making it better – my filofax fauxdori flex

While I have much love for my Filofax Flex, I like the style of the Midori Traveler notebooks. After struggling to corral all the notebooks I like to transport around the house or to a coffee shop, I realized there was a very simple solution.

I converted the flex to a fauxdori.

Now I can enjoy the best of both worlds! I keep my planner slid into the right-most pocket so I can have it open and see most of it along with whatever notebook I’m currently using. I use elastics to contain the other notebooks.


It was a quick project, and I only needed to purchase the eyelet kit because I didn’t have any in this small size. I found the elastic in my sewing bin. All other tools live on my workbench.

I’m happy to give this tool a renewed lease on life. I made this change back in April and have been in love since!

Now I’m having the annual mid-year planner debate. I’m tempted by the hobonichi cousin, the Leuchtturm1917 Academic Week Planner A5 Medium 2016 – 18 month one double-page spread per week, and the passion planner.

Have you recently improved a tool you love to make it even better? Are you itching for a new planner?

2014 planner status & how I fill my logbooks

We’re almost into the third month of the year, while I try not too think to much about that, it does mean that I’ve been using my current system for a while now. So, how’s it holding up?

I’m still in love with it and using it pretty much how I described at the end of December. Yes, there are a few things I’d love to change, but that’s ok. While I was preparing this post I came up with an easy solution for one of my complaints so that was a nice surprise.

To review, I use a hybrid system:

A5 Filofax Flex
with a week to view diary and multiple notebooks
A5 notebooks
stored primarily in the flex that hold daily log notes, knitting journal, and book reviews
Quo Vadis Trinote
that I received from the company to test-drive last year. I’m still using it for time-block planning.
text files
on my laptop to capture digital notes
google calendar
multiple calendars and colours that allow for quick and consistent categorization of events
digital project management system
that captures project-based and reoccurring tasks that can’t be lost in the shuffle

It sounds much more complex than it is. Honest!

My few complaints remain. I’m sad that the Trinote doesn’t fit in the Flex. I am also frustrated about the bulk of the week-to-view diary. Last week Laurie asked, “how much does your planner weigh“? and I was very surprised to discover:

my A5 flex with the kitchen sink inside (which just gets carried around my home office with this much of everything) weighs in at a hefty 838g today. i’ll try to remember the weigh the “normal schlepping weight” soon, that leaves a few notebooks out.

So today as I was scanning a notebook page for the second half of this post, I decided to pull out the scale and look at the numbers. If I take out the infrequent notebooks to include only required notebooks, it still weighed in at 581g! Most notebooks are about 90g each, but the diary was 227g! So I looked at how it was constructed and determined it wouldn’t be too difficult to pull out the first signature. So I did. That weighed 42g!


While I loose the reference materials and anno planner, I think it will be more manageable this way. I haven’t used the reference materials or anno planner in the flex at all (I use the anno in the trinote). The diary is still a heavy but more manageable 185g. The next signature can be removed in mid-May. This isn’t ideal but it has lightened it!


I’m already thinking about how I’ll deal with it in the future, 620g is still heavy.


Shifting gears, let’s discuss how I use the notebooks. I’ve keep a daily log notebook for years. I’ve written about my systems in their various iterations over the years and while I might sometimes use different methods of capture, the overall format has been pretty solid for a while. I like to list my tasks in a big chunk and any important time-based items. Then I keep a rough log of what I’m doing, need to review, etc.

When the bullet journal system made waves last summer I used it to fine tune my method a little more. What I liked was way it codified indicating different types of entry. I had no idea why I never formalized my own system so I wrote them (and my modifications) on the front of my notebook. I primarily use simple lined A5 notebooks though I have some grid notebooks waiting to be the next volume.


I still do a rainbow highlight of completed tasks throughout the week, and start filling in the box when I begin the task. I also use labels for repetitive needs, such as the weekly meal planning. I also use a nice punch from muji that perforates to make the corners easy to tear out.


If you’d like to read about a few others experiences with the bullet journal system, check out some thoughts from Beverly and Kim.

As for the pen I’m currently in love with… it’s this hexagon shaped barrel 0.4mm with blue-black gel ink. I love the ink colour, I love the feel of the pen in my hand, I love how it writes.

I also now do two reviews each day. The first when I sit down after cleaning my desk with the flex, trinote, and my digital system open and ready. The second either right before I head upstairs to bed or when I’m already settling in for the night, this one is into the daily log book, reviewing what was completed, and starting the page for the next day. This twice daily review/planning helps me clear my brain and both focus and sleep better.

