19 December 2011

Reader Under The Spotlight - David Popely

This week it is a great pleasure to introduce you to David. 

Hi, I’m David, and I’m an accountant in the UK. I’ve recently moved to beautiful South Wales, with my even-more-beautiful wife Emma, our three chickens and two lazy cats, Brue and Bramble (aka GrumpyCat). I was born and lived the first 50+ years of my life in London and only came to country living in the last six years or so. I love it!

I’ve been interested in anything relating to time management for well over 30 years now, so it’s been a real joy to discover so many people with similar interests through the Philofaxy site, and I hope my profile will inspire one or two more to start using their organisers as a time and task *management* tool, and not *just* as a fashion accessory (although they are great-looking as well)!

1. When did you buy your first Filofax and what was it?

Probably around 1981. It was a very old duplex (two rings) version, but I have no idea of the model name. Maybe you can help! I used that duplex binder with a day-per-page diary on one side and all my to-do lists etc on the other, until I discovered and adopted the Time Manager system around 1982.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

I’ve always been an on-off Time Manager user, because I find the structure of the system suits me – it’s pretty rigid, and I like that. In between frequent bouts of TM usage, I’ve only ever been a Filofax user, and I’ve never *ever* been without a system of some kind since adopting that first Filofax back in the early 80s.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

Definitely my Personal Malden in ochre when I’m in Filofax mode, and my one and only black either Time Manager binder when I’m in TM mode. I love the lines and the ‘fee’ of the Malden, it has all the pockets I need, in all the right places, and it looks great all the time. It’s now starting to take on a ‘weathered’ look (I suppose I give it a fairly hard time) and it *still* looks great! The TM binder is in smooth black leather, and just seems to always look good-as-new (and I probably bought it 8-10 years ago). The Malden fits beautifully in the hand as well (I don’t often carry a man-bag so I’m usually carrying it), the TM less so....

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

Apart from my TM binder, three – a black leather A5 Finsbury (rarely used, although I *do* have the inserts for it), a brown oiled leather Hampstead which is now defunct in everyday terms (or maybe awaiting a new purpose) which I bought around 1998, and my personal Malden, which is my go-to organiser all the time I’m in Filofax mode.

5. What do you use your Filofax for?

I use it for everything! It’s my diary, my task manager, my list-keeper, I keep my plastic cards in there, postage stamps, travel tickets when I’m away on business....there really isn’t anything I *don’t* use it for. At the moment I’m using the standard Filofax dividers (more on this below), although I do change to other sets, and back, quite often, so I have my diary in the front, my project and task lists under projects, my carry-around information under notes (which I also use as a quick-capture for anything incoming, using yellow paper to make it stand out from the white of the rest of the organiser), my petty cash records under financial (I’m self employed so I need to capture everything), and a few current contacts under contacts. I don’t fully utilise the contacts section, because I find my BlackBerry to be a far more efficient way of accessing and using contacts – if I’m away on business it’s usually to call or email, and I don’t need to look people up twice and manually enter the information.

6. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

Definitely the flexibility. I reconfigure my system *often*, and now that I’ve had some practice, I can usually re-jig the whole system in 30 minutes or so if I have a clear idea of where I’m going.

7. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

Binder-wise, I’m very happy with my Malden and I can’t really see how that could be improved, except by the addition of a second pen loop. I like to keep my diary in pencil (things change a lot and need adjusting), but I like a pen for other purposes. I’m still trying out the Frixion erasable pen, but my old-fashioned alter-ego would really much prefer pen and pencil separately. Insert-wise, I have some *serious* issues with Filofax. The FF paper is poor quality and for a fountain pen user that’s bad news in a major way. The bleed-through is terrible. If I were the designer, I’d take my Malden (with second pen loop) and fill it with good quality paper, a wider range of inserts, and a better choice of divider set-ups for different systems such as GTD. Frankly, though, I don’t think Filofax are invested at all in their inserts, and I think that’s a very bad business decision in the long term, as well as being really irritating to me in the short term.

8. How do you carry your Filofax?

Almost always in my hand – I rarely carry a bag. If I’m away on business it lives int he front pocket of my briefcase, for which it could almost have been custom-designed. Otherwise, it’s in my hand whenever I’m out of the house, or on my desk (or the arm of my chair) when I’m at home.

9. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

I like the Malden a *lot*, and I already own one, so I’m not about to go Filofax shopping. I’ve just bought some day on two pages diary inserts from the French website, so that’s enough shopping for me!

10. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?

Probably the Malden at £65 (I think) from Conduit Street. My Time Manager binder was around £200 though, and that was a few years ago. For design and functionality it was worth every penny.

11. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

I love the community, and feel as if I have so many friends of a common mind here. I know that whatever my question, I can find someone who’s been there before and has ‘an’ (if not ‘the’) answer. Now I’m following some of the other blogs I’ve discovered through Philofaxy, that sense of a community of like-minded people is even greater.

12. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

Really – there isn’t anything at all. My only dislike is that I sometimes can’t follow every comment to every post purely because of the volume of material.

13. What was the last music album CD you bought or downloaded?

Probably Own The Night by Lady Antebellum. I have very wide-ranging tastes in music, so I generally use Spotify in my office, which is a great way to listen to music for a monthly subscription. CD-wise, I really can’t remember (probably Jazz, Blues and Moore by the Dudley Moore Trio), but as we’ve just bought a rather nice hi-spec CD player, I guess I’ll be back in the market soon!


