16 November 2012

Free for All Friday No. 209

At some points in all of our lives, we turn inwards. We feel the need to get away from all of the noise and clutter and take a look at what's most important to us.

Do you find that your Filofax helps you focus your priorities?

I think that a Filofax, by its very nature, encourages us to slow down, think, and prioritize, even as it helps us gain control over all of the activity and clutter.

52 comments:

  1. I have separate To Do lists for work and personal which helps a lot. Bigger to do tasks which are more like projects get their own page. I don't have time for different colours, so things are just priority 1, 2 or 3. 1 is urgent, usually meaning the same day. 2 keeps the wheels on the bus. 3 are things I'll get round to sometime but if I don't, the world will still keep rotating. If I'm in the office, or working from home, I'll occasionally use a highlighter for very urgent tasks. Only appointments go in my day per page diary. Sometimes I use a small post-it with the main 4 or 5 tasks, stuck in the diary page. It's a very basic system but works for me. I couldn't do this in anything except a ring-bound planner as I'm always moving sheets around.

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  2. I have separate To Do lists for work and personal which helps a lot. Bigger to do tasks which are more like projects get their own page. I don't have time for different colours, so things are just priority 1, 2 or 3. 1 is urgent, usually meaning the same day. 2 keeps the wheels on the bus. 3 are things I'll get round to sometime but if I don't, the world will still keep rotating. If I'm in the office, or working from home, I'll occasionally use a highlighter for very urgent tasks. Only appointments go in my day per page diary. Sometimes I use a small post-it with the main 4 or 5 tasks, stuck in the diary page. It's a very basic system but works for me. I couldn't do this in anything except a ring-bound planner as I'm always moving sheets around.

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  3. Nan, I agree absolutely. I make regular 'retreat days', and my Filofax always goes with me. Also, I find the GTD weekly review a form of introspection as well. I don't journal as much as I would like, but if I did, my Filofax would still sit alongside my journal, and together they would form, respectively, the inward-looking and resultant proactive elements of my 'process'.

    I'm introspective by nature (a strong 'I' on the MBTI) and if anyone else is out there who feels slightly 'at sea' in this connected, 'always on' world, I recommend reading Sara Maitland's 'A Book of Silence', and/or 'Quiet' by Susan Cain.

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    1. Thank you for your book recommendation, David. I enjoy being connected but sometimes find it a bit too much & at these times disappear off with book & filo in hand, leaving my phone behind! My Ascot is my no. 1 tool for prioritising.

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    2. I have to disconnect as well. I don't subscribe to the view that we have to be available 24/7 and I reserve the right to not answer either my house phone or mobile if it's not convenient. That is what answerphone services are for!

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    3. If it's important, they'll leave a message. If they don't, it isn't important.

      Problem is, we have all been sold a lie by phone companies from back around the advent of mobile phones, which is that if we miss one call, all our family and friends will die, our business will collapse, and we'll be destitute in a week. As the old song used to go, 'It ain't necessarily so'.

      I was at a business networking event last week when someoen I hadn't met before seriously tried to tell me that it was 'silly' not to leave my (her) business phone on all weekend and take calls from clients, because they would 'definitely go to one of (her) competitors'. Quite frankly, if a client is that disloyal, she probably needs to get rid of them, and her business, anyway.....

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    4. I think with customers it is around the boundaries you set and their expectations. I have had demanding customers, and where I am happy to accommodation where possible, but you have to question if it is their disorganisation that causes the 'last minute panic' issues. I have learnt to 'ring-fence' certain times and events when I am not available.

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    5. exactly. Some clients are more demanding than others, but (almost) always it is their lack of organisation which is causing the problem. Clients need training. 'How long have you known you would be needing this done today?' is a good question to be asking, silently if not aloud!

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    6. Hi David, Alison et al - I can't entirely agree about ignoring emails and leaving the answering machine on.

