15 November 2005

'Tis the Season For Regret

No life is without regret. In the past, I have regretted (1) being such a lame-o in junior high, and thereby failing, year after year, to follow through on my summer resolutions to be cooler and ascend the social ranks; (2) deciding to go to law school at a stage in my educational career when I should have been considering all my options, like being a ski bum or pot dealer (or both); (3) eating the chili cheese omelette I had on Sunday morning, which wreaked havoc on my digestive tract for two full days; (4) buying a Volkswagen Jetta, which was a big piece of crap with key mechanical components falling off willy-nilly; and (5) buying a travel clock at Eddie Bauer that, despite having a radio, inexplicably lacks tuning buttons or presets and forces me to perform all radio station navigation functions with a single "scan" button.

Those decisions haunt me. Now I can add one more to the list, and it pains me to say it: I regret purchasing the "personal" size Filofax instead of the larger, A5-size Filofax. Phew. There, I said it. It's no small matter to admit. I've invested an amount north of $100 in my Filofax, what with the fancy leather cover and the overpriced Filofax inserts I can't resist. I've also now invested a fair bit of time and energy into the thing. I've entered appointments and the like stretching far into 2006. I've transferred all my phone numbers into it. I use it as a check register. And let's not forget all the notes and data it carries.

My regret began to crop up last week, when a couple co-workers, one female and one male, noticed my Filofax on my desk. (Believe it or not, I do not walk around my office announcing that I have a separate life in which I refer to myself as "Philofaxer" and am obsessed with paper and calendars. For better or worse, I've decided to keep those facts largely secret.) My female co-worker said, "Oh, that's so cute." My male co-worker said, "What is that, your purse?" I said, "No, and I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity to carry around a small, intricately-stitched leather tote-like object."

But am I?

A few days later, I found myself in front of a large Filofax section at a local store. And there I saw the A5 size, for the first time in the flesh. It was expansive, hulking, manly. It wouldn't even fit in a purse, let alone be a purse. It seemed eminently practical, too. I occasionally run into issues with the amount of space afforded to me on the personal-sized calendar pages. I have to use a cross-referencing system involving the "Notes" section of the binder to give myself enough space. (That's a hack I intend to write about soon.)

More than all of that, though, the A5 size would not make me feel like a girl.

For a brief moment, I considered chucking my personal-size Filofax and going all A5. But how would I explain that to my wife? "Honey, remember how I spent more than $100 on a calendar mere weeks after you spent $10 on yours? Well, that's garbage now and I've bought an even more expensive system that will require the repurchase of all enclosures and inserts, and a weekend of time to transfer all my data into it. I love you."

No way. She already thinks I'm insane. That would move me from insane to rabid and undesirable. So I'm coming to grips with my regret. Maybe next year, for my birthday, or for Christmas, I will ask for an A5-size system. And then I can proudly display it to my male co-workers, pounding my chest and throwing feces at them. Until then, I'll be keeping my "cute" Filofax well below radar altitude.


  1. Hee, your purse!

    You need to buy for those women that work in closest proximity to you the Pocket-sized Filofaxes that come in magenta, sky blue, and floral prints.

  2. mn has the right idea for those girls saying "cute".. (though I get that about my linuxfund creditcard all the time)...

    All the guys I know with a filofax (or similar) have personal-sized and my husband does too (abeit the cross-black-slimline one that he gave to me several years ago when my old filofax wore out-- i didn't have enough binder space so after trying it unhappily for a year i gave it back to him and bought my current one [zipped Lyndhurst]) .. but as for the a5 .. it's so big and expansive and i wouldn't have to worry so much about having "perfect" (little) handwriting to fit everything... but how to justify shelving my perfectly good personal-sized filofax... *sigh*

    i don't like "girl" things despite being one (i carry a BAG not the p-word) but i have never had someone say it was purse-like!

  3. I went through the same dilemma several years ago and solved it by purchasing a great A5 deal on eBay.

    $30 for a zippered black A5 Durham (msrp $165) in mint condition.

    I carry the personal size on a daily basis for normal daily planner stuff and the A5 for when I make presentations / speeches.

  4. Ah - the eternal dilemma. I personally have been through Deskfax (B5), A5 and Personal planner sizes, and currently use a Filofax Berkeley Slimline Personal.

    The slimline binder demands iron discipline in archiving out all the usual cruft that accumulates in larger/thicker binders.

    The main drawback is that you're left with precious little space for contacts, but a flash drive gets over this limitation and is in some ways easier to maintain. My core list of 40 or so contacts is printed out on a single sheet of Filofax computer paper using 7.5pt Georgia font which provides superb legibility.

    Portability is essential, and I'd advise you to stick with the Personal size - carting around several pounds of paper gets old really fast.

  5. So, it appears that contrary to what my wife assures me, size does matter. I do feel better about having a rinky-dink personal binder after reading these comments.

    Anyway, like I said, changing course now would be an expensive proposition that would require full spousal approval. That would be difficult to obtain. I broached the idea last night of buying a new computer to replace my 2-year-old 12" PowerBook. It was vetoed before I finished talking.

  6. Trust me what the people above have said is true. You don't need the A5. Its too big to carry around. It's a one location kind of diary.

    If you are as obsessed/nutts as me then I will let you into my secret. I have 3 filofaxes - yes three.

    The A5 is for work only... strictly. I've filled it up with business cards and contacts and a time management calendar/diary (Finsbury A5 Black)! This works for me as I need something that will inspire the bosses when I have nothing else to offer. :)

    The personal is for home/personal use - useful for my GTD methodology (David Allen) and a central repository for all my important stuff (Cross Personal Black).

    The last is a Slimline (Cross Black) for my handbag which is filled with maps of London, loads of notepaper, a pul our calendar, and important lists/errands/reminders. This one was unecessary but I spent years stuffing loose bits of paper into my handbag and losing them, this way I am mega organised without having to carry the weight of a larger filofax. I don't have a diary I rely on in it. Also, it looks good and if I lose it I can cry about the money I lost (ebay: £30) rather than important data.


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