21 February 2013

Is your set up working as planned?

So we are eight weeks in to the new year already and Spring/Autumn is hopefully just around the corner. You might have already started planning holidays and other events later in the year.

We often find though this far in to the year that people are either getting on swimmingly well with their set up, or they are stumbling around in a power cut looking for the torch to try and find their way outside. Hopefully you fall in to the first camp... but if not help is at hand.

At this time of year I always recall a post that Nan wrote about having a 'Cooling Off Period'. It is well worth another read because there are some essential lessons for all of us in that post.

What I will also add after reading some comments on line this morning and doing something similar myself this morning. If you have another Filofax organiser that you aren't using, then why not change over in to that for a few weeks. As long as it is the same size then you will not have to re-write lots of pages, but a different pocket layout or colour might bring you some unexpected benefits.

And if you are changing out of one in to another, then why not use the opportunity to review the content and the pages you have got in your organiser. Remember to review and give your content a little bit of a diet!  Use the change as a chance to clean and maintain your organisers too.

Quite a few people have found this sort of exercise quite therapeutic. So put some time to one side, grab a drink and make some space on the table or at your desk to lay out the contents of your organiser and work your way through it. 


  1. Great post! I was just thinking, wow things started off really well but the last two weeks my system has been not so fluid...I think because I have moved from cruising at work to full on driving in the expressway in rush hour traffic...lots going on and the pace is a bit much for my laid back system that I thought worked so well at the start of the year. I know the glitch is with my Project section and Weekly section they are no longer working well together

  2. Before 2012 ended, I sat down and wrote everything what I needed and how I want things to roll. Then I looked it up and everything made perfect sense. There was a clear path to the perfect organization in the written lines. So I set up the enchilada and was astounded how simple the " system " really was. I´ve been using it ever since and it still works like clockwork. For example yesterday was insane to the levels of needing to plan out just everything. I got all of it done, without hassle, without chaos and I can vouch that it would have been entirely impossible to pull without a really great plan.
    I think in order for any calendar / diary / organizational system to work, one really needs to sit down, write down all things that one needs ( there is a difference to needing and wanting ) and then see how that can be done.
    Where do I need this information at hand? Do I really need to know my friend´s kids BDs when I go out shopping for groceries? Would it be safer to leave some financial information or passwords home as I venture out the door?
    We all have different lives and needs, but there is a way to find resources to resolve those needs and challenges.
    Mapping out the needs, I think, is the way to go.

    1. WRS you have an excellent point: what do I really need to carry around with me? This is often my downfall and my binder ends up too fat and heavy. Some of it is better off staying in a different binder at home!

    2. Laurie, that used to be the Achilles heel with me. One life, one planner resulted in carrying the whole world with me no matter where I went. After a shoulder surgery that was no longer an option and I had to take a good look at the essentials that I need to and what I can carry.
      Situations like that often shoo me to the writing desk and from writing desk emerges solution.

  3. As always, great post Steve. My setup is actually still working. And that for someone who actually changes from planner every month or so. I use ring binders for almost 20 years and this is the first time that it is working for me. The reason is actually the Philofaxy community (both on this site and on facebook). The tips, the videos and blogs where eye openers. And actually using a hole puncher and making the planner personal and to your life style makes my system works like a charm!

    1. I totally agree Suus S! I've had my Metropol for many years but it sat collecting dust until I found Philofaxy and revisited my filo with some hole punches, tips and stickers.

      I'm glad your system's working well, it does feel great to be reunited with my filo! ^_^

  4. Great post! I thought my set up in my personal sized metropol was working great, unit I discovered that the a5 pages have columns in a week view. This is very similar to my work diary which the company has produced. I have just ordered an A5 size finsbury.

    I also felt the need for a change as Uni is starting back up next week and my workload will be a lot bigger then it was last year and through summer school.

  5. Great post!! My TM 5 line Ray and Steve inserts are working so well for me, as is my set up. Any changes tend to be tweaks, small stuff like adding library opening times to my Filo and recently, designing a small sticky notes dashboard for the front, incorporating a notebookand photo strips of happy memories. So thanks to Philofaxy, I'm getting more done. Taken me a while to work out what I need though.Like Weird Rock Star who posted above, I only reached resolution when I sat down, wrote down what I needed and then constructed the binder to make it my own.

  6. Hi,

    For me,my system has blissfully been working for me,almost eversince I started using a filofax almost 2 years ago.For me the key has been simplicity.Initially I was tempted by the variety of inserts and tried to use too many at the same time.Frustrating and a headon collision path towards planner fail.