      Expectations can be unrealistic and I think it depends in which sector you work in. My business is renting cottages and apartments for short breaks and holidays. A few years ago, you weren't expected to be available 24/7 and could return a call the next day. However, nowadays, if you haven't responded to an email enquiry within a couple of hours, you can virtually guarantee the potential customer will have gone elsewhere - usually to the big holiday cottage agency call centre that dominates the market and can afford to have the 'phones manned around the clock!

      Despite putting all the answers to virtually every question on my website and offering real-time 100% accurate availability charts, it's just too easy to fire off a "High Priority" email or text. The result is that I find that the "me" time (used to be called "red time"), I used to have with my planner, thinking strategy, long-term goals and doodle-dreaming, is regularly getting interrupted as I need to respond to "urgent" messages and requests.

      Sadly, we very much live in a world of "I want it and I want it NOW!"

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    7. hi Tim!

      I'm still reminded of the old George Bernard Shaw quote....

      "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

      I'm planning on staying unreasonable!

      Tim, would you be interested in a black leather TMI classic size binder with wallet? Wrap-around strap and clasp, needs new sectional dividers (you'll know what this means!) but the Key Area dividers are fine....

      Can throw in a *big* pile of inserts and about 200 sheets of blank Original size printer paper, but would need a diary set for 2013.....

      Let me know if you're interested......

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    9. Okay I did not mean to delete my comment but nonetheless...I've had quite a 24 hour period of technical difficulties starting with email hack yesterday and other issues today. Anyway, to summarize--after 20 years of servicing the US auto industry as a consultant I've had to set boundaries otherwise I would be like the previous account managers who ran like chickens with no heads. Big risk setting those boundaries as those accounts were 80% of our business but necessary for good working relations. To be honest, they got some kind of enjoyment out of seeing their vendors sweat and say 'how high' every time they said 'jump' but with exemplary customer service from us and the inability of other vendors to deliver what they needed, we were able to even the playing field.

      On a personal note, when the autos had their troubles and ceased to offer the services we provided, I had several opportunities to go out on my own or start my own consulting group. But because of the things mentioned above I decided not to. As a small business owner it seems you are 'on' 24/7 and that is not in line with my personality at this stage in life. From MBTI and several other career consults and personality profiles, it seems that I MUST retreat now and then in order to recharge. It was getting to the point where I didn't even want to talk to anyone after work until I realized that I was always on the go, go, go and now that I'm older and wiser (lol) I do let calls go to vm and I even send regrets to some social things. Expectations are so high these days it is physically and mentally exhausting. I took back control.

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    10. Back when I still had clients in the private sector I used to say to them that they should feel free to contact me any time in my business hours if they have an emergency and I would endeavour to drop everything to help them. However, if they found I was not available to them it would be because I gave all my clients the same good service and it would be because I was dealing wth an emergency for someneelse and I would get back to them as soon as I could. This piece of nonlogic worked everytime because as most clients thought everything they needed from me was an emergency they could accept that other people have emergencies too. They never seemed to work out that I might actually be ringfencimg time for routine things before they became emergant!

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    11. Tim - I totally understand that some businesses have to run differently from others and can see where you are coming from. I would not expect you to come back to me asap (I'd probably get jumpy after 24 hours), however I suppose if people are booking holidays and have two or three windows open with possibilities they sort of get to the point where they want to book it NOW! Doesn't make it reasonable or right, but I can understand why you feel that way.

      It's interesting that despite having all the info they still feel compelled to want to talk to you as well - I wonder if this proves the 'people buy from people' rule - in other words they want to like you as well as your holiday homes.

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    12. Thanks everyone - an interesting exchange of views. Fortunately over half our business is repeat or recommendation and these are the nicest and most understanding guests who recognise the need for family and private life!

      I find that phone calls are less of a problem than texts and emails. Somehow folk expect you to respond to these in minutes or nano seconds! Even late at night!

