16 October 2007

Guest Blog: Laurie Huff

Today's guest blog touches on points that are near and dear to all of our hearts. I know they are to mine. Especially since I've solved my own constant "should I switch" dilemma by making a simple rule: Only switch at the change of a calendar year. (OK, at the change of an academic year if I'm really desperate.) Well, the change of a calendar year is coming. What's in store for us Philofaxers?

The 2008 Itch

As 2007 starts to wind down, my thoughts turn to 2008. Specifically, what calendar will I use next year? My lust for the new and exciting has me reeling with the possibilities. Will I stick with the Filofax week on 2 pages? Should I go for that nifty week plus notes? This of course runs into my classic problem: My Personal size Filofax just doesn't give me enough room to write each day with a week at a view. So now I wonder, should I branch out? Should I switch to a page per day? I tried this one year and, though I had more space to expand my thoughts and plans on a daily basis, I tended to do a poor job of planning ahead without the whole week spread in front of me and the next whole week just a page-turn away. I was lost in a sea of individual days.

So then this begs the question: Should I upgrade my Filofax? Is it time to move up to the A5 size? Will sacrificing portability be worth the gains of writing space and future planning?

Which begs another question: Why do I think about it so much? Is my life really so complicated that I need to find a system that works absolutely flawlessly for me? What about the fact that my needs change every few months and suddenly what worked before is now woefully inadequate?

Questions, questions. Maybe I feel this way because of testimonials from people about how the "perfect" planner system changed their life. Covey, GTD, Uncalendar—the list of systems is endless. People seem to find their perfect system, and suddenly their life is easier, more efficient, and they accomplish their goals! Why can't I do that??

Every year I continue my quest for the Filofax Holy Grail. Would I accomplish just as much with a spiral bound notebook and some Post-Its?

(By the way, Laurie, here's how I settle the A5/Personal conundrum: I use an A5 for business and a Personal for personal. In both cases, I use a week-per-2-pages...vertical for the A5 and horizontal for Personal. I used a day-per-page A5 for work for quite a while, though. In that case, I need to supplement it with a month-per-2-pages or a fold-out year. Since my daily activities are ratcheting up these days...more appointments, workouts, events, and errands to record, I'm seriously considering a day-per-page Personal for 2008. Just thinking about it is delicious. -- Inky)


  1. Magnificent! I was wondering is there an opening for a new contributer? I would really like to help.


  2. Hi Filo-Dream! We'd love more contributors! Please write to me at nanbarber@gmail.com.

  3. I struggle with the same thoughts. The amazing, perhaps sad, part is that these thoughts hang around for days. I am trying to curb my urge to splurge on a new filo simply because I'm not fully appreciating the one I have.
    I have come to the conclusion that any system will work if it is used and referenced regularly.
    I struggle with being burdened by carrying around so much history, even in the personal size, that I simply do not need on a daily basis. When I purge things and return to the slimline version, I always leave something out.
    Customizing and reorganizing an existing system never worked for me because no matter how much I tweaked and edited, it was never enough.
    My frustration boils down to boredom more than anything else. If I find myself unhappy with the inadequacy of my Filofax, it usually stems from unhappiness with myself, my habits and my lack of productivity, not the tool itself.

  4. I too struggle with and have gone through the different calendar formats and different size Filos.

    Personal fits me best, and I am currently on 1 week per page (in elegant Cotton Cream, no less), but would love the 2 page per day route as I am coming from a Franklin Covey and Day Timer background.

    The problem I have found when I have tried this in the past though, is that the Personal Filos can't hold the entire year of days at once and still have room for all the other stuff I want to carry. This might be okay if like the FC and DT 2 page per day they inserted blank pages at the end of a month so that you could just have a month ( or two or three) in your filo at once, perhaps backed up by a month per page for longer range planning.

    Anyone else run into this challenge? If so, what was your solution? I am hopeful I am just missing something simple and obvious--as the character and quality of my Filofax leaves any other planner I have owned in the dust.

  5. As I read your blog I kept thinking "I do that", "I do that too" and "I do that as well!"

    I'm so glad that someone is as sad (bad?) as I am! I've used the A4 & for a very brief period, the Pocket sizes, but I've returned to the Personal size.

    Also, I'm forever looking at the different diary formats. I like the Week plus Notes format, but my handwriting is too large to cope. I've tried the Day per Page, but didn't like the lack of easy forward planning. I've finally settled on Week per View (Sunday start), it has room for notes plus the weekend is given equal space (important to me) 2008 will be my second year of use.

    My wife often points out that I'm a sad muppet & frequently asks why I think about it so much & whether my life is so complicated that I need to think about it at all! However, as I can quite happily while away an hour looking at different filofaxes and their accessories; diary, paper or hardware; I sometimes think that she might have a point!

    Great post.

  6. Glad to know other people share the same problems. I have thought too of changing to the A5, and the only thing that keeps me from it is finding a binder to archive the years. I do not like the Filofax post binders, if you have to make a copy of something, you have to take it completely apart and put it all back together again. Anybody have a line on a good ring binder in A5 size.


  7. So glad I found you guys!

    I'm stressing over my calendar choice for 2008 - anyone have a clue if the A5 will hold the page-a-day calender with room left for other pages?


  8. To answer your question (just above), it depends on your ring size. If you have an A5 with 1.25" rings, like the Finsbury, you can definitely hold the entire year of day-per-page. That's what I did in 2006.

    However, you're somewhat limited in what else you can carry behind it. You'll probably have to make a choice between 6-subject tabs or a set of A-Z tabs, but not both. I used the 6 tabs, and kept the alphabetical pages behind the last one. It worked well.

  9. Laurie -- I just wanted to comment on something else in your post. I actually had the same experience when I once tried one-page-per-day in my Personal size Filo. I experienced the exact same feeling of being unable to see enough of the big picture to plan. Lost in a sea of days...that's such a beautiful way of describing it!

  10. Why not put a blank sheet in between the week per 2 pages for extra writing room and to do lists instead of upgrading to an A5 if you love the portability of the Personal.

  11. I would think that the issue is with the method one uses their Filofax with. If one makes adjustments to create a new way to use their organizer more efficiently, the rest of success will follow.

    I used to use the Tony Robbins RPM binder system (yes, the big, dark brick), and I enjoyed it for a while, but the thing was too heavy and bulky to transport with me. I did take his planning method and carried it over to my personal-size Filofax. Now I am able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

    My suggestion would be perhaps looking into other systems and transfer any favorite points to your present organizer, or take a time management class as offered by companies such as Covey and The Learning Annex. I have read several times recently that attendees walk away with a wealth of ideas from these events.

    Good luck from Connecticut!

  12. I stumbled upon your blog site along with a filofax collector's website, so I thought I would share my discovery with everyone.

    While I use my Mac for everything, I still love my calf hide Durham Filofax; Purchased at Lincoln Stationers, New York City, NY in 1988.

    Happy New Year to all Filofax fans....