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…


  1. Hi Inky and Lauri!

    Thank you! Finally some drugs for my addiction!

    I have an A5 Filofax. It's an A5 called Metropol, a leather-look filo wich comes in black and brown. i don't know what ringsize it has. The Metropol fits every style you like.

    Here in The Netherlands prices are about 50 euro for the metropol filofax.

    Lovely Rose

  2. I have the A5 Finsbury in Black. It's big sure, but it allows me to print off my own pages very easily.

    As you say you have greater flexibility for the calendar format. I print mine off from Outlook, punch the pages and pop them in my binder.

    The black leather still looks like new after two years of use. I use a little spray polish on it every so often and it cleans up nicely.


  3. About the green Finsbury - I love green and choose it over other colors every chance I get, however, there is something about the Finsbury in green that just didn't work for me. The online pics are a bit deceiving in that the pebbled pattern is simply too busy when you see it in person and it is more like a pattern than a finish. The shade is a very light, bright emerald. Also, I was a bit disappointed in that the seam around the inside front cover did not catch the interior pocket completely. If you like to stuff the interior pockets you may have some trouble with the seams.

    I soon returned it and went back to my personal Eton. My favorite binder in recent years - I just wish it were available in something other than black. I remember another blogger mentioned that the quality of the current Filofax offerings pale in comparison to that of several years ago. I completely agree but I'm still hooked. If you really want to graduate to the A5, invest in a good one. You won't be disappointed.

  4. Hi Inky and others,

    Just a fwe weeks ago I went back from Outlook and Palm to Succes. I wrote down here that it felt like coming home. But: I now concluded that a paper organizer doesn't fit to me! It soon was a mess so that I forgot todo tasks on the right time. And I forgot the repeating appointments which, of course, ditn't repeat automatically.

    However I am fond of paper organizers and love to see them I went back to Outlook and Palm. Now I can use repeted appointments and tasks, insert information at tasks and have hundreds of adresses with me.

    A leather binder looks more beautiful and interesting than a Palm. But the Palm in combination with Outlook suits best for me.

    I'm sorry, loved to discuss the Succes and Philofax and sure will go on with reading this interesting blog. But I'm no longer one of the paper users.

  5. eBay is my new-found friend for Filofax binders. I was able to pick up a brand new black A5 Bridle from eBay, as well as a used but decent condition black Deskfax Sandhurst (which cleaned up very nicely with a couple treatments of neetsfoot oil and some beeswax) and a brand new burgundy Deskfax Richmond.

    I passed on a brand new black Deskfax Buckingham that was offered in eBay Austria (which I'm now kicking myself for, it went for about 80 euro, I think), but the same seller has a very wide variety of Filofax binders on sale.

    I've also come across excellent deals on discontinued binders on eBay, such as both black and brown Balmorals. I have saved searches for the types in which I'm interested.

    Keep an eye out on eBay. Filofax doesn't make anywhere near the range they used to offer. Also check every Filofax retailer you can easily get to, especially ones which have been around a long time. They often have older stock of A5 bindersin styles that aren't available any more.

    Some of my favorites are the Portobello, Balmoral, Buckingham, Sandhurst, and Pimlico. They're out there if you look around, though admittedly it make take awhile.

  6. Yes, what amper said! I scored a lovely choco brown A5 Balmoral, one of the older models, on ebay. Lots of pockets and such, and the pockets have a fabric lining.

    I also have an older A5 sandhurst that I bought years ago, a caramel color. It's my favorite.

    The Bridle is also very nice, although I don't own one, I would chose it if I were in the market and found one. I have seen those on ebay as well.

    Perhaps they will begin to make them like they used to... but keep looking around in the meantime. Good luck!

  7. Hi Leen --

    When I made the switch from Palm to paper, it took me a year to fully get comfortable with paper. The repeating appointments are indeed one of the biggest challenges.

    Although when I used the Palm I felt safe having hundreds of addresses with me, when I switched to Filo it turned out that I don't use more than 20 a year! As long as I have my full address book on my computer, I don't need to carry it all with me.

    I have a feeling that paper may come back into your life someday. :)

  8. Hi Lauri-

    No one has addressed the ring size issue so if I may: Ring size makes an incredible difference for those who like to keep a year's records or so in one spot. As well, if you use the Filo for holding receipts, outside papers, etc. it makes a difference.

    I have a Personal sized Filo from 1990 that actually as a 1.75" ring. It was bought in France and I have never seen another. It is an absolute workhorse and will easily held the old day per two pages I loved and miss.

    I agree with checking eBay, etc. but from what you write, I highly recommend the larger ring. There are a few things in which size matters and this is one :-)


  9. Whoops, I forgot the ring size issue. My main Filofax binder has for many years been my A5 Windsor Filofax System Organiser, which has 1" rings (at least, so far as I can tell without removing all the pages to measure more exactly). I've never really found the need for more space, but I'm sure I probably wouldn't mind it. The Bridle I picked up from eBay has the 1.25" rings, so I guess I'll find out soon enough once I switch.

