1. What do you use on a daily basis?Do you use your Filofax for work? Do you write in it daily? Do you use it as a journal? Take a look at your current setup and decide what sections you use daily, and which you could easily discard and not miss. An easy way to find this out is to either keep a written record of when you use each section, or remove particular sections you don't think you use, and see if you can live without them for a week or so.
Sometimes it makes more sense to have a few binders, each allocated to different aspects of your life. I used to have everything in my personal planner, including crafts information, household information... then I realised I never needed these sections outside of home. Now I have a craft binder and a household binder, which work much better.
2. What format do you work best with?
Once you've narrowed down the basics you need to be able to function in your everyday life, decide if the size format you use works for you. Is A5 too large, or pocket too small? Is personal too heavy in your handbag? Write a list of pro's and cons as to why you like A5, personal and pocket. While the advantages of having an A5 are that you have more room to write, are you less likely to carry it around because it's weighty and bulky, thus not using the contents daily? Is it practical?
3. Personal touches
Does your planner reflect who you are, what you do? Does it make you interested and does it inspire you to use it? If you love colours but your planner is full of uniform-looking pages, black standard font and generic Filofax inserts, maybe it's deterring you from using it. On the other hand, if you're a simple person who finds clutter irritating, maybe step back from the washi tape and stickers, and just go back to basics.
Saying that, you can still add colour and a personal touch without going over the top. Try adding colours to the title of the page (where the month is written), add customised dividers made from scrapbook paper, and create your own cover page at the front. It's a nice idea to add something inspirational at the front of your planner, so when you first open it, you're instantly inspired!
I've always found it much more pleasing to the eye to use accessories, paper for dividers, and stickers that are all from the same range of scrapbooking products.
I have started doing mood boards to help people match their planner's inside accessories to the colour or theme of the planner. (Just to let you know I'll be posting one every Tuesday on my blog.)
(Images from My Minds Eye, scrapbooking paper company)
5. AccessoriesOnce you've got your planner the way you want it, you still need to decide which pen to use, if you need more than one pen, extra pen loops, sticky notes, etc.
With regards to sticky notes and the like, it's nice to co-ordinate these with the theme of your planner so it's pleasing to the eye. You can find an excellent range of sticky notes on the internet in all different styles and colours.
If you need to use more than one pen in your Filofax, consider buying a multi-cartridge pen such as the Coleto. It will save space, be lighter to carry and easier to use. Pilot also do a pencil cartridge for their Coleto pens, if you often use both pen and pencil. If you decide you do need an extra pen, you can buy pen loops from Lechtturm.
6. Time and Patience
Don't be afraid to accept that it may take some time to get your setup perfect. Try different things, ask for advice, look for inspiration. Don't be put off by someone else's amazingly beautiful page, because their page is personal to them, and yours will be, to you.
7. Don't settle for something you 'sort of like', or 'will have to do' (in my opinion).
If you've had your eye on an A5 Osterley in Plum, but can only afford a Purple Apex, save your money. Not that an Apex is (that) awful, but you'll probably spend more money trying to resolve your disappointment than if you originally saved up for that Osterley in the first place. If there is something you want, save for it, if it's something you can see yourself using for many years to come. You'll be a lot happier knowing you've accomplished something and managed to get what you wanted in the first place, than going through trial, error, error, error trying to turn an Apex (mutton) into an Osterley (lamb).
I hope this helps someone out there, apologies if the last paragraph doesn't really make sense, but that part was just my personal opinion. In fact, the whole thing is my personal opinion, because it's my blog. Sleepy now...!