This is a topic that has come up a lot recently here on Plannerisms and on other blogs. How do you manage your schedule, to-dos, and notes? Should we expect to be able to handle all of this information in one book?
Below is a breakdown of what you need. These don't necessarily have to be separate entities; under the list I have some combination ideas. Everyone needs:
1) A place to write down appointments. This can be in a planner, or electronically.
2) A place to keep your addresses and contacts. This can be electronically, on paper, or a combination of both.
3) A place to write your to-do lists. Today's list, longer term to-dos, home projects, etc.
4) A place to capture notes, numbers and ideas on the go. For most people a pocket size notebook works well for this. Review captured information often and move it to the proper location for action or reference.
5) A place for detailed notes. Usually you'll need a separate notebook for each major project, kind of like how you used a separate notebook for each class in college. You need a separate notebook specifically for work notes. If you have more than one major project at work, you should keep a separate notebook for each so you can have each project's timeline, notes, and actions all together.
6) A journal book, if you journal.
Sometimes you can combine two or more of these:
A Filofax can have it all, up to a certain point. But people run into trouble when they think they SHOULD be able to fit everything in their life into one binder when actually their needs have outgrown the one binder and really they need to branch out into multiple books. I had this issue with my first Filofax, and finally realized I needed to break out into separate Filofaxes or notebooks for some things.
Planners with a week + notes format like the Moleskine weekly notebook can combine appointments with weekly lists and notes. But again some people run into problems when they expect the weekly notes page should be enough space for ALL their notes for that entire week, when really they need a separate notebook to capture detailed notes and ideas, especially at work. I am adamant that you should have a work notebook separate from your planner, and the work notebook should stay at work (if at all possible).
A day per page diary can combine some of the above items as well. Laura Reyna uses her large Moleskine daily diary for her appointments, daily lists, food diary and journal (which you can read about in my post Experimenting with Large Moleskine Day Per Page Planner). I love this idea! If you use a portable day per page diary, it can also serve as your inbox/ capture notebook where you write all the little bits of information that come in each day, to be processed later. (Note again: work notes need to be separate!)
You might wonder why I'm so insistent that work notes should be separate from your planner. I've seen issues with several readers who feel like their work notes should fit into their Filofax or planner. In my opinion, you should keep your work notes in a separate notebook or binder so that 1) you are not limited in the amount of notes you can take, and 2) your planner can stay portable enough to go everywhere with you while your work notes stay at work. For your work notes you might prefer a steno notebook or other bound book, or a loose-leaf binder. I like using a full-size loose-leaf binder for work projects because documents can be slipped into a clear pocket that goes on the rings, keeping documentation and reports in with your notes.
Awhile back, Time Management Ninja addressed the issue of how many places you should keep information in his post The Power Of 1. (You can read my disagreement here.) I think his approach would work if you kept everything electronically, but for those of us who are mostly on paper we have to divide and conquer.
How many planners/ notebooks/ Filofaxes do you actively use at once? Do you have a separate notebook for each hobby and project? Do you prefer to keep things together? And the big question: how do you manage work notes?