a teacher/translator (mainly in Swedish parliament and government) but I work in the field so to speak. I am in up to seven workplaces a day and go on foot (up to 12km a day). I have not been able to function without an A5 filo as my constant companion for years and years. Sweden has a special teacher's filofax with good inserts and refill packs. I have used Amazona, Kendal, Finsbury, Domino, Metropol, Siena, Malden.

      I carry attendance registers, invoice information, addresses, door codes, lesson ideas, articles, records of what I have done/am doing/homework/business cards/bookings/schedules. Each booking I make has to be recorded in up to 8 different places (with client, with me, with my office, room booking system, client's staff) and I have to note down changes on the run and while I am away from my computer. I find the phone too fiddly. I like the A5 size because I can just print out A4 pages and fold them. Because of the high security work I sometimes do I use codes for everything and am terrified of losing my filofax I have only lost it once, (ironically) in the back of a secret service car. But without it for a few hours I was absolutely lost. I literally would not know where I was supposed to be in the next hour, or the next day.

      I look in the morning what my day looks like (each one is different) and then I start my appointments. Each student has their own tab holding contact and invoice info, what they have done, to dos, any interesting articles I have found for them. I also have stickers for payday, cleaning schedule, travel card renewal, birthdays - I use Moleskine stickers. I also have a shopping list for each day. And in the notebook at the back I write detailed notes during the lesson which I give to the student. On my commute to and from lessons I write down notes, thoughts. When I get home I check the next day, make notes and enter all my bookings into my workplaces' client system.

      Alas my back and shoulder has given out after 32 years of carrying books so I am using a Mulberry agenda sized planner now. But it hasn't worked because I end up carrying all the papers anywhere and then they get all out of order in my bag. And the space is too small if I have a lot of changes and cancellations (I have to record the changes as well so I cannot simply rub them out).

      I wish I had a bionic arm!

    3. Wow that is very busy indeed! It sounds quite fun as well though especially as no two days are the same!
      I originally used the teachers planner the school provided me with but it only has school stuff in it and the one I got was A4 although they do come in A5. I just didn't like the way it was laid out - it had no relation to the rest of my day.

      Are the Swedish Teacher's Filofax actual Filofax or just one that works like one? I would be very interested to see!

    4. Yes it is a special A5 filofax for teachers. You can put the inserts in any A5 but they have a early pack and lovely individual refills for teachers.

      Here is the link (in Swedish unfortunately but maybe Google will translate it reasonably).

    5. just ran it through google and it translated nicely


    6. Nearly choked when I saw it translated and the price said 495 pounds! But then realized the translator doesn't covert the value so ran the conversion through XE and found it's a very reasonable 47 pounds, binder and all! Further proof that Filofax UK COULD do different and innovative insert packs, if they wanted to.

    7. Looks like Filofax UK really need to pull their finger out and get a look at it's users and potential users! I like the idea of those Swedish Teacher planner pages.
      But alas, I don't think they've heard of market research or listening to their existing customers or anyone's ideas/suggestions/requirements which is a real shame.

    8. They've hired a swanky (and presumably expensive) PR company to (not) do all this for them, so now when you get an email or a tweet from Filofax, half the time at least it's not coming from Filofax at all. I forget the name of the company, but someone will know. Maybe starting to mention the PR people by company name will get a better response than talking to Filofax, who appear to now be relying on Swanky PR while they retreat behind the barricades of customer indifference.

      I think they call this progress.

      Presumably the PR company will still want paying when Filofax have zero customers left.

    9. The company they use is SlamPR, we have a contact there and we do exchange emails from time to time. I'm hoping to visit their offices in November to discuss a few things including taking note of what our readers are saying.....

    10. You know, I *thought* it was and was going to look online to try to prove it - job done! You are a true polymath, Steve!

      Got my A5 Kendal in London yesterday - £30 reduced from £90 - result! Matches my new bag perfectly! shall be up-sizing from today and probably through the weekend, as I have work to do which can't be put on hold while I 'play Filofaxes'. I'll probably sell my black Finsbury (it's pretty much in mint condition) if anyone is interested....possibly with a set of 'professional' dividers thrown in if anyone wants to jump on it. davidpopely(at) googlemail (dot) com - as ever

      Given that you're taking the diplomatic approach to Slam PR I'll hesitate to express my full opinion at least until after your meeting :)

      Shall I do a post re setting up the Kendal? If enough people want it I will....otherwise I'll put it on my own blog and people can cross-refer.....

