23 December 2008

A Glimpse into History

On one of this blog's most popular old posts, A Rock, a Hard Place, and Some Complaints about Each, we recently got a comment from someone who worked at the Filofax Head Office when the organizers were still lovingly handmade in England. The writer tells us eloquently what it was like to work for the company in those years, including visits from Grace Scurr, the woman who recreated the company's information from her personal Filofax when the original headquarters was bombed in 1940.

I urge all of you to light the fireplace, pour a snifter of brandy, and take a look at the post, which has a rich, lively comment thread as well as this exciting new addition.

For further reading pleasure, here's a New York Times article from Filofax's American heyday in the late 1980's when celebrities like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton were seen carrying their organizers everywhere.

14 December 2008

Family Affair

A couple of readers have mentioned a new A5-size family calendar, so I had to check it out for myself. To find it at Filofax USA, click here, then scroll all the way to the bottom of the back and click Family Organizer Pack. (I assume it's available in the UK, too, but I wasn't able to find it on their Web site.)

When you click a new window opens listing everything that comes in the pack, plus an offer to get $10 off and free shipping on an A5 organizer. Presumably, the offer targets mothers who want the Family Pack but don't already have an A5 binder.

And the contents of the pack are yummy: Pages for school and sports info, shopping lists, emergency info, travel and party planning, budgeting, and (my favorite), a chore organizer! It also includes a 2009 week-per-2-pages calendar that has slots for different family members.

I can imagine you don't need to have a family to find this pack useful.

12 December 2008

Free for All Friday No. 24

Time to talk about new organizers and formats for 2009, or anything else that comes to mind!


10 December 2008

A Blessed Event

In the comments for last Friday's post, a reader came up with the brilliant phrase above, comparing the acquisition of a new Filofax to the birth of a baby. (It's not the first time I've been accused to treating my Filo like a family member.)

A lot of people have been asking how I'm going to use this new organizer. Yes, I'm going to use it as my personal Filo in 2009. (The Daily Planner gave me both 2008 and 2009 diary refills.) I'm going to leave my current red Finsbury as is, and just copy any necessary information into the new Finchley. Well, except the phone number pages. Those, I'll probably just stick right into the new book.

I'm not doing a good job using my current tabs (To Do, Projects, Ideas, Lists, and Tel), so I'm not going to use the same set up in the Finchley. I'm going to stick with the built-in tabs and see what needs come up. So I guess I'm using the Finchley as an opportunity to make a clean break. The red Finsbury will be all set to go when I'm ready to go back to it. I may do so for the summer, when I prefer brighter colors to brown.

For now, I think we're going to get along just fine.

05 December 2008

Free for All Friday No. 23

Don't worry, I'll soon post about my new Chocolate Finchley, of which I'm in awe. I've already taken pictures of it!

For now, hold forth!


04 December 2008


Not much happening in my Filofax life these days, but there's been some talk about maps lately, so I thought I'd share a map I bought from The Daily Planner earlier this year.

[Aside: One reason there's not much going on is that I'm still waiting for the current Daily Planner order I placed a couple weeks ago. My two emails asking to track the package have gone unanswered. I have no 2009 calendars yet. Grrrr.] UPDATE: I just got the Daily Planner package...by FedEx! They must have felt bad about the delay and expedited it. Thank you for good service as always, Daily Planner!

Anyway, I bought a Boston map, and got this. It's made of stiff, shiny paperboard. It's printed in Canada and updated as of 2005, although the outer packaging says "Made in U.S.A." Streetwise (www.streetwisemaps.com), which bills itself as "Originators of the laminated accordion-fold map," also makes larger maps that fold up the same way, without the Filofax holes.

I wish they didn't waste so much map space on their logo.

The reverse of the map has a street index and subway map.

28 November 2008

Free for All Friday No. 22

I've got some Thanksgiving and other holiday stuff to post, but in the spirit of keeping Fridays truly free for all, I'll let you readers take over.

21 November 2008

16 November 2008

20% Off at The Container Store

Courtesy of reader GG, here's an online 20% Off coupon from The Container Store. The store has some Filofax refills, as well as Miquelrius and other notebooks, files, filing boxes, and other organizing supplies.


What / Where

As the year is drawing to a close, I've begun to think about what I'm going to do next year in my Filofax, and how well what I'm doing now is working for me. Today I took out the 2008 pages (I've been using Kate Spade, Personal size), except for November and December, and put in my 2009 diary (week per 2-pages, cotton cream - delicious!). It's scary how thin the rest of this year is, in terms of paper!

I'm reevaluating what I've been doing. This year, it's been a week-per-2-pages, followed by tabs marked To do, Projects, Ideas, Lists, and Tel.

To do - It's been ages since I wrote in or looked at this section. I guess I've been so busy that I only have time for must-dos, which get written on the weekly pages, like paying bills, renewing licenses, and so on. Things like getting a new cell phone or getting my car detailed are just sitting there on aging paper.

Projects - This once-active section, with one yellow lined page per project, has also become just bulky, unused paper. I've planned trips and special evenings in this section. Now it's just undone termite inspections and insurance reviews. Can I keep track of projects in a way that doesn't require as many leaves in my book?

Ideas - A couple of years ago, I had so many ideas I could spend hours writing them down. Now? I guess I've finished writing down that backlog of ideas and don't have any new ones. Maybe I'm also too busy to speculate about things. But will I ever see Elton John in Las Vegas? Will I ever get kayaks for my husband and I? Who knows -- but do I really need to carry these dreams everywhere I go?

Lists - The only page in this section that sees much action is my grocery shopping list. This section has various lists in alphabetical order (A5 paper sources, Bare Essentuals makeup I want to order, Beau Ties neckties to order for my father, books to read or to send to people, Christmas gift lists, etc.).

I've been thinking lately, what might work better is one-day-per-page plus A-Z pages, not all these other tabs. But one-day-per-page doesn't come in cotton cream, which I love! One thing's for sure, a lot of what I'm currently carrying can be pulled out and stored away.

When I reevaluate my system, I take some notebook pages and write "What" on the left side, and "Where" on the right side. This arrangement helps me figure out where I might put certain kinds of information. It helps clear my head. Then I build my Filofax system from the ground up.

The other night, I did this in my Miquelrius A5 notebook, using pencil and drawing lines between the different subjects, as shown in the picture. This is only one out of 3 page spreads.

I placed a Daily Planner order this weekend. They're having a sale, and I indulged in a personal Finchley with a chocolate cover and cotton cream filler inside!!! I also bought horizontal week-per-2-pages for my work and kitchen A5 Filos.

15 November 2008

Prayers and wishes for wildfire victims

With apologies to reader Vidya (I couldn't contact you directly), I'm pulling this comment to the front because of the urgency and danger of the topic: the recent wildfires in California. A new fire started last night in the San Fernando Valley, which isn't a forested area...it's an area where millions of people live.

Whether where you live is prone to earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes, evacuation info is one of the most important things we can carry in our Filofaxes. That makes Vidya's comment more timely than ever:

Not to post off-topic, but the timing seems appropriate. I live in the Central Coast of California and yesterday many of my colleagues were either evacuated or preparing to evacuate because of the wildfires. People were trying to figure out what they should take in a very short time.

Earlier this year, I started a list in my Filofax of what I would want most in case I ever need to evacuate. My Filo is almost always with me, both at home and out, so I know it will be close at hand if/when the situation arises. I know that if I didn't have a list handy, I would stand in the middle of my house, in a panic, grabbing nonsensical items. It gave me a sense of peace knowing that I am prepared in one small way. In this part of the world, evacuation isn't a theory, it's an eventual likelihood.

So far, friends and colleagues are all safe, although my beloved Mt. Calvary Monastery/Retreat House was burned to the ground. The Montecito fire seems to be contained, but now there is another fire, to the east, in Los Angeles County and I am hoping it gets contained quickly.

14 November 2008

Free for All Friday No. 20

We've got a request for today's topic!

What do you write with in your Filofax? Pen? Fountain Pen? Pencil?


P.S. Check out the comments on this post for some great pen/pencil carrying ideas. Why not cut your pen loop in half and carry 2 pens?

13 November 2008

The sweetest reunion

Gretchen Rubin writes eloquently about the return of her lost Filofax. (No surprise, she's the author of a forthcoming book called The Happiness Project.)

Here's an excerpt:

I’m old-fashioned when it comes to keeping my calendar, and I carry around a worn, fat Filofax that contains every piece of information I need to live my life: my calendar, addresses and phone numbers, class lists for both girls, business cards for doctors, repairmen, etc., a list of important birthdays, a subway map of Manhattan, and a few precious mementos, like the Valentine heart the Big Girl made for me when she was in kindergarten.