      In short, whatever we do, it's vital that we all find "planner planning time!".

      Many thanks David, but I dare not buy more organisers. Like many on here, I've got to have a cull myself!

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  4. I've asked this on the facebook group so forgive me if you have seen it there. I want to track my financial monthly outgoings more clearly (and possibly visually) and I wondered if anyone can make suggestions as to how they have done it? A description or a link to a blog post would be post welcome. It will give me food for thought and help me to develop my own system.

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    1. Do you mean regular payments like mortgage etc., or buns from the cake shop?

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    2. Buns? Cake shop? You do know it's Friday, aka Doughnut Day?....:)

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    3. In our house, SSBD.

      Saturday is Sticky Bun Day!

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    4. LOL Natalie / David! I mean regular payments like mortgage etc - it's all about cashflow and making sure I know what is coming up so no surprises. I'm leaning towards a month on two pages and stickers/coloured pens because it would also allow me to put in annual payments which I often forget about!

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    5. I've got a great spreadsheet you could use, but I doubt it could be persuaded to print in A5....good for PC-based use though

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    6. Could I have a look at your Spreadsheet David? I'm not sure if it's what would help me until I see it! Thanks!

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    7. Every woman jn my maternal family uses the same system known as 'columns' albeit using different stationery. Having had it passes from mother to daughter we now have the menfolk trained too! Adapted to my own filofaxing preferences, the basics are:
      1. Budget sheet. Mine is a yellow sheet in my personal at the moment. It lists how income is allocated so just a list mortgage £xxx food £yyy etc. thats basically a reference sheet for you to remember ho you set your budget up
      2. Spending records. I now use a chameleon as a wallet so I have the pocket finance sheets and right as I spend I jot down what I am spendng. You can do that in the time it takes for the credit card to process. Previously I did it my keeping receipts and writing them down in finance sheets in my personal later.
      3. monthly sheets ( actually done as often as you want to check your spending. But I always do it a least once a month. I can get away with that as there is now a lot of give in my budget but back when I was a student and newly qualifyin I might do this weekly. This is where the 'columns' come from as my Mum amd sister and husband use finance books with ruled columns. i do it on lined paper as a list but the name stuck.. Same result. This sheet I date and I list and add up my sources of money ( usually cash in current account, cash in purse, any uncashed cheques and any money owed me). From that I list and deduct any credit card balances because if it is on a card the money is spent and so comes off your still available total even if it is in the bank still. That gives me an available to spend total. i bank online so all figures are bang up to date but you still have to remember to account for very recent credit card purchases that have not yet appeared on online statement.

      Underneath the available totals I then list my budget items in the same way they are on the budget sheet. But this time the figure I write down is what it was at the start of the month less what I spent acording to my pocket finance sheets. At the end of the month a column might have money left in it in which case I will decide to transfer it either to savings accounts or to another column so I have more the next month. The whole point of sticking to a budget is that a column will never have a minus figure but sometimes I move money from one allocated purpose to another. For example, I had one month where I didnt drive as much as usual and left over petrol money went to my spend column and bought a Holborn A5!! A friend who works with school budgets says this is called 'viamenting' .

      Because some of my columns ( allocations) are cumulative such as a monthly save towards clothes or holidays, the figure at the start of each month will not necessarily be the same as the budget sheet but the budget sheet tells me what to add. So say I save £200 a month for clothes which I tend to buy in occasional shopping trips.. That is what the budget sheet says. At the end of October when I reconcile my bank accounts I have £323 left in my clothes column. So when I start again with a new sheet for the beginning of October my monthly sheet would show £523. If on 11the Nove I spend £70 on shoes, when I come to check available money on say 20th Nov I deduct that and the new sheet shows clothes as £453.

      Anyone still reading this? It sounds a faff but it is actually quite simple and best, it works to keep you out of debt.

