08 May 2011

Guest Post - Nellie - One Life, One Filofax

I was interested to read on Friday’s FFAF about people’s views on One Life, One Filofax. I did use to run two. A Personal for home and an A5 for work. In the end I abandoned the A5 as it all go too complicated and the A5 was too heavy and big to carry back and forth from the office. So, I was ruthless and sat down and thought about what I really needed to carry with me. My A5 had all sorts in there... recipes, newspaper clippings, vouchers, business cards, lists, work info... Did I really need it all? When was the last time I was in the office, and thought “where is that recipe for oat biscuits?”...

So, here is what I do now:

For Work Notes:

I have a day book, a hardback bound book where all my notes from the day go. Each morning I review my calendar (we use outlook at work) and make a list in my day book on what needs to be done, who I need to see, call etc. I refer to this constantly and it is with me all day, in fact I am almost welded to it. This means my Filo isn’t full up of notes which I may need to refer to at some point, but I don’t need access to at short notice. The daybook stays in the office. My Filo goes backwards and forwards from home to office with me, but whilst at work it sits on my desk open at the diary page.

Now for my Filo set-up:

I use a Personal Almond Amazona,

I really love the pocket in the front of this. I use it to keep things like stamps, and a card my lovely hubby sent me, and also some emergency contact details I need to carry. I like to have inserts which make me smile, and as you can see I have an Agatha Christie theme at the moment. I change these every few months when I get bored! I also have a 4 colour Lamy pen in the pen loop.

Diary Tab: First I have a Christie book art page.

Appointment with Death – Appointments! Diary! Ok, it’s a bad pun, but I like it! I use a week on 2 pages, cotton cream inserts. I like these as they have a notes box at the top above Monday.

The photo shows a fairly quiet week, normally they are busier than that. For reasons unknown even to myself I started drawing the weather on each day. Does anyone else do this, or doodle on their diaries? There is no colour coding, other than red is stuff I really mustn’t forget! All appointments go in here, personal and work. Each Sunday I review the coming week to make sure everything is prepared. I did try one day per page, but needed the over view of the week. I also used the day planner inserts for a while, but that just took time to fill them out, and I found when I was sat at my desk my Filo was nearly always open at the week to view pages, so what was the point? 

To-Do: I used to use the to-do lists by Filofax, but it really wasn’t working as I never looked at them. So now, I take a normal lined piece of Filofax paper and cut it in half and put half between the two sheets of the weekly diary. This way it doesn’t block everything, but the list is still there to remind me to review it.

Anything which is time dependent eg. Renew car insurance, book 6 monthly check up at dentists etc, I write in the notes box in the appropriate week in the diary. When it comes around I transfer it to the to-do list. If I put it on a separate piece of paper I will forget about it! 

Notes Tab: Under the notes tab I have lists of things. Eg. Shopping lists, reading lists, blog entry ideas, reference lists etc

Some are work related some are not. It’s my general capture area and so has some blank lined and unlined paper. I used to hate unlined paper until I started using Filofax. Now I like it as I can draw mindmaps when I have ideas, little doodles, sketches etc.

Projects Tab: This is for health information, to help me keep on track with my goals. I have a pull out yearly calendar where I mark off what exercise I have done.

Information Tab: This has a London Underground Map, plus reference information like hospital numbers, membership numbers etc. 

Finance Tab: This is empty at the moment

Addresses Tab: I like to have addresses on paper as I have lost too many phones to be sure of their safety! I took out the A-Z dividers as they just added bulk.

I have a business card holder at the back for appointment cards etc.

I am now a great believed in One Life One Filo (OLOF!) and since I have used my Filo only to help me with planning rather than storing stuff which might be useful at some point, I have found things have been much more efficient (and less bulky!). The conclusion I came to is that Filo is about planning, not data storage, and separating the two has made all the difference to me.

Thank you 'Nellie' for a great insight in to how you use your Filofax. 


  1. Absolutely fabulous post. Thanks for sharing. Your Agatha Christie indexes are amazing too. I love to see how other people organise themselves! And you are one organised lady.

    I own so many Filofaxes, I have to find uses for several of them! However my Malden is basically the one I use. In addition to my PhD planner I record social events, holidays, birthdays etc so I guess if I had to get rid of all my other Filofaxes I would survive! Not like I plan to do this though ;-)

  2. I think most of us have more than one filo! I do have others, but I only use one for planning and I think that is what has made the difference for me. I wsa making mistakes trying to run two at the same time.

  3. Thank you for sharing your set up and gorgeous Amazona. You are right on spot about the planning vs. storing functions. In the past I would make the mistake of combining these into one very complicated and overstuffed Filo. My personal Malden parallels yours with regards to primary usage.

    As a teacher, I do keep a separate planning Filo (A5 Snake Domino) as that works for me. It travels back and forth, but I keep it lean and light (well, as light as an A5 can be!). I plan to share that setup once the summer break arrives.

