08 September 2013

Calendar and To Do Electronic Applications!

We love paper planners there is no doubting that. I've said it so many times before.... paper and a pen is just simple, quick, no need for instructions etc.

I was looking at the user reviews of some fairly well known iPad calendar/to-do apps. Generally they seem to get 5 star reviews. But some of the none 5 star reviews make interesting reading.

Comments such as 'So slow to start up I could have got my paper diary out, entered the appointment and put it back in my bag by the time it had started' made me smile.

With the power of modern phones with multiple processors, more memory and processor power than a desktop computer of say 10 years ago, there's no real excuse is there for lacking performance.

But when they get that right it seems that they make them so complicated to use that they become a pain to use. Take this comment
It looks nice and seems to have some great reviews - but my own experience is that it's over complex. You can spend more time setting the dam thing up and trying to understand what all the settings mean than actually getting anything meaningful done with your life! I'm left wondering if any people who buy this actually lead very effective live or just like pressing buttons and pretending they are 'organised' ? 
Hmm, there are some parallels there with having expensive planners but not using them effectively... just having one isn't going to make you organised is it... ok moving on...

I still have two of my earliest electronic PDA's on my desk more for ornamental value than for practical purposes. A Casio Digital Diary with all of 64kb of memory! was the first... I needed the manual to work out how to enter an appointment on it after not using it for so long. The other which I've mentioned before my Psion 5mx is elegant in its simplicity, but in todays world of connected to the internet type devices the Psion has been left behind.

Electronic calendars by now should have wiped the paper diary off the face of the earth... but they haven't thank goodness. Too complicated to use, or too slow, electronic calendars should be able to have customisable views, complete flexibility to the users requirements but I've not found one yet.

They still base their views on Month, Week or Day views in very familiar layouts that you and I see every day in our Filofax organisers! Hardly a move forward is it.

Oh but they can share their electronic calendars.  Well I can 'share' Alison's calendar... I just ask her are you busy next week and she tells me what she is doing and I write it in the right hand margin of my Filofax.

Not that complicated is it... and the speed of communication is at the speed of sound... from her mouth to my ear and from there to my pen.

And I share mine when she asks 'and what are you doing?' "Oh you know, the usual" ! And she will roll her eyes as I'm sat here typing away and surfing the internet looking for Filofax things!

I know we grumble about certain diary formats not being available on the Filofax website, so please Filofax listen to what your customers want. And I know some of you grumble about not being able to print out Ray and my wonderful diary inserts, but again that's only technology getting in the way... Don't let it stop you from using them.

Printing your own inserts is a once a year task, so take some time to learn that skill and that perfect diary insert is possible... paper of your choosing, in weight and size and quality, in a layout you might have designed or customised your self using your own preferred font, style and colours.

It will be a joy to use and you too can chuckle at your colleagues as they mutter and fluster on their smart pad doodad phanletbooks or what ever they are calling them this week, whilst you simply flick the popper on the clasp, grip the Today marker ease the pages over the polished rings and let the paper settle at the week in question as you reach for your pen, you click it, grip it between your thumb, index finger and middle finger placing the tip at the correct date and time, you are poised waiting as you look around the room waiting for someone to suggest at date.... you are ready and you can dictate the date of that next meeting.

Your leather briefcase will be making that precise clicking noise as you close the locks and you will be out of the door whilst your colleagues will still be packing away their toys... you glance at your analogue watch and realise you will be home on time.

Every time you will be the leader!


  1. This made me grin...
    As someone who has 17 different customized templates in the 14 sections of her daily use A5, all of which are hacked to allow precise, instant page flipping....yes, indeed, the speed, ease, and intensely customized tactile experience has no equal!

    Off to print pages for this week!

  2. And almost 50 years on - and through the great 'digital revolution', the Dodo Pad (not related to 'doodad' by the way!!!) is going stronger than ever. For the first time this year we are likely to sell out in all Filofax formats - so we must be doing something right. Long live pen and paper!

    1. It's fantastic to hear the Dodo Pad is selling so well. Long may it continue. I couldn't live without my Dodo Pads. I currently have 3 in use - personal diary in my personal Filofax, work diary in my A5 Filofax and one of the desk diaries I use as a journal.

      I seem to remember you once mentioning, Lord Dodo, that there was the possibility of a Dodo Pad app? Did that idea go any further?

