Category Archives: Planners and Organizers

Mid-year in my Mini Filofax planner

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It’s hard to believe  the last time I posted snaps of my beloved Mini Filofax, I hadn’t even gotten to the first planner page of my own handmade inserts. It’s important to me to have at least one picture of our own inserts on this blog! So here’s another messy view of my mini hard at work. This time, with first-ever-on-this-blog photo of the inserts made by me and my husband.  We started making them at the end of 2016. I was so proud and excited to finally flip over to the first week in my 2017 planner! And now it’s July… already! I should hurry up and finish posting this before July is over.

mini weekly july 2017 our inserts

last week of June 2017

mini monthly - june 2017 our inserts for blog

June 2017

Many thanks to everyone who visits our blog or gets in touch with us. We love hearing from you and are so grateful for your support. 🙂

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Your planner is what you need it to be, and what you want it to be

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It can be a notebook, address book, collection of lists, project planner, study guide, business planner, devotional guide, dreams and goals, design and sketch book, coloring book, travel coordinator, photo album, scrapbook, health log, habit tracker, finance binder, home management system, meal planner, recipe binder, creative outlet and book of days.

It can be your guide, your leader and your reliable teammate.

It’s your planner, your journal or your diary.

It is a reminder of things to come, achievements past, challenges now and before, recollections of countless days and moments.

It’s your companion, security blanket and source of great comfort and happiness.

The more time you give your planner, the more it will help you in whatever way you choose.

 

 

My Work Planner and Notebook System (unabridged)

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Author’s note #1: Ironically, I’m presently in between assignments right now so I’m not working for someone else. Either way, this is my tried and true system for many years now. I am working on several business ventures of my own, and I still use the below system, although I don’t have meetings and conference calls right now as illustrated below. Anyway, If I were working for someone else right now, I would probably have continued to procrastinate writing this post!

 Author’s note #2: I formerly used the almighty A5 size planner for the same purpose as described below. I switched last year from A5 to a US half-letter-sheet size for convenience. I wouldn’t have switched from the A5 if we used the same standard sheet sizes here in the US! My A5 was the rare, gorgeous, calf leather, tan Sandhurst Filofax which I’ve owned for 17 years as of this writing. I am still hoarding it, which is just plain wrong, and I know it.

A5 sandhurst

still in captivity – my sandhurst

I wanted to write this post because I have written about my system before on my blog and on comments to other ones here and there. I thought I’d delve into detail on my system in case anyone finds a helpful morsel or tidbit. My last post, Running a Work and Personal Planner, briefly mentions the content of my work planner, so here is the whole enchilada, unabridged.  You’d never know from reading my rambly posts that I rarely say two words in any of the work meetings!

 And now, the guest star…

Work Planner

Workhorse. Weapon of choice: FranklinCovey tangerine-y, zip binder (my first zip binder!) with slim rings.

Classic/Half-Letter size with 7 rings. Franklin Planner calls this Classic; DayTimer calls it Desk. DayRunner has one too. These all use the US half-letter sheets (5.5” x 8.5”) and are similar in size to an A5 although they are not the same size sheets or hole punch formats.

fc work planner

 

This entire planner is centered around one element: the Weekly planner.  Every work action I need to tackle in a week goes on here. It requires some ‘syncing’ but that is part of what feeds the Weekly and it’s the bit on which I thrive.  The key method for this planner is that it’s managed week by week. Hardly anything gets populated in advance in here (because it doesn’t act as my calendar).

  • The ritual is I typically fill in the week on a Monday morning. A Friday afternoon or weekend might work for others, in my case it just tends to make sense based on the ridiculous amounts of work email received over the weekend, redefining your Monday “when you get in this morning” priorities, or their piece of the puzzle they worked on over the weekend which is now back to your court for the next action, etc.
  • The Weekly format I use for work is vertical columns week-on-two-pages.
  • I use these weekly sheets as more of a planner (less of a calendar).
  • I hack this format into my own custom weekly format, as I’ve described before on other blog comments, but for those of you who are interested and haven’t seen that description before, I am rehashing it here. I came up with this hack-format about 10 years ago and it provides me great comfort.
    • I completely ignore the timestamps. I sort of write over them if writing on a line that has one.
    • Every week, I use a ruler (usually the page-marker-ruler because it’s right there!) and a semi-bold black felt-type ink pen and draw a few horizontal lines to create my custom sections on the planner.
hacked weekly planner

