Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.
Organization Is Key
As a freelancer, I've had to develop a routine for keeping track of my client work, personal projects, and other commitments. Over the last few years, I've used several tools, some of which have been more effective than others. Recently, I've been really unhappy with the latest updates to the Google calendar app and decided it was time to take the plunge and revamp my personal organization system. After extensive research, I purchased a Filofax Personal Finsbury. I'm sharing an overview of how I set up my Filofax organizer in the hope that my insight will help others who are considering the world of ring binder planner organization.
Essential Organization Supplies and Filofax Accessories
I use the following items with my Filofax planner.
- Paper cutter. I already had a paper cutter because I do a lot of paper crafting. I like using a paper cutter with a large cutting surface that has a ruler and with interchangeable blades so that you can switch them out as they get dull. You may also be able to find a model with self-sharpening blades, which is another great option. If you're planning to make your own planner pages, a paper cutter will save you a lot of time and hassle. Currently, I'm using a Fiskars Recycled model.
- Hole punches. If you're planning to make your own planner pages, you'll also need a hole punch. I already owned a single-hole punch, which will always work in a pinch. I also bought the Rapesco hole punch. It's a six-hole adjustable punch that can be used with multiple ring binder planners.
- Laminating machine or contact paper. There are certain permanent pages that you may want to laminate so that they hold up longer. I used tons of contact paper when I was teaching and still have a bunch left over, so I'm using that for my Filofax. A personal laminating machine, such as a Scotch Thermal Laminator, is also a great, affordable option.
- Zip lock envelope. You can buy a wide variety of Filofax accessories from the official Filofax site as well as on Amazon. The Finsbury model has a zip pocket in the back, but I wanted the flexibility to carry additional small items.
- Business card holder. As an Etsy shop owner, I never know when I'm going to get requests for business cards. I carry cards in my wallet as well.
Please note that many Filofax users put together extensive lists of "essential" supplies that include items like washi tape and stamps. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with decorating a planner, it's not essential for organization. Concentrate on organization first and decorating second.
One of the very first pages in my Filofax is a laminated contact page with my full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address. Another one of the very first pages is the official Filofax page with my registered planner number. As my Filofax planner has extensive details about my calendar, daily planning, personal goal setting, and household organization, it would be devastating to lose it. If I ever left the planner somewhere and someone found it, that person could get it back to me as quickly as possible.
Most people have multiple sections in their Filofax or other ring binder, such as daily pages, monthly calendars, goal planning, and finances. It is up to you to determine the sections that make the most sense for you. Then you can make a tab for each section so that you can find it easily. My Finsbury model came with six numbered tab pages. I added my own labels over the numbers. Create labels for both sides of the tabs for ease of use.
I added a laminated divider page after each tab. These dividers make it easier to turn to the beginning of a new section and also provide a place to put sticky notes as needed. Many people add quotes, photos, and other inspiration to their dividers. It is up to you whether or not you want to use laminated dividers and if/how you want to decorate them.
One of the first things that I did when I got my Filofax was put together an updated hard copy of my contacts with both addresses and phone numbers. I have a desktop alphabetical file and used this hard copy to update that file. Then I formatted address and phone number lists to fit in the Filofax so that I always have them with me. I plan to write in new contacts as I get them and make a new typed master list at the beginning of the new calendar year.
Month on Two Pages
There are tons of different yearly, monthly, and daily page formats available for purchase and download. I downloaded a month on two pages template from Philofaxy. In the future, I may order an official Filofax month on two pages, but I thought I'd try this template for this year. I cut out the months and glued them to cardstock so that they would be back to back on durable paper. In the future, if I continue to use a downloaded template, I may glue the months to colored letter paper instead, as the card stock is probably overkill.
Week on Two Pages
This year I'm using the official week on two pages that came with my Filofax Personal Finsbury. Again, there are lots of different formats available if the default one isn't to your liking. And again, I'm trying this for now and may decide that I want to use something different in the future. I like to use these pages for exercise, cleaning, freelance accountability, appointment/commitment reminders, and "to do" tasks for varying projects and goals (i.e., writing articles and decorating the house).
It's extremely helpful to have some sort of bookmark or another marker to help you keep track of your current place in the week pages. My Filofax ring binder came with the plastic ruler that I've shown on the right, which I'm using as my "today" marker right now. At this point, I don't have any reason to make or buy something else, as it's working just fine.
Currently, I have the following pages in my household section.
- Cleaning. Four years ago, I swore up and down that I'd develop a weekly cleaning schedule, but it never happened. Inspired to follow through with this plan, at last, I created a master schedule for my Filofax. I break down the tasks for each day in my week on two pages section so that I know exactly what I need to get done each day.
