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.


  1. What I've decided to do is simply use the "Month On Two Pages" diary in conjunction with my normal diary (currently "Week On One Page", as my primary daily calendar is in my iPhone).

    As far as "To Do"'s are concerned, I simply keep a sheet (or two or three) of rules paper inserted in the current week layout of the weekly calendar. Usually, a white sheet for my personal To Do list, a yellow sheet for my Work To Do list, and a blue sheet for a Shopping List. I never have any trouble remembering to check my individual project To Do lists, because if they weren't projects that were in current progress, they wouldn't be in my Filofax.

    As far as replacing my stock of Filofax gear, I've already decided to manufacture custom inserts. I'm currently using four Filofaxes, a Pocket Kensington for my car, a Personal Buckingham (which just went to my wife), an A5 FSO Windsor for my primary book, and a Deskfax Sandhurst that I just got off of eBay is going to start the experiment to move up to a larger size.

    If I end up not liking the B5 size, I've got an A5 Bridle and an A5 Finsbury in reserve that will become a second A5 book for household or my band.

    After years of examining other systems, I'm back to Filofax, and I will only be switching to the system of my own custom manufacture, which is admittedly heavily Filofax-inspired, while still using Filofax products along with it.

  2. I am back to using a paper organizer after about ten years with Palm PDAs. I had previously used various size Day-Timers. I experimented with a customized Moleskine. I liked the pocket size but missed having my address book with me.

    I have settled on a Personal Hamilton, two pages per week. I use blank sheets inserted into the current week for lists. They are trimmed short at the top and hole punched on both sides so I can move them opposite whichever page the current day is on.

    I am of the "everything in one organizer" school. If it is not all in one place, I would miss something.

  3. Same story here! I tried the vertical format, also, monthly, weekly, pda, moleskine, gmail/calendar.

    In the end, I ended up retiring the filofax and using a combination gmail/calendar and moleskine notebook.
    I Still have issues to iron out and deadlines to watch out for. I find it a must to save 10-15 minutes daily either at the end of the day or early the next day to refresh and maintain some sanity in my schedules.


  4. I love the look of Filofax but they aren't available near me; I'm looking online to buy one but I'd like to know where they are made first. Could someone please post?

    Thank you,

  5. Filofax originated in England. My binder is older and manufactured there. The pages I have bought recently were printed in China. Regardless, they have a nice, "old world" look and feel.

  6. Hi Inky, this is exactly the issue that has driven me into the arms of the Classic size Go Mom organizer. It's definitely not as cool looking as a Filofax, but I've never seen any other system that allows me to see the entire month, detailed week, and To Do lists all in one view when the book is open. Now my To Do list doesn't get neglected behind some tab, I don't forget the bill that's due next Monday (instead of turning my weekly page to see it's due when it's already too late), etc. For a busy schedule and forward planning, it can't be beat. Something else I love about having my To Do lists situated in view along with my weekly schedule is that I can see gaps in appointments when I have time to actually do those To Dos. Right now it's the only thing keeping me sane as I prepare to move internationally. I can track what I need to get done and when, over the next several weeks. I can tick off my tasks and stay on my timeline because I can see it all at once. I daresay my personal sized Filo is in danger of being relegated to a reference book and being taken out of active duty!

  7. Hey Inky, you say you have 3 Filos, Personal, A5 for work, and household. What size and style do you have for household, what types of things do you have in it, and how is it working for you? (If you don't mind me asking...)

  8. It's me again. I have reached the end of my personal quandary. Some background: My sister shares my planner sickness and we are constantly debating the merits of Filofax vs Moleskine vs whatever else. She too was looking into the Go Mom planner because it is so darn functional. But the romance ended when she summed it up as "the mom jeans of planners." Yes it's functional and comfortable, but it is not classy or cool. I mentioned this to my husband and he said, "She's right. It's not sexy and cool like your Filofax." End of debate. Just goes to show that no matter how well something functions, it still has to have style. So now it's all-Filo, all the time for me. I have decided to resolve my issues this way: 1) I'll use my wall calendar a lot more than I currently do, for upcoming bills, deadlines, pack-out dates, etc to avoid surprises and stay on track. 2) I'll write smaller in my Personal size Cotton Cream Week on 2 pages. 3) If my To Do space each week gets filled up, I'll add a post-it note. I'm actually looking forward to NOT switching calendars all the time (I switched something like 7 times last year alone) because it makes it really hard to look up dates of things that happened when I have to search several different places. So now my commitment to my black leather Personal size Filo is renewed. I'll use it until it falls apart, and then I'll replace it. Unless of course I decide I need the A5 size...

  9. Hi amper, Charlotte, Joseph, ikd! Welcome one and all.

    Amper -- I love the idea of keeping to-do lists within the weekly spread, especially color-coding the pages. I was just on a trip where I decided not to take my bulky A5 work Filo with me, and your solution would have been a good way to multitask in my Personal.

    Laurie -- Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I feel bad that your sis made you feel less-than-cool. I'm all for doing what works, no matter what people think. On the other hand, I definitely approve of all-Filo-all-the-time! (But I've also switched 7 times some years, too.)

  10. LOL Inky! I felt better once I realized that my struggle was really about my own identity rather than my planner, with the strong belief that my planner reflects my personality. I felt that by giving up my Filo I was giving up the independent world traveler I used to be before I had kids. Once I realized I'm still that person, my internal struggle ended!