06 February 2008

How do you Filo?

This week, at a reader's suggestion, I'm trying something new -- a Roll Call!

In the comments for this post, tell us the following (or any that apply):

- How long have you been using Filofax?

- What size(s)/model(s) do you use?

- What calendar format works for you

- What's behind your tabs?


I'll go first:

- Have been using Filofax, or DayRunner, or FranklinCovey on and off since the mid-80's.

- A Black A5 Finsbury for work, a Red Personal Finsbury for personal, and another A5 for household.

- Mostly, the week-per-2-pages, horizontal format. My least favorite is the vertical format week-per-2-pages, although that's what I'm using in my work A5 now; it's the easiest to get for A5. In my Personal, I'm experimenting with 2-days per page, and I think my dream format would be 2-days per page in A5!

- I've talked about my tabs frequently in my posts, but I'll sum it up here. In my Personal, I have Projects, Maybe, Ideas, Lists, Life (my code for health and fitness), and Tel. In my work A5, I have a tab for each of 3 major projects, plus To Do, Projects, and Notes, plus I use the A-Z tabs for contacts and reference info.

29 comments:

  1. I started using a Daytimer in 1985. I switched between it and a Franklin-Covey binder. I also bought a Time Design on a whim one time. I'm still using the D-T. Although I'd love a Filofax, I can't justify the price with a perfectly good D-T on my desk!

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  2. I began using a Daytimer in 1979. I went from pocket to loose leaf after a few years and used that until about 1995 and then went electronic. After a several glitches last year, I went back to paper.

    I uses an old Daytimer binder with Filofax 2-pages per week. When I used paper before, I billed for time and used a two pages per day format. So, I have disciplined myself to be more efficient with my use of space. I do like the ability to carry an entire year in the binder instead of just a month or so.

    I use the standard tabs. I am working on a system with different colored pages for different areas (work, home, personal).

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  3. I started using the Cambridge version of the Personal size Filo in 1995. A friend of mine had one full of all kinds of stuff, and I thought it was really cool to have everything in one binder. I bought my Personal size black leather Buckingham in 2001. I use the Cotton Cream week on 2 pages, because I like having the This Week box for my To-Dos on my calendar page. When this box gets full I add a post-it note to the bottom of the page. I have found that I have to see my To-Dos and my schedule all in one view. If my list is behind a tab somewhere it’s “out of sight, out of mind” and I forget to even look at it! I have gone through many forms of calendar (Moleskine, Uncalendar, even the intense structure of Go Mom) but I always come back to my Filofax because it is where I store ALL of my information, and I feel split having my calendar in a separate book. I am definitely of the “all-in-one” camp. The other issue is that my family and I travel internationally several times per year (although that will end soon when we move back to the US next month—whole other topic) so I have to have all of my info in one portable thing.

    So, for my tabs. Get ready, I have a lot. I have a tab for my Calendar, which has month at a view and the Cotton Cream week on 2 pages. Emergency, for phone numbers, emergency ID pages for each of my kids, and emergency medical authorization forms if my kids need medical care in my absence. Next is Medical which has medical records, vaccine info, etc for each of us. This has proven to be extremely useful when traveling. Next is Family Fun where I keep packing lists for outings, gift idea lists, birthday party planning pages, etc. Next is Meal Time but I don’t use this section much, mostly shopping lists. It’s intended for menu planning but I don’t do that. Next is a section for kids’ activities (my daughter’s ballet class info, etc.). Then Directories, which is extremely useful. It has lists of friends and neighbors, medical and pharmacy numbers, numbers for home stuff like utilities, etc. Makes it easy to find when these numbers are listed by topic. Then I have a tab for Lists which is a catch-all. Notes, which currently is taken up with everything having to do with our move. Insurance, which has all the info for our various insurance policies. Travel with all of our frequent flier numbers, etc., and when we have a trip coming up this is where I put our info for our flights, accommodation, etc. Scotland, because we go there about once a year and it’s nice to have all my contact info in one place. Finances, where I also have a calculator, which is really handy. Maps, because I have several. Then my A-Z tabs which contain addresses as well as various other information. Then last I have a business card holder with various cards for reference.

    I have so much in my Filo that it makes it nearly impossible to switch to any other system! As Inky said it, staying with my Filo becomes the path of least resistance!

