03 August 2009

How do you use your Filofax in your job or at home.

Firstly thank you to everyone who are becoming 'followers' of this blog, everyone is of course welcome. But looking through the short list of people that have already 'joined' and taking a look at your profiles, we really do have an interesting variety of people.

This got me thinking (oh no!). It would be interesting to know how each of us use our Filofaxes in our jobs, or at home every day?

When I only had the one organiser, I used it for everything:
  • Diary
  • Contacts
  • Notes
  • For recording details of photos I had taken on film
  • As a source of information when travelling (maps, country information etc).
As my life changed over the years, different jobs, becoming a father, taking on voluntary posts in the community, so the contents of my Filofax has changed. Some sections have grown, others decreased.

I'm always experimenting with new self made pages, refining the design, more boxes or less boxes per page. Pages for specific functions. For example for the trips to our French house. I have a dedicated packing list for UK>France, and a dedicated leaving list for France>UK. The later has detailed items to ensure the house utilities etc are all shut down, windows closed and locked etc. I've been using these two forms for over four years and they have definitely saved my furrowed brow half way to Dieppe to catch the ferry, thinking 'Now did I turn off the water?' I have my list and unless it's ticked off, then it's not done...and we don't leave.

At work, I went back to Filofax having changed jobs and going to an organisation that doesn't allow personal electronic devices in the office, due to security reasons. So I dusted off my Filofax, reloaded it with suitable pages I thought I might need and started using it again. I've since stopped using my iPaq completely. Although I do sync my Nokia phone with Outlook every so often.

Having expanded my collection of organisers, I use my A5 as a desk diary/journal, it records what I've been doing. And holds my reference material for work (I'm an Radio Engineer if you didn't know already) I need access to this material in meetings as well as at my desk and I find it easier to look up information in my Filofax than finding it each time on my PC...

My Pocket organiser is more of my everyday, go everywhere organiser, I log my appointments, my to-do lists, some of my contacts, maps of places I'm visiting, and some note paper.

My old Personal organiser is used for my French language learning course. It has mainly notes and some pre-printed French 'key cards' in it. And before you ask... I'm making steady progress at learning French.

Turning up at a meeting with my A5 Filofax always generates the odd comment or two from my colleagues, but I don't let them stop me from using it. What sort of notebook doesn't require batteries, does not need to be booted up, requires no funny passwords and it's instantly on? Un-pop the closure, open the organiser, find the section you need, read or take our your pen and record. It couldn't be easier....

As they say Filofax - It's a way of life...


  1. I can’t think of any other planner that can adapt to my various stages of life like Filofax. I guess that is why I have tried several other planners over the years and they have all failed me sooner or later, and I keep coming back to Filofax.

    I first used a Filofax-type planner (Cambridge version of a Personal Filo) when my husband and I were working in Denali National Park, Alaska in 1995. A friend and coworker of mine had one and I was fascinated. I asked, “What do you have in there?” and she replied, “Oh EVERYTHING. My whole life!” I ran out and got one and decked it out with lots of cool inserts, including the calculator I still use in my Filo. She, and H and I, were moving to Hawaii (different islands) so we photocopied maps of the islands and put them into our binders. I wrote addresses of everyone I knew into it. I took it with me to Hawaii for the winter, back to Alaska the next summer, then back to the Lower 48 for the next stage of my life, working while H went to school.

    After H was done with school we prepared to spend 2 years overseas as Peace Corps volunteers. I remember anxiously filling in 2 years worth of undated monthly pages, wondering what those years would bring. I updated my addresses and filled in every bit of information into my book I thought I might need. It felt like my life raft.

    Fast forward to 2001 while I was in grad school, I found my Buckingham Filofax. It got me through grad school beautifully. Its most glorious time during that phase of my life was while I was traveling to various museums in Europe doing my research. It contained: a Europe map that was outdated but still useful; all the contact information that my graduate adviser had set up for me of whom to meet at each museum; addresses for the hostels I would stay at; train time information. I remember sitting in Munich with a beer and my Filofax, planning where to go next. It was great.

    Fast forward again a few years, my husband and I were preparing to move from Washington DC, overseas, with our newborn daughter. Since then my Filo has helped me through many more phases of my life: the birth of my son, too many overseas trips to count (10 hours on a plane with a baby and a toddler: torture for everyone involved), vacations to Scotland, another overseas move, meeting and saying goodbye to many people.

