Lessons in Filofax Fidelity: Accepting that You Can't Fit it All

Welcome to post two in the Lessons in Filofax Fidelity series. In case you're just joining, I put out a Call for Questions a while back, and have completed the first lesson on Finding Your Own Perfect. This post will certainly be a lot shorter than the previous one, hopefully allowing you all to stay engaged without boring you to death.

This time around, I'm covering a topic that I received a TON of questions on. Before I even give you the questions, here is my answer: you need to accept that you can't fit it all.

Somewhere along the line, I confused you all. While I certainly only have one planner, it does not by any means mean that I only have one system, or one capture device. My one planner in one binder is just that- a planner. I am not Mary Poppins with a never-ending Filofax (although how friggen cool would that be).

Because I somehow confused you all, I received several questions like this: Do you do your project planning in the one book too? Even really big projects? How do you archive it? How do you deal with lots of writing on tiny pages? How do you organize notes?

The solution is simple- it just doesn't work to have it all in one planner. While I am fully on the one-planner bandwagon, I have also fully accepted that I need multiple systems to make my life work. While my day to day tasks and quick notes live in my planner, there is no way that I could effectively fit project notes for my work and personal lives. Trust me, I've tried.

This is where it goes back to the previous lesson- stop trying to conform to what you think you should use your planner for, and use it for what works for you!

While I still have a general binder setup video to get you, I figured I'd share with you all some of the items that are NOT in my planner. Some of these have honestly taken me a while to figure out, so maybe I'll be able to save you some time and stress! Here is a rundown of the top three items NOT in my planner that you've all asked about.


This one seemed pretty straightforward, but a few of you asked how to handle confidential information. While I know that there are several ways to do this, I've landed on one that works for me- a blend of paper and digital. I carry a few of the websites and passwords I may need with me when I'm out and about, but the rest stay at home. I used to use an Android app that stored them all in a locked file, but haven't transferred it over when I got the iPhone. Long story short- only carry what you need with you, especially when it is sensitive information. Keep the rest either in a locked computer file, or written down in a lock box.

Grocery Shopping/Lists

Oddly enough, the whole buying food process took me a while to get the hang of. After a crazy schedule in college, I really had trouble figuring out how to shop effectively so that I was eating healthy, saving money, and not going days with an empty fridge. While my Filofax plays an important role in the process, I also use other systems. Our grocery store ads come on Tuesdays, so I usually spend Tuesday evening going through the store ads to see where we'll shop that week. I'm way to lazy to hit up multiple stores, so we usually just go with whichever one seems to have the best overall deals.

From there, I start the meal planning. I used to just do this on a piece of scrap paper, but a friend of mine got me these nifty little sheets for Christmas- I believe she said they were from Anthropologie. I create our meals based on both our work schedules, what is on sale, and any cravings we have. Once I have a rough idea, I block out the days on the sheets, which have a magnet on the back to stick on the fridge. 

Once I know what we're eating, it is pretty simple to just write down exactly what we'll need to buy, aka the grocery list. This is where the Filofax comes in- now that I've got the Franklin Covey 2PPD, I've found it way easier to just write grocery lists right on the notes page of the day we'll be shopping. It makes it super easy to just add things that I think of when I'm out and about. 

Because our schedules frequently change regardless of meal planning, I never write the meals in on the days in my planner, instead I use the daily pages to track what we had after the fact. But since the menu sheets stay on my fridge, I've started adding a small Post-it with the week's meals on the today marker in my binder so I always know what we're eating when, just in case I need to stop at the store for extra ingredients on my way home or remember to take something out of the freezer to defrost.

This system isn't fancy, but it has definitely helped me to save money, eat healthier, and waste less. Plus, it has saved me from coming home to find the chicken breast I needed for tonight's dinner still in the freezer on more than one occasion!


I think that issues in dealing with projects was the number one question I received. So I'll reiterate - one binder cannot do it all! If you choose to have multiple binders for multiple projects, more power to you. But since I simply can't justify the cost in my life right now, I've found a system that works for me in both my work and personal lives: a legal pad and manilla folders. 

Yep, I told you it was simple! Instead of trying to fit project notes on tiny Filofax pages and worrying about how to archive old projects, I decided to stop fretting and do what worked best. 

For both work and personal projects, I use a system of old-fashioned file folders. Each new project that comes up gets its own labeled folder. This works far better for me, as I don't need to worry about how to fit handouts and other larger information into my binder- these papers just get filed in the associated project's folder. 

I've been trying to use bound notebooks at work for years- it is only in the past year or so that I've figured out that bound notebooks just don't work for me. I have trouble organizing the notes, and get frustrated carrying multiple projects in one place. Instead, I now use a perforated legal pad- I simply take any notes relating to a certain project on the page, tear out, and file it away in the associated project folder. Then I have a blank page for whatever note comes next, even if it is for a different project.

Again, it is simple, and not wrapped in beautiful leather, but it works. I have a ton of projects for work, so it just doesn't make sense to try and cram them all in my Filo. When I have a project-related meeting, all I have to do is grab the project folder, the legal pad, and a pen and I'm set to go. Of course, the Filofax always comes for scheduling purposes. And once a project is completed, I just file the folder containing all notes and documents in my drawer. Since using this system, I've found it far easier to access old notes and documents, all the while keeping my Filofax a bit less pudgy.

Of course, the Filofax plays a huge role in the planning process, even if Mr. Malden doesn't carry all the project notes. All scheduling is done in the Filofax, and I always make sure to put in any time-based tasks or deadlines. For running projects like this blog, I keep a single note sheet where I jot down post ideas. I also have an annual goals list tucked in the back, and I list my monthly goals on my monthly calendar pages. But outside of that, projects stay separate. 

The one exception I made to this rule was during my wedding planning. While I did have a wedding planning book, it was massive- causing me to create a small wedding section in the Filofax. I used top tabs to keep track of things like ceremony, food, venues, honeymoon, gifts, etc. Each tab was just stuck onto a blank page which acted as a sort of dashboard for notes, business cards, confirmation notices, etc. After the wedding, I just archived the section along with my 2012 calendar. Done and done.

Well, speaking of done, I think this about wraps up this little lesson. I guess it wasn't as short as I was hoping for, but hopefully this cleared up the misconception that I was a one-binder wonder woman. I'm a one-Filofax girl is all!

Did my explanation of these systems make sense? Do you have any questions on how I use them? Or any systems of your own you'd like to share? You know I'm an over-sharer... feel free to join in!

Next up will be a video tour of my current set up, and then I think we'll call this little series a wrap!

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