Tips for a Filofax/Planner Newbie

29 March 2013

I may have turned a friend of mine into a Filofax convert over coffee one day. As we discussed plans for a future camping trip, I sat with my Filofax open before me jotting down notes and making lists. During our talk, she picked up my planner and said (and I paraphrase), "this is beautiful. You have a lot of these. I think I want one!" Our conversation then went from national parks and potential camping sites to which Filofax was best for what (work, school, home, as a wallet, etc.) and what the difference was between a personal size Filofax and an A5. Of course, at this point, I was doing most of the talking, trying to instill in her the little Filofax knowledge I have, while she sat there, stroking my Filofax, fastening and unfastening its clasp. That sparkle of wonder in her eyes that we Filo fanatics know all too well. Here are just the main pointers I gave her, most of which derive from my own experiences throughout my planner life. Keep in mind that I am no planner guru or Filofax expert. These are just my own thoughts/ideas.

  • Is paper planning really for you? We all know that paper planning isn't for everyone. Particularly if you're not used to it. My friend relies mostly on apps in her tablet/smartphone to get things done with an exception of a mini spiral notebook she keeps in her purse to jot down random notes. For the most part, she's all digital. If you've found a system that works, why change it? It's definitely something you want to think about before investing the time and money into something you're not quite sure will actually work for you. Tip: If, for whatever reason, you still feel paper planning is something you would like to venture in (but have never done before), try starting with a more affordable planner as opposed to spending money on an expensive binder. I was first introduced to paper planning during my sophomore year in high school. My first real planner was a cheap, spiral bound agenda bought at a local shopping market. I used it to keep track of assignments as well as daily happenings. It wasn't until I got the hang of using it and figuring out what worked and what didn't did I upgrade to my first ring-bound organizer.
  • A few more questions to consider before purchasing your first Filofax/Planner. So, you've decided to go ahead and take the plunge, eh? How exciting! But, first, what exactly do you need organized? Are you looking to get just your finances under control? Have you started exercising and are looking for something to keep your fitness/wellness goals in check? Are you looking for something to help keep daily/monthly/yearly tasks organized? Also, what kind of planner are you? Are you planning for yourself or for a whole family? Are you a stay-at-home mom, student, manager of a fancy pants company, or all of the above? Do you like things structured or prefer a more flexible schedule? All these things are good to know as they'll help determine what kind of planner you'll need.
  • Do your homework! There's a plethora of planners out there to chose from that come in different formats, colors, sizes, and textures. The ring-bounds, the wire-bounds, the Moleskines and various notebooks. What's considered "compact" in one brand is really a personal size in another. An A5 Filofax is similar to a Classic size planner which is similar to a "Desktop" planner. But, the rings in each are completely different. It's totally understandable that you get a bit overwhelmed with it all. I definitely was! But, no worries. There's a whole community out there at your service who are willing to answer all your Filofax/planner questions via YouTube, blog post, or a simple "hi, hello!". Your first stop? Philofaxy! You can get most if not all your questions answered there or get connected to people who might be able to help. Plus, it's nice to know that there are others out there who share a similar interest that not a lot of people in this digital world quite understand.
  • Beware of the "perfect planner" myth. You'll run into this a lot once you begin your planner journey. Actually, this myth isn't a myth at all. The perfect planner really does exists. But, know that the idea of a perfect planner isn't an all encompassing theory but rather something that varies from person to person. Know that what works perfectly for me, might not work for you. Once you've really figured out what you need in a planning system (see bullet point 2) and stop comparing yours to others, you might just find that the "perfect planner" was right under your nose all along.
  • Use it. Just like any tool, it's useless when you don't use it. You can spend hours setting up your planner, buying all the numerous inserts for it, making it pretty with all the decorative paraphernalia you've purchased on your many office supply store hauls. But, all that is pointless if it's been sitting in the very same spot you left it on the desk months ago. How efficient your planner is is really all up to you.
  • Writing it down is only half of the process. Unfortunately, planners are made to aid you in getting things done. So, until Filofax comes out with a planner that actually washes the laundry, writes term papers, pays the bills, and remembers to stop at the toy store to pick out a present for Susie's 5th birthday party this weekend then, I'm afraid you're going to have to do all that yourself. You've written it down (yay!), now go and do it!

My friend is still in the beginning stages of her planner journey. Last I heard, there were several Filofaxes she was ogling online but has yet to commit to one. "Yet" being the key word there as she is determined to find "the perfect one". Sound familiar?

Anyway, if you're a first time Filofax user or overall planner newbie, I hope these tips have been somewhat helpful if not entertaining. Good luck and happy planning!

7 comments :

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I found you through Philofaxy. I'm getting ready to purchase my first Filofax and the choices and options are just overwhelming!

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    1. You're welcome! I'm glad it's helped someone. Your first Filofax. How exciting! Do you already know which model you are getting?

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  2. I found your blog through Philofaxy and I'm glad I did. I do have one question for you.. Since the digital era has become so popular, what keeps you from going digital? I have a Filofax and I adore it, but I find myself doing half and half.. I'd like to go all Filofax..but my iPhone takes too much of my time LOL

    Love the blog btw and I am not a follower! :]

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    1. I'm a big Apple fan, and a heavy iPhone user (best smartphone out there I think--but I'm biased :D). I use both a mix of my iphone and my planner to get things done so I'm not all paper all the time. I'd love to get an iPad someday but it would never replace my Filofax.

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  3. This is one of my favorite posts of yours. I'm not a newbie, but people ask me about this all the time.

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  4. I just linked this from ym blog Carla, thanks so much for this! You rock!

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    1. That's awesome. Thank you! :)

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are much appreciated. ♥

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