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my A5 finsbury setup / GTD

Looking through the Filofax blogosphere, it seems everyone is talking about GTD-slash-Filofax setups. Not surprisingly, I had a half-written entry on my GTD setup saved in my draft folder. So what better time than now to finish it off and publish it?

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a GTD setup in my Filofax. After using my Filo for two months, I think it's about time to do a review of what worked and what didn't.

GTD setup

My tabs are as follows:

Yes, I've used this pic before
If you can't see properly in the picture above, here is a breakdown of the tabs and sub-tabs
  1. Next Action
    1. Work
    2. Phone - in this day and age, "Phone" and "Computer" could really be merged into one, don't you think?
    3. Computer
    4. Home
    5. Errands
    6. Any - this is a list of items that I could do wherever and whenever I have time
  2. Projects
    1. Personal
    2. Archived
  3. Agenda
  4. Waiting
  5. Someday
  6. {Diary Inserts} - no tab to mark the section, but a transparent flyleaf marks the current week
  7. Reference
    1. A-Z tabs 
After two months of using this setup, I realise that I rarely put any of my "next actions" behind their relevant context (for those who don't know what I'm talking about, I would highly suggest reading up on David Allen's Getting-Things-Done system - I've provided a few links at the end of this post to get you started).

I had to blur out some of the work related tasks
For tasks that I do during my work day, I file them all behind the "Work" tab; work related items are written in black, personal stuff in blue. Things I need to ask people (Agenda) and tasks I've delegated {Waiting} are also written on the same to-do list, each of those tasks leading with the name of the task owner in brackets.
Tasks that are done outside of work hours (stuff done at home, or things I need to buy) are usually recorded in the diary inserts.

There was a time when I tried to write things down according to their context, but I found that since I have my iPhone with me everywhere, all items recorded under "Phone", "Computer" and "Any" could really be lumped into one. Then when I find that I frequently mix my work and personal tasks throughout the day, having them all on one page makes it easier to reference. It also makes it easier to note down dependencies, by having arrows drawn between them.

Diary Inserts

This section was originally set at the front of the Filo, but I have since moved it behind the task lists. I find I like having a lot of "buffer pages" on either side when I'm writing in my appointments.

I've been through various types of diary inserts, but I'm currently using ones that Philofaxy published (with a slight change). I'll talk about my process of choosing diary inserts in another post.


Another GTD section, this area is subdivided by the A to Z dividers and is where I write down miscellaneous information that I may need to refer to at a later date (ie. website addresses, names of recommended bands or make up brand eg.).

I really like GTD's system of putting things into labelled boxes (or in my case, Filofax sections), even though it is a fairly simplistic filing method, it really frees up your mind from all the little facts that you keep track of. This allows you to truly focus on the task at hand or to completely enjoy the moment.

Even if you don't follow the complete GTD system, I highly recommend just writing down every single thing that is cluttering your mind, whether it is reminder to pick up the dry cleaning to Googling what the One Direction looks like to see what the big deal is (yes, I wrote that one down in the car after hearing about One Direction on the radio non-stop for three weeks in a row). And it's just so satisfying crossing items off your list as you do them!

GTD Links

This is a great overview of the system:

I personally read 43 Folders first when I was researching on GTD. This site is a treasure trove of productivity-related information:

This is from the official GTD website and it has a number of free articles that you could download:


  1. I am reading GTD and working on implementing the system..... I haven't had a free day to completely clear my brain but I cleared my inbox and found it such a mind clarifying operation. Love the filofax set up!

  2. A really interesting post. Your point about combining phone and computer is a good one. Thankyou for sharing your system.


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