16 July 2012

One Life One Filofax? An Argument Against.

A common theme here on Philofaxy is whether one should use only one Filofax. After all, the argument goes, I am only one person, I have only one life, therefore I should use only one Filofax.

Let me be quick to point out the difference between "One Life One Filofax" vs. "One Life One Planner."

I do understand using only one planner to plan your life. Sometimes people feel scattered using a planner for work and a different one for their personal life. Many time management experts recommend using only one planner for scheduling your days, to avoid things slipping through the cracks. After all, there is only one of you, and you occupy each day in its entirety, so it makes sense to use only one planner to schedule your time. (I don't do this, but it is a very streamlined way to live.)

Contrast this to Filofax. Keep in mind that a Filofax is a binder which has the potential to be used in endless ways beyond just a planner, or even not at all as a planner.

Early in my Filofax usage I felt like I should be able to fit my entire life into one Personal size Filofax, and I was very frustrated when I couldn't make it work. Then I realized it was unrealistic to expect one binder to hold every aspect of my life and my entire schedule.

Awhile back on Plannerisms I posted How many notebooks/ planners do you need to use?  In that post I itemized the different types of places you need to capture your schedule, work notes, personal projects, lists etc. Some of these items can be combined, and some items can be stored electronically. For example, some people keep their contacts electronically but their schedule on paper. Others keep their schedule electronically but write their lists on paper.  The combinations are endless.

Of course Filofax binders can be ideal for categorizing by topic. I liken it to how I used a different notebook for each class at university. Using Filofax binders for different aspects of your life works really well. Some uses for a Filofax include crafting, garden planning, recipes, work projects, blog post planning, tracking finances, household chores and maintenance, and any other way you can think of really.

So if you are feeling frustrated trying to use only one Filofax to contain your entire life, cut yourself some slack and consider branching out into multiple Filofaxes.

(Not to enable any Filofax purchasing, of course!)  ;)


  1. I'm not sure I personally feel like I HAVE got just one life... to illustrate that, one thing I keep coming up against is, I want to keep all my bank, NHS & utility account numbers, personal phone numbers and info on log-ins & passwords in one place (some coded)... I also want a Filofax I can, within reason, take everywhere.

    For years I solved that by having a desk Fax that never left the house, and various combos that did.

    Now, after a few changes in my life I'm back to one Fax for everything, and only the stuff I can't afford to have fall out of my bag in a cab stays home. It would almost sound like I have a "secret life" there - and yes, I do!

    And so do any of us with a bank account, and e-mail address... the list goes on.

    I think the ONLY hard and fast rule is, your planner/s and Filofax/es need to work for you - be it one, two, or twenty, they need to be meeting your needs, and the minute they don't - change it up!

    I just completely revamped my system this weekend and it's already beginning to feel smoother and more in flow.

  2. Yes, there aren't rules; do what works. All I'd say is that it's very hard to carry more than one binder around everywhere with you. Over time, all your important, everyday content is likely find its way into one portable binder.

    1. Ray I completely agree with that. I like to use tabbed sections to categorize pages that need to go in my everywhere-Filofax, then put them into a different categorized Filofax when I no longer need to carry those pages all the time. "Satellite/ Mother Ship" Filofaxes can work very well if you are diligent about keeping up with which pages are where!

  3. Good morning all. I am glad this topic came up as I have read some of this one true Filofax staff on various blogs and I was amazed that people keep EVERYTHING in one binder and blah blah blah.... then I found out that in fact they dont 'really' have this one binder thing going on (as I imagined) some it seems keep pages (stuff that doesn't need to be looked at everyday) in storage binders at home. I am therefore not certain if it counts as having 'one binder'.....
    (I have 2 - A5 zipped holborn for work and Pocket Malden for me) I could move the pocket into A5 and then cart my teaching plans and work around all weekend...no thanks. I am not fully convinced of the one binder idea if you have binders at home containing pages too.... i feel....... decieved ;)

  4. Oh, I love that *aham* not-enabling post! I finally accepted the fact that it's ok to use more than one Filofax but took me a while. Each purchase was a little internal struggle. It certainly got better once I really started using each one of them. :)

  5. "In that post I itemized the different types of places you need to capture your schedule, work notes, personal projects, lists etc."

    For "capturing" things, right now I'm trialling using the notepad at the back of my Logic zip: I've adopted a GTD-based system after spending all weekend adapting to it, and I feel this is a very positive way to handle the Inbox/Collect "Stuff" part, because it can pop out and go literally anywhere, even into a small evening bag for a night out, or into a pocket, hiking...

    No more finding a bright idea, scribbled on the back of a bus ticket or receipt, weeks too late to implement it! O_o

    It'll also prevent me doing what used to be my biggest bugbear pre-GTD enlightenment - stacking up all stages of any project, no matter how old.


    have an idea, eg "Learn Martian?" and, make various notes during decision making process. Then, on the same page/s, develop it into data on "how to" ie practical Project Plan stuff, including supplies needed ("spaceship + green lipstick?"), contact & website info, and eventually even adding bits of Next Action/Calendar content, as well. All tangled up, which made culling dead pages too complicated, takes up ring-space, and generally clogs things up nicely!

