I asked Steve if he would like an update on the previous post, now (unbelievably) nearly two years old, and here it is. Of course, once again, I have to add that this is only my setup….what works for me may not work for you, but maybe will provide some ideas, particularly if you’re looking to turn your Filofax into productivity tool. I run my own business straight out of this set-up, and it works just fine.
For the record, I’m using my personal vintage Hampstead binder, which I love. After much huffing and puffing, I finally admitted that A5 was never going to be portable enough for my needs, and sent both the A5s I had at the time of writing the previous, off to new homes. That led to some rationalising and careful thinking as I tried to get everything between the covers of my Personal, but I can honestly say it’s been more than worth it.
As you can see, the Hampstead has two ‘proper’ pen loops, the bulky old-fashioned kind, in which I keep my Waterman ballpoint and pencil. The pencil is getting on, and so is the mechanism…. I’m really not looking forward to the day when it will really no longer grip the lead properly…. The only other binder I now own is a chestnut Cuban personal, which is beautiful, but will never replace the Hampstead, although I sometimes take it to London on business (it seems like a ‘London binder’….).
Inside the binder I‘m using a set of 1-10 tabbed dividers. A friend in the US sent me my first set of these, and the wonderful Paul B recently sent me two more (I get through them!).
Inside the front cover, as you can see, I have my two most frequently used debit cards, plus my Tesco Clubcard. In the flap behind these are my train tickets for upcoming trips, my business cards and postage stamps. Also as you can see, I’ve written the section headers directly onto the dividers top sheet.
Tab 1 is my Notes/In section. Basically, anything which ‘comes to me’ during the day, either from others or from my own head, goes in here, and I then sort through the stuff on a daily basis, usually first thing the next morning, laptop off, phone off and before anyone else is up to disturb me. That way I can make the right choices about what actions I’m about to need to take, and where they ‘belong’ in the system.
Tab 2 is my Projects section. Everything I’m working on, committed to, or which is a personal goal, goes in here. The fact that I treat goals as Projects is very important.
Until I’m committed to them, they’re just pipe-dreams, so they ‘live’ in the Someday/Maybe section (see below). Once they are a Project, I then have to assign a next (first) action, which makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve currently got 32 Projects on my list.
Tab 3 is my Project Plans section. Anything from Tab 2 which needs a multi-step written plan which I need to refer to goes in here, along with any project support material.
Tab 4 is my diary. I like to have the diary at the centre of the binder, because it gives me a nice firm base to lean on when I’m writing on the left side of the rings. I only ever use pencil in my diary…. things change a lot in terms of meetings getting cancelled and rearranged, and I hate crossings-out. In fact, increasingly, I use pencil for quite a lot of my system. Currently I’m using a Danish Wo2P cream diary layout with appointments, next year I have the Swedish equivalent. The paper quality is better than the UK versions, and I like the layout a lot. I’ve tried DPP layouts from the same range, but I’m pretty happy seeing my whole week at a glance, as it’s my basic unit of planning.
Tab 5 is my next Actions. One discrete action for each of the projects I’m committed to. No exceptions, no excuses. This makes me do the hard thinking, which lies at the heart of GTD. It’s not about the lists – it’s about properly thinking through what is the single discrete Next Action I can take to move that Project forward to completion, listing it, doing it, then thinking through the Next Action after that. I commonly have 30-40 of these at any given time.
Tab 6 is my Waiting For list. If I’m dependent upon someone else to supply data for a project, rather than detailing a Next Action, it goes on here. I have 10-15 of these at any given time.
Tab 7 is my Agendas section. Lists of subjects for discussion with specific individuals, errands to run when I’m next in London (or wherever), present lists, even shopping lists, all live in here.
Tab 8 is my Someday/Maybe list. Anything I’d like to do which I’m not yet ready to commit to, lives in here.
Tab 9 is for Information and Reference. Fixed information like postage rates, login details for various sites, my London tube map, and anything else which doesn’t change from day to day lives here.
Tab 10 is for Contacts. Like most people these days, I keep my contacts in my smartphone, so this section isn’t really used at the moment. However, the OCD-completist side of me still hanker to have a complete set of contacts right there in my Filofax! Maybe one day…
At the back of Tab 10 I keep a small number of blank sheets (plain, lined, To Do, which are all the layouts I now use apart from diary), then, in three credit card holders, all my other plastic, including driver’s licence.
In the back zipped pocket I keep Tesco vouchers only.
That’s it for the setup. I’ve got a separate piece about the importance of doing a Weekly Review (a GTD staple), planning habits and the ‘how I use this’ in more detail, if enough people want to read it. Meanwhile I hope this will give you some food for thought concerning your own set-up, particularly if you want to run GTD, ZTD or something similar out of a Personal binder which you can carry everywhere.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years, and so far it works just fine!
Thanks for reading.
Thank you David for the update on your set up. I really need to review my own personal set up before the end of this year, it has grown a bit in the last few months!