Big problem. How on earth could I get everything from my 25mm ringed A5 Holborn into a mechanism barely half the size? Put simply, I couldn't! So, I thought long and hard about what I really needed to carry around. I undertook a week long trial with my A5 Holborn, putting a little dot at the top of every page when I used it. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at the results. 60% of my pages were never looked at all week and a further 20% could easily be discarded if I used my iPhone (boo! hiss!) more efficiently and avoided duplication of information. In particular, why did I need to carry all my contacts on my 'phone and an identical set in my organiser in printed form? I think this one comes from the days when 'phone batteries were poor and likely to give up at a crucial moment!
I think some tasks still can't be done effectively on a smartphone. For example, a foldout year planner is a great way for your advance planning overview. It’s far better than trying to plan on a tiny ‘phone screen. Paper is the best way for structured thinking too - for example designing this post so it flowed smoothly. (hmmm!)
So I sat down and went through everything I needed each day and the best way - and indeed from now on, the only way - of carrying it around. I included everything I used on a daily basis – debit cards, credit cards, business cards, stamps, a pen, the need for pockets for money, receipts, tickets etc. As well as my A5 Flex and iPhone, I realised that I would ideally also have a new smaller-size wallet. I decided that a Slim Flex would fit the bill – as well as matching my grey slate A5 Flex.
Here's the list of things I went through and where it seemed to fit best (Time Manager fans will recognise my TMI thought processes!):
Flex A5 (with ring) - * indicates items to be held in the ring mechanism
- Long-term planner – year/ month (Flex)
- Short-term planner/ Journal*
- Goals for the year (business and personal)*
- Key areas*
- Current projects (tasks and activities)*
- Core information (passwords, overnight packing, grocery list etc)*
- Blank pages*
- Mind mapping pages*
- Business leaflets and business cards
- Pen (held in two Flex card holders)
- Jot pad (Flex)
- Bank notes pocket
- Receipts pocket
- Jot pad (Flex)
- Business cards
- Credit/ debit/ membership cards
- Rail and other tickets
- Pen (in 2 Flex card holders)
iPhone4 (no photo needed!) Ed:I found one?
- Agenda (I use the “weekcal” app as it has a weekly and mini-month view)
- Reminders/ to-do/ don't forget (I use the “tasklist” app)
- Key dates - birthdays etc (reminders by “weekcal” synced with MS Outlook)
The only things duplicated are that both the Slim Flex and A5 Flex hold business cards, jot pads, Frixion pens and two card pen holders which also act as closures. So I can go swimming or shopping, mountain biking or down to the pub and just take my Slim Flex, using it as a wallet and still be able to make notes or give out a card.
It has worked brilliantly! So much so that I've hardly changed anything in 12 months. Initially, I originally also had a Flex fold out year planner in the Slim wallet. I quickly abandoned that as I found I only do long-term planning when I’ve got the A5 with me (i.e. not in the pub!)
Due to the number of cards we seem to need these days (loyalty cards, membership cards, discount cards etc) I added extra cards to the Slim wallet by cutting down a couple of clear business card holders. Each holds four (back-to-back) and they sit in the outside pockets with the pen holders (that also act as the wallet closure). This means I don’t even need to open the wallet to remove one of these cards and can now hold 14 rather than 6.
As you’ll have noticed, I’m still using the spliced and punched Flex diary pages in my A5. When these run out at the end of July (it was a 2011/2 academic year Flex diary which they haven’t produced this year), I’ll switch to printing my own using the Steve n’Ray “enhanced time management” templates (which I also had a tiny say in the design of!) CLICK HERE
This photo shows how the A5 binder normally looks on my desk. I have the month/year overview on the left and the diary pages open next to that. I can then flip directly to project or information pages as I need to. Two folds and I can pick up the binder with thumb and two fingers, just needing to fit the Frixion into the two elasticated holders and I’m off!
If you love carrying a big A5 Filofax and having everything in printed paper form, then this isn't for you. If however, you largely use an iPhone (or other smartphone), iPad or whatever, but still love paper and just need to keep a few core pages of overview, journal, project management info and blank pages for jotting down ideas, planning and making notes, then this type of approach is certainly worth thinking about.
Finally, if you’re still not sure I’ve done the right thing, here are the size and weigh-in comparisons - all with contents:
Filofax A5 Logic zipped (black)
265mm x 205mm x 48mm = 2,607,600 cubic millimetres.
Typical weight: 1650g
Filofax A5 Holborn (brown)
235mm x 195mm x 38mm = 1,741,350 cubic millimetres
Typical weight: 1320g
Flex by Filofax A5 First Edition as modified (grey)
223mm x 165mm x 25mm = 919,875 cubic millimetres.
Typical weight: 425g
..and for those of you that think an A5 Filofax is a bit like carrying a brick, here’s a comparison with one!
British Victorian Housebrick
200mm x 115mm x 79mm = 1,817,000 cubic millimetres
Typical weight: 2700g – so about the same capacity as a loaded A5 Holborn and twice as heavy!
Hope you’ve found this of interest. All the photos except one, have just been taken, so show the set-up after 12 months of daily use. So, even though it’s vinyl and not leather, it has worn pretty well.
I wrote to Letts Filofax about my experiences and made a few suggestions. Sure enough, I didn’t even get an acknowledgement! Their customer service is good but their attitude to product development and lack of interest in suggestions from serious and enthusiastic users, staggers me!
Thank you for reading. Thanks too for all the hard work the editorial team puts in and to everyone for all the banter, e-mail exchanges and helpful tips I’ve had from members of the Philofaxy community over the years!
Tim Edwards – Yorkshire Dales UK
Thank you Tim, I hope it has given some of our readers some ideas to help create their own Filoflex (TiM)