custom hacked weekly format

  • I put my timed appointments and meetings on the top section (I just handwrite the time of the meeting), or anything that is truly time specific. This handwritten time stands out to me enough since I don’t have back-to-back meetings all day. I like it top-of-page because I don’t usually get to control my schedule and this highlights where I need to be when and what I need to prepare for.
appts on weekly hack

appts – timed – sched (as hacked)

  • The section below the appointments, I write in deadlines and rather inflexible must-do-today stuff. I call this section “DUE or DO TODAY.” There’s most always going to be more than fits there, so we will get to how I manage that in a few minutes.
  • The lower section is used to group stuff for this week. Each column might be just one subject/project, or it might be items that are similar in nature – it’s free-form and I just adjust it each week as needed. Sometimes I put a heading or title at the top of these little lists, but not usually because I already know what they contain.
  • Saturday and Sunday don’t get drawn on because I don’t need them for work unless there is something out of the ordinary that requires weekend work. These can be used as bonus spaces for more lists or notes.
  • I jot down the entries from my Outlook work calendar, this helps me mesh my work timed appointments with everything else. Just the time and topic, not all of the other details that are already in Outlook – as mentioned in my previous post.
  • The new emails, flagged emails, Outlook schedule and any shared project lists or project software are all reviewed to extract what’s due this week, deadlines, special arrangements, etc. etc. and filled into the weekly pages accordingly. This is not everything under the sun, but rather is focused on my work that I need to do. I don’t replicate every piece of every group project here, just what I need to focus on, my work, etc.
  • This planner is dedicated to work and as detailed in my previous post, I add (sync) only certain personal to-do’s in here as needed (such as a dental appointment in the middle of the work day).

 

sample of my custom-hacked weekly plan

sample of weekly plan as hacked

Other Key Tools

Additionally, I stick a large, lined 4″x6″ sticky note on the week and I write on there those messy reminders and little stuff that must be done or remembered that week (THIS is my place for that little stuff that we all never really know where to write down).

  • Every week gets a fresh sticky. I use a Sharpie or similar marker to write across the top WEEK OF 4/3 – 4/9.
  • At the beginning of the week, the sticky note goes on the right size of the planner so that it only covers up Thursday-Sunday. On Thursday, the sticky moves to the left side to only obscure Monday-Wednesday.
weekly jumbo sticky note sample

weekly jumbo sticky note sample

I stuff a trusty notebook (or steno pad) in the planner (perfect fit). This notebook is my “daily planner” and capture device.

  • Each morning I write the date across the top of a fresh page and fill in the musts for the day (many of which were deadlines or tasks already recorded in the weekly planner, so this is copied to the daily pad). This becomes the big blown-up version of the day. Sometimes at the end of the workday, I will start up tomorrow’s page – especially when I didn’t finish key items for today and need to roll them over or there is something wildly important that I need to be sure stays on my radar in the morning.
  • Now that the pad is populated with today’s focus and agenda, I work from that Daily pad for the day. Weekly planner stays open on my desk for quick visual reference throughout the day, and it goes to all meetings with me. Throughout the day, depending upon the ebb and flow of things, I might pluck a few more things off the big weekly view that I can knock out or follow up on today.
daily notepad-planner for post