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  4. I began using a filofax back in the mid 90's but not for long. Following a period using a Psions & Palms, I returned to the fold with an A4 Lyndhurst about five years ago. I switched to a personal Lyndhurst about 18 months later & have been using it ever since. I occasionally experiment with other filo's (personal & smaller), but keep coming back to my Lyndhurst. There's something very satisfying about zipping it closed!

    Having tried day-to-a-page, week-to-a-page, week-to-two-pages (Monday start, no notes), I've settled on week-to-two-pages, Sunday start with notes. I like that the weekends have the space as the weekdays. Important, when the weekends play an equal part of your week.
    I make extensive use of the Post-It tags & the little filofax notelet to flag birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, appointment addresses etc.

    I use the Notes, Projects, Diary, Information tabs (in this order).

    Behind the Notes tab are recipes, ideas & general jottings. There's also a perpetual shopping list.

    Behind the Projects tab are:
    * Running plan, I will be running the 'Bournemouth Bay 10K' run after Easter
    * General To-Do list;
    * Specific To-Do's about the house, garden & allotment w/plans;
    * An ongoing Book list of books to read and/or buy and
    * A Music list (same as Book).

    Behind the Diary tab is also a home-made Month-to-View diary.

    Behind the Information tab is information specific to me: payroll number; internet access information for work plus the information supplied by filofax.

    In front of all my tabs are photo's of my family, plus contact information about me & my wife.

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  5. My first Filofax was an A5 Windsor Filofax System Organizer that I purchased on clearance sale from Pearl Paint in the mid 1990's.

    I had previously used a Day Runner, which I purchased when they came out with a new format that was much more aesthetically pleasing than their original line (I think they called it Day Runner Professional), because at the time I was a buyer at an artists' materials shop and one of my product sources carried Day Runner products and I was able to purchase at wholesale cost.

    I always wanted the much more elegant Filofax, but unfortunately I was an underpaid buyer, so I couldn't afford to invest in Filofax at the time.

    That A5 Windsor FSO is now back to being my main Filofax, though I plan on replacing it with a brand new, black, A5 Bridle that I have waiting in the wings. First, I will attempt to utilize the black Deskfax Sandhurst I just picked up from eBay. If that doesn't work out, it will be on to the Bridle. I need to get refills for the Deskfax.

    For some time, I had switched to a Personal Buckingham for portability (which I had snagged at TJ Maxx empty for about twelve dollars), followed by a Pocket Kensington. I soon discovered that I really needed at least the A5 size, because I prefer a lot of writing room. I've repurposed my Personal Buckingham and Pocket Kensington. I had also used Newtons, Palm phones, and a Nokia 770 interspersed with my Filofaxes, as well as a very nice Dooney & Bourke Palm/notepad folio (another TJ Maxx find) that I kept stocked with quadrille pads, but no Palm).

    I have developed something of a personal system, which involves:

    1. A 100% rag museum board fly sheet. This helps me write on the left side pages.

    2. A Filofax clear flysheet. This protects my yearly calendar from damage. It used to be my front cover until I started adding the museum boards.

    3. The original 1-12 dividers from my FSO. I wish these were still available, though mine are in good shape.

    4. A Month on Two Pages diary (with ruler). This is for longer term planning.

    5. A Week on One Page diary (with another ruler). This is my main paper calendar (my actual main calendar lives in my iPhone with my contacts). In the current week, I insert a white ruled page for my personal "To Do" list, a yellow ruled page for my professional "To Do" list, and a blue ruled page for a shopping list.

    6. Stocks of white ruled, yellow ruled, and blue ruled paper.

    7. The next few sections are filled with current projects, which will be on the colors of ruled paper, above, depending on their orientation.

    8. I keep a section or two at the end for reference pages

    9. Another 100% rag museum board flysheet. This helps me write on the right side pages.

    10. An A5 white ruled notepad in the back cover.

    I've set up all three Filofaxes for 2008 in the same manner. The Pocket Kensington goes in my car, and I mainly use the Week on One Page diary for my mileage log. The wallet pockets of the Kensington are great for keeping my registration and insurance cards handy, along with any other auto-relevant cards and materiel.