    Currently I am still using my Personal Buckingham as my planner. Because we travel internationally several times per year, my Filo contains medical and insurance information for all of us, airline and car rental numbers, frequent flier miles, maps, and packing lists as well as day to day information and lists. I have found that I need to keep it all in my book rather than transfer pages over as needed so that 1) nothing gets left behind in the transfer, and 2) if there were an emergency I could grab my book and go.

    I have ordered a Personal Domino to use as my Scotland travel guide, which I am very excited about. And, I use an A5 Finsbury as my household book with my addresses and insurance information backed up from my Personal Filo, Christmas card lists, Financial information, and whatever else I only need at home. This helps to keep my Personal Filo a reasonable weight and thickness.

    My Filo has been through a lot with me, and I am grateful to it for keeping me sane through all the numerous transitions!!

    And I have to say, the Filofax system is highly addictive. As my sister and I say, “Filofax: The OTHER Crack!”

  2. I recently went to stay with a friend in Paris who shares the same stationary obsession with me. Up until now, our passion had bounced around between Filofaxes, Moleskines, Paperchase notebooks...etc, until about a year ago she signed up to the Filofax way of life, leaving me behind, bouncing between my Collins Day Planner and iPhone.

    We discovered that Paris has the most wonderful Filofax store. She uses the Personal size, and I gave into temptation and spent a blissful hour buying a brown Graphite personal, plus as many inserts as I could cram into my suitcase!

    I returned home and then had a week before a business trip to Australia to get organised. I kept thinking "If only I could fit my travel itinerary in here....", "If only I could get all my workshop notes in...". Inspiration hit as I was browsing round the online FIlo store, and I ordered an A5 brown Kendal.

    I have since entered Filofax Nirvana!

    I'm a musician, and I work as a Music Consultant, doing a lot of travelling around the country as well as internationally. I have to keep my working day digital as I have an administrator that books appointments for me, other people share my digital workspace and email is my main form of communication across such distances. The problem I find with being digitally focussed is that it can be hard to keep on top of tasks, have an easy visual reference to what different clients and companies are doing, and tricky to maintain one place that I can come back to with all necessary reference materials - odd documents get easily overlooked on your desktop.

    So my Kendal has become the centre of my working life. I use the TMI inserts a lot as they have a useful format of breaking things down into objectives, to dos, priorities etc.

    I use the TMI diary- this has a forward planning section on which I can map out what each client is doing over the next two years. A to-do section ('urgent' and 'eventually'!) then a section with custom designed pages that track each client's progress. A section for meeting pro forma (including Steve's telephone message sheets), then Notes; a tab for keeping drafts and deadlines for the publications I write or contribute to along with the Editor/ publishing house details; important information; a Filofax map of the UK with my various clients and colleagues mapped out with little stickers; a section for manuscript paper on which I can carry round useful music material and jot down inspiration as it hits; and at the back a meeting notes section. This has 4 top tabs (which I made by turning the blank tabs dividers horizontally and using my punch to put 3 holes into) and the A-Z section in which I file meeting notes alphabetically (i.e. the Adelaide trip write up goes under 'A'!) The top tabs have my 4 most frequent meeting heading on - for example 'Team meetings', 'Editor meetings'….

    It really is such an effective business centre. I only have to carry my laptop around for presentations and workshops now, as I have all the info for meetings at my fingertips in my Filofax. I use 3 'today' markers so I can flip to my most frequently used pages, and the transparent flyleaf to separate out this year's planning from forward planning.

    My iPhone syncs my work outlook account (email, contacts, diary) and my personal email/contacts/diary, so I can often travel with just the phone and Filo and leave bulky laptops at home - a great bonus when you have a dodgy back, heavy instrument and long train journeys!

    The thing I love most about A5 is how easy it is to design your own sheets - I have a couple of packs of the Filofax printer paper. And A4 sheets just fold in half and slip in, with the help of the travel hole -punch when needed!

    And my friend? A shopping trip to Covent Garden last Friday took us to the Filofax store where she indulged in an A5 brown Domino and more inserts than she could carry - we even got a few freebies as we bought up so much of the store between us!!!!!!

  3. I first started carrying a Filofax back in the mid 1980's and although I have made forays into the PDA world, I always end up back at good ol' pen, paper and Filofax.

    To say I have a Filo obsession would be putting it mildly and I use them for everything I can think of. Those closest to me refer to it as "her brain".

    I use a Finchley A5 as my "master planner" because of its size. In that I keep my detailed diary (and I do mean detailed!), the year by month & a day-per-page for daily & long range planning for both work and home. I use a black pen for work items & blue one for home items. Super important items (for either work or home) go in red ink.