daily notepad – planner – capture

  • I typically devote both facing pages if needed for the day. The priority list is on the most convenient sheet and then I usually add notes/capture on the other page. When I don’t use much of a page, I will just append to it the following day instead of turning to a new sheet.
  • This pad is invaluable to my day because it’s unstructured and spacious enough that I do not worry about running out of room for the day’s stuff. The size, (about 6”x9”) is also a very good measure of about how much I can actually do in one day.
  • This pad is where I jot down the zillion little things that come up, transcribing voicemails, etc.
  • The flexibility of the notepad allows me to turn a page just use more pages if needed. I just make sure to put the date at the top for context.
  • At day’s end, or in the morning, any of these things that are still undone get transferred to where they belong (the weekly planner, or the next day’s list or into a future date or project list or whatever).
  • After everything has been transferred, the previous pages get clamped with a binder clip. This is the signal that there is nothing left lurking back there that still needs attention. If I don’t complete the transfer for a day or few, the pages remain unclipped until the capture and transfer is complete.
  • You could easily use daily sheets in your planner for this, but it’s the simple portability of the notebook pad that make this work for me. When I worked in an office, I carried this pad with me everywhere and left the planner at my desk almost all of the time, except for meetings in which case I would also bring the planner. Having that pad with me all of the time was great because it seemed even when I just went to the kitchen for coffee, someone would ask me for something or I’d think of something that needed to be done, so I could always capture these requests and thoughts.
  • The other reason I favor the separate notebook over the sheet inside the planner is that I can see my Daily and my Weekly at the same time. If both are buried in the planner, then you have to flip back and forth to see both. This works fine for some people although the system I’ve got going works best for me because I am very This Week focused and I want to be able to see it all of the time!
  • These pads I choose usually contain about 80 sheets, so they last about three months and are usually slim enough to stuff into the planner.
  • Tip: the best ones ever were steno pads with colored sheets. They are quick to spot on a busy desk.

 

Observations and Other Bits

  • The key to this and any planning system is to review everything and make sure anything undone is transferred and not left behind.
  • My system of planning includes re-writing when things don’t get done and also recurring items, and I am OK with that since I choose to use a handwritten system anyway. To me, I like the writing – it’s part of the process and it works well with my mind. When I am faced with rewriting something that didn’t get done, it is another opportunity for evaluation of this item. Even the re-writing of items is part of why my system alleviates stress and worry – everything is accounted for. Here I decide – does this stay on this week’s lists or do I just need to store it on a Remember Me list, etc.
  • It is used in conjunction with project lists that are part of our company’s shared systems. In no way does my planner take place of those master lists and project lists. I do not handwrite long project lists and timelines in my planner. It’s just my week full of detailed things I will be doing and following up on. It’s also a clear illustration of the week’s deadlines and priorities – across all of the things going on that week, not just one project or subject at a time.

I have the Monthly calendar sheets as well. These are great for overviews. Typically, I only put in what I call “highlights” – the deadlines or major events overview. major work deadlines (like go-live or launch dates), and things like that. Even if I wrote nothing on them, the ease of flipping to that visual tool in my planner and being able to see the days and dates so quickly at any time is unparalleled in convenience. I really don’t use the Monthlies at work much day-to-day but they really shine when I’m in a meeting or on a conference call. At a super quick flip to the monthly tab, I can see exactly which day of the month that event begins, the big important dates, etc.

A few other sheets in my work planner that include some pertinent info that I refer to often, along with extra sheets in case I need quick access to note-taking.  Nearly all meeting notes are taken on my computer or iPad, but every once in a while when that is not an option, I go to the blank sheets in my planner. I’ve been to some meetings at meals or coffee shops where it was easier (and more engaged) to write in my planner than on my iPad.

I keep some cheat-sheet pages in my planner. These are those nuggets of info that you need access to when your computer is frozen, the network is being rebooted, or the Internet is down. IT professionals will assure you the Internet is never down. But you know what I mean. For me, these nuggets of info include a printout of the company phone list, cheat sheets with log-in info for a few people who routinely ask me “what was my log in again?” for our shared project software, the card number details for the credit card I need to use frequently for company purchases but I am not the cardholder, and the hotline emergency number for reaching IT when the Internet is down. It is important that I have this number handy because of the swarm of Internet-less people that crowd my desk with panic eyeballs as wide as boiled eggs looking at me like I am the last human on a zombie-crawling island, because I am the only one packing a planner.

Using my work planner system is the least stressful way of planning (and surviving) my day and my week.

Thank you very much for reading. 🙂

Running a Work and a Personal planner

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Hmmm. For a very introverted and shy person, some of my posts are very long! You wouldn’t think I have that much to say. Perhaps this long-winded writing is part of the reason behind my long gaps between posts in prior years. Because it would take so long for me to make any post, instead of just a simple one. Well, anyway, here’s another long and rambly one!

