Moving Into My New Van Der Spek

Here I am, as promised in my Van Der Spek Unboxing post, ready to share some ‘moving in photos’ as I transition from my old Filofax A5 Holborn and into my new lovely VDS. You’ll be happy to know that I took these photos in the light of day, so they are much better than the unboxing set!

Moving Into My New Van Der Spek

Here she is in the light of day: look at that stitching!

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I got the binder without stiffener so it is lovely and bendy – just the way I like them!

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So many pockets in that front section! And they hold a lot more than I was expecting, they look so neat that I expected that would be really tight, but actually they are lovely and large and easily fit everything I need.

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The gorgeous Personal Filofax Teal Baroque for colour reference.

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She sits completely flat right out of the box, without any training at all, and best of all, she still keeps the structured line of a beautiful old book.


It’s such a small detail, and one most people probably don’t even think about, but the closure flap even naturally sits away from the binder so you don’t have to keep moving it out of the way to write.


And check out the size of those rings!


Lovely gusseted back pocket – the perfect size to fit my Erin Condren perpetual calendar!

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And here’s a look at my DIYfish inserts in the VDS binder (Planner Peace?!?)

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Needless to say, I’m completely in love!

If you have any questions about the Van Der Spek, or about how I’m using my planner, leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to visit me on Facebook too.

Van Der Spek Unboxing

If you read my last post Breaking up with Filofax, then you’ve probably been waiting for this one – the unboxing of my new and lovely Van Der Spek binder.

I apologise in advance for the bad quality of the photos, by the time we checked the mail and got home with the parcel it was already dark and there was no way I was going to wait until morning to open the box!

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So there you go!

My first impressions are – WOW! She is just as gorgeous as I imagined and the feel of the 6202 leather on the outside is even more soft and lovely than I thought it would be. The inner #19 is almost a perfect match for the teal baroque I was hoping to emulate as well which is so exciting – it’s always a bit hard to tell colours on the computer screen.

I’ll do a post in a second with all my ‘moving in photos’ and I have a photo of the VDS and baroque together that I’ll include as well for reference.

I’ll go and put that post together now, but while you’re waiting why not head over to facebook and like my page? See you soon!


Breaking up With Filofax

I’ve been a Filofax devotee for many years now. My first beauty was a gorgeous personal sized turquoise Baroque that stole my heart and barely left my side for 5 years.


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Later I fell in love with the Malden – my ochre Malden was a faithful travel companion during a disastrous international holiday (we had to part ways soon after, because of the bad memories!). When I came home I started a business, set up a home office, and decided it was time to upgrade to an A5. In early 2012 I bought a ‘testing the size for compatibility’ A5 Sketch.

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Once I saw that the size would work well for me I invested in a beautiful A5 Holborn zip. I fell in love with her in the flicker of my computer screen and searched high and low for a great price. She travelled halfway round the world to be with me, and when she arrived, much to my dismay, she was damaged.


Her rings weren’t even close to closing! I was pretty devastated, but I’m a resourceful girl, so I went online to see if there was something I could do about the problem before I shipped her back.

Instead of finding a solution to the problem I found page after page after page of people who were having the same problems as me – malfunctioning rings. And not just in the Holborn. The problems were pretty much across the board.

Having a damaged Filofax was one thing, accidents happen after-all, and no brand can be perfect all the time, but this was more than that – and honestly seeing so many unhappy people made me feel something different about the brand.

The thing about my Filofax was always that it was a luxury item to me. The leather, the inserts and all the little accessories that I bought to go along with it. They were a personal celebration of my financial independence as an adult woman. It sounds ridiculous, but when I jotted down business meetings or flight details or holidays, I was proclaiming my freedom and personal success.

I was happy to pay the price for that feeling, even if it was sometimes more than what a regular person would spend on such an item. So the realisation that my Filofax was actually just a mass produced binder with quality control issues saddened me.

I wondered if I should get a refund and find a brand to replace them. I even did a little research trying to find another company that could mean to me what Filofax had. I couldn’t find what I was looking for though, so I sent the Holborn back and got a replacement, all the while struggling with my fading loyalty to the brand I had loved so much.