  1. Good story. I see you have settled with the personal size. What page format do you prefer? Have you considered going back to A5?

  2. Pleased to "meet" you, David! Enjoyed reading your story. These "Reader under the spotlight" columns are fun!

    Interesting to read that you are also not keeping contacts in the filofax. I have phone numbers and email addresses in my BlackBerry but for some reason really like having them in my filofax as well. But I am coveting the space they take up. I am currently thinking of typing up the names and phone numbers of those whom I contact most frequently, and letting their complete contact information live with everyone else's in my address book or my rolodex at work.

    Thanks for sharing some about yourself! I also have a personal size Malden in ochre. Lovely binder...

  3. @cgarsnrealest8 hi there - it's been a long and not-very-comfortable road to get settled with the Personal size. I know some users have an A5 for their desk and a Personal for carry-around, but two binders has never really suited me...as someone else said, 'You only have one life, why would you want two organisers?'! I like to have *everything* in one place, and the A5, although I *love* (and often feel I need) the space, weighs a ton, and I don't need to be carrying that around when I'm away on business. So no, I don't think I'll go back to A5, although you never know!

    @Josh Hi Josh, and nice to meet you too! Re contacts, I just find that the BlackBerry has such excellent recall (it finds contacts as you start to key in the name then gives you all the available numbers), that it would be innecessary duplication for me to carry those around in my FF. When we moved to Wales and I needed a large handful of postcodes for my SatNav on a short term basis (until we'd found our way around), I did keep those as a list in my FF for a while. Now that we're fully orientated to Welsh navigation, I don't use them any more so I've discarded them. I do understand the good feeling that might come from having them all in the FF, but it just wouldn't be functional for me.....

    Yes, the Malden is a lovely binder, and I don't think I'll be looking anywhere else for an alternative, for the foreseeable future. I'm surprised how good it still looks now that it's getting 'weathered' - I take it everywhere, and its in and out of the car all the time, so it gets a fair bit of 'treatment'. Even with a few marks and scratches, which I know I could get out with AutoGlym if I wanted to, it still looks great!

  4. Hi David, lovely to 'meet' you!
    I'm very interested in time management too, & have set up my personal crimson Malden based on the Getting Things Done paper planner layout.

  5. HI David - always a pleasure to 'hear' from you. Sounds like you have fully kicked the 5 habit out!

  6. @anita hi Anita.....I'd be interested to hear how you've set up your personal FF for GTD.....presently I find the 'standard' index from FF works well enough, but it's always interesting to hear what others have managed to do.....

    @alison Hi Alison.....I'm afraid the A5 has fallen victim to its own weight, coupled with the fact that I can only handle one system of organisation, and when I split between two binders, chaos is never far behind! Chat on Skype this week if you like, I'm here until close of play on Wednesday.....

  7. A lovely post David!! As I am posting, a Happy Christmas and Joyous New Year to all at Philofaxy! xxxx

  8. Great post, David. Glad to read about your FF system.

  9. But what is this Autoglym of which you speak??

    A car product??

    Which one do you use, when and how??

    Jen (feeling baffled)

  10. Jen
    Their leather care cream. It's intended for soft leather car interiors. But I've also used it myself on my leather Filofax organisers, as it helps to keep the leather clean and supple.



  11. Thanks, Steve! I might look out for that - I have a couple of old filofaxes bought on ebay and they need some tlc.


  12. If you are in UK? Then you can buy it in Halfords, or it is sold on Amazon too.

  13. David,

    Long time no hear!

    You're now the Filofax poster-boy, having managed to successfully relocate your home and your business using only a Personal-sized Filofax.

    Thanks for your interesting post.


  14. Loved to read your story and to meet you! I agree with you about setting it up and resetting it up... And then doing it again when it suits.


  15. Nice to meet you. Wishing You well in your new home of South Wales.

  16. Thank you all for your kind comments and good wishes.....it's great to be part of this community.

    @Gerard Hope all is well with you! er.....poster boy? :) I think not. Actually I'm finding that GTD works as well within the confines of a personal FF as it does within, say, a large A5 binder. So probably any credit that *does* accrue, should be to David Allen and GTD rather than to the FF or (most especially) to myself.....:)

  17. Nice to meet you David. I would love to see a post about your GTD system (with pics would be great as I find it much easier to get my head round things if I have a visual).


  18. Hi David, great story and I wish you well in South Wales; lived there for 15 years before changing careers and moving to the Lake District. I'd also be interested in more details of your system but the point that resonated most with me was your concern over the quality of the inserts. I flip between an A4 Classic and an A5 Kendal (it's nice to use a Filofax named after where you work - an idea for a post Steve?) and the difference in paper quality is huge. The A4 is quite good and takes fountain pen ink ok but the A5 struggles a bit.

    Would be lovely to think that FF are listening and would introduce a premium range of inserts but then they'd make me an A4 brown Kendal too....

  19. Would also love a post on your gtd setup... I'm trying to start fresh for the new year. Was a digital GTD-er by necessity when I was working full time but now am ready to move into a paper based system.


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