30 January 2007

A Golden Oldie (Me)

Hello. My name is Philofaxer. You may remember me from such blogs as this blog. But you also may not remember me, because I have been absent for months. Please insert excuse number one here. Excuse number two goes here. You may find this to be a convenient spot for excuse number three, and I think excuse number four should go right …. Here.

Nan has done such an amazing job maintaining the substance and quality of Philofaxy that she has, inadvertently, encouraged me to indulge my innate laziness. That’s right. Nan is an enabler. Why go through the trouble of posting, when Nan will do such a lovely job in my absence? Why go through the trouble of trying to improve Philofaxy, when Nan is improving it at a pace I could never rival? Why not, instead, watch five straight seasons of 24 on DVD, because somehow you only recently realized it’s a really good show? Why not, instead, decide that you also like The L Word, and you have to watch all the old seasons of it, too? Why not, instead, spend four weeks writing a novel, so that you can say you participated in and successfully completed National Novel Writing Month? Why not, instead, spend your time playing with this silly little thing:

Why not, indeed.

My Filo-life is humming along just fine. I haven’t bought any new Filofaxes. I soldier on with my A5 Chocolate Cross as my primary data repository, and my Personal Chocolate Cross as my repository of financial data.

You may recall The Great Red Domino Experiment, in which I tested the following hypothesis: A tiny, pocketable Filofax will improve my productivity and overall happiness level. The early evidence, unhappily, did not bear out the hypothesis. But, lo, I have found a new use for the Red Domino. (The following might sound a little hoity-toity, and for that I apologize. I’m not hoity-toity at all. I eat frozen burritos for dinner more often than I like to admit. I buy store brands. I never pay retail (Unless I really want the retail-priced thing (really, really want).).) I record wine tasting notes in the Red Domino. Now, before you say, “Philofaxer, between your spendy leather planners and expensive bottles of wine, you’re nothing but an elitist with whom I share no affinity! I condemn thee!”, let me just say that I am new to the world of wine and still struggling to find words for my wine tasting notes other than “good,” “really good,” and “um, red.” I usually taste a wine and then right down some of those words. Then I look it up on the internet and find that I should have written, “Slightly oaky, with notes of apple, fennel, and beef brisket, and a finish that recalls the black truffles in the woods on the left bank of the Rhone, near that cute little bistro south of Arles.”

The other thing is that I am against paying more than ten dollars for a bottle of wine.

Anyway, the Red Domino is getting a little use now.

I also engaged in a bit of Filo-personalization. My son, who will be six months old on Thursday (holy crimoly), recently had “professional” photos taken at his daycare. Being the duty-bound parents we are, we bought some. The place threw in some small stickers of our monkey, for free. I stuck one on the inside, lower left corner of my main Filofax. Now, he faces me whenever I have the Filofax on my desk. (That corner is visible even when the pages are splayed open.) It’s really cute, too. I had planned to take a picture of it and include it in this post. Then I forgot my camera. So I planned to use the camera on my cell phone. Then I forgot my cell phone. So I’ll post it later.

Maybe. It depends on what’s on TV.

25 January 2007

Calendar Girls

A very nice reader just notified me that the February, 2007 issue of Better Homes and Gardens features a 4-page spread about how three women manage their work and family lives with the help of organizers. Filofax is one of them!

Check your local newsstands.

Thanks, for the tip, Gloria!

24 January 2007

Managing Multiple Filos

Last June, I wrote about the three Filofaxes I was using at the time and how I used them. Since then, a new reader emailed asking me to go into more detail, and reminded me that there may be other new readers who haven't seen this information before. Also, I've switched from carrying a Pocket to a Personal size Filo since then.

So, with the indulgence of anyone who already knows some of this, I'll quote from my email response here:

Mind you, this is subject to change without notice! I've tried to make a deal with myself to stick with this current system for the rest of 2007, but I'm already wavering, as I'll explain below.

Anyway, here's my current system:

1) A personal-size Filofax that comes with me everywhere. It's my wallet, week-per-2-pages calendar, and has tabs for to-dos, projects (current), ideas, lists, agendas, and telephone numbers. (As you can see, this is already different from the tab arrangement I posted on the blog a while ago.)

