Category Archives: Home Office

How I Use my Filofax: time management for work/life balance

Back at the end of June I shared how I use my agenda to manage tasks for work and life. Since that time I have taken on a new job and encountered a stack of barriers regarding my academic life. I have had to adapt my agenda (and ‘one true Filofax’) to suit.

I still rely heavily on a two-pages-per-month calendar for scheduling tasks. And I still write things in black pen, then highlight over to define the task/event further (personal, health, uni, Guiding/work, bills, holidays). I also use this overview to keep track of what week it is in the school term (Guiding and work related) and in my pregnancy.


August 2012

In conjunction with this calendar I use a two-week timetable from Philofaxy to track recurring tasks. My work ‘week’ is actually a fortnight, which explains the need for two weeks of timetabling. This also allows me to track which rubbish bin goes out  and when (we have three bins now!)


Timetable (week 1)

My day-per-page diary has been replaced by Philofaxy’s enhanced TM two-pages-per-week calendar. This format works best for me as I am able to easily record the handful of appointments I have each week on the left-hand-page and daily (or weekly) must do tasks on the right-hand-page.


3-9 Sept 2012
(I don’t usually highlight my weekly calendar but did so to show the variety of appointments and tasks I track via this layout)

In each day box I also track my husband’s work schedule (above the day name), the start of my work ‘week’ (red dot sticker), what bin needs putting out (green or yellow dot sticker), the school term week (the number on Tuesday), and the current week in my pregnancy (the number on Wednesday).

Further to this system I have dedicated ‘running to do’ or ‘capture’ pages for the various aspects of my life. My MA has two (LitReview and Masters/general), one each for my work projects (tracking both my tasks and those assigned to other stakeholders), one for my Guide Unit (for program ideas, etc), and one for my OBP Award. These are simply downloaded from Philofaxy and edited (either by hand or in Word) to include the appropriate ‘document’ title.


LitReview running to do list

Although looking at my time-management system in this format it feels overly complicated, it really does help my manage my time efficiently in order to balance work and life. If I can see I have a work trip coming up, I ‘write off’ the next day (basically just to recover!) And if I am away or having visitors on the weekend, I know not to schedule big tasks for that time. And sticking with my ‘one true Filofax’ I know I always have all important information on hand to make notes, take calls, and run errands while I am out and about – meaning I rarely ‘waste time’ when I am out of the house.

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How I use my Filofax: goal tracking

In an effort to track the goals I set for myself this month, I printed a month-on-two-pages calendar insert from Philofaxy. I track my goal targets each day using coloured dot stickers and a monkey stamp.


Overview Week 3-9/9/12

  • Calm Birth practice 0/3
  • 1-2 hr of LitReview per day 1.5/7
  • Charlie (dog) walk 4.5/3
  • Wini walk 5.5/4
  • Antenatal fitness 1/1

So far, as you can see, I am on target for dog & Wini walking (thanks to continued Spring-like weather, yay!) and I’ve not yet skipped an antenatal fitness class (so proud of myself). I am, however, struggling with my LitReview daily target, but count any little bit I do towards it as an achievement (hence some of the half-circles). The plan is to make my LitReview my morning focus (generally after the ‘daily’ walk) and spend my afternoons ‘at’ work.

I have also managed to arrange for 1 of 4 library displays to go ahead. The second I need to book and numbers 3 and 4 are requiring the go ahead to be booked from other parties.

The nursery is still not set up (it requires a massive change around of two rooms in our house) but will likely start taking shape this weekend and be completed during the last weekend of September (we have our baby shower and a short trip planned for the intervening weekend).

Practicing my ‘Calm Birth’ techniques was added at the start of this week (8/9/12), to make sure I am continuing to not only physically but mentally prepare myself for the birth of BabyGirlC.

Pretty sure my next step should be looking at how to reward myself for ‘achieved’ goals (or a whole week of achieving goals).

How do you track your goals?
How do you reward yourself for completed goals?