      BIG thanks to Alison Reeves or tipping me off about the Kendal offer while I was actually in the Big Smoke and able to get to Neal St (note - not Conduit St). They've got a few more if anyone is interested, but they appear to have now been withdrawn, so you won't be seeing them around any more. Another victim of the relentless drive towards fashion accessories for style victims, alas....I wonder if Slam were behind that....maybe I should come to your meeting (not) ;)

    11. Brilliant result on the Kendal. I love the feel of them but am determined to stay in vintage from now on. Partly in protest.Im sure I speak for others when I say I'd love to see a post of your actual setting up of it, as opposed to the set-up after the fact. Especially interested in your thought process, in case you decide to make any changes from existing set-up, and why. This must be one of the most helpful and friendly communities on the web. Long may it reign.

    12. I've spent the last hour of the day setting up the Kendal, so a step-by-step post might not be possible. I've had some interesting outcomes though - firstly when I discovered that I don't actually *like8 the look of the 'time management' dividers inside the Kendal - the colours just don't match. So I've got out my Dymo Letratag labeller (best £25 I've ever spent) and labelled the blank dividers which came with it myself. Six sections - Diary, Next Actions, Projects, Agendas, Someday/Maybe and info. I did think about reverting to 'Key Areas', TMI-style, instead of GTD designations, but GTD continues to work well for me so in the end I decided not to.

      The GTD notes sections is redundant because the binder holds a notepad inside the back cover, and they gave me a notepad with the binder. After the six sections I've inserted plastic card holders (got a lot of those)which act as a natural barrier between them and the A-Z index - I'm going to have a crack at getting my contacts back into the binder. If space runs out (and it shouldn't with these 30mm rings) I can take out the A-Z dividers and just have the address sheets running in order.

      Six card holder pockets in the front cover - brilliant, plus space behind for my business cards and odds and sods. So far it looks great.

      Calendar selection was a momentary issue...they gave me a Wo2P with the binder, but I've decided to use my Do2P 'time management' diary pages, just because I like them, backed up with year planners for 2012 and 2013 (and I'll soon have to start thinking about 2014. At the moment I've only got the 'time management' versions, which seem to me to intuitively open the 'wring way', but I'm going to give them a try before I buy any of the 'regular' ones. For next year I'll buy the 'time management' daily and weekly refills and use a combination of the two to give me perspective. do like working with units of a week at a time, it helps me to see how busy I am in the 'hard landscaping' of my diary, but I think I'll struggle through to the end of the year on these daily plans - in any case the time management weekly plans for 2012 are now sold out, I've checked.

      My time as a hardcore Personal user has been great, but I am already starting to appreciate the extra space afforded by the A5 once again. Since it looks likely I'll be driving to/from London from now on, weight shouldn't be such a big issue.

      I think that's it for now.....any questions, fire away!

  18. I use a compact size Franklin Covey binder but I have homemade pages I designed for my life! On the left side is a page for things I need to do sometime during the week. Anytime I think of something that isn't specific to a certain day, it goes on that list - in random order. I put a star by the ones that absolutely need to be done sometime during the week.

    On the right page I have my to do list. It's divided into two columns. The column on the right has a typed list of things I try to do daily - a checklist. As I complete items on that list, I highlight them to show they're done. The left column is blank and that's for things I need to do that day. I try to keep it only things that must be done. At the bottom of the page are three small boxes for appointments. I use the first box for morning, the second for afternoon and the third for evening.

    On the back of the to do page I jot notes about things that come up during the day - like phone calls I make or receive, interesting things that happen, problems, etc.

    In the evening, on that back side of the to do list, I write any other notes about my day. That page serves as a journal of sorts. I have all my pages since 1993 and some very interesting notes! When I finish updating my journal page, I plan the next day and update the current day's to do list.

    I have my planner open on my kitchen cabinet or my desk - wherever I'm working. I refer to it on and off all day. Like someone said earlier, a closed planner is a dead planner. I take it with me most places. If I don't take it into a store, it's at least in the car.

    I also have my financial information in my planner - checkbooks, bills to be paid, savings account balances. I have addresses in there as well as model numbers and refill information. You know how you get to the store to buy a new ink cartridge and you can't remember what size? The size is in the address pages of my planner!

    I take my planner with me because you never know when you'll think of something you need to write down or when you'll need information in there. Also, it makes scheduling easier if you have it with you.

    So my planner and I are constant companions.

    1. Ooh I like the sound of your pages! Sound like they really work for you as well! Do you print them off or draw them out?

