I’ve wanted a Filofax since the heavens opened up on me and showed me their beauty. But alas, there is little I love about them other than the aesthetics. The price and what you get inside for it is a bit of a turn off for me. The one shining glory of Filofaxes in my eyes is their quality- these things are built to last. I will probably end up getting on eventually. But for now, I have some beef, people!

The idea of a Filo is great. Insertable, customizable pages that you can arrange and order as your heart desires. And you can customize your tabs and sections and all those good things. Except when it comes to buying your Filofax and setting it up, you cannot mix and match the pages when you buy them from the company. (I called and confirmed my grievances!)

As in, if you know you’re not going to use the Contacts pages (which are quite a few pages) you can’t ask for them to be replaced with note pages. In retail stores, nearly every single one I called said that the most they’ll swap out the calendar pages in your Filo. So if the one you’re getting comes with a Week-Per-Page diary and you want a Day-Per-Page diary, they’ll do that swap out for you. But you’d still have to have those annoying contacts pages, and everything else you don’t want. And you can’t just buy the empty book, have them take out the price of the inserts and then buy the inserts you want seperately.

Now, maybe I’m just a big fat diva, but having to do that much customizing to get a product usable when it’d purchased to be used right off the shelf is a deal breaker for me, quality regardless. I’d rather just buy an empty small three ring binder, some lined paper, a few sticky tabs, and customise my own journal, then sit tight until I have enough disposable income to not care about buy extras for a $200 planner. Like I said, I will eventually get a Filo because they’re The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. So that’s what I did to tide myself over and how much it all cost me, in Canadian dollars (cause I live in Canada, not cause I’m trying to be weird):

  • One small three-ring binder. The cheapest one I could find was this Avery brand one. It was $5 or so at Staples, but there were a variety of colours in lots of other brands.
  • 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ hole-punched paper. This is the size for the smallest kind of binder you can buy. It’s availible at every office suply store, but difficult to find and are more expensive than full sized lined paper. A pack of 50 was about $3 and I bought two. But 100 sheets of paper is a lot and I’ve been using my binder for a while now and I have yet to use all my paper, and I have a lot of sections.
  • A packet of sticky-tabs. Sticky-tabs are kind of an expensive product, but they last, so it’s worth the 4.99$ I paid for a pack of 20. And I still have quite a few left for other projects after making my biner, so it’s no biggie. I’m also kind of obsessed with all things Post-It and 3M so I was willing to buy from my favourite company. You can for sure get cheaper sticky tabs.
  • A fine point Sharpie. I already had a bunch laying around but I believe they’re only $0.99 each at Staples. Or maybe that’s the Dollar Store. Anywho, they’re cheap, and using Sharpies to label things makes for a bolder line than using pen, and a better looking label. True!

OK, so then what you do is throw your paper into your mini binder, make sections as you need to, and badda-boom, badda-bing, you’ve got yourself an organisational binder to help you keep your life together.


I’ve heavily modified GTD to suit my personal work style, and I divided up my binder like so: Current Goals, The Piazza Room (the business I started this summer), Action Lists & Schedules, Long-Term Goals, Life List, School, Statements & Affirmations, General Reference, Buy These, Budgets & Money, Quotes, Inbox. With the tabs I used, I could only line up four in a row before having to start from the top again, so that’s what I did.

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

So you see, I have a great number of tabs. I sectioned it off according to the lists that I’d like with me at all times, hence having a quotes section and a tab for my life list. I like to group my actions around certain areas of my life, like school, and work, where I keep my projects lists and my action & context lists. They are very discrete sections. My Current Goals section is where I pull actions from all different areas of my life and I store daily to-do lists of things that MUST happen that day, lest my life go up in smoke.

And that’s how I DIY’d a Filofax to use for GTD. Feel free to approprate my methods!