06 August 2015

Experienced User - Yvonne

I'm sure a lot of you will know Yvonne, she has been in our community for several years now, and I know she has been using organisers of many different kinds for a number of years. 

My name is Yvonne and I am a writer, plannerd, lover of all things paper & ink and generally a feisty, loudmouthed cautionary tale. I am also owned by a retired racing greyhound named Dodger. I occasionally blog at “thezeitgeistofzoe.wordpress.com

1. When did you start using an organiser?

My love for paper goods and organization goes all the way back to the Trapper Keeper I had when I was in primary school. I first started using a ringed organizer for general purposes in the 1980’s. I had a lovely Coach agenda that I used as a planner and a wallet. Not long after, in the mid 1980’s I discovered Filofax and was pretty much hooked from that point on.

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

Remarkably, it hasn’t really. Other than the ups and downs of life, with busy periods full of life events vs. the slower times where it’s just the day to day minutiae. I have always liked to write everything down; I was using my planner as a brain dump long before I’d ever heard the phrase.
A constant habit has been using an organizer for both future planning and as a record of significant events. So not only will I write down when I have meetings or appointments, birthdays, anniversaries and the like so that I don’t forget them, I also write things down after the fact on a given day if it is important and I want to remember when it happened.

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

I enjoy combining a variety of formats. I absolutely need a monthly view for schedule tracking and a broad overview of both work and personal events. My schedule is fairly regular, however I also track my significant other’s crazy, ever changing schedule. My monthly view also provides a quick glance (via color-coding) of pay dates, paid holidays, birthdays/anniversaries and some other more personal items.

A weekly view (week on two pages) provides reference for work projects and deadlines, meetings, appointments, and any other blocks of time I have allocated. I can quickly peruse my whole week very easily to see what open time slots I have and avoid double booking myself.

I also use day on two pages for my daily tasks, more detailed information regarding appointments/meetings (location, attendees, etc), and some food logging as well. I’m using Franklin Covey’s “7 Habits” inserts currently and I really like their simple aesthetic and color scheme since I use my planner as much for work as I do for home. Also the 7 Habits day on 2 pages has a wonderful task list divided up into three sections. I use one for personal tasks, one for work tasks and the third to track daily healthy habits I am trying to establish. The opposite note page is used for food tracking, weather, mood, and random notes I may need for that day.

Generally, I will keep a full year of monthlies and weeklies in my book at all times, and only the current month of dailies.

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

Some financial things, such as pay dates, bill due dates, when I’ve paid a given bill and any online orders I’m waiting for. I also track things for my dog (he’s not responsible enough for his own planner yet) such as vaccine due dates, any health issues and his doggie daycare schedule. As mentioned previously I keep track of my SO’s schedule, and also any important events pertaining to his family.

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

Not really. I have sort of kept bits and pieces of various systems I’ve read about or tried through the years and made a system of my own. I do incorporate the Universal Capture Tool concept from the GTD system, and I do use Franklin Covey inserts so I suppose I also incorporate their Prioritized Daily Task List system/symbols as well. One thing I am enjoying about reading these Nuts and Bolts questionnaires is how many great suggestions I’m picking up for honing my own planning system.

The only real “system” that I use is keeping my planner with me constantly and using the heck out of it. It even parks on my bedside table at night in case I wake up needing to jot something down for the following day.

6. What routines and structures do you use?

My planner is with me pretty much 24/7. I like the “One Book for All Things” concept and even use my planner as my wallet so that I always have everything I need, everywhere I go. Each morning I start the day with a cup of tea and a quick review of any appointments/meetings to make sure I’m prepped, and I also run down my daily task list. Some things I will add to my iPhone’s Reminder app at that time, if I feel I will need an alarm to actually get them done, or if they are location based and I’ll need a reminder near a certain shop and can’t reference my planner because I’m driving.

During the day my planner sits open on my desk, usually in week view so I can monitor the progress of whatever work projects are going on, or if it is a task-heavy day, in day view to keep my to do list right in front of me. Things are constantly being jotted down during the day…some in the UCT and others right on specific days.

In the evenings, there are invariably things that I need to add to a task list or shopping list, and occasionally social events are scheduled as well. My planner sits open on my coffee table so it is always in reach. I usually give my planner one more glance before bed to make sure everything was written down (or transferred from the UCT) where it needs to be. I’m not journaling right now, so I also jot down a couple “things that went right today” and gratitude items to end the day on a positive note.

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

Although I have many binders, I use only one at a time. I change them out as mood dictates, or if I feel like something more classic or colorful, etc. on a given day.

I do switch sizes now and then based on how much page size is being regularly used or not used (between Personal w/FC compact inserts and Franklin Covey Pocket, depending on how much or how little is going on in my life). Therefore, although I only USE one at a time, I will keep the other updated on a weekly basis when not in use, that way I can just pick up that size and begin using it straight away without having to copy over a bunch of things.

For example, if I’m using Personal size but my life is in a calm mode and I find a lot of wasted space on the pages, I will downsize to FC Pocket. If I’ve been in FC Pocket comfortably for a while but suddenly find that I’m needing extra pages for spillover, I’ll go back up to Personal.

It sounds very complicated, but since I keep the “standby” planner updated weekly, it is pretty convenient to switch in and out when I need to. Sometimes I just want to for variety, but the system I use remains the same regardless of the size of the binder.

Thank you Yvonne.

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


  1. Surya, this is no platform for hidden advertising that your included link leads to. Please respect the rules of this forum. Thanks.

    1. Spammer removed, getting quite a few of these lately. We might have to resort to holding all comments for moderation before they appear on the blog which is a pain but it would stop this from happening.

      I've reported several repeat offenders to Google but nothing seems to happen, they just continue to post nonsense with lots of links in their comments.

    2. Thank you Steve! I believe we are a great planner community that will stay together and withstand any spammer offence ☺

  2. Spammers are always such a pain in the rear. However,
    I would like to thank Yvonne for taking the time to write such a nice, detailed description of her planner use. It turns out, she might be my planning twin, how could I not applaud her for getting the best use of her pages! When I have the spare time, I often read the zeitgeistofzoe and always find it such a delight.

  3. You know when you read a post and you just have to print it to keep handy as it leaves you inspired?... this is one of those for me... I love the idea of reading how others keep their planners and I do on occasion "borrow" ideas from them to create my own system. This is a great post, Yvonne, thank you!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing, Yvonne. We have a lot in common. I've always liked writing things down, too.

  5. Excellent post. Trapper Keepers were my first planning love. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Love your blog, Yvonne, and thank you for your post here. I was JUST thinking about TrapperKeepers the other day! Also good to know that someone else can switch (fairly effortlessly) between pocket and personal. I was starting to think I was doing the whole planning thing wrong.