    The Personal Buckingham became my kitchen/home organizer and recipe jotter...until my wife decided that her Pocket Soho wasn't cutting it in her corporate job, and I gave her the Buckingham so she could look cooler in meetings.

    Right now, I'm working on developing my own line of organizer inserts, so I expect I will discontinue purchasing Filofax refills after 2008, but my system will remain largely identical. I will, however, continue to purchase Filofax binders, and will be moving to multiple A5 or larger binders. I need one dedicated to my band, another to replace my lost kitchen/home organizer, and I may even develop excuses to use even more binders!

    I've never used contact pages in my Filofaxes, because people's addresses and telephone numbers change too frequently, and I despise untidy contact information (my wife's Filofax is full of scribbled out contact information and looks atrocious to my eyes). These things are better managed on my phone and computers.

    I used to feel bad about my Filofax, because I never used it as a time manager. I was always more interested in having extensive notebooking support. Then I learned to stop worrying about whether or not my Filofax's calendar reflected a busy executive lifestyle. I've been exactly the same way about my Newtons and Palm phones. Now I have an iPhone, and it's so much easier to manage than any device I've previously used.

    Now I think I have the best of both worlds, iPhone for things the iPhone does well, Filofax for the things Filofax does well.

    One nifty thing I've done with my A5 Windsor--the FSO binder, being a child of the 1980's and 1990's, has a floppy disk pocket inside the front cover. In this pocket, I keep a miniature self-healing cutting mat that is just about the right size to fit. For some reason, I find myself cutting things on the go quite often, so I find this very useful.

    Sonewhere is my house there should be the storage box that came with my FSO...I'd really like to find that.

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  6. I’ve been using a Filofax since 1994. My current one is a Bromley in black leather. I’ve always preferred the personal size and the day-per-page-calendar format, and always one Filofax for business and private affairs. In fact, I cannot image using two calendars and I always wonder about how you cope with that. Every second year, I’ve tried to switch to a week-on-two-pages design to have more capacity and a good view on the whole week, but it never works and I come back to the day-per-page-format. Currently, I think about changing to A5 for more room to fill, but then I think that Personal is smarter. My tabs aren’t labeled, the first section is a kind of outlook with the vertical year planner and some notes for future appointments, then comes the diary, notes, projects, information, and the ABC-section for telephone numbers and E-Mails.

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  7. - How long have you been using Filofax?
    Since about 1986

    - What size(s)/model(s) do you use?
    I started off with a personal size, more recently I've added an A5 and Pocket size

    - What calendar format works for you
    1 page per week, printed off from Outlook

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  8. tur_tur, could you please write more about how you use your page per day? I have tried this in the past but have not done well with forward planning. Could you please tell us how you keep track of upcoming events? I tend to get lost in the days and even forget what day of the week it is without the visual pattern of the week at a view. Also, are you able to fit the entire year in your Filo, or do you put in only a few months at a time? Any specifics of how you use this format would be great. Thanks!

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  9. Since begin this year I use a FiloFax Kendal Personal Size. After years of digital devices with regular failure and doubts on how this supported me I went back to paper.

    I use week on 2 pages plus a foldable year planner. Project tab for my project related stuff. Notes for keeping blank paper. I tend to make my meeting notes on personal size paper and store it with my Filofax. This will somehow force me to work tidy as I don't want to make a mess out of the Filofax. Information for reference papers. Addresses I use self printed papers. I took out the a-z tabs. Most of addresses are e-mail and so in my outlook or in my mobile phone.

    Currently I'm experimenting on my task management. I realised that for me writing down tasks straight to a to do lost is similar to writing down a whole project and so my steps are to big there. Something has to come between my brain and todo list. I'm using a business card holder for small index cards (bit of a hipster idea) on which big project tasks/deliverables will be written. It can also be specific company assignments that come up e.g. sales presentation. Each businesscard pocket can hold quite some cards and represents a certain project (customer account, company internal or private). It's easy to take cards out and get overview on what to plan, make notes on the cards etc. Any fixed date task may go into diary before so I keep my eye on that.From those two task registrations I write my daily todo's on a simple notepad which I stuck into my Filofax as well. Using filofax todo's for that will be a waste of expensive paper and that stuff is hard to get where I live now.