But it's worth clicking for the illustration alone.

08 November 2008

To Market to Market

Since the Container Store no longer carries A5 Filofaxes, I decided to try my local Stationer/Gift Shop, which used to have a really good selection, before resorting to placing an online order. Sadly, I found they've also cut down their selection. They have no A5 organizers, and just a few refills; notably, the A5 vertical week-per-2-pages (which I don't want), month-per-2-pages, addresses, and to-dos.

But I was able to get my Personal week-per-2-pages. I decided to get Cotton Cream for a change, since I also have some Cotton Cream to-dos. I think I'm going to like it! They also had Finchley organizers with complete Cotton Cream insides -- very luxurious! I think I'd like to go all-Cotton-Cream someday.

Other items of note:

- They still have the Kate Spade in both Personal and Pocket sizes for 2009. If you look back, you'll see I'm using Kate Spade for my 2008 diary, but I bought it during the year when it was marked down to $8. The full price for the Personal is $24 -- twice the price of even the Cotton Cream!

- This particular store has just as many Mini organizers and refills as Pocket! The Minis are usually hard to find.

- They have the small 6-ring Mead binders and filler paper. It's the same size as Personal Filofax, but thinner and cheaper. You can't get this size at the big chains like Staples anymore. Small shops like this one are more likely to have these specialty items, but they're more expensive. A Mead composition book is $4!

- New this year, the store now stocks Moleskine diaries. They've spread from Barnes and Noble to college bookstores, now to little gift shops in the 'burbs!

- Also new: Myndology notebooks and paper. These have the flat plastic rings like Levenger Circa. Another item I'm surprised to find in a plain old gift shop.

- I also saw a Cross journal (made by the Cross pen company) with a leather cover and built-in Cross mini pen. Pretty cool!

Gee, can you tell I love stationery stores?

07 November 2008

Free for All Friday No. 19

Sorry I'm late posting this.

I've had a crazy week. What's new with y'all?


06 November 2008

Organizer Paper Sighting

In 1975, the late comedian George Carlin appeared on the Mike Douglas show. During his routine, he referred to notes that were placed on a low table in front of him, out of camera range. Notice how he's shot from mid-thigh up the whole time.

Eventually, however, Carlin revealed to the audience that he was using notes and made it part of the act. At the very end, he actually picks up the sheets and shuffles through them. Look what kind of paper it is! Looks to me like 6-hole punched pages that would be at home in an organizer book!

I always did like Carlin...

George Carlin on YouTube

01 November 2008

Turn the clock back, 2008 edition

I've written about Daylight Saving Time (European Summer Time) in the past, usually with a photo of the notation on the Filofax diary page. Tonight, I wasn't able to get a clear photo, but my Filo for Sunday, November 2 says "Daylight Saving Time ends, Canada & USA*," with the parenthetical "*information correct at time of going to print."

The parenthetical is necessary because Canada and the USA are currently out of sync with European Summer Time, which ended on October 26. The U.S. Congress decided that extended Daylight Saving Time would save more energy. That is arguable. I've heard the argument that it doesn't save energy because more light in the evening keeps people outside and driving in cars, instead of heading home and going to bed early.

What do you think?

Another parenthetical: (I'm writing this while watching "Are You Being Served AGAIN," so for this reason alone I feel I can speak with some authority on European Summer Time :) ).

30 October 2008

Free for All Friday No. 18

My Filofax helped me remember to buy Halloween candy in advance this year, as usual.

It's also time to buy our 2009 refills.

Is your Filofax part of your Halloween costume?


26 October 2008

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada 2008

Today I made my semi-annual pilgrimage to The Container Store to pick up next year's Filofax refills and A5 Miquelrius notebooks.

I use these notebooks because they have the same size paper as an A5 Filo and are perforated, so I can punch individual sheets to carry in my Filo. They already have the standard European 2 holes punched, so they're also compatible with a 2-hole A5 lever arch binder.

Most of the time, I just write my journal in these notebooks, and don't do much transferring of pages. Having the option is important to me, though.

Every year, Miquelrius offers different colors and designs by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, and I always buy a few at The Container Store. Last year, they looked like this. This year, they're offering butterflies and green hearts. I love it.

Unfortunately, The Container Store, at least my local one, seems to have discontinued A5 Filos and their refills, so I can't get my work Filo and kitchen counter Filo refills there. I couldn't even get Personal week-per-2-pages without lines. All they had were the lined ones, which is fine, I just wanted unlined and wonder whether they fact that they only offer one is a sign that they're cutting down on Filofax stock further still. There were a lot of 2008 week-per-2-pages calendars on sale, which leads me to believe that sales have slowed down.

Oh, well. It's time for me to place a Daily Planner order, and hope to keep the mail order end in business.

25 October 2008

An Even Better Sale

Jenni Bick Bookbinding has a colorful selection of Filofaxes (like Piazza and Finsbury) on deep discount. Check it out soon; they appear to be going fast!

24 October 2008

Free for all Friday, No. 17

First of all, thanks everybody for your great comments last week.

Good to see some of you coming back to commenting after a while away. I want to answer some of your questions, but have not yet done so.

When you comment, Blogger gives you a chance to sign up for email notification of anyone commenting on a post after you. Take advantage of it—it doesn't endanger your email address, and it ensures you don't miss out on the full discussion.


23 October 2008

Years ahead

On a recent post, folks were talking about buying next year's refills, and how far forward it makes sense to carry. In my case, I carry as far forward as I can fit, which is usually less than I want. When I make, say, a dentist appointment 6 months into the future, I like to be able to write it down, once, on the actual day.

So it's ironic I haven't ordered my 2009 refills yet. If anyone else is in my predicament, you'll be interested to know that the The Daily Planner has all kinds of 2009 diaries in stock, including 2-pages-per day (that's right, 2 PAGES per day), and cotton cream options. There's even a horizontal week-in-view with appointment lines (in this scheme, you'd turn the book so the rings are horizontal to you to see the entire week). I don't think I've seen that one before; it's offered in Personal only, which always has the most options.

If you like to plan ahead, yearly planners through 2010 are available.

I've had good luck ordering from Daily Planner in the past. The online ordering system used to be a little glitchy on my Mac, but it's worked quite well the past couple of years.

And if you need a whole new planner, not just refills, The Daily Planner has a number of items on sale.

22 October 2008

One Page Miracle

I suppose everyone's noticed that my posting has been a little sparse—only one post in between Fridays instead of two. And I've been pretty absent from the comments.

I'm just finishing up a big deadline at work, so I'll be able to spend more time here. I have that pleasant "all the time in the world" feeling that one gets after finishing something big. (Of course, I most certainly don't have all the time in the world, especially not when it comes to Christmas shopping.)

Today's article is not about Filofaxes in the physical sense, but about something that you might do on a page in your Filofax. There's an exercise called the One Page Miracle, promoted by, among others, Dr. Daniel Amen as a way to get your life in better focus—quick. And it only takes one page (like, perhaps, an A5 or Personal Filofax page).

What you do is take a single sheet of paper and, without overthinking, write down what you want in each area of your life. Here's one possible format:

One-Page Miracle
What Do I Want for My Life?


Extended Family:

I want to do:
I want to be:
I want to know:

MONEY (for needs, wants, and security)
Short term:
Long term:


Too simple for the folks at Franklin Covey, perhaps, but sometimes the first words that come to mind are the real truth. And it fits in your Filofax!

17 October 2008

Free for All Friday No. 16

How is your autumn going? Do you have any long weekends planned? Are the leaves changing color? Are you in the middle of a busy academic year or, like me, in the middle of a busy holiday business season?


13 October 2008

Kickin' it old skool

This past weekend, I found that my brother stumbled upon Philofaxy by googling my name (my real name, so I guess my pseudonym isn't terribly effective). He asked me, "so do you have an unhealthy obsession with Filofaxes?" He seemed especially concerned about the number of Filofax pictures I take.

During the ensuing conversation, I learned a new (to me) phrase, "kickin' it old skool," in reference to people like us who are using paper in the digital age.

He used a DayRunner until he got an iPhone and never looked back to paper.

Just going by my family and friends, I'm noticing a combination of paper and electronics. My dad has an iPhone, but also carries Levenger cards in a leather case for writing things down. My mom has a Blackberry, and was never a big notetaker anyway; she's one of those people who can carry everything in their head. They've both used various Palm handhelds in the past. My sister-in-law has an iPhone and a Moleskine.

