17 February 2015

Free For All Tuesday No. 211


  1. Greetings,

    Haven’t posted here for quite a while, but do take a look at the site now and then…

    Hope this is an OK subject to post here, as I will greatly appreciate everyone’s input as I’m going through a major work transition and as a result feel very unsettled in terms of whether the approach/tools I’ve been using the past few years for paper-based project management are still the right ones.

    For the past 7 years, I’ve been directing a team of people inside a large healthcare organization to execute several large, complex building projects. These projects were completed in December, except for some ‘clean-up work’ of miscellaneous items.

    As of today, my role has changed to directing a larger team of people to manage all the various types of building related projects at two separate medical center campuses about 20 miles apart.

    I’ll be splitting my time between the two locations, with an office in each location.

    I’m moving from 4 large projects to a portfolio of 50 – 75 small, medium, large projects between the two locations. That’s quite a change in the amount of projects/info to keep track of.
    This type of work involves some time in my office during the day, plus various meetings in various locations over the course of a day. So, need to be able to have whatever tools with me as I go to capture meeting highlights, To DO items, etc.

    I use my iPhone to capture calendar info as it syncs to the desktop computer in my office.

    I used to use a binder as my tool, but at some point, it felt too cumbersome, keeping up the sections with blank pages, then archiving filled out pages, etc. Went from using a FC Classic and then Filofax A5 binder to a Moleskine, then Rhodia Webnotebook (5.5” x 8.25”) journal solution.
    Now that the scope of my job has changed dramatically, I feel uneasy about whether to continue the journal based solution in terms of whether it will now become too messy and complicated trying to track so many different projects in one location over time. Since it’s very hard to locate all the specific project related info (notes, etc.) in one continuous location in the journal. Specific project info will be spread out across the journal in various random pages. So, only means of organizing this to be able to find specific info is by having a robust index that needs to be kept up constantly.

    Starting to think whether the new situation makes more sense to use a binder (or binders…) as I can create/insert project sections as needed over time and if project is cancelled, can remove pages, etc. Can also add more pages to a section over time as needed. The flexibility of a binder is sounding more compelling to me now. However, I do realize that with so many projects, the binder will tend to fill up, so, will need to stay on top of archiving older pages and having index to be able to retrieve pages if needed. So, no free lunch as we say……

    Hopefully, you get the picture of my situation and quandary…..if not, please feel free to ask questions.

    Will greatly appreciate any and all input as to what approach makes the most sense given my situation and any recommendations you have for specific solutions, products.

    Thank you.



    1. I think what WeLoveDansk suggested is a good idea, With the increased complexity of your job and travelling between two offices, a tablet in conjunction with paper organiser might be useful. One of FIlofax's ipad or Samsung tablet holders could do the job - an example is the Finsbury ipad air organiser with removable A5 planner. Useful at meetings where you can make notes and have electronic information to hand especially if you and your team use shared files / project management software. An ipad could sync with your iphone calendar and office computer(s). With pen and smartphone holders & other pockets too, you could carry all you need in one zipped folder.

    2. Hmmm.....interesting thoughts and suggestions, Carol........

      I already replied to WeLoveDansak before reading your post.....so, your suggestion of the FF organiser that holds iPad sounds like it might resolve one of my main concerns about using both iPad and FF.....

      Will take a careful look at this option......

      Thank you!


    3. You're welcome Mark, I'd be interested in what you come up with for such a complex role.

    4. Thanks, Carol......feel like I'm in exploratory mode right now.....looking at various options.....

      So, right now considering the following:

      - FF Pennybridge (to hold iPad and paper planner in one package per your suggestion...)

      - van der Spek A5 (per my post down below, I just discovered this option and very taken with their binders and apparent high quality....)

      - Levenger Circa smartPlanner 2015 Agenda + Sampler with Pro Folio (sorry, very long name....but certainly gives lots of flexibility to easily adapt to changing stuation I'm in...)

      Well, that's where I'm at as of today...... ;-)


  2. Hi ArchiMark. I am by no means an expert (only one filofax recently) but when I read your post I felt if it was me I would probably combine an A5 filofax with day on a page inserts and an iPad (or mini whichever you could carry around) for notes. I would probably then record titles for each notes page next in my filofax next to appointments if neccessary. Enjoy your new job.

    1. Hi WeLoveDansak,

      Thank you so much for your reply and suggestions!

      Your 'combo analog/digital' approach is quite interesting concept....

      I have an iPad at work in addition to my laptop...However, I haven't been using it much...and I find I like taking notes by hand for variety of reasons (it seems less disruptive at meetings writing than typing....). Not sure if I would feel comfortable using the iPad....although I see some people do this at meetings now....but maybe I should rethink this....


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  4. Hello,

    After watching and reading tons of information about all different Filofaxes I'm still looking for an answer about sturdiness.
    There are only a few who mention something about how floppy the Malden is or how soft others are.
    But my problem is: I like to write in my diary on my lap, without a table or other firm surface.
    I own a personal Holborn zip and a A5 Domino and both are too floppy to write comfortably without a surface below them. No matter how I stuff them, it still bends.

    So, I really want to buy a sturdy planner in the A5 size and with 30 mm rings and to make things worse: I prefer a zipped one.
    Is maybe a Graphic an option?
    Or is there any other planner out there I don't know of?
    Thanks for answering my questions in advance!

    1. One sturdy (though non-leather) A5 with 30mm rings is a Domino. They have a very sturdy cover and would be fine for writing on your knee/lap. They're not zipped though. Last time I looked, WHSmiths (if you're in the UK) had them on offer with the red one at about half price so maybe not too expensive if you wanted to give it a shot?

  5. On a completely different subject than my earlier posts today, how would you compare van der Spek to Filofax binders?

    Seem very high quality from what I see online......maybe better quality now than Filofax or ?.....

    Thanks for any input....