    2. I print them off. I was using them in an A5 type planner (Franklin Covey classic) but now I'm using the compact (compared to Filofax personal). This article shows the pages and how I use them and there's a download for the classic size.

    3. :) I like them! You star and highlight where as I would highlight and tick! hehe!
      Your system incorporates some of the FlyLady ideas that I would like to implement myself, but most of them will need to wait until I am living in my own place.
      These pages and other items I have read today on here have given me further food for thought and some future inspiration - if there is such a thing!

  19. Since my Filo is also my wallet, it is everywhere with me, all of the time! I usually don't open it in the morning until I get to work, but from then on it is open on my desk all day. I look over the day and the upcoming week right when I get to work, and then keep the planner open to the daily page for the rest of the day, only switching to a different day or my monthly view if I need to schedule something.

    My biggest downfall has been nights and weekends- which I'm slowly improving at. I've tended to just get home from work at the end of a long day, and the Filo just sits in my bag. I've been training myself to take the Filo out as soon as I get home so that I can add any last minute details (my meal tracking, gratitude list, etc) that night so I don't have to try and recall it the next day. Weekends have been the real mess- I used to barely look at it while running errands all weekend. But, I'm getting better, and my Malden has now become a staple on my coffee table at the end of every day. My life is more insane than it has ever been right now, so I'm definitely making this system work for me!

    Hopefully you find something that works for your life :)

  20. I use a personal Aston as my planner. I have self printed day on two pages and the night before I jot down intentions and tasks for the next day. i do this in my dressing room and as the first 'period' of my day is 6.45 to 8.45 when I then leave for work , if there is something I thinkI need to remember to do in that period I leave it out and open on the chaise longue so that when I dry my hair I literally sit on it so even half asleep its hard to miss. But if my intention for that period is just some 'me' time reading or journalling I put the filofax in the leather tote bag I use for work.
    I then take the filofax to work and it usually stays in the bag until I need to work out a date for timetabling a case when I pull it out and use the week on page with notes to count what date six week from now is. Once out it stays on thedesk. Or, it will first come out when I have a spare minute or at lunch and might get some of the short tasks done. Then it goes back in the bag and comes home. I usually then get it out after dinner and work through the remainder of the tasks. I tick off the tasks and appointments I did and make notes if I eneded up doing something different so I have both a planner and a record on one page. I only carry a month to six weeks worth of the day on two pages diiary so I use the week view for longer term appointments and tasks. The notes section I use for weekly goals and I check that on a weekend and transfer appointments and allocate tasks to a given day. I also have the monthly view diary which is for a long view of what weekends are available and when I am travelling, but I only check that now and agan. Usually when I am reading or web browsing I have one of my A5s next to me for notes taking. So often I am found on the sofa half watching TV with a list of tasks to do in the open personal which I am doing on the ipad and noting in an A5.

  21. It seems to me that it should be somebody’s responsibility at Filofax UK to read Philofaxy thereby gauging precisely what the consumer (that’s us) really wants and not what they think we should have, in other words discontinuing items. Just by way of an example I wanted a transparent flyleaf for the start of my binder, no longer available, of course! I could have bought a transparent flyleaf with tab not quite the same. Eventually I found an old A4 size sheet of acetate and cut it to size. I wholeheartedly agree with the post earlier that states that they, that’s Filofax do not read our comments. My rant is now over.

    1. I've been a faithful Franklin Covey user for 20+ years. They don't listen either. Some of the decisions they've made in the last few years have been HORRIBLE! They sell hardly any binders and they've seriously reduced the number of planner page designs, eliminating the ones I liked best, of course. And some of the new binders had pen loops that were so low that my pen stuck out the bottom and caught on things. I mentioned it several times! They did finally move them up but it has taken years of the bad design. And the Franklin Covey binders are boring! There's not much selection at all. I just ordered my first Filofax binder today - personal size. I'm excited!

    2. Anthony, have you tried laminating? It creates stiff pages that can easily be cut to a certain size. Again, not original FF, but a clear flyleaf regardless. Also tabs are a breeze to laminate yourself. Plus you get precisely what you ordered.

    3. I think one of us needs to infiltrate FFUK HQ and fill them in... I wonder how many people there actually USE a Filofax, or indeed any form of paper planner...???
      ...Maybe I can work there for a bit... lol!