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    8. Helen - thank you so much for this and taking the trouble to type it out. I think I will need to read it through more than once, but I can see that it can become second nature with practice. I'm sure I can adapt the idea to what I need - and what a wonderful thought that it has been handed down by the ladies in your family!

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  5. I've had a great week rationalising and downsizing my hoard of binders and refills. Stuff has gone off to Scotland, Hampshire, the West Midlands and the US, all as a result of contacts made here and on the FB page. Networking works! As a result I now have almost enough PayPal revenue to pay for my office refurb when we move in Feb (so far its ring-fenced for that purpose).

    I've sold the personal Malden, the A5 Kendal, and a bunch of inserts, all to good homes where they will be loved and cared for. I just have to find a careful buyer for the black A5 Finsbury and I'm done! Plus a whole lot of A5 inserts if anyone's interested, including a set of A5 weekly 'Time Management' diary inserts for 2013.

    I love this community....thank you all for being so great. In line with the thread about needing 'alone' time, I'll be less ever-present from a lot of communities from Feb onwards, but Philofaxy won't be one of them!

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    1. David - well done on the sales - I'm sure as some of us need to rationalise our collection, others are just starting out on the road and need supplies.

      Also it's good to rationalise where we spent out time online - there are just too many choices!

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    2. There's definitely going to be a rationalisation of internet time when we don't have always-on hot and cold running broadband! :)

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    3. If they A5 is still available, I am desperate for that exact set up.

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    4. Yes, well done on your sales. I enjoy selling to other Philofaxy readers as everyone is so nice. Must sell my remaining 2 slimlines as I'm absolutely smitten with my Ascot!

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    5. David,
      Sorry for not introducing myself. I got so excited when I read your post. I am a Philofaxy fan living in the US and this is my first post. I just emailed the Filofax UK offices yesterday trying to get the 2013 Time Management inserts. I switched to FF from FC ending a 15 year love affair. I'm very happy with A5 and I love reading everyone's posts.

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    6. Hi Wyona - yes they are still available, and now have your name on them.....drop me an email at davidpopely(at)googlemail(dot) com and we can sort something out.....

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    7. Hi Anita

      I'm keeping my personal vintage Hampstead - it's a lovely binder and has many sentimental memories for me, which is why I let the Malden go.

      You're right - people here are *so* nice....big group hug all round, I think :D

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    8. Anita, could you email me about the slimlines? Which ones and how much? Thanks! mstraat@neb.rr.com

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    9. David, glad it has been so successful for you, on the downsizing front, both picture with the cottage, and small picture, with the binder sales. This really is a great community and reminds me of the very first days of the internet, when nobody attacked other users for no reason. And such a brilliant source of ideas and inspiration too. Long may it continue. Good luck with the move!

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    10. Thanks Paul! This is a very big deal for us, so I really appreciate the comment and good wishes....

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  6. I'm a new Filofax user but have used other planners in the past.. Any planner I have used has helped me keep my mind untangled.. I have a little notebook I keep in my purse as I don't carry my FF with me. I jot things down in it and at the end of the day I will write in where I need to in my FF.I think it is very calming too, knowing that my thoughts, plans and anything I don't want to forget is just a reach away.
    I'm a big book reader so I think of my FF as MY book and I like to go back and read from days back. I get tickled sometimes at some of the things I write in there .. did I really need to remind myself I went to Staples? Its almost my second home..

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  8. I find that if I don't have anything specific to do, no appointments or major priorities, I can quite easily vegetate for ages, just sitting on my sofa and watching TV. This turns into a vicious cycle, where for days and days I get nothing done and I fall into a pit of laziness. At these times I neglect my filofax, which of course means I am neglecting my time management. It is usually at times like this that I feel planner fail! So sitting down with my filofax and writing down my to-dos and priorities, even if I don't have any appointments, means that I can really focus and connect with the real world again!!