I strongly believe you should pay attention to how you ARE using your planner(s). Not how you should be.

That said, where do you naturally tend to write things quickly:
when you have an idea,
when you remember something,
you hear a song you really like you want to jot down, or a movie to add to the watch list,
when someone gives you info you need to capture,
you’re on the phone to take a note or a message.

You might have a system for all of the above to which you abide seamlessly.
You might have a system for these, but still grab whatever is nearest.

Whatever place I capture stuff, it’s then up to me to make sure they get migrated to the right notebook or planner in my system.

So happens that I make lots of notes and lists frequently for the various areas of my life. I do NOT want to carry all that information with me everywhere I go. Instead, I currently use several ring-bound notebooks for different areas of my life, but they’re not all actual “planners” as they have no sort of calendar or planning system. I would call them notebooks or containers of ideas and information.

I do have a separate personal planner and work planner. This has been my most-used setup for more years than I can remember, even though I did make an unsuccessful attempt at a combo work-personal a few years back.

Simple Syncing

From other people’s posts or videos, syncing calendars seems to be a common downfall in using two planners.

In my case, the word syncing is a misnomer really because I don’t fully sync the two schedules. You know like when you sync your electronic calendars, everything copies to the other place?  Well, my system doesn’t. My system is simple syncing.

Running two separate books for planning (ones where you are doing actual planning via calendars and schedules), doesn’t necessarily mean you must record all of the timed appointments and commitments in both books.

My use of two planners, particularly when working outside of the home, would only contain ‘schedule overlap’ from the other planner if it impacted the other calendar.

The goal in my system is merely to see what is required of me during the day. Anything overlapping isn’t going to get a lot of data written in the ‘other’ calendar but rather will get a short note or reminder – a placeholder.

Examples:

Morning meeting at office that requires something be picked up on the way into work also gets jotted in the personal planner since this is not a routine event in my before-worktime mornings.

Offsite work event that I would drive to directly from home and not meet at the office first would also go in my personal planner for that morning.

An upcoming after-hours work meeting would get an entry about working late in the personal planner on that date.

A mid-day personal appointment would absolutely be shown on both planners since it’s prime-time overlap. It gets only a cryptic note in the work planner. So, if there’s a 3:30p personal dental appointment during the working day, I would just put on my work calendar ‘out of office’ or ‘out-dental’ at that time. This serves as the appropriate placeholder for the office work and to make sure I don’t steamroll over that appointment with a meeting or something, and to make sure I inform the management of my scheduled outing.

Something work-related that falls on the weekend, which is normally my time.

Making a recipe for a covered-dish/potluck thingie for work.

I don’t need the 7:00a recycles pick-up day at home on my work planner if my work day starts at 8:30a. Whereas I might want a simple reminder on the work planner reminding me to leave on time if I’ve got a personal plan for that evening.

And the best one of all:

Scribbling OUT OF OFFICE – VACA!!!! on the work planner.

It is worth noting that this system works for me because:

When working for someone else, I don’t want to see their workstuff on my beloved personal planner. This is simply a preference. When I look back at my planners (which I love to do), all I want to see is how we’ve been living our life. The places we traveled, memories of the places we’ve lived – different states, cities and homes, the family and friends we’ve spent time with, our special occasions, and so on. These reviews are a source of personal joy.

My work planner is way more than a calendar. It is most common that any place you work is going to have a calendar on Outlook or the like. I do not aspire to recreate the Outlook work calendar in my planner. All of the attendees, details and attachments can stay right there in Outlook. My planner is to plan my work for this week, and for today. All appointments for the week are reviewed each Monday morning. I make a short note of all of them in their time slots onto the paper planner for planning purposes “conf call re: project name,” “HR benefits mtg,” or “covered-dish thingie.” Then I fill in the deadlines and due dates going on that week. From there it’s priority to-do items and getting ready for any of those conference calls or meetings (do I need to prepare something for these, do I need to read any emails or attachments for these, etc.). It is worth noting that many pieces of projects are also tracked in shared project software apps. I am deliberately and intentionally taking the extra steps to copy/rewrite into my planner the pieces I am responsible to do this week or follow up on. It does not replace the project software, it makes my pieces part of MY week’s work plan. There is no way I want to see all of this detailed work week when I am at home, on my time. Likewise, this keeps my focus clear with context clarity. I am at work, focusing on work with less distraction from seeing personal items I can’t work on right now anyway.

