15 August 2012

Guest Post - Helen - Aston Personal Set Up

In response to the requests on my Reader under the Spotlight article here is the first in a series of posts about my various set ups. This one is about my planner, which as you can see is in a Personal Mushroom Aston. I like the simple elegance of this design. Grown up, I think. It gives me the illusion that I am too. I chose it to be my personal because it was one design where I didn’t like any of the colours of the A5.

However when I first got it, I thought that there was an irritating design fault. Let me show you on the Orchid Aston which I also have but have not set up with anything too exciting as yet. See how the front cover seems not to quite meet the right hand edge so that the papers show a little? But there is plenty of slack in the closing strap. It annoyed me a bit until I worked out how to use it to my advantage.

So, let’s open it up. I expect the first thing you notice is the pen solution. I had moved down from an A5 planner and only having one pen loop was a challenge as I like to colour code entries. However that extra fullness allows for me to put two Staedtler Triplus fineliners here and it then closes beautifully.

The pen holding method is probably unnecessarily complex but it pleases me. Stiff card would do the trick. This is two layers of fabric bonded to a layer of Pelmet Vilene ( the stuff that makes curtain pelmets stiff) and edged with zigzag stitch on a sewing machine. The fabric makes me happy to see as I bought it when visiting fellow Philofaxy reader Diane Perin Hock when on a big three month round the world trip so it holds good memories whenever I open the filofax.

Also in the pocket behind the pen clip I have some stickers and in front a car breakdown service card, a European Health Card, a Tesco voucher ( for days when guilt free chocolate expenditure is required) and a collection of sticky notes. Grown up sticky notes from cavallenini – they come in a lovely tin like this.

Behind a plastic fly sheet I have a detail from an Aboriginal art work. I just photocopied it from a book. Again it reminds me of the Round the World trip. There is another on the back. Sadly the trip was pre my Filofax usage – what a missed opportunity!!


I have three diaries. First the official tabbed monthly. This is for overview purposes, mainly so I can see when I have weekends away or at home and to dedicate to my creative work. At the bottom I have added in some information from my studio journal about the projects I have timetabled. It is pencil because I anticipate an element of change. This is new use for this space which I picked up from a webfinds video. The project planner will be the subject of my next guest post.

Behind the monthly I have carry forward dates and a record of how many days holiday I have used from work and for what.

Then is the weekly diary. In front of it I have the filofax supplied years summaries. Although this is a personal planner I do have it on my desk at work with me and I often turn to this when timetabling cases into the future. I am just starting to personalise this Filo a little more, again using stickers from Cavellnini. These are not cheap but, with respect to all of the rest of you, I am not a girly Paperchase sticker person. But I do love travel and letters so this tin was irresistible. I am awaiting some washi tape of a similar nature from the US to really allow me to personalise more. I will show you when that arrives from the States if Steve permits![Steve: But of course you will be allowed!]

At the front of my weekly section I have am Ideal Week sheet. This is something I picked up from Michael Hyatt’s regular emails. Rather than explain it I ma better giving you the link to his explanation here. It is not a rigid thing rather a reminder to include all the types of activity in my life that I would like to be there. And a reminder that there is only so much time to go around and it has to be apportioned.

I am then using the Olympic Inserts that I look from the £7 Lineburst binder I got from Staples that is now a health journal (and yes, I will be showing that too). This has room for appointments well into the future and also I use the notes page for weekly goals. My colour coding is, green for creativity, red for exercise and black for pretty much everything else. I use the brown today ruler to mark my place in this section.

This diary changes from a weekly to a diary for the period of the games which kind of messes up my usage but is very useful for ensuring I know when to be glued to the TV! Next year I will use a plain week to a page with notes.

Then I have daily pages. I have already mentioned on a guest video some of the problems I had with these pages and my ineptitude with printing. But now I have them sussed and I really like the space to write what I plan to do, what I actually do and lists of to dos and general jottings. I use the Olympic ruler for this section and have begun to jazz it up with the stickers but I can do better on that when my washi tape arrives!

I keep about 5 – 6 weeks of daily pages in the filofax at a time. I than have a plastic envelope for ephemera. Currently it has some travel tickets for an expense claim I need to do.

