13 August 2018

Guest Post - My Set Up - Guido

Thank you to Guido for this excellent detailed post of his set up. 

Detailed setup

As you may recall I had Van der Spek build me the ultimate organizer. David Popely asked me to share my setup, which I recorded on my list as something to follow up on. I finally found the time to respond to his question. I have not taken pictures of each section and insert avoiding this from becoming a picture heavy post.

Starting off with the overall structure: I use a register / tabs to divide my VDS into sections. These sections are based on a German system called LöhnMethode which is basically GTD, but way before GTD was coined as a concept and more time aware than GTD appears to be. What I particularly like about these tabs is that they combine your dairy sections with an A-Z register and a DataBank 1-6 all in one set. I used to use TimeSystem to do that job, but I find these current tabs to be very clean and efficient in using ring space. Not that I do not have ring space, because my VDS has 35mm rings. More inserts!

Let’s continue with the inserts.

I have a yearly overview sheet from TimeSystem which states the year vertically in weeks. I note my yearly goals on this sheet, which are subsequently transferred to my monthly sheets for more detailed planning. I use 2 sets of monthly sheets: one with a month on 2 pages for rough scheduling appointments (not every single one – I have a smartphone for that – but the big picture). The other one is a horizontal monthly plan by Time System stating my goals on the left hand and vertically the days of the month so I can GANTT-chart my objectives to the day.

The next section is my weekly section with a week on 2 pages on the front and weekly objective pages and time entry on the back. I have designed this insert myself inspired on Tempus A5 weekly’s, Time System and Ray Blake’s time recording sheet. I plan my weeks based on monthly objectives and whatever comes up that I have to sort out during that week.

Then I have a section with capture lists per key area of focus, a concept I took from Time Manager. I keep them all together rather than having one tab for each area, although I have tabs available to that end. I am still debating on what is best. At present, efficiency wins, so they are all under one tab.

The following section is for my project activities. This is where I keep project plans and notes for each current project. Once completed or no longer current I transfer these to a storage binder (TimeSystem A5 35mm) or more permanent storage (large rings).

A specific section relates to my long term vision and goals. I have a separate binder for life planning, but the summary of that binder goes under this tab. Basically, a fold-out page (3 pages in 1) I created myself. Goals and objectives are transferred to the yearly planning pages once completed. I review this section regularly to stay in touch with what matters to me most.

The red section (D) in my VDS is for daily pages. I use DO2P by Ray (daily dashboard version I believe) which I then tweaked to my own liking. I had a go at other setups, including no daily pages and just using weekly pages, but it did not work. I take the rewriting of various bits and pieces for granted. And it also helps to solidify the objectives I set out to achieve with each writing I do. The daily pages, weekly planning, monthly and yearly pages are interconnected with each other, meaning that I designed them as such that they have on the left hand side (I use fold out inserts for year, month and week so I can see them side by side with my daily pages – Time System calls this windowing) they all have the same set of questions I ask myself during planning:
  • What is the top 5 focus for this month, week or day?
  • What do I want to achieve personal wise?
  • What do I want to achieve business wise?
  • How do I sharpen my saw?
  • Who will I show love, appreciation / TLC?
  • What is on my annual goal setting that I want to make major progress on?
  • What is carried forward from earlier periods?
  • What other goals do I have?
These questions help me focus on the big picture and make progress daily towards my longer term goals instead of running around with a to-do list (or as Tony Robbins calls it the do something list) wondering where my time is going. Occasionally I still have these days of course, but less than I used to.

The other A-Z and 1-6 sections are for temporary storage or reference to documents and notes I need to refer to during a project or as databank.

Thank you Guido.


  1. Guido, I found your post informative, not only on the sections you use in your organiser, but also where you have explained what you have tried that didn't work and why you are using the set up you are. I actually would have liked to have seen photos!

  2. Thanks and most welcome. My ‘did not work’ experience is quite extensive haha! The structure debat is one I have with myself on and on. Even dividers can drive me nuts! I keep going back and forth between LöhnMethod, TimeSystem (really excellent and bulky), and clear plastic ones like NBPlanner produces. Just last night I decided that perhaps (decided perhaps really sounds decisive, right?) I would give TimeSystem another try. I’ll see what I can do on the picture-part in a future post.

  3. By the way, as my dividers are German, perhaps a bit of translating is in order. TK stands for terminkalender which is your diary (year, month or week - Löhn suggests you choose just one). TA is tagliche aktivitäten or daily activities. ZA is zukunftige aktivitäten or future activities. PA stands for periodic or recurring activities. Z is Ziele which is German for goals. D finally officially stands for documentation, which is your notes section. Löhn again is very specific on note taking and referencing / archiving, hence the red colour for this section. There is an English basics book of the method which I can recommend. LöhnMethod is a very well thought through concept for getting the right this done at the right time (particularly this last bit is what I find GTD to be less effective).

    1. Oh, and before you jump on the band wagon: I have checked and Löhn has a very different ring spacing from filofax or VDS so ordering anything will require repunching. I took the concept and ordered the booklets but left the inserts for what they were.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Guido! Very interesting setup.

    Agree with empressbat, pics are always helpful...but think I get what you describe.

    As for the Löhn inserts, I looked at their project pages. I'm curious as to intent for the gray shaded columns on left and right edges of page.



  5. Hi Mark, most welcome. I have made a mental note to include pictures next time! Anyway, those project pages (which is basically the most fundamental insert LM carries - almost everything is recorded on that insert) are cleverly designed. The first 2 gray columns are for batching information together. So first column for 1,2,3 or similar and the second column for subs, abc, etc. Although I have seen the first column to be used to checkmarking too, where x stands for done or followed up. The second pair is first for priority (I II III) or i for FYI. Last column is for initials if you delegate something to someone. The first line is for dating and referencing. Anything else is up to you.

    1. Thanks for the info, Guido! Very helpful.

  6. Great post Guido, thank you. I'm reconsidering my setup at the moment so plenty of food for thought here