    There are two "to do" sections, one for work, one for home. Also I have a "notes" section for a commonplace book when I come across a quote or something that inspires me, and I have a "projects" section. Both work & home projects go in there by due date.

    My contacts I do keep in my iPhone, due to their ever-changing nature, but I do have an extensive business card section in my A5 as well.

    On me everywhere I go I carry an Eton Personal. This contains an abbreviated version of my diary, using a code system on a fold out year (referencing back to the detailed items in the A5) and a day-per-page for appointments, meetings, etc. The diary takes up the majority of the book, with a small section in the back for notes that get jotted down. I then elaborate on them in the A5 when I get home, if necessary.

    On top of that, I use a couple smaller binders...one as a workout log (pocket size Rasberry Finchley - yum!) and I keep a mini in the glove box of my car for no reason in particular...just in case I guess!

    Throughout over 20 years, my Filo has never let me down. It got me through moving cross country twice, countless continuing ed courses, marriage, divorce, jobs, being the executor of 2 family members' complicated estates, you name it, without missing a beat.

    Someone once asked me (jokingly) what was going to happen to my Filo collection once I'm gone and I said without missing a beat that they're all going into the ground with me!!

    Of all the addictions to have, one that keeps you organized and classically stylish to boot is hardly one to complain about!

    I agree with Laurie...addictive as crack but instead of RUINING your life, Filo's enhance it : )

  4. Hi,

    I think it is my first comment on this blog I have been following for a while :)

    I have been using Filofax since I was 20 (I am 39). Woaw! I just realize it has been almost half of my life !

    Alas, the way I use it is neither very original nor stimulating. An A5 Filofax serve me as a desk calendar and a journal, for work and personal stuffs.

    I use 2 pages/week view, plus yearly view.

    The Yearly is my main calendar. It is wonderfuly suited to plan the magazines we publish and track the multiples deadlines & meetings. In a glimpse, I can see months of work. And see if anything might go wrong.

    The Week view is for keeping track of what's going on a daily basis. I never put projects in the Weekly calendar, it'ld be bad 8)

    Each evening, on A5 sheets, I write down what's worth from the day (work and personal), and put those pages with the weekly calendar. I like browsing through them, after a while.

    On top of that, I type the journal on the Mac (search is so convenient). That' two times the work, but I don't mind & really don't want to give up on pen and paper for the confort digital data.

    Other use
    I also use a bunch of pages to keep specific data, plus quotes and excrepts of books I like reading over and over.

    One of the things I appreciate most with the Filofax, it's the way it helps me to slow down after a day of work, or even during that day. Handwriting is slow. Slowliness gives time to think... and daydreaming (even without any scientific evidence, I know it helps me a lot in my work).

    I also like paper because it's so multipurpose: I can easily sektch an idea or a page layout, outline an article or a book and even... write it. Ok, there is no copy/paste with paper, but one can move pages inside the Filofax ;-)

    Being the editor of computer magazines, and seeing me using a Filofax or a notebook instead of a computer or a digital gizmo, lots of people think I am some kind of nuts.
    What can I say? Filofax is... Well, I feel sorry for those who don't get it, who don't get to appreciate the nice leather bound that calmly states: "what I keep is worth keeping". Who don't appreciate using a foutain pen--even if I use whatever is at reach when I need a pen, I like writing with a fountain pen, the way I learned writing at school...

    On the go and for "fast" note taking, I sometimes use a Personal Filofax, but I prefer using a simple notepad and reporting data in the Filofax each evening (a good way to do a daily review).
    I am considering using a pocket Filofax instead, and skip the rewriting part, but spending more money just to try if it work seems a bit excessive. But what really makes me hesitate is the lack of standardisation of rings spacing: one can't use Personal/Pocket pages inside an A5 without cutting or punching new holes :(

    I have an iPhone to keep sensitive data: passwords & the likes (Filofax sucks for privacy), contacts (synced with Mac's Address Book). Oh, it also serves as a... phone ;-)

    I have been keeping todo lists on paper for years, but have switched to computer (where I need them, anyway), using the fine TaskPaper to manage them. I print some of them (like reading list).

    I promise any other comment I may post in the future'll be shorter ;-)

  5. Thank you for all your very detailed responses... don't worry about their length David, it's just great to see how we all use our Filofax organisers in a slightly different way. No two people will be the same.

    That to me is the excellent thing about the concept of the Filofax, you can mix and match the contents to fit what ever task you are undertaking.

    It's also great to see more and more folks joining in.


  6. David, I loved your post! It captures so perfectly the value of pen and paper, even (or especially) in our digital, fast-paced world. I just wanted to share that I've found the pocket size paper to fit in the A5, and for the Personal I just snip off the lower left corner, and that fits too - making the Filofax similarly versatile to Circa/Rollabind.

