Getting Things Done…for mums

Using a Filofax for Getting Things DoneI think David Allen‘s book has quite a complicated way of expressing a simple but brilliant idea: empty the ‘cache’ of your mind, so it can function at a much higher level.

I realised I needed GTD when I bought a house, packed up and moved in, did some renovations, and had a baby, all within a few crazy weeks.

It wasn’t so much these things, which I managed to keep on top of, but trying to pick up the pieces in the weeks and months after when my husband went back to work and the offers of help from friends and relatives dropped away.

I was putting all my time and energy into my children: I was tired, but so happy to do so. There were boxes still to be unpacked, jobs to be done around our new home, meals to prepare, tradespeople to organise, last minute negotiations with our credit union…and so many decisions to make.

I should have been happy to be in our first family home, something I’d dreamed about for years, but everywhere I went in my new house I saw reminders of things I needed to do and didn’t have time for. The house was like a prison, and I just wanted to escape.

This is my GTD system. I have a planner in A5 size, which I customised with different inserts and tabs because the ones that came with the planner were so uninspiring to use. Is A5 too big and cumbersome? I don’t think so, with all the things I have to remember!Pink Domino Filofax

Debden monthly calender

On the monthly pages I record when bills are due as I hate to pay them late.

Debden weekly planner in Filofax

On the weekly pages I have appointments and To Dos that are time-specific.

Then I have a section of To Do lists with tabs marked:

  • on computer
  • at home
  • to buy
  • errands
  • calls
Filofax To Do lists

Recently I had a tab here for Christmas planning

Some other things I like to keep track of are:

  • books to read
  • jobs I have asked people for help with
  • ideas for Zoe at Home
  • birthdays
  • personal challenges.
Filofax for budgeting

I also have a section called Finance as I like to keep to a budget and have designed some charts to help me do this.

So am I getting more done? Perhaps. But the big difference for me is knowing that while I may not get a lot done each day, I will eventually cross those items off my list. I know I won’t forget to do the important things. I feel confident to take on new projects because I know I can keep a few plates spinning at once.

All those ideas that flow through my head as I go about my day now have a place to go, including my most creative ones. And I no longer walk around my house seeing jobs to be done. Once I record what has to be done, I ignore it and focus on my family.

How about you? I’d love to know what works for you.

See more in Part 2.


18 thoughts on “Getting Things Done…for mums

  1. Wow, love your planner set up! I have set up my Filofax in a similar way, except that instead of weekly view pages, I have daily pages, one column has time slots (for appointments and other time sensitive things) and the other is blank where I write my to do list for the day, chores, things that have happened etc. Its only my second week but so far, so good! Keep up the good work ♡

    • I thought about using a daily page because I like lots of white space, but actually this weekly format has a space for appointments and a To Do list for each day (you can see a picture of this in my post about Menu Planning)–except on Saturday and Sunday ugh!! But I have a hack for this I am working on… watch this space!

  2. PS
    Which pens are those that you are using, please?
    I think I spy a frixion highlighter… are they good?

    • I love Frixion pens! I like the erasable pens because I don’t like my planner to get all messy. The Highlighter is a Frixion too. People say that with Frixion the text can fade out after time but that has never happened to me.

  3. I like GTD as an idea, but it only works as long as I keep it up to date. The different pages of next actions work well for me; I like knowing what I have to do at home, on the computer etc. You are looking very well organised!

    • Sometimes I go through phases when I don’t even open my planner. When I get a bit stressed I go into avoidance mode, but that usually makes things worse!

  4. I love how you organize your Filofax.
    I wish I could say that I made ​​it up, but I have a personal (not Filofax) but I always get blank pages. No one ever wrote. I’m organized, but does not work with an agenda but instead I love to see how people do it and try to learn, but there is no way!

  5. I’m actually thinking about trying the GTD in my FC Compact. My schedule is so unpredictable that it’s frustrating to even make a list. I got out my Getting Things Done book and downloaded David Allen’s six page document on how to use GTD in your planner. I haven’t made any commitments yet but I think it could work for where I’m at right now. Thanks for sharing your system.

    Do you carry your A5 with you?

    • From what I can gather, whatever system you use is fine as long as it is fun to use. That’s why I got the pink dividers and stickers and washi tape for my planner.
      I carried an A5 with me for a long time; I just had to get a bigger handbag. But now I’ve started the blog, I like to carry my notebook with me which is A5 size too (you can see a picture of it on my About page). Only one will fit, so I had to choose! I can just tear off my daily To Do list and slip that into my handbag, so it’s ok.
      Perhaps I should share some photos of the A5 planner in my handbag…watch this space!

  6. Can you tell me what monthly and weekly inserts you’re using and where you purchased them? I don’t have patience to print my own and like this format very much. Thank you!

    • The inserts are from Collins Debden and I bought them online, but I don’t think they ship outside of Australia – very annoying! The dividers are from Kikki.K and they do ship internationally. They also make inserts in A5, personal and a pocket size. I’ll do some more research and post another comment on this page, hopefully with some links you could try…
      Thanks for stopping by!

    • These inserts are really nice, with thicker paper than Filofax ones. I don’t know about bleed-through with fountain pen ink, but it’s pretty good quality. The holes are a little odd-shaped, but they fit 3, 6 & 7 ring binders including Franklin Covey and Filofax. The monthly type comes in a tabbed and non-tabbed version: some people like to put all the monthly pages together, whereas others like to splice them within their weekly pages. They also make a personal size and a pocket size which will work with Filofax. I bought them because I didn’t like the Filofax ones. They have international holidays marked too. I pinned some of the varieties on my Planners board if you want to see more images.

      Collins Debden is part of a bigger company based in the UK (I think). You may be able to buy the UK version easier than the Australian one. They are difficult to source outside of Australia, but I did a little research and I think The Organiser Shop might be your best option. They say they can ship abroad if you fill out a form. I emailed them to ask if there’s an easier way to order them: I’ll see what they say. You can email them at

      • You are so sweet to go through all that trouble! Thank you so much for the information and the links! I wondered if the paper was nicer than Filofax paper. I like that their are options with tabbed and non tabbed monthly inserts. It drives me crazy that Filofax doesn’t offer the option to interleave your weekly or daily inserts behind your monthly tabs with some of the following month’s days stuck behind the previous month’s tabs. I also like the lined weekly format with appointments on one side and to do’s on the other. I’m off to source and buy if possible. Thank you so much!

      • With the tabbed version, you’d still have the problem of some of the weekly pages spilling over into the next month as the weekly pages aren’t separated by month (if that makes sense!). That kind of put me off the tabs. But they are good as each month has a page of Notes. Let me know how you go trying to get them.

        They have loads of them at the shop down the road from me! If anyone in Philofaxy land really wants them and can’t get them, I have an EBay account I could list them on. Leave me a comment here you’re interested!

      • omigosh! I didn’t scroll up so I missed your previous comment and link to Kikki.K…and I am so happy to see black dividers! I’ve been looking for some forever. I put in an order already! Now off to see how I can get those Collins Debden refills! Thanks again 🙂

  7. Pingback: To do or not to do….. | Chaos in Kent

  8. Such a lovely & organized Filofax. I’m going to try and create templates for the pages you have. They’re brilliant with all that space and lines too.

    • Thank you. I really like this format too. You can buy them online too, there’s a link for the supplier in Part 2 of this post.

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