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  10. Well, today I bought a refill for my Succes-organiser. Format 95x150 which comes close by the Personal Philofax-format. I made the next sections: calender (week on 2 pages), tasks (only private, the work-tasks are in Outlook at the office), telephone (people I have to call and why I have to call), discuss (people I need to talk with and the things we have to discuss with each other) and notes for all short note-taking and, may be, neeting-notes. I think there will be a second note-section for the notes that are importenat (key-numbers, passwords and so on.
    I intend to print the Outlook-contacts and fold the print in the organiser.

    I know write all appointments in the Succes. I have the intention to look after it every friday-afternoon and put every appointment for the next three weeks in Outlook (for the team in the office).

    The Succes is not leathermade. I think it's a sort of plastic. If I, at the end of this year, still use the Succes and I still like it, I will buy a leather Succes or, may be, a Philofax.

    And oh, I also bought some little notebooks. I can stick one with me when I go on my way without the organiser which is too big to carry with me everywhere.

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  11. I am waiting for my A5 Graphic Zip Filofax organizer this week. I have never use a paper organizer. Since 1985 I am using electronic ones. First a PHILIPS with 64K memeory, later (about 1990) a CASIO with 512K memory, about 1997 a Psion Series 3, ay 2001 a Psion 5mx and since 2005 a Palm Tungsten E2.

    So I will start with the paper organizer, maybe, from the next week. I think that I will keep my contacts and calendar on palm (as they sync with my desktop where I keep more than 1000 contacts and many many tasks on my calendar). I will use the Filofax for project planning, maybe various next item lists (ala GTD), and primarly for note taking during meetings with clients.

    All the comments are realy useful about the way other uses their organizers but I think that it will be interesting if we also post our job function along with the way we use the organizers.

    I am a software/web development analyst so I spend enough time talking with customers about their needs wich will be much easier to capture on my filofax than is on my palm.

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  12. HI Laurie

    As I mentioned, I use the page-per-day-calendar in combination with a vertical year planner. That helps me to keep an eye on the main upcoming events. Additionally, I use a yellow text marker for the most important events. In the daily calendar section, I have normally sheets for three or four months, that’s enough (I’m an assistant professor at a university, and I always start the semester with a thick Filo which gets thinner every second day. I always take the sheets out when the day passed, but I have never thrown one sheet away. That will make things easier for my biographer if I will ever have one :-) Or to deliver an alibi).

    Again, I use text marker on the daily pages for upcoming events: yellow for important appointments that demand a preparation, green for holiday or time abroad, and sometimes blue for travelling time (the main idea is to take things to read with me, but normally I feel sleepy in trains and l love to look at people at airports, so I don’t read anything at all – I think I had to stop that). But I agree that it’s necessary to skim through the sheets sometimes and see what’s next, but as a "philofaxy", I love it. It’s like skimming through a good book. Normally, I spent the last hour of my working time on Friday for an outlook of the next month, looking for events or deadlines coming nearer.

    I agree that the page-per-day-calendar has its disadvantages, but every time I tried the week-on-two-pages variant, I hate it when the appointments are not in line. And even if I don’t use all the space to fill I have with the page-per-day, it’s good to know I could.

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  13. Too late for roll call?

    I have been using my Personal Classic Chocolate for just over a year. My calendar is arranged across two pages for one week and there is an "eighth day" box in the top left corner where I write and forget things. The Notes section is weighty information and projects, Projects is the hardly used home of 'To Do', Information is for passwords (in code) and log in and web addresses, Financial is for expensive purchases and medical stuff, addresses is used properly. An A4 'Black and Red' hard covered spiral bound is used for work.

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  14. I have bought this Filofax in 2002, but I haven't been using it all the times (Outlook seemed to suite my needs). Then I got involved in GTD, tried the digital way and finally started again with paper. So, I am actively using this Filofax from January 2008 (not much hu? :)).

    I am using a Personal/Hamilton. Sometimes I think I would like to have a Classic (A5) to have more space.

    I am currently using 1 week in 2 page. If I had an A5, I would probably use 1 day per page with room for To-do, calls, etc..

    I am using the standard tabs (but I got rid of the addresses, which I don't use). If I knew how to customize my tabs, I would call them something similar to GTD (Next Actions / Waiting For / etc...) to match the actual content.