I plan with and review my planners often. This point cannot be emphasized enough.

This includes reviewing my personal planner in the mornings at home before I begin work, to see what I’ve got to do that morning, day and evening… trash pick-up this morning?, pay bills?, buy birthday card? Get casserole safely situated into car for the office covered-dish thingie?

Work planner review, with opposite perspective in mind:

Anything coming up tomorrow, this week, next week, that impacts my personal schedule?

This includes looking ahead:

Special upcoming work party in a few weeks and need outfit – loathe shopping, when do I want to do that?

Choose recipe for covered dish thingie at office. And so on.

Work book stays at work whenever possible

In my case, whenever possible, the work book stays at the desk.

There’s nothing personal in it so I am not missing it at home.

Likewise, I am not embarrassed if someone at office sees book contents.

Clearly there are exceptions to bring it with you – any days where you might plan to work from home, or when you absolutely must work outside of your regular hours, or travel.

Alternatively, work book can travel home if you have one of those jobs where you have to work extra a lot. You also have the option to bring it along at uncertain times, just in case, and just leave the planner in the car for the night (knowing it’s there if needed). Like, it might snow and ice tonight and they might want us to work from home tomorrow rather than coming into the office.

Personal book can do whatever doing the workday – I like bringing it along for the day, and it stays in the purse or bag, or car, if needed. Not on the desk – keeps personal info private and minimizes the off-chance it might get left behind for the day.

If you’ve got the kind of job where you can attend to your personal business while you’re at work, and if you’re not going to access your personal planner during the workday for those items, I would prefer to make a small list of those items on a sticky and tack it onto the work planner until those are done (rather than writing them into the work book). That way you’re not leaving your personal notes in the work binder permanently. You can then discard the sticky or put it back in your personal book if you want to keep it.

Other benefits to this separate books system:

If you ever leave the job and have the kind of job that will want to retain the work planner pages, you will not lose your personal info in this exchange.

You can go all out personalizing your personal planner without concern of people seeing all that when you are sitting next to them in a meeting. Or maybe your inner you favors a lot of bling and fluff on your planner and you’re not entirely comfortable with that look in the conference room.

Personal privacy.

In closing, we all know this isn’t for everyone. Some people just prefer a one-book everything. We all have our own preferences. This is my system that suits my mind nicely and I love the fact that we can all personalize our planning exactly the way we like! I am just happy to see anyone, anywhere using a planner at any time. 🙂

If you made it this far… thank you for reading!

Surprise! Good news about gappy rings (Filofax mini)

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Wait for it… my Filofax mini Bloomsbury has gappy rings – and I didn’t even know it!

Over the past few years, I recall seeing many comments and posts about ring gaps on planners, and I think it was mostly Filofax (?). I hadn’t actually had any notice of such an issue in my use of planners all of this time so I didn’t delve into the topic.

Which brings me to this particularly funny observation of now. I’ve only just swapped this very dear to me mini Bloomsbury (my tiny black book) away from being my main binder recently. Using it now for some work notes (not fully set up).  Anyway, as I was just putting some paper and inserts into the Bloomsbury and I saw it. Gappy ring!  I was like, no, that can’t be. I didn’t have any problems using this binder. Now, please note these rings are so tiny. In order to verify my finding, I had to practically hold this binder right up to my eyeball for visual zoom-in. Then I had to try and focus a camera on it – I’m not great with a camera so it wasn’t easy for me!

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So, I spent some time flipping and flicking papers back and forth over those gappy little rings and guess, what? Nothing! Just business as usual – joy! Had I not seen them, I believe I’d still be blissfully unaware of the gaps. No idea how long they’ve been there.

In conclusion, I’m super-happy to report that in this case, the gappy rings aren’t causing any issues. Maybe because it’s so small it doesn’t matter so much. I imagine things are different on different binders although I just had to spread the cheerful word that it most certainly isn’t always a bad deal. 🙂

Tangerine for 2017 (Filofax mini setup update)

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Author’s note: Omilord. This post has grown out of control. It’s long and rambly. You’ve been warned – eeek! 