#filofax 365/30 5 & 6 + 7 & 8 September 2012

Here are days 5-8 of 365/30 September:


5 & 6 – looking at my bad habits should be in my monthly goals…


7 & 8 – not very long lists

#filofax 365/30 3 & 4 September 2012

I have added to my ‘Where in the world do I want to visit?’ list constantly since I first wrote it. And my ‘Reasons to start…’ list was inspired by my monthly goals set on the first day of this challenge.


#filofax 365/30 days 3 & 4

#filofax 365/30 1 & 2 September 2012

Whoops, didn’t mean to go AWOL for so long! I started a new part-time job right at the start of August and I’m just getting back into a routine that allows for all most aspects of my life to get some attention.

I have decided to plunge further into the online Filofax realm by participating in the ‘#Filofax 365/30’ challenge: “It follows the 30 days of lists idea. On the last day or first of every month there will be a new set of lists for the whole month published, either in a document in the Facebook group or on a blog post on the person who is hosting it’s blog, it depends how they want to do it. There will be a notification on the Facebook wall.”

I made up some pages for my Filofax from Philofaxy templates (comment if you’d like me to send you a copy – in personal size only).


The monthly overview for 365/30 September


Lists from 1st & 2nd September

I will try to upload photos of my lists every couple of days (mainly due to the layout in my Filofax making this the easiest option!) as a way of getting back into blogging more regularly.

How I use my Filofax: agenda

Last week I shared the general setup of my ‘new’ Filofax. I thought that this week I would share how I use my Filofax to track my appointments and daily to do lists.

In the past, I used a Kikki.K daily to do sticky note in conjunction with a monthly calendar. I would upload this to do list to Instagram on a(n almost) daily basis as a form of accountability.


One of the Kikki.K daily to do lists I uploaded to Instagram

I now use a day-per-page diary insert for tracking my daily to do lists. I don’t use the timed aspect of the page, but divide it as follows instead: at the top I write scheduled appointments (highlighted appropriately); from around the 11 o’clock mark, I write my daily to do list (when items are completed, I highlight them in yellow); in the ‘notes’ section I track my husband’s worked hours and pay.


Example daily diary page

I don’t prioritise my to do tasks – I have not found this method of ‘getting things done’ suits me. I know from looking at my to do list (and any scheduled appointments for the day) what needs doing the most and the order these tasks are completed is not so important as their being done by the end of the day.

On a (slightly) longer term, I have found the monthly view the best way for me to track appointments, due dates, and so on since I was a senior in high school (rather than yearly, which can be a little overwhelming for me). I would print out the current term/semester in months on A4 pages, tape them to my wall, and schedule myself appropriately. I would, occasionally, add a weekly planner page  to this system (but I usually abandon this layout quite quickly).

Since starting to use my Filofax regularly, I have continued using a monthly overview (two pages-per-month) to track important dates. I write just the skeleton of the scheduled tasks, as well as tracking my ‘pregnancy weeks’ (the purple numbers on Wednesdays) and the school term weeks for  Girl Guides(green numbers on Tuesdays). I use an Avery sticky tab to mark the current month and cross off each day in the morning.


June 2012 monthly overview

How do you track to do lists?
Do you integrate them into your planner/Filofax?

What is your preferred agenda layout?
Daily? Weekly? Monthly? A mix?

NB: Since I wrote my first Filofax post I have returned to Officeworks (in Albury) to try to buy more 50c Debden diary inserts. However, they are no longer available and are also unavailable online.

My ‘New’ Filofax

Warning: (blurry) image heavy!

When I was nine, my brother and I flew to the UK (aka the motherland) for a two week holiday with my dad (who was working overseas for a few months). As a gift for my mum (all alone back in Australia), my dad sent us home with a personal sized, dark green Filofax – which  I seem to remember purchasing with him from a large department store, having found it on a square ‘sales’ table.