I used to carry my entire life in a Palm handheld, even doing email and word processing on it, in lieu of a laptop, with the help of a portable keyboard and an IR link to my cell phone. When I went back to paper, I went all the way. I will carry a Filofax and a small cellphone in my handbag, and nothing more.

Seems pretty healthy to me.

10 October 2008

Free for All Friday No. 15

We're getting deeper into a season that includes more holidays, charitable events, school obligations, and (in the U.S.) elections. A wonderful and busy time of year!

How are you using your Filofax to cope?


08 October 2008

Pocket Fitness

For a few weeks now, I've been using a Pocket Filofax as a diet and fitness journal. For the curious, here's how I use it:

1) Week-per-2-page diary. Each day, I log exercise done (with heart rate), cups of water drunk, weight/body fat (on the days I weigh), and so on. The illustration here is a template page I made, to keep things clear by writing the same information in the same place on the page each time. The pages are cramped, so I did some planning before I started writing in ink all over them.

2) Eating journal. On yellow paper, one side of one leaf per day. I write down the day's plan the night before, and then...er...edit the next day based on what I actually ate.

3) Notes pages. Blue and pink paper for various kinds of notes and quotes from the program I'm using, The Beck Diet Solution.

03 October 2008

Free for All Friday No. 14

The Franklin Covey system I posted about earlier this week has a special plastic page bookmark. Instead of being a single panel of plastic, it's two-layered. It lets you slip in a paper bookmark on which you list weekly goals. It helps keep the important things in front of your eyes whether you use a daily or weekly diary format.

I find during busy times of my life, I can forget the most important things first. Is anyone using a Franklin Covey bookmark (I believe it's called a Weekly Compass), or a similar idea of your own invention?


28 September 2008

Franklin Covey Compact Size

For a while, I went down to the Compact Size, which has the same page height and 6-ring layout as Filofax's Personal size, but a greater page width. It's an interesting size, proportioned more like an A5 sheet, but more portable. If the Personal's narrow page makes you feel cramped, you might like Franklin's Compact better. Franklin's also comes in bigger ring sizes than Filofax offers, which lets you carry many more pages!

Of course, these factors also make the Compact less portable than the Personal. I can toss the Personal into almost any bag I own, and not feel it's cumbersome. Carrying a Compact, although it's smaller than an A5, still feels like carrying a "big book" to me. Closed, it measures 6.25" (16 cm) wide, 7.5" (19 cm) tall, and it has 1.25" (inside diameter) rings.

I think I spent less time with the Compact than any other model or size because of this worst-of-both-worlds feeling it gave me. But I did—and still do—love this binder. Nice forest green leather (green's a hard color to find), and it feels and smells great.

You can't see it in the picture, but it has the Franklin Quest imprint—from before the acquisition of Stephen Covey's productivity training business.

25 September 2008

Free for All Friday No. 13

Oh, my! Take a look at the conversation we've got going on the previous post! Click if you've always wanted to know how to convert a single pen loop into 2 pens loops with a single snip!

Do you remember Filofax refills on onion skin paper?

What previous planners do you wax sentimental about?


24 September 2008

My Former Franklin Covey Life

We've been talking about our Franklin Covey experiences lately, so I decided to dig up my old FC planners. I have three: two Classic (7-ring, half-letter size; similar in size to A5) and one Compact (same ring configuration as Filofax Personal, but with wider pages).

My first Classic Franklin Covey planner is still my favorite, and the only one of the three I'm going to save in the long run. It's all leather, and I bought it because of its small "footprint." Instead of being larger than the pages, the planner's zipper hugs them. It's barely bigger than the pages themselves, and also has a slim ring size. It's more suited to a weekly than a daily page format.

I'll take pictures of it soon, but today I'm starting with the last planner I was using before, in 2000, I switched full-time to a Palm Pilot. Actually, the full transition took about a year. When I finally abandoned this beautiful fabric and leather planner with its one-and-a-half-inch rings, it weighed three pounds and contained all of the notes I needed for my 4 part-time/freelance jobs and one volunteer job, as well as all my personal stuff: home repair and car records, Christmas card lists, wish lists, and so on. I even found a list of all NFL teams and their towns, and a list of poker hands in winning order. Hey, you never know when you're going to need that stuff!

Imagine going from carrying 3 pounds of leather and paper wherever I went to a Palm Pilot! But I did it.

I found this planner in the basement in virtually the same condition it was in when I stopped using it. It's like a snapshot of my life, frozen in time. I'm fascinated by the number and variety of pages FranklinCovey supplied, including about 20 pages of instructions on using the planner itself! I'll scan some of these forms one of these days, since it's hard to take clear photographs of them. There are a bunch of pictures on Flickr of some of the forms and how I used them.

FranklinCovey still makes a lot of forms, but not nearly as many as they used to. They sell software for printing out the additional forms yourself.

18 September 2008

Free for All Friday No. 12

Any Franklin Quest or FranklinCovey refugees out there?

Are you marking the change of seasons in your Filofax?

Does 12 posts make a tradition...our tradition of open Friday threads.


16 September 2008

Guest Book Review - The Advanced Day Planner User’s Guide

We're pleased to present the following book review from our reader Vidya. Thank you for sharing this with us, Vidya!

The Advanced Day Planner User’s Guide
Hyrum W. Smith

I stumbled upon this book on Amazon Marketplace. Originally published in 1987, this is a compilation of users’ tips and insights along with some fun stories of bullet proof planners and planners used as conversation starters.

I can’t say I learned anything earth shattering, but I did get some good tips that I’ve started using such as the Yearly Event Reminder and priority codes. But for me, the best part was reading how other planner-geeks use some of the same strategies I get a lot of value from—I found myself furiously nodding in agreement as I leafed through the book.

There are lots of copies available on Amazon Marketplace. I found it to be a great value and an addition to my collection—if nothing else it has allowed me to wallow in planner love. I will definitely consult it when I feel my system starts running off the rails.

[Ed. note: The author of this book, Hyrum W. Smith, is the creator of the Franklin Planner system. He later founded FranklinCovey with Stephen Covey.]

14 September 2008

To Do Page Hack

Filofax's To Do pages are like no other. A nice wide space with room for one or two lines of writing—you can fit a lot of words in there if you write small. A simple checkbox to tick off completed items. And the most ingenious part - a subject box at the top.

I find a few modifications make these flexible forms even more helpful. Here's how I use the ones in the A5 Filo I use at work:

- I always write the year in the upper-right corner, for filing purposes. If a project or topic continues, I try to remember to start a new page for the new year.

- Using a ruler and black pen, I draw a line about a centimeter or 1/2" to the left of the checkbox, creating a new column. For items that have a clear due date, I write the date in this column.

- In the subject box, I write the name of the project, usually a book I'm editing. These pages go behind that book's tab. I also have a section simply labeled To Do for Admin task lists and projects too small to have their own tab.

- Every morning, I go through my email inbox and master checklists and write down tasks for everything I have to do. I don't even worry about due dates until later. I find it really helps to have everything written down, even the small stuff, making my To Do lists completely reliable when my brain isn't.

- When someone else has to do something, or something has to happen before I can act, I write that down in red. My own tasks are in blue. Using 2 different colors lets me focus on my own responsibilities. The due date column works great for "waiting-fors," since they help me keep other team members on track.

In my Personal Filofax, I also draw the lines, and I use these pages to list Web sites I want to visit, calls to make, errands to run, and maybe-dos, again labeling the page accordingly in the subject box. Listing Web sites I want to visit and things I want to look up on Wikipedia helps me get these distractions out of the way and get back to work! Most of the time, actually reading the stuff that was distracting me is anti-climactic.

12 September 2008

Free for All Friday No. 11

Feels good to be back in the old routine, doesn't it?

Have you changed planners or sizes for autumn?

Anything else you'd like to talk about?


10 September 2008

Where's Inky?

Dear readers,

I'm sorry for making you worry about me. I'm fine! I've just been thinking about what I want to do with this blog. I didn't want to come back without a plan. I find that the fall is a better time for me to make fresh starts and resolutions than January. I think it's a combination of the academic year that I grew up with, and the fact that the change of weather from the humid dog days of August to crisp, sunny September feels more like a new year than January's nondescript dead of winter.

Let me start by thanking all of you for your recent great posts on Free for All Friday No. 10. It's much more activity than I deserve with my recent absence. Your systems and ideas are truly inspirational!! I mean that to every single one of you.