    I use a Mac and an iPhone too, and work in book publishing. Thanks again for a great post that inspires me to to feel pressured to be all digital!

  7. I just realized that the Pocket pages fit perfectly in the Personal Filo, not the A5. Still, with a little clip on the lower left corner, it can work!

  8. I use Personal pages in my A5 as well as maps, the sticky notes accessory, organizer stickers etc. All you have to do is snip off the bottom corner and it fits no problem. Especially useful for those items that go back and forth between my Personal and A5 on a regular basis.

  9. @Claudia: thxs for the kind words.

    @Claudia & @Laurie, thxs very much for the info :)
    I think I'll go for the Personal + cutting the corner... Well it is not as if I had any choice left : I just ordered a Slimline 8)

    If I may ask: how do you archive old pages ?
    I have once purchased a Filofax binder, but it's way too expensive for such a poorly designed product.

    Since then, I use a thread to bind the archives and store them away in a big ugly box. I'ld rather use a nice binder but can't find any.

  10. For archiving, I've used quart-sized ziploc envelopes in file folders (assuming I won't need to reference the old pages to often).

    If I think I'll need to reference them, I clip them together with cover pages cut from cardstock and punched with the matching holes, then held together with binder rings (in the US). These are single rings in 1/2', 1" or 1-1/2" diameters. You could use one to six of these, as you please.

  11. TimeDesign has forms and binders that fit the A5 - they have a storage box (like a big index card file box) that works really well to store pages and extra forms. I'm not sure if you can order the box separately though...

  12. @Kristihern : thxs. could you give me more info about those binder rings ? Must see if/where I can find that (I live in France)

    @Claudia thxs (again ;))
    I had a look and that is neat! A bit pricey just to get my hands on the box, though.
    But I see they also have a French Website and that they sell 2009 refill+Box with a discount... I'll try to contact them and see if there is nothing more that can be done. Maybe they have older boxes liying around ;-)

    I sure 'ld appreciate if Filofax was selling its refills with such nifty boxes :)

  13. Hi David,

    To store my A5 pages, I bought a normal A5 binder and a two-hole punch. I punch new holes and put them in the binder. It was a cheap, easy, and available option for me. But, the punched holes are very close to the Filofax holes, and I think they would tear through easily if the pages were actually in use. So, I only do this for archival pages and not for pages that I need to store for awhile and then possibly put back into my Filo for future use.

    For my personal size pages I order small ring binders from here:


    These binders are really great, the cover is durable and the rings open and close for easy accessibility. But, I don't know if they deliver to France.

  14. I've always been a stationery nerd, with several notebooks and a journal on the go at any one time. I love paper.

    Because of my job I started using digital organisers in about 1995 (Casio then 2 Psions then three Palm Pilots. I still use my Life Drive for my addresses as there are so many of them). But I missed paper. The simple act of writing I find very relaxing and I grew to hate the tapping back and forth on the electronic organisers.I suffered several crashes which meant I lost everything on both PDA and on my computer (so people who say digital never crashes are not really right)

    I am a language consultant sent by my employer to clients and each client has their own topic for translation, coaching, briefing so my day is broken up into about 7 meetings in 7 places about different things. I have to sent a work record to my company who then invoices the client. I work in the field, sometimes in the office and sometimes at home. My appointments change from day to day and I have to have accurate records for invoicing.

    I use one A5 at a time (I have two Belmonts, a Metropol and an Amazona but I use the Amazona at the moment) and use the notepad (to write notes to give to clients), to do lists (about the smallest of things as I forget things quickly).

    Each weekend I note the meetings for the week that has just passed on a timetable (for invoicing once a month) and fill out the next week on new diary sheets. It's a bit of a faff but I find my days change so much that it gets confusing if I don't. I write in pencil though I hate when it smudges.

    Each client has their own page in the alphabetical section with notes and their contact and invoicing details.Also notes about their upcoming meetings so I can brief them.

    I keep receipts, articles, discount coupons stamps, business cards, bills to pay in plastic sleeves at the back.

    All my personal stuff is in the same filofax and I use it all the time. It is my brain. I find that as I get older and busier I get more forgetful so my filofax is like doing a screen dump of my brain on the go so I can sift through it at night and be prepared for the next day.

    I have a Mulberry organiser and an Aspinal one but they use their own refills and I find the filofax refills are really more suited to specialised daily lives and can be customised much more. I have a portable A5 hole punch that means I can make anything a filofax page.