So I’ve rotated my mini Filofax binder (same system, different binder)!

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filofax mini dorset – orange

This lovely little spot of sunshine is a spritely orange Dorset mini. The photo appears darker than the actual orange color. I’ve had this one probably about 4-ish years now. There are a few minis in my regular rotation, including my main mini and scrappy mini (sentimental bits and past calendar pages). So in this case, I am swapping the contents only and putting the tangerine-y Dorset into play as my main for now. Sometimes I like to rotate depending upon mood, situation, season, etc.  Please pardon my repetition, although in case someone new is reading:  It’s no secret that I will always be a one-life-many-planners kind of gal; I prefer having office work separate from my personal planner, and my personal business out of the work planner. I’m a believer in sticking with what works best with your brain and what comes most naturally to you.

I find the Dorset to be one of the nicer models ever produced by Filofax (when these were still in production). All of the Dorsets I’ve seen are a contrasting light tan shade on the interior. For exteriors, there is a black exterior, an orange, and I believe a red as well. Curious if there are others!

Upon opening, the interior left has 4 card slots – the lower of which is a slightly wider and different cut. For comparison, some of my other minis have just 2 or 3 slots in the front.

mini-dorset-interior-front-slots

This tiny Dorset has a particularly sturdy and well-placed pen loop. You will see in the photo that the pen loop rests away from the interior, and is shaped differently than most pen loops.

mini-pen-loop

The Dorset mini also has the full-width wallet-style opening across the top of the binder. This wallet pocket is part of my overall system and use of the mini in general, although I don’t use mine as an actual wallet!

My interior setup is generally the same as in prior years, so this post will be a big yawn if you’ve seen my write-up from four-ish years ago. Either way, in case it’s helpful to anyone at all, here is an updated peek inside my mini (surely there is at least one new sticky note or doodle!).

So the basically-same setup is….

Front – clear pocket which is honestly only holding sentimental bits right now, mostly a romantic and Alaska theme. This is where my husband and I got together and got married – so very many fond memories there including our favorite breakfast restaurant and any version of a snowflake!

mini-dorset-front

Monthlies – next up is the monthly sheets! One full year of months stays in the mini full-time.  A colorful paperclip divides the months already past, and takes me right to the current month. The monthly sheets are the key to ALL of my future planning. These are the only sheets that get any advance attention whatsoever. Anything at all that is coming up – next week, next month, or later – gets noted on the corresponding monthly  sheet.

This is the total overview of what is going on in my whole life. I call it the Monthly Enchilada.

These advance plans notes are very small, cryptic, and color-coded. For example, if I would be taking a flight to Phoenix on May 9 at 1:30 pm, I would just jot down “to AZ 1:30p” on that date. All of the other details I am going to get elsewhere, such as my boarding pass and eventually they will be written on the appropriate weekly page. A recurring due date every two weeks on Thursday just gets a circle around that date in the corresponding color. I know full well about this due date, and I just need a small visual reminder without all the extra details.

Every month for as long as I can remember, I tack a very small sticky on the month page of a few things that I really must do that month. This sticky can get applied as far in advance as necessary.

I tend to color a little bit on these monthlies with my silly little theme-of-the-month doodles.

mini-monthly-nov-2016

mini monthly – nov 2016

Weeklies – the weekly sheets follow directly behind the monthly sheets. These get really messy! Like so messy! Weekly planning is done as the week draws near. Everything is filtered down from the monthly calendar, as well as anything new of importance that pops up at this time. The things that merit space on the weekly pages are: those which must be done/are important, real due dates, or appointments. This keeps the focus in clear view.

mini-weekly-past-week

mini weekly

There are some things that are sort of floating for the week – I refer to these as “on my mind right now.” These get written on yellow sheet that I insert right smack in the middle of the week. It’s a simple solution that works for me. While it splits up the entire week view, I do not need to view Thursday’s block all day on Tuesday, for example, because I’ve already planned out what is the focus of today. When I need to see or write something onto the later part of the week, I just flip over the yellow pages.  Since they are yellow, it’s easy to see the line of demarcation between the rest of this week’s white pages and the yellow to-do sheets. Flip, jot, and flip back to today’s sheet! Sometimes there is overflow resulting in more than one yellow sheet.     

