15 September 2019

Experienced User - Dot

This week we will see how Dot uses her organisers. 

1. When did you start using an organiser?

I have used a diary/planner all my adult life, usually buying an annual diary from stationery stores. However, when I went to university as a ‘mature student’ to become professionally qualified as a youth worker in 2006 I needed something considerably more flexible, which allowed room for me to manage my time efficiently.

I was still working 30 hours per week, was a single mother to two teenagers and attending university full time. I needed to track my daughter’s schedules - both social and educational - assignment due dates, work planning deadlines and a very tiny personal life, and eventually placement schedules.

My first Filofax was a Finsbury A5 which is still in use today as a ‘home organiser' keeping my family's health records, car insurance, household insurance, useful blog sites and all manner of useful info in one place.

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

I found using a Filofax so invaluable, I became a firm fan and have bought five more Finsbury binders. One A4, two personal size and two pocket size.

I have used a pocket Finsbury as my wallet for almost five years. I get many questions and compliments when using it. It has card holders with my bank and store loyalty cards at the front and note pages at the back of the card holders, which I add to throughout the week to build up a food shopping list. I use a mini PaperMate inkjet gel pen in the pen loop as I found the Filofax pen kept falling out of the loop. I do find using the zipper pocket for coins can be awkward so I regularly empty them out because of this. The large pocket at the back is excellent and can hold notes as well as receipts.

For my daily scheduling I use an ochre coloured Malden. I started with an A5 Malden with Filofax business pages but this wasn’t always a convenient size for me, it was too big and bulky to carry. I also found the leather of the A5 Malden felt hard and not soft, at all, so I briefly used a Midori Traveller note book which is beautiful soft leather but the books didn’t quite suit my needs and so I switched back to my A5 mid-year.

This was when I bought the personal sized Malden (also in ochre) and the leather on that one is much softer and ‘buttery' as is so often described by other users. I love this one more than any other planner I’ve used and this has been my every day companion since, both for professional and personal use.

I now use the Midori as a notebook in meetings where space to write is limited, and the A4 Finsbury I use to carry files/case notes for meetings and carry additional note paper to make notes if necessary. I don’t need to use the A4 every day but when I do it’s also an excellent writing surface to use.

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

I have recently bought the Daytimer original WOTP format. I prefer to use an academic diary which suits the ebb and flow of my work. Although a recent purchase, I have quickly found the page layout is perfect for me and I love the monthly dividers which include additional note pages which are headed “To be done in.....” month page, this is very useful to me.

I'm a list maker, and this has helped me easily track monthly deadlines at a glance. I don’t decorate my pages as such but I do use stickers to highlight particular types of appointments, holidays and key events. I find the Carpe Diem ones very useful, but have bought others from Etsy and stationery stores.

This is the first time I’ve used Daytimer and the quality of the paper is good, I think I will probably stay with them.

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

I keep a page with all important anniversary and birthdays. I have to regularly visit certain places to attend meetings so I maintain a sheet with addresses and post codes to make claiming expenses quicker and simpler.

I also keep a sheet with key information on for business use. These information pages are kept updated and are permanently left in my planner.

I also keep Christmas planner pages, which is just note paper that I add gift ideas and draw up the food list. We always go away just before Christmas so I have to be organised for the festivities by the end of November so when we return I simply have to organise the fresh food.

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

I have three sections in my personal Malden the first section has zipper pockets where I carry my stickers, post it notes and paperclips.

The second section has zipper pockets for receipts for claiming expenses and where work related information sheets are kept.

The third section is the diary and includes the anniversaries, key dates and Christmas list sheets. The section dividers I made myself from pretty card folders I bought from TKMaxx and laminated.

I bought the recommended 6 hole punch years ago and have always made my own dividers as these are more personal than the business like Filofax.

6. What routines and structures do you use?

I check my diary daily and at the start of every week, I ensure I am organised for the meetings I will be attending.

As the Daytimer sheets have two columns for each day I use one side for reminders and one for appointments.

Using stickers to highlight particular types of appointments adds personality as well as functionality for me. A quick scan and I know where I am with meetings etc.

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

As explained earlier I use several binders but only use two every day. I also bought a beautiful A5 Chameleon in spring green off Ebay a few years ago and used this as my summer planner at work because of its gorgeous pale colour but wanted to keep it in good condition so went back to my A5 Malden, which looks better for getting a little knocked about.

However once I bought the personal Malden and felt the soft leather I’ve ‘made' personal size work for me professionally and personally. I get as much pleasure from holding and touching the binder as I do using it.

My family think I am a bit potty for being so ‘into’ planners but for me it’s the practical uses that help to keep my stress levels down. My job is demanding and can be emotionally draining with timescales and deadlines that have to be met.

By ensuring everything goes in my planner and any additional info can simply be added on note paper and fitted between the weekly spread, I can keep track of everything and remain on top of my workload and not miss important family events too.

Thank you Dot. 

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


  1. Thank you for sharing this Dot. I'm really interested in how you use multiple planners, as this is something I've always resisted. Congratulations for ma
    making it work so obviously we'll, and also for having the courage of your convictions to keep using a system that works so well despite being thought of as 'a bit potty'! I know that feeling well! :)

  2. Hi there Dot. What a fabulous post on making the personal size work for you. Love these inserts too. The flag bits, are they part of the insert print, or separate stickers I am wondering, and what do you use them for?? Sending you prayers of recovery for your eye op, which I hope and trust went well. Love and light. Jane. xx