One commenter, Joffrey CA, raised the issue of my real identity. Yes, you've figured it out. I work for O'Reilly Media, and my name is Nan Barber. I didn't go to any great lengths to hide my identity, since I have no compelling reason to. I was mainly concerned about what my family and coworkers would think, and it turns out that none of them have any interest in the fact that I'm doing this blog.

However, I want this blog to be about Filofaxes, not about me, so I created the pseudonym. As some of you may know, I inherited this blog from its original creator, a person who went by the pseudonym "Philofaxer" and who really did want to remain anonymous. In gratitude for his kind decision to add me to the blog, there are certain principles that he set up that I will always honor:

- The blog will not be personality-based; hence, my use of a pseudonym.

- The blog will not attempt to generate revenue via Google AdSense or other advertisements. (Although I'm not opposed to doing product reviews ... unfortunately I haven't had to deal with that issue yet!)

- Good writing and constructive comments will be top priority. I'm proud to say during my tenure (going back to 2006) I've only had to delete one nasty comment.

So, here's the plan. I will do one "Free for All Friday" post and two other posts per week; usually on Sunday and Wednesday. I'll report all the news in my own Filofax life, including the following:

- I'm up to a 4 Filo life: An A5 for work, another A5 for the kitchen counter, a Personal, and a Pocket for fitness records. I bought a 2008-09 academic year week-per-2-pages for this Filo.

- The A5 for work is working better than ever (finally, after 2 years!). So I've bought a metal A5 punch, and plan to get a ream of A5 paper and create my own pages.

- I'm loving the Pocket size again, and considering eliminating the Personal. Something about those 3 x 5 inch pages feels so good.

- My "Ideas" section always seems to be the canary in the coal mine. It's currently stuffed with Post-Its and confusion even worse than here. (But thank you, Onigiri-sama, for the compliment on my handwriting! I like to, and often have to, write fast. It looks better when I can write more slowly.)

- But I am loving the illustrations in the Kate Spade Personal week-per-2-pages and would like to use it next year if I stay with this size. (Ur-hrm ... as I said ... product reviews??)

Thanks again for all your support, and for drawing me back!

— Inky

15 August 2008

Free for All Friday No. 10

OK, so we skipped a week in there.

Thank you for all your great comments on recent posts.

What's new in your Philofaxy lives?


02 August 2008

PYOP - Print Your Own Pages

Lately a couple of blogs have revived (by linking to) a 2-year-old blog post on Lifehacker.com on the subject of notetaking.

So forgive me for jumping on the bandwagon here, but I'd like to call your attention as Philofaxers to the bottom half of the Lifehacker post, which has a list of links to printable note-taking forms, including Dr. Walter Pauk's Cornell note-taking method.

Filofaxes come filled with a year's diary and various forms, and the company still sells some refill forms, though not nearly as many as in the pre-PC era. Furthermore, these forms and even Filofax's lined and plain notepaper can be expensive. Since it is the PC era, and desktop printers are readily available, we can print our own forms, even notepaper.

Here's another classic blog entry, from PigPog, showing how it costs less to use plain A5 paper in a Filofax rather than large Moleskines.

I haven't printed my own forms or notepaper yet, but I'm getting close. (All I've done so far is print information typed into word processing docs on my computer onto Filofax paper.) I'm running low on lined white A5 notepaper, and rather than buying more, I'm thinking about buying a ream of A5 paper and printing my own guidelines, so the Lifehacker blog entry is of particular interest to me.

By the way, I really like Dr. Pauk's How to Study in College. It's actually more of a manual for life than a study guide. I've met Dr. Pauk. He wrote books for my parents' educational publishing company (but not about the note taking method; that was already copyrighted by Houghton Mifflin). He and his wife came to stay with our family one summer. TMI alert: They slept in my bed.

01 August 2008

Free for All Friday No. 9

New to Philofaxy? Introduce yourself!

Do you have any suggestions for future posts? Every Friday, we give our readers a chance for free discussion.


- Inky

31 July 2008

Time Management

While we're on the subject of time management, I think it's timely to invite everyone to view one of the all-time classic treatments of the subject.

Randy Pausch, who ultimately became well-known for his Last Lecture, the treatise on making your childhood dreams come true that he intended for his children, but ended up being relevant to a wider audience, always said that he had always thought he'd be well-known for his lecture on time management.

So I'll let Randy speak for himself, through the magic of digital video. Here's his one-hour time-management lecture on YouTube, provided by his beloved employer, Carnegie Mellon University: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTugjssqOT0.

And, like any good professor, he's made his PowerPoint slides free from charge. Please don't be evil.

Disclaimer: Randy and I have the same alma mater as undergraduates (Brown University). He was a year ahead of me. He was my TA when I took the university's CS1 ("Computers for Poets") class. He described my work as "mega-neat," although my program blew up at the end.

That course ultimately led to the job I have now...editing computer books.

Thank you, Randy.

30 July 2008


Post-it + itis...get it?

I've noticed this trend for about a month or so. When I want to remember something, instead of writing it on one of the many beautiful lists in my Filofax--behind To Do, Ideas, and Lists tabs--I grab a Post-it note. Then I'll slap the note either on a diary page, behind one of the tabs, or (cringe) along the edge of my monitor.

OK, I've admitted the problem. And I've at least gathered up the Post-its and placed them behind the relevant tabs.

Now, it's time to take a look at why this is happening. It must be because, on some level, I'm losing trust in my system. Do I mistrust the lists because they're getting so long that I may not see everything on them? Because the things on the lists aren't getting done?

I haven't reviewed my lists in a while. I used to do it almost every day, like sitting down to chat with a friend. I think that's why this reluctance to add anything to them.

Time to get chummy with my Filo again. Hi, friend...

25 July 2008

Free for all Friday No. 8

Once a week, Philofaxy hosts an open comments thread.

That's not to say that we don't get a lot of great comments all the time -- we do! If you haven't checked out the wonderful comments on Taking note of notebooks, please do so! Our readers have great ideas.

Ideas? Suggestions? Complaints?

Let's have them!

- Inky

24 July 2008

Kate Spade refill

One of the advantages of using the small-but-popular 6-ring Personal-size Filofax is that lots of other companies make diary pages for it. Case in point: The Kate Spade designer refill that I found last week. I was shopping for a gift for my mom in the same local gift shop/stationer where I sometimes buy Filofax refills, when I came upon a markdown shelf. And there, discounted to 20% of its original $24 price was a 2008 Kate Spade diary!

I decided to buy it if only to be able to review it here. But now I've decided to use it, and recopy my somewhat messy year-so-far into it. (This will be the second time I've recopied the year -- the first was due to a format change, but who's counting?) I find this rewriting serves as a pleasant taking stock and renewal at the same time.

The diary features an illustrated title page at the beginning of each calendar month, and an inspiring quote. It has a week-per-2-pages with a Monday start and a notes section at the end. Weekend days get equal space to weekdays, which may be a nod to the diary's primarily female audience. Most women have more to do on the weekends besides "Take Nap."

The paper is much thicker and stiffer than standard Filofax paper. It almost feels like card stock. I like that, although it makes for a thicker Filofax to carry around.

(You can see a couple different views, as well as more Filofax pics, by clicking the picture above.)

18 July 2008

Free for all Friday No. 7

TGIF. Thank Goodness It's Friday...Thank Goodness It's Filofax!

Time for you readers to speak your minds.

My A5 household Filofax had a little adventure this week, helping me get through a project. I needed to find an electrician and get some wiring fixed in our house. A page behind my Projects tab gave me a place to list the symptoms to report to the electrician, his name and phone number for next time, a list of problems he found (including those to be fixed in the future), and my notes on the work he did so I could explain the process to my husband later.

- Inky

17 July 2008

Creative bookmaking

A reader, Silver Elixir, has graciously let me share the link to photos of her commonplace books made with A4 and A5 Filofax paper, A4 and A5 notebooks, and lever arch binders.

Did you know you can cut an A4 lever arch binder down to A5 size?

Have you thought about letting your imagination run wild with collages and words? Click here for inspiration!

Here's the link to Silver Elixir's photostream: Click here.

16 July 2008

Taking note of notebooks

Although many of us have tried, you can't write everything in a Filofax. If you keep a journal or commonplace book, or write prose or fiction for business or pleasure, sooner or later you need to use bound notebooks.

But which one to choose? The question is in the air. I was already considering a post like this when a reader emailed me to suggest it! I've noticed more notebook-related activity on other blogs as well.

