The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2012-08-05

Friday, August 10, 2012

Philofaxy Question: How I use my Filofax Part 2




Today I'm doing Part 2, answering Philofaxy's Free For All Tuesday  questions about how people use their filofaxes, specifically.  (Part 1 is here.)

The questions as posted:
  1. "Do you open it the night before, for a review of the following day?
  2.  Open it first thing in the morning, to check what’s on your schedule? 
  3. Do you plan the day using your calendar and To Do list in the morning? 
  4. How often do people visit the diary and To Do pages daily, in whatever system they use?"


 I write in my Filofax though out the day and I (try to) write things down the second they occur to me; if I don't they are gone forever.  Everything goes on my daily sheets, even things meant for other days - I transfer the information later if need be but the process of writing something and dealing with it multiple times helps anchor it.  

Accomplishing anything is hard for me.  My working memory (holding onto information long enough to accomplish a goal) isn't great; a problem common for people with attention deficit disorder.  There is a lot of repetition in my lists; looking at (and writing) the same thing multiple times helps 'move' things from my short term memory - which is gone the second I have another thought - into a more permanent place.


I write things  down as they occur to me but there are two times I always check in; right before bed and first thing in the morning.   

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I wake up crazy early; by 6 a.m. I've usually been up hours!  The first thing I do after getting out of bed is grab my Filofax and go downstairs to make coffee.  

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I start my day in a big comfy chair; my Filofax open on an  ottoman before me and my coffee within arms reach.  I flesh out my daily to-do lists the night before and that's the first thing I look at.  Next, I go back through the past few days to see if there's anything I didn't get done and add anything that still needs to be addressed.

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I use the Dodo week on a page to track things like vitamins/ health/ diet and the second thing I do is see how I did the day before.   I paperclip things to these weekly sheets that I need to handle on any given week; might be an expiring coupon, a prescription, a library book I need to return, a doctor's appointment, etc. 

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How fun does next week look?

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I use the Filofax branded to-do sheets for bigger projects.  While they don't work as a daily sheet they've been great for larger multi-part type projects.  This list was all the things I wanted to get done when my family was on vacation last week.  If I haven't completed everything I take a look and see if there's anything I can get done that day.

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Keeping track of small things like stamps and business cards is impossible for me so I use A to Z dividers as a sort of Rolodex.  Stamps under 'S'...

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Perfume sample reviews under 'P'...


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I even put the tags from a shirt that fit my son wonderfully under 'B' - My son's name is Ben.

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Keeping business cards this way has been great and even if I kept nothing in my A to Z section but cards it would be worth it.  

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While an A5 Filofax is a bit of a brick to carry around, the size allows me space to keep all kinds of random things that have no other home.  With A.D.D.  finding homes for everything is my ultimate goal. 

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The space in an A5 is luxury.  Without it all the tickets, tags, post-its and whatever bits I find to delicious to throw out  would be EVERYWHERE!  I've watched a lot of TV shows on organizing and am always struck by how much stuff people have all over. 

No one ever wants to get rid of it; it's all too important to them.  But as they say on the shows, if everything's important - Nothings important.  

Once you whittle down the things you love,  they deserve not to be buried under mountains of randomness. 

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Really important things deserve space in your life.  I think that's true of things you want to accomplish also.  

For me an A5 Filofax allows me space to plan and acts as portable filing cabinet.  My main to-do sheets are plain graph paper and being unstructured I can write everything, anywhere.  I don't ever run out of room, which I would on a dated sheet, plus if I don't have much going on on a day I just start tomorrow's list on the same page.  

I've tried daily dated sheets but they frustrate me.  Either I waste paper on light days or don't have enough on busy days.  Undated to-do sheets are perfect.

The A5 has room for as many  pages as I need and is roomy enough to house small homeless things that would be turn into clutter in a hot minute.   

So how I use my Filofax is a big topic with a very long answer... While there are only two times during the day I specifically check it (first thing in the morning, last thing at night) it's almost always open,  in use, and within arm's reach.  





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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The truth of how I use my Filofax is stranger then fiction..


My love of filofaxes (Wait. Make that filofaxes et al. because my addiction includes all things categorized as office or organizing supplies) baffles my family. It's not just retail therapy, I love the old stuff as much as the new.  

My family doesn't get it all.  I ignore their snickers but in the last few weeks I've done a lot of decluttering and it got me wondering something...  If these things are supposed to help organize me how did I get to a point where the organizing tools are a clutter issue themselves?

In Philofaxy's Free For All Tuesday a question was posted asking how people USE their filofaxes, specifically.

"Do you open it the night before, for a review of the following day? Open it first thing in the morning, to check what’s on your schedule? Do you plan the day using your calendar and To Do list in the morning? How often do people visit the diary and To Do pages daily, in whatever system they use?"

I didn't answer it because I wanted to give it some thought but the post got 71  well thought out responses (so far), some quite long and involved.  It was a  fabulous read!  But beyond the voyeuristic thrill I got, peeking  into other people's planners (OPP) and thoughts, there's a lot of great information and spring-board ideas to be found in those comments.

