22 May 2007

OBG: Oldie but Goodie

Recently, someone commented on a 2005 post by Philofaxer, and it reminded me of what a great post it was. So since I've nothing Newie but Goodie to share with you today, I'd like to direct your attention to: http://philofaxy.blogspot.com/2005/11/faith-in-system.html.

17 May 2007

Guest Blog: Filofax Adultery

Today's guest blog comes to us from world traveler and Filofaxer extraordinaire, Laurie Huff.

I have a smooth black leather Personal size Filofax that I picked up at a discount store for $25 in 2001. Since then it has traveled the world with me, gotten me through graduate school and multiple moves, one of which was to a foreign country. In it I recorded the births of my daughter and of my son, all their milestones and cute antics. It has held my hopes and dreams along with my travel plans and financial planning. Everyone I know is written into my Filofax. It has been with me through thick and thin. Whenever I am without it, I crave it. When it is with me, I feel secure.

And yet, my wandering eye has settled upon the beautiful violet-hued Piazza, which I recently discovered on the Filofax UK website. (Here is the link for your admiration). There is no Filofax even available in that color in the U.S. I love all things purple, and have frequently wished I had a lovely purple Filofax to better represent my personality than the slick black. It seems my wish has come true. But I can't help feeling more than a twinge of guilt at the thought of leaving behind my trusty black one. Despite having been shoved into countless bags, being banged-around constantly, and being handled by my often dirty, sweaty, or sunscreen-covered hands, the smooth black leather looks good as new and handsome as ever. Would the lovely violet leather look dirty after a couple of years of abuse? What about that suede strip? Would it turn scrubby-looking and gray over time? Would it be as tough and unflinching as my black one?

In my mind the dilemma has turned into the Team Aniston vs. Team Jolie debate of the Filofax world. Do I leave behind my faithful, lovely but rather vanilla-looking Filo and go for the sexy, beautiful, exciting Piazza? Will it be all I hope it will be, or will things turn sour later when it loses its luster? Am I better off just staying with what has worked for me so well for so many years? Or, if I let the Piazza pass me by, will I always wonder what could have been?

Not the least of my concerns is the price of the Piazza. It clocks in at a spendy $126, which is beyond even splurge range for me. I'd have to save up for it, and consider it an investment that should last me for many years.

I want to know if anyone else has switched Filos not for a different size but just a different model. Especially, does anyone have a Piazza? How does it look after some abuse? Any wise words for me?

Meanwhile, my internal debate continues.

14 May 2007

Another Kindred Spirit

Stevie, a new reader to Philofaxy, wrote a fantastic Filofax post on his own blog, which I would like to share with you. Click here to read about Man's Best Friend on Strong Stiff Scotch.

(It's actually some women's best friend, too. The Filofax, I mean, not the Scotch.)

11 May 2007

Cooling-off period

In 2004 and 2005, my lifelong habit of tweaking my organizational system reached toxic levels. At one point, I changed at least twice a month, and I don't mean just changing my calendar or to-do list. I mean changing all of my information from Palm Pilot to Circa to HPDA to Moleskine and back again.

And now...I've been using Filofax exclusively for over a year. I recently tweaked the arrangement of my work A5 Filofax, and considered abandoning it for letter-size, but in the meantime, I've been using what I've got and am in no hurry to make the next change. I made this recent change not because I felt impatient for a change but because I found I wasn't getting a good enough handle on my projects' milestones (those mini, internal deadlines). Otherwise, the system was working well enough, so I left it alone.

How did I reach this point? I roughly went through the following stages:

• Tweaking overload. I think there was a certain amount of tweaking that I needed to get out of my system, and for a while, I allowed it. I bought columns of index cards, hundreds of dollars worth of software, and reams of Circa paper. I let myself go as far as I could in every possible direction, until I was just worn out. I think my eventual landing on the Filofax airstrip stemmed from a desire for a fairly simple system with built-in limits. But I had to go through the mad, crazed tweaking to get to this desire for sanity.

