Monday, 17 June 2013

Lessons Learned About My Time-Management

Sometimes I feel as if I have been round the houses with which diary format/time-management format works best for me. Having been in a bit of 'planner fail' recently, I decided to sit down and reflect on what works and what doesn't work for me and then to try and design a diary that will work for me.

What I have realised is that:
  • If I don't plan, I don't achieve as much as I want to
  • Even if I do plan, if I don't have my list of to-do for the week in front of me with the diary, I probably won't look at it, even if it is only a few pages away in my planner and marked with a labelled today-marker
  • Much as I adore the size of a pocket filofax, I can't quite get it to work when life gets busy as the format is too small for week + notes to view
  • Although a day to page can work well for me, I then lose the overall feel of the week
  • If I am working on day per page, I have a tendency not to look at the week per view, even if it is only a few sheets away in my planner and marked with a today-marker
  • Much as I adore both Red and Indie, I can't carry enough cards in them and get annoyed by that as I don't want to have both a planner and a wallet in my bag
  • My annoyance at lack of cards ultimately outweighs my adoration of the binder and the page size (A6)
  • If I plan/allocate my to-do to specific days I tend to overload myself/plan myself to bits and then abandon all planning because I'm harassed and feel as if I have no free time
I know from past experience that a week on one page plus notes is close to the right format for me, but Filofax don't produce a format that is uncluttered enough for me. They do insist on having umpteen languages filling all the planning space and not having the days lined (except in France) and taking up valuable real-estate with those mini month-calendars somewhere on the page (often filling up all of Sunday). Much like my work diary, I need a few things and nothing else.

What I need:
  • The date at the top of the page
  • The days with lines
  • Space for a to-do/task list
  • Space to note things that are coming up

What I don't need:
  1. More than one language. I'm pretty reasonable at languages so it isn't essential it is English, but just one is needed. I'm planning, not doing a language course that only teaches days and months.
  2. That mini month-calendar thing
  3. Open space with no lines

The French version (see below) is pretty close to what I want, but it's not perfect and the shipping costs make it expensive considering it's not quite what I want.

Image from

Last year, I designed my own, then for a variety of reasons (I was in a Mulberry A6 at the start of the year, then a pocket filofax, then finally a personal filofax but was persevering with the diary that I had) not printed it off and used it. Anyway, after the last month or so of feeling disorganised and out of sorts with all planning, I sat down, thought about what would (and wouldn't) work for me and realised that the diary I had designed myself was still likely to be the perfect format for me, so I printed up enough to take me to the end of July. If it's still working well for me by the end of July, I will print up another month (and so on).

This is it.

It's the same as the one I blogged about before, but the ink/lines are purple instead of brown.

What do people think?


  1. It's tricky trying to find the perfect diary insert. Your bespoke design looks clean and easy on the eye - and perfectly tailored to your needs!

  2. Wonderful!! I am the same: I have to see my task list alongside my schedule. If my list is behind a tab it gets ignored. I tried the Filofax week + notes but got so aggravated with the multiple languages taking up so much space! I really like your diary insert. Let us know how it goes!!

  3. I always think custom is better than pre-made. Well, except for the convenience of pre-made. But you have to have a page that works for your life! Your page looks great.

  4. I recently found the perfect format for me! I really love the very last one in her blog post , looking at the page you've designed for yourself, it seems similar so I thought you might like to see her version too!

    It makes such a huge difference when you finally find something that really works for you - good luck! : )

  5. I love your design & if I used my filo as my diary could definitely see myself using that!
    It's great how there's the same space for the weekend, & I think it works well how you've moved Sunday onto the other page.

    I'm very glad that you've found what works for you :)

  6. I love it. I am so lazy about designing/hole punching my own, but if I did design my favorite layout, it would be much like yours.

    I maybe wouldn't line the "blank space" but that's only because I bet the reverse side's lines would show up enough for me to write neatly.

  7. I really like what you have done with a week to a page. I have recently decided to move from a day a page to a week to an "opening"(in A5). I have a lot of timed appointments so I have settled on a vertical layout. It is set out in six columns, three to a page, split into morning/afternoon/ evening which also allows about 1/3 of the column for tasks/to-do's with Sat/Sun sharing column 6. In between the opening I insert the project/task/notes sheets so that I have plenty of room and flexibility for writing without cluttering the diary opening.
    I find your ambivalence to the different sizes and formats fascinating and always enjoy the blog although I have really only used A4 or A5 but also have similar issues, just the scale varies.

    1. @A Stephen King
      Did you see the A5 diary I designed for work - vertical week on page plus notes:
      It sounds like it might be similar to yours?
      Thanks for the kind words about my blog!

    2. Hi Amanda, Yes quite similar. Great I removed the time slots from mine as it gives me a little more flexibility. Keep up the good work!
      Cheers Steve.