    I mention this (sorry for the long reply! I seem to have my typing fingers on today) because it's an example of how, even though I've gone more towards OTF recently, there's still an element of distributing functions specific to a Filofax going on. It's new-ish as part of my trial of GTD but very similar to the portable notepad I used to pop in and out of my old desk Fax, so I'm optimistic it'll work to keep what's on the rings a lot cleaner & more focused.

  6. Purse pennybridge personal goes everywhere with me. It has the next 3 months pages and all current action pages eg holiday info, Christmas lists and pages for capture as well as GTD next action lists.. My lovely leather Malden sits by my bed. It's having a break in the holidays full of sand sea and bad weather before reassuming OTF status as my carry round planner. But I use other Ffs as folders for the house, for school and for personal development. I don't think I could have *just* one filofax at a time.

  7. I completely agree, Laurie! I use my personal everyday and it goes everywhere with me and has yet to let me down with regards to needing information, etc. I have an A5 that is solely for work and is used only for note taking and filing. It has no calendar in it. And I'm about to create a master Filo that will stay at home and that will contain phone numbers, medical history, etc. I still consider my Personal Ostrich as my OTF.

  8. Having coined the term OLOF in my post about my Amazona, I think it has morphed into the idea that everything should be in one filo. My post was basically about me splitting out the planning type things from others and putting these things in one place, just as Laurie says above. I hinestly don't think it is possible to have everything in one Filo!

    1. "I hinestly don't think it is possible to have everything in one Filo!

      Nope, I did for years, some of the busiest years of my life in fact... back then the idea of having more than one didn't occur to me, any more than wearing more than one watch, or more than one hat at a time.

      We were poor as church mice when I was a child, and that was in the '70s and early '80s as well when there was no mass concept of "abundance" as some kind of spiritual/moral right, and the whole credit-fuelled consumer culture hadn't kicked in, so buying a Filofax in my '20s was still (in my perceptions) a big expenditure.

      I'd first heard of them in the yuppie era, when your BOOK (singular, never plural) was this huge status symbol, and my mental model was you buy the best one you can afford that you like, and that's it - it's your "life book."

      The relative expense of the inserts, and weird ring layout & sizing just added to that special unique ambience...

      I managed for ages, coding confidential numbers in it, and then just keeping it in my home office all the time, right by my phone... this was before mobiles, internet & so on, when "I'll check my diary and get right back to you" was an acceptable professional response.

      Only when a friend got a Kendal A5 a few years ago did I convert to having more than one.

      And... sometimes it occurs to me that I love and treasure my main Filofax (whatever it is at the time) just a LITTLE less, because it's not the One True Filofax... just another form of file folder, with all the rest - and nothing more.

      This is not a comment on anyone else's use/acquisitions, just my own relationship to the little darlings! ;o)

    2. I am a one-life-one-Filofax person. Mine is all encompassing, plus acts as my wallet as well. Err... or did, until I decided to give going all electronic a go via my Droid. But I am here to tell you, one Filo is definitely do-able

  9. I find this "debate" interesting. I a completely agree with the sentiment of doing what works. I would venture to say that the reason we all love Filofax so much is because we can make it what we need it to be, whether that means insert layout or binder size or how many binders to use. Personally, I use one binder as my main planner (they get rotated out sometimes for seasonal use) but the information is all in one place. But I do have other binders for other uses, including a stay-at-home personal Malden that holds all of the items I cannot fit into my go-with-me-everywhere compact. Then there's my health binder and my happiness binder and several binders to hold all of my extra inserts. So each binder has a purpose, but not necessarily used as a planner.

    The reason I find this debate so interesting is because people seem to be on one side or the other; people are very passionate about which side they are on. And that's great! But from what I've seen, no one seems to be as passionate about which planner size or insert style others should use because it's a very personal thing. As stated above, there are great reasons for each side, but the ultimately what it comes down to is what works for YOU! And that's what makes Filofax so great!

    Great post Laurie!

  10. I totally agree. Used to think I had to keep my entire life into just one main Filofax, but failed.. Didn't mind it though (means more Filofaxes :P). At this point I do use a 'main' Filo which contains most of my 'life', but also use a Business Planner (for my projects etc. in a differint binder, A5) and in my handbag a Pocket version, which I only use for appointments and a few reminders.
    For al the Filofaxes I use, there's a certain setup. I like it al lot when there somehow 'connected'. Still working on the pictures of the set ups for my blog. Hope to post soon :)

  11. I am a one life, one diary planner person, otherwise I double book stuff and it is a pain synching separate work and home planning pages. I do however have more than one Filofax for different uses, but not more than one appointments and social page!!!