2012 Setup

As promised, today’s post is a detailed description of my 2012 setup.  I am using the Compact Regency, which I imagine will stay with me for quite some time, though should Filofax introduce more compact binders, I might be tempted to splurge on some color.  But I digress.

You can see how slim he is, which is the whole point of moving to a compact binder.  I am trying to keep my system as simple as possible, while making it as useful as possible.  I think I have stumbled across a pretty good system.  I can’t say that it won’t be tweaked here and there, but for now, this is what’s working.

This is a quick glance at everything I’ve got in my binder.  For a thin system, it holds everything I need to carry with me on a daily basis.  Everything else stays at home in my Malden (a post on the specifics of this is forthcoming, once it’s set up to my liking).

First, some have asked how I store my pen.  Most binder pen loops are not big enough to hold the fat pens that a lot of us desire.  I have gotten around that by placing the pen hook in the loop rather than the pen itself.  And to keep the pen from crushing my tabs, I hook it to the outside of the pen loop, as seen here:

The binder strap is long enough that it snaps around the pen and the binder, and none of my tabs get damaged.

Upon opening the binder, I have appointments cards, reminders, and a jot pad in the card slots.  In the pocket, I have a copy of my monthly work schedule.  I transfer my schedule to my daily inserts, but this allows me to see everyone else’s schedule at a glance.  (Truth be told though, much of this changes right after it’s printed.  But at least it gives me an idea.)  The first item in the rings is a Vermont postcard (relevant to the season—though I don’t have a proper winter scene, so a cloudy day is what I’m using for the moment).  This is covered by a flyleaf so that the card doesn’t get muck on it.

On the back of the postcard I have a Post-it Index Card with a quote regarding the need to be in control.  This quote often reminds me to let go of control when I can to relieve some of the anxiety and stress I often feel.  Next to that I have the Filofax Post-it accessory.  I have replaced the original shiny flags with ones with a more paper-like quality for easy writing.  I use them for random notes and reminders throughout my planner.

Then I have my tabbed sections.

Under “Contacts” I keep a short list of phone numbers only—emergency contacts, doctors, services.  Everything else is kept in my full address book which will eventually be housed in the at-home Malden.  Phone numbers that I use frequently are also stored in my phone, but I don’t rely solely on my phone to keep my contacts’ numbers.  I don’t trust technology 100 percent—I have been burned there before, relying only on the technology, which then crashes and I lose everything.  Every once in a while, I go through the numbers stored in my phone, compare them to my address book and make any updates as needed.  Generally though, I update both when a new number comes across my desk.

The “Notes” section houses random information that I want to jot down or refer to later.  I use an Avery tab at the top to mark off where I have certain information about my husband.  This will come in handy if I ever need to tell someone what he is allergic to, etc.

The “Lists” section has a variety of—you guessed it—lists, from shopping lists to music I want to download to books to research.  I don’t keep a full list of books to read here because my list is pages and pages long.  All of my media lists are kept in a Google Document spreadsheet (backed up on thumb drive, of course).

The “Projects” tab keeps information on any projects I’m currently working on that I may need to refer to throughout the day.  There are some projects that I would only ever need to access while at home, and those are kept behind a “Projects” tab in the Malden.  So this list is more of an an-the-go project section, things like questions for a new doctor I’m going to, plans for a trip I’m taking, a gift list for Christmas during the holidays.  Things that require more than one step or action are placed under projects, whereas a simple one-line to-do note gets jotted behind the “Lists” tab or on the day it needs to be done.

“Writing” is where I keep a list of all of my blog topic ideas, as well as topics I want to journal about the next time I have the opportunity.  I don’t get to journal as much as I’d like to, but I don’t want to forget about the things I want to write about, so this helps me to keep those topics at the front of my mind.

Finally, “Diary” is where I keep my calendars. 

The first section is the Filofax month-on-two-pages layout.  Since my work schedule is organized in a monthly fashion, this helps me to keep track of things on a monthly basis.  Looking at the month as a whole also tells me how busy I am in a given week and I can plan (or not) my days accordingly.  So if I see that a particular week is crazy busy, I can try to keep my weekend clear (though that almost never happens).