When I made my all-Filofax, all-the-time commitment a couple years ago, I found I also had to choose a type of notebook I could use on the side. My first Filofax was an A5, so I knew right away I'd need an A5 notebook, since the Filofax refill paper is so expensive. And I wanted detachable pages, since I definitely wanted to be able to move pages back and forth. For example, my A5 Filo is for work. If I kept my personal journal in an A5 notebook, then when I had a work-related inspiration while writing in my journal, I could simply start a new page and then punch Filo holes in it. And vice-versa -- I could slip Filofax pages into the A5 notebook.

I decided on the A5 Miquelrius pictured here. I chose it for the following reasons:

- It comes in the A5 size and is readily available in the U.S. (Online from The Daily Planner and on the shelf in The Container Store and Borders bookstores.) A5 notebooks are hard to find here, so this is a big plus!

- The pages are pre-punched with standard 2 holes for A5 binders. If I want to, I can take the pages out and recategorize them in binders. (For that reason, I start a new page for every day's journal entry and when I write about a different subject.)

- The pages are perforated. See above.

- Bright colored covers. Not a requirement, but a nice benefit. I prefer bright colors to gray, beige, and so on.

- Another benefit that wasn't a requirement: color-coding on the edges of the pages. You can see orange-bordered pages in the right-hand picture above. You can use different colors for different subjects, although I haven't done that yet.

- The paper stands up to my favorite everyday pens without bleed-through. It's not good enough for heavier nibs or fountain pens, though. [Update: Your mileage may vary: A reader has reported good performance with fine-point fountain pens.]

- High page count - 140 leaves. Since the A5 size is small, I'll fill a lot of pages, and I don't want to generate lots of little books. Also, I just like thick books!

So with all these advantages, why am I having second thoughts about Miquelrius?

- As it turns out, I actually do very little moving pages between the notebook and the Filofax. Since January, I've only slipped in 3 Filofax pages. I don't think I've ever moved a notebook page into the Filofax. In fact, I haven't even bought the hole punch to do so. So the A5 size isn't as much of a necessity as I predicted, and I've started looking longingly at a variety of other kinds of notebooks, especially large Moleskines!

- I haven't ended up taking pages out of the notebook and putting them in binders, at least not yet. Furthermore, A5 ring binders are even harder to find in the U.S. than A5 notebooks, and I haven't even found any that I like!

- I'm unhappy with the single-wire spiral binding, since it isn't as durable as a sewn binding. With use, the spiral twists, which you can also see in the above-right picture. The book doesn't lie flat for writing when folded back. The holes at the top and bottom of the page start to tear and pull away from the binding.

- Also, with a spiral binding, there's no spine to label for shelf display! If I'm going to be keeping the pages in the notebooks rather than rebinding them, that's a big concern.

- The ruling is wider than I like. It means I go through a lot of pages! With only a little information on each page, it takes a lot of flipping to find something specific that I wrote.

All that said, I still like writing in these notebooks, and I'll be writing in them tonight and tomorrow and the day after. But it feels good to get these thoughts off my chest.

10 July 2008

Free for all Friday No. 6

Well, here's something I never wanted to do -- let a week go by without a post!

I'm going out of town on short notice. It's going to be fun, but travel always means a lot of work. It seems like an equal and opposite amount of work to the amount of pleasure! The word "travel" comes from the French word for "work" -- "travail."

When I get back, I promise more posts next week, including some interesting purchases I made while gift shopping for the upcoming trip -- on which I'm leaving in 1/2 hour, so really must go now!

Talk amongst yourselves, especially if you have any tales of how your Filo has helped you plan or operate on a trip.

04 July 2008

Free for All Friday No. 5

Although it's a new week, I'd like to take a moment to direct your attention to Laurie's comment on "Free for All Friday No. 3" about a fabulous bag she found that works perfectly for carrying her A5 Filofax.

Since picnic season is in full swing (especially in the U.S. and especially today!!), let's talk about how we carry our Filos around through all the places our work and play take us. For example, Laurie's REI shoulder bag comes from a sporting goods store and has lots of pockets to help segregate the Filo from the hazards of sunscreen, water bottles, and so on.

I know I choose my everyday handbags so they can carry a Personal Filo. And since I don't like big bags, I usually can't carry much else. I usually can't carry my digital camera, which kills me when I miss a photo op. I guess I need a smaller digicam.

01 July 2008

Happy Canada Day

OK, all of us Filofaxers have this date in our planners, but many of us who are not ourselves Canadian, don't know what it's all about. Although I believe that embedding a YouTube video is an incredibly lazy, gratuitous way of doing a blog post, I know of no better way to communicate the true essence of Canada Day.

So with no further ado...

26 June 2008

Free for all Friday No. 4

How do you love your Filofax?

You may be the next guest blogger!

25 June 2008

Guest Blog - Diary Musings

Another fine essay from Laurie Huff, sharing an international perspective from where she's currently living in Albania. I think this is my favorite one yet!

Many people here in Albania use a day-per-page diary for planning and writing notes. In fact, the people in my husband's office gave him one as a welcoming gift! He brought it home for me, since I am the one who is nuts over calendars and he is more of an Outlook man. I was really hoping it would be in English and Albanian so I could learn the days of the week and the months, but it is Italian. Which is no big surprise since Albania is only 60 miles across the water from Italy and we get a lot of Italian products here. The diary has the days and months in Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish. In the back is a great map of Italy, and I'm sure we'll be going there sooner or later so it will help plan our trip. (Did you know that Naples is on the WEST coast of Italy? Well now you do. For some reason I always thought it was on the EAST coast. But this map set me straight!)

This Italian diary is an interesting glimpse into some aspects of Italian culture. One feature is that every day has a corresponding saint. For example, the saint for today is Saint Luigi Gonzaga, whoever that is. Of course that is in Italian, so I might recognize the name if it were in English. The saint on my birthday is Saint Edoardo (Saint Edward I'm assuming). I think this is a pretty neat feature, and I can picture people celebrating their town's patron saint, or whichever saint has particular meaning for them.

There is a page for every work day. Saturday and Sunday are together on one page, Saturday at the top half and Sunday on the bottom half. Work days have the time printed on the lines from 8 to 20 (8am to 8pm). And interestingly, days during the week that are a holiday get a little less than a half page rather than their own full page. Which seems like it would screw up the layout for the weekends but somehow does not. And for much of August, regular weekdays have only a half page each. Which is telling because apparently most things shut down in Italy during August because that is when most people go on vacation.

It is interesting to me the sense of national identity that can be drawn from using a book like this. Holidays, vacations, festival days and the geography of the country are all here. By following the dates in this book I feel like I have tapped into the national happenings. I can imagine people in Italy having a certain sense of synchronization with everyone else, aware of when things are happening.

I own day per page diary books from two other countries where I have lived, Russia and Nepal, and they also give a glimpse into local culture. For example, in the front of the Russian diary along with conversion charts and the zodiac signs, there is a chart for a person's weight and alcohol intake, and the number of hours it takes to metabolize the alcohol and become sober (and safe to drive, since Russia has a zero-tolerance drunk-driving law).

For some reason I feel more connected to the people around me when I look at the same information in my diary as they are looking at in theirs. I wish I knew people here well enough to ask to look through their book and see what they have written there. The joining of personal identity within the framework of the national identity. Hey, I think I just came up with an idea for a PhD thesis!

24 June 2008

Filofaxes on Sale

Everybody, The Daily Planner is offering good discounts on lots of different Filofaxes, mostly Minis and Slimlines, but other sizes, too. Here's a direct link to the on-sale planners: http://tinyurl.com/3qncq2.

2008 dated refills are also on sale. Just navigate to the usual refill page for your size.

22 June 2008

Cosmetic Organizer

A few years ago, I got a "free" Trish McEvoy makeover and makeup lesson, in exchange for which I had to spend a certain amount of money on products. As a planner fiend, I bought this case and a single lipstick to meet the requirement.

Trish McEvoy's philosophy "stay simple, stay organized." And indeed, the makeup lesson was based on simple, yet effective techniques for applying eyeshadow colors, blush, and so on. Mnemonics were used to help you remember the shapes and hand motions to use when applying the makeup at home -- "windshield wiper" technique, for example.

Her makeup cases have rings like a planner, and she sells makeup colors in the form of "pages" that fit on the rings. Shu Uemura is another designer who is now using a ring-binder format.

At the end of the makeup lesson, I was given a sheet to remind me how to put the makeup on. It had a picture of a woman's face with the makeup on it, and the names of all the products to use. I'd probably still be using it today if the sheet weren't a jumbo 8.5 x 11!!! It didn't fit in the case! Cards, Trish, cards!

