Being a listmaker


I am, and always have been, a list-maker. My lists are not very organized or managed but they really help me be more efficient and less stressed.

I used to have a notebook for lists, with different categories on different pages – movies to watch, treats, long term to dos, books to read, beauty products to buy, places I wanted to see. This involved a lot of rewriting when I finished a notebook which was good in a way because it gives you a chance to reassess your wants and needs. I found it a bit of a faff though and I tended to lose interest halfway through the year with all the rewriting.

So for the past few years I have typed up all my lists, printed it as an A5 booklet and either stapled the centre, or cut the A4 page in half, punched it and put it in my Filofax. I can use different fonts, pretty paper and reprint it as the list changes. I tend to like writing by hand but this has really worked for me as it is quicker and far more flexible.

More short term lists I have hand-written on a daily or weekly basis in my personal sized Filofax.


  • These go in my Week on Two Page inserts. I fill in any date-specific list items in advance, and others go in as they pop up. Every evening I check and update my list for the following day.
  • I do find these do not have enough lines but it really helps me decide what absolutely needs to be done that day and what can go into the non-urgent lists at the back of my binder.


  • Every Sunday I fill in any to dos for the coming week. If I find that one day has too many to dos I tend to spread them around or move non-urgent ones to a general list.


  • I add dates that bills have to be paid, dates my invoices have to be in and dates all paperwork needs to be done.


  • Birthdays, pay days public holidays, when I will be taking leave.


  • Things that come up during lessons, meetings or just before I go to sleep are jotted on lined notepaper. I just scribble quickly before I forget things.
  • Shopping lists go either go in the calendar or on a lined page
  • Hours of translation are written in a list at the back of my notes section.
  • Anything I would like to buy or try goes on a list at the back of my Filofax – this helps quench the wanties and also give me something to look forward to. If I have a bad day or want to reward myself for doing something difficult I look at this list and choose something from it.
  • I use any pen I can find.

I don’t worry about how neat my writing is or use Bullet Journalling  because, for me, just the note is important and I can sort them out afterwards. Any system with special pages for certain notes, a special notebook, pen, or bullet journalling icons is too time consuming for me and I tend to avoid writing things if it is a faff.

My scheduling system is complicated. I have to record every single booking I make in eight different systems (my Filofax, our electronic booking system, our paper room booking system, client’s calendar, client’s room booking system, with client’s staff and then also in our invoicing system). If I have two changes a day that is 16 changes I have to make in different systems. So my lists need to be simple and help me remember.

Would be interested to find out how my readers use lists!



Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

8 thoughts

  1. Simplicity is the key for me, Janet, but I realise that your life is so much busier than mine. This year, I’m using Midori, not Filofax, just to ring the changes. So, I include a notebook, just for things I think about “on the hoof”, and for reminders, but things to do on a specific day or week I just put them into my diary. For a specific day, obviously I enter it for that day, but if it’s a bit more open-ended then it just goes in the Notes section for that week. Don’t make something simple too complicated. I only need a small diary, but you busier, working folks can do exactly the same but in a bigger format. It works well, and I find that I don’t forget things. Anything I haven’t managed to do I carry forward in my diary.

  2. I used to make lots more lists than I do now. I had a list of health related items. A list of car repairs & service. A list of birthdays and gift ideas. Goals. Upcoming expenses. You name it. Now a lot of that stuff is available on-line or I don’t need it anymore. I still make lists – just not as many – and most of them are in my planner.

  3. I started using DIYfish inserts in my Kendal filofax this year; I have yet to see how it stands up to a full work week. My job is very busy and combines lots and lots of routine tasks, projects and urgent questions. I have tried daytimer and it didn’t work. I have tried franklin planner inserts, and they worked up to a point. I have used Ray Blakes inserts for 3 months and they were the best yet, but I need more structured planning. Next to my filofax I use 3 notebooks, one small paperblank for a journal, 2 sigel conceptums for lists. I have a very specific way of making lists, and my discovery of bullet journalling added an index to my own system. I need to be very structured in everything, because I am so swamped with info that I lose track immediately if I don’t write it down where I can find it again! I have had less overwhelming jobs, and then I used a pocket filofax classic with a week per view. Then I focused on losing the unnecessary actions. The busier I get, the more structure my lists need.

    1. Also, the lists I refer to the most in my notebooks get transferred to my filofax’ notes section. This contains things like my knitting projects, wishlists for myself and my kids etc.

  4. I like colour coded lists for the week. Blue for appointments, red for things that have to be done, orange for things I should do this week but can leave, and green for things I want to do.
    The problem is that I tend to do a lot more green stuff than orange. Need to get better at that

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