My new Holborn arrived, just as spectacular as I had imagined, and this time the rings closed fine. Fine, I admit, but not great. Sometimes the bottom ring doesn’t close quite right and I have to remind it of where it’s supposed to go, and sometimes my paper gets caught when I turn a page.

If I’m honest, she’s never closed with the satisfying SNAP! of my previous Filos either, instead she gives a weak little *clink* and I admit that every time I have opened her – always by the mechanism, for the record – I have cringed a little at the idea that this might be the time that she doesn’t quite recover.

But in spite of her weaknesses I have loved her. She has been my daily companion for 2 years and it will be hard to say goodbye.



Especially since this time I’m not just saying goodbye to my Holborn but to Filofax all together.

I wasn’t quite ready to give up. At least not until I found the perfect replacement, and I’m happy to say that I did.

Van Der Spek wasn’t even on my radar when I did my ‘maybe breaking up with Filofax’ research 2 years ago. In fact, I discovered them by accident in June of this year while trying to find an archive system for my pages – something with REALLY BIG RINGS.

From the very first image I saw, I was sold.. and the more research I did the more I knew that the Van Der Spek was just exactly what I had been looking for.

Huge rings – Check!
Beautiful leather – Check!
Gorgeous colours – Check!
Hand crafted – Check!
Amazing quality – Check!
Customisable – Check!
Excellent customer service – Check!

The more I read, the more I knew that I would never go back to a Filofax.. and so I emailed Petra.

Together we created a custom beauty that would honour my two big Filofax loves. My very first turquoise baroque, and my beautiful A5 Holborn.


I chose #6202 for the outside of the Van Der Spek and #19 for the inside.

I added some extras too, like an additional pen loop, and my initials embossed in the leather to make her that little bit more ‘mine’. No stiffener, no contrast stitching.. order placed, invoice paid.. and then the wait began.

Of course if you’re anything like me you’ll already know what that wait looked like. I watched every single Van Der Spek related YouTube video ever created, relentlessly stalked the VDS facebook page, and Google-image searched every possible combination of words to make sure I had seen every picture ever posted of a VDS planner online.

Obsessive is my middle name.

The good news is that she arrived today. My new beautiful planner is here and she is gorgeous.

But today isn’t the day to say hello to the new, this post is for saying goodbye to the old.

You have been a big part of my life Filofax. Thanks for everything.

How to use a Planner to get Organised

Here’s a secret about being organised: it takes effort!

You probably won’t find your ideal planner or inserts your first time out of the gate, and that’s okay, because the biggest tip I can give you for staying organised is not about inserts or tabs or stickers.

The biggest tip for how to use your planner is…


to actually use your planner.

It’s not enough to buy one – having an organiser will not make you organised.

It’s not enough to decorate the pages – pretty pages will not make you productive.

So, what do you have to do? Here is my 3 Step Plan:

Step One: Decide What You Want to Do

Step Two: Write it Down

Step Three: Do it!!

Easy right?

David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, says

“Your mind is for having ideas, not storing them”

And that’s where your planner comes in.

Here’s What I Do

First things first I write everything down.. and I mean everything. If I see an ad for something I think I might like to buy, I write it on my wishlist, if I decide that Juniper is not eating enough spinach I’ll write it in my meal planning section, if I get a notice about a rental inspection it goes into my planner before I even put the notice down.

One of my big planning AHA moments was realising that my brain alone could not be trusted!

My planner is an A5 binder. It’s quite large and not all that portable, so it spends most of the time sitting open on my desk.


I visit my planner at least 3 times every day to make sure I know what’s coming up, and to ensure that the day is going according to plan.

Filofax Visiting Hours

  • 7AM: First thing in the morning as part of my morning routine, I take a glance at the day and remind myself of what’s ahead.
  • 1PM: While Juniper is napping I take some time to mark off any completed items, check what activity we have scheduled for the day and prepare everything so that we’re ready to get started when she wakes up. \
  • 10PM: At the end of the day, in the last half hour before bed, I go through and make sure I have accomplished everything I had planned for the day. I reschedule anything that wasn’t achieved.

It is also open beside me on my desk whenever I am working through my freelance projects, or paying bills or meal planning, or any of the other million things I do at my desk.. out of sight is out of mind so I keep her in plain sight as much as possible.

Seeing What’s What

Ideally, you need to be able to see at a glance what is already done and what still needs attention.