20 June 2008

Free for All Friday No. 3

My previous post may give you some ideas this week.

Let's get really creative!

Think outside the ... binder?

19 June 2008

Random musings

I don't think I've ever done a "random musings" post on this blog. Either I have a concrete idea to develop, or I don't write at all. But with the new Free-for-all Fridays, it would look really bad if I went from Friday to Friday without a post. So although I thought I had nothing to write about...I realize I do. Just nothing completely organized.

I can promise that I do have a new post coming, and when. It will be this Sunday, and it will be about makeup kits in organizer form. Something for the girls (and some of the guys).

If I'm not posting frequently, it's because I'm not currently in Filofax angst. When everything's going smoothly, there's less to write about. I'm happily keeping all the information I need on Personal and A5 pages.

And, to be honest, Filofaxes are a fairly limited subject. For a blog like, say, Notebookism, there are lots of different kinds of notebooks to write about. Filofaxes are a smaller subject, and they work so well, there's not always much to discuss.

And yet there is a lot going on. For example:

- Everybody, please check out Richard's comment about his beautiful Slimline Filofax and how much it enhances his life.

- I can post about how I label my tabs with a Brother labelmaker.

- The A5 binders from Empire Imports in the U.S., or how I might just repunch my A5 pages like standard U.S. 3-ring 5.25 x 8.5 pages.

- The running list I keep of things to look up on the Web, so I can just jot things down and get back to work.

- What's going on with Franklin Covey, Day Runner, and DayTimer, anyway? No reason not to write about these other systems.

- Should we have contests and polls on Philofaxy? Giveaways to drum up more interest?

- Should we have more guest blogs?

- More holiday-related posts? For example, in the Filofax's front matter, it states that summer is from the vernal solstice to the vernal equinox. But it doesn't say when that is. It took my husband -- a non-Filofax user -- to explain to me that the empty circle on June 18 signified a full moon, and thus the vernal solstice. Should Filofax do a better job clarifying the lunar cycles and seasons on the diary pages?

- Should we branch out more and discuss which pens, pencils, sticky notes, papers, and other accessories work with Filofaxes? Is being too purist limiting this blog's activity?

13 June 2008

Free For All Friday No. 2

This week, a propos of my June 11 post, a reader suggested weighing in on what types of calendars are available in different countries. For instance, the vertical week format is available in the Personal size in France. In other countries, it's only available in larger sizes.

What day does the week start in your country - Sunday or Monday?

When does your Filofax indicate your workday should begin and end?

11 June 2008

Eeny Meeny Miney

One of the wonderful things about Filofax is the variety of yearly calendars (diaries to you Brits). Everything from one day to a page, to one week to a page, to one year on one large fold-out sheet. You can see your time in as much or as little detail as you need. You can implement any time management solution with the right format.

Or if you're like me, you switch. For example, for my work Filo, this year alone I've tried using one-day-per-page, one-week-per-2-pages (vertical format, as pictured here; the one that usually comes with the A5), and one-week-per-2-pages in horizontal format, just like what comes with Personal organizers, but larger, for the A5. Since my work revolves around deadlines and tasks, not appointments, the horizontal format seemed to be the perfect solution. The vertical didn't give me enough room to write per day, and the day-per-page didn't let me see enough time at once.

Well, it seemed to be the perfect solution, until I read about time-striping on the Lifehacks blog, which should sound familiar to many of you reading this blog. Here's a link to Lifehacks' time-striping article: http://tinyurl.com/5jp2cp (complete with a really helpful illustration).

It kind of reminds me of a school schedule: First period (hour) of the day: Subject 1. Second period: Subject 2, except the "subjects" become projects. Recently, with a greater number of projects to juggle, I need a solution like time-striping to keep me from jumping from one task to another and taking 2-3 tries to complete any single task. I need a set amount of time blocked off to immerse myself in one subject and nothing else.

And I think I'm going to be switching back again to my vertical-format pages—with stripes drawn across them this time.

06 June 2008

Free For All Friday

A recent commenter, Kerowyn (thank you!), had a suggestion that confirmed something I've been thinking about for a while: Do a weekly open post, giving our readers the chance to speak out.

With apologies to the Notebookism blog, which is perhaps the most popular implementer of this concept, I've decided to give all of you a forum for your Filofax-related thoughts and feelings.

Just leave a comment to this post. Who knows what it may grow into? ;)

26 May 2008

Memorial Day Holiday

Memorial Day is an American holiday, one of the few days that most Americans don't have to go to work (although those in the retail and restaurant industries have to work, but get higher pay). The TV news carries images of soldiers paying Taps, which I think are heart-wrenching no matter what side of the political spectrum you're on. Local neighborhoods often have parades.

Americans are also expected to place flowers on graves that they've neglected throughout the year.

Was today an important day in your culture? What did you do in rememberance?

20 May 2008


Sung to the tune of "Anticipation," of course.

This is the time of year, when the new 18-month Moleskine diaries come out, that I'm tempted to stock up before they sell out, in case I have a change of heart later this year. In fact, in 2007, I bought 1 large and 2 pocket Moleskine diaries, in various weekly/daily configurations. It was my first full year of using Filofax, and it was important to me to have the Moleskines there for me in case of emergency, despite the expense. I didn't end up using them at all.

These days, I think using Moleskines sounds more difficult and tedious than using the loose-leaf Filofax, but I'm still tempted by the likes of this, from the excellent Moleskine supplier, Ship the Web: http://tinyurl.com/6fmua5.

This year, anyway, at the risk of getting set in my Filofax ways, I think I'll resist.

13 May 2008

Slim my Filo

A reader recently asked me about the capacity of the Slimline Filofax -- the same paper size as Personal but with a smaller ring size (7/16") for a thinner, flatter shape. I've never used a Slimline -- I don't think I've ever bought a smaller ring size of anything!

Has anyone who has used a Slimline fill us in (sorry) on his or her experience? Did you come up with any tricks to deal with the reduced capacity, or did you find it simply inadequate for a daily organizer? How many leaves does it hold compared to the usual Personal 7/8" rings? Does it come with tabs?

09 May 2008

More UK items

My recent order from The Daily Planner contained an interesting mix of leaves made in the UK and newer ones made in China. As I write this, world conditions are changing, and increased Chinese wages and petroleum/shipping costs may eventually make Chinese manufacture less economically advantageous than it has been in the early 21st century. But until then, UK-made leaves are a precious find to many of us Philofaxers.

Two of the items I ordered—pink lined paper and Cotton Cream to-do pages—were made in the UK. The pink leaves are marked ©1996, and the back of the package is marked "Made in England." This pink paper is both thinner and smoother than Chinese-made pink Filofax paper, which to me means that the English one is higher quality.

The Cotton Cream leaves were a mistake on my part—I clicked the wrong item. My everyday Personal Filo is red leather, and I prefer white leaves for my diary and to-do pages. But I've decided to keep the Cotton Cream ones. I want to experience using them. Also, if Cotton Cream is no longer being made, I want to have them. These leaves are marked ©2003, and the package reads "Made in the UK." I love the fact that it also says, "Manufactured by environmentally friendly paper mill."

Does anyone know whether the Cotton Cream paper is still being made in the UK?

27 April 2008

Order arrived!

Recently, I ordered a bunch of refills from The Daily Planner. Along with the things I really needed (To Do pages in both A5 and Personal formats), I ordered several items I didn't need. Why? I wanted to experiment with Filofax products I'd never used before to round out my experience and collection, and to report to all of you on this blog.

Today I'll start with an insert called "Erasable Marker Memo" on the Web site and on the invoice, and "Most Used Telephone Numbers" on the package. It's a single sheet of plastic, about the same weight and flexibility as a dishwashing-liquid bottle. In other words, quite a bit thicker and stiffer than paper.

The insert is ©1995, and the packaging seems to be from the same era. (The more recent packaging is mostly white with only a little dark blue.) Also, it was made in the UK, which makes it a rare find these days.

The front of the form reads "Most Used Telephone Numbers" (as shown), and the back says "Messages," with just a page of blank lines below.

The instructions read, "Write in pencil or non-permanent marker. Erase with rubber eraser or damp cloth."

Just testing it briefly, pencil marks look lighter than on paper, and erase easily. Marker also appeared fainter, and rubbed off easily with just a finger -- no water needed! That leads me to believe just as I suspected -- that marker would smudge more easily than pencil.

I would love to use a form like this as a To-Do list for ad-hoc tasks, or capturing temporary notes. But it would also be great for its intended purpose, since the numbers we call most often change from time to time, as family and friends' phone numbers (or relationships) change from time to time.

