29 May 2014

Guest Post: I strayed from the path, but eventually got back on track

Thank you to Alison for her guest post. 

It was only in January of this year that my mind was woken up to the wonderful new world of Filofax by my fellow business networker and dear friend, Rita Sedani.  Well I never!  I had no idea that a friendly war was erupting all over the world as to who had the best binder, the prettiest decorated inserts, the latest accessories, and so on!  What a hidden community of ‘owners’ I have been introduced to.  All I need now is to discover that the Borrowers are living beneath my floorboards and then my life will be complete!

I became an ‘owner’ in 1983 when I was 16.  Back then, I didn’t know there were ‘names’ to the size or style range, but let’s say my first Filofax was a ‘pocket’.  It was maroon (which I hated as it was the colour of my school uniform) with a pinkish floral fabric cover, which soon became grubby, but hey, it was a birthday present, so I wasn’t going to sniff at it.  I used it as an address book and calendar.  I kept this until last year (I still have the inserts), and it is now somewhere in recycling heaven.

I used this pocket one for quite a few years before I replaced it with another ‘pocket’.  By this time it was 1997.  Believe me, this new one was dead funky – oh yes, I was definitely the cat’s whiskers owning this little beauty.  It wasn’t made by Filofax, but it had the same mechanism, the inserts from the old binder fitted, and so on. It had a transparent cover which was filled with purple liquid gel and that contained glitter.  On reflection, it was a Del Boy mode of transport.

Way back then I was making my own inserts, just cut down pieces of lined paper and print outs for monthly financial tracking - unbeknown it would become such a big industry in which I would eventually take part.

Using a photocopier, I used to shrink down inserts to fit this binder, for example my local bus timetable.

OK, you can all stop laughing now (but I am open to reasonable offers for this binder!)

The binder has since developed a stench similar to candle wax,  where the back cover has burst and the gel has leaked onto the pages.  Although the cover didn’t last, the ring mechanism are still working.  

I must have been leaving myself breadcrumbs because I replaced the gel binder for a black pocket Metropol Filofax, still unaware of any phenomenon surrounding Filofax.  I am still using the Metropol (as a shopper) – I take it everywhere with me and it contains information such as presents I have bought my family; things I would like to buy my family; measurements of rooms, windows and furniture; an inventory of my Denby collection; loyalty cards and coupons; supplier/stockist information; it even references the colour of my hair dye.  It’s in immaculate condition.

After the world had overcome the panic of the 1999-2000 computer date issue, I went up a size to a burgundy leather personal (yes, I had gotten over the school uniform colour by then).  I used it solely for work appointments.  A few years later, I ditched a paper diary in favour of a mobile phone, as the company I worked for required us to sync our calendars to the file server.  It was a sad time, as I dearly love hand writing.  

I was made redundant in 2010 and immediately started self-employment as a crafts person, making wedding invitations and general paper craft items.  I had lots of bespoke orders and therefore needed to take lots of client notes.  I could write up to 20 pages of notes depending on the client project.  For this amount of writing, I used A5 notebooks – and then I used to scan the pages and upload them to my computer and store the notes in electronic client files.  For me, the drawback to using bound notebooks is that once you turn the page, you have lost your ‘call to action’ without using visual reminders, such as sticky tabs, which I sometimes find irritating and untidy.  

So, I decided to go back to a loose leaf binder in which I could easily sort and prioritise pages and shift around the running order.  I cut down an A4 ring binder into A5 size and covered it in fabric and made my own inserts, such as a pencil case from an old piece of plastic sheet, dividers from old birthday cards, etc.  I hear you all laughing again at my naivety!  Again, I had no idea that such products for Filofaxes were available to buy anywhere.  At this stage I was still using a mobile phone for diary appointments.  

I met up with Rita again and she added me to some Filofax/planner related Facebook groups.  She also very kindly gifted me a Blossom Personal Filofax, which I absolutely adore, and for which I made bespoke inserts especially for my craft business.  I made client order pages, perforated shopping lists, a stationery dashboard and project tracking mini t-card system – and I am making similar products for other Filofax users.

I’m still not using a paper diary or any of the Filofax original inserts.  So, although I don’t necessarily need these particular original inserts to organise my life, I do need a Filofax with a bespoke set up, all of which is inspired by the Filofax range of products. Rita has also gifted me with an A5 black zip around Filofax, which I haven’t yet set up.  So, I am the owner of a leaky gel pocket and an A5 customised ring binder - and the very proud owner of 3 official Filofaxes.  

Thank you Alison for your Guest Post, be sure to go and visit Alison's website http://www.craftyali.co.uk


  1. I love your creativity in finding solutions to your requirements with handmade inserts/binders,etc. They have probably worked better for you than if you had purchased the Filofax inserts anyway. I would really like to know more about your pocket Metropol 'shopper' and find out how you can fit so much in.

