This isn’t the home for the great Filofax debate but it is a place where the merits of this personal organisation system can be discussed. It has been in existence since 1921 and many of its advocates will tell you it’s better for organising your life than a computer or any regular diary. Held in such high esteem by so many it’s definitely worth taking a look at whether the humble Filofax is the perfect tool for the busy work at home mum or dad. We’ll start from the beginning and provide all the information you need to choose and use your first Filofax.

a range of filofax organisers with different covers

Choosing a Filofax

The advocates of Filofax will tell you these are the top reasons for purchasing:

  1. No risk of crashing like a computer or smartphone
  2. Instantaneously add things without having to wait for documents or diaries to load
  3. Organise in many different ways
  4. Personalise to reflect your individual style/the way your brain works.

There are a range of different Filofaxes on the market. There are five standard sizes: Mini, Pocket, Personal, A5 and A4. The Mini is the smallest and fits pages of just 67mm x 105mm and is useful for slipping into a handbag or using on the go. It has five rings for papers to be clipped onto. The Pocket Filofax has six rings and has a larger paper size of 81mm x 120mm and compact again like the Mini, ideal for using when out and about. Many Filofax fans suggest owning a Mini or Pocket for keeping just important appointment dates and to-do lists, essential for busy working parents. A page from the Pocket also fits easily into the Personal so pages can be moved when needed.

The Personal Filofax is the regular size that most people will recognise. It has its trademark two sets of three rings and it holds paper of a size of 95mm x 171mm. As the most popular choice the Personal Filofax has the widest range of different paper and diary refills available. The Personal Filofax is the recommended choice for first timers!

The A5 Filofax is less popular than the Personal despite its handy size. It holds 148mm x 210mm paper and is often used as a desktop organiser rather than one carried around. It’s a great choice for having in the home office alongside all your other necessary bits and bobs. The standard paper size of the A5 means you can do your own printouts too, once you’re into the swing of things.

The final Filofax size is by far the largest. The A4 Filofax has just four rings at 80mm spacing and is once again a popular choice for keeping at home as a desktop organiser.

Choosing your Diary Format

There is no right diary format, although different Filofax users will tell you otherwise. There are many different types of diary format which suit different users and the most popular formats include:

  • Day per page
  • Week per page
  • Week on two pages (or week per view)
  • Month on or two pages

Some of these diary format inserts are only available for certain types of Filofax and there are others available, especially if you choose to print your own.

Once you’ve chosen your diary format it’s time to think about the additional extras. Many Filofax users opt to create their own colour coding systems and may use different coloured pens, post-its or even additional pages such as maps. Some users use different types of stickers as markers or as part of the organisation system – once you start you’ll be able to see which work best for your needs.

How to use your Filofax

Setting out some basic guidelines for using your Filofax will help you keep it up and ensure it becomes the valuable organisational tool you need. Below are some steadfast rules to keep in mind.

Your One and Only

Put away all other notebooks, diaries and organisational tools, including Google calendar. When you’re putting together your Filofax you want to rely on the singular system and nothing else – multiple systems will dilute the effectiveness.

Include Every Appointment

Ensure your Filofax diary section includes every appointment you have to remember and those of other people that matter, such as dates and times your childminder is unavailable or when Grandma is having the kids. Your Filofax can manage your whole life, not just your work.

Check Every Day

Get into the habit of checking your Filofax diary every day. Look ahead over the week coming and ensure you have every date secured and organised in your mind. You’ll soon see your productivity increase. Look out for events which have been cancelled or changed so you don’t end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Keep a Task List

Have a task list page or pages in your Filofax. Keep them separate from the diary and if possible you should always keep individual tasks away from the diary section, unless they are particular to an individual day. Your Task List should include a list of all the tasks you have live and their deadline dates, even if these are dates set yourself and not by a client. Highlight and mark urgent or must-do tasks on a daily basis and ensure completed tasks are satisfyingly ticked off.

Note it down immediately

Key to the success of your Filofax is having it to hand and ensuring you note things down in the right section immediately. This means if you arrange a meeting with someone you put it in your diary as soon as it’s confirmed or if you have a new job it gets added immediately to your task list. This system also means you can check your diary before agreeing to anything and you should always make sure you check. Put your trust in your Filofax.

Don’t Forget your Notes Section

The notes section is integral to the success of your Filofax. It can be filled with just blank papers and is needed so you can note things down which don’t fit in your diary or task list sections. Keeping them separate avoids confusion but means you always have a space for those additional bits of information which are sometimes key to the success of a project or understanding the diary entry you’ve made.

The Filofax Holy Trinity

Your notes, task list and diary sections truly are the core elements of your organiser. Everything you need can be stored in these three parts. Additional sections such as addresses or finances can be added in but they’re purely extras. Within the three core areas you can have sub categories and additional sections but with these three key sections kept in good order you’ll be ready to go.

Make use of Markers

Dividers can help ensure your core sections are kept separate and any sub categories can be marked out with tab stickers or mini post-its. You should also have an easily movable today divider so you can always keep on top of your daily lists, whatever maybe on the cards.

Above all else your Filofax must be with you at all times. The system won’t work if you simply neglect to take it out one day as it should become like another limb. The longer you carry out the above practices the sooner it will become routine and you’ll soon realise you really can’t live without your Filofax.

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