24 April 2008

Order placed

I just placed an order for Filofax refills with The Daily Planner.

For my work A5, I ordered a horizontal format week-per-two-pages. Since these are 2008 calendars and we're well into 2008 now, The Daily Planner has them on sale now. My work life is driven by deadlines, reminders, and occasional appointments, rather than constant appointments every day, the horizontal format, rather than the vertical format that comes standard with the A5 filo, is better for me. More on that in a later post.

I also ordered 1/5" grid paper that I use for my food journal, and everyday items like ruled paper and To Do pages. I ordered a couple of items -- Personal Computer Paper (3 Personal pages to one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet) and an erasable single sheet ($6) -- that I wouldn't normally order. All in the line of duty. I'll report on how well these items worked for me. As a Filofax blogger, I feel it's incumbent upon me to test these items.

I didn't bite the bullet and buy the $50 A5 hole punch -- more on that later. But I ordered almost $90 worth of Filofax paper. I'll let you know how it goes.

22 April 2008

How sick am I?

I like to frequent a local restaurant because it has delicious, freshly prepared appetizers and I can usually get a seat at the bar in front of a TV where I can satisfy my obsessions with CNN, Law & Order, and the Red Sox. The restaurant has a satellite TV system whose channel numbers are completely different from our cable TV channels at home.

If you've read this far, you can probably see where I'm going with this. Yes, I have a page in my Personal Filofax, behind the Lists tab and in alphabetical order by the name of the restaurant, with the numbers for my favorite channels on the bar TV.

So, I got there the other night, and another solitarily dining woman was watching public TV and had taken dibs on the remote. When she was getting ready to leave, she offered me the opportunity to change the channel, and said she was looking for CNN. I whipped out my Filo and gave her the channel number.

She was grateful, but gave me a seriously funny look. In the end, she and I had a lovely conversation and made a good connection. I find that pulling out my Filo frequently turns out to be a conversation starter, usually beginning with someone remarking, "my, what a long to-do list you have." I'd appreciate hearing, in the comments, if anyone else has experienced this phenomenon.

And of course, feel free to tell me what a sick puppy I am for using my Filo to keep track of my favorite TV channels at the bar.

18 April 2008

It's my bag, baby

Some Philofaxers are into taking pictures of what's in their bags; i.e. pocketbook, briefcase, backpack, messenger bag, or whatever bag we carry through our day. I've been promising for a while to do my own. And now I have.

Please add yours to the Philofaxy pool!

Java Jive

Here's something I did in my Filo that seemed like a good idea at the time...but in retrospect I realize is incredibly goofy. You see, I got a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas one year, and it came with an assortment of sample K-cups (individual coffee charges). As I drank them, I made a list of which ones I did and didn't like, so I'd know which ones to buy when the samples ran out. You can see the result here:

Other things to note in this photo: You can see how I date my pages by year in the upper-right corner. Since this is a list, I keep it behind the List tab; also, lavender paper is my default color for lists. (But I've ended up with other colors mixed in as well.)

What brought up this topic today? I found my local supermarket now carries the K-cups! As I raised my eyes to see them on the top shelf, I swear the heavens opened with a Hallelujah!

Which means I get to throw away this page!

14 April 2008

Happens to the Best of Us

As the ringleader of a Filofax blog, I'm chagrined to admit what I'm about to admit. You see, I work in an office where we take turns bringing in bagels for the group every Monday. This week was my week to buy the bagels.

One would think that a big post-it note in my personal Filo saying "Bagels Monday," and an inscription in my work Filo saying "My Bagel Week" would be enough. It wasn't. I showed up at work this morning unbageled, and one of my coworkers had already gone out to get them in my stead.

It just goes to prove yet again that Filofaxes don't help us if we don't look at them. Usually, if there's something I need to remember 1st thing in the morning, I'll leave my Personal Filofax open to it on my night table, with my glasses hooked into the Filofax's rings, to ensure that I don't start my day until I've been reminded of what I need to be reminded of. (I'm not a morning person, OK?) I didn't do that this time, and it showed.

On the bright side, I did remember to get my taxes done.

12 April 2008

Filofax Fitness

In previous years, there was a wider variety of preprinted Filofax refills. Project and Meeting planners, Shopping list forms, and more. There was probably an exercise planner, too. I'm not sure about Filofax, actually, but Franklin Covey was great for stuff like that. Now that fewer people are buying these paper products, companies have stopped printing these forms. We're expected to use our home computers to print our own forms, using software provided by Franklin Covey or homegrown solutions like those found at DIY Planner.

I'm becoming a regular exerciser, and I need a way to record the name of exercise or machine used, minutes spent or sets/reps of each exercise. Spaces for heart rate and calories burned would be good, too. Not for each exercise, but perhaps for the entire session. My trainer is going to take me to a gym and show me a routine soon, and I need a way to write down what I'm supposed to do on each machine so I can remember it, and so I can create a record of the exercise I do on my own.

There isn't anything quite like this at DIY Planner, although the site has an incredible array of forms for tracking Weight Watchers points and special health conditions like diabetes and migraine headaches. There's even a Meditation form! People have done a lot of work designing these forms.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be something devoted solely to exercise and activity. Furthermore, DIY Planner devotees mostly seem to be using 8.5 x 11, 5.25 x 8.5, or 3 x 5 (index card) sized formats. If you use a Personal Filofax size (3.25 x 6.75 inch), you've got a lot of tweaking to do.

Has anyone figured out a good way to track exercise in a Filo?

Realistically, I will probably create my own Personal forms using lined or grid Filofax paper and a ruler. But I'd love to see what anyone else is having success with!

06 April 2008

Great Find - PerAnnum.com

In a recent comment, our reader Dewanna Walser turned us on to a new source of six-ring agendas compatible with the Filofax Personal size - PerAnnum.com.

In Dewanna's words, these organizers are "handcrafted here in the USA (rare these days) and the quality is exceptional! You won't be disappointed. The only thing is that all colors and finishes are not always available at the same time -- some are made as they are ordered and may take an additional four weeks."

The organizers and other accessories (photo albums, checkbook covers, and so on) are made from Italian leather.

Thanks, Dewanna, for the great find. Who knew?

03 April 2008

Guest Blog: A5 Solution...or Not

We're very pleased to post this followup to the guest blog A5 Quandry. So many of us are using A5 (5.8 x 8.3 in.) size Filofaxes, we're sure many of you can relate to Laurie Huff's words.

Congratulations on the green A5 Finsbury, Laurie! It's a beautiful organizer!

So to update everyone on my A5 quandary: I wound up getting the A5 Finsbury in green. I really like it. The color is nice, and the ring size is great. There is plenty of room for me to stick in all of my stuff. And I LOVE the calendar layout. It will be great when I am really busy and have a lot of things to schedule.

But, but… by the time I received my A5, I no longer needed it! I ordered it at an extremely busy time in my life, and by the time I got it (a month later, when I got back to the US) the busy time was over. It seems to be "too much planner" for me right now. I moved all of my info over into it anyway, because I was excited about it. Then I tried carrying it around in my purse for a couple of weeks. It is just too big to drag around with me everywhere every day. So it sits on my desk. Which is perfect when I am at home. But to be honest, if I have to carry something around with me everywhere I would rather carry my black Personal size Filo.

Which sends me right back to my original problem: the Personal size calendar doesn't give me enough room to write when things get busy. I'm thinking of using my day-per-page dated Moleskine (which I am currently successfully using as a journal) as my calendar, and my Personal sized Filo as my reference/ address/ information book. During the busiest week last month I was using my Moleskine as my planner and journal, with my appointments and to-dos in a narrow column on the left side of the page and the rest of the page open for journal-writing for that day. I was pretty happy with that.

At the moment my life has slowed down so much that I hardly need a calendar at all, which is a strange situation for me to be in. But in a couple of months I will be preparing for yet another move overseas (long story!) so I think at that time I will begin to appreciate the planning power of the A5 size. We'll see. For now I have just about every calendar permutation I could possibly need: A5, Personal size, and page per day. Every time my life changes, my planner needs change too. With these 3 types at my disposal, I can use whatever works for me at the time. In the meantime I'm trying to just go with the flow!

30 March 2008

Behind the Routines Tab

I've detached myself from the FLYlady pod, and outfitted my Routines tab with sheets I made according to my own system. In the past, this system has worked better for me than FLYlady; although I've kept my FLYlady morning and evening routines in place.

In my system, I separate things into weekly, monthly, semiannual, and annual tasks. I've made a page for each, with a place to initial for the date completed. I've provided an illustration, since that's the best way to see how it works.

