Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lessons in Filofax Fidelity: Finding Your Own "Perfect"

Wow. I never thought that when I put out a little call for questions on Filofax fidelity that I'd get such a response! I must admit I was a bit nervous at first- after all, this is just my opinion/system! But, if even one part of it helps one of you, then it's all worth it.

I am breaking up these "lessons" into several posts, so if you don't see your question answered here please don't worry- I will get to it! I just wanted to try and make it as simple and organized as possible. Big shocker there.

For day one, I want to answer some of your questions and offer my own insight on what I've decided to call Finding Your Own "Perfect." Although I almost titled it "Stop trying to be everyone else and do your own planner thang." I figured that might be a bit long...

Speaking of finding your own perfect, here is my little disclaimer. I am NOT writing this post from my high horse of planner perfection. My planner is not perfect, nor am I. But, my planner is perfect for ME, which in the end is all that matters. If something I share here works for you, wonderful. If not, I'm sorry for the mini novel you're about to read.

I think one of the biggest problems we face when trying to perfect our planner systems is that, with the growing list of planner/Filofax blogs, we have someone to compare ourselves to. Don't get me wrong, I blog planners and am on Philofaxy daily- I LOVE looking at other people's set ups and planner systems. But with more glimpses into the Filofaxes of others, we suddenly realize how imperfect our own systems are. Which makes me laugh.

I laugh, because it is a ridiculous and never ending circle. You see, some of the planners that I envy most are owned by people who comment on my blog saying how jealous they are that I have such a functional system down pat. See the irony?

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, people.

Plus, since the photos you see on blogs are being shared by the people who own them, chances are they aren't going to chose to show the messier aspects of their planner. I am guilty of this as well. So while you may typically see nicely written lists and appointments on the calendar pages I share, there are other days that look more like this:


Yes, that is an appointment that was moved to a later time, then canceled all together. And because I was too lazy to find white out, I resorted to arrows and lines.

My planner is lived in, and it is messy, and that works for me. Planning is just that- planning. Plans change, things get moved and canceled, and my planner reflects that.

On a side note, although I've done posts about my set up, many people still asked specifics, so I will be doing a whole separate video post sharing my set up (as soon as I get over camera fright).

Another theme of questions that have popped up frequently deal with the idea of only having one binder. How do you achieve that "buzz" of setting up a new planner? What if you change handbags? How do you resist buying new binders, especially with all the enabling?

All of these questions, for me, boil down to a few things. For one, I am a sentimental freak. You have been reading posts from someone who quite literally had a pet brick as a child that I dragged around on a chain. I become very attached to inanimate objects (told you I was odd). So the idea of having that 20 year old beat up planner that hasn't left my side is my dream. Which is funny, because it seems to be the dream of so many others, even though they change binders every other month. I bought my Malden, fell in love, and that was it.

Another reason for my fidelity is a lack of disposable income. Fortunately that aspect of my life is changing, but as someone who put herself through college on her own and just paid for a wedding, I simply don't have the money to spend on additional binders. Try putting yourself on a Filofax budget- see if it helps. We see so many other systems, which at the time may look better than what we are using. What we need to attempt to do is to turn off that little switch in our brain that goes from "admiring" to "buying." It is just fine to admire, and even envy, the systems of others. But even if that exact set up were yours, it wouldn't look or be the same. That's just the way it is.

And of course I love setting up a new binder- it's one of my favorite parts of the new year. But more than anything, I get a buzz out of using my planner on a daily basis- filling out what I plan to do and what I've done, crossing off to do lists, and adding stickers, daily mementos, etc. You shouldn't have to get a whole new planner just to get planner buzz. Enjoy the daily process.

Some questions go a bit more in depth, from the superficial look of binders to the system itself. How do you resist the angst in wondering if another planner might better suit your needs? How do you cope with the page size difference between your Franklin Covey and Filofax inserts? How do you write without being bothered by the rings? Your work schedule changes- do you buy a new insert? Do you change calendar inserts as life changes?

I constantly wonder if other planners would work better for me. I am not immune to the enabling, I just do my best to ignore it. The Holborn has been one of my biggest challenges- I keep looking and wondering if the pocket layout would be better for me since I also use my Filo as a wallet. Analyze what you need, what you want, and what you already have. Is it really worth it to spend all the extra money if the only change is a pocket or two?

The page size difference is probably the question I get the most. You'll see more in the set up video, but my planner is virtually split into two different sections with two different page sizes: my diary section with wider Franklin Covey pages, and everything else which is standard Filofax pages.