I do the projects as one-page-per-project, on yellow lined paper. It's fun to take the page out when I complete the project. My most recent one was making hotel reservations for next New Year's Eve!

2) An A5 Filofax on my desk at work. In this one, I have a day-per-page calendar that acts as a schedule, work record, and tickler file. Actually, I don't use this as well as I like, and it's the first thing I might change. In the past, I've used iCal at work with lots of success. This one has tabs for meeting notes, editing notes, contacts, reference, etc. (Can't remember them all since I don't have it in front of me.)

3) An A5 Filo that stays on my kitchen counter. This one is a work in progress, but it's the repository for my FLYlady system. She calls it a Control Journal. It's basically a tickler file for all your routines and house tasks, plus household-related contacts, family calendar (actually, a couples calendar since we don't have kids), emergency and evacuation info, and so on.

Anyway, if I make a change in this, it would be to use the A5 work Filo for both work and personal matters, and instead of the Personal-size Filo, use a Pocket-size as my wallet, with just a portable calendar, phone numbers, and some blank paper for notes on the fly. That's what I did last year. The reason I ended up getting a Personal-size was that I was trying to cram too much into the Pocket.

Hope this makes sense.

20 January 2007

Off-Topic, Yet Somehow Apropos

Maybe it's because I've gone 4 days without writing here on Philofaxy, but somehow I found myself reading a post on Wil Wheaton's blog about writer's block. Apparently, a professor named Piers Steel has come up with an Einstein-like formula for calculating procrastination. As Wil himself says, the advice and comments people added are the best part.

So, since we have some writers in our midst, and Filofaxes are our favorite anti-procrastination tool, I thought Wil's post might be of some interest. Besides, weren't we just talking about Star Trek the other day?

Besides, isn't it just SO obvious that I'm just casting about for Filofax-related topics to write about?

16 January 2007

Quiz Answer

OK, I'll put you all out of your unbearable suspense.

The answer to the "Taking Care of Business" movie question I was looking for is "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and the actors were Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) and John DeLancie (the Q).

And what's the connection to the movie's scriptwriter (which I mentioned in the comments)? J. J. Abrams is on deck to write the eleventh Star Trek movie.

14 January 2007

Filofax: The Movie?

The Moleskine-loving community had a collective swoon a couple years back when, in the opening scene of "The Da Vinci Code," Tom Hanks' character read lecture notes from a small, rather dull black notebook.

The Filofax, on the other hand, has been the main subject of a movie: "Taking Care of Business." That's the U.S. title; in other countries the movie was simply called "The Filofax." The movie's a comedy about an unfunny business: identity theft. I haven't seen it, but according to the synopsis, Jim Belushi is a likeable, small-time crook who escapes from prison in order to use his World Series tickets. On the way to the game, he happens upon the lost Filofax of a wealthy executive (Charles Grodin) containing cash, credit cards, and mansion key. A sort of "Trading Places" role-reversal ensues.

Has anyone seen the movie and can tell me how it ends? Better yet, can anyone take a screen capture of the Filofax in the movie?

Bonus question: Two cast members of "Taking Care of Business" were also regulars on a well-known TV show. Can you name that show?

Photo and link credit cinemafia on Flickr.

12 January 2007

Filofax Sales up 20 Percent

According to an article posted on December 11, 2006 on BusinessWeek.com (and now if this link expires you know how to find it), worldwide sales of Filofaxes have gone up 20% since Letts acquired the company in 2001. Growth is currently at a clip of 5% per year.

The article talks how Letts has endeavored to make Filofaxes more appealing to women customers (who now make up 60% of Filofax purchasers, as opposed to 60% men in the mid-90's), and in developing countries, where Filofaxes are desired as a status item.

Why else has the Filofax held up so well against Blackberries and PDAs? According to the article, people use electronic devices more for "wireless connectivity than as true organizers."

Another interesting statistic: 68% of Filofax users are under the age of 45.

