11 June 2015

Experienced Filofax User - Guido

We start off this new series with a post from Guido. 


My name is Guido. I am nearly 40 years of age and I live in the Netherlands. I currently have a DiBerardino A5 brown leather organizer. As consultant my work is usually project based and at different locations. 

1. When did you start using an organiser?

I got my first organizer when my dad bought me a Time Design Junior. After 3 years or so, I too had my ‘cave in’ moment and went with a variety of e-devices, ranging from Sharps (I had one before I got the Time Design), Palms, Siemens and Psion. I was particularly fond of my Psion. 

But as time progressed so did Windows and PC hardware and suddenly you realise that your device is not build for USB. On second thought you also realise you are getting old(er). 

I switched back to paper somewhere around 2012-2013, although I must say that living in the corporate world without Outlook is nearly impossible – so I am hybrid to be accurate. 

2. How has your use of an organiser changed over the years?

There are actually two answers to this question. My first answer as usage-level would be that I evolved from pure diary to more of an integrated system with goal setting and project sections. 

My second answer at content-level is short and sweat: a lot. The longer version would be that from the restart I have been on the quest for the perfect system. During that quest I have changed just about anything and everything throughout the year as well. I use the inserts by Steve and Ray, so switching is rather easy. I have been fairly consistent in my setup now for about 6 months which is a record for me. 

3. Which diary format works best for you and why?

I have two. I use a week on 2 pages for weekly brainstorming and planning. I have a day on 2 pages for daily planning and notes. I used to have a day per page and even just a week on 2 pages, but I found that I did not have sufficient space for notes, so I decided to give a day on 2 pages a try. And luckily for me just a that moment Ray published his daily dashboard insert. Yeah! 

4. What other information do you keep and maintain in your organiser.

I have the following dividers in my organiser, which also tells you what information I keep and maintain. At present I would say that the dividers resemble FF’s Time Management System. 
  • Yearly overview 
  • Monthly view 
  • Weekly and daily view 
  • File section with 8 subdividers for projects and areas of focus 
  • Personal tab with goal setting and life plan 
  • Notes section for meetings and note taking 
  • Ideas section for anything that pops into my mind and I want to capture. 
Dividers have changed over the years too, but I keep circling back to the sections above. My dividers are also the only decorating part of my organiser. I have the London dividers by Ray, but I changed them slightly to fit my design preference.

I also have lots of page lifters that take me to a specific section of my organizer. These are all transparent and A5 in size. Transparent as I can still see the opposite page (particularly useful with inserts that spread across pages. And A5, because I do not like the bumps a today marker causes during writing. I want a smooth and even surface. And transparent leaves also reduce bulkiness as opposed to today markers. 

5. Do you use a 'system' of organisation, and how does it work in your Filofax?

I definitely use a system. For one because Outlook is my main dairy and it contains my tasks as well. I use the MYN system by Michael Linenberger to keep up with email and tasks. Excellent system and very easy to apply, even on paper. And second because I use a combination of Time System meets Planner Pad meets ‘A’ Time meets RPM Time Management meets MyTyme meets me (see what I meant by being on a quest!). 

Recently, through Tim Edwards, I was able to contact James Noon and he was able to provide me with a copy of Start Time Forward. Together with ‘A’ Time I was able to get a hold of I started implementing the ideas James describes and although they may be no-brainers their application is very powerful indeed. I have since incorporated some of the ‘A’ Time features in my inserts. 

Projects and results are supported by either a project planner or a results planner from FF’s Time Management series. I also use the Meeting planner and Delegation planner from the same series. All these planner forms are stored behind my File section in one of the subdividers. 

I have designed my inserts to all work together using the various ideas and insights I gained from other inserts and systems. Inserts feed into each other in terms of cascading yearly goals to monthly goals to weekly goals to daily goals. 

6. What routines and structures do you use?

I start with reading my goals and life plan from the Personal section. I then turn to my own designed weekly pages for the weekly review / brainstorming. I tend to brainstorm by area of focus and then list anything to do or to achieve in the top section of the weekly plan (an idea I took from Planner Pad). For each key result I write out a results block, consisting of SMART goal and purpose, to do’s with priority, the time I estimate it will take me and if I can leverage that to someone else. 

