02 November 2006

It's a Way of Life

A couple months ago, a faithful Philofaxy reader told me about a new feature on the Filofax UK Web site. It's a lighthearted (and, frankly, a little airheaded), Flash-animated little Web site called It's a Way of Life (www.itsawayoflife.info).

Personally, I'm not big on Flash animations. Sure, my computer can display them, but I don't have the patience for them. I always feel that they're concealing information from my eager, curious eyes rather than revealing it.

But I promised to review the site for this blog, so I'll get on with it. Once you get past the annoying part of the animation (a hand-sketched picture of a Filofax opening to reveal its table of contents), the Flash is not excessive. The contents include a "What's it all about" page, which actually gives the It's a Way of Life mission statement (more on that shortly), Games, an Agony (that is, advice) column, The Big Question (a user poll), suggested Things To Do list, a Lifestyle Test, and the obligatory Registration (please give me spam) page.

I'm not sure who It's a Way of Life's intended audience is, although it's clearly an attempt to appeal to a feminine consumer. It can't be young women -- they create Web sites like this, not visit them. Middle-aged women? Maybe. But I'm pretty close to being a middle-aged woman, and neither I nor most of my pretty-close-to-middle-aged friends have either the time or the inclination to sit through Flash animations and play simplistic computer games. Older women? Well, that's a possibility. Older women who feel younger when they click their way through colorful, artsy, trendy Web sites that conceal the technical side of the Internet.

Now for what I like about It's a Way of Life (for those of you who are still reading and haven't yet come to the obvious conclusion that I have no ability as a reviewer): As for the mission statement I mentioned earlier, I have to agree with its underlying principle -- the importance of balancing work with rest and play.

Here's what the "What's it all about" page says:

- However busy your day, always make time for some ME TIME

- It’s not all WORK WORK WORK - the times they are a changing, and achieving a proper work/life balance is the key to a happier life

- With a bit of organisation, you can make time for yourself TO DO MORE THINGS – don’t just veg-out on the sofa

- Being busy and organised is a GOOD thing – being busy and stressed is a BAD thing

- A Filofax personal organiser is YOUR personal space that YOU control when YOU want to

(I especially agree with that last statement!)

The Things To Do page is also pretty interesting. It offers alternative activities with Web links (for UK residents) that most of us don't currently have on our task list: rafting, bungee jumping, snowboarding, and so on.

And the Lifestyle Test is worth a moment of your time (well, while you're waiting for your email to download, maybe). "Answer 11 scientific questions and we'll tell you how well you're organising your life (or how badly)." Sample question:

After a night of passion, do you find your clothes…
- Neatly folded where they belong
- All over the place - but you’ll tidy up later
- Missing without a trace
- On your partner

For the record, I came out a Sorted Simon (or Stephanie): Lots On, Always Doing Something. It says I'm "living the dream, perfectly balancing interests and committments."

Well, that's not quite true. I do use my Filofax a lot, but it's more like, "I don't do it all, or always do it well, but I at least know exactly what I'm NOT doing and WHEN I'm not doing it."

I'll end with my biggest qualm about It's a Way of Life: Since I first visited in September, the site has not been updated. The Agony question, poll, quiz, and all those things that should change regularly are exactly the same. If Filofax holds any hope for this site, they've got to keep it fresh.


  1. Hi Nan,

    I don't find myself able to gush about the "Way of life" site either. I clicked and thought that it would be really good, but left soon after.

    It's, to me, somehow everything our 'faxes aren't.

    Thanks for the review,


  2. I have to agree with Nan, I visited it when I got an email from Filofax and find it an utterly pointless web site. It neither represents the Filofax brand well or is particularly interesting. The web is already deluged with a million "lifestyle" web sites and there is really nothing to distinguish this one.

    Instead of messing about with web sites I'd prescribe Filofax focus on their poor product range and boring binders, all hangovers from the Robin Field days at Filofax - a management style distinguished by the fact by understanding nothing about the quality and style of the brand. In its 85 year history no one has done the company more harm than Field - rubbish like "It's a Way of Life" absolutely typifies missed-it-by-a-mile thinking of his days. Can we have a superb range of British made binders and wide range of papers, like the old days, please? The market that Moleskine is now hoovering up is one Filofax made in the first place!

  3. Kevin, you're really after my own heart with that Moleskine observation! It feels so unfair to see anyone else Hoovering up the true quality market!


    Chris - Hi and thanks for your feedback!

  4. I am a book collector and a casual collector/enthusiast of Filofax, filo-type compendiums, notebooks, stationary, so on, I'd like to add a note of appreciation to Kevin Hall and those who maintain associate web-sites. I think Filofax and the art of paper-based organisation and expression should have a more permanent form; the history of Filofax would be a facinating subject for, perhaps, a 'coffee-table' book. Details of the formative years, the extra-ordinary work of Grace Scurr, the controversial Collischon period and perhaps going on to explore the sociological/psychological aspects of the organiser.

    Over three decades Grace and Co. developed a high quality, much admired local product. Until the 'cowboy' capitalism of the 1980s leached forth - Filofax, in my opinion, was a salient, deeply ironic, fatality of the boom. By 1985 Filofax was iconic; its noble past reduced to anglo parody - summed-up in a brief Time magazine piece as 'a dusty, Dickensian concern selling 100 books a year in the US'(23/9/85). Under the more expansionist, US market inclined David and Lesley Collischon Filofax was driven to collapse within the decade.
    Thank you Kevin for the back-ground, I don't know if you (or anyone) is in a position to write and compile such a (hopefully) pictorial, fascinating and compre-hensive history.
    Andrew Mackenna, 15 Nairn St, Spreydon, Christchurch, NZ