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!


  1. Laurie, I've been in the same position...order something, and by the time it comes, I no longer need it.

    My recommendation is -- for anyone in this situation -- keep it. Six months or a year from now, you may very well have a need for this larger format.

    I know it's happened to me! One of the beauties of Filofaxes is they're always there when you need them.

  2. ITA Nan! Except in my case, I think it's going to be more like a couple of months until I'll need all the Filofax power I can get! Another busy time is right on the horizon, and then I think I will be very glad to have the A5.

  3. This comment is a bit off topic, but I have found a lovely new replacement to my black personal size binder. We had discussed the current Filofax range in earlier posts and noted the selection and quality is not as good as it was several years ago. I searched Google for green binders and found PerAnnum.com. They carry a range of leather products by a company called Raika. Some of you may have heard of them, but it was new to me. I order a 'personal' size lime green binder and could not be more thrilled.

    One note, though -- I chucked the insides of the binder upon receiving it and inserted my current Filofax stuff. For me, nothing beats Filo inserts and the filler in the new binder is Scully I think. Too many lined pages to suit my taste.

    Anyway, back to the binder... all their products come in a wide array of finishes and colors. They also make several other personal and business accessories in the same coordinating colors and finishes like checkbook covers, business card holders, padfolios, photo albums, etc. Each piece is 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 addition four weeks.

    The one thing I really like is the notepad in the back of the binder. I've never had one in the Filo and it has been extremely useful for those times when you need a lot of extra writing space. The notes can be inserted behind the tabs or filed away for reference.

    Take a look when you have a chance!

  4. Hi, I use (and love) my A5 for my personal and work stuff; however, it doesn't go everywhere with me. I carry Pocket Kennsington Filo in my purse (so that it's with me at all times). It serves as a wallet with note pages. It's for notes, jots, and stuff to get moved into the A5 when I get back to it. Before shopping, I will make specific shopping lists in it. The Pocket has my insurance cards, store receipts until I'm back at my desk, any checks I am taking to the bank for deposit. It has info I need when I'm at a store, such as the filter size for the HVAC at home, and a movie rental list, etc. You get the idea. If and when I travel for personal, the Pocket goes with me and the A5 stays at home. Because of the Pocket's size, it's convenient to keep with me at all times.

    Oh and thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts - I'm a big fan of this blog. : )

  5. Hi Muse -- Thank you for your good words. What a great description of how you use the pocket Filo. I used to use a Turquoise Pocket Finsbury the same way. I now use a Personal in addition to an A5, but I have that Pocket in reserve. I know it will be part of my life again.

    That's what keeps me addicted to Filofax. If I stopped using it, I'd have to start carrying a wallet AND a notepad for shopping lists AND a pocket address book (I don't trust my cell phone for that info). The Filofax is actually less to carry, I believe.

  6. I have a black microfiber Sterling pocket that I use the same way as Muse. It's my GTD ubiquitous capture device and wallet, insurance card carrier, etc. I like the microfiber as it's not bulky.

    Just wish I could find a personal or an A5 in the same material.

  7. Hi!

    My A5 Filofax stays most of the time at home. If i'm out and i need to write an appointment or something in it, i'll write it on a appointmentcard and i am planning to take a small notepad with me so i can write something down and rewrite it in the A5. I also use a lot of post-its.

    Now we're in the middle of moving house and 'my A5 is traveling with me between my old house and my new appartment. It holds now also our mail and bills. I carry my filofax arrond in a big shopper with my 1 year old sons diapers, food and nursery things.



  8. Inky-

    Please forgive me for writing what may appear to be a commercial ad here and please feel free to delete it...hopefully after you read it.

    I have been a FiLo-HeAd for years; from the appearance of your photo, much longer than you. I have amassed a collection of binders and would like to sell a few. Included are a few Louis Vuitton, a 75th Anniversary Filofax (with the beautiful wooden box it came in) and a Mont Blanc piece or two. All or personal or A5 size. Can you please tell me the best place to sell them? I don't like doing eBay and hope they go to people who can really appreciate them.


  9. Laurie, if the A5 is too bulky for you, have you thought of investing in some undated Day Planner sheets for your Personal Filofax? These are listed on the US Filofax site and you get 2 pages per day with space for appointments, notes and tasks. Since it sounds like you periodically have more and less hectic times, these might work to expand the diary when needed without you having to swap between different formats.

  10. @anon - Thanks for the reminder about how light the microfiber ones are. There's a Filofax called Metro - that might be microfiber.

    @rose - Good luck with your move. It sounds as if you're really well organized, and that your Filofax is a part of that.

    @scott - Not an ad at all. Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for you. Maybe one of our other readers will. I used to like Yahoo auctions better than eBay, but they're closed. Maybe some readers here will be interested in what you're trying to sell. And we know they'd give your Filos a good home!

  11. Scott-- Over at DIY Planner they have a bazaar where you can list things for sale or wanted to buy. You might check that out.

  12. I love my black A5 Finsbury. I use it for everything and carry it with me wherever I go. I've used a number of different planners and Filo is my favorite, by far!!