Personally, I have an indexing code for marking things off. The code includes things like ‘in progress’ ‘rescheduled’ ‘cancelled’ and ‘completed’. It’s on a small piece of paper and is kept in my planner for reference:



As you can see, items are also colour coded for the person it relates to and the type of activity it is, as well as for how long it will take to complete. So, if I know I have a spare 15 minutes I can quickly see what can be achieved in that time frame. I have that time coding reference on the top of each insert page for quick reference. You can see that, as well as the time coded to-do list in action below.


In addition to my daily filofax visiting hours, I have time scheduled on Sundays to go through and do a weekly review and to plan the week ahead.. but that’s a post for another time! Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out.

Want more tips?

My Top Planner Tools for 2017
Life & Business Planners starting at $10
Personal Growth Planning

Getting Organised in 2016


Filofax ~ Daily Reminders

Way back when I did my TABS post I promised that I would give you a closer look at my Daily Reminders Tab, so here I am (better late than never right?).

Daily Reminders Tab

The tab itself is probably a bit mislabeled because there is weekly reminder stuff in here as well – oh well!



First off I have my Erin Condren custom A5 FUNctional family checklist. The checklist came in a pad of 25, which will be a 6 month supply. I hole-punch a new sheet at the start each week and add it into my Filofax.


The list includes my flylady daily tasks, personal tasks, business tasks and some family related tasks as well. It’s not a comprehensive look at what I do each day, but it helps me get on track if I get distracted during the day.


Next is my daily tracking page. This serves as a reminder of each of the things I want to record each day.


I keep a record of these things on my DIYfish Do2P layout.

Most of them appear in my TODAY section at the top of the page on the right. This isn’t a very clear picture but it will help you see what I mean.


In that section in track:

* Dinner
* Incoming Mail
* Purchases for the day
* Luke’s Roster
* Which TED talk I watched that day
* Which book I’m currently reading (I read min. 10 pages a day)
* What planned activities Juniper and I did
* Blog topic

The blue column on the right page is my food/behaviour tracking for Juniper.
The column in red is my business related to-dos for each day.


In my daily reminders section I also have a handwritten collection of some of my favourite motivational quotes to keep me motivated if I need it. And I have a list of the Flylady 11 commandments.

Weekly Reminders

Finally, I have a list of weekly reminders. Which I cover with a clear flyleaf page. I mark off items directly on the flyleaf with a whiteboard marker so I can just wipe it clean at the end of the week and I don’t have to worry about rewriting the list.



Overall this system has been working really well for me, particularly in conjunction with my flylady ZONES tab set-up.

If you’d like to take a closer look at any of my other sections, leave a comment and I’ll do another post.



Filofax Meets Flylady

I’ve been wanting to do a comprehensive look at how I’m using the DIYfish inserts, but I’ve had a few requests for a post about how I use my filofax to help me organise my flylady household goals so I thought I would share that today, and keep working on the DIYfish post for another day.

Today I’ll also be sharing more information about my ‘Daily Reminders‘ tab as promised in my TABS rundown, so stay tuned for that as well.

Filofax Meets Flylady

For any readers who don’t already know about the flylady, you can visit her website here.

If you struggle to keep your house clean, or you feel overwhelmed by housekeeping she is a great help.

Daily Tasks

Every day I have a few small things that I do to keep the house running and reasonably tidy I’ll go into more detail with those in my ‘Daily Reminders‘ post, but to give you a quick outline of the daily tasks that relate to flylady:

* Make the beds
* Do a load of Washing – wash, dry AND fold/put away
* Quickly ‘swish’ the toilets
* Wipe down the bathroom sink
* Do the dishes – wash, dry and put away
* Shine my sink
* Put out fresh dish towels for the morning

Weekly Tasks

Part of the flylady system is to have a ‘weekly home blessing hour’ but rather than do that on a Monday as she suggests I break it up over the week. I have a sheet of those tasks – tweaked to suit my family and circumstances – and the days I prefer to do them. I have a clear flyleaf over the top, and when a chore is done I tick it off with a whiteboard marker. At the end of the week the flyleaf is wiped clean and I don’t have to write a new list for each week.




