13 May 2012

The crisis that (might have) convinced me to go A5 full time.

I'm like a lot of our readers, I'm just as bad when it comes to fluctuating what size Filofax to use. I've gone through various phases of using different sizes.

More recently using more than one size at the same time. This year I managed to get it down to two organisers instead of three, but still different sizes.  I'm not counting the ones I have for dedicated jobs like my work A5 or my car Pocket Filofax, they continue to be used for the purpose they have been set up for. 

This year I've been using an A5 Malden at home and a Personal Malden to carry around with me, both with essentially the same information in, even down to duplicate journals. But sometimes it takes a shock or a crisis to make you realise which size works best and sadly that happened to me recently.

At the beginning of April, I suddenly had to travel back to UK at a few days notice and attend to some arrangements. I found that the A5 with the Enhanced Time Management Insert that Ray and I designed really worked well in this two week period when I had two return trips to UK, one by train and plane, the other by car. It was complicated and tiring in equal doses, I didn't have time to think about it all really, I just needed something to help me through the plans, some where to record details and phone numbers, reference numbers, reminders.

I was staying in different hotels and so I needed the booking references to hand when I arrived at each place. It all looked as if it was going too well, until less than 12 hours before my first flight I received an email to say my flight had been cancelled due to industrial action. So then I had to literally start again and re-plan one phase of my travels by train instead of plane... thank goodness for Frixion pens... out went the flight details, in went the train booking details:
  • TGV - Tours > Lille Europe
  • Eurostar - Lille Europe > London
  • East Midlands Trains -  London > Sheffield
  • Trans Pennie Trains - Sheffield > Manchester Airport
I arrived at the car hire desk in Manchester about an hour later than I would have done if I had flown, but I did leave a few hours earlier of course.  Out came the A5 again, another booking reference number for my car hire. The clerk duly typed this in on his screen, up came my details.
'Have you flown from France today Mr Morton? Because I thought all the flights had been cancelled?'

"Err no I've come by train"

'What all the way?'

"Yes all the way"
His face was a picture.... more tapping away on his keyboard, then he turned to his set of car keys and grabbed a car key on a tag and handed it to me along with the hire agreement.
'Well for your determination Mr Morton we have given you a free upgrade'

'Thank you"  
Well the car wasn't anything special, but it was a bit more comfortable and it had a few more toys than I was expecting in a hire car...

The rest of my travel plans went according to plan, but each day over the two weeks my A5 was in use the whole time, gathering information, recording details, although I was carrying my notebook computer with me, not once did I use it whilst I was out and about, my Filofax was so much quicker to access and record information (times and dates, phone numbers, reference numbers, reminders and other details). 

On one of the days I had to write several letters, so again my Filofax address section came in to full use. This is another area I had duplicated in both the A5 and my Personal Maldens, but again I was using the A5 in preference to the Personal because the address section in this is printed rather than hand written.

I travelled back to France via Manchester Airport and plane this time on Easter Saturday, I spent what was left of Easter weekend at home with the family then we travelled back to UK by car together on the Monday. Again different hotel stays and various bookings, so once again the Filofax was in full use again.

It was at about this time I started to realise that I could make the A5 work for me on a day to day basis without having the duplication of the Personal size as well. The diary insert was certainly working well for me even when there was so much going on.

This was the quieter of the two weeks, now I know some of you have busier weeks every week than this... but this is busy for me these days!

I'd also found a solution for carrying the A5 on a daily basis, if I was going to carry it around with me all the time, you can read that post on Bagsey.

Having been back in France for a few weeks or so after an epic set of travels, I've settled back in to using the A5 on my desk open next to me. I've still been carrying the personal around with me in my normal 'Man Bag' but I'm finding I'm referring to it less. I'm not convinced yet I can get down to just one Filofax. Certainly the A5 has been working well for me and it really has a lot of advantages in terms of layout and flexibility.

What I suspect I will do is to reset up the personal size without the journal section, duplication of this is a little unnecessary. This will slim things down quite a bit. I will review the rest of the contents too and see what else can come out. May be I might be able to try out the compact size or get back in to my slimline... who knows!!!

This might seem to be a lot of changing around but the total flexibility of Filofax and the way you can adjust the contents and set ups at any time is the reason I love them so much. You can have the information you need to hand be it lots of information or just a few notes. They absorb the peaks and take care of the routine stuff so well.


  1. Further proof that a truly Slimline or even Compact A5 (where the binder is only just big enough to accommodate the width of the paper, and a smaller ring size) would solve ALL OUR PROBLEMS!! At least, it would for me.

    Slimline A5s are very popular here, and the binder is so small that it's just barely bigger than the page size so it's the same size as a normal A5 notebook (instead of much larger like the Filofax A5). Unfortunately the ones I've found are cardboard-type material or vinyl, none are anywhere near the quality and style of Filofax. So, I wait and hope that someday Filofax will come out with a real, true slimline A5!

    Filofax???? Slimline A5 please!

    1. A Filofax Slimline or Compact A5 would be a DREAM!!! I'd be all over that!

  2. Over the summer I'm going to be using my A5(s) all the time for my dissertation and PhD application planning, and I just love the size, paper options etc, but as ever, there's the huge portability issue. I don't use my A5 for my everyday stuff, but would love to someday- I loved seeing how fat and well-loved your grey A5 Malden was when I saw you in Liverpool. Heavy though! So recently, after realising how heavy my bag will be if I carry around both an A5 and my normal personal-size planner, and realising that I won't be using, or need, a personal sized diary at all this summer- very few appointments, no lectures, and all uni planning done in my A5- I moved over to the lovely little pocket ochre Malden I bought for my birthday! So this summer I will be taking an A5 and a pocket to uni everyday! But as I said, I would love to just have an A5 for my diary/work everything daily planner one day (with all my others doing other things, staying at home), but maybe when I have a car so I don't have to carry it everywhere and kill my shoulders!!
    PS. A5 purple Malden pleeeease :D :D

  3. I am using a fairly slim Dayrunner A5 (half-page on this side of the pond) binder that has 3/4" (2 cm) rings and is 1" (2.5cm) thick zipped shut. I have some personal-sized binders I use for specific purposes: one for the car, where it resides, one for my music collection and CD hunting that moves between the house and the car and address books for both my wife & I. I use my laptop a lot, so there's a lot I find more convenient to keep there.

    I have recently been converted to Moleskine pocket books (14x9 cm) which slip so conveniently into the pockets of almost anything I'm wearing. I have my appointments in one and another for notes. Lately, I find that the A5 is staying in my briefcase more and more.


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