  10. Hi Inky,

    Thanks for your reply. I am happy now with the way I can use Outlook and Palm but of course it has to do with the fact that I am used to it. But if this Palm (my 3rd one) will be out of order may be I'll search another way. As I already told: I love these beautiful leather binders of Succes or Philofax. And I love writing with a pen instead of typing or using a stylus. So I thing you are right and someday I'll join you....

  11. This post made me laugh as I'm looking for *SMALLER* ring sizes for my A5.. I'd love an "executive" A5... I love the paper size, but the weight of the filo was too much for me to carry around. i'm not pleased with my current method.

    good luck.

  12. I tried a A5 Filofax for a bit - the Graduate model I bought in 2000. I've occasionally tried the A5 format on and off ever since and I keep coming back to the same problems:

    A5 means a big binder and its heavy. It takes up too much space in my work bag.

    The range of papers is even worse than those of the personal size.

    It encourages you to print things from your PC onto A5 Filofax paper which I find ridiculous. There is nothing to be gained from doing in nearly any situation. You start doing this you just start churning out your own bureaucracy which excessive organisation tends to encourage.

  13. I have a chocolate A5 classic. The smaller ring doesn't bother me--in fact it encourages me to process papers that are in there and archive them when done, rather than just carting them around with me. The look is truly classic and I don't think I would be happy with a smaller planner.

    For all the talk of repeating appointments, I have to say it is less time for me to write them down a month at a time in my Filofax than to fix the synch with my old Palm if it duplicated them/screwed them up/erased them. Technology does not always save us time.

  14. Hi Leen,

    As I made a similar switch and used to be a heavy user of pda's, outlook etc., I had similar issues. Recurring appointments, tasks...nice that outlook makes them automatically, but on the other hand...it doesn't hurt writing a bit and be aware of what you're scheduling. When you're writing them down you go through your agenda as well. But yes, it is true paper requires another discipline than digital. Also it depends a bit if you work with your agenda alone or if you're sharing it via e.g. exchange server. In such a case digital is far more comfortable. I used to work with exchange and was required to have my agenda up to date on the server so it's easier for other staff members to trace you when they need you or need your schedule. In my current working environment it would be advised to do the same but it ain't implemented that way as well I got fed up with improper functioning equipment/software, laptop crashes, re-installs that I switched back to paper. I work 6-7 days per week IT and business consulting and then it also feels good sometimes not to look at a screen but at a piece of paper that you wrote yourself. I also tried to work purely on my laptop as this bloody device is almost switched on 24/7 but no working of the screen all the time just didn't suite me.

  15. Hi Iwan,
    I indeed has to use Outlook and Exchange. Everything has to be up to date on te server. With my laptop I also can use Outlook at home. You are right about another discipline. And I think the digital discipline fits me the best as long as I has to use the Exchange-server.
    Thanks for your comment.

  16. Hi Leen,

    I think there's a hard fact in the case of working with systems like exchange, that working digital is just the most effective way. I remember the time that one of my employers gave all staff a pda in order to promote working with exchange, those working on paper rejected, complained etc, but later on they switched. In case we would be applying exchange here I most probably would be working digital again as well, same as you, but currently somehow, despite of my nerdy weaknesses for digital gadgets, nice 3rd party apps I have come back to the filofax...but naturally I also find enough nerdy gadgets around that area too. So all together the choice for paper/digital has a balancing between what is effective and what does one make feel comfortable in the end.

  17. Hi Iwan,
    I like reading this blog so you understand I like Filofaxes and other organizers. Just read Inky's latest blog and when I see the picture that came with it I think that indeed one day I will return to such a thing. For now, as you said, digital fits me the best. And, like a Filofax, you can change the way you use Outlook or Palm. Since I use Outlook I changed the way I use tasks several times. In fact it is more easy to change the categories in Outlook than changing the tabs in a Philofax.
    There are more 'digital toys'that I love and use but I also love paper. That's why I always carry a little notebook and a pen with me.

  18. I have a Personal Slimline Filofax that I don't use. But I want to use it for something - maybe I'll stick it in my purse and use it for notes.

    I had a hard time deciding what size to stick with. Eventually I made up my own - Classic size, week to two pages, with the days on the left page and the notes page on the right, no lines on the notes page and no calendar there. Then I print out some photos onto plain paper and stick them in amongst the pages. Add an envelope or two, some extra pages for note-taking, and take the thing to the print shop to be spiral bound. I've used that for several years and like it lots. It's thin, no padded leather binder, and fits in my purse nicely.

    My problem now is that I have the Personal Filofax. What to do with it? A diary, maybe. Note-taking, or maybe something else. It's really too small a format for me to use for my appointments, but I don't know what to use it for.

  19. kevin, ITA with what you said about creating your own bureaucracy. I have to be careful of this myself! I tend to micromanage my tabbed sections a little too much sometimes.