11 July 2006

What's Working

I had a hidden agenda in becoming a Philofaxy blogger...hidden from even myself. Accountability. Like many people who've made a transition from digital to analog, from one career or workstyle or lifestyle to another, or taken on any kind of shift that involves a change in organizational system, I'm guilty of endless tinkering and tweaking. As soon as I get all my information, notes, projects, schedules, and plans into one system, said system's flaws become immediately apparent -- and unbearable. So I tinker. I buy more Moleskines, index cards, or Circa refills, thinking I've finally found the answer to it all.

I must confess, no sooner had I posted this entry announcing that I had finally transcribed everything into my newly acquired 'faxes, that the itch returned. Once my desire to have everything in one place, on one (OK, two) interchangeable paper sizes was satisfied, all of a sudden it was all wrong. Now that I could carry everything I needed with me all the time, all of a sudden I didn't need or want to. It was cumbersome, burdening. And the perfect configuration -- personal A5, work A5, Pocket as PDA -- was suddenly all wrong. How well was my system working if I was I leaving the house with three -- count 'em, three -- 'faxes in my bag every day?

Could I abandon this blog and start over? Those new 18-month 'skine diaries look pretty darn cool. Or what about the minimalist route -- index cards, plain letter-size paper, and manila folders? But no. Accountability. I've finally and fully accomplished a solution that I thought I wanted. Give it time. Figure out what's working and not working. Maybe all I need to change is what's not working. Behind the Notes tab, I started keeping Filofax notes. A few pages later, it became clear that I was overpopulated by one Filofax. So I made the adjustment and kept going.

Now I'm noticing something cool. Instead of recopying information, I'm adding to it. For example, behind my Ideas tab, I have a page labeled Blog Ideas, containing some notes on blogs I admire, things I'd like to put on my own blog page, hosting ideas, and today, when I found out about something called Pro Blogger (a blog about making money with a blog), I simply added it to the existing page. An idea that might have gotten lost without being written down at all, or ended up many pages away from related information, is now right where I'll see it when I use it. And I can see my ideas develop over time.

Because I have a running book list for more than a year, I can clearly see which ones are going to be worth reading (Warlord, by Ilario Pantano) and which were just a fleeting notion (The Healing Diet, by Gerald Lemole, M.D.). In other words, my Filofaxes are helping develop my thought processes. Or at least, they're not distracting from them. Now that I'm detaching from tinkering, there's more time for the thoughts themselves.

Now for what's not working: That Filofax storage binder. The post spine doesn't let me easily read my archived notes. Does anyone know where I can get an A5 ring binder in the States or at least in North America? Anyone in the U.K. willing to ship me a few fairly inexpensive ones? (I'll include a few pounds over so you can have a pint or two on me.)


  1. For a5 you might try kinokuniya or in NYC there are a few japanese "99c type" shops.. (samuri is one, they used to have a location near port authority, grand street and in flushing, but i think it's shutting down)

    I purchased 99cent personal sized binders there.

    now i'm a moleskine girl, but i still love my 15 year old filofax and am trying to figure out what to do now..

  2. Hi peninah --

    Thanks for the great idea. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in NYC or a Japantown in some major city.

    How did your Filofax survive 15 years? How does the leather look? How are your moleskines working out?

    If I ever stopped carrying a Filo, I think I'd still keep one at home, with A-Z tabs and some other tabs, because it's so good for sorting information.

    -- Nan

  3. Kinokuniya stores are also a great place to buy lined and blank Filofax Personal paper (they call the exact same size "Bible" [95mm x 171mm]). They also carry 76mm x 126mm 6-hole punched paper in lined and unlined that fit the rings of the Pocket (81mm x 120mm paper). They stock two brands, Maruman Data Plan and one other, the name escapes me. They are both a lot cheaper than Filofax too, even coming from Japan! In Northern California, there's a Kinokuniya with a stationery store in San Jose. Another shop that stocks this paper is Mai Do, with locations in SF (next to Kinokuniya), in San Jose and in Palo Alto. I like and use the Filofax Diary and their various forms, but they charge way too much for plain paper. I bought 100 sheets of Maruman lined Kraft in Personal size for $3.30. I bought 200 sheets of Maruman plain white for $4.95. Filofax charges $9.00 for 100 sheets of either lined or unlined Personal. Do the math...

  4. zedzian -- Thanks for all those "fax" about Japanese paper! You people are the best! I'm just howling over here because I live in Boston, with no real Japantown. There's an enclave of Japanese stores in Porter Square, Cambridge, but the last time I was there, none of them carried stationery.

    But armed with this new information, I'm going to go and dig deeper. If they don't have these kinds of paper, the employees themselves might know where to get them. And I do have friends in the No Cal area...

  5. just wanted to share with you that i am the new proud owner of a brown leather deskfax for home use...
    it was formerly owned by someone on the Simpsons cast or crew, the simpsons logo is stamped on the far right cover corner.
    read with interest your tips on cheaper refills...does anyone know if the japanese paper stores would have sizes to fit the deskfax? it's big...9 3/4 by 6 7/8
    i would love for tips on how to organzie my 'fax'... not an organized person but dearly want to be!

  6. Thanks for your comment, Joanne! I think only Filofax makes the Deskfax-sized paper. (You can get international A5 paper, but that's smaller than Deskfax.)

    But what could be cooler than a Simpsons Deskfax! Ow!

    Keep checking the front page for more tips coming in September!