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weekly-with-yellow-sheet

to-do stuff on my mind right now

When the new week rolls around, I throughly review the yellow sheet(s). This is Be Serious time. I strongly consider anything that wasn’t done in the prior week. Have I changed my mind about doing this, is it no longer really important, do I need to transfer it to a long-term-maybe-someday list, etc. Having these annoying little sheets in between your weekly view definitely helps keep your perspective. The idea here is to get them off the list and not keep dragging them along. But if they must be dragged along, then the undone sheet just get slipped into the next week! 🙂

Also, I will affix tiny sticky notes to the ruler divider here with a small shopping list for a store (home store, office supply, drug store, etc.). I just grab it off the ruler and take it with me when I go to that store.

I typically only have about 4-6 weeks of weeklies in the mini. I just keep moving out the past weeks and adding in upcoming weeks.

All of this activity in your planner keeps you in touch with your planner. It is a manual, tactile and tangible system that requires ongoing input and processing. The writing and reviewing is good for the mind, stress levels and focus.

Sections/tabs – after the weeklies, there are a few tabs (all blank tabs).

The first tab has a LOT (so messy!).  Topics behind this tab are separated by sheets of colored paper for easier reference – I don’t find it necessary to use tabs for these tiny little sections. Lists of to-do’s and things to research or figure out, business goals, a list of bills for the month (a simple cross-out as they get paid), a list of the annual recurring charges (Amazon Prime, anyone??). Currently about 21 sheets behind this tab plus quite a few sticky notes (did I say messy?) and some blank paper.

Next tab – the happy place! Life goals, areas of focus, inspirational thoughts, creative thoughts, notes about family and friends, enjoyable stuff. The same old drawing from the tag on some handmade knit gloves remains as the first sheet for this section. Currently about 9 pages plus a few small love notes, and some blank sheets.

mini-inspiration-and-creativity-tab

love | life | happy tab section

The last tab is info. A few phone numbers and addresses for immediate family and closest friends. Some important numbers like car repair shop, directions to a few places I visit infrequently, and a very few notes of things like HVAC filter size, account numbers and telephone numbers for my bank. Pages of password clues for the zillions of logins. Stuff like that. Currently about 10-ish sheets.

Full-length wallet-top – the wallet section doesn’t get too stuffed, it’s usually got receipts if something must be returned to the store and sometimes a nice photo of a friend or family member. Basically it’s stuff that isn’t included in the ring binder.

mini-top-wallet-view

full-length wallet top

I think that just about says it all. No exciting changes here really except for the binder swap. I use a very similar system in my work planner. Once you get the planner groove that works for you, it is likely you can apply it to other planners you might be using (such as if you run one for home and one for work).

Thank you for reading and best wishes to you and yours for a Happy New Year! 🙂

Tips for using a mini Filofax tiny planner

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I love, love, love my tiny mini Filofax planner. It makes me smile as well as anyone who sees it!

Here are a few ideas if you are trying to downsize into a mini (these might even help folks who are aiming for the pocket size, too!).

Sticky notes – if you are a user of sticky notes (I’m an avid user), there are two sizes that work very well in a mini right out of the box. One is the super-cute, square 2″ x 2″ and  the other is the 1.5″ x 2″ size (which I refer to as the pat-of-butter format, especially because I favor the light yellow ones). Another option is to slightly trim down the larger square 3″ x 3″ size. They will fit the height of the page (up and down) as is, although they will hang off the side of the page if you don’t trim them down.

Writing – it really makes a difference if you use fine-point pens or pencils. I have excellent results with fine ball points, although I make equal use of fine mechanical pencils, Sharpie fine pens, and Le Pens.

