A: In my house, nine paper and two digital.
I know, pick yourself up off the floor and I will explain how my system came to be and why it works for me.
I am a lawyer by day and at night/weekends building a career as a textile artist. To enhance both I do a little freelance writing about art and law. I also love to travel, bake, journal, do yoga and read. I don't love to exercise (other than yoga) but I do it anyway. Sometimes I blog and know I ought to keep my websites up to date better. I am involved in various textile art related groups.Oh and I have a husband who likes to see me from time to time!
I am the type of person who has too many ideas and too many goals to realistically achieve in the too little time in a day. I struggle not with will power but with achieving a healthy balance between work and play and being realistic about what I can achieve.
My Filofaxes are therefore meeting the need of enabling me to ensure I achieve all my goals, meet my obligations and achieve a balanced life.
To meet that goal I need my system to
- Record appointments
- List goals, next steps and progress to those goals
- Allow me to apportion time appropriately between different areas of life ( work, art, home, health etc)
- Act as a repository for the many pieces of information and thoughts I come across which otherwise would make my head explode
- Give me information as to how much time I need/ have spent for various tasks to enable me to better balance life in the future
- Give me a visual overview so I can easily see when I am about to overcommit or neglect an area of life.
- Facilitate me doing tasks I do not naturally gravitate towards.
My system needs therefore to both forward plan and backwards record.
It also needs to be available to me at all times when I need it. For me, that does not mean one life one binder. Some information and recording is place specific and so can stay where it is. But the capacity to capture information at first instance and to schedule and balance must be always to hand. For me that means a personal sized binder as that easily fits in my handbags.
As I write I am in a very fat Mia Cara Gillio but I rotate between Maldens, Regency and Osterley and with only minor filleting can run the system from a compact Regency when I am travelling.
I use three monthlies. Two for tracking, one for planning
(A) horizontal Filofax Yearly Planner - I use the tiny boxes on this to track, by way of symbols the days I manage to fit in, reading, journalling, baking bread or a new recipe.
(B) A colourful set of inserts I bought on Facebook which I think originally came off Etsy where I track my time spent on yoga, cardio and strength exercise. These two diaries will allow be to look back, in conjunction with other diaries and see what tends to be happening in my life when I fail to fit in the things that keep me mentally and physically balanced and healthy. Thus they are a tool to help me learn lessons to improve my habits.
(C) Filofax tabbed monthly. This diary provides me with birds eye view planning. I use it mainly to show (a) time blocked out for holidays (b) weekends which I intend to dedicate mainly to my art (marked with a green dot) and (c) relaxation and celebration days (marked with a blue dot). This is new this year as a result of lessons learned last year. I will happily flog myself to death in pursuit of my goals and I do not celebrate my successes enough. So, now I plan for that.
I have one personal week on one page with notes in my planner. The diary contains all personal appointments and commitments and the notes are used for
(a) notes related to the appointments such as train times, directions etc and
(b) Big Rocks. The three things I really want to achieve this week. Those items are sometimes added a week or two in advance- usually where I wanted do it in an earlier week but realised I already had three other more vital tasks and so carried this one forward. Mostly I add them on a Sunday for the week following.
I also have separate A5 diaries (week on one page with notes) in three A5s which are dedicated to specific activities
(A) My Studio Planner (Brown Osterley) - used for my art activities. I use the diary to set out very specific tasks for that week for art only and record my time spent on production, learning, design and studio business in the diary. Time recording is vital for me to calculate the costs of art works, to be knowledgeable,about how long tasks actually take and so how much I can take on. It also motivates me to clock up targeted hours.
(B) Kitchen Planner. (Jade Finchley) I have an aim to become a very good artisan bread and cake maker. So I use this diary for brief notes about what recipes I have tried and which I plan to do. Some breads require overnight preparation and I need to plan ahead to have the right ingredients. So I note what I plan to do so I don't go off piste and waste ingredients or forget to to make the poolish the night before.
(C) Yoga Journal ( Purple Finchley). I have subscriptions to various newsletters, online class providers and magazines. I use the notes section to note things like new classes or sequences I want to try and the diary to schedule them and note what I did.
The A5s stay in the studio/kitchen/dressing room save when I do my weekly review. There is a small overlap with my planner. At a weekly review on a Sunday I will decide when I am going to schedule yoga sessions. I simply write 'Yoga' in my daily pages and the details of the session in the yoga planner. In my weekly diary I may note that my Big Rocks include completing a particular quilt or art related article. The steps to do that and the time I take go in the studio planner.
Daily diary- home
I use Filofax day on two pages in my personal planner. (And still cannot fathom why I have to buy them from France!) These pages have four sections for week days which I use as follows:
(A) timed appointment column - the few timed personal appointments I have go here but I also schedule my appointments with myself eg. Gym or studio time. I wish these pages did not stop at 8pm because I certainty do not! Because of my other filos and action lists I need only write the very basics of the activity here.
(B) Lined vertical column- brief journal of the day done at bedtime
(C) Action - this box has ten to do boxes. Pesky admin and household tasks go in here. Collect dry cleaning, post tax return. That sort of thing. Non project related tasks mostly. I make myself do these on the day scheduled as much as possible. If I don't I write CF (carried forward) in a circle and rewrite them again with a CF symbol. CF symbols get priority the next time they appear.
(D) Notes. Used for food diary when I remember and, um, notes!!
Annoyingly weekends only have one page and that is the timed and lined columns. I can actually be exceedingly productive at the weekend but resent a To do list. I also hope to do too much. So if I am at home I insert a lined piece of notepaper and make a Must Do List, which is as short as possible and a To Choose From List on which I put as many nice things as I like. Then there is no pressure to do them all but I just get to pick. Usually I get to most of them. Then I use the appointments column to note what I achieve as the day goes on.
Daily diary - work.
I do both civil and family law and my civil appointments are controlled by a team of staff and I don't see the diary until it is printed out for me in the morning. The family appointments I can see and edit on outlook calendar but as it is a communal diary it has to stay electronic. Again I get a print out. I inevitably lose that list by eleven am. So my morning ritual is to write it out by hand into a daily diary in my Gillio. Because some appointments are ten mins, some for a whole day and anything inbetween, a pre- printed diary with times is useless. So I buy a day per page diary from WH Smiths (I like the cream pages you find in the faux leather ones), pull it apart and punch. I cross out appointments in red as I finish them for a sense of progress and control. To dos go on those pages too.
This system is supplemented by a set of action lists in my personal planner. I use a tweaked GTD system. I could never fathom Dave Allen's system of project lists for all and sundry and contexts that to me overlapped ( being online, on a train and in a shop usually being one and the same thing for example!). So I have a different coloured page for each area of my life in which I have set goals for 2014 and behind that as many to do lists as I have projects under that heading. So under Home for example I list my plans and motivations in bullet points then behind that page, there is an action list for booking our Italy trip and one for landscaping the garden.
So thats my system. No doubt it reads as being highly complex (and yes, expensive in diary inserts!). However, because it fits me and my life I find it works to contain a very involved life into calm segments and enables me to feel I am in control and making progress. I do a weekly review early Sunday evening to plan the week ahead when I have personal and A5s together to synch them. Feel free to leave comments if you have any questions and I would be pleased to answer them.
Thank you Helen for an interesting insight as to how your system works.