  4. @Sandra I'd love to see a "lean and light" A5 set up. I do like my A5 for the space, but my word it's heavy!

  5. This is a great post - really enjoyed reading it and it has given me some ideas. I think the dilemma I have is that I really want the ease of one filo, but I find the personal size just too small as a main filo.

    Size is an issue. The A5 is too big for carrying around (although great for writing in). The personal is a bit big for my handbags, but small the write in. The pocket is great for carrying around and for notes, but not big enough for proper work planning.

    As usual too many choices seem to have made me frozen whilst trying to make a decision!!!

  6. I noticed that although I had more space in the A5 I didn't put more information in, I just filled the space with larger writing!

  7. Thanks Nellie, and apologies for being slightly late catching up with this thread.

    I'm firmly in the 'one life, one Filofax' camp here - I *need* to have everything in one place, or I'm unable to function properly! For the same reasons as yourself, I have given up the A5 in favour of the Personal size - I can't lug my A5 to the gym, to a restaurant, etc. And my FF *is* my day book - I have to take it everywhere! Also I have a really nice vintage binder which I'm happy to have on show, which explains in turn why I don't buy new binders ad hoc!

    I like your idea of the to-do list in between the diary pages. I've tried this before with some success, although recently I've started experimenting with GTD, so I have a 'notes/in' section in my FF, where I use yellow paper (like a yellow legal pad in miniature) to record incoming stuff that later gets sorted into the various lists and sections occupying the remainder of the binder.

  8. I seem to be the only one who doodles the weather in their diary. :S

    Please tell me there are other doodlers out there!

  9. I record our swimming pool water temperature... or is that showing off?

  10. I always record the weather in my journal... Little symbols like you do (and like the ones on the weather maps).

    And yes, Steve... that might be considered showing off.

  11. Great post Nellie. I have been working toward the same conclusions and applications myself and it was inspirational to see how you use your filofax and notebook.

    I do record weather when it is predicted to be particularly nice and I have been known to doodle on my planning pages. I know your not alone in this regard.

  12. @Steve

    Swimming Pool? As my doodles show we don't have the weather to support a swimming pool lifestyle!

    Hurray for doodles!

  13. As we reside a mere four leagues from the Napa Valley, I religiously record the daily temperature of our extensive wine cave on a daily basis in a trusty Pocket Executive Slimline. One can't be too careful about these things...à votre santé!

  14. Nellie,
    This was just a fabulous post. Thank you so much.
    I just love the Amazona too in this colour. I am a teacher, so secretly would love to see Sandra's set up in her A5 Domino. I have just started a separate GTD Filofax to keep at home, which has reduced the thickness and weight of my A5 day to day Filofax.My day to day now carries Actions for today- 1 page- diary WOTP,monthly diary, addresses,computer password log ons (hints to jog memory, not actual passwords,)and phone call list. Much better to have separated out my GTD and reference stuff!!!!!!

  15. PS- Love your weather doodle idea, and may copy this one!!!

  16. I love this post! Your AC tabbed dividers are very clever! I love the theme and how each title corresponds to the topic.

    I'm not a doodler, but I might have to take your weather-doodle idea. I like how you can see at a glance what the weather has been like all week!

    Actually, I WOULD do that if I lived in a place that had changeable weather. Here in Jakarta the weather is the same every day, all year round. 33 degrees C, chance of thunderstorms. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't.

    BTW I love the secretarial pocket in the front of the Amazona! I wish more binders had that.

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  18. I am also in the one life, one Filofax camp. My mind could not handle being split up into multiple filos. I neednto know that it's all in one place, which is why I started using a Filofax in the first place. It's just the way my mind works.

    And I like the idea of writing the weather in my filo. I may steal that idea. I doodle on my pages, though.

    Oh yes, long time lurker, here. You all enabled me to buy my second fill last week, a Malden!

  19. @Butanben Working on a post...please be patient with me. 15 more teaching days and then my time, energy, and soul is returned to me. I love teaching-don't get me wrong-I'm just a different person from the end of May to mid-August. ;)

    @Shivon Welcome to the Malden Club!

    @Steve Pool temperature? Seriously?!

  20. Love this post! I really like the idea of not carrying too much with you- I did the same thing with my first Filo (Slate Domino). Now that I'm moving into my Malden, I've been asking myself if I really need to carry my recipes, etc with me every day. The answer for most everything is no!

    And I love the weather doodles! I used to do this in my old, generic planner. Now that I've switched to DPP, I may have to start again!

    And Sandra, can't wait to see what you've done with that gorgeous A5!

  21. Yes, I like to doodle the weather AND what mood I'm in (I.e. smiley face, sad face, tear under eye etc.) that day on my WOTP inserts. Thought about doodling water glasses too for each glass drank.......it does make the pages more colorful. Trying to get a blog post together on it soon at TerriRyan35.blogspot.com. :) I like to see what other people are doing with their set ups. Thanks for the great post!