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! :)


  1. Hats off to you for being able to make such a tiny planner work. I can't even seem to downsize to a pocket binder. But, you're right about the "planner groove". I suppose once you have your system you can replicate it.

  2. Hiya! I believe moving down to a smaller planner works best as a gradual change, if at all. Takes more time than we expect it to and can't be a forced change. Sometimes there's entirely too much going on for a smaller size to be a good fit! And sometimes it's just preference and comfort. We should stay with what works for us, right? Thank you for stopping by and commenting! :)

  3. You're right. I've stuck with a personal for years. At most I've managed to downsize to compact which has been helpful.

  4. Thank you for visiting me!

    Love your mini. Very impressive that you make it work. I found the mini too tricky to work with.

  5. Hi, Stephanie! Honestly I think it's just because I don't write a whole lot or very large. I am enjoying your blog and thank you for stopping in here! :)

  6. These are wonderful suggestions! I have an almost-identical mini filofax but have never figured out a great system for using it. I love your ideas and am going to sit down this evening and use/adapt them. Thank you for sharing!! BTW how do you keep your tabs from getting all worn out? My penholder pushes on my tabs plus some purse damage. They're sturdy laminated cardstock. I don't want to throw them away but they're pretty ragged. Thanks.

  7. Hi! Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment! I'd love to know which Mini you have and always so happy to see other Mini fans. As for the tabs, I definitely get more wear on the Mini tabs when it's in the purse and have decided this is inevitable. It seems the tabs on my non-traveling Minis do hold up better. Like you, I also don't want to throw away the raggy tabs. There are a lot of cute heavy-duty tapes available now and I've thought about giving the tabs a once-over with that (just the tab-tab, not the whole divider). I don't own any Washi tape, but that also might work? Eeek! :)