New Year, New Filo…

…New me?

Happy New Year! If you’re like me, you’ve been anxiously awaiting 2011, if only to start your new planner or refills. I have been looking forward to this activity all week. I’ve been mulling the options in my mind for several weeks. I think I have come up with a solution that I will enjoy, though it’s not much different from my current set up.

Note: I apologize in advance for the length of this post – it was the only way to accurately describe every last detail of my planner. You might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and maybe a cookie or biscuit before reading.

Upon request, I will go into detail about how my Filo is set up and how I use it. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, and though things haven’t changed too much, there are some things that have, so why not? Thus, here we go:

I’m currently using my personal black Malden as my every day planner. I don’t have anything in the zip pocket in the front. I have some ideas of what could go in there, but anything that I would fit, I already have in my bag, so I don’t know that I need to store those things in there as well. So it’s empty at the moment. It is great for a thumb drive or anything small, so eventually something will go in there. In the card slots I have business cards for doctors, information for my library’s Text-a-Librarian service (your local library may have something similar), random pieces of paper with notes of books that I want to add into my future Reference Filo, and a jot pad. I generally use the jot pad for additional information on an event that’s already on my daily page. I use Post-it notes for random information, notes really, that don’t have anything to do with any of my appointments.

The first thing in the planner itself is the Filofax Post-it accessory. I absolutely love this thing. Since writing about it last, I had to turn it around so that the Post-its face in. The inside zipper on the Malden kept catching on the yellow flags and causing them to come off. I just can’t have that. So now they’re protected by facing the first tab.

The first tab is my “Contacts” tab. This is not a full address book. I have that in the family A5 red Finchley. This is a quick list of phone numbers only for those people I may need to call while at work or out and about. Of course these numbers are stored in my phone. But I don’t rely solely on technology (and probably never will) so this acts as a backup system. Plus, when I’m at work, I can’t use my cell phone – this list allows me access to those phone numbers should I need them in an emergency. It includes phone numbers for my emergency contacts; doctors; services such as car repair, hotels I stay at often, the vet, etc; family members; and close friends.

The next section is my “To Do” list. In here, I have a list of blog topics that I want to write about, for both Well Planned Life and Bagsey. I also keep a list of topics to write about in my journal. Sometimes, when something happens, I don’t have my journal with me or the opportunity to write about it. Keeping this list allows me to write the topic down so that when I do get the opportunity, I remember what it is I wanted to write about. Another list I have here is my long-term to do list. This contains things that I want to get done at some point in time, things that aren’t urgent but things I don’t want to forget about. It takes me awhile to get to this list, crossing off items only a few a year. But that’s okay. It’s more like a list for things I don’t want to forget about but that should at some point in my life be done. The next list is my media list. Here I keep a list of songs to download, books to add to my master list (kept as a Google Docs file, mainly because it’s too massive to keep as a written list), TV shows to record or watch, movies to see. Each month I update my master lists, and it’s at that time that I transfer whatever is on this Filo list to my master digital lists. I use a Filofax transparent flyleaf to mark this list since I refer to it several times a week.

The next section is my “To Buy” lists. It includes a list for the drug store, the big discount box store and bath store, a list for things to buy when I get a chance (each month I pull from this list until my monthly spending limit is reached), and an “eventual” list for items that I want to buy some day but that aren’t that important.

The next section is for the projects I’m currently working on. Each project gets its own color note paper. I have one sheet of every colored note sheet I own in here. As projects come up, I pull out a new color and start with that. If I need more sheets of a particular color, I pull some from my note paper storage binder and put them here with the original note sheet of that color. When a project is finished and I throw out the corresponding sheets, I add another blank sheet of that color. So at any given time, I have at least one sheet of every color, whether in use or waiting for its purpose. Currently, have the following project lists in here: new tab topics for my “Me” binder (this really needs a new name – any ideas?); tab topics for my Reference Filo that I will get to in the near future; a list of companies for which I want to set up specific payment plans; and a list for current knitting projects and future ideas. I have been knitting for a few years but I’m still a beginner. I can only do simple blankets and scarves, mainly because I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the craft. However, this is something I’d like to work on in 2011. If I am successful, I may devote an entire binder (perhaps the Ochre Malden) to patterns and projects and dates for when I start these projects. For now, though, the list will live here and the Ochre Malden will be used in the spring/summer due to its lighter shade.