  13. Hi Pam, thanks for the suggestion. I have definitely considered putting in day per page sheets into my Filo when things get busy. I guess I haven't because my personal size is already so fat I can hardly put anything else in there. If I did some streamlining I could do it. My main problem with the day per page is lack of forward-planning. I might reconsider this, definitely something to think about! Could simplify my system a lot. Thanks!

  14. Thanks for the tips everyone. And "Inkster"...thanks as always for a fun site.

  15. Laurie - I love the ring size on the A5 Finsbury, too. It holds so much and creates a feeling of freedom.

  16. A question---
    I'm not sure where this question belongs--I actually use almost all A5 for things that I'm going to be printing out, as smaller formats would require special paper and hole punches. I get a ream of 8.5 x 11 inch paper sliced in half at Office Depot and I have the hole punch so everything fits into my binders. Tho for this size I don't use Filofax--I use regular 3-ring binders. I have a pocket and a personal Filofax and am trying to decide what to do with the personal size.

    Thanks for the information posted here. I've tried and failed to have my entire life in one binder, but apparently other people don't manage that either, so I don't feel so bad. It looks like we need to divide up our organizational needs between different binders.

    I have a pocket Filofax that I use as a wallet and a Ubiquitous Capture Device.

    And a spiral agenda that fits into my purse.

    And a binder for business things that I leave in the car or at home.

    And a binder with the Flylady Control Journal with printouts on housekeeping and productivity issues etc from various websites.

    And I have a stack of productivity and organizational printouts that won't fit into the Control Journal.

    Maybe I need to break out more binders and divide things up even more. I'd also like to have a binder devoted to my favorite recipes.

    How do other people deal with this? Is it my imagination or is this a bigger problem for women? With our work and household interests? Do you have a stack of binders for different aspects of your life, piled up under the coffee table or on a bookshelf in the living room? Have you gone through a process of getting binders for different uses or areas of your life? How has that worked out? How do you live with them all? I'm decluttering now and getting the house tidied up and wondering how to deal with the binders. And maybe I should just throw things away, like all the printouts on decluttering--they seem to contribute to the clutter but I feel the need to browse through them for motivation. It feels like I take three steps forward and two back.

    Help, please. How do you manage your binders and Filofaxes?


  17. Hi Anonymous - I understand how you feel about clutter; I feel that way most days myself. However, I'm going to give you the advice that I give myself: You're more organized than you think you are. A series of binders containing all your information over the years isn't a problem -- it's fantastic! Your binders aren't the clutter -- other stuff is! Your binders contain a huge amount of thinking in a relatively small amount of space.

    You may not think you have a use for them right now, but I'd like to suggest that you will someday. If your collection is in your way, I suggest getting a plastic file bin to store them in. It won't take up a lot of space, and you can neatly store it out of mind until you're ready to look through it again.

    I wish I had such a well-organized compendium of information as you do!

  18. Hi Anonymous,

    I know people who have lots of binders, especially for home stuff. A Flylady binder/ Control Journal. A binder for info like kids' school contacts, schedules, local info, etc. A binder for household appliances warranties, maintenance records, etc. A binder for home maintenance/ renovations (with paint or fabric swatches in case you need to get more sometime, you can remember exactly what you used where). A binder for Christmas cards and preparations. In short, you can have binders for everything, whatever you are into, whatever you need. Many people have a small address book separate from their agenda/ planner. I prefer to have mine all in one since I tend to use them at the same time (calling to schedule things, etc). The trick is to find what works for you, which can take some trial and error. And, what I have discovered, is that every time you life changes, your information-managing needs change too. Good luck finding what works for you, and feel free to ask, people here have great ideas!

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  20. Update on my A5 situation: I am falling deeply in love with my A5. We are already gearing up for our next move, so now I am using the A5 full-time. When I first got it I transferred most of my information into it from my Personal size, but held off on really getting into the details because I didn't feel fully committed to using it. But now that I am exclusively using the A5, I have filled in the details, which makes the planner even more effective at organizing my life. I am so glad to have the larger size, and already the weekly column calendar format is helping to keep me sane. So yes, it's big, but I also have a lot of information to manage so I'm very happy that I moved up to the big system!

  21. Hi Laurie

    Nice to read that you are in love with your A5. I am still indecisive whether to change from Personal to A5, and open for arguments.

  22. Thanks for the encouragement. It's great to have the chance to see how others think about things and know I'm not off on a tangent. I guess I'll try to think of my binder collection as a testament to my flexibility and perseverance -- not a reminder of my fickleness. At least I'm not buying expensive binders (except for the two Filofaxes). For my last purchase I went to Office Depot and bought a three-ring address book for $15. It's been a good deal. Of course the Filofax forms don't fit in there but it has been used for printouts and other reference so no prob.

    I hope more people post the way they use their binders so I'll get some ideas. Meanwhile, I'm setting up one binder for recipes, one for FlyLady, one for daily business and personal stuff, and I have the pocket one for notes and reminders etc.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    GG (formerly Anon)