• Doing what works. I stopped reading Getting Things Done and The Seven Habits; stopped visiting 43folders.com. I took a look at what I needed. I do need a calendar that I can mark up with reminders before things are due. I don't need to write down major life goals; I know what they are. I do need a list of things that must be done. A "maybe do" list proved to be of questionable value. I need to be able to move pages around. But that's just me. (And that's the point.)

• Imposing time limits. When I decided a Filofax would do everything I needed, I still couldn't commit for the rest of my life. I was way too scattered for that. So I made a limited time committment. I decided to stick to Filo for a year (2006), at the end of which year I could switch again to anything I wanted. I even bought a variety of 2007 Moleskine diaries (they sell out quickly), to prove to myself that my options were still open. The Moleskines are still sitting in my drawer. (I do use a large ruled Moleskine for my journal, though.)

• One change at a time. I'd say this practice is the one most people can and should implement, and it's actually the easiest. It's make one change at a time. In other words, say you're using a day-per-page Filofax calendar and find that you're not filling up the page each day, and your book seems too thick. So switch to a week-per-two pages format, but don't change anything else. Don't buy a new binder, don't change all your tabs, don't change where you're keeping contact info. Live with the one change long enough to evaluate it. If you need to change something else next, it will become clear soon enough.

The whole process reminds me of something I read in a Natalie Goldberg book, in which she was quoting her own Zen master. The master was giving advice to a young, budding musician who was planning to move to Los Angeles to "see what happens." The master said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Don't go to see what happens. Go to make it. It's only when you give something everything you've got that it will become clear when it's not right anymore."

So don't change your Filofax system to see if it works. Make one change, and give it a chance to work by actually using it, wholeheartedly, for some amount of time longer than a day. Like a month, a year, or a season.

10 May 2007

Punch drunk

With a Filofax punch, you can punch holes in almost anything and stick it in your organizer. I tend to take that advice literally. Here are a couple of the more unusual things I've punched holes in lately:
- Map to my dentist's new office. He sent a letter with the change of address, and I placed a sheet from my Filo over the map, traced around it, cut it out, and punched it.
- A postcard from my mother of a creche she visited in NYC in December, 2006. It was set up at MoMA. I put it in my organizer to remind myself to try to see the 2007 version of the MoMA creche.

What have you punched?

04 May 2007


Isn't that a Jeopardy category meaning "a little of this, a little of that"? That's what today's entry is about.

Lightening up. Last week, I changed by A5 work-dedicated Filo from a day-per-page to week-per-2 pages. Boy, did that lighten my load, and made me more likely to use the book. It was just so much easier to find things! It meant I had room to put the A-Z tabs back in, and I also renamed the 6 blank tabs, giving each major project its own tab, plus a tab each for meeting notes and miscellaneous notes.

Creativity. Went back and looked at all the A5 pages I filled with ideas last year. I found I've actually done a lot of those things in the meantime. Others were truly valuable ideas and reminders that I've since forgotten -- which defeats the purpose of writing them down in the first place. There was a lot of great thinking I could use here. Considered going back to an A5 (instead of a Personal size) for these personal matters, too.

Impulse purchase. Based on the above item, I'd need another new A5 for the kitchen counter. Something inexpensive and easily cleaned with a sponge, right? Wrong. On impulse I purchased a fancy, red, alligator-look leather organizer, which I now have to return to the store (but I'll take a picture of it before I do). As I said, total impulse.

Rethinking. After using my new, lightened up work Filo for a week, I see that it's helped me get better at getting individual tasks done on time, and keeping all the notes for one project consolidated. But I still have lots of material for each project (timelines, documents, printed emails) on 8.5 x 11 paper, and I see that I should be looking at that information, now in file folders, more often, too. Plus I have our company's electronic shared calendar to update. See where I'm going with this? Why not just use a letter-size 3-ring binder for the stuff I have loose in a file now, PLUS the handwritten notes that I have in the A5 Filo now? I can't make the change now, since I'm in the middle of a hectic project...but I created a to-do item in my Filo to switch the future projects to letter-size.

Ouch. The poor thing must be crying now. Containing the declaration of its own demise.