Here is a fantastic guest from Marcus, who wants to show us how 2 filofaxes used simultaneously works perfectly for him!
MY TWO FILOFAX SYSTEM
As an Army officer I am, apparently, one of the original target market for Filofax. I have been a committed 'user' since being an Infantry Platoon Commander in 1996. I don't remember the model of the binder I had at the time, but it was Personal Size with 2 sets of rings (duplex?) and 2 heavy duty press studs. In a time of limited computer use at Battalion level, this served me well for many years. This was also a time when more Filofax inserts were available. I actually had and used many that were available, including the likes of the 'Soldier Record Cards' to keep details of all my troops under command. As an Infantry Company Commander, I now have have over 190 troops under command, more responsibility, a much faster pace of life and the curse of Email. my organisation system has therefore evolved considerably.
Anyway, scene setting – onto what works for me. My system consists of 2 Filofaxes, an A5 and a Pocket. Currently, both are Kendals, although the A5 was a City until recently. It had to be retired after 8 years of hard service (including two tours of Afghanistan!) and it now reclines on the bookshelf in my office looking after all my spare inserts. The Pocket Size is my analogue PDA and has been with me for 5 years now, hence the colour difference in the photo below.
The A5 Filofax
This is primarily my work Filofax. During the working day, I will have this to hand in the office, or in my daysack when I am out and about. It provides me with room to scribble and therefore think. The best thing about A5 size, is the ease with which I can print, punch and file documents. Whilst this is also possible in personal size, every page requires trimming, which can be a pain. In the Filofax I have the following:
ñ Blank Notepaper – My 'Inbox' and capture tool when at my desk. I use standard (non Filofax) quadrille paper which I punch to fit.
ñ Actions, Projects, Waiting and Agenda tabs. These are based on GTD and are mostly extracted from the DIY Planner kits. It is also the most worked part of the Filofax and I can quite easily fill (but also cross off) 2 sides of 'Next Actions' for the office in one day. This is also where I keep track of tasks that I have delegated to my Platoon Commanders. Personally, I find pure GTD too detailed, meaning I spend more time scouring my lists of next actions than actually doing stuff. I have settled somewhere between the minutiae and the big picture which seems to work for me. (I can expand on my system in a later conversation if anyone is really interested).
ñ A Reference Tab (although I called it Info), which has further tabs behind, dividing up information along Military Staff Functional Areas. This is the information I need to hand most days, either in the office, or in meetings, but probably not in between.
ñ Towards the back are the ubiquitous card holders, along with a zip wallet containing my passport and various other paperwork.
ñ Finally, right at the back, in the pocket designed for the Filofax Notepad, I keep a Moleskine Cahier for taking notes that I need to keep. These will either be meeting notes, or the regular download from the notes section in either the A5 or the pocket. I find that I am less 'prissy' about cahiers than the posh notebooks, so am more likely to use it. I also find that when using squared notebooks, you can rotate it 90 degrees and have almost an A4 / letter sized page if you need yet more space to think.
The Pocket Filofax
This goes everywhere with me and is the core of my planning function. Although it is not truly 'Pocket' sized, my uniform has cargo pockets on the legs, which are designed for carrying notebooks and maps. Out of uniform, I tend to wear cargo shorts in the summer and a jacket in the winter. Carrying the Pocket Filofax is therefore not an issue. Because I always have it with me, I always have somewhere to jot notes, or information I need to hand. In it I have the following:
ñ Blank notepaper, for jotting general information and capturing ideas.
ñ Actions, Projects, Waiting and Agenda tabs, as per GTD. These are mainly for personal projects and tasks and although a duplicate of the system in the A5, the contents are different.
ñ A Reference Tab which has information I need to refer to regularly (my Company Nominal Roll, Battalion Telephone List etc). These are shrunk and punched to fit.
ñ A home made month on one page calendar (inspired by the templates on Philofaxy)
ñ A Filofax standard week on 2 pages diary.
ñ The standard card holders, containing stamps and post-it page flags.
ñ A clear slip envelope for receipts with a number of Post-It style sticky notes.
With a few useful tips, tricks and hacks, the pocket Filofax is almost enough to run my life, albeit in miniature. During my most recent 7 months in Afghanistan I found that I very rarely used my A5. Because the IT system was classified SECRET, printing and punching documents was avoided. Therefore my pocket Kendal, a Moleskine Pocket Notebook and access to the IT system, were all I really needed and helped me reduce the 'combat' load when travelling. For those of you thinking about using a Pocket Filofax,or struggling with one now, the following may help you get round the size issue:
Don't try to carry too much: Rather than carry a whole year's worth of diary, carry a few months of week to view, and the rest on month per page. You can still make a note of appointments far in the future, but carry a lot less bulk. If you use day per page, again, carry 2 weeks worth of DPP, a couple of months of 2DPP and the rest on month per page.
Carry an extra pen: Obtain a Filofax Flex slim pen holder insert. Trim the top and bottom, so the pen loop is central and punch to fit. Voila!
Handwriting: I use a 0.1 mm black ink drawing pen to write, along with pencil for the diary. When taking notes, small handwriting is still neat and tasks can generally fit onto one line of a Pocket sized page.
Make things stand out: Being slightly cramped, in pocket size, sometimes your writing can look a bit jumbled. Go over completed tasks with a blue highlighter. Your incomplete tasks will be far more obvious than trying to identify tasks without a line through them. Use Post-It style page flags to highlight important stuff. Write on the flag and put it wherever you need to. (I use them to highlight important dates or tasks).
Diary Size: To prevent the diary from being too cluttered, using pencil means that you can erase and rewrite, which takes up less room than scribbling out and writing a second time. I also use Post it flags to alert me to impending important events that may get lost. When things get really busy however, I may print out a week's worth of 2DPP and insert it where required, giving me more space. This format is available free from Philofaxy, making it ideal to to mix and match at no extra cost.
Daily Overview: To enable me to concentrate on the day itself, I cut a single page of Pocket Sized paper in half and annotate the day's appointments on one side with key tasks on the other. Again, if things are really busy, a full page is more than enough. Following a recent idea by Ray Blake of My Life All in One Place however, I am tempted to hack his handy tasks tab with times down one side and use it instead of the today marker.
Over the years, this system has served me well. During the last 18 months however, It has been tested to its limits. It is during this time that I have experimented the most in order to try and improve it and I think that this has helped me get the most out of the system. I think that everyone's Filofax needs are different, both from person to person and from month to month. It is OK to change up and down sizes, or use different inserts as your needs see fit. I often wish that Filofax would take a look at Apple and realise that the App Store brings in most of their money. Filofax inserts could be analogue Apps. In the meantime however, I am glad for the likes of Ray Blake of My Life All in One Place, Steve Morton of Philofaxy and the folks at DIY Planner to help fill a need and provide some inspiration. Thank you for reading.