    Ever since defining what I need from my planner,and simplifying the system,its been smooth sailing eversince.

    I use my black pocket amzaon for:

    1.Planner/Appointments-WO2P,(with additional note page added if needed)
    -Also carry year to view because i only keep 3 months wo2p at a time.
    2.To do-Long short term and long term-(separate tab)
    3.Finances-(seperste tab)
    4.Study/and job related info(reference and imp tasks only)
    5.holiday planning/itenirary-(separate tab)
    6.Important medical info-(Sep tab)
    7.house search (detailed notes)-(Sep tab)
    8.Language course word lists-sep tab
    9.reference info(clothing sizes,imp numbers,packing lists,songs,movies etc),all filed in A-z index tabs

    And it has yet to fail me:)

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  8. Very interesting post. I moved into a personal (from A5) at the start of the year. I tend to work from home, but had a contract which necessitated quite a bit of travel. This has now finished and I'm finding it hard using the personal - I find it onerous carrying it around all the time! So I think my fix worked mainly because I was travelling and needed stuff in my bag. I've just started to move back into my A5 and am contemplating just carrying a slimline around with a monthly tabbed and a few other sheets for everyday use. When out and about I generally only have to check my diary and make the odd note - if I am out for business I would bring my briefcase bag and have my day book for notes.

    I'm also going back to a weekly view and handling my tasks slightly differently.

  9. I started the year in a lovely grey pocket Malden, work (diary and to do) personal (notes/web info/ notes about home,children etc -and loads of vouchers and personal bits tucked in). I only really use the binder to store information for reference, the work diary and to do and general scribbling notes and observations. I get frustrated by the size of the pocket paper and have just snapped up a beautiful black finchley on eBay thinking the paper size is better. But should I use for work or personal or both, will it get to big to carry round , should I keep pocket for personal and try not to get frustrated by paper size when scribbling etc and use personal for work.....but it is just so lovely and smells so good that I don't want to leave it behind.😊.
    I can't lay all the stuff out as I have yet to 'fill' the personal as it didn't coe with loads of stuff in it, plus the pocket is full of life at the moments, with colour, post it's, stickers, papers tucked in etc that it is so lovely. The personal seems lifeless and lacklustre at the moment!

  10. During the second half of 2012, I gradually moved from digital (Omnifocus, Things) to paper, and I started 2013 with a personal purple Malden. I used a FC compact for a few weeks - and it was working - but I decided to stay with Filofax because the range of binders is so much better (and I don't like a mix of FC and Filofax inserts). I'm thrilled that my system is working! I'm traveling this morning, and my Filo holds my boarding passes and acts as a wallet - everything in one place! I'm still experimenting with different inserts, and just cut some FC compact M2PP to fit... but I can't believe how much more efficient and productive I am with a paper planner!

  11. My system is still working well- a combination of FC 2PPD dairy inserts in a personal Malden.

    I'll likely finish the year with this set up, but I am thinking about venturing into designing my own inserts for 2014! That way, I can create sections for things I track daily, i.e. gratitude list, what I ate for dinner, and the weather. If I have separate sections for everything, I may even be able to eliminate my color coding system and just keep one pen in my Filo, further simplifying my system... we'll see!

  12. I started the year with a grand plan to use a DodoPad insert in my snazzy red Winchester (the Winchester is almost certainly the most perfect filofax, classy, purposeful, beautifully executed in quality materials, timeless). Unfortunately, January is the busiest month of the year for me and this one was especially busy. Not only was the DodoPad not meeting my needs, but the entire binder was failing to contain everything I needed and/or wanted to have with me. I spent a week of massive struggle and gave up and bought a Franklin Covey 2PPD insert along with associated inserts, and an old Franklin Quest binder. I started using this system on January 10th and have been cruising along since. It really just works so well. The inserts cover all my critical planning needs perfectly, I can write on them with my preferred pens, and the binder rings are big enough for me to fit everything I need/want to have at hand with me at all times. Ideal.

    Of course, no system is perfect. I find that managing large projects is somewhat difficult with the daily page setup; I've become religious about my weekly/monthly reviews to keep abreast of everything but on a day-to-day basis I can lose perspective.

    And, having a wandering planner-eye leads me into temptation. I long to be back to toting around my lovely Winchester; I contemplate whether or not I can manage in Filofax 2ppd inserts (I already know I cannot, the timed section doesn't cover my work day and there is inadequate note space)...

    Sticking with one system will be easier now that I've converted everything to the unique FC Compact size pages. Too much work to switch back.

