Filofax #atozchallenge

Today, we’re going to talk about personal organizers. Before we begin, though, I want to point out that I never used one.

The typical business person has a lot of things to remember:

  • appointments
  • phone numbers and addresses
  • to-do lists
  • reminders
  • meeting notes
  • travel arrangements
  • call logs
  • upcoming events (i.e. calendar)
  • other odds and ends

Some people who are far more organized than I am would like to see this stuff all in one place. Nowadays, that place is on your phone; before that, you’d keep it all on your computer, and before then you’d have a calendar, an appointment book, an address book, various folders and/or a notebook, depending on what you wanted to keep track of and how much detail you wanted to keep. I worked for a company that used to give away a pretty nice planning calendar every year, with day blocks big enough to keep my upcoming schedule and reminders, and I’d use that. When they stopped giving them to employees, I’d use a calendar that I picked up at church around New Year’s. Not quite as much room in those, but I’d make do. For other notes and whatnot, I’d carry a steno pad (sometimes several) in my briefcase, and manila folders to catch things like travel itineraries, receipts, WYWO’s (“While You Were Out” messages), and other loose papers.

People who were really organized would use a personal organizer, where they could keep all that stuff together in one place. There were all kinds of commercial solutions, including Day-Timer, FranklinCovey, Day Runner, At-A-Glance, and Filofax, which might be the oldest of the bunch. They’re essentially loose-leaf binders with many different forms, like calendars, diary pages, address book pages, maybe an insert for business cards and envelope pages to catch the random papers, note pages… in short, pretty much any type of form you might want to have to help you organize your life and keep track of what you’ve been doing all day. For people who organize their lives the way the forms are drawn, it’s great, provided you actually use the thing. If not, it’s just an expensive waste of paper.

Filofax’s Metropol Pocket Organizer Red 2019 (Source)

Every now and again, I’d get a bee in my bonnet that I wanted to choose one of the systems and use it, come hell or high water. And I’d actually look at some of them and get frustrated. Either there was too much room for something or not enough, or there wasn’t a place to put certain types of notes, or I’d find an objection to the way the forms were designed, and say “screw this noise” and go back to what I was doing. I never thought of just buying myself a blank notebook and designing my own stuff, or, if I did, I’d talk myself out of it, thinking it was too much work and thus not worth my time and effort.

Now, of course, I’m retired and have no need of a planner. It’s a shame, too, because I think the Bullet Journal (to the hip, “BuJo”) is just what would have done the trick for me. The beauty of the BuJo is that it’s free-form: you can set it up anyway your little heart desires and change how you use it almost at will, because all it uses is a blank notebook (Moleskines are, of course, highly recommended), a pen (or 50, all in different colors and thicknesses), and your imagination. There are, of course, Bullet Journal Gurus who want to dictate how you use it (“Thou must use an asterisk for tasks that require further planning!”), but it’s your thing, and you can use it however you want to, and screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.

And Evernote… Wish I had that back in the day. I could have really used that forty years ago…

42 thoughts on “Filofax #atozchallenge

    1. I’ve played with Trello and think it’s good. It’s very much like a Kanban board (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board), a great thing to have if you’re managing multiple projects and project teams. I’m pretty much it, though, so it’s a bit of an atomic screwdriver.

      There are probably as many ways to organize oneself as there are people, and the trick is to find the way that works best for you and your situation. It’s an evolutionary process with no real endpoint…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I tried using the computer or my IPad to organize everything and it just didn’t work. I love my calendars from the wall mounted one to the weekly one I have on my desk. I have a file cabinet and another organizer and that works best for me. I think, in this day and age, whatever works for each person is the way to go.

    Like

  2. LOL! I’m the same way – currently using a notebook that I converted into a make-shift BuJo that doesn’t work for me, too much work, and I’m still keeping things in my head and the free calendar that came in the mail from the Alzheimer’s Association that I forget to write things in. Happy Saturday and great take on the letter “F” for the challenge!

    Like

    1. I had a laugh when you said that you keep forgetting to note things on your Alzheimer’s Association calendar (not that there’s anything funny about Alzheimer’s). I kept a lot of things in my head until I realized I can’t rely on my head to remember anything and had to write things down. Like Einstein said, if I have it written down, I don’t have to remember it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL – glad you laughed, it is funny that I use that calendar to keep track of things I can’t remember. Einstein was wise – I need to embrace that idea, too!