Next time I’ll write a bit about my digital system and how it complements the paper.

Of course I’m experiencing some “grass is greener” (or exists given this winter) with a new planner, there is an A5 version of the popular (and now in English) Hobonichi Planner. I don’t think I want to schlep around a page-per-day format and in Japanese, but it is definitely something I’m thinking about.

Planner Status, looking forward to 2014

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve made a few changes for my 2014 planning needs. There are still a few issues I need to work out, but so far this system has been working for me over the past few weeks.

Yes, I am still using a hybrid digital/paper system. It works for me and I recognize it may not work for everyone. I do not like using an app(lication) just because it exists or others use it. I’ve tried quite a few over the years and have written about my love of some of them. I do use some with the caveat that I recognize their imperfections and don’t allow their faults to cause my systems to fail. (Trust me, it’s happened.)

My unique challenge is that I need to be able to manage both businesses (PennyWise Consulting, LLC and Little Acorn Creations), keep up with my husband, and also whatever is needed at home. My primary place of work is in my office, but my planning often takes place throughout the house or at a coffee shop. I also need to be able to take the parts that I need to client meetings. So my solution needs to be portable, but not too tiny even though I can write very small if I want.

I like the ARC/Circa system for its flexibility and the junior size is right in my paper comfort zone. I love my filofaxes for the same reason. What I don’t like about these binder or disc systems, is that if I want to take just a section out to work with elsewhere … then the pages are either reliant on a binder clip or I need to transfer them to another notebook. That is frustrating and an extra step. Or I need to take everything with me. I tend to over-bring even for a trip to the grocery store, but I’m trying to stop bringing the kitchen sink everywhere.

I first learned of the filofax flex at Philofaxy back when the line first launched. I was interested in it, but not sure I wanted to plunk down money for yet another system I’d abandon a few weeks later. As it is I could give an office supply store a run for its money, I didn’t need more.

Yet, I kept returning to a collection of small light weight bound notebooks for knitting notes and common everyday notebooks. I like that if I just need my notes to knit, I can tuck just that book into my bag and leave the rest on my desk or if I’m meeting with a client, a planning calendar and my work notebook can come with me.

But how to keep it all together? In the back of my head, I kept thinking about the filofax flex. I first used a filofax in high school, and while I try to be brand neutral, there is something about that brand that has stuck with me over the years. I read many reviews that said large moleskines fit into the A5 size. I was tired of not having a way to keep them all together if I wanted. I contemplated purchasing a choral folder but I knew that wasn’t my solution either.

In August, I finally succumbed and purchased a grey A5 filofax flex system.

Upon opening the package, I was instantly in love. First and foremost, it is GREY! Secondly, I was able to put my handmade temporary planner into it, a knitting notebook, and the current work notebook. What really won me over was i could lay out the calendar and have a notebook open as well. I found that the pen holder was nice and the elastic could hold most of my pen choices.

I began searching high and low for different planners that would fit into my new filo. I contemplated the new turntable system Moleskine but I wasn’t too keen on a hardcover. I came close to returning to the weekly with notes, but I do like having extra space per day.


I finally decided on Filofax’s own Week On Two Pages Diary. Even though the week breaks over Wednesday, each day has a very large size box and there’s a planning section. I was delighted to discover that it began on Monday 25 November, as it is a December-December planner. When I begin my weekly planning, I put items that are general to the week in the this week notes field. Anything that has a deadline, gets its own day. I then highlight the day-of-week and whatever items are completed that day. Most of the time I follow a rainbow highlighter progression throughout the week, but sometimes I grab the wrong one. It is what it is.


The work journals are filled with tasks and notes that are organized in the system I’ve been using for years. One that is similar in many ways to the bullet journal that made the rounds of the internet earlier this year. I’ve just never formally written up a style guide for my own work logs. I create style guides for many of my clients (both businesses), I have no answer why I haven’t created one for these notebooks yet.


To supplement this and help me with time management throughout the day (something I’ve been struggling with balancing), over the summer I entered a contest at the Quo Vadis Planner Blog that offered to send a planner to someone willing to test drive one of their planners and to my surprise they sent me a Trinote! A few years ago I had purchased one, but couldn’t figure out at all how to make it work for me. I think I filled out perhaps 3 days out of the entire notebook. As I’ve been working more with time blocking, I thought the format would be a good one to try. I needed to wait until the first full week of December to start putting this planner through its paces, but I am really liking the format. I don’t know why this is working for me but it is. My process is that in the morning I pencil in a rough schedule, then as I go through tasks, I ink over how the time blocks really went. It’s really working for me, much to my surprise and delight.


However, these systems aren’t perfect. I’m sad the Trinote doesn’t fit into the filo and I’ve not yet found a similar planner that has the layout I like (and I do like the Trinote tremendously) and will fit. It’s ok, the Trinote doubles as a layer of protection for those sheets of paper that I can’t fold in half, and helps pad a file folder. For the most part, the Trinote lives in my office, so it isn’t as frustrating that it’s not combined. I am on the lookout already for a planner that merges the good things of both planners. I’m also sharpening my indesign skills, though don’t hold your breath for that. I am sad at the large size of the Filofax Diary. I wish it was in two halves, Perhaps December – June and June – January. But it’s ok. It’s not excessively large, I just would like to get rid of parts that aren’t needed (as I rarely back-reference this planner). I may resort to tearing out. I need to look closely at how it’s bound together before I do that.

What makes them work for me? I confess that I love that the covers for both planners are grey. I like the professional yet slightly quirky feel bringing a grey planner to the meeting table provides. I am happy to report that the filofax flex is just that.. flexible. I can easily replace the work notebook, without impacting any other part of the system. If I want just the knitting notebook to come along on a short road trip, I can take that out and leave the rest at home. While my day revolves a good deal about technology, I like that I can take a complete break from the computer or tablet or my phone and focus on figuring out what needs to be done.

And yes, the cats like them too. Shadow likes the Trinote (especially when I time block kitten snuggles), and Buddy likes everything.


I’m really curious how this system holds up over the coming months.

What are you using for your 2014 planning system?

Planner Status, Year End Review

So, it’s been a year already. How did my 2013 planner choices fair? There were three main posts about this saga: that time of year: planner angst, planner status, end of january edition, and planner status, heat wave edition. I think overall it was a good year. I made more changes mid-year than I wanted, but I think I’ve finally found a grouping that is working…

As hinted in January, the arc/circa hybrid was changed out pretty quickly. I just could not get used to the layout of the Staples weekly pages. I also found the notebook quickly became heavy and I would spend hours rearranging instead of working. Could I have easily purchased new refills and smaller rings? Yes. But I was drawn to the notebook because of the allure and message I thought using it would bring. That by using one I’d be automatically organized, put together, and feel fancy. Is that bad? No, but I hadn’t chosen the tool that was best for me. I still like both the Circa and ARC systems, they just don’t work well for me and the work I am doing right now. Now my challenge for 2014 is to resist the siren call of their new app system which I believe is brilliant.

The green planner, for weekly review and recording dinners that I was the most worried about?


I missed a few days of dinner recording (neither E nor I can remember what we ate), but I’m pleased with how it enabled me to briefly review each week and how in time it’s turned into a record of the year. I find it helpful as I’ve been neglectful of regular journal writing this year.

It was so successful, I purchased a new volume in the same format for 2014. This year I won’t be as afraid to set ink to the notebook!

While I was struggling with what worked best as the day-to-day planner, I had quite a bit of fun photographing my daily lists on instagram and with my tag #morecoffee. I’m not photographing every list anymore, but I expect there will still be updates to my flickr set.

2013-July-plannerHow did my DIY solution work until I could decide on an academic planner or wait until 2014?

It was okay, but I was very miserable.

Why? While I took time with the second version to set everything up nicer, something just still wasn’t right. I guess in order for it to be a proper calendar/planner for me it needs to be typeset and printed. Yes, in theory I could layout something with inDesign and a database of dates that needed to be inserted, but that’s a bit beyond my current skill set with the software.

Even though I had labels and lists of holidays, even if I was careful with my handwriting, it was too easy to be inconsistent with placement of holidays or other events and that broke down my ability to see certain facts quickly. So I became.. frustrated. All hope was not lost.

A few weeks after that summertime post, I purchased an A5 Filofax Flex binder in grey. It fits large size moleskines (both hard & soft cover), and my favourite A5 notebooks from Muji. After much debate I also acquired a 2014 planner from Filofax. Further, over the summer I received a Quo Vadis Trinote through a contest on their blog. I had to wait for both planners to start (the filofax began the last week of November, the Trinote the first week in December). Later this week I hope to update with how this new system is progressing, so far I’m still in love.

Both cats are in love with the planners too. Shadow really liked the Trinote last week.


What planner lessons did I learn in 2013?

  1. If it doesn’t work to the point I hate using it, change is good.
  2. I really like color coding each day, but I shouldn’t let lack of the proper color derail the system.
  3. I prefer bound notebooks over other systems.
  4. I need something printed with some basic information (dates, holidays, etc) included for consistency.

What lessons did learn from your 2013 planner system?

why yes i did

Last week I hinted to a recent addition to my reading arsenal. A week later I’m still gathering all my thoughts but I am pleased with my decision.

It was not one that came easily, though it was one driven by a need for lightness. My bag collection causes my husband some frustration and I realized that instead of slimming down with what I was carrying back and forth it was gaining weight.
Much of it was stuff that I need to have on hand for reference, but rarely if ever actually need (thankfully).
Much of it was magazines that I rarely read in a timely manner, such as The Economist.
Much of it was my beloved A5 filo, crammed full of my calendar and notes.
Much of it was knitting patterns and my stash and queue printout from Ravelry.
Much of it when piled on a scale added up to about 5lbs (2.26kg). That’s a lot to schlep back and forth each day.

So I looked around and tried to lighten my load. I removed a few sheets from my filo and put a magazine in the bathroom, but that was about it. I also was threatened with a few tech books and as they often outweigh me I was skeptical if I could find a solution among the various things around the house.

Wait, don’t I own a netbook? Yes, Akepa is doing well, but is very happy to be an at-home computer and tethered within three hours. He likes to hang out near the kitchen and that works out well for me. The battery life was an issue and I’d get every minute out of him I could, but that technology just isn’t there for my needs.

So I began to look around at the rest of the offerings. Most tablets are 4 pounds or more and that doesn’t seem to be a large enough gain for me to invest in one. I looked long and hard at kindles and queried friends who own them like crazy. I followed CES more than I normally do to see if there was something in the near forecast that begged for me to wait. I didn’t ignore the apple announcement, but seriously, few could.

Part of what I do (new site launching soon) is make an evaluation and decide if there is a good fit between technology and need. Sometimes the answer is surprising and a pencil is sharpened instead of a fancy custom database system, yet sometimes the pencil is put down and code is written. Sometimes after all the pieces are looked at I break down and accept installation a windows server (albeit with sad reservations). Sometimes I need to look at something for me, and I find this harder than advising clients. I try hard not to have them spend their budgets foolishly, but I find myself unable to stand firm when the decision centers around my bank balance.

So how did I end up with the Sony Touch? Size and weight, library book access, freehand and text annotations, and memory expansion. The ability for me to access some of my RSS feeds, and the joy of being able to access my electronic subscription to The Economist while E has the paper copy is priceless (thank you calibre).

Is it perfect? No.

Am I still in love after a week? Yes.

In the coming weeks and months I hope to be able to explain more about what works and what doesn’t. I ask for patience as I get the volumes of thoughts out. A big item that didn’t was my completely ditching my filofax. A trip to the hardware store has me striking back and trying something different. Will it work? I hope so. If it does maybe you’ll be able to buy it soon. If it doesn’t, I tried and had quite a bit of fun in the process.

What follows are two books I completed this past week. There were also two massive tech books in there that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. If in time I feel they need to be revealed I will do so. There isn’t anything bad about them but there wasn’t anything good or remarkable about them either and I’d rather move on.

The Key of the Keplian: Secrets of the Witch World The Key of the Keplian: Secrets of the Witch World
by Andre Norton
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1/2 star for book review

As I find it difficult to get my hands on any copies of Norton’s witch world series, this was my first foray into that land. I really enjoyed it and am now in the middle of “Secrets of Witch World” which also includes The Key of the Keplian. I guess the fact that I immediately started reading The Magestone speaks for how much I enjoyed The Key of the Keplian. Parts of the plot and character development left me rolling my eyes but overall I found it a fun fantasy escape.
I borrowed them from the library and I’m reading these on my new touch and enjoying the adventure.

Dragon Mage: A Sequel to Dragon Magic Dragon Mage: A Sequel to Dragon Magic
by Andre Norton
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1/2 star for book reviewno star for book review

This was another $1 bookoff find. ;)
I found it interesting to read and I’d like to read Dragon Magic too. Anything with a lead character with a background like Shilo’s will tug and my heartstrings.