28 April 2010

Guest Post - Alternative Filofax

As always we welcome guest posts on Philofaxy and in our in-box today came an article from Francesca, who you might recall was the lucky person to win our Filofax Beauty Box last year. So here is an interesting new article from Francesca.

Filofaxing is an expensive pursuit, and one that threatens a life time of dissatisfaction, reduced expendable income and a hunchback from carrying round that Zipped Guildford with 4 inches of 'necessary' information bursting from its heaving rings. It's the perfect organisation system on so many levels - other than it will never be perfect. Just as you think you have the ideal system running ("It hasn't changed in almost 3 months, so I must be nearing Filo-Nirvana, surely?"), some pesky, petty lifestyle change, new job, smaller hand bag, birth of your first child etc- arrives to throw your system into disarray again.

I'm guilty of this. I change my folder/ size/ diary layout/ dividers/ content/ biros/ *insert expensive Filofax accessory here* on a constant basis, and never quite hit on what I want. This becomes a tiresome and bankrupting pursuit (and don't wave your pre-cut Filo printer paper in my face like that- I spend more money on wasted sheets of this stuff as I desperately try to line up the margins than I do on miniature post it notes), and after 10 years of struggling valiantly with it, I have lately begun to despair.

Until April 3rd 2010.

Did I hear a sharp intake of breath out there? Do I sense a quickening of the heartbeat, a sudden heightening of concentration on this page? Then it is likely that the Philo readership harbours others for whom the acronym APL means a lot more than just a kindergarten attempt at spelling a popular fruit-based snack. For this date saw the launch of the Apple iPad, the Apple Fanboy's equivalent of the introduction to the Filofax range of a new super-slimline A5 organiser with multiple pockets, in soft brown calf- leather with next weeks winning lottery numbers printed inside on the coin purse.

I confess to an interest in gadgets as deep as that of my interest in Filofaxes. The bookmark bar of my MacBook Pro lists the following web pages in this order: Philofaxy, MacRumors, Apple, Filofax UK, HSBC (to check on the available balance for purchases from the previous two bookmarked pages), but it's not so easy reconciling these two passions. They seem to overlap one another in many ways and haven't - until now- fit comfortably together. How do I decide on which system I prefer to use? A gorgeous A5, two page to a week column lay out, written on in different colours for different areas of my life in my neatest handwriting, peppered with pastel coloured Post its? Or the solid convenience and back up capabilities of the iPhone-MacBook Pro synchronicity available via iCal? I don't need to detail the pros and cons of analogue vs. digital life- that's been done many times in the Philofaxy archives, but after having my iPad for a week (courtesy of a Florida based parent), I begin to feel change in the air.

You might be familiar with the process of downloading apps onto Mac gadgets- iPods, iPhones and now iPads- wherein you are able to create an entirely customisable system of different applications. I've been busy throwing more money in Apple's direction the last few days, 'pimping my pad', and this morning sat down to take stock of what I have so far. And it struck me. I've built myself a fully electronic version of my Filofax. I have a note taking app for writing and drawing, a sophisticated To Do manager, a project manager, file storing area, calendar, address book, word-processing programme, sticky notes and expense manager. Heck, I can even use the damn thing as a mirror; the screen's so shiny. I think I might be unconsciously replacing my trusty old Finsbury of many years service with this shiny new friend. It even takes up about the same size in my handbag, just lighter, prettier and less likely to threaten the existence of a small South American rainforest when I next need a system revamp.

I'm not sure how I really feel about this yet as the novelty factor of the iPad hasn't yet waned, and after all- there have been plenty of gadgets embraced over the last 10 years as 'most definitely the system I'm going to use from now on' - Palms, Psions, netbooks, smart phones- and I always end up shuffling back towards the Filofax cabinet when I've lost my entire phone book again after a stream of electronic failures. I'll have to check back to this article in a few weeks time to see how things have progressed. But I'm quietly excited. Don't shoot me down yet, fellow Philos. Perhaps I'm just a few steps down the path to enlightenment to a world where digital and analogue reside peacefully together. One, which if I discover it, I'll happily share with you. Watch this space....

Thank you Francesca. Remember if you wish to contribute a guest article please send it to our email address which you will find in the 'About' page.


  1. Can I ask what sort of battery life you are getting?

    I've recently restarted using a Psion 5mx for writing away from my machines, it is a nice machine to type on with a real keyboard and it uses AA batteries, so I've popped a pair of Lithium batteries in it and

    I'm getting about 12 hours or so of use, or about 3 weeks in calendar terms between replacing the batteries.

    I want to try it with some high capacity NiMH batteries. Which are 2500mAh a capacity unthinkable when the 5 MX came out.

    I'm not using the calendar or contacts on the 5 Mx as I have those on my phone or in my Filofax of course...

    But I can see some of the attraction in the iPad... it's just the price that puts me off I suspect...

  2. Absolutely fantastic post! But lets just hope the filofax continues to rule the roost!
    I have a blackberry, but I still use my filofax as my main bible of information, and I have tried many electronic gadgets down the years and none ever come close!
    As they always say, ' the pen is mightier than the sword' - and together with a piece of good old paper, you just cant beat it!!

    Keep up the good work; look forward to your next post!


  3. Hi Steve, do you have an email where we can send pictures in, I would love to show you all my shops filofax display.

  4. Hi Craig.
    Yes our email address is in the 'About us' page link above, with our email address at the foot of that page.

    Many thanks

  5. Hi,

    Steve, the battery life is phenomenal. I can't seem to run it down- for once, Apple have exceeded the claims they made about it as I regularly get about 12 hours, and that's with lots of video watching, music listening and CPU intensive apps. Have been travelling most of the week and haven't charged it once!

    Has been worth every penny for me so far as it's replaced my laptop for travelling and slips into the handbag nicely - so light and convenient!

    ASR- I still have my foot firmly in that camp too - my Filo has still been with me too this week and has been converted into a brilliant project folder with lots of tabs to separate the various areas of a project I'm currently running. So I still get my paper fix- the iPad is a bit too much of a novelty to brandish in every meeting....found the first meeting I had got coompletly side tracked onto talking gadgets and playing with it- we got nothing done! So certainly for the next few months until the novelty wains a little, its good old pad and pen for note taking!!