        Like

  3. I’ve used over my last 40 years – probably all the systems you mentioned – with the last system being the bullet journal. In fact, I loved the Bullet Journal format because it could be as simple as just a list of To Dos in a bound book or elaborate with art work and stuff. I liked the simple format – and I still use to-do lists – they just don’t often make it into the book.

    Like

    1. It seems like a lot of BuJo users see it as an end in itself rather than a tool. I’m thinking of the ones I’ve seen that are like works of art. How does someone use something like that? When I started traveling, I designed a form to use for all my trips to client sites, and realized after the first one that it wasn’t going to work and I was better off using legal pads (which evolved to steno books) and a calendar for my overall schedule. It worked for me.

      By the way, I have to apologize: Akismet, the spam filter WordPress uses, has been tossing your comments in with the ads for online casinos, Canadian pharmacies, porn sites, and other vendors of questionable repute. I saw you had left a couple of comments the other day and tried to rescue them, but accidentally deleted them. I approved this one, so I hope that doesn’t happen again.

      Like

    1. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to start with something simple and make small improvements along the way. Trying to go whole-hog on an organizer system is just frustrating.

      Like

  4. Hi, John. I am one of your new readers from the A-2-Z Blog Challenge. Hoping this message gets to you because I don’t know how else to reach you … because

    I have made a few comments on your A-2-Z posts and they never seem to show up. In the past when that happens on blogs, it means that something in the way of commenting was missing or not done correctly.

    In big bold lettering you mentioned something about using MARKDOWN for commenting. I am not familiar with that – and I suspect that is the problem. I can write a comment and I put all my identifying information in the spaces provided, But nothing happens.

    Thanks. I am enjoying your posts.

    Elaine

    On Sat, Apr 6, 2019 at 7:00 AM The Sound of One Hand Typing wrote:

    > John Holton posted: ” Today, we’re going to talk about personal > organizers. Before we begin, though, I want to point out that I never used > one. The typical business person has a lot of things to remember: > appointments phone numbers and addresses to-do lists reminders meet” >

    Like

    1. Yeah, I know…. I found several in my spam folder the other day and tried to rescue them, and managed to delete them by mistake when I was trying to save them. I’m very sorry about that. I found the one you left today and approved it, so hopefully that’ll fix it. But then, you never know.

      Markdown is a text-to-HTML formatting language with which you can italicize and boldface (or both) text and add links to your comments. I use it to write a lot of my posts because it’s easier to just type than to use the mouse to add in the HTML tags. Click the link above to see a quick reference.

      Like

  5. ok, just checked back and saw my email to you just now got posted. Apparently using the comment space at the bottom of your post doesn’t work for me. Good to know.

    On Sat, Apr 6, 2019 at 7:00 AM The Sound of One Hand Typing wrote:

    > John Holton posted: ” Today, we’re going to talk about personal > organizers. Before we begin, though, I want to point out that I never used > one. The typical business person has a lot of things to remember: > appointments phone numbers and addresses to-do lists reminders meet” >

    Like

  6. I don’t have a planner, not even on the computer. I expect family members to add their appointments that might involve me on the calendar taped to the refrigerator! My 20 something year old daughter on the other hand… planners and journals and millions of stickers and washi tapes… but, then if she doesn’t do what the planner shows, she feels she’s made a “liar” of it!

    Like

  7. OMG planners have become SUCH a thing. They can get very expensive. I use 3 of them, one for personal, one for work and one for my crafty life. Each one is different. I have to have a paper one, not an electronic organizer. Wonderful post for F.

    Like

  8. I really have a problem with organization my mind is completely ordered but my ADD makes it really hard to keep anything external ordered. My late brother put it best when he said my organization system was a place for everything and everything on the floor. More on him tomorrow on the 10 th anniversary of his passing.

    Like

  9. I’ve tried to become more organized but never seem to have the time. Hmm–maybe I’d have more time if I were better organized?

    I used to get the Day-timers system and maybe start putting stuff in it, but I never kept up with it.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Like

    1. You end up falling back on what worked in the past, or at least what you were comfortable with. It’s one of those things you have to make a commitment to, and I never could…

      Like

  10. In my old job (retired in May) I had to have my days scheduled in 30 min increments, to make room for appointments I set up, but it was also synched with various support staff that plugged hearings, meetings, etc. into it. I also kept a hard copy day-at-a-time, where I would plug the same hearings, meetings, etc, into it, but I also used it as a phone log. I’m not sure BuJo could take care of that volume of tasks. I liked the system I had, as it worked well for pretty much blanket documentation and referring to for case notes.