- Meal planning/grocery shopping. I'm not the best at creating a set meal schedule, and my grocery shopping suffers for it. I'm working on changing my routine. I created my own meal planning and grocery shopping template and will adapt it as needed.
- Monthly finances. As I handle the majority of the finances for my household, it makes sense that I'm the one that keeps track of monthly earnings and expenses in my planner. The most important thing for me to keep track of is my freelance earnings. I'm also using these pages to document my husband's earnings and our monthly bills, grocery expenses, and other shopping/spending.
For several years, my long-term list-making has been somewhat disorganized. I'll make these lists in the spiral notebook that I'm currently using and then spend time hunting for the ones that I need later. When I fill up a spiral and start a new one, I have to dig out the old one to find something that I wrote six months ago. Now I'm keeping these long-term pages in my Filofax so that I can refer back to them more easily.
Extra Blank Pages
My Filofax came with white "to do" pages as well as an assortment of blank, lined, and grid papers in white and varying colors. I have a small selection of them in the back of my Filofax that I can use as needed on the go.
- Clear, top open envelope. This envelope came with my Filofax. Right now, the only thing that I have in there is regular-size yellow Post-It notes. I'm sure that over time I'll add other items to it.
- Ziploc pouch. For now, I'm using my Ziploc pouch for coupons and SCRIP cards. As I have my meal plans and shopping lists in the Filofax, it makes the most sense to keep current coupons and cards in the planner, too, so I don't forget anything when I head out to run errands.
- Business card holder. As I mentioned in the essential items and accessories section, I like to keep business cards with me because I never know when I'll need them on the go. I'm happy with the number of cards that I can carry in this holder.
What Don't I Have in My Filofax?
During the last few years of freelancing, I've used a smartphone calendar for appointments and commitments and a spiral notebook for freelance jobs, article brainstorming, goal setting, and other writing-related tasks. I'm using a spiral notebook alongside my Filofax and have streamlined the approach so that I have a single sheet per week for client jobs and the other articles that I'm writing that week. I've reserved pages in the back for ongoing brainstorming and other notes.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2015 Rose Clearfield
Karina Barnett on April 12, 2019:
Excellent post. I’ve been a Filofax user for at least 15 years. Had a personal then moved to A5. I use a combination of phone and paper calendar. Contrary to what most people do, I use Filofax mainly for appointments. I color code my family members stuff using frixion pens- if I need to scan my husband’s business trips, it’s all in purple, etc. I also have private students and writing/erasing/checking is way better than using phone. I don’t really decorate, it’s 100% funcional. I use zippered envelop for pencil leds, stamps, and envelope with open top for checks paid to me.
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 26, 2018:
Amazon or the official Filofax site.
Crystal on January 25, 2018:
Where do you buy your business card holder pages?
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 22, 2015:
Judy, thanks! Having many options for personalization is a definite advantage of using a ring binder planner.
Judy Nolan on February 22, 2015:
Great post, Rose! I especially agree with this comment, "Concentrate on organization first and decorating second." It is apparent that one of the reasons you really like your new planner is that there are many options for personalization.
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 18, 2015:
tillsontitan, I agree about being able to keep things together and take them with you without having to rely on technology. Thanks!
Mary Craig from New York on February 18, 2015:
Seems like you've got it covered! Great way to keep things in one place and be able to locate them when you need them sans technology!
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 17, 2015:
I thought the same thing about ring binder planners until I started researching them. In the past few years, they've definitely made a comeback. There are a few alarm reminders that I still use, but I keep all of my other information in my paper planner now. Thanks for your input on this topic!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 17, 2015:
With all our dependence on electronic calendars these days, Daytimers and Filofax have kind of fallen by the wayside. I depended on 3 systems (Franklin Covey, Daytimer and Dayrunner) over the years. While I use my e-calendar for appointments, I STILL use paper calendars for planning and thinking. If it weren't for the alarm reminders, I'd go back to my Filofax-type system in a heartbeat. Voted up, useful and sharing!
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 17, 2015:
Vicki, I hear you on having so many things in different places. It's crazy how quickly that can happen. Streamlining is definitely one of my goals for this planner.
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on February 17, 2015:
This makes me realize how unorganized I am. I have a small planner, but I have so many things in different places. I need to get it all together. Great hub! Sharing and pinning!
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 15, 2015:
I'm so glad to hear that, Kathryn! Thanks!
Kathryn Judy on February 15, 2015:
Excellent!! Especially for first timers like myself! Thank you.
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 12, 2015: