Are You Organised?

by Steve Morton

September 2016

People mistakenly think I’m a very organised person. This notion is very far from the truth. I often flit from one thing to another during any given day, sometimes because I need to, sometimes because I get distracted too easily by things around me or in front of me especially if I’m sat at my desk…

So I’m going to make a statement that might shock some of you…

Owning an organiser does not make you an organised person.

That has got that out of the way. So let’s go back to basics, shall we…

Why do we record things? Note I say record, not write, I will expand on that thought in a moment…. We record things to remind ourselves at a future date/time of things we are going to do. Or to record what we did and that we have done it.

For many years people have been trying to perfect this ‘recording’ and ‘checking’ activity. You would have thought by now we might have perfected it!

So why do various methods fail? Technology failing on us, exhausted batteries, cracked screens, devices lost or ones that have become obsolete. The pen that runs out as you are writing, the system that is too big to carry when needed… the list goes on.

One of the key things I’ve learned over the years though is this especially when we are talking about a group of people maintaining a system is you have to make it easy for them to access the information as well as making it easy for them to keep it up to date.

You might have a wonderful pictorial presentation of what your group of engineers is going to be doing next week, but if it takes all week to create that ‘picture’, then it is not going to be easy to discover what they will be doing the week after and to keep things up to date every week. And I ‘speak’ from experience with this example!

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Personally I find maintaining an electronic calendar easy when sat at my desk, with iCal open on my iMac, I point and click and type (touch typing helps!) and hit the return key and bingo I had the details of a flight I’m meeting on say the 28th December. That information is instantly shared on my wife Alison’s computer and it will appear on my son’s iPhone, iPad, Macbook Air all at the same time. Wonderful… except this… trying to do that operation on one of the mobile devices is a lot harder in comparison, unless I enter it using voice recognition software.

However, I like a lot of you much prefer to use pen and paper to record these things. So no more talk about technology and how wonderful it is…. or isn’t…

So we have decided to use pen and paper… marvellous… now this is were this gets interesting… it’s ok I’m not trying to lure you in to a trap like a salmon on to a hook…

So what size paper should we use? Oh that conundrum, A4 too big? Mini too small? Well we can’t cheat physics, a sheet of paper has a finite size and we have to decide I suppose what size to use, unless we fold a bigger sheet to fit a smaller size, but with added bulk.

So do we need anything else? Oh a pen I suppose, Bic biro? Or a fancy fountain pen that they only made one of? Take what is comfortable for you to use and it fits your budget… let’s go with the free promotional biro with ‘Bloggs Window Cleaners’ on it. It is a pen, it works, what more do we need….. We have paper and we have a means of writing on it.

With those two things you could devise a method and presentation of recording and noting things to do, meetings to attend, things to remember etc etc… and it would work. You might change it over time, you might refine the layout, but it would still work.

And then you would be organised. Yes?

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So why have a few of us got a stock room full of organisers, diary inserts, spare rulers, address sheets in multiple languages, stickers, washi-tape etc?

Yes well, let us choose to ignore what is behind those closed doors for now… Just select one of those organisers for a moment and look at it in detail and see what it brings to the party shall we… We will worry about the rest of our holdings in the national organiser stationery mountain some other time.

A Filofax organiser, what does it do for our simple, but very effective paper and pen organiser?

Having just sheets of paper and a pen is fine if you never have to carry your ‘organiser’ with you anywhere. Apart from the wind coming in through an open window, your pages are going to sit there just fine in the layout you have chosen. You can pick them up and move them around in the day or during the week as much as you like. Carrying them to a meeting, or to another building might be a bit risky, you could accidentally lose a sheet on your way to the meeting, the pages might get a bit creased in your bag or coat pocket.

So your Filofax organiser holds these sheets of paper on its rings so that the sheets of paper are kept in the order you require, and within the boundary of the outer cover which affords them some protection from the elements and from being bounced around in your back pack.

Does it do anything else? OK may be it holds some other loose items, may be your pen as well.

So ok I will use a ring bound organiser it seems a good idea to keep things in the same place. But that does restrict you a bit on the size of the paper you use… You can’t just change when you want without having more than one of these ring binders… sorry organisers.

At this point because we are going to have to fix the size of the organiser we are going to use for our ‘organiser’ it makes sense to try and decide which size you are going to use, but you don’t have to go out and buy each size of organiser….. No you don’t, trust me, you do not need to buy ones in every size…is that understood?

We will let you go out and buy some paper in each size, or just take some ordinary copier paper and cut it to the different sizes to try out your ‘organiser’ for real with your own handwriting to see if you can fit all of your notes and things in a typical day or week on to a page or two of your preferred size of paper.

Do that over a few days or weeks even and you will soon learn which is the best size for you.

Now at this point you might want to think about the time division of your ‘organiser’ we haven’t gone decimal yet with time measurement, there are still 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week and a varying number of days in a month, so we tend to use days, weeks and months for most things.

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We know from others that there are pros and cons about using a day layout or week layout. Which ever you decide to use will impact on the number of sheets of paper your ‘organiser’ will contain. This will influence the size of the rings your ‘organiser’ will have because again that thing called physics decides how much paper we can fit on to the rings of our Filofax organiser.

So given a reasonable amount of time we will settle on what we think is the ideal paper size, layout, pen to use, how many sheets we need to carry and therefore what size organiser with what ever size rings in it. Now you can buy an organiser in the size of your choice.

That is it then? No Steve, I can’t decide which model; do I go for this one, which only costs $25, or that one for $400, what is the difference between them?

Nothing at all in terms of being organised…. nothing at all…….

  • You will find other random words by Steve Morton a.k.a. ‘Lord of the Rings’  over at
  • His mutterings on Twitter @stevemorton or @philofaxy
  • His creative planner photographs on Instagram
  • If you like listening then he is one of the co-hosts behind ‘The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Plannerverse’ over at http://philofaxy/podcast and episode 1 is all about Size and does it matter….

One thought on “Are You Organised?

  • September 1, 2016 at 7:09 PM

    Haha love it! But I want the $25 one AND the $400 one .. And the $30 one and the $100 one and the $2 one! But , oh no, now i have so many which one do I use?! I love them all .. My precious’es


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