Monday, 7 October 2013

All Stars Tour: Day Planner Development - guest post by Helen

Many thanks to Amanda for giving me a slot on her super blog. I normally blog about books, so it is nice to write about something different!  Like many people I am obsessed by organization and my Filofax.  Also, like many people, I have struggled with the inserts which are on the market, not just from Filofax themselves but from others too. Nothing seems to quite work for me.

As we are coming up to the end of the year, it is that time when we all start to think about what we will use as a diary insert for 2014. This year I have been using a week to view, with not a great deal of success. I had a look back at what I have in my diary, and frankly it is a mess. I decided I need to work out what I was using the diary for, what information I was trying to record, and then in an ideal world how would I record it. From there I might be able to choose a more suitable diary insert for next year.

A review of my entries revealed something quite fundamental. I don’t use my diary inserts for recording appointments.  I am sure I am not the only one in this boat. Outside of work I have few appointments, maybe two or three per week. I don’t put my work appointments in my Filo as they change so often, it is too hard to keep up, and it is all in Outlook at the office anyway. I don’t need to reference that information when I am not at work.Instead, I was using the diary to list tasks that had to be done on a certain day, list things that needed to be done for my own wellbeing, blog ideas, and random notes. It was all very crowded and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

I started to think about a day per page diary, but I have tried the Filofax ones before, and failed, mainly because the lines are very narrow, and it looks cluttered. I am a bear of very little brain, and I like everything in its place if I am going to stand a chance of keeping on top of everything. It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that I needed to design my own day planner.

Out came some blank pages and a ruler and I started to sketch out what a layout might look like. One of the key items for me to include was a section for my wellbeing. I have learned recently that there are some specific things I need to do, daily if I can, to keep me in good physical and mental shape, and if I write them down, I can see when I am starting to slip. These are part of the Primal lifestyle I lead, and I wanted to put these items at the centre of my daily planner.  I also have on average about ten tasks per day, so needed a big section for this. I then split the rest of the space up to cover other items such as notes, appointments and blogging.

Having drawn up a couple of dummy pages, I trialed them for a week, to see how it worked. It wasn’t a bad first attempt. I tweaked the sizes of the sections to make the notes section a little bigger and reduced the appointments section.  

This is the layout I finally came up with.

I use them in conjunction with my week on two pages, which gives me an overview of the week. In 2014 I may try and reduce this to a week per page, or even a monthly calendar. Each Sunday I sit down and review what is coming up and then put them in my day planner. This is what I have open on my desk all day. I have noticed now that I am much more aware of when I am slipping on my Primalgoals and am much more focused on what needs to be done that day.

Making your own inserts is a great way to really get the most from your pages and here is a summary of how to go about it:

1. Review your current pages to see what is most important to you. How do you record different types of info?

2. Place whatever is most important to you in an area of the page where your eye naturally falls. For me this is the left hand side in the middle. Whenever you look at your page this is what you will see first

3. Think about what sections you need and their relative sizes. I only needed a very small appointment section, you may need the whole of one side of the page

4. Draw a few up layouts by hand and try them
out to see if you run out of space in a particular section, or if you don’t use a section at all.

5. Fine tune over time – your needs may change, and changing your inserts to match is the sensible thing to do.

I hope this is useful, and I would love to see what personalized layouts you use!

Thank you so much to Helen for writing this post, she has inspired me to have a go at designing my own inserts before the end of the year!


  1. I like the idea of fine tuning personal pages for you. Honestly, I never type them up and print them. I just draw them out. But I follow the same line of reasoning that you do, like looking at a certain part of the page first so making that were priority information goes.

    1. I'm not sure if I would be able to print my own pages properly so you get the style on each side of the paper, I'm worried I would keep messing it up!

  2. Those look very interesting. I enjoy making my own pages, too, and including some of those personal items.

    1. I've been toying with the idea of keeping track of my water intake, I know I usually fall short of the recommend eight glasses a day but I haven't thought of a way I could incorporate it into my diary section yet.