Tangerine for 2017 (Filofax Mini setup update)

Author's note: Omilord. This post has grown out of control. It's long and rambly. You've been warned - eeek! 

So I've rotated my mini Filofax binder (same system, different binder)!

filofax mini dorset - orange

This lovely little spot of sunshine is a spritely orange Dorset mini. The photo appears darker than the actual orange color. I've had this one probably about 4-ish years now. There are a few minis in my regular rotation, including my main mini and scrappy mini (sentimental bits and past calendar pages). So in this case, I am swapping the contents only and putting the tangerine-y Dorset into play as my main for now. Sometimes I like to rotate depending upon mood, situation, season, etc.  Please pardon my repetition, although in case someone new is reading:  It's no secret that I will always be a one-life-many-planners kind of gal; I prefer having office work separate from my personal planner, and my personal business out of the work planner. I'm a believer in sticking with what works best with your brain and what comes most naturally to you.

I find the Dorset to be one of the nicer models ever produced by Filofax (when these were still in production). All of the Dorsets I've seen are a contrasting light tan shade on the interior. For exteriors, there is a black exterior, an orange, and I believe a red as well. Curious if there are others!

Upon opening, the interior left has 4 card slots - the lower of which is a slightly wider and different cut. For comparison, some of my other minis have just 2 or 3 slots in the front.

This tiny Dorset has a particularly sturdy and well-placed pen loop. You will see in the photo that the pen loop rests away from the interior, and is shaped differently than most pen loops.

The Dorset mini also has the full-width wallet-style opening across the top of the binder. This wallet pocket is part of my overall system and use of the mini in general, although I don't use mine as an actual wallet!

My interior setup is generally the same as in prior years, so this post will be a big yawn if you've seen my write-up from four-ish years ago. Either way, in case it's helpful to anyone at all, here is an updated peek inside my mini (surely there is at least one new sticky note or doodle!).

So the basically-same setup is....

Front - clear pocket which is honestly only holding sentimental bits right now, mostly a romantic and Alaska theme. This is where my husband and I got together and got married - so very many fond memories there including our favorite breakfast restaurant and any version of a snowflake!

Monthlies - next up is the monthly sheets! One full year of months stays in the mini full-time.  A colorful paperclip divides the months already past, and takes me right to the current month. The monthly sheets are the key to ALL of my future planning. These are the only sheets that get any advance attention whatsoever. Anything at all that is coming up - next week, next month, or later - gets noted on the corresponding monthly  sheet.

This is the total overview of what is going on in my whole life. I call it the Monthly Enchilada.

These advance plans notes are very small, cryptic, and color-coded. For example, if I would be taking a flight to Phoenix on May 9 at 1:30 pm, I would just jot down "to AZ 1:30p" on that date. All of the other details I am going to get elsewhere, such as my boarding pass and eventually they will be written on the appropriate weekly page. A recurring due date every two weeks on Thursday just gets a circle around that date in the corresponding color. I know full well about this due date, and I just need a small visual reminder without all the extra details.

Every month for as long as I can remember, I tack a very small sticky on the month page of a few things that I really must do that month. This sticky can get applied as far in advance as necessary.

I tend to color a little bit on these monthlies with my silly little theme-of-the-month doodles.

mini monthly - nov 2016

Weeklies - the weekly sheets follow directly behind the monthly sheets. These get really messy! Like so messy! Weekly planning is done as the week draws near. Everything is filtered down from the monthly calendar, as well as anything new of importance that pops up at this time. The things that merit space on the weekly pages are: those which must be done/are important, real due dates, or appointments. This keeps the focus in clear view.

There are some things that are sort of floating for the week - I refer to these as "on my mind right now." These get written on yellow sheet that I insert right smack in the middle of the week. It's a simple solution that works for me. While it splits up the entire week view, I do not need to view Thursday's block all day on Tuesday, for example, because I've already planned out what is the focus of today. When I need to see or write something onto the later part of the week, I just flip over the yellow pages.  Since they are yellow, it's easy to see the line of demarcation between the rest of this week's white pages and the yellow to-do sheets. Flip, jot, and flip back to today's sheet! Sometimes there is overflow resulting in more than one yellow sheet.     

to-do stuff on my mind right now

When the new week rolls around, I throughly review the yellow sheet(s). This is Be Serious time. I strongly consider anything that wasn't done in the prior week. Have I changed my mind about doing this, is it no longer really important, do I need to transfer it to a long-term-maybe-someday list, etc. Having these annoying little sheets in between your weekly view definitely helps keep your perspective. The idea here is to get them off the list and not keep dragging them along. But if they must be dragged along, then the undone sheet just get slipped into the next week! :)

Also, I will affix tiny sticky notes to the ruler divider here with a small shopping list for a store (home store, office supply, drug store, etc.). I just grab it off the ruler and take it with me when I go to that store.

I typically only have about 4-6 weeks of weeklies in the mini. I just keep moving out the past weeks and adding in upcoming weeks.

All of this activity in your planner keeps you in touch with your planner. It is a manual, tactile and tangible system that requires ongoing input and processing. The writing and reviewing is good for the mind, stress levels and focus.

Sections/tabs - after the weeklies, there are a few tabs (all blank tabs).

The first tab has a LOT (so messy!).  Topics behind this tab are separated by sheets of colored paper for easier reference - I don't find it necessary to use tabs for these tiny little sections. Lists of to-do's and things to research or figure out, business goals, a list of bills for the month (a simple cross-out as they get paid), a list of the annual recurring charges (Amazon Prime, anyone??). Currently about 21 sheets behind this tab plus quite a few sticky notes (did I say messy?) and some blank paper.

Next tab - the happy place! Life goals, areas of focus, inspirational thoughts, creative thoughts, notes about family and friends, enjoyable stuff. The same old drawing from the tag on some handmade knit gloves remains as the first sheet for this section. Currently about 9 pages plus a few small love notes, and some blank sheets.

love | life | happy tab section :)

 The last tab is info. A few phone numbers and addresses for immediate family and closest friends. Some important numbers like car repair shop, directions to a few places I visit infrequently, and a very few notes of things like HVAC filter size, account numbers and telephone numbers for my bank. Pages of password clues for the zillions of logins. Stuff like that. Currently about 10-ish sheets.

Full-length wallet-top - the wallet section doesn't get too stuffed, it's usually got receipts if something must be returned to the store and sometimes a nice photo of a friend or family member. Basically it's stuff that isn't included in the ring binder.

 full-length wallet top

I think that just about says it all. No exciting changes here really except for the binder swap. I use a very similar system in my work planner. Once you get the planner groove that works for you, it is likely you can apply it to other planners you might be using (such as if you run one for home and one for work).

Thank you for reading and best wishes to you and yours for a Happy New Year! :)

Tips for using a mini Filofax tiny planner

I love, love, love my tiny mini Filofax planner. It makes me smile as well as anyone who sees it!

Here are a few ideas if you are trying to downsize into a mini (these might even help folks who are aiming for the pocket size, too!).

Sticky notes - if you are a user of sticky notes (I'm an avid user), there are two sizes that work very well in a mini right out of the box. One is the super-cute, square 2" x 2" and  the other is the 1.5" x 2" size (which I refer to as the pat-of-butter format, especially because I favor the light yellow ones). Another option is to slightly trim down the larger square 3" x 3" size. They will fit the height of the page (up and down) as is, although they will hang off the side of the page if you don't trim them down.

Writing - it really makes a difference if you use fine-point pens or pencils. I have excellent results with fine ball points, although I make equal use of fine mechanical pencils, Sharpie fine pens, and Le Pens.

Sheets - there are 20-ish lines on a Filofax-branded mini sheet. Update: Our vanilla folders note sheets we started making after I wrote this post are about 18-ish (we chose slightly larger line spacing). Some packets might have another line at the bottom, depending on where the paper was cut. So, 18 to 20-ish lines plus the empty space at the top margin.  Sometimes when I am making long lists or writing from my stream of thought, I remove the sheets from the mini and just write on the page. This makes the paper feel much larger!  I also keep a packet or stack of the empty sheets nearby in case I just need to grab one from there to start writing. Sadly, I don't believe there are any Filofax notepads in this size. Update: we make the notepads now at vanilla folders, so no one is sad and everyone is happy.

Abbreviate - I can be really OCD about writing things out but oddly I have over the years come up with some abbreviations that stuck with me and I like them. Some are silly and some are just utilitarian. I like to jot, say, "hair 11a" on the day I have a haircut at 11:00a. An old boss of mine liked to use "HC" for his haircut appointments in his pocket-friendly planner.  I also have a 2-4 letter code for all names of my bills or banks. Other codes I use frequently: "can" (cancel), "mtg" (meeting), "cc" (credit card), "dc" (debit card), "reg'n" (registration) and "wkg" (working).

Further to abbreviating, think about what details you really need to include - are you writing down extra info that you really already know in your head? If it's redundant, keep it as short as it can be to remain useful.

Hacks - Some talented folk have gone so far as to make card holders for their mini Filofax planners. Even if you don't use yours as a wallet, you might want a card holder insert for bits and bobs or stamps!  Check out these tutorials from Jamie and Sharondippity, some of those clever crafty souls who were kind enough to make a guide for others.

Insert a sheet for overflow - if you are needing to squeeze in a little more info in your week or month, you can always stick another sheet in there. It's funny how on a larger size planner that doesn't appeal to me, but it is completely perfect to me in my mini. I think it's because I know I am only putting what I truly need in my mini, and so it's worth putting the extra sheets in if they have earned their place.

Routine review and cull -  If you're tight on space, look carefully at what you are toting around with you in that tiny planner! A mini Filofax is not a file-it-and-forget-it system. Some items worth keeping might be kept at home, maybe they've become not-necessary at this moment but will again, or maybe they've fallen out of date or use right now. I keep a 'scrappy mini' (very scrappy) in my room where I love to keep an overflow of past items that bring me joy to see but are not part of my current planning. I actually keep lots of my old sheets and ticket-stub-type things although I don't keep them in my main mini.

Rotate and refill - Add and remove upcoming weekly or daily calendar pages instead of trying to put them all in the mini. Philofaxy had a post about an on-deck binder to record more advance items on sheets that are not ready to move into your main planner yet. You could also record them as a note or sticky at the end of your current calendar sheets and make the transfer when you rotate in your new sheets.

Transferring to smaller binders - When moving down in binder size, if you have something that is just too large for your new smaller planner, consider using a color copier to reduce the image and then trim it down to size. You can do this with handwritten lists (instead of rewriting), photos, sticky notes, and possibly even some calendar sheets if you can hole-punch them. I had several items I wanted to squish into my mini (a sticker of the state of Alaska, a mall photo booth printout, handwritten sentimental notes, etc.) and was able to assemble several items onto the copier glass, then reduce them down to color copy onto one sheet of paper, which I then cut out for my tiny planner.

Mine is not a super-cute planner with photo-worthy, beautifully decorated pages, yet my planner is super-cute to me. It's quite messy sometimes yet as long as I can read and understand everything in there, then it's doing its job. If I write something in once, I have to leave that note in tact; if I rewrite it again elsewhere just to make it neater it will lose the original impact it had in my mind. Strange, I know! But it's a helpful observation.

Using the size planner that works for you is clearly the most important factor in choosing your format. If for any reason you've decided to downsize there will be an adjustment period. Happily though, there will be a day when your eyes see the planner size in a new light. At first, against the stark contrast of your larger binders it can certainly seem a stretch. Although once I cast a critical eye to my larger binder pages and realized that my content was not filling up the pages inside it was the push I needed to give the smaller format a go.  The reward was a delightfully small compact planner that is easy to keep with me and doesn't weigh down my purse or travel bag (and always makes me smile!).

I hope you find something helpful in all that tiny planner enabling. :)

Thank you for reading!

Still using my Filofax mini :)

Ok, so I don't post very often (hardly ever!). Although I have had a wonderful last few years! I've moved out of state - twice - once up to amazing Alaska and then all the way to nearly-Florida. For the move down, it was a glorious, summertime road trip in a 1993 motorhome through Alaska and Canada and then across the US visiting family and friends along the way. The reason for the moves is the best news of all - I married the most amazing guy I've ever known and he was one of my best friends for many years before!

During all of this time, my beloved mini has been onboard.

The last time I posted about planners, I was using a personal size for my daily use in a combination of some work I was doing from home and my own personal stuff. It was worth a try, and the system worked fine, although it didn't last long because I've never liked seeing any work stuff blended with my personal stuff! Even now, I still have a beautiful personal-size Siena that holds a lot of things that I don't need as a daily planner but more like a reference book for some stuff.

One of the nicest things about my beloved mini is how every time I see it or pick it up I am delighted. I think  this is in part because it's dedicated to being a personal book rather than a work book.

I've got a few minis that I can use to rotate between, or as a place to store any archive pages, etc. It is hard to believe Filofax has stopped making these joyous little planners. Thankfully, they can still be found through other means although not as readily.

Even though the mini pages are very, very small, I am consistently amazed how much a sheet can contain. Mini pages may not be suited to lengthy note-taking, yet they can hold a good bit of information!

Anyway, I love reading or hearing how others use their minis as planners. I've got plans, calendars, to-do lists, ideas, and important (select) contact info in mine, along with a mess of assorted stickies, papers, receipts, stamps and some sentimental sparkly bits!

Thank you for reading! : )