I keep about six month’s worth of these sheets.  Once a month is over, I remove the old month, store it in my archival binder (more on that to come), and add the newest month to complete the six-month layout.

The main layout of my planner is the Filofax day-per-page inserts.  Since there are so many daily sheets, I use the Filofax monthly tabs to section off each month’s worth of inserts.

On the first tab for the month, I keep a list of things that need to be done at some point during the month.  When I move an item to a particular day, the action gets a check mark next to it.  An item gets crossed off only when the item has been completed.  Yes, this is a bit of double work, having to check two places often.  But it keeps me checking the list to begin with and see what else I need to accomplish and/or assign elsewhere.

I use another Avery tab to remind myself that there are items that need to be done.  If everything on the list is done (or reassigned), I move the tab to the next month.  If at the end of the current month there are things that haven’t been addressed, they get added to the new month’s list and the process starts again.

As for my days—I keep track of all of my appointments, any to-dos that are specific to the day, any notes I want to mark down (usually if I write a post, am not feeling well, watch a movie, etc.), and the weather.  My allergies and general health are greatly affected by the weather so I like I keep a tally of it for each day—it often provides insight into why I might feel so awful on any given day.

One thing that annoys me about the Filofax DPP is that they do not give equal page space for Saturday and Sunday.  I don’t understand this.  In today’s world we do as much, if not more, during the weekends.  It would not kill them to print an extra several sheets to accommodate this.  But this has been one gripe about Filofax for a long time, and since they have yet to address it, I highly doubt they ever will.  So I am making the best of an imperfect system.  I don’t have as many appointments on the weekend (usually) so I can use some of the appointment space for additional information.  And since I can see Saturday and Sunday on one page, I don’t have to move a to-do item to the next day—I can see that it’s not crossed off for Saturday and refer back to it on Sunday.  Come Sunday evening though, I will have to move an item to another day if it wasn’t completed.  And if I need more space than the Saturday or Sunday layout provides, I can easily slip in a Day Planner page.

I keep three month’s worth of daily pages in the compact.  Once a month is complete, I will take out the corresponding daily sheets, archive them, and add the new month of dailies.  When I do this, I will add any information to the new dailies that I’ve kept track of on the monthly tabs.

I keep six month’s worth of monthly tabs in the compact, mainly because six make a complete run down the side of the binder.  I can’t stand to see a gap in tabs if I don’t keep a complete six month’s worth.  Plus, this allows for some forward planning without having to jam my binder full of daily sheets.

I also have a 2012 fold out insert for any information beyond the six months of tabs.  I don’t really like this insert, so I don’t know if I’ll continue to use it.  But for now, it’s staying there.  It is helpful to see what might be coming up several months down the line, especially since I know my Saturday work rotation for the entire year.

After the fold out 2012 insert I have a clear top-open envelope where I keep my father’s funeral cards.

In the back horizontal pocket I keep extra Day Timer Sticky Hot Sheets for any additional to-do items I might need.  It’s about the only thing that fits into that neat little pocket.  In the vertical pocket I keep random sheets of paper for reference use.

So that’s my 2012 system.  I am hopeful that I will stick to this system, seeing as it’s working for me.


  1. I LOVE this!!! I totally give you credit, and wish I had the ability to stick to such a slimmed down binder. While I did try really hard to eliminate sections I don't need, I just don't think I could go compact.

    Btw, totally surprised (and grateful for) the however... :)

  2. Ooh - I love how you've done your layout. I'm afraid I like to have everything in one place so I couldn't quite downsize to a compact but yours looks great.

  3. Thanks, ladies!

    J - Don't be surprised at the mention. I always have planner envy of others, especially when they're using a different layout/brand than me. I did look at the FC site and did pick out some inserts I like. I just can't bring myself to order them... yet. The idea of needing to trim them, well, I'm not thrilled with it, and so I doubt it's worth it. We'll see.

    Amanda - In the beginning I wasn't sure I could slim down enough, especially since I had used the Slimline for a while and just couldn't keep up with it. But the compact gives me just the additional space I need from the slimline to make it work.

  4. I love these posts so much! Thank you :D

  5. This is so organized - it's beautiful!!!


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