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Designing a Filofax that (might) work

I confess, I own 3 Filofaxes, a personal one which is at my parents, and two A5s. I spent a lot of December trying to work out an attractive way to organise my life, read 1 million organising, journal and lifehacking articles, spent hours talking about this with friends and eventually decided that the reasons that the filofax stuff didn’t work for me was because the Filofax system wasn’t personalised enough to me. So I decided to empty out the junk from the two Filofaxes, dive head first into the world of printables, say feck that, fire up Photobox and not have time to watch any television for about a week. Well two days anyway.

I like beautiful things, so I designed a beautiful Filofax for me. It’s not finished yet – there are holding pages in some places, and my printer needs new cartridges so full on designs in some places were delayed. But I thought a lot about what I wanted from a journal and I basically want it to be very customisable, and beautiful, and inspiring, and likely to be used. I cheated on one small thing – I bought Week on 2 page calendars and some vertical and horizontal year planners mainly because a) I didn’t have time to lay them out myself and b) if I did, they’d cost a lot more to print than buying the Filofax ones. I may change this during the year if it again is obvious the Filofax layouts aren’t working for me.

So this is the front page.


It’s got my name and contact details, and has a binary brush design on it. I printed it on Tesco cotton paper which is more expensive than their cheap white paper but is cream and pretty and will be used for a lot of dividers.

Some of what follows was done in Photoshop, some in Word, depending on what purpose I was trying to fulfill.

I wanted my organiser to have a place to go when I need a break, a little inspiration, a little reminder that life has many beautiful things in it. So the first section is an Inspiration section.


I don’t really use tabs all that much – just wider dividers. This is about a cm wider than normal A5.

It includes a bunch of photographs I took myself, a verse of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, the first page of the second movement of Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto.

Inside the section is a page devoted to XKCD which is one of my favourite things on the web


some poems printed on parchment


a few photographs I took myself


a couple of pieces of travel writing of places I love (in this case Brittany but I’m going to add to it)


and in a plastic pouch some cards by other photographers I like, like Philip Plisson and Lyn Tait.

Then there’s the Personal Development section:

which looks like this:


The two quotes are key to the idea of doing rather than talking about doing and it’s got a review of last year in it as well.


In fact, this theme is prevalent because it covers the actual time planning as well:


I did a number of month based dividers as well – January, February and March are done. I wanted them to have a little beauty, and they were printed on the cotton paper again – and each of them has a poem.




I’ll use songs as well if I find ones I like for the other months, or quotes out of books.

I’ve got lots of projects which is why I need an organiser.


and I have lots of things people have said about organising projects.

and just to prove I do use little post-it type thingies as well:


this will organise the inside of projects as lots of small projects really can’t demand a whole pile of graphic design every time. I will do dividers to sort projects into blog thingies, data thingies, sports thingies and the like….

I’m currently studying maths at the Open University plus a bunch of other things via coursera, MIT OCW and Udacity.


so that needs to be organised as well.


There’s a travel section as well:

and a finance section:


and lastly, a wishlist organiser.


so that I spend a lot less money on impulse buys and can sanity check more of them. The one thing I do need is an A5 metal punch for my Filofax – couldn’t get one in Dublin and the plastic one struggles with photographic card and anything thicker.

In terms of what I used, there are Photoshop textures and brushes which I have accumulated over the years. Most of the textures came from Metal Militia. A lot of the brushes came via Brusheezy and Deviantart. The font is a paid for font, Academy Engraved I think, which I love although the front page one is a script like font which either came with Photoshop or I picked up from I use Tesco Finest cotton paper, HP Brilliant or Eco white, some parchment which I bought in Easons years and years ago, a HP printer and an AWFUL lot of time.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Katrin | 01/01/2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    wow, the dividers are awesome!

  2. Claire | 01/01/2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    T – that looks really fantastic. I can’t wait to see it in the “flesh”!

  3. Kevin | 11/01/2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Treasa, you never cease to amaze.

  4. Sam | 05/06/2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    This is amazing and truly inspirational! I love the idea of the poems and motivational quotes, and I love the way you have done the dividers, I have some parchment paper and I can see my A5 Malden getting more customised to my way.

    Thank you for sharing this, I love it!

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