22 January 2014

Minimalist Filofax

When you get an organiser it is very easy to fill it up with different pages. Of course the bigger the rings the heavier and bulkier it becomes. But how much of it do you really need on a daily basis?

Before you throw your hands up in horror at the thought of removing things, give it a bit of thought.

Now at this time of year a lot of people will have a new 12 months of diary insert already loaded. Some of us try to be more economical with the number of months we carry at any one time, a rolling 6 months or 4 months, sometimes the last month and the next 3 months. Updating the contents on a monthly basis.

Some people add in monthly pages and may be a year planner to supplement their daily or weekly pages for their more detailed planning.

As well as your planner pages what else are you carrying in your organiser? Do you need all of it all of the time?

OK lots of thoughts and questions. As you might know my main organiser is an A5 Filofax which tends to live on my desk, always open at the current week. I've reduced the contents of this organiser so I can use a mixture of A5 organisers with either 25 or 30 mm rings or at a push in the 20 mm rings of my Malden iPad organiser. So that one is fairly constant now.

However, I also use another organiser which I carry with me outside of the house. But what do I really need if I'm only away from the house for a few hours?

So this got me thinking, and I thought about not limiting myself to just personal size, could pocket size do the same task as the personal?

So what do I need at an absolute minimum in terms of the contents for a minimalist organiser.

I sat and looked through my current personal size set up, I removed the pages from the organiser and laid them out in neat stacks for each section on my desk.

I started off with just my week per page diary inserts and some pages of note paper. This left out all my contact information. This reduced the page count to less than 50 pages. Well within the limits of my slimline Holborn, shown on the left in the picture below.

I continued to try different combinations, and if I needed key phone numbers I could add in the A-Z telephone dividers out of the slimline and this would still fit in the slimline or the compact shown on the right in the photo above.

I was having too much fun rearranging things. Let's go a step further shall we. I had been sent a sample of a week per page + notes for pocket size. Things would be even more compact in that, even if the diary side of things might be a little limiting in terms of how many appointments I could comfortably fit on a single day.

So I'm going to try carrying the pocket set up when I go to French class the smaller size will certainly help in my bag which has to fit a large dictionary in it. The rest of the time I will see how I get on with the compact size again.

I will be restoring things in to my full size personal for longer trips away from home.


  1. The minimalist Filofax has certainly been working for me too! I've carried some fat organisers around over the years but, rightly or wrongly, a synchronised tablet and smart phone with good apps has drastically reduced the amount of paper content I need. So, I too have an A5 on my desk and am carrying just a Slimline Hoborn around with me at the moment. It contains a full yesr of month on two pages and three months of week on one page. I have a set of printed data sheets with key info that I use daily, a plastic card holder for 12 membership/ store cards and a zipped bag for odds and ends. I then have about a dozen blank sheets. The various Holborn pockets are for banknotes, receipts, stamps, rail tickets, my business cards etc. It's working well because I carry it everywhere - meetings, gym, train - wherever. Often that's the key to avoid planner fail!

  2. This really hits home for me, Im so confused as to what I should do planner wise. I try taking my personal/medium around with me as a wallet and on the go and it just feels like a thick brick to me, compact/slim has always appealed to me, perhaps i'll go back to that, and just keep my personal on my desk. :) Ty for posting.

  3. How about a French to English and English to French dictionary app on your phone? Or a calculator type dictionary.... seen these in WHS for the Oxford English Dictionary... not English to French and French to English though.... but worth investigating?? Also these new PC notebooks are so slim and marvellous with One Note loaded and obviously a dictionary app would be just the ticket. More minimalism there too. Treat yourself???

  4. Although I'm not really a minimalist in Filofax contents terms, I'm definitely going to give this some thought. My issue is - if I have stuff which I need at all times and I take ut of the binder the stuff i rarely need, a) I suspect I will lose the latter (I'm not prepared to run multiple binders in parallel), and b) I will suddenly find myself stranded out of the office/home without something I hadn't anticipated I would need. For me, the main benefit of using my Filofax is the 'everything in one place' aspect - it's that which keeps me coming back despite the horrible paper quality and reduced page space of the Personal. If I took away that aspect, I suspect for me personally that I would be 'on the slippery slope'!

    Having said all that, I *have* reduced my use of pre-printed inserts to pretty much zero, and I *only* use plain and lined paper these days. This means I don't have tons of exotic inserts lying around, and my spend on them is much cheaper. It also means I can run a completely cotton cream system despite the vastly reduced range of available inserts.