    (This is my first post :). Keep it up with this great site)

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  15. Hi tur tur, thanks so much for your description of how you use the page per day while still keeping your eye on upcoming plans. This is the crux of my battle with my Personal sized Filo: sometimes I just don't have enough room to write with my week at a view. I like the idea of a page per day, with all that room to write and record. Next time I get the itch to switch I might just try out your method. BTW I do color-coding too, it really helps me get a quick visual on my plans.

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  16. Hi Laurie

    I just read in your earlier posting that you change your calendar seven times a year, so I think "next time" will be quite soon :-). I think it’s important to have a system that you love to use, that you enjoy holding in hands and leaf through. In my view, Filofax is not the most functional system, but sensuality is much more important than functionality. Therefore, in the "Go Mom versus Filofax case", I totally agree with your husband.

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  17. LOL Tur Tur!!! I totally agree with the sensuality of it, there is no equal to the smooth soft leather of my Buckingham. Now that I have committed to staying with my Filo, my only switching around will be within the binder. So under this new rule of mine, the daily pages are an option for when I need variety. Thanks again for sharing how you use your system. I agree there are probably more efficient systems out there, but for me my Filo is a good combination of logistics and feel-good factor.

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  18. I started using Filofaxes in the late 1980s and currently have four.
    I use a pocket pimlico for personal use as i cycle to work and space is a premium in my pannier. In it i use the standard tabs. The diary is a week on 2 pages. The time of meeting or appointment dictates where it is written in the day - morning top, afternoon middle and evening at the bottom. I am also a big fan of jotpads which are used for to do's in the diary with no set date. I have changed the financial to a personal 'to do' tab in which include DIY jobs, photograph ideas, books to read etc. I use the information tab for info to keep, birthday pages and as a mini commonplace book. At the front i have a clear wallet with pictures of the kids in it. Credit card spaces are used for membership cards and a stock jotpad.
    I also use an A5 Logic for Scouts (I am a Scout leader) which includes a week on 2 page diary (for Scouting only), a to do tab and a thick note section and of course the obligatory jotpads. In it i have an archive section of past meetings etc. in the back and front flaps go flyers etc. I did use it for university which included tabs for different subjects, homework to do tab and a diary. In the front of each subject tab also went a timetable. In the back i also had a CD-RW holder.
    As i work in a lab, i use a slimline Richmond as a notebook. In it i have a to do tab, a notes tab, a filofax calculator and a jotpad. The notes section is for daily notes (plus meetings) and also notes from reading journals, articles, etc. I also use neon highlight tabs for things to go back to.
    Lastly i have a personal Hampshire (my first) which is redundant at the mo. Mmm, what can i use it for?In it i have a filofax birdwatcher's life list from 1986 which is still in use!

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  19. How long have you been using Filofax?

    I have been using my Filofax since Christmas last year. It was a the greatest gift my husband gave me.

    - What size(s)/model(s) do you use? I'm using a black Metropol A5 Filofax. It keeps my mind clear. that's why i have only one filofax. more is too confusing.;-)
    And i have a A5 size because i have a large handwriting and a have more room.

    - What calendar format works for you i am using the one week on two pages horizontal in 5 languages.

    - What's behind your tabs?
    1. My Diary,
    2. My paid bills schedule and my moving plans. (we're about to move house).
    3 my eating schedule. i'm a bad eater this helps me to eat at similar times.
    4. Stock of paper and some sweet notes from my husband.
    5. Adresses.

    i also have a envelope in it i want to have a nive picture from me my, husband and my one-year old son in it.

    I have a question for everyone who uses A5 Filofax: Do you carry your filofax around? And yes how do you carry it arround?

    Mine stays at home if im taking it with me a put it in the giftbox and put in my stroller or in al large shoulderbag.

    XXX

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  20. I carry mine new A5 black Finsbury in my laptop case if I'm on my way to work or just in my hand if out and about w/o my laptop. I have no hesitancy to carry it for it contains my life and I refer to it and capture in it often throughout the day.

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  21. I first started using a personal-sized Filofax in 1988 and have continued to update my agenda in the years since.