28 March 2008

Change is good, part deux

I've updated the tabs on both my Personal and A5 (Household) Filofaxes.

Personal: To Do, Projects, Diet, Ideas, Lists, and Tel (no A-Z tabs).

Household: Routines, Quickies (things you can do when you have 5 free minutes), Projects, Notes, Appliances, Emergency, followed by A-Z tabs.

24 March 2008

Change is good

I've recently decided, now that I no longer frequently switch between platforms (Palm to Franklin Covey, Franklin Covey to Circa, Circa to Moleskine), that the best part of using a Filofax is being able to make necessary and helpful changes within the same platform. For example, I started 2008 using a 2-days-per-page diary. (In 2007, I had used a ruled week-per-2-pages and wanted more room and freedom.)

Well, I found that the extra room didn't do much more than let my handwriting get bigger, and crowd out the pages behind my rear tabs (left). Today I switched back to week-per-2-pages (unruled), and feel good about the decision (right). It only took me about an hour to rewrite 3 months of appointments. I'm going to rewrite the to-dos from the dated pages onto...well, To Do pages, so that I can move the page ahead from week to week.

I'm going to use my To Do pages differently, and I'll have to redo my tabs, but that's for another post.

I now remember the feeling of week-per-2-page constriction, now that I don't have the extra Notes space, and the weekend days are especially compressed. I now believe that the 2-days-per-page is ideal for someone who has almost nothing in any tabs except the diary (not me), or for someone who has a 7-days-a-week schedule with lots of clients, appointments, or events to track (at this time in my life, anyway, not me either).

It's actually very easy to change formats in the middle of a year with a Filo. Just take out all the unused pages in your current diary, and add the new format from there on. No copying necessary. I've done it that way before. In this case, I decided to use the switch as an opportunity for cleanup, so I rewrote.

15 March 2008

Guest Blog: A5 Quandry

Another from the always articulate Laurie Huff...

Here I am again, rethinking my Filofax for the millionth time. Now I think I have found my solution. I think it is time to upgrade to the A5. I recently realized why my Personal sized Filo calendar just doesn't work for me. It is not set up the way that my mind works. I visualize the week with the days as columns going across the page. Once I discovered that this is the only way I can effectively remember what I have to do, or even keep track of what day it is, I felt a huge amount of relief. That calendar format does not exist in the Personal size, only in the A5. And even if it did, I would still need the extra writing room afforded by the A5. That debate is over. It's not my Filo's fault that it doesn't work for me. "Don't cry little Filo. It's not you, it's me. Really."

But the end of one debate brings on a whole new one. Specifically, which A5 binder will I get? To be honest, none of them really turn me on. I would prefer a dark brown one, but the only A5s to be found in brown are the Kendal (too masculine) and the Classic. My problems with the Classic are that puffy cover, and mostly the small ring size. It only has a 1 inch capacity, which is just too small for me. I like to put lots of things into my binder, so I need all the room I can get. The only A5 binders with a larger ring capacity (at a mere ¼ inch larger) are the Guildford (which comes only in black, again too masculine and definitely too executive-looking for me), and the Finsbury.

Okay, so the Finsbury. I like the price, by far the cheapest of the leather A5 binders. I like the larger ring size. But I just can't find a color I like. The pink is too frilly for me. I'm not sure what the green would be like, would I get tired of it? Black is okay, but again a little too masculine. Tangerine is definitely out, that color and I just do not get along. Maybe red, although I never wear anything red and as my husband says, I'm "not a red person."

This is an investment for me, and I want a binder I will be able to use and enjoy for years to come. Unfortunately for me I live nowhere near a retailer, so I can't see these in person before I buy online. I will be using this for personal, home, projects, travel etc. I prefer to have everything in one binder. Which is why I'm concerned the 1 inch rings might not work for me. I can't decide if I should get the chocolate Classic and cram it full, or if I should settle on a Finsbury color I can live with.

I want to ask all you folks with an A5: what style binder do you have? Are the 1 inch rings actually a problem? Any advice for me? Meanwhile my search continues…

16 February 2008

Thanks for the input!

I just want to thank everyone who answered our recent poll on "How do you Filo?" I urge everyone with an interest in Filofaxes to read the responses.

The responses prove that there are as many unique ways to use a Philofax as there are people. At the same time, there are some things in common. Most of us have used another ring-bound system -- like Day Runner or DayTimer -- in the past. Many (myself included) have also used an electronic organizer.

But we've all come back to Filofax, and somehow it feels like coming home.

06 February 2008

How do you Filo?

This week, at a reader's suggestion, I'm trying something new -- a Roll Call!

In the comments for this post, tell us the following (or any that apply):

- How long have you been using Filofax?

- What size(s)/model(s) do you use?

- What calendar format works for you

- What's behind your tabs?

I'll go first:

- Have been using Filofax, or DayRunner, or FranklinCovey on and off since the mid-80's.

- A Black A5 Finsbury for work, a Red Personal Finsbury for personal, and another A5 for household.

- Mostly, the week-per-2-pages, horizontal format. My least favorite is the vertical format week-per-2-pages, although that's what I'm using in my work A5 now; it's the easiest to get for A5. In my Personal, I'm experimenting with 2-days per page, and I think my dream format would be 2-days per page in A5!

- I've talked about my tabs frequently in my posts, but I'll sum it up here. In my Personal, I have Projects, Maybe, Ideas, Lists, Life (my code for health and fitness), and Tel. In my work A5, I have a tab for each of 3 major projects, plus To Do, Projects, and Notes, plus I use the A-Z tabs for contacts and reference info.

03 February 2008

Filofax for the home

I've just been away for a week, in a place where I, surprisingly, didn't have much Internet access. That's why there were no new posts last week. But I sincerely appreciate all of the recent comments -- check out the previous post if you haven't read them!

One of our readers asked me to explain how I use my household Filofax, so I'll report on that now.

It's an A5 Filo, with a week-per-2-pages calendar. I prefer the horizontal format for this book, but all my local store had was vertical.

Basically, the book is supposed to be a Filofax version of the Flylady "Control Journal," but it's still a work-in-progress. On the calendar pages, I record each day's routine tasks (:15 paperwork, :15 decluttering, and so on), as well as both my husband's and my appointments, and the dinner menu. I update it once a week, on Sunday.

The rest of the book is supposed to hold emergency numbers and other contact info, evacuation instructions, and so on. Flylady.net has instructions for preparing all of this, but I just haven't done it yet.

And most nights, do I collapse into bed before doing all of the day's tasks?


20 January 2008

Well Enough Alone

It's time to come clean. A few days into 2008, just before I started posting here again, I had a Philofaxical crisis. After one-and-a-half years of all-Filo-all-the-time, I was one trip to the stationery store away from abandoning it all.

It all started one day at work, the first day after Christmas break. I was planning my work schedule for the next few months by projecting my upcoming deadlines. I used a monthly wall calendar to write down the milestone dates and hung it near my desk where I'd be sure to see it. Yes, I write the same milestones in the A5 Filofax I use for work, but then I don't see them far enough in advance. That's one weakness of the weekly Filo format, and it did affect my work performance last year.

I then flipped through my Filo, with a tab for general Admin To-Dos, and a tab for each major project containing both To Do pages and notes, and wrote down a list of things to do today on a big piece of paper. Another weakness of my system -- no instant way to ferret out what needs to be done TODAY.

You can see where this is going. The voices in my head start chattering...all I really need is a simple wall calendar and a running To Do list. I can keep my notes for each project in a file folder...wouldn't that be easier than maintaining a tab for each project and lugging a heavy book everywhere? A composition book for meeting notes...

I started making a list for everything I'd need to replace my 3 Filos (work, personal, and household). The list almost filled a large sheet of paper, and it included a small Moleskine to replace my Personal Filo. Well, those are already sold out for '08. Do I really want to change everything over, when I already have almost 2 years' worth of notes in Filo format? Do the weaknesses of my system really warrant starting over with completely different tools?

There was a time where I made lists like the above one or more times a month. But just as that kind of tweaking becomes an addiction, staying on track eventually becomes the path of least resistance. I started by promising to stick with my Filo system for just the last half of 2006. Then, the entire calendar year of 2007. Done. Now, another year -- 2008 -- is no big deal. I can just keep doing what I'm doing, with the option to change at the start of 2009.

But I'm going to add one thing to my Filo system -- one of those Vertical Year Planners. And I put that list I made away for 2009 -- in the pocket of my A5 Filo.