My ZONES tab has 5 pages, each with a flylady zone outlined on it. The zones align with the zones on the flylady website, but have been changed to suit our home.

I use a clear filofax flyleaf page as a marker, so that I can easily see which zone I’m currently in, and like with the weekly tasks above, I use a whiteboard marker on the flyleaf itself to mark off completed items. When it’s time to move onto a new zone, I simply wipe it clean. That system means that I can reuse the zone pages and not worry about them getting messed up.

Flylady zones in my filofax planner

Flylady zones in my filofax planner



Monday Mail Round-up 14/7

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll already know that I get a lot of mail.

Some weeks I get more than others, but it is a testament to my online shopping addiction that I can’t remember the last time I went a whole week without getting something fun in the mail.

So, here is a round up of this past week’s fun stuff:


Some lovely skinny washi from eBay – because you can never have too much washi!



Some lovely pastel masking tape pages



And later that same afternoon, via Fedex:

Finally! My Erin Condren package arrived!


To see the contents of the box view my Erin Condren Unboxing post here.


A beautiful random act of kindness (RAK) from Wendy, one of my fellow planner addicts on facebook



More washi from Etsy – my collection is starting to get ridiculous!
I can’t wait to go on a road-trip, just so that I can use that road washi!



A handbag insert from this Etsy seller for storing my planner goodies! I’m excited about this one!


That’s it for this week – another good one! I can’t wait to see what appears in my mailbox today!

Van Der Spek in Transit!

I got an email from the lovely Petra today at Van Der Spek to say that my oh so yummy custom manager was completed and on it’s way.

I am so (so so) excited and can’t wait to hold her in my hot little hands!

In the meantime I’m going to keep drooling over these photos that Petra sent before she put her in the post:

Van Der Spek Custom Manager

#6202 Brown Nappa Leather on the outside
(and look at that teeny tiny sliver of turquoise peeking through!)

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#19, turquoise on the inside

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Extra pen loop and embossing inside the front cover

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I absolutely CANNOT wait for her to arrive!!!

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Erin Condren Unboxing

My Erin Condren package arrived today!

Jen from Organized at Jen introduced me to Erin Condren via her blog. I’ve been a long time follower of Jen because she was a fellow Filofax fan and always had great videos about her binder (as well as loads of other things that made me want to spend my money!).

She recently uploaded a video about the Erin Condren planner, and although I wasn’t a fan of the planner itself, I found lots of other goodies on the site that I WAS a fan of.. so quite a few dollars later…






And now for the goodies:

3 Book Elastics with Pen Loop


The Zipper Clutch

I’m going to use this for sticker storage.


An A5 size Daily Checklist Pad

I’ll punch some of these pages to keep in my planner, and some will go on the fridge.


A Basic EC Notebook

Outside cover


Detachable page finder to go inside the notebook


Inside cover and lined pages


Unlined pages


Zip-lock pocket in the back – I love this so much. The Filo zip ones have a huge plastic zip that just gets in the way, so I’ll probably end up hacking this to go in my Filofax!

(there’s also a card pocket which I forgot to take a photo of)


Personalised planner stickers


And lastly some business cards



Overall I’m pretty happy with everything. There’s one small issue I need to contact them about, but nothing huge. If I’m being honest, I don’t completely understand the current Erin Condren obsession, especially for the planners which, in my opinion, just can’t hold a candle to a flexible and completely customisable binder system. But to each their own!

And I have to admit the designs are super cute!

If you’ve never purchased from Erin Condren before you can use this link to get $10 off your first purchase.

Monday Mail Round Up 7/7

Some weeks I get a lot of mail. Some weeks, not so much.

It is a testament to my online shopping addiction that I can’t remember the last time I went a whole week without getting something fun in the mail.

Here is the round up of this past week’s fun stuff:


Project life cards from Ebay & Oli Clips from Little Bird Studio



Lots of skinny washi from this seller on Etsy, Printed DIYfish inserts (I outsourced that job) and quote cards to put in my planner from Larissa at The Organised Nest.







Planner stickers from Kawaii Stickers for You.



Frixion Pens



A pretty awesome week, mail-wise! As you can tell, I’m especially obsessed with my planner right now!




Just a quick note to add that I’m not affiliated with any of the businesses listed above and all items were purchased by me – and not gifted for review.