    Though I like Filofax, I have some issues with their design and the manufacturer's insistence of including a zippered compartment - which I don't like. I'd like a Filofax that just has a simple pocket on the inside front and back covers.

    A couple of years ago, I upgraded to a personal-sized agenda from Smythson of London. The one I have - which is no longer manufactured - is black, simple and elegant.

    I travel quite a bit so I keep my frequent flyer cards in my agenda along with various city/transit maps and contacts. I have some special tabbed sections for notes on cities I frequent: NY, SF, London, Zurich and Berlin. I jot notes on new restaurants, shops and hotels to check out when I come across them...so when I travel, I have all that info at my fingertips.

    I'd be happy to e-mail some photos if anyone is interested.

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  22. I've been using a Filofax since 1987. The current model I'm using is a 1987 Winchester with 7/8 rings in Burgundy (model code: 4CLF7/8). I also collect them so this is one of many. I sometimes use a 1986 Pigskin binder as my regular binder. I only ever use the Personal size - I have a A5 Filofax but it's too unwieldy.

    I don't really use a paper diary any more and haven't for about ten years. My diary is mainly in Outlook and this feeds a BlackBerry and a Palm. I do have a paper diary (Week per Page) but it's hardly ever used.

    My tabs are: Politics, Notes, Info and Cold War, the latter as I'm researching a book. I'll probably add others but I tend use fairly broad categories. I've always believed that the more you micro-manage information the more overhead you create in administrative chores.

    Filofax used to produce lots of leaves for specific tasks that took away much of the effort of managing information, it's a shame they're current offering is so bland. (I also think they're current binders are terrible but that's another story...).

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  23. Can I still participate? Bit late I know.
    I have been using filofax since may 2007, not quite a year yet. Short compared to some of you who have been using it longer than I am old (I am 25). Before that I was using a pocket moleskine and hating it. I have tried a plastic binder with a succes refill in junior size, which is almost exactly the pocket filo size. Succes is a Dutch brand, and much more widely available and cheaper here in the Netherlands. But I stopped using it very soon, because the succes refills have only five tabs, and the pages have very very narrow ruling. I write small, but not that small.

    I have a personal size piazza in blue, but I am not really happy with it. The suede strip is becoming a bit dirty, and the rings don't exactly align to each other, so pages get stuck while turning. I am looking at another filo (personal finchley) but I would hate wasting 140 euro's I paid for the piazza.

    I am currently using the cotton cream week-on-two-pages diary, and I like it. It has very subtle ruling in the Dutch version, and so it looks much neater than the unruled English version I had last year. And it shows all our own holidays and summertime changes, which often differ from English/American dates. I will continue to use this diary format.

    I use the original tabs. The first has my diary. The second is my notes section, which I really should use. I now often don't touch it for weeks at a time, and that is a waste. Plus I keep forgetting things I should write there.
    Then the project tab, which holds my to do lists for personal and work, a shopping list, then my projec list, and finally pages for larger projects. Larger projects are for example a research paper or a client project, and these pages hold outlines, objectives, contact info specific to the project etc. (I am a combination consultant/phd student in mathematics). The next tab is the info tab, and this has info like train and bus times I frequently use, books and cd's I want to check out, my copy machine code and the alarm code for work and such. Finally the address tab, where I use the abc tabs and write in pencil.

    So all in all, I am happy with filofax, and with the size and refills, just not with my particular model. I could have known that the suede would get dirty, but I didn't know anything about suede. My mom told me I should have consulted her, moms always know these things. But the rings not lining up might be something I could go back to the store with. It is just a very small difference, milimeters, but it bugs me. What do you people think?

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  24. I hope this post works.
    I started using Filofax about 1985.
    Now my main use is the four year planner.
    I lecture to gardening groups and just today got a booking for 2010.
    My gripe with Filofax is that they only produce it a year in advance. So my current planner is 2006-2009 and I now need the 2010-2013 planner. Filofax won't produce it until next year. Why not?
    Yours
    Tony

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  25. Paulien: if the rings aren't perfectly aligned then they're damaged. Very commonly people accidentally crush the spine making the rings misalign. It's not something you can really tolerate because it'll tear the holes in the leaves inside the binder.

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  26. firstly, glad to see this blog take off again. I was and am a fan of the content.

    so down to my filo - I've spun from an a5 (that I got in 1998), through day runner a5, through personal and now to the slimline personal.