  3. As the faithful reader with perfect memory will know, I use primarily my two planners, a Personal Slimline and a Deskfax, supported by technology. I have set up an Excel file for my calendar that will print out Personal pages from one tab and Deskfax pages from another. As a university lecturer year naturally breaks into four-month segments, corresponding to the three terms: Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer. I enter my teaching schedule with my classes blocked out in colour and print just one term at a time. (With the slimline in my jacket pocket, I don't want more than that amount in my organizer.)

    Similarly, I have been playing around with a rather clunky Excel file for my permanent address book, that I can print out periodically, one for the Deskfax and one for the Slimline. I have always found that PIM/Organizer software was far too rigid when printing out, with fixed fields that would leave hectares of wasted paper space in many entries.

    I have a Blackberry, and I do put appointments into it that I want to be reminded about, using the alarm feature. However, the address book is useless to me, as it automatically adds every person I have ever emailed - my address book is soon dominated by students!

    I would like to have a computer-based software support system for my Filofaxing, one that allows me to print out my vertical WO2P calendar in both personal and B5/Deskfax, and an easily managed address book that prints out only the fields of each entry that are necessary or wanted. A project management/Gantt charting module would be a bonus!

  4. I had the Casio also and I thought it was really hot stuff- me on the cutting edge, etc. But I never gave up my Franklin Covey. I think the Casio frustrated me once too often and I threw it against the wall. Still have the nice leather case though.

  5. So true, Steve! A colleague of mine, who has a lot of appointments and meetings to keep up with, dislikes electronic systems and relies on her old filofax. Checking it is so much faster and reliable for her.

    I'm currently on working out a mailmerge with Word for my home filo address book.

    There's nothing quite like the snap of a clasp and tactile feel of a paper-based planner. :)

  6. I agree..... As an Exec Asst in a high-tech office, I manage multiple calendars for my bosses. All in MS Outlook which are synced to my Galaxy phone. But for all my personal notes and private appointments I use my Filofax, which is so much easier,faster and do I need to mention "fun"? for me.
    I do like to discover all the new Android apps but there have not been many that would be worth downloading. I have been using "Keep" by Google on my phone for a quick jotted note on the run. It is very uncomplicated and easy to use. And I can transfer my note to my FF later.

  7. I've tried quite a few times to use an iPad app to keep me organised (its usually the weight of my A5 that prompts me to do this lol) but it never works for more than a few days. I always come back to pen and paper in the end especially when it comes to my calender.

    However, I do try and use my Filofax and iPad together for teaching. I use my teacher planner pages in my A5 Malden to plan out my lessons for the week in rough and then use the Evernote app on my iPad and Mac to create detailed lesson plans for each day. Evernote allows me to link worksheets and resources to my lesson plans so everything I need is easy to find. I also use an app called Idoceo to keep track of pupil attendance and grades and I copy just the grades into my A5. I love this setup. For me, it's a great compromise between paper and technology.

  8. I have a Pison upstairs and would feel bad about throwing it out. It is such a pity it missed the boat about being able to lead the way with internet linking etc.
    Like Lady_Tamlyn I use an A5 Malden for my teacher planner and I have a work iPad which I am learning to use to "organise" my work life. Just between us I favour the Malden and always will and it keeps everything under control. However, I appreciate the digital world I work in so I am also learning to use Evernote and Idoceo with lesson planning etc and emailing exisitng worksheets and storing them in Pages or Keynote, depending on which one will accept Word or Powerpoint! I refuse to re-do work for the sake of having it on a flash digital item when there is nothing wrong with it. If it will convert to iPad great, if not it stays on my memeory stick.

    I need the Paper! I have to work with the electronic devices! My Malden feels better than the iPad and it is way cheaper too! I feel no guilt about buying my Malden at all.
    Have a great week.

  9. Someone else using a Psion 5mx!
    I use a Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone for my electronic organisation, and Filo,with a scratchpad or handy jotter
    Works a treat, plus the Nokia has full Microsoft Office, oodles of games and apps including all of my Kindle books.
    Paper and pen is the way to go

  10. The other good thing about a filofax: you can use it a century later while all electronical things will be notthing else than not compatible and no longer supported tech antiqities ;-)

  11. Steve - it works for you - that's great! For a single user with relatively few appointments, it can still be the best! But for family or business use, digital usually wins hands down these days (although a Dodo pad on the fridge is great when the kids are young!).

