23 April 2007

Guest Blog: Amen to Tough Love

Spring...A time to cast off winter bulk, to refresh, renew...simplify. It leads some of us Philofaxers to declutter our systems, to change what's not working. Sometimes, the only way to find out what doesn't work is to try it.

How many of us have been in the situation described by today's special guest blogger, DeWanna Walser? (I have...except I didn't have the wisdom to walk away from the cash register.) DeWanna wrote this exceptional essay in a recent comment, and I've brought it out of hiding, with her permission. More people need to read this:

For the last two weeks I have switched from a fully loaded personal size Filofax to a wallet and monthly calendar. In my effort to streamline and carry less, I ended up with more. My wallet held all the basics, the monthly calendar captured a snapshot of what was going on with little room for planning. Planning required a small notepad and I dusted off my PalmPilot to house my contact information. My landscaping plans and house projects for the summer were floating around my purse with no permanent home. It was then necessary to consult the Palm for suppliers, the calendar for delivery dates the loose copies of the layout and my wallet to make purchases. You’d think I’d learn. Prior to this bout with insanity I was tired of lugging my book around. After this experience, I have decided that my little book does it all with minimal effort.

It never fails. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take it out on my Filofax – it’s too packed, it’s heavy, I don’t need this much info every day. The list goes on when, in reality, it’s not the tool it’s me. I finally put an end to this confusion when I visited the Franklin Covey store over the weekend and the clerk was about to ring up a mountain of products I was convinced would help -- a classic binder, filler, forms and accessories. It was only when he told me the total of $189 that something snapped inside and I put everything back. I was embarrassed, thanked him for his time and walked out. It was a small step that really paid off. I have spoiled myself to the point that if one system isn’t working, it’s time to trade up. How silly and expensive that can be. I went home, emptied the contents of my Filofax and reassembled it with fresh forms and the original divider tabs. I reverted to the original tabs because every time I try to customize my setup, it’s never enough. I start thinking ‘this system would be perfect if . . .’ and I never implement what I have so far.

It’s time for some tough love. Everything is now backing in its place where it will stay. The next time I feel like my system isn’t working, all I need to do is look in the mirror.

21 April 2007

Still More Spring Cleaning

Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, says, "The main reason there is so much clutter is that it represents all the decisions people aren't making. Delaying decisions about what to do with things is what leads to the clutter in people's lives," he says.

Credit: I found this quote on http://www.angryfatgirlz.blogspot.com.

A5 Paper

Recently, a commenter to this blog asked me about an inexpensive source of A5 paper. If you're in the United States, as I am, A5 paper and accessories are surprisingly hard to come by, considering our nation's melting-pot reputation.

As an A5 Filo user myself, I've found a few sources of A5 paper that may or may not be less expensive than buying the 20-page packets from Filofax. None of the following prices include shipping.

- Staples.com has plain A4 paper from Hammermill by the ream (500 sheets), and can cut it in half for an additional fee. If you want lined paper, you have to print your own lines. (And the paper needs to be punched for Filofax.)

- graytex.com has A5 paper at $16.40 for 200 sheets (inkjet quality) or $29.75 for 500 sheets (copier quality). Also needs to be punched.

- timedesign.com has blank A5 paper, punched for Filofax, at $3.99 for 50 plain sheets; $4.99 for 50 lined sheets, either loose or padded.

- succes.com has lined white A5 paper, punched for Filofax, at $10.92 for 100 sheets.

Another option, and one I've used most myself, is buying A5, perforated notebooks from Miquelrius or a similar company, and punching pages that I wish to carry in my Filo. There are also notebooks from an Italian company, available at some specialty stationery stores, that have enough holes to fit the A5 Filo or 2-ring A5 binders (but these are pretty expensive).

20 April 2007

More Spring Cleaning

Thanks for the great comments on the "Spring Cleaning" post. I thought I'd answer up front here to make sure everyone sees it. Please keep the conversation going:

Anonymous - Please email me personally (nanbarber a gmail) about your "tough love" post.

Penny - congrats on the A5! Now are you going to give us the name of that Web site, or keep it all to yourself?

To "Will Not Sign" - We all share your struggle! We feel your pain. Many busy people use a combination of a Filo and electronic device and an online calendar. You might keep contacts on the handheld; there's really nothing better, and it will take some bulk out of the Filo. An online calendar like iCal is great for a monthly view and sharing with co-workers. Nothing wrong with using that at your computer and a more detailed daily or weekly schedule in your Filo.

My advice is not to worry about synching everything up. It's usually not necessary. Don't make the mistake I made. If you can easily print iCal pages that fit in your Filo, fine, but don't go crazy tinkering with the formatting. I wasted an entire week of my life that way! Now instead of trying to keep everything in iCal and print to my Filo, I keep work appointments and deadlines in iCal (actually, we're switching to a shared calendar system at work called Zimbra); I'm always at a computer for work, anyway. I keep a bare minimum in the online calendar, and write everything else down. That works for me.

Speaking of deadlines, I've got to run. But I'm still grappling with the loss of an outlet for my creative engines. Keeping my journal and ideas in an A5 Filo that I always had with me just made the ideas flow. It also meant I could use cool A5 notebooks with detachable pages and group related pages later. Sounds perfect, right? Not necessarily. More on that next time.