    Like

    1. I don’t think it matters how you do something as long as it works for you. For me, a calendar and steno pad worked. On occasion, I’d run into someone who would tell me that I should use a Day Timer or Filofax, and I’d either let it go in one ear and out the other or I’d tell them they mind their own business…

      Like

    1. That’s all you can really do, I think. Some organizing seminars say to plan three things you want to get done tomorrow. You might have a longer list of to-do’s, but three is a good number to aim for. After that, you’re just overwhelming yourself. You might have a list of a bunch of things to do, but three’s a good limit for what you can accomplish in a day without driving yourself nuts.

      Like

  11. Hi John,
    Thanks for putting me onto that video about how to set up a bullet journal. I’ve seen them in a couple of stationery stores I like and was a bit to intimidated to give them a go.
    Unlike most of the others, my system isn’t working for me and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I have a system. Well, at least one that manages to keep track of tasks and gets the job done. I’ve found I tend to write lists and turn the page and that’s in effect death to the list.
    Like you, I’ve tried many diaries and found the perfect one a few years ago, which had a calendar at the start of each month. However, when I went to buy it the following year, the company had gone out of business.
    I try to maintain a hard copy week to a page diaries with a hot pink cover so I can find it, along with entering events in my phone’s calendar. That works well for me because it keeps reminding me like a nagging parent of what is coming up.
    One of the particular troubles I have is when I’m writing serious which is the case at the moment, the organizational side of my brain goes on the blink and to be honest, I don’t really care, which clearly isn’t good either. I am trying to pull back and maintain one foot in the real world and try to get all the important things done but it is a serious struggle.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Like

    1. Getting older has forced me to do a better job of writing things down. The stroke had a lot to do with that, too. When I was working, I carried a lot of stuff around in my head, which meant that occasionally I’d forget something, but I was able to remember the majority of stuff. My memory used to be a steel trap, now it’s a sieve…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I relate to what you say about the sieve. I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in my mid 20s and had a shunt put in which helped enormously. However, there are issues and they’re usualy intermittent, which makes it difficult. I’m also very creative and not much into routine these days and do go off the grid a bit within the framework of being married with two children.
        I have done a lot of work over the years with occupational therapists on diaries, which has made an enormous difference. However, I do have trouble with getting tasks done, iand probably top of that list is avoidance. I just don’t want to deal with that pile of papers and when the kids hide them, that doesn’t help.
        On the other hand, the research I’m doing for my book is very thorough, meticulous and shows that I’d be quite capable of getting all these other things done if I chose to.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi John.
    Retired and no longer needing an organizer, sounds just like me.
    When I joined the film industry in 1988 I was employed as a runner, later advancing to Production assistant. In those days computers were relatively new and not everyone had one so I would use daily diaries, I think you refer to them as “Journals” which worked rather well. Runners and production assistants are extremely busy people running all over the place and delivering stuff to the production crew.
    Blessings my retired friend, Geoff in South Africa.

    Like

  13. When I read the title I was like “isn’t that something someone wanted in an old movie?”. Yeah, I’m a brat from the digital age and use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of stuff 🙂 I do have a box full of receipts and stuff for tax season, and I do have a calendar with big blocks to help me remember what has to happen each day. Great post1

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: Fleeting Fancy

    Like

    1. Tax people love their paper, don’t they? I keep scans of everything in Evernote so I can print them off if need be, but the individual receipts are a pain in the neck to hold onto, unless you have a box, like you do.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post, John! The phone definitely does most of it. I looooove the look of Bullet Journals, but let’s face it, how busy is anyone who can make one? I keep At A Glance at home on the desk and at work we use computer, but the phone is also very handy, as it can connect to work puter and family members’ phone calendars, too. I still carry a Moleskin in my handbag.
    I had Covey planners in college, but I never got caught up in the obsession as some of my friends did.

    Like

    1. The Bullet Journal was designed for creatives, not so much for professionals or business people. I’m sure there are some who use it in other areas of their lives. I always found that a big-block calendar and a steno pad were more than sufficient.

      Liked by 1 person

You can use Markdown in your comments. Thanks for your comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s