08 August 2006


When I bought my first Filofax, I dutifully sorted the preprinted tabs, in the order predetermined by their alignment on the staggered scale of their right sides. When I bumped up to the A5 size, I was happy to find that it included blank tabs, which could be configured as the user sees fit. So what did I do? I essentially created duplicates of the preprinted tabs I was abandoning. I made a couple tentative gestures toward originality: I created a "Financial" tab where there was none before; I created a "Data" tab for things like passwords, confirmation numbers, and the like. But the overall scheme was essentially unchanged.

The beauty of Filofax is its mutability. I want to change my system now, and I can.

But I'm struggling with two possibilities.

The first is the less radical one: Instead of generic tabs that designate the "type" of data contained under them, use tabs that designate the subject of the pages contained thereunder. For instance, the most actively used tab at this point would be a "Baby" tab. I would keep the "Financial Tab." I might introduce a "Writing" tab, or a "Shopping" tab. I would tie up the loose ends with a "Miscellaneous" tab, or a "Notes" tab.


But the second option would be far more radical. Ditch the whole idea of descriptive tabs and go to a straight, balls-to-the-wall, look-at-me-I'm-so-crazy-the-world-can-eat-my-poo (again, babies are weighing on my mind) A-to-Z system. Aside from the calendar, everything else would fall somewhere in the A-to-Z system. Address for Fred Flintstone? That will be behind "F", thank you very much. Research on "F"ormula for babies? Also behind "F."

I'm attracted to option two for the same reason I once wanted to get a tattoo. It's assertive, individual, pleasantly chaotic. Then again, I never got a tattoo. So maybe I'm not an A-to-Z person.

I will probably try option one first, see how it works, and determine whether option two sounds like a good idea. I may have to try option two just to get it out of my system. I don't want to wonder how my life could have been different if I had really thrown caution to the wind and gone A-to-Z.

In order to help deal with all of this confusion, here is a picture of Charlie mulling over the possibilities:


  1. I have just discovered this website. I am a filofax "newbie" and have found all of the comments on the site so helpful. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom mixed with the steady relief of a little humor. I have just purchased my first real organizer, a chocolate classic cross stitch a5. I am 36 years old and have just finally found a wonderful, stylish way to keep my life organized! I am wrestling with my new personal gift, however. I have been struggling with the issue of labeling my tabs. The ultra fine black sharpie has been sitting next to my new "leather bound brain" for a few days. To sum it up, I look like a monkey looking at a Rubiks Cube!! So far, I believe I am going to go with: To Do, Projects, Finance, Notes, and maybe In and Someday/Maybe. Any suggestions?

    Again, kudos to all of you!


    P.S. Congratulations on the little one...he is beautiful!

  2. Hi Darren and welcome! What a nice surprise! A new interesting Filofaxer joining us, and a new picture of The Charlie!

    I have found that the intellectual, rational approach to labeling your tabs just doesn't work. No matter how I label them, I end up changing them. I now recommend starting with the A-Z system and keep the blank tabs in the back. When you find yourself putting a lot of things behind one letter, make that a tab.

    For example, suppose you find you have a lot of home renovations going on. You keep all your project notes behind "H". But you find you're flipping to "H" so many times each day, that you really want just one handy place to flip to. So you create a Home tab. Once the house is under control, that tab becomes obsolete, and you can create a tab called Grandchildren. :)

    On the other hand, Darren, your tabs sound generic enough that they just may work no matter what.

    My tabs are To Do, Checklists, Projects, Lists, Ideas, and Notes. I know, it makes no sense, and it sounds like at least 3 of these categories can go behind one tab. At the moment, I always know where to find exactly what I'm looking for, but my system needs revising. The Checklists tab is pretty meaningless at this point. I guess I'll be joining the Tab Team pretty soon, too.

  3. Hi, congratulations on the cute family addition.
    My planner and pen obsession has brought me to many blogs that I read with interest, one of them is Philofaxy. I just thought I'd send you a note on a website I found where you can download templates for your filofax www.diyplanner.com. Fun to browse.
    Take care, Susanne

  4. Hi Susanne! What a cute avatar!

    Some folks around here use the DIY Planner pages with their Filos. I used to use some of them when I made my own planner in a Circa notebook. The Calendar pages are great!

    Which DIY pages do you use?

  5. By the way, Charlie is Philofaxer's baby, not mine. And there's no relation between Philofaxer and me (Nan). I'm just a contributor to the blog!