29 November 2010

Filofax v Electronic Calendars

My other purchase last Saturday was an iPod Touch.... 'what' I hear you say... you went to a Philofaxy meet-up having just purchased an electronic gadget that can do calendars and contact lists and to-do lists... 

Well yes, but don't panic I'm not giving up on my Filofax, far from it. The iPod Touch can do lots of things, email, play music, browse the web, keep me up to date on news etc. But as a calendar it's rubbish....

I heard your sigh of relief as soon as you read that.... why do you say it's rubbish Steve...?

Well out of the box, it has a calendar application, but it only offers Day View, Month View and List View. The first two are ok, but the month view is as good as useless on such a small screen. The big omission is a Week View, which as we know from our polls on here is the most used format for Filofax users... Week on Two pages is what we like most.

There are other applications available to give me a Week View, but like so many of these things, working out which one to purchase is a mine field. Yes there are reviews, but they vary of Excellent 5 stars, to this is rubbish don't buy it 1 star. 

There is also the nightmare of synchronising the calendars with my Google Calendar, duplicates, lost appointments etc... you don't suffer that with a Filofax

To be honest with you I didn't buy the Touch to replace my calendar or contact list in my Filofax, so I might not bother with all the hassle of trying out these other applications, they will be flawed in some way or other I'm sure.

The Filofax is very tactile and you can see straight away what you are getting. It's true 'What You See Is What You Get', there is nothing hidden, it is what it is pure and simple.  OK I know we would all like a layout that is personal to us with lots of space for this or for that, but in say personal size, but you can't alter physics, a particular size of page can only give you so much space to write on. An electronic screen is much the same, you can zoom in to see the detail, but then you can't see the other days around it!

If you have looked at my own blog you will see that over the years I've gone through quite a few electronic organisers. They have all had their issues, and like different Filofax designs/sizes I wish I could pick the best bits from the ones I've owned and put them together in to one device, sadly that device will only exist in my dreams I suspect.

So in the mean time I'm going to relax, and enjoy my (growing) Filofax collection... time for an audit and a change around, now where did I put my new Chameleon......which I spent more time deciding on compared to the iPod Touch!


  1. Nice post, Steve. I've got a BlackBerry alongside my FF Hampstead on my desk right now, and I agree absolutely with your thoughts. The BlackBerry, to be honest, is a better contact book than the Filofax could ever be (especially the way I keep adding people to it), but as a diary it will never be able to match the Filofax, because the week view (mine has one, at least) is useless for anything at all, and the day view gives me no sense of perspective on time at all.

    The big 'hole' in my system, to be honest, is in task (as opposed to time) management. I think I'm pretty good at the latter, but as I run my own accountancy practice I have *lots* of 'loose ends', deadlines, future tasks that haven't even been started yet but which I can't afford to forget, etc etc. So on that level the search goes on - Outlook (it hurts me to say it) does a pretty good job at the moment. But for diary functions, the Filo will always win - and its just plain nicer, more fun, more tactile to work with.

  2. Steve I totally agree. Nothing beats a Filofax for managing your calendar. Although the Apple gadgets are great I never use my iPad or iPhone to manage my diary and busy life. You are a kindred spirit! Enjoy your new toy :-)

  3. Totally agree! My iPhone is horrendous with its calendar functions, to-do lists etc. I'm sticking with my paper based diary. I've got a raspberry Personal Metropol but have bought the Rabbit diary from Ginko!!

    My New Year Resolution is to stick to one diary next year!!!

  4. Me to. I use my Blackberry as an address book, communicator and as a backup diary. So I duplicate FF entries into the Blackberry as its always to hand, whereas I don't carry my FF everywhere. From a planning point of view and as first place to enter dates the FF wins over any gadget that I own or have owned (its been quite a few!). The best electronic planner I owned was the Psion Series 5 - that had a *proper* weekly view. Sadly long gone.

  5. As you may remember from my post about Tecnology vs paper, Me and technological diaries do not get along in any way shape or form, however I also have an ipod touch which I love! But no matter how many different calender related ap's I download the filofax wins every time!

  6. Dear Steve Morton,

    great post, almost nothing to add!!

    Just one more thing;)

    I prefer my iPhone's address book, because it has much more space. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a Filofax address layout to meet all my needs. There's just too much information I need to put in it: address(es), mail addresses, contacts (AIM, Skype etc.) multiple phone numbers, and so on. It's just too much for the Filofax, but it's all in one place in the iPhone.

    But definitely, this is the only thing, where there is something superior to any Filofax.

    Kind regards,
    Tommes S.

  7. I love my iPod Touch but I don't use the calendar at all. I use the contacts list, however, but mostly out of paranoia. Several years ago, on holiday, I left my Moleskine with all my English addresses in King's Cross Station. Last year my computer went down and took my e-mail address book with it. In the summer, my husband dropped is mobile in a lake - a really deep lake. I now have every in at least three places, just in case.

  8. What can I say.. I love organizing tools. I even have a few of those Casio digital diaries. And at one time thought they were superior to paper.

    But paper is more permanant and FLEXIBLE. Need more fields? Need to add a customer history for just a few contacts and not all of them?

    Open the rings and add a blank page.

  9. I agree, I've got a Blackberry Pearl as an electronic organizer, but my Filofax in Pocket and A5.
    I find both work together perfectly.


  10. For those struggling with task management, you might want to check out the Autofocus method (http://www.markforster.net/autofocus-index/). I use it with a 5x7 notepad that I carry around, but it could easily work with a Filofax.

  11. Hi. A First timer.

    I have been a huge fan of pen and paper, and I still keep a common book/diary that I write in with my fountain pen, but I have started using my iPhone 4 as my calendar/To Do list keeper/address book, and retired my paper based system.

    I used to be a cynic, but once you set up the iPhone to sync with your gmail/contacts and google calendar the first time, it is no nightmare at all to remain synchronized, as it will do so automatically each time you input a new entry.

    I can hardly belive that I am saying this myself. Either way, though, I have the best of both worlds as I keep a paper "diary" while using the iPhone as an "Agenda" that I can access on multiple points without the hassle of transferring data by hand.

    Did that make sense?

    Chan Sung
    Seoul, Korea

  12. I use my iPod Touch for when I'm on the go and don't have my planner with me. Every week I enter my schedule into my Google calendar, which syncs with the touch. I can then refer to it if I need to. I don't plan anything using it, however, since the Filofax is the master calendar. I also love the touch for the wi-fi capabilities. It works perfectly with my Filo.

  13. These last years I shifted from an electronic organizer to a paper based system then electronic then paper ...

    For the moment I'm using a combination of the two systems. What made me use my ipod touch for at least part of this system was the purchase of the Pocket Informant app that let me do more sophistacated things than the native calendar app. You may want to take a look to the lite version of this app.

  14. I've never even tried the calendar app on my iPhone, but I certainly won't be testing it after your comment! I like to be able to visualise my week, which is why paper planners are better than electronic calendars.

    Also, if the server crash at work this week that I kept me on Twitter for 3 days proves anything, it's that you should back up all appointments in a paper planner so you don't miss meetings because your computer is broken!

  15. I agree totally. My iphone is a backup to my Finsbury slimline filofax. It is quicker and easier to make a paper entry into a diary. And yes, a week on two pages is definitely best.

  16. I use an iphone but only as a backup to my Finsbury slimline. It is so much quicker and easier to make a paper entry. And yes a week on two pages is definitely best.