01 July 2009

Alternative Filofax Uses

Hello everybody, welcome to my first post as a Philofaxy blogger! Long time commenter, first time blogger. I’m going to be offline for a couple of weeks and wanted to be sure to post before I leave for my vacation in glorious Scotland!

Speaking of Scotland, last December before my holiday trip to the Highlands I posted about my conversion of my retired Personal Buckingham into my self-made Scotland Guidebook. You can read some details about that on the Free For All Friday for December 5, 2008, here.

To update: I spent the holidays in Scotland and also in March I took a trip to London for the first time, and am happy to report that my Filofax UK Guidebook (to include London) is great. I have tabbed sections for all the regions of Scotland as well as the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and now London. I have maps, sections for notes, lists (places yet to see, websites about Scotland, books to read about the area and history, etc.)

One of my most useful sections is a record of trips I have taken. I write the details of my upcoming trip on the first page behind the tab: Flight details, where I am staying and how much it costs, reservation numbers, rental car details, and the current exchange rate. When I am on my trip and checking in at the desk of the airline/ rental car/ hotel, I have all of my reservation info right there, including the dates of when I paid online or over the phone, and all of my reservation numbers. This is obviously very useful while I am on the trip, but it also makes a great record for future reference. When I take another trip, I add the new info page on top of the old one, so this section contains a reverse-chronological record of every place I stayed, how much it cost, and what the exchange rate was during that trip.

In my regional tabbed sections I write places I visited, how to get there, restaurants that I would like to eat at again, things I did not do but want to do in future trips, etc. The accumulation of information in each section is very useful on subsequent trips, and a wonderful record of past trips as well.

My Filofax UK Guidebook was inspired by the Moleskine city books, which are fill-in-yourself guidebooks for various cities around the world. They have maps and tabbed sections for restaurants, accommodation, sites, etc. But the classic problem with Moles is, what do you do if a section fills up? This is where a Filo excels. The flexibility of the refillable binder, tabbed dividers, and even different colors of refill paper make classification easy. And you never have to worry about a section filling up. I think it would be fun to make a guidebook for the city where you live, to record things to do, restaurants you have enjoyed, delivery numbers, museums, or other attractions in your area. This would be especially useful for guests to borrow when they come to visit.

Using Filofaxes as DIY guidebooks makes me think of other possible uses for Filos. Another use for a Filofax which I haven’t tried myself but sounds like a good idea is as a wine journal. Again, this is where a Filo would be perfect, because you could classify your wines any way you want. There could be tabbed sections for classifications such as Red/ White/ Rose/ Sparkling, or by type such as Merlot, Cabernet, etc. or even by place such as French, Californian, Chilean etc. Then you could subdivide your tabbed sections using the different colors of paper. For example in the French section you could use a different paper color for areas like Bordeaux, Alsace, etc.

This is just an example to illustrate the ways a Filofax can be used. The combination of the refillable binder, tabbed dividers, various colors of paper, forms, accessories, and even computer software result in infinite possible uses for this system. Do you use your Filofax(es) in ways beyond the usual planner/ address book? Tell us about it!

Hope you all have a good two weeks and I will post again when I get back!


  1. My old Winchester Personal size Filofax is my French phrase book and lesson notes. I also keep a month per page calendar in there as well to make notes about lesson dates/times.

    My wife gave me some notes that she received from the British Trade and Industry Association for businesses doing business with France, these where in Filofax size and already punched.. perfect. They have some useful phrases for everyday French.

    Have a great holiday Laurie.
    Steve en France...

  2. I am excited. Welcome to both Laurie and Steve as co-moderators. I have often thought how difficult it would be to be the sole person to run one of these blogs and the tremendous amount of time it takes. Inky should be commended for sharing her space.

    Two excellent posts, both stimulate the thought of not only how to be more productive, but more creative as well.

    In regard to Laurie's guidebook for trips, I have started using Polaroid's Pogo printer with my digital camera and phone camera. Very useful to illustrate memorable scenes or locations. I even take pictures of meals and table settings in my favorite eating spots. You'd be surprised at the increased service and quality of food you get if they thing you are a food critic and they will be written about. The little Pogo pictures are 2"X3", so they don't take much room.

    Happy travels Laurie, and again welcome Steve.


  3. Hi there,
    I am a long-time lurker, and this post has inspired me to post for the first time. I am a transplanted Chicagoan living in Edinburgh, and just wanted to say hi.

    Laurie, I love love your travel filo idea! I think I might need to steal this idea and add a new section to my filo.

    I hope you have a lovely trip to Bonny Scotland. Bring your rain gear - it's been very very damp here this week!


  4. Wow Kate, you are living my dream! I would love to live in Edinburgh, such a great city. And thanks for the rain advice. We always expect to get rained on at least part of the time. Luckily I like rain, so the climate is perfect for me!

  5. Wow, what an inspiring post! And such a great idea. My boyfriend got the London Mole for our trip a while ago. He enjoyed it and I couldn't stop coveting it while he used it to write about the restaurants and places we visited. (He's not the type of person who likes to write at all). But it would've been stupid for me to get one as well, since I rely on my Filo for almost everything. Being a pocket, it is a bit limited on the thickness of each section, so I try not to add too many of them.
    But after reading this post, I have now the perfect excuse to get a new Filo and not crave those pretty city Moles.
    Thank you, Laurie :D

  6. The idea of alternative uses for Filofax binders is endless. You could use one as a commonplace book, as a special recipe book, as a project book with a tab for each project along with details and information and progress notes, (you could use a code system to reference projects (or anything you wanted)in an everyday planner). You could use one for writing stories, where you keep descriptions behind one tab, name, place and character ideas behind another tab, plot lines behind another... I have tended to keep a lot of info in my everyday Filo that I don't especailly need, and so thinking about alternative uses has allowed my mind to think about other ways to keep this information that I want in a place that is easily accessible and I can put a reference in my Filo as to where to find it if I need too, thus saving a heap of room.

  7. I keep a slimline filo specifically for use when I travel to London.
    Inside is a tube map, A-Z street map sheets and a map of tourist attractions, as well as lists of restaurants and other places to visit.
    I keep a copy of the latest train timetable inside the front cover, and slot my tickets in there too.

  8. I use a nylon Ffx Personal I picked up second hand to keep some notes relating to my work, the advantage being that I can move whole sections about, and intersperse pages, without needing computerised records.

    Filofaxes have so much potential past the usual diary/address book, the only boundary is your imagination...