From that time, my mum always used her Filofax. Religiously. It went every with her throughout my entire childhood and adolescence. Even as I entered university, mum’s Filofax was still a key member of our family.*

So when I asked my mum at the start of this year “How’s your Filofax going?” it was with surprise that I heard that both my parents had been converted to the technological world of the iPhone since their respective retirements: my mother was no longer using her Filofax. Clearly this was the end of an era!!! But also my chance to indulge my organisational dreams of owning a Filofax.

And here it is, in all its 16 years of glory:


The markings inside read “Filofax / Personal Portland / Real Leather”

I’m still playing with the internal schematics of my ‘new’ Filofax but, for now, the (homemade) tabs and contents are as follows:


Tab 1: “Info”
Contains: personal profile (below), general dates (holidays, school terms), notes subsection, and shopping subsection.
The inside cover has a zippered pocket, which usually holds a yellow highlighter and some sticky notes.


Personal profile (including the ever important ‘reward’ statement)


Tab 2: “Agenda”

Being the middle of the year, 2012 Filofax inserts were on super sale at my local Officeworks. I purchased a set of two pages per month, two pages per week, and one page per day diary pages for 50c each (I can’t see this deal online, but it was definitely available at the Albury store). The only thing I ‘splurged’ on were the monthly dividers. I have been using the monthly and daily pages (stashing the weekly pages for later use – if needed/wanted):


Month on two pages
I write things in black pen, then highlight over to define the task/event further
(personal, medical, uni, Guiding, bills, holidays)


Day per page outline as follows:
– Scheduled events (appropriately highlighted) at the top of the page
– Daily to do list
– Bottom ‘notes’ regard my husband’s work

I have daily pages inserted for the current and following month. The rest of the months hold a blank sheet to jot reminders, events, etc. down on so I remember things more easily (baby brain is real, ya’ll!) – a bit like a GTD ‘tickler’ filing system, but more compact.


Tab 3: “OBPA” (or Olave Baden Powell Award)
The cover features my name tags from the last two NSW/ACT state Olave Program conferences


I have a basic overview of my Award progress and key contacts


I printed the Award checklist over two pages for easy reference


Second page of checklist | The current overview of my Award challenges

This section also has two subsections (labelled ‘1’ and ‘2’) to use for the current two challenges in progress (two being the maximum of the seven challenges I plan to work on at any given time).


Tab 4: “Thesis”
I made the cover for this tab from a suitable magazine advert


The ‘research overview’ page for my thesis
Includes info I might need readily on hand (topic, basic outline, my uni info, supervisor details)

This section isn’t yet ‘fleshed out’ – simply because I am still trying to figure out what thesis related items I want to be kept in my Filofax. A running to do list / capture page is behind the ‘research overview,’ and I have allowed two (currently blank) subsections in this tab for later use (probably for recording meeting notes and ethics details).

Tab 5: “Baby” — I haven’t decorated the tab for this section yet (waiting for the next scan!) This section contains a go-to page for my hospital/midwife, doctor (once I find one here!), and a brief overview of upcoming appointments.The two subsections are ‘Lists’ (running to do, shopping, wish list, etc.) and ‘Appointments’ (obvious).


The back cover features six card slots and a longer slot.
I keep general (non-everyday) cards in here, along with ‘next appointment’ cards.
In the long slot I have a pad of pre-punched note paper.


Side view of the main five tabs


View of the top tabs:
“Grocery” (my current grocery list)
“Month” (the current month)
“Today” (…)
“MCP” (‘Midwife Care Program’ appointments and notes)


And just for giggles, here’s Charlie ‘helping’ me with my Filofax.

* Not so much a ‘family member’ was dad’s Filofax, which was boring and ‘executive’ (in comparison to mum’s Filofax which reflected her roles as school teacher / principal, wife, mother, and friend). NB: I’ve also adopted this Filofax (an ancient black ‘Lincoln’) and intend to use it for my (potential) new job – mainly because it is more ‘professional’ looking (and, emotionally, it feels more ‘professional’).