09 November 2005

Hacking Off

Most of what I've written so far here at Philofaxy has been useless gibberish. I've prattled on about stupid crap, without providing any advice or tips that might improve anyone else's Filo-life. Today, my plan was to post for everyone's enjoyment my first -- what do the kids call it? -- "hack," and show everyone how perfect it is for every possible use. Here's the hack, and here's how the plan went awry.

The Filo-folks sell a product called a "Jot Pad." In essence it’s a little pad, about the size of a square Post-It but oblong, with holes punched so the individual pieces can be inserted willy-nilly into the Filofax binder. Take a look:

When I saw this thing, I thought it would really meet several needs of mine. First, I need some ad hoc system for introducing more information into the binder than can fit on one day's space. Post-It notes are one method, but hole-punched pads like this seem like a great solution too. Second, I would like a non-invasive way of keeping a to-do list in front of me when my Filofax is open to the current calendar page. (To-do items in the designated to-do section of the binder tend to be, well, undone.) Third, I want some way of inserting "floating," or non-date-specific, reminders into future pages of the calendar. For instance, let's say I wanted to travel to Egypt a year from now. (I don't.) I might think it's too early to start patrolling travel sites for fares now. But maybe I think I would like to start doing that in, say, March. I could insert a floating reminder into my calendar in March. If March rolls around and I'm really busy, or my plans have been delayed, I could just take out the little slip and re-insert it into June. Voila! A tickler.

My enthusiasm for the Jot Pad waned a bit when I saw it cost $4 for a package of three tiny pads. Hmm. Perhaps I could … hack up a solution. So I took some of my Filofax lined paper (expensive in itself, but it was handy) and started cutting it up. I cut several pieces into useful, Jot Pad-sized bits. Here's a photo of my creation, in the wild:

(You now know that I have to clean my bathroom. My wife is out of town and I promised it would be clean before she gets back. Thus, ten minutes before her flight lands, I will be furiously scrubbing the tub.) This system has worked well for the past few weeks. As the picture shows, I've primarily used my hacked-up bits for the second usage outlined above (a very current subset of my to-do lists). And every time I open the binder, I smile and think, "I did that." I guess it's what people with kids think when they look at their children sleeping. For me, it's scraps of paper.

A couple days ago, I found out that the Container Store is a Filofax reseller. And there's a Container Store near me. I went last night; it was like a trip to the amusement park. There, before me, were numerous Filofax add-ons, including fabled ones straight from the pages of Filo-fantasy novels. City maps galore. Zip-lock envelopes. And, oh yes: the hole punch that you can carry in the binder.

Resting quietly amongst the chaos was a pile of Jot Pads. "Ah, my friend. I don't need you, although you are indeed pretty," I thought. Though it pained me, I walked away from the display and left the store. I browsed at the Apple Store for a few minutes, then at Eastern Mountain Sports. But I could hear the Jot Pad calling to me. And doubts about my haphazard solution crept into my head. It's only four dollars. And the edges are all perfectly straight; the corners are right angles. Mine are all askew and half-assed. And they are sized for insertion into the slots that are already in the inside of the binder, unlike my homemade ones which aren't sized for such a precise purpose.

How could I resist that siren call? I went back to the Container Store and bought a pack of Jot Pads. Then I went home and threw away the home-made Jot Pad sheets I'd been using. (Except for the lone page pictured above.) It was like burying a pet.

So much for my hack.


  1. Using the jot pad-sized sheet for floating reminders is a great hack.

    You might think about investing in a nifty tool: a paper cutter or guillotine. Relatively affordable, and you can always have straight edges and right-angled corners.

  2. mn: You know, I have a paper-cutter I use for cutting photographic prints that should do nicely. In my compartmentalized mind, I hadn't even thought of using it for ... um ... paper.

  3. I think you said you're in the DC area. At Tysons Corner Ctr there is a store I believe is called Everything English and they have an awesome Filofax collection.

  4. Ah, I just looked at the Tysons directory and see the "English Trading Company," which sounds like what you're talking about. I've actually browsed there before, but I didn't notice the Filofax stuff. I'll probably check it out this weekend. Thanks.


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