28 August 2014

Keeping Lists by Nan

[This post was inspired by a conversation in our Philofaxy Roundtable chat in August, 2014, as those who were there may remember!]

December 25, 2013...My husband and I leaving for vacation at 4:00 the following morning. I'm all packed, and more importantly, my 2014 diary is all set up in my Personal-size Filofax, ready to bring on my trip. But my head is spinning with things to do...ask for a credit from the company that failed to ship a gift we ordered, work tasks that I need to remember when I get back to the office on January 2nd, friends I want to contact, things I want to do on vacation, plans for our town's New Year's Eve event on which I'm working when we get back on the 30th.

So I grabbed a bunch of Pocket-size To-Do pages. They're punched so as to fit across the middle 4 rings of a Personal Filofax as well as a Pocket. I put them in the middle of my week-on-2-pages spread so I'd have ready access to all these reminders alongside my schedule.

This was a perfect solution...for a while. Nothing slipped through the cracks. I had a place to list anything I needed to remember where it would never get lost and where I could easily see it. When I filled up the first little Pocket page, I added a new one. And another... and another...

Fast forward to summer, 2014. I now have 5 pocket pages that I need to move forward (by opening the rings) every time my 2DPP spread changes. Quick phone calls are mixed in with bucket list items and random ideas, creating a mish-mosh that I barely want to look at at all. 

Some days I get the urge to reboot it all, copying each item onto a more appropriate location, like the Ideas section in my Projects book. But those lists really aren't working for me either. Hidden in the middle of a book, they're in a place where they don't inspire me to act upon them. In fact, I'm feeling the urge to recopy all my lists, which is something I do every 2-3 years. Each time I rewrite a listed item, I'm forced to reconsider it. It's like a mini life review. 

Meanwhile, I keep reminding myself that it's not necessary to rewrite anything. My lists may not be perfect, but they're adequate. No information is getting lost. No need to panic. As always, the problem is not inside my Filofax; it's inside me. The time is better spent doing something on my list than redoing the list. 

I'm getting better about looking at my lists more often, even though they're not making me happy right now. And I will do a list purge, but later this year, not now. For now, I need to practice a new way of list cleansing: getting items off my list...by doing them!  


  1. I agree with you in regards to the mashup of to dos and brilliant ideas and notes etc. we always want a place for everything but our brains quickly forget what's not right in front of you.

    1. I envy you, after 60+years, I am still waiting for a brilliant idea!!

  2. I definitely forget any lists that are behind a tab somewhere. But I have to re-write my to-do lists each week so I can remove the completed and irrelevant items and re-prioritize remaining tasks with new ones. If I leave my lists to grow organically, they become too cluttered and I can't see what I'm supposed to be doing.

  3. I used to have the same problem until I discovered the gem called GTD, here on this blog. I've adopted a few of the principles. For starters I run three tabs in my A5 purple Malden. Two are brain dumps for EVERYTHING - IN Home and IN Work. Then I have the Projects tab. Where things like "organise eldest daughters birthday party" get put. Fast things on the list like make doctors appointment I will move to my current calendar. I do this each morning on the bus on the way to work. My Malden sits on my kitchen bench and everything little thing that pops into my head gets put into those brain dump tabs.

  4. I like the idea of of adding pocket size pages in between the week pages, I'll have to give that a go!

  5. I agree with Laurie here. If I don't do my weekly review and GTD folder review, the I get utterly snowed under with lists! xx

  6. Sorry about typo... meant to read as then, not the!

  7. Thanks for all the comments. You are all inspiring me! I'm going to purge my pocket-size lists this weekend, and from then on only use them as my "brain dump," rewriting the items to the appropriate place when the page is full.

  8. I use the Enhanced Time Management inserts in A5 size which is where I keep all my main appointments and to do lists in check each week. The insert (available here of course) is set up so the left hand page is effectively a week on one page. And then the right hand page is divided up in to tasks for each day if you have specific dead lines to meet. And then some general ones for the whole week. I divide these in to Notes/reminders for non-at the desk tasks and 'Communications' mainly to do with blogging etc. And then a small area for Coming up stuff in the next week or so.
    However, the right hand page is easy enough to reconfigure to your own layout or just change the headings to suit your needs.
    There's a similar version for personal size, but I am comfortable with A5 at my desk it doesn't move that far!