The next section is my “Notes” section. In here I keep notes that will eventually be transferred elsewhere. For example, I have detailed notes on my allergy symptoms and doctor visits and medication prescribed for the last four months. I am getting to the point where a majority of this information is no longer applicable so these note pages will be transferred to my “Me” binder under the “Health” tab for future reference. For health information, different colored note paper will be used to differentiate between issues. So for the last four months, I’ve been using peach paper. For the next set of issues (maybe the next allergy season), I’ll use a different color so that it’s easy for me to see where the issues differ, either by symptoms and medication or by date. Along with this, I have a list of questions to ask the doctor at my next visit. I use a second Filofax transparent flyleaf for quick access to this list, mainly because I want to be able to find it easily and without much fuss. Right now, I also have a list of certain yoga poses that make up a specific practice. It’s all hand-written at the moment, but when I get a chance, I will type it up properly and place it in my “Me” binder under the “Yoga” tab. Finally, in this section, I have extra white note sheets for anything that comes up that should go here.

My final tab is my “Diary” tab. Obviously, everything pertaining to my schedule and appointments and monthly/weekly/daily events go here. First, I have a list of highlighter colors and what I will use each for. In addition to my pocket Notes binder, I want a quick and easy way to find certain events and information in my main binder. So I’ll use pink to highlight doctor and health appointments, orange for medication, green for weather events (I write down the general weather each day but this is for when we have alerts – blizzard warning, a storm of some kind, air quality alerts – mainly because big weather events contribute to my allergy symptoms), blue for blog posts written, purple for books started and/or finished, and yellow for general notes that I want to see at glance. I also have the Filofax stickers placed here. I don’t really use these – I find them too small and very difficult to peel off of the page. I plan on getting scrapbooking stickers from my local store to add a little flair to my pages. I also have the Filofax Four Year Planner insert here. I haven’t written anything on it but I like it to see when certain dates will fall.

As for my calendar inserts: first I have the monthly pages for long-term planning. I mark the current month with the clear page marker. I also highlight the outline of the current month. Filofax has this habit of inserting dates for the previous and future month, making it difficult to see the physical layout of the current month. The highlighting makes it a little easier to look at the current month. I add a one- or two-word description of events here so that I can see when something is planned without the detail. The boxes are too small for the details. For that, I used my weekly pages (see below for additional information).

After the monthly pages, I have a week’s worth of daily pages – two-pages-per-day to be exact. I was using the Day Planner sheets but I wanted to try this layout, both for the time slots and for the open layout it provides. The Day Planner sheets force you to turn the page over for additional notes. I’m hoping this will be a little easier. I am disappointed with the fact that Filofax does not provide the To-Do/Notes pages for Saturday and Sunday. If anything, these lists are longer on the weekends since I can get more done on these days than for any day of the work week. So for these days, I’ll have to use the general to-do sheets. It’s a work-around, but why does Filofax insist on forgetting about the weekend days – not everyone works a strict Monday – Friday work week, and not everyone neglects a to-do list on the weekend. I mark the current day’s pages with the black page marker. Behind the marker I have a DayTimer Hot Sheet. This is for a list of things that need to get done during the week but not on a specific day. These items get a check mark when it’s added to a specific day (usually a day when I have the time to work on it) and gets crossed off when the item is finished.