  5. I have been using a compact Holborn for the past month as a wallet. I like it as a planner, but I don’t love it as a wallet. The credit cards slots on the inside are enough for the cards I carry so no need of extra credit card holders. The front pocket has my cash. I have some notepaper and the week per page diary inserts. I keep my receipts in the back pocket and clear it once a week. I write appointments and what I spend in this planner on the diary pages. The only thing I need to add is one page of important number in case my cellphone stops working properly.

  6. I must admit, even though I am down to Diaries and Notes in my personal Malden, it still is a fat little brick. But that's okay, he's cute. However, there is a red personal Chameleon on the way (if it EVER clears Kennedy airport customs!) and I might be inclined to give the minimalist a try. I am of the everything in one place, one planner school of thought though...

  7. I am using my compact Luxe and it isn't anything new as far as the smaller rings. I have an old slimline planner. I intended to give the slimline planner to a friend but I have not been able to part with it. I have month and week pages in my Luxe, the Filofax subject dividers, note paper, a pocket folder, etc. The Filofax dividers are great for the compact binder because the paper is thinner than card stock or craft paper. I use my main planner mostly for the diary pages, note paper, and other components. Everything fits nicely in my Luxe because of that. I would not be able to use it well if I had homemade dividers, month pages on thicker paper, extra lists, etc. because of the bulk of those items. Currently I am not using all the dividers but I keep them in there as a set. It is more convenient to take my Luxe when I meet with people. I can write in it without setting it on a surface. I can do the same with my personal Filofax but I can hold the slimmer Luxe better. Many people have been using slimmer planners for a long time. They buy just one insert for the year and are fine with less bulk.

  8. In the main Personal, I carry 1 year of Wp2P, plus the slimline address tabs (I *love* being able to write on the tab itself!), which hold mostly phone numbers, not full addresses. Also, a few full pages of notepaper, but I could really do without those, because I also have several jot pages on the rings. They're so handy for quick notes! And, some pocket-size To Do pages for items that don't need to be done on a specific day. Those I write on the day itself. It's a lot, but since this is my main organizer (I don't have an A5 that stays at home), I need all of it!

  9. i have just bought my first ever GENUINE filofax, i am so excited about it!!! i blogged about it in enthusiasm, not even spell checking as i am just so happy with my purchase. Then i started looking around for what others have to say about filofax, and i found your blog!! i love it!!! i shall post a link for your blog on my page as i am so impressed with your filofax info. keep up the excellent informative work!!

  10. My M2 just looks like any other wallet, my A4 Lyndhurst appears to be just another A4 sized "conference" folder, and my vintage four ring filo gets mistaken for a pocket Molskine, I'm sure.

    But for some reason, the standard, personal sized filo does seem to attract a certain amount of amusement. As a guy, and a guy who appreciates the inherent advatages of the filofax concept, I do seem to gravitate to Filo models that don't look like, er, filofaxes.

  11. Steve,
    Love this post!!!

    I've tried the standard 23 mm Filofax binder size multiple times with Faux Faxes. It didn't work.

    However, I've recently purchased 2 slimlines and LOVE them. There's no snap getting in the way and the limited ring space forces me to think about what I need. I only keep lists in my slimline--movies to watch, inspiring quotes, future purchases, etc. I do keep blank paper in there for a note on the fly. I literally map out my week using the first letter of the day, and drawing lines to create my own boxes, so if I know I have a super busy day, I can adjust it for the week (I do keep a separate, larger calendar as I'm a teacher and I get them for free at the beginning of the year). I map out the main events of the week on Saturday and I make a daily list. I don't bother with color coding, graphics, or stickers. (Some might call me boring, but this saves me time and energy, which I can focus on more important things in my life.)

    The biggest thing I want to say here is...use your planner the way you want. Just because the current 'fad' in the Filofax community is big rings and stuffed to the gills (this can ruin the rings, BTW), doesn't mean you have to follow suit.


  12. I find it mind-blowing that when compacts were all the rage I was seeking the largest rings available and now that I've actually successfully slimmed my planner down to comfortably fit in a regular 7/8 personal the vogue has shifted to gigantic rings. Anyway, I've learned that I do not need as much crap with me as I thought and am very happy with my slim planner. It's working splendidly.