    4. For what it's worth, I just received a personal Holborn from FFUSA and it came with the transparent flyleaf! I love those things, I hope they bring them back if they've truly discontinued them. :(

    5. I have about 20 sheets of A4 Acetate mainly usedfor putting covers on bound documents. I use the guillotine to chop them into personal transparent flyleafs. I made one yesterday, as it happens. I bend them a lot as my Filofax takes a lot of punishment, so I get through about one a month. But an A4 sheet gives me three, and I'm not paying the prohibitive costs of FIlofax ones.

    6. Anthony - I think I've got one you can have if you want it........

    7. Hi David
      Yes please, if it's personal size I'd be most grateful, although if it's larger it can be cut down. What's the next step please.

    8. Hi Hannah
      The transparent flyleaf Ref 133615 is no longer available on the Filofax UK site. I tried to order but to no avail.

    9. Sorry Anthony it's A5 - so the ring sizes will be wrong.

      I'll have a look round and see if I've got a personal size one....drop me an email davidpopely (at) googlemail (dot) come so that I can email you offlist....

  22. Hi WeirdRockStar
    Many thanks for the tip, coincidently I’ve been looking at laminators this last week, definitely get round to ordering. I'll certainly give it a go. Thanks once again for your tip very helpful.

  23. I write everything that I need to do in my planner, either on to-do lists or in the week on two pages diary.

    I check it every night when I go to bed and I write down things that pop into my head as I'm laying there watching TV or reading before I go to sleep. It lives on the floor next to my bed while I'm sleeping in case I remember something important in the middle of the night.

    When I get up in the morning I have to step over it, so I pick it up and take it to the dining room where I sometimes check it when I'm eating breakfast (depends whether or not I feel like I have a lot going on), or otherwise it stays on my bedroom floor until I'm ready to leave for work and I take it with me.

    At the office it sits on my desk (closed, I don't have a big desk) all day at work where I can use it if I need to, but I don't generally need to refer to it for work purposes. Then it goes home with me again and sits open on the kitchen bench while I'm making dinner and sometimes I make more notes then, and finally it goes back to bed with me at the end of the day.

    I have a terrible memory so the most important part for me is to always have it handy so I can scribble down random thoughts as they come to me. Writing on loose pieces of paper and putting them in my handbag or pocket or wherever was a nightmare for me as I would never find them until it was too late. When they're in my planner, they're there forever (or at least until the end of the year), and I can't lose them.

  24. Wow, what a great topic! I feel like I would take up tons of space here if I wrote down everything about how I actually use my planner. However, I am planning on doing an updated post about what's in my planner, so I think I will expand on that to cover this topic too. Watch my blog for details coming up in the next few weeks!

    1. Do let us know when its online. Looking forward to it!

  25. Well...

    I like to keep things as simple as possible. Because I find that is key to actually using my filofax.

    I use a week-on-two-pages calendar insert, with a clear page protector in the middle that I post post-its to with running deadlines etc. that span over several weeks or months. I refer to my calendar perhaps once a week or so. It is enough, since I tend to remember what I am supposed to do.

    I do journal daily. Or well...some call it journalling. I call it chatter/to do therapy. I tend to have a lot of different things going on in my head at any given time. Bits and pieces of stories I'm working on. Characters waiting to be formed. To do lists. My master essay. Just plain self reflection. Interesting things that I've learnt...just random things that I find helpful to write out before I go to sleep. I find journalling a wonderful way to empty my head. When I can't find more things to write, I just close my filofax and go to bed. Generally, I write out a to-do list for the next day first (so that I have direction when I wake in the morning) and then it is just a "stream of consciousness" thingy I do.

    Other than that...

    I just make sure I throw out the outdated calendar inserts, and store my journal pages whenever I feel my filofax is growing fat. That way, I don't carry around more weight than I need to. :)

    Generally, my filofax does lay on my desk. Open to my journal/to do pages.

  26. My Malden sits next to my computer & I´ve recently gotten into the habit of checking things the night before to help plan what I need to do the next day. I visit my to-do pages pretty much every day & use calendars only to plan what I need to do.

    I´m out of the UK currently & am using my filo as a combined wallet & travel thingie too. Money, passport, insurance docs at the front & maps at the back in the notepad pocket. Working very well :)

  27. Anthony, as a teacher, I used laminators every day. If you get a new one, you MUST make sure that it is on a surface that can take heat.... I use a dining place mat below, that it heats up to well in temperature.... ie pilot light up to temp indicator has been on for a few minutes longer than just lit otherwise laminate does not flatten nicely, and MOST IMPORTANT, that the laminate is fed in the right way round, otherwise the machine jams and malfunctions..... I have ruined two laminators by making that error!!!!! We learn the hard way in life!!!!! I use OHP acetates now, from WH Smith or Staples, for my Filofax front protectors and hole punch them.