    I have multiple iPhone calendars (I use the Pocket Informant App) - personal, business, health and safety at work (testing the fire alarms, emergency lighting etc), family (a busy wife who is also my business partner and even busier teenage daughters) plus my own health and fitness regime. All of these schedules synch (via iCloud) between my iPad and iPhone each time a change is made. Even better, the family calendar is jointly held on iPhones with my other family members (our daughters have our old iPhones). The family calendar is only to be used where more than one of us is involved. Any changes to a family (as opposed to personal) appointment get immediately notified to each of us - vital as I need to know when I'm needed as chauffeur to my kids! No more: "didn't you know that hockey training night has changed?"

    For years I did all this on MS Outlook with multiple colours and printed off weekly schedules for my organiser. Now, my family is older I want them to take responsibility for their own schedules and, this way, our appointments are paperless and it works seamlessly with less effort than Post-it notes and text messages. We still talk about the week ahead over dinner on Sundays and any clashes or things that need sorting. For me, this is the best part of the "planning week" as we all start knowing what the week ahead has in store for each of us, rather than fighting reactively on (say) Tuesday night with a "Mum's got the car tonight, so you'll have to get a lift from another parent" crisis!

    I think Filofax are right to admit that any battle against digital is long lost. They are instead looking at solutions that are a blend of both. Paper still has a role - overviews of the month, quarter or year, project planning, mind mapping etc. It's not paper versus digital, but using the relative strengths of each to improve life for the individual busy user.

    1. Thank you Tim. I think we all would love to have the 'best of both worlds' we have this technology all around us as well as paper planners in abundance! It makes sense to try and use both but for each ones merits.

      Which version of Pocket Informant do you use? Trying to discover which is the best to use is quite a task in itself, but if you know someone who you know is using a particular app is always a bonus. Thanks


    2. Hi Steve - I still love planners/ organisers and read Philofaxy every day! However, much as I would love a return to everything in my life being in a big fat Filofax, I have also embraced technology, because life has become much more complex, just at the time my grey cells seem to be faltering!

      I've tried numerous apps - most of them are indeed mediocre! Pocket Informant Pro (I'm not linked in any way) is run by folk who are keen and genuinely seem to want to respond to user needs. It's not cheap (forget the lite version) and does take a while to set-up (so many people seem to expect instant results!). The product has developed well and they regularly hold half-price sales - usually for 24 or 48 hours, so that's the time to buy!

      I'm stopping now, because this is a Filofax blog. But email if I can help further! tim at ilkleymoorcottagesdotcodotuk (replace the dots and at).

    3. Tim, I'm sorry but I couldn't disagree more. Paper trumps digital every time for speed of data access and entry, security and general enjoyment of use. I've recently taken delivery of a brand new BlackBerry Q10 and have taken the opportunity its speed afforded to properly try 100% digital planning. My verdict - you can't plan on a Smartphone, you can only record. Most apps (and phones) are, as Steve says, so slow to start up that I could virtually be on the train home by the time their owners are in a position to make any decisions - and even then they are often unable to make decisions because they can't get the right perspective on their time from that 3" wide piece of plastic. I use my phone for my contacts, and it works great for that - the search and dial facilities make it the most efficient way of storing that info. However, for everything else, paper is better.

      My Filofax doesn't sync with anything - it doesn't need to, because it is always with me. However, I *do* avoid having my data harvested and my email address spammed by bots, and I avoid participation in the NSA/GCHQ 'Big Data' project, which I'm very happy about. It's bad enough that the Government read al my emails and track me each time I turn on my phone (and my car via those grey boxes on motorways and at traffic lights), that my buying habits are stored and analysed by banks and supermarkets, unless I pay by cash (which I do, just to irritate them), and I don't need my personal digital data being fed into the NSA mix.....

      Finally, my Filofax looks great. I do agree with you about those old leather briefcases though, Steve - I've not had a decent briefcase in years......I used to buy them from a cheap place in Aldgate, London, and although inexpensive they always looked the business....a bit like a really good Filofax!

      New does not always equal better. In fact new often means not-so-good. It's time we all started remembering that in a world obsessed with the new, many times the old is most effective.

  12. My husband love tech gadgets and was always buying them for me, including a palm. I even tried Cozi calendar app on our phones so he would know where everyone was when he came home to an empty house. My biggest gripes for the palm was touching the screen and poof it had checked an item off and I had to go find it. My biggest gripe with Cozi is that, with kids, so much is repetitive--yet more times than not it would screw that up, I would have double appointments, and to spend the time typing in all the stuff it needed and then the appointment not show up. The grocery list was great, but phone service in the store meant I could shop for 5 minutes while it updated my list--not great when you want to get your shopping done! Paper. That's it. Yes, I have to write a ton of repetitive items, but I have that all figured out and it really doesn't take that much time to fill in a month of daily pages.


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