Monday, 15 September 2014

My current planning system

In my last post, I described how I think (think) I have reached planner peace and a set-up that is really working for me. I have moved to using a slimline filofax which has necessitated me modifying my set-up a little, though in essence ‘The System’ is the same.

What I use now is a combination of the de Villiers which goes everywhere with me, and a regular-sized filofax which stays at home (currently I’m using the wine Holborn but I do have a selection to choose from!). Let me walk you through what is in each of these, then try to explain The System.

The De Villiers (wallet and planner combination)
From front to back:
  • Inside front cover: 10 card slots carrying all my bank and loyalty cards, stamps, donor card etc.
  • Plastic fly-leaf with Leuchtturm stick-on pen holder, holding my Zebra diary pen/pencil
  • Weekly list for the current week
  • Weekly lists for the next three weeks
  • Notes Tab
  • Three or four sheets of notepaper for scribbling things to remember into (‘capture’ list)
  • Diary Tab
  • Monthly sheets for the rest of 2014 (4 pages for each month: monthly list, month to view, review)
  • Week to view diary for the rest of 2014 (from Paperchase)
  • Page for forward planning
  • Information Tab
  • Personal information sheets
  • List of books to look for
  • List of maps we have
  • Note of my weight and miles run per week
  • Addresses Tab
  • Address sheets
  • Plastic zip-up pencil case with money in
  • Inside back cover: paper money in the outer pocket; receipts in the inner one
Left - card slots; right - fly-leaf with pen-holder, weekly sheet
weekly sheet
There are 4 weekly sheets in at a time; review space on reverse of the lists
Monthly list (r); review of previous month (l)
Month to view
Plastic pencil case with coins in
Paper money in back pocket

The Holborn (storage of non-current planning pages)
From front to back:
  • Nothing in either the front or back covers
  • Plastic fly-leaf
  • Page saying, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling” (quote from the film Inception)
  • Tab
  • General (big) to-do
  • Annual plans
  • Quarterly plans
  • Page(s) for each life area and their goals (mostly too personal to share), with next actions under each goal
  • Tab
  • Monthly review checklist
  • Spent monthly pages (kept only for the purpose of quarterly and yearly reviews – they will get thrown away at the end of the year)
  • Tab
  • Weekly review checklist
  • Weekly sheets – both from the past and the remainder of the year (only four weeks of these are in the de Villiers at any time). Again, all of these will get thrown away at the end of the year.
  • Week on two pages from the past (current are in the de Villiers – there are no more than 6 months in the de Villiers at a time)
  • Tab
  • Other information sheets that I don’t need to carry around with me e.g. peak flow record, notes, log suppliers, things bought for presents over the last few years, maps, packing lists

How do these two binders work together?The System
The key aspect is the weekly review (though the monthly one is important too).
Each week, I try to do the following:
  • Go through the notes pages and make sure everything has been dealt with/filed/sorted one way or another
  • Go through my list from the week just past and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Tick off things in the monthly list; add anything that has come up
  • Transfer to the coming week’s list anything left from the one just finishing, starring them to indicate they have already had a week (or more) and not been done
  • Transfer the weekly sheet to the Holborn binder and get the next one to go in the de Villiers out (I keep 4 weeks of weekly sheets in the de Villiers)
  • Look at the monthly list and the week to view diary and note down in red pen at the bottom of the weekly list any appointments (ignoring work ones!) and things that I need to do like send a birthday card
  • Look at the monthly list of big to-do and next actions. Tick off things done and think about what might sensibly be achieved in the next week. Write these into the space at the top half of the page
  • Clear my brain of any other to-do into the bottom half of the page
  • If I’m feeling adventurous (or mad) I write the day on which I think I will do these next actions and to-do in the space next to them. This may or may not reflect reality!
  • Have a quick flick through to the rest of the month (and the following one if it’s near the end of the month) just to check what is coming up

What I try to do when I am not at work (i.e. evenings, days off, weekends):
  • Open my binder to the weekly list
  • Plan what I can do from it that morning/afternoon/evening
  • Do it

What I try to do monthly:
  • Look at my weekly and monthly list(s) from that month and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Take out the finished monthly sheet from the de Villiers and file it in the Holborn
  • Transfer anything not done onto the sheet for the following month and star them to indicate they have been carried over
  • Look at the lists of big to-do and next actions and the monthly overview and try and think what I might sensibly manage to achieve in the coming month
  • Look at that list again and consider removing 20% of it because I know I over-allocate
  • Flick through the next six months of diary to remind myself what’s on the radar

Appointments go straight into the week to view diary (if I have them in the de Villiers – I can only carry 6 months of pages so for anything further forward than that, I just put it in the notes section and transfer it at the weekly review; 99% of things can go straight into the pages).

So, that’s The System. When I do all that, I feel more organised than when I don’t. There is then always a danger that I feel over-planned and then go ‘to hang with it all’ and ignore all plans, lists, goals etc. until I’m as organised as a bowl of cooked spaghetti, at which point I start doing The System again!

What do people think? What’s your set-up like (and would you like to do a guest post on it?)?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. hat sounds like such a good setup! You've inspired me so much with your planning systems, and this gives me more food for thought if you can manage to make a portable/home split system work for you. I keep pondering doing the same for the sake of reduced bulk, but find I never have the feeling that I have what I need when I need it. Time for a rethink perhaps!

      I am yet again revamping my setup since it's the start of the academic year, but if and when I get it sorted, I'd love to write a guest post if you'd allow me.

      Once again, thank you for valuable insights. There are many really useful and enjoyable planner blogs but your posts always resonate the most with me and I've taken so much of value from your ideas - and your emails too :)

      Edited comment because it sounded like I was begging :D

  2. You just cut a regular pencil case? Washi or duct tape?

  3. @shadow wolf
    Awww.... thanks!!! And yes, I would LOVE you to write a guest post.

    @Giftie Etcetera
    Yep - a 50p clear pencil case from Tescos. I sliced the non-zip long side off, sealed it up with Washi tape and punched holes in it. It works a treat!! I think it was Anita Lim who talked abuot this first...