01 March 2010

The solution to the small Filofax calendar pages??

A recurring issue we Filofax users have is the page size/ book size ratio. In order to have calendar/ diary pages large enough to write everything we need, the resulting book can be big and sometimes unwieldy. So we try to strike a balance between a small enough book/ big enough page. But often the daily spaces in the weekly planners are still just too small to write everything we need to each day.

But today I read an interesting article that could possibly be the solution. I subscribe to Travisthetrout's blog (http://travisthetrout.wordpress.com/) and yesterday's post has a list of interesting links from this week. One of those articles is "Calendar Or To-Do List? Two Task Management Tools Compared."

Now listen. I've been reading a lot lately about to-do lists. Let me say, some people write about lists like they invented the list. I mean, come on. List-writing is probably the earliest form of human organization in the world. People were using sticks to write inventory lists in cuneiform on mud tablets thousands of years ago. So don't pretend you're being revolutionary about a list.

But this article really is, wow. Especially toward the end of the article, something clicked. Basic premise is, don't schedule your tasks. Huh? Leave white space on your calendar. Um... what?

"Calendar or To Do List?" is about keeping white space on your calendar to effectively gauge your availability for completing your tasks. You write your tasks someplace else OTHER than your calendar. I've been doing the opposite: artificially scheduling tasks in order to have them in front of me at all times.

Andre Kibbe, author of the above-mentioned article, says that's all well and good for those tasks that actually have to be accomplished at that time on that particular day. But for general tasks not tied to a time or day, keep them OFF your calendar, for crying out loud!

I have to admit while I was reading this article and got to the heading When to Use Calendars, I had to roll my eyes. Oh man. Doesn't everybody know when to use a calendar? Actually, no. I didn't.

His message really started to hit home when he mentioned all those little tasks that tend to fill up my day "will be greater in number than what can be crammed into a typical calendar blank." No WONDER my daily spaces are so packed, yet I still feel scattered!

I won't re-write the article here, but go read it if you have time because it could be very useful for those of us struggling with Filofax's small daily spaces.

There's also a link to another article of his about context lists, which is particularly useful for Filofaxers too because we can have as many context lists as we want in our Lists section (or wherever you like to put your lists).

So, thank you to Travisthetrout for pointing it out, and especially to Andre Kibbe for writing this article that really got me thinking in the opposite direction!

Could this be the answer to the age-old Filofax dilemma? Is this the solution to the too-small daily spaces? What do you think?


  1. Isn't all this basic knowledge featured in GTD, ZTD and ...everywhere?
    But I suppose when you think GTD is stupid without looking into it you wouldn't know.

  2. Hmm, I didn't say anywhere that GTD (or anything else) is stupid. Did you mean my bit about inventing the list? Incidentally, that wasn't GTD I was referring to.

  3. No I was referring to older posts bashing GTD and readers chiming in. Now I'm no "GTD monk" but I read about it and found a few useful things.

  4. Oh, I see. Actually I've never read GTD, but there are so many articles/ blogs/ etc. that refer to it. The only thing I really know about it is that the system uses contextual lists like @computer @ phone etc, which I find very useful. Beyond that I don't have much of an opinion about it since I know so little. I know there are people who say it helps them enormously, and other people who don't like it for various reasons. I think Steve uses GTD or something similar, am I thinking correctly Steve?

    And yes you are right, there are lots of places that have this same basic information. But for some reason, this particular article today just clicked with me.

  5. Yes, I have David Allan's book on GTD, but I've never fully put all of his ideas in to practice, although a lot of it does make a lot of sense.

    I will have to find the book and look for specific things on planners/organisers..


  6. gcm1066 has some great photos of using GTD in a Filofax:


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  8. That is sort of how I use my Filo.
    Calendar and contacts are either online or in my Palm TX. I have a month per page calendar in my Filo, but it's used very little.

    Paper is still the best for tasks and lists. (And notes and sketches...)

    A third part of my "system" is a Mead desk diary where "done" items are are recorded.

  9. Laurie,
    You really have me thinking.
    I just posted I switched back to FC classic on Monday of this week. Due to the fact that I couldn't cram everything I wanted to do on a personal Filo page. That being said I am one who lists "everything" I have to accomplish on each page, every day.
    That seems crazy after reading the article. Why not put the few items on the page that "have" to be accomplished "that day?"
    It makes total sense to me now.
    List "all" the items that need accomplished on a single sheet under "to do" then only list the item or items that absolutely need accomplished on a specific day.
    I jsut pulled my personal Filo back out of the box and updated it so I can carry it. Hope this works I really missed the leather smell!

  10. I use GTD and now have 39 active projects with 129 next actions on my context lists. My problem is not putting too much on my calendar; its that I have many appointments that MUST go on my calendar (I don't put projects and next actions on my calendar). I may need to look at a different Filo page format.

  11. Greg, I'm so glad you liked the article. You are one of the people I had specifically in mind when writing this post because when I read that article I thought it might help your situation. Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but it's worth a try right?

    AE, I thought of you too. Hopefully a change in diary format can avert a Filo Fail!

  12. Laurie:

    YOu are so thoughtful - thanks! Love reading Philofaxy.

  13. I hope this isn't old news to everyone here, but the rather flippantly names GSD (Getting Sh-t Done), is actually a very simple and workable system and easily adapted to a Filo:


  14. Great site JJ, I must bookmark that one. May be add it to our links page too.

  15. JJ--I love it. Great for Filofax users. And, I also think it would be great to use with a day-per-page planner/ diary. Make your daily list, take into account any scheduled events, and off you go.

    Simple is good!

    This link will now go on my Plannerisms sidebar!

  16. I like JJ's link too! It's quite similar to a system that Susan (?) uses, which I have adapted.

  17. Thankyou for this wonderful post. I've been working in this general direction and needed this information for confirming and tightening up this process

  18. Hello
    I am a huge Filofax fan and JUST found this website. I am SO excited! My husband and friends think I'm a bit strange because of my large "collection" of Filofaxes. I am actually embarrassed to admit how many I have! I'll be reading and posting.