When I tried to put my response into words, I couldn't.  Well, I could but nothing really explained why I needed all the stuff I had and wanted more, which has been on my mind for at least a week.  If push came to shove I could make do with one A5.  And  although a pocket sized Filofax is wallet nirvana , 'need' would be a strong word....

And nothing explains why I keep the Filofax boxes or the tissue paper that lovingly cradled each Filofax before it was mine.  They just sit on my book shelves like little dust collecting organizing trophies.

I think the answer to the question - about why I have all this stuff and still want more - is long and involved (as is my answer to how I use my Filofax...) but I think it has something to do with A.D.D and how I can't keep track of anything that isn't in my visual line of sight.  That also explains why nothing has a home and I keep everything out in the open.

In a way it is a solution but it creates another problem; when there's too much out I feel overloaded and overwhelmed.  This morning I decided to address it head on and started with the Filofax boxes.


BeFunky Warming on iPhone

I grouped small like things in the boxes and used my Vintage Dymo Label Maker (also sitting around collecting dust) to tell me what's in each box.   

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The A5 box holds my costume jewelry...

BeFunky Instant 3 on iPhone

And while I was at it, I labeled the Jewelmint boxes too.

So, I know -  this wasn't really a how I use my Filofax post per se...  But finding a use for the boxes is a huge first step.   Using what I already have to solve problems is a wonderful thing and turning something that is clutter into something that manages clutter is astounding.  

 A big thank you to  Philofaxy for spring boarding me into a workable life solution.  I certainly never thought the answer to how I use a Filofax would involve the box but hey  - The truth is usually stranger then fiction.  

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The winner of the Hellmann's Summer Giveaway is..


Email me for details, honey!


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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A disorganized, cluttered, and imperfect joy

There's just something about planners.  I bought my first one decades ago; a cheap no-name purple striped plastic job a little bigger then a personal Filofax but smaller then an A5.  I wasn't shopping for one but when I held it and flipped through the neat, organized pages I imagined a better life.

I wasn't sure how or why my life would work better if I took it home, but something inside told me to buy it, so I did.  

And that's as far as I got.  I opened it all the time but never wrote a thing; I didn't want to wreck the neat pages or use it wrong. It frustrated me and eventually I gave it to a friend  who was in a Doctorate Program ( in a different state ).

 I forgot about my planner until I visited my friend several years later.  I was awed; she'd done what I couldn't accomplish.  It was stuffed to busting and falling apart from years of daily use. I wanted to dive in to it and look at my friends life from the inside out.  But I just couldn't bring myself to ask - It seemed too intimate a thing to paw through. 

All I did was gaze at this study of perfectly, disorganized organization and feel liked I'd failed somehow.

She'd managed to do what I couldn't. I was enchanted... And jealous.  I stewed about it for quite some time, eventually buying a Portland Personal.


But I couldn't get that to work either. Back then I didn't know that planner needs are unique, what works for one person - fails miserably for another.  My Portland, like the cheap purple plastic planner, sat around unused  but I didn't give up hope. I couldn't bring myself to give this one away.

Last year I found Philofaxy and realized it wasn't the planner that was the problem.  It wasn't me either really. The failure was a function of not knowing what might work for me plus the inertia I experience in the pursuit of perfection.  

Shortly after that revelation I knew I could make a planner work; I just had to keep trying...


I bought planners right and left...


A rainbow of them; big and small.


Some I ordered online at full price...


Others arrived in the mail with foreign postmarks...



Some were heavily discounted, some not.  






They all appeal to me, though some work better then others. 


I make each one a singular thing, individual... Me.


Adding whatever makes me want to open them multiple times a day.


And will help me manage my life.


Some pages are more art then appointments.


Others have an eclectic Smash Book vibe.


Some pages are almost meditative...


Some don't fit any category but their imperfection still rings right.

 No  matter how well each one works (or doesn't) they all help me manage my life in some way and give me that same  jolt of organizing adrenaline.

 The cheap purple plastic one didn't work but  it did fulfill it's promise of a better life.  Without that first spark of  possibility I'd never have gotten the others.  As many people throughout history have noticed, everything that doesn't work brings you closer to what does. 

And I get closer to Planner Nirvana all the time but if I never get quite there, that's okay too.   As Greg Anderson said,  “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

And this journey does give me joy;  a disorganized,  sometimes cluttered and always imperfect joy, but joy none the less.



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Ad of the day, August 7, 2012 Mail Order cars...

Sears Roebuck used to sell cars and houses, did you know that?  The Allstate was a bit of a high end model at the time sporting luxury fabric or leather interiors, a unique grille and jet-plane hood ornament.  Fancy!


The fabric interiors were made by the Saran Division of Dow Chemicals (The Saran Wrap people.)  I kind of love these interiors. 


I'd love a car interior like these; they beat today's sorry interior choices by a country mile. 

This ad is from The American Home Magazine, 1948

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