The next part of calendar inserts is a year’s worth of lined week-on-two-pages. I use this for weekly planning. These pages contain all the detailed information for events that are marked on my monthly pages. I also have a list of to-dos that need to get done on the day they need to be done. So if a bill needs to be paid on a specific day, I will note that on the weekly space for that day. (The daily pages are used because I like to keep lists of details that won’t fit into the weekly slots – weather information, a food diary, exercise plans, general notes about the day. The daily sheets also allow me to put a day’s set of appointments, to-dos and notes in a more organized fashion. Adding things to a small weekly format makes for a disorganized mess sometimes, and this helps to sort all of that out.) To mark the current week in my Filo, I use the Filofax monthly tabs. For several weeks, I have been contemplating how I would mark the current week. I use the clear marker for the month and the black marker for the day. I didn’t want to add a third marker for the week. I also considered not using the monthly tabs in order to save space in my Filo but the truth is that I use them constantly. On each monthly tab, I have a sticky to-do list of items that need to get done that month. When an item is placed on a certain day, it gets a check mark. When an item is done completely, it gets crossed of the list. When the entire list is complete (or when items are moved to a different month), the sheet is removed from the corresponding monthly tab. Using the monthly tab as a marker helps to keep this to-do list visible, if only once a week when I transfer information from one place to another (more on weekly and daily planning in my next post). The monthly tabs obviously also make it easier for finding a specific week of the year.

The last item in the binder is the transparent envelope. In here I keep my father’s funeral cards. This pocket always goes into whatever binder I’m using, even if it’s my Slimline Guildford when traveling. I am never without these.

Finally, in the Malden’s back pocket, I have a Day Runner note pad. It’s a regular pad, held together at the top. But it has the appropriate holes down the side that fit the Filofax Personal perfectly. I use this for general note taking (like the yoga poses mentioned above). Once the notes have been taken, I place the sheet(s) wherever it should be within the Malden binder itself. If it doesn’t pertain to any of the above sections, I’ll put it in between my daily sheets so that I remember to pull it out of the binder when I have the opportunity to do so. I absolutely love this feature – it’s one of the reasons I so desperately wanted the Malden in the first place. If I ever contemplate moving into another one of my binders, this pocket is usually the reason I do not (that and the supple Malden leather – but that’s another story altogether).

So there you have it – my detailed description on my planner. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with the details. Please let me know if you have any questions or need further explanation on anything I’ve mentioned.

My next two posts will cover my daily/weekly/monthly planning habits and my method for archiving my past pages and inserts.

I hope you and your planner(s) all enjoyed the first day of the New Year!


  1. Thanks so much for this detail! I'm looking forward to your planning posts. I was planning to move back to A5 again, but now I'm wondering if I should give this type of setup a try. Thanks again for all your ideas - happy 2011!

  2. Thanks Plaiditude! I'm glad that you liked my post. It's only been a day since using the 2DPP so I'm hoping it will go okay. I don't know how you use your planner, so I can't say it would be better than an A5. You might want to ask Jotje because I THINK she moved from an A5 to a personal using these sheets. I'm not positive though, so don't hold me to it. ;) However, I would love to hear more about how you do use your planner and what your decision on it is. Good luck and happy 2011!

  3. Thanks for all the insights about your Filo and how you have it set up. I also use the 2 days per page format and really enjoy the them, especially the writing space size for each day. Also have the Post-It Note and Tabs insert and the Jot Pads. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  4. Thanks GCM! I'm glad you enjoy it. So far I'm liking the 2PPD. I have to get used to writing some of my notes in a smaller area - I keep notes on the right-hand side of the daily page, and it's actually less room than the Day Planner page since that allows you write across the entire page and this is only half the page. But overall it has a lot more room.

  5. Indeed I did move from A5 to Personal. I used 2PPD for the A5 aswell. The only real change in my case is that I don't have a complete notes-page per day anymore. Which is not bad, because I rarely used it fully. I now put the notes behind their designated tab. I date them and archive them at the end of the month. This works very well, plus I waste much less paper!

    @GCM: I think you are using 2 days per page, whereas Kanalt (and me) are using 2 pages per day ... ;-)


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