08 January 2007

Tab Tweaking Two

I explained in my previous post that I've overhauled my tab arrangement. Here's what goes behind each one.

Goals - Not the lofty kind of goals you're probably thinking of. The mundane kind -- swimming a certain number of laps, drinking water, taking fish oil, and so on. I'm much better at doing these things regularly when I keep track of them on little spreadsheets.

Plans - What most people call projects. I like to call them plans so I don't have to break them down into individual projects. A plan can be getting a certain set of work done on the house, or accomplishing something in my career. I like the word "plan" better than "project" because it reminds me about the benefits I'll reap at the end.

Agendas - Running lists of things I need to tell or ask certain people -- one page per person. Borrowed from David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame). I've found this a great way to remember things I want to discuss with a doctor, with a family member I don't see very often, and so on.

Ideas - Anything goes.

Lists - Shopping lists, restaurants to try, books to read, etc.

Addresses - Actually, I only carry telephone numbers on these A-Z pages. My main address list lives on my computer.

You've probably noticed there's no To-Do section. I try to have only one page going at a time, and I keep it in the middle of the current week spread in the calendar.

07 January 2007

Tab Tweaking

I know, I know, most of us who frequent this blog are aware of the need to do less tweaking and more doing. But I often feel like speaking out in praise of tweaking.

By tweaking I don't mean buying a new Treo, or switching to an all-Filofax system when you have Franklin Covey pages that already do the same thing. (Not that I'm not pretty much guilty on both counts.) I'm talking about smaller, internal tweaking.

I say, don't hesitate to tweak your tabs. Tabs are one of those things that you need to experience in order to make a decision about. In other words, if your Filofax isn't working for you, it may be time to rename your tabs and work with the new configuration for a while.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I thought that my be-all, end-all tab set was:
Agendas (with the address pages behind the Agendas tab, and no A-Z tabs)

A couple weeks before that, I was using A-Z tabs and no other tabs, but using a second pop-in ruler to point to my action lists.

Now, I've changed my configuration to:
Ideas (someday/maybe, etc.)
Addresses (again, just address pages here, with no A-Z tabs)

What I want to put behind each of these tabs doesn't necessarily follow convention. More on that in my next post.

03 January 2007

Pool Philofaxy

No, I'm not suggesting you toss your precious Filofax into the drink. I'm talking about the Philofaxy pool on Flickr. Check it out (and if you haven't visited for a long time, check it out again)! Members have added some mouthwateringly gorgeous planner shots, like this picture of Morning Glory refills (a Korean stationery brand).

If you ever fear you're losing interest in using your Filo, these pictures will boost your enthusiasm, big time. I know they did mine!

Photo credit to bettybl on Flickr.

01 January 2007

Liability of Literacy

Has anyone else, like me when I first started using a Filofax, ever worried that writing things down would cause one to forget, rather than remember things? Nowadays, gurus like David Allen and Steven Covey preach the importance of writing everything down, so that it won't get lost before you have a chance to do it.

An article in the November 20, 2006 issue of The New Yorker suggests that the very fact of being able to read and write has a detrimental effect on memory. In India's Rajasthan region, a caste of bards called bhopas have been known to memorize epics of 100,000 stanzas (6 times the length of the Bible) and sing them straight through.

According to the article ("Homer in India," by William Dalrymple), "...illiteracy seems an essential condition for preserving the performance of an oral epic....This was certainly the conclusion of the Indian folklorist Komal Kothari. In the nineteen-fifties, Kothari came up with the idea of sending one of his principal sources, a singer from the Langa caste named Lakha, to adult-education classes. The idea was that he would learn to read and write, thus making it easier to collect the many songs he had preserved. Soon Kothari noticed that Lakha needed to consult his diary before he began to sing. Yet the rest of the Langa singers were able to remember hundreds of songs--an ability that Lakha had somehow begun to lose as he slowly learned to write."

As the bhopa tradition dies out, transcribing the epics is necessary to preserve them. Inevitably, some have been lost forever, dying along with the traveling bards who could sing volumes, but not write them down.

Photo of quill pen found in 15th century records from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.