    I have a week to two pages horizontal, and my tabs are 1) to do 2) notes 3) notes 4) blank sheets 5) business cards

    I find that most of my week diary is on outlook at work, so I use the filo for personal appointments that i dont want there.

    Its a great system, it engages you back with paper, with organising, with touch.

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  27. I've been using Filofax just last 5 years or so, but started with another Filofax-compatible organizer early 1990s.

    I now prefer A5, although I may be about to mix it with Mini. I've used several off-brand makes and models and sizes, but mainly prefer the extremes of either Mini or A5. The Minis I have are two Time/System (vinyl & leather) and an anonymous combined fabric binder with wallet. The A5 cross-compatible leather binders are Filofax, Time/System (a.k.a Time/Design), and local brand Timex Space.

    At the moment, I only use calendar on my smartphone and sync it with the system at work. I don't like to share personal calendar with office, but I haven't been able to reliably sync personal calendar with electronic work calendars.

    I use my main A5 binder mostly for planning projects, journaling and printed references like contact information for offline use. Everything worth keeping is written to computer within a week. I'm an expert at losing stuff so I also backup some pages occasionally with a digital camera.

    Second A5 binder works as an archive for old plans and third is kind of an artistic journal & commonplace book.

    I used to try to keep my journal in a binder, but I don't like how the binder mechanism makes it difficult to write on the left side pages. So now I have a separete notebook just for journaling until that book is full. I did like the freedom of rearranging old journal pages by theme so I may go back one day. Any important bits from the journal are entered to computer data anyway, so the journal's not that important.

    The Minis have been temporarily replaced with even more pocketable small notebooks. They carry action lists and collected thoughts. I'm still not completely sure which is better; having a slightly larger mini binder or a wallet and two notebooks in several pockets. Thoughts are processed daily and action lists should be completed or refactored within weeks or a month so I don't bother backing up them.

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  28. I love your site! Finally I don't feel so alone in my pursuit of the perfect planner. I started using Filofax in 1992. My first binder was a black personal size real calf leather made in England. (It's still gorgeous today.) It was made in the good ol' days of quality materials, before Filofax started branching out with names for their binders with disappointing leathers. I soon realized I needed more space (I write big), so I splurged on the beautiful Filofax System Organiser "Director" A5 model in tan leather made in Italy. It worked for awhile, but I was still seeking for the perfect planner for my life, and was easily wooed away to the Dark Side by Hyrum Smith to the Franklin Planner.

    The Filofaxes went into a drawer, and over the years, I've used the Classic (carried in a black Scully binder purse), Compact (carried in a pink leather binder) and Monarch sizes (carried in a cheap 3-ring binder.) Then I had a baby, became a SAHM and suddenly didn't need a planner anymore. Fast forward to 2008. My baby is now in school and I am running a small business part-time. Good thing I am a pack rat. I had all the binders and pulled them out to see with one will fit my lifestyle now. Guess which one I was drawn to? You guessed it! My very first binder... the personal filofax in real calf.

    The leather still glows and has that rich smell and feel I love. But here's the kicker... I still love the Franklin pages, and the Compact "Blooms" fits nicely if not perfectly (the pages are a tad bit too wide for me to snap it shut, but it's not a big deal for me.) I like to use their Blooms Tabs and also "Month on 2 pages" which has all my appts on it and I refer to daily. I keep my check book and register behind the Finances tab, daily to do notes behind Tab 1, My Journal/Diary behind Tab 2, Ideas/Dreams behind Tab 3, Lists of books, movies Tab 4 and Blank Pages Tab 5. Plus all docs, dentists, vet, medical business cards in clear plastic inserts and also gift cards in same plastic inserts.

    The inside left cover has 8 slits for my drivers license, debit/credit card, Macy's card, health insurance card and voter id card. Plus I added a clear zip lock pocket for tickets to shows, etc. Of course I have the obligatory photo sleeves of husband and daughter.

    My original first purchase now serves as my wallet, planner, calendar, journal, and Life Guide. I just love the size of the planner as it fits into my favorite purse and so it is with me at all times.

    I just cry when I think of all the time and money spent to find the perfect binder planner when I've had it all along!

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