  2. Hi, funnily enough, I have more in my pocket than I do my personal! I'll try to list it all:

    * Silk zipped purse with loops to attach to the ring mechanism
    * Clear plastic pocket containing coupons
    * 5 card laminated dividers (I suppose I could have made these on paper to reduce some bulk) - each divider has a few sheets of paper behind it.
    * 2 top tab page markers/dividers
    * 9 original FF A-Z dividers, each with a couple of sheets of paper behind it
    * 4 credit/loyalty card sleeves - each pocket has 2 loyalty cards, so this section is the thickness of 8 credit cards piled on top of each other plus the thickness of the sleeves
    * squared paper pad at the back (visible in one of the photos).

    Plus a silk zipped purse strapped to the back of the binder (on the outside, so the strap is inside)

    I think there is room for quite a few more sheets of paper.


  3. A great read, very funny and very creative. You sound a bit like me - using my organisers for years, thinking I was a bit strange, then suddenly finding this whole new world that's exploded, and I find that things that I was doing out of necessity are now a big craze. How long the "decorate to the brink of death" craze will last, I'm not sure but certainly the use of Filofax and similar organisers will carry on for a long time to come

  4. Thanks, Gill! I haven't yet stepped into the washi tape and sticker world, I do have some, but haven't used any. I keep having eureka moments when it comes to tailoring my FF - I can't quite stop fidgeting over it!

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed this post…so much fun and thank you for sharing the contents of your pocket. The perforated shopping lists are genius:))

  6. Great post :)
    I sent you message on etsy to ask if you were doing shopping pages ( I guess not perforated as that would make them too narrow) for FF pocket size? Or Midori passport size? Guess the Midori could be perforated down the edge. Getting excited...hope you can make them :)

  7. Hi Sheila, I have had a look at this, but I think that pocket size would be too narrow perforated top to bottom to make 2 on 1 page. Pocket size width is 81mm, let's say we lose at least 10mm for the perforated area, that would make each list 3.5cm wide (maximum). In your opinion, is that too narrow?


    1. Hi Alison.
      I was thinking just perforated down the ring edge so you could tear off the whole page. Though thinking about it - - that doesn´t make sense cos you could just tear it at the rings - so I am talking rubbish!!! LOL!
      Ok, forgetting that - what about as a midori passport size insert with perforations just down near the middle stitching so you could tear out a whole page?
      I just love the picture :)

  8. What I liked about this was the versatility of maxing the filofax work for you. The Bus timetable was a typical example. I've done that myself, and think its one of the biggest advantages of the ringed binder - the scope of what you can do is only limited by your imagination and to a lesser degree, by paper size. Also the tabs for your customers - that's a genius idea and looks like it worked very well indeed. Thanks for a fascinating look inside your system.

  9. I'm curious about the 4th photo from the bottom. The one with floral background and what looks like card slots with names peeking out the top. Hope that makes sense! Is this what you referred to above as the project tracking mini t card system? If so, can you explain how this was made and is used? I have a couple ideas for this I'd like to use in my A5 for project tracking and a holding spot for various cards such as business cards, scripture verse cards and motivational cards from a card deck. I usually place these items in the filofax plastic card inserts but find it too bulky as I use 4-6 of them. The photo you showed would be a great solution as it looks to have plenty of slots on one page if that is what they are. I can also envision using this as a meal planner whereby you have a weeks worth of breakfasts/lunches/dinners/snacks written or typed out that you insert in the slots then mix and match.

    Please share if you make/sell that insert or how to make one, tia!

    Great post, lots of brilliant ideas. I set up a pocket FILO for similar purpose but yours inspired me to add to it for better use!

  10. Hi Cheryl, thanks for your response - lots of wonderful ideas - my mind is buzzing now! Can you give me your email address - then I can send you some photos and give you a better explanation.

    1. Why, thank you! Balmas.cheryl@outlook.com

  11. Great Article. Nice to read. Thank you.

    and is your purple/glitter/baby really for sale?? It´s so super girly and kitsch that it becomes fantastic at the some moment..... not sure yet.
    You can´t sell it. It´s a fairyplanner :D

  12. LOL, Nina Raffaela - my purple glitter baby is priceless (well, it's gotta be worth at least 50p anyway!)

  13. Yes, I was just asking, due to your sentence
    "OK, you can all stop laughing now (but I am open to reasonable offers for this binder!)"

    I wasn't sure if I understood it right.

    I'm quite sure that there are people outside, who are willing to pay the 50p. Hellooo? It's a fairyplanner : D (sorry i fell in love with this word. Have to drop it haha)

  14. I loved this article. I have been on the receiving end of the fairy known as Rita and her kindness. I also loved the slotted floral page and would also be interested in finding out more about it. My email address is janet.carr@gmail.com if you would be so kind as to send me more information about them as well. Thoroughly enjoyed this post!

  15. Great look on how you do your planner. I like the choices and how everyone uses their planner for different reasons. I am just using a target planner but really want a philofax and looking at different posts to see what will fit my style and usage. Thanks for your views.


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