Did it drive me nuts for a while? Absolutely. But it works for me. It is my personal perfection. I get my ideal diary layout on the FC pages, but I can still fit my pen in and keep all my existing notes because I keep narrower pages in the front. I deal with the OCD impulses, because it just works.

Of course I'm bothered by the rings. I think that is one of the biggest complaints about binders.We want more space, but tiny rings. I deal with it because, again, the system works for me. My current diary pages work well because the only space the rings really affect is the appointment slots, which are the least used on my pages. But if I have to write a lot, I simply remove the page and fill it in, then put it back. Those rings that get in your way? They also allow you the flexibility to remove, readjust, and work as necessary.

Finally, of course my life changes. It gets more busy, less busy, a wedding or a job promotion happens- life is a constant ebb and flow. I have changed diary pages three times- once each new year that I have had a Filofax. While other people may have their OCD nerve twinge at the thought of using two different page sizes, mine twinges at the thought of changing a calendar mid year.

When life picked up for me last year (a job promotion and wedding planning) I was using the Franklin Covey DPP inserts. Of course with all of that going on I needed more space. But since I didn't want to start a whole new insert mid year, I settled. I added blank pages between days when I needed to, added post-its and clipped in pages. I even added a whole separate wedding section that contained all non-day based notes and details.

This year, between another promotion and life in general, I decided to jump up to the FC 2PPD inserts. It has been working very well with my busy days, but if life slows down, I'll still keep them. For me, needing more space is a bigger concern than having too much. I can always fill in a note page with other details.

Any of you still there? I apologize for the length of this post- perhaps I should have split it in two. But it appeared that this info all worked together quite well. Although not short, I hope it was clear enough to understand. Of course, please leave additional questions in the comments if I've been unclear.

As promised, I'll be back soon with a video of my set up (my first video)! I'm hoping that a video will give a more clear understanding of my set up than photos/text. I also already have a post in the works on everything not kept in my planner- I think people are somehow under the impression that I'm Mary Poppins and keep it all in one place. That is definitely not true, so please do come back and read more!


10 comments:

  1. this was a great post J!!!!

    you are absolutely right...you have to do what works for YOU. It took me two different personal FF to realize that an A5 works for ME. No matter how cute and compact and small...no matter all the lovely accessories, personal size just NEVER works. I write too large and needed way more space.

    PS I totally would've went with "Stop trying to be everyone else and do your own planner thang."

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    1. Yay! I'm glad to hear that you went with what works for you!

      And hmmmm, maybe I should re-title this post...

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  2. Absolutely love your post. So true. After one year of using filofax, I have reached nirvana that the binder doesn't make a damn difference. What does make the difference is how effectively I use my planner in it. Me too - would have gone with "Stop trying to be everyone else....."

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    1. Awe, thanks! And yes, it is really actually using the darn thing that is the key!

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  3. I think another key point you mentioned was that instead of abandoning your planner when it isn't working, try hard to make it work! Switching to another planner entirely won't necessarily fix the problem. Instead try to figure out how you can modify your current system to make it work. Like when you added the second page rather than buying new inserts.

    Thanks for this post. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    Kels - I know I really need to switch to the A5 size but I can't bring myself to do it. The Personal/Compact is too small but I hate carrying around the A5. If it wasn't for the carrying around part, I wouldn't hesitate. I don't mind using it at home but I hate putting it in my purse (it does fit, though).

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    1. Exactly! We are all way too prone to having our systems not work temporarily, then see someone with a different system that we suddenly have to have... definitely not the answer!

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  4. I spent a year trying to find the perfect binder. When I finally found it, I realized (light bulb moment) that the actual planner pages are MUCH more important. Sad as I am to leave filofax (and especially my lovely bright red Winchester) I find the Franklin Covey compact inserts in a Franklin planner binder just works better for me; more ring space, better pockets and pen loops, and a MUCH better insert design that really works beautifully. I also know that during certain periods of the year I really don't need 2PPD, but when I need the 2 pages I REALLY need them and it that need tends to sneak up on me, so I intend to just stick with the 2PPD anyway.

    HomeMakersDaily is right; a lot of this has to do with making the setup you have work rather than trying to find the "perfect" setup. I've found that with a looseleaf binder I can make even a totally inadequate planner setup "limp" along through filing extra blank pages where needed.

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    1. Yep, it does seem that the pages are far more important! And I agree about the 2PPD- there are times that I don't need them, but I'd rather have the space!

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  5. LOVED this! Definitely coming back with my Filofax in hand (it's currently upstairs and I was too lazy to grab it) for taking notes!!! :)

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    1. Awe! Thanks, Carla! Glad you stopped over- hope some of the suggestions can help you out!

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