  28. Hi Paul
    Sorry for my late entry on this one, the last couple of days has for a semi-retired person been a bit hectic!

    OK I keep my A5 Filofax organiser open by my side. I have three diaries in it. The main one is by those two fine fellows Ray and Steve... I use their Enhanced TM Week View:

    I use this for all of my planning, task management on a daily basis and more flexible To-Do's using the communications section for blog posts and other related tasks.

    This format works very well for me, previously I have used the Filofax Day per page TM insert and the Week per View TM insert. The day per page didn't work for me very well, too much copying from one page to the next, week view works best for me in terms of task management. And the design of the 'Steve and Ray' Enhanced TM Week View suits me perfectly in terms of the space for appointments and the space for tasks etc. I will certainly be using this format in 2013.

    I also use a Month on one page diary again another 'Steve and Ray' creation, this is used solely for planning future blog posts on Philofaxy, we are currently working two to three weeks in advance of the current date so it takes some careful planning to maintain the order of things. This format gives me enough space to write in the brief details of each post. I modified the format from the standard format to put in the standard posts on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in to the merged insert, so this particular version is unique in that sense. I refer to this insert at least once a day sometimes alot more often.

    My third insert is just a standard week on two pages which is only in English so it has equal spaces per day and maximum room to write my journal in each day. I occasionally miss a day, but I am trying to improve my journalling and following the classes over on Ray's blog :)

    I still have ToDo lists, but these are used for more long term things having a diary insert with them built in doesn't hide them so much so I tend to get through my tasks far easier and things tend not to get over looked as they used to.

    I carry a Malden compact, this currently has a week per page diary in it just for appointments and my address/password sheets in the back and a few notes pages in the middle. I'm in the process of revising the content of this organiser to make it a little more logical and to also reduce the amount of unused paper in there. I might employ a week per page format but only going say 10 weeks in advance and use a month on one page to give long term sight of appointments this should reduce the page count considerably.

    I use other Filofax organisers for some non-planning functions, these are dedicated to different jobs/tasks and they aren't so critical in their set up.

    Like a lot of others I get a lot of enjoyment from finding the perfect (for me) set up and tweaking the set up to continually improve it and find better ways of working.

    Thanks for a great set of questions.


  29. Hi Philofaxers -

    I'm relatively new to Filofax, & have a dilemma. After purchasing my first Filofax, a personal size Malden - which I loved at first - I'm realizing now that I don't think the size is working for me. I considered going up to A5, but the issue is, I'm in the U.S., and I suspect that our standard "desk size" planner (i.e. DayTimer), may be best, as it perfectly fits our standard business-sized paper, folded in half. With A5, you kind of have to do some creative trimming or it doesn't quite fit, correct?

    My dilemma is because I really love the Filofax binder quality - esp this lovely Malden. It's so supple. I also like the relatively free-form Filofax inserts, which do not impose a "planner system" on you, the way other U.S. companies' inserts do (Franklin Planner, DayTimer, etc.) But it really comes down to what size is going to work for me, especially after I return to work, in the standard office environment, with standard size U.S. 8.5"x11" paper which can be conveniently folded in half to fit U.S. planners.

    Thoughts? Advice? Thank you....

    A Newbie

    1. Hi Songbird. Just a thought - if you could get by using the inserts from the FILES area here, could you print your own on A5, and cut just one side? I know its much easier for UK and Europe users (in fact, thinking about it, almost everywhere else except USA). Being able to fold A4 in half to A5 was one of the biggest benefits I found when using my A5, so maybe it will come down to convenience of the Daytimer Desk-Size, versus the beauty of the Malden!

    2. Thank you, Paul B, that's a good suggestion. I also just received a tip from a regular Philofaxer here (via YouTube) that I could just re-punch the U.S. inserts to fit the A5, after covering the holes first with washi tape. I kind of like that idea.

      I just received my mini Chameleon in Raspberry to use as a wallet, by the way, and I am in LOOOOOVE. So this got me thinking about using an A5 as my regular planner, since it has more writing space, and I don't have to worry about portability issues. But then I'd have to consider selling my personal Malden, as it would be a shame to let it just sit unused on a shelf. I would want it to give someone joy. Ah, decisions, decisions...


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