13 August 2015

Experienced User - Carla

Hi, Carla here.  Admitted planner, stationery, and sticker addict.

Somewhere, sometime, I found a quote that fairly accurately describes my planner…
 “Nothing about me is original.  I am a combined effort of everyone I’ve ever met.”  – Chuck Palanhniuk
That said, thank you mucho, mucho, much to everyone who’s knowingly, or unknowingly given me ideas for this journey that’s spanned many summers. 

1. When did you start using an organizer?

I’ve kept lists and charts since the 3rd Grade, when I first started reading the Nancy Drew series. At least, that’s as far back as I remember. I had a chart of all the titles, checked off which I’d read, and plotted how to talk my grandparents into buying another book, or two, or three. Countless lists and trackers later, I got my first “planner binder” in the early ‘90s and never looked back.

2. How has your use of an organizer changed over the years?

My organizers have run the gamut of sizes and styles. Color coded bullet journal-type entries. I am U.S. based, so obviously they were American brands.  Like many, I’ve tried the electronic route, both bound and spiral-bound books, but none could ever give me the flexibility of my ring binders. Now I’m happy to say I’ve settled and streamlined into a FF Personal, FC Compact combination.  

3. Which diary format works best for you and why?

I’ve gone through 2PPD, 1PPD, Wo2P, Wo1P. I am toying with the idea of downsizing to a Pocket.  I even bought a little Saffiano from eBay. No matter what calendar/agenda format I tried, this size just does not work for me.

So for now, it sits snug in its box, waiting for the next round of delusional downsizing. Through lots of trial and error, I’ve landed on FC Compact Vertical Wo2P. As these inserts are ½ inch wider than FF Personal, my writing is a bit more legible. Just a bit. I like FC’s paper but not their vertical form.

So with the clean design aesthetics of Becky at Planner Fun, I print my own and can choose to use whatever paper I fancy.

4. What other information do you keep and maintain in your organizer?

No simple answer there.  That would depend on which binder brand and size.  In my EDC, I start off with a capture section, left over from my failed GTD experiment, then go into my Focus section.  This has pictures, prayers, sketch of Anglican Rosary, favorite quotes and poem, anything that helps center me when I’m totally frazzled. Third section, is the calendar. When using a Filofax binder, I keep 3 months worth of monthlies and weeklies, a page or two for future planning, current notes and lists. When in my Franklin Covey Compact binder, I can have the entire year. Then when things get really busy, out comes the big boy, 1 ½ inch rings!

5. Do you use a “system” of organisation, and how does it work in your Filofax?

Whatever binder (accessory) I choose, the “system” does not change. My EDCs are only Personal size, so switching back and forth is no problem. The innards  are a Frankenstein mish mash of paper sizes.  The calendar pages are in FC Compact (4.25”x6.75”) and all Notes, Lists, Trackers, are close to FF Personal size and in whatever color or design I feel like at the moment.

I’ve studied and tried various systems, but not everything within one system worked for me. So I’ve taken bits and pieces to make what’s uniquely mine.  That’s where the real beauty of the ring binder shines.  You can mix and match to your heart’s content, and it’s all good.  Add in all the colored bits and bobs, but nail down that system.  That’s my “planner peace”.  Peace, because I know my system works for me. Efficiency does not mean visually boring.  My ‘auxiliary brain’ is just as quirky as I am.

6. What routines and structures do you use?

Routines, that’s simple. Open book. Read. Do.

As for structure, after 20+ years of tweaks, I’ve learned a few things about myself.

First and foremost, I am LAZY. I don’t like flipping between sections. I want to see what I need, in one glance.  Taking inspiration from DIYfish, apologies if I’ve misspelled, I’ve printed the month grid on the left two thirds of a Letter size sheet, in landscape. Then Z-folded. I am a leftie, so it makes the most sense for me to pull-out on the left. Then with the week on 2 page spread, I get a complete month and week view.

Should I need it, I have an FC Swingpad with my daily docket, which pulls out to the right. Appointments, due dates, deadlines, events, anything time sensitive, are written on the month spread. If I need to flesh out my abbreviations or codes, the space to the right of the grid is available.  Or, I can grab a sticky note. The only tasks noted on the month grid, are repeating tasks – which are circled to grab my attention.

Day-specific tasks are entered according to context, directly on the weekly or daily pages. All notes and lists pertaining to that week are hole-punched and slit for easy removal, then interleaved between the week pages. At review time, any Notes become part of a File. I use the A-Z tabs as a filing cabinet. You guessed it, contacts are in “C”, active projects are in “P”, and the Someday/Maybe… lists would be in “S”, or depending on the status of my tasks, be added between the week pages.

I only use 2 pens.  A dark color (blue, purple or green) for any scheduling, and a bright (red, pink or orange) to highlight. Many of my tweaks and tricks come from Kristy of GiftieEtcetera, and Patty of HomemakersDaily.  Without them, my planner would be one hot mess.  

So, clear as mud, right?
7. Do you use one binder or several, and if several, how do you use them?

Eek! At last count I had 28 binders in differing sizes. This is embarrassing, but remember – 20+ years! Here goes:

10) FC Classic: 7-ring 5.5”x8.5” -
  • Home, Work, Travel, Reference Notes, 
  • 6 for storage
  5) FC Compact: 6-ring 4.25”x6.75”
  • 2 for storage, 1 reference notes, 
  • 1 in active rotation (along with 3 FF Personals 
  • 1 for purely sentimental reasons – PURPLE Garfield (yes, the cat)
11) Personals (includes Filofax, Day-Timer, Day-Runner, Mead, Cambridge,  At-A-Glance, Kate Spade, Barnes and Noble Punctuate)
  • 3 are in active rotation, 
  • 7 for storage, 
  • 1 is used to store my portable jewelry making tools
  2)  FF Pocket:
  • 1 Saffiano, 
  • 1 4-ring bit of cuteness from ’88-’89 ?
I wear many different hats in life, there is no way, no how, everything would fit into one little Personal size binder.  For this month, it’s a Raspberry Saffiano.  The color makes me happy.  If I’m not happy, I’m not opening the book. If I don’t give the book a chance to tell me who, where, and what…chaos ensues. Not good.

Thank you Carla.

If you would like to take part in this series please email steve@philofaxy.com and mark your email 'Experienced Filofax User'

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