Alison Reeves (a frequent Philofaxy contributor) and I had been exchanging emails about time and task management, and about GTD implementation in particular, over the past few weeks, so when we discovered that we were both going to be in London on the same day (Tuesday 9th August) on business trips, she being from the West Midlands and I from the South West, that we just had to take the opportunity to meet up around a shared ‘interest’ (a slight understatement!) in Filofaxes, GTD, and time and task management generally.
So it was that I found myself heading for central London on the afternoon of the 9th, my very oversized and rather overstuffed A5 Finsbury under my arm, ready for an afternoon of Filofax-talk.
Arriving at 3.31 p.m. for a 3.30 p.m. start, I was unsurprised to find Alison already in the Conduit Street shop, browsing the refills. For quite a few minutes we exchanged ideas and discussed the relative merits of refill layouts (the generalised criticism of Filofax paper quality was to come later), in particular the A5 Time Management diary inserts for 2012 vs. the standard day-per-page layout (we both agreed that for our purposes either would do the job perfectly well). General browsing of the binder stock, and in particular of the sale stock, ensued, with Alison buying what is apparently the only slimline A5 ever produced (Adelphi) and a handful of inserts, while I finally and inevitably (I now realise) fell prey to the lure of the Personal Malden, in this case in ochre. I never realised until I handled the Malden just how much it sells itself to you wordlessly as you hold it, regardless of how many good reasons you may have why you don’t need another binder! What a beautiful piece of craftsmanship…
Neither Alison nor myself live within easy distance of anything like a ‘proper’ Filofax stockist, so it was a real treat to be able to get everything we need under one roof, with the help of obliging and knowledgeable staff – a big thank you, you know who you are!
Filofax ‘habits’ having been sated, it was a short walk to Starbucks at the Regent Street end of Conduit Street, where over tea and hot chocolate I demonstrated my current A5 GTD-oriented setup (but using the Filofax Time Management index dividers), while Alison had brought with her, her lovely A5 Amazona, which normally never leaves her desk (thank you for lugging it all the way from the West Midlands just to show me). Alison does a great line in really attractive ‘contents’ sheets (aided and abetted by the fact that she has very attractive ‘ladies’ handwriting, in contrast to my ‘sixth former gone bad’ scrawl), and also showed me her wrap-around pocket Filofax Special Edition. It’s much too small for me personally, but her ideal ‘carry around’ organiser.
Then we got onto the subject of pens. Having bought into the Malden at last (really, it was inevitable), I now realise how important the right pen is to match. I’ve always said I would never settle for less than two pen loops, as I always keep my diary in pencil, for reasons which anyone who has a busy life (surely that’s all of us?!) will readily understand. However, I’m now down to one loop, so a new solution is called for. The options are simple: Pen only, pencil only, or some kind of bizarre yet-to-be-invented pen-pencil hybrid (Tom Pellerau, are you reading this?). Alison showed me her very nice collection of Mont Blanc pens and pencils, including a very nice fountain pen – my ideal writing instrument, although it did lead directly to wholesale condemnation of the general quality of Filofax paper refills, and much hankering after a decent paper stock which doesn’t bleed through when a ‘proper’ pen is applied to it. Sadly, given Filofax’s current indifference to anything refill-related, this seems to be a pipe-dream rather than even being worth seriously proposing. But there is good money to be made out there by anyone prepared to invest in the project.
Also in Alison’s armoury of writing implements is a range of coloured Frixion pens – very cheap to buy, write like a rollerball, available in a wide range of colours, and…..eraseable! I tried this for myself and it really does work! I’m not sure if this is the solution for me (Alison does a lot of colour-coding, enough to justify carrying around a number of different pens), or whether I’m just looking for a single, really elegant looking writing implement, but I do recommend you check them out for functionality alone.
Soon it was time for parting – myself back to South London en route back to Somerset by car, Alison by taxi to her North London overnight business hotel, and I was left to reflect just what a lot of common ground there is between us, purely on the basis of our mutual interest in Filofax, and in all things organisational. Thank you, Alison, for being so willing to share your knowledge and progress towards organisation (which is, like my own, work in progress), and I look forward to meeting up again if the dates ever fall right once more.
Now, about that pen……any suggestions, anyone?......