Then a finance section. I don’t want to show the personal details here so I’ll just say it details my personal budget and what the money in my current account is allocated for on lined paper and I use the Filofax expense inserts to note down what I spend and mark that with a second brown ruler. I might do a post with fake entries on my method of using a Filofax to deal with budgetary things if anyone is interested?

In the to-do section I have just a few lists as mostly I put the to dos on daily pages so I can see them. That allows me to allocate them to a day when there is time to do them rather than have an ongoing never-ending list. but there will always be some rolling lists of non- times specific tasks. Yes, I have a to do list of the things I want to do with my Filofaxes! I have a list of films I want to see on love film, local art shows I want to see but have not yet scheduled a date for, journal prompts and at the moment a list of books bought/ read but I am probably going to transfer that back to an A5 soon.

The note section is not well used. It does hold instructions on how to use my printer for filofax inserts ( that is not guarantee of success foe me!) mostly this is black paper in case I want to scribble something down or give a note to someone else. Most of my notetaking proper will be in a A5 which I usually also have with me. I have another plastic envelope for oddments I want to tidy up but have no real place for, at the moment it has a picture of a mural I found inspiring, a list of CDs my husband wanted for his birthday and a receipt for a piece of kosher parchment I bought from Israel (it seemed essential to an art quilt at the time but it turned out its wasn’t!) and the label from a set of wind chimes I bought in California. I clear that out from time to time and put them somewhere more appropriate or trash the bits that are outdated. I then have address indexes which actually have addresses behind them.

The zipper pocket is currently empty. My pen is a waterman roller ball. It was part of a set I used for work ages ago but I lost the fountain pen and this was all lonely in a drawer until the Filo arrived to play with it.

And that’s my planner. Does what it says on the tin with the minimal of fuss!

Thank you Helen, lovely to see the full details of your Aston set up... next week you will get to see Helen's Malden...


  1. Ohh, I have the same Paris stickies and I.LOVE.IT. They are soo pretty to look at and use!

    I would definitely love to see how you've set up your finance section (with fake entries, of course). I'm still in the process of trying to figure out how best to organize my finance Filo so any bit of help will be useful :)

    1. Ok, it only takes one request! I will write a guest post in a few days and prevail on Dteve's hosting services again!

    2. Yes Helen, I'd also love to see how you organise the finances. I'm afraid this is not my strong point!

  2. Love your ideal week sheet. I think I'll be stealing that idea from you.

    Hooray for Cavallini and the Aston.

    1. Its not mine really but I recommend you steal it anyway! Since I did it I have stuck to my exercise routine and found much more time for reading. I attribute it to doing this exercise and realising that all the activities I wanted to do did fit in and that I was depriving myself of my ideal life if I did not live it. Of course this is the realistic ideal week, not the one in which I spend Mondays at George Clooney's villa,Tuesday hanging out with Patrick Dempsey etc!

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  4. Helen, thanks very much for posting this, I really enjoyed it. Its very insightful,seeing how someone else sets up, and uses, their Filofax. I found the detailed description of the diaries helpful, as I'm toying with the idea of more than one at the moment, but not sure it wouldn't overwhelm me with detail. My job is unfortunately very reactive. It shouldn't be, but it is, and that makes planning more than a couple of days in advance nothing but fantasy, so that is the negative side of having multiple diaries for me. A question - do you buy the Cavellenini stickers by mail order in UK? I like the idea of the travel ones, for my forthcoming trip. They would make the travel journal even more special.

    1. yes I bought them online from the Paperie, same place as Alison suggests below.

  5. Brilliant Post Helen! Really enjoyed reading how you use your FF.

    I'm definitely going to look into the ideal week idea - there is so much I don't get around to, but equally there is so much time I waste!

    Paul - I am a great fan of Cavallini - since we don't have any nice stationery shops where I live I get mine online from The Paperie. They also have some very nice Cavallini stamps which I have my eye on for jolly-ing up my dividers.

  6. I like the idea of the ideal week, may help keeping better tabs on my study schedule when I dont have study diary with me

  7. Thanks Helen! Great post! I'm a new Filofax user and have been thinking about which diary might work best for me. Your setup gives me things to think about. Decisions, decisions!

  8. Ideal week - now that is what I need to start using!!! Thank you for sharing :o)