Sheets – there are 20-ish lines on a Filofax-branded mini sheet. Update: Our vanilla folders note sheets we started making after I wrote this post are about 18-ish (we chose slightly larger line spacing). Some packets might have another line at the bottom, depending on where the paper was cut. So, 18 to 20-ish lines plus the empty space at the top margin.  Sometimes when I am making long lists or writing from my stream of thought, I remove the sheets from the mini and just write on the page. This makes the paper feel much larger!  I also keep a packet or stack of the empty sheets nearby in case I just need to grab one from there to start writing. Sadly, I don’t believe there are any Filofax notepads in this size. Update: we make the notepads now at vanilla folders, so no one is sad and everyone is happy.

Abbreviate – I can be really OCD about writing things out but oddly I have over the years come up with some abbreviations that stuck with me and I like them. Some are silly and some are just utilitarian. I like to jot, say, “hair 11a” on the day I have a haircut at 11:00a. An old boss of mine liked to use “HC” for his haircut appointments in his pocket-friendly planner.  I also have a 2-4 letter code for all names of my bills or banks. Other codes I use frequently: “can” (cancel), “mtg” (meeting), “cc” (credit card), “dc” (debit card), “reg’n” (registration) and “wkg” (working).

Further to abbreviating, think about what details you really need to include – are you writing down extra info that you really already know in your head? If it’s redundant, keep it as short as it can be to remain useful.

Hacks – Some talented folk have gone so far as to make card holders for their mini Filofax planners. Even if you don’t use yours as a wallet, you might want a card holder insert for bits and bobs or stamps!  Check out this tutorial from Jamie, one of those clever crafty souls who has been kind enough to make a guide for others.

Insert a sheet for overflow – if you are needing to squeeze in a little more info in your week or month, you can always stick another sheet in there. It’s funny how on a larger size planner that doesn’t appeal to me, but it is completely perfect to me in my mini. I think it’s because I know I am only putting what I truly need in my mini, and so it’s worth putting the extra sheets in if they have earned their place.

Routine review and cull –  If you’re tight on space, look carefully at what you are toting around with you in that tiny planner! A mini Filofax is not a file-it-and-forget-it system. Some items worth keeping might be kept at home, maybe they’ve become not-necessary at this moment but will again, or maybe they’ve fallen out of date or use right now. I keep a ‘scrappy mini’ (very scrappy) in my room where I love to keep an overflow of past items that bring me joy to see but are not part of my current planning. I actually keep lots of my old sheets and ticket-stub-type things although I don’t keep them in my main mini.

Rotate and refill – Add and remove upcoming weekly or daily calendar pages instead of trying to put them all in the mini. Philofaxy had a post about an on-deck binder to record more advance items on sheets that are not ready to move into your main planner yet. You could also record them as a note or sticky at the end of your current calendar sheets and make the transfer when you rotate in your new sheets.

Transferring to smaller binders – When moving down in binder size, if you have something that is just too large for your new smaller planner, consider using a color copier to reduce the image and then trim it down to size. You can do this with handwritten lists (instead of rewriting), photos, sticky notes, and possibly even some calendar sheets if you can hole-punch them. I had several items I wanted to squish into my mini (a sticker of the state of Alaska, a mall photo booth printout, handwritten sentimental notes, etc.) and was able to assemble several items onto the copier glass, then reduce them down to color copy onto one sheet of paper, which I then cut out for my tiny planner.

Mine is not a super-cute planner with photo-worthy, beautifully decorated pages, yet my planner is super-cute to me. It’s quite messy sometimes yet as long as I can read and understand everything in there, then it’s doing its job. If I write something in once, I have to leave that note in tact; if I rewrite it again elsewhere just to make it neater it will lose the original impact it had in my mind. Strange, I know! But it’s a helpful observation.

Using the size planner that works for you is clearly the most important factor in choosing your format. If for any reason you’ve decided to downsize there will be an adjustment period. Happily though, there will be a day when your eyes see the planner size in a new light. At first, against the stark contrast of your larger binders it can certainly seem a stretch. Although once I cast a critical eye to my larger binder pages and realized that my content was not filling up the pages inside it was the push I needed to give the smaller format a go.  The reward was a delightfully small compact planner that is easy to keep with me and doesn’t weigh down my purse or travel bag (and always makes me smile!).

I hope you find something helpful in all that tiny planner enabling. 🙂

Thank you for reading!