    1. I've been thinking about this - having flipped back and forth between Filofax and FC. I think one difference is that Filofax makes great binders, but their focus isn't productivity or time management methods, while FC's focus is productivity and a time-management system. They used to sell some good binders, but not these days (IMHO). But Filofax has always been sleeker, no so "brick-like." Josh, have you ever used an A5? I bet that might give you the space you need - but of course bigger and heavier to lug around.

    2. I've not tried an A5, I seriously considered one but they are just too big. I think the FC compact is about as big as I can manage.

      Really, the size of the binder is not such an issue. I think that my filofax has some panache. It is cool. Franklin planners are not cool. They evoke a middle manager from the 1990s.

      In terms of function, I've got no issues with the functionality of the FC system. It works like a charm. I just wish it wasn't so clunky and fugly.

    3. I hear you Josh! I'm loving my FC life, because they do make some gorgeous binders and inserts - but they're all pretty girly (pinks and greens, with flowers and hearts)! The more neutral pages are not cool: FF definitely wins hands down in that respect.

  13. Great post! My set up hasn't really changed on a long time, but I've recently been wondering if I can simplify things.

    I'm away currently, so just replaced my normal contents with my travel docs & think it will be a good time to review stuff when I'm back.

  14. I don't think that the diary that came with my A5 last November would have worked.
    Thanks to Philofaxy I found Dodo diaries, which are great. Diary on one side and blank notes on the other and the colours are great rather than looking at daunting black and white.
    The to do lists did not work and have been removed. To daunting looking at a list of things to do all in a row.
    The month to a view from here is proving to be invaluable, though I may print it off in a different colour per month next year just to ring in the changes.
    A5 a winner I can't ever see me getting on with the pocket size Finsbury I have half as well, especially as I now have a grey Malden. It seems to be perfect.


  15. I'm excited to say that I am loving my 2013 set up! I'm a chronic planner-abandoner: I buy a gorgeous diary or planner each year, and by February I've stopped carrying it, stopped using it, and the poor thing lies abandoned while I twirl from crisis to crisis caused by my lack of planning and tracking!

    I'd had some success with Debden Day Planners in the past: a cheap easy way to set up a FF type system. Last year I was determined to be more organised, and upgraded to a Filofax Personal Sketch, then a Personal Guildford Zip: both times thinking a bit more of a financial investment would encourage further use. I was planning along happily using FF undated planner pages, which gave me a lovely 2PPD format: but then, just as I was getting ready to stock up for a new year, these pages vanished completely from New Zealand stationer's shelves. Very sad.

    So, in an effort to maintain what was starting to feel like a good habit, I went hunting for 2PPD planners. I found Franklin Covey. Specifically, Her Point of View pages (gorgeous!). I was in love. I splashed out about $300 (NZ$) on a purple and cream Mia zipped Compact binder, a Blooms starter pack, a plastic starter pack, and a Her PoV 2PPD diary. I was in planner heaven. So much so, I started using my planner as a wallet (yes, a large wallet, but many people have commented on my lovely clutch purse!).

    I now have a perfect set up. After a couple of months of use, I realised I needed a lot more card slots than were built into the binder. I love the FC card pages, which are stacked vertically and flip out for access: and now I have 5 (yes 5!) of them in the front of my binder. Of course this came with a compromise: but a very happy one, as it turned out! Now I'm in a better planning routine, I don't need the space of a 2PPD planner. This is helped by what was initially a big pain: my work deals with confidential matters, so while I can list meetings in my planner, I can't include file notes or references. Which, to be fair, I manage in the office on Outlook. So I switched up to a WP2P planner (still the beautiful Her PoV), and because the Mia planner comes with massive 1.25" rings, I gained the advantage of carrying a full year's worth of planner pages, all my cards, and a huge number of notes pages for my various hobbies and volunteer work.

    Result: I never go anywhere without my planner. Even when I move between rooms at home, I often take my planner with me. My handbag (when I need it) is lighter and smaller, and my Mia binder is my go everywhere purse. I finished the deal with two colourways of Papermate 4-in-1 pens (two pen loops on the Mia), and my iPhone slips into the external pocket nicely, so I am set!

    1. PS: If anyone would like a red FF Personal Sketch Zip, or a black Personal Guildford Zip, please feel free to reply here and we can work something out! They need a good home!

  16. Mine is still a work in progress. I love the system I created & I use my dividers for each project (I have like 18, so it holds a lot of information). I love A5 and finally got a hole punch but I recently bought a personal, so now here we go again :)