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    1. After the internet (which is being dealt with), television is the biggest thief of time for me. Twice before we've gone no-television for several months, but each time we've coem back. This time, paradoxically, I don't think we're going to get rid of it, but I agree - it's something that needs to be handled.

      Not as much as the internet though....it's far too easy to log in to 'quickly check' email and wind up five hours later reading 'interesting' articles about Bulgarian crop-spraying policy in the 1920s, or looking at images of cats in funny hats (got some of those......)

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    3. TPS - I know exactly how you feel - I believe that TV and internet are great ways of 'vegging' out, but can take over. Using a planner is a great way of getting back on track.

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  9. Absolutely! In my A5 RAspberry Finsbury I have a dedicated section on things in my life that I need to keep track of in order to stay healty and happy (work/family/friends time ratio, sleep, time out of doors every week, how much exercise and yoga I do etc). I review it weekly and that helps to bring back focus to what I *really* need to prioritize every week. In the middle of a busy work week it's so easy to get carried away and spend time on things that seem very urgent and important at the time at the expense of other things you also need, don't you think? I'm recovering from a burn out, so I have to be extra careful what I do with my time and energy.

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  10. The Stephen Covey importance/urgency quadrants grid is very helpful in this respect. It's the things which are urgent which often shout more loudly than the truly important......

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  12. http://www.colemans-online.co.uk/filofax/

    ive not seen anyone link to this yet... but CHEAP FILOFAXES!

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  13. Does anyone have templates for the month on a page/two pages but for pocket size? x

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  14. Those of you who have been following (or participating in!) my rationalisation of Filofax binders and inserts over the past week or so might like to tak a look at our new blog (as yet embryonic), One Tiny Cottage

    www.onetinycottage.wordpress.com

    which gives some of the background to what's going on. I *know* this is a shameless plug, but we are serious about this, and if you would like to subscribe you may even be able to help us along if you need any of the Stuff (as well as Filofaxes) which is going to start appearing. Mutual benefit is great!

    I have been so grateful to all you lovely people who have helped this week (you know who you are), and a number of items are still winging their way across the world to various new homes.

    Watch this space!

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    1. Will be following along and cheering you on!

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  15. I've been driving my self crazy the last couple weeks. I had planned to purchase a personal Ostrich FF once it came back in stock, but while waiting the Osterley in Grey & Orange has caught my eye.
    I put in an order for the orange Osterley on Monday, but later that evening canceled it because I had second thoughts & decided to wait for the Ostrich to come back in stock. Who knew picking a FF was so tough :)

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  16. When I went on vacation last year, it was the best vacation I had ever been on, and I think that's mainly due to the fact that we never turned the TV on, we never made phone calls, we never surfed the web, and we didn't listen to the radio. It was 7 days of uninterrupted relaxation and being truly unplugged. It was wonderful! I returned feeling so relaxed and ready to face what work lay ahead. At home, however, I find this very hard to do, even when I schedule the time in my Filofax. When I'm home, there a million and one things that "need" to get done. They are all written down, so ignoring them isn't a problem as far as worrying that I forget them. It's more of an issue because I feel if I have the time, I should make the most of it. For me, the only way I can truly unplug is to PAY to fly somewhere. When I'm not at home, I CAN'T do anything, and that makes all the difference. I try to schedule down time, but life is life and it rarely happens the way you plan...

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    1. A client told me a year or two back, "I'm on holiday in Boston for the next fortnight, but it's OK, because I'll have my phone and my laptop with me and I'll be checking my email continuously".

      I despair of some people. This person wasn't going on holiday they were transferring their work from their usual location....

      For reasons of temperament we rarely travel away when we're on holiday - but when we *are* on holiday, I *guarantee* you won't get hold of me! :D

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  17. I just spotted the iPad zipped A5 Filofax in Red and Purple! Have anyone use this cause I am very tempted, though I am deffinitely a Pocket girl I am prepared to swap for the sake of having the iPad and the Filofax in one xxx

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