The estimated time per results block helps me plan the results during the week. I sketch in the time I want to work on each block in the time dials (there is something about the visual aspect that helps me to really understand time I have committed for certain activities – I used Chronodex before, but it was not as clean as I wanted in terms of design appeal, so I made my own instead). These also contain committed time slots for meetings so I know when I cannot work on my projects and results. Based on what the dials tell me I then commit time for my projects and results in the bottom section of my weekly plan. I use the ‘A’ Time concept to ensure I actually have time available to commit in the first place. That alone has helped me tremendously in getting my things done.

The input for my brainstorming comes from the monthly planner and my goal setting sheets. The monthly planner I designed based – again on excellent work by Ray and Steve. I had a Hobonichi-styled layout, but that did not work as well as I had hoped, so I returned to a more horizontal look. The goal setting sheets are inserts by Time System.

I then turn to my DO2P section which is a redesign of Ray’s daily dashboard. I switched the notes page to the left as that keeps the rings away from my left-handed operated fountain pen. The daily plan has that ‘A’-ish column in it which I can use to block out time, but honestly most of the blocking out is done in Outlook.

7. Do you use one binder or several, and if several, how do you use them?

I use just one binder. In part because I want to travel as lightly as possible and also because I want everything at hand rather than going through several binders to find what I need. I have been eyeing the duplex Filofax – that would have made a very nifty reference binder. I even considered contacting VDS to see if a custom build would be feasible. Up to now, I have procrastinated that decision though.

Thank you Guido, I've had an excellent response from people wanting to take part in this series. I look forward to receiving responses back from people.  

If you would like to take part in this series please email steve@philofaxy.com  and mark your email 'Experienced Filofax User' 


  1. Wow! Very cool system and great explanation.

    It's fun seeing something different.

  2. Thank you for this insight. I found out about Planner Pad last year and have been intrigued enough to contemplate moving into a larger binder to accommodate these pages. The added clock faces certainly give a twist to time blocking. Very interesting. Thank you, Guido.

    1. Thank you Carla. It is a shame that Planner Pads come in US sizes only. I have checked out their site numerous times and see if the edges could be trimmed to A5, but that would take away too much margin from the actual layout. I have seen similar inserts by the way on Etsy if you are interested. I believe from Life is Crafted. Preprinted and downloadable. The design is not my cup of tea. I am more of a clean Time System design guy.


    2. FWIW, Guido, I discussed with Arienne at Life Is Crafted a few years ago the design of her inserts and requested a simpler, cleaner layout design. She released the Russell design that is very simple and clean looking. Take a look.....


  3. Thank you for sharing your system, Guido. I really enjoyed reading how you developed your system.

  4. Guido,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, helpful, and detailed post regarding your system. Really great to see your setup.

    Wish we could meet over a cup of coffee and compare systems in more detail as I work on lots of projects and at different locations too.....but again your post is very helpful to see.

    @ Steve

    Thanks for starting this new series. It is just what I'm looking for.....


    1. Dear Mark, considering the real coffee might be a challenge we could of course make it into a virtual one. I would be more than happy to share additional insights and screen shots if that is helpful. Just drop me a comment or note and I will follow up.

      @Steve, indeed a great series and looking forward to other reader's systems too.


    2. Dear Guido, yes, actual coffee would be a challenge as I live about 1/2 way around the world from you.... ;-)

      Thank you for your kind offer to share more with me regarding your setup and system. Would be glad to share info about my setup as well....

      You can reach me at: m s r e b n i k (at) earthlink (dot) net [ eliminate the spaces between letters in my name....]


  5. Hi Guido

    Thank you so much for this post. I was really interested to read of your integration of TimeSystem and TimeDesign principles, because I am myself beginning to use TimeSystem inserts. My system has been based on GTD principles for the last few years, but before that I was a TMI user for about 27 years. To be honest I'm struggling a little, and I too contacted James Noon last year and he kindly also sent me a copy of Start Time Forward which I have found to be invaluable.

    I'd be very interested to correspond with you off-list in more detail about how you're using your TimeSystem/FF Time Management dividers and setup, if that's OK. I can be contacted via davidcpopely (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks again for *such* an interesting post, and I look forward to hearing from you


  6. Looking forward to more posts like this.

  7. Great post! Thank you for sharing your system with us.