03 January 2013

Using my Filofax M2 as a capture device

As you might recall I introduced you to my Filofax M2 organiser a quite few weeks ago now. It was sat on my desk after the review, when along came a blog post and video by Neil on his blog Filofax Filosophy.

His blog post and video about his M2 grabbed my attention by my lapels and made me want to use it everyday... all day, any time of the day, always in reach, always there to jot down a note to remember the hundreds of thoughts and ideas I get in the day of things to look at, write about, talk about or whatever.

Neil mentioned using a Rhodia number 12 pad, these measure up at 8.5 x 12 cm a bit bigger than the M2. When I went to my local supermarket I found the Rhodia number 11 pad, which is in fact A7 size (10.5 x 7.4 cm) this is 10mm taller than M2 paper.

However, I found that by punching it slightly off centre, it fits in just right in the M2 and I can still keep my Filofax Mini Pen in the pen loop which is horizontal at the bottom of the right hand inside cover.

So I punched a handful of sheets and started carrying it around with me in my pocket, leaving it on my bedside table at night and I started jotting down things. It was quite a change to my routine but it worked.

If I didn't do something straight away whilst I was wandering around the house or if it was something I had to remember for later on I transfer my notes to my A5 Filofax that sits on my desk. I can get a reasonable number of notes on each sheet, but once full, crossed off or moved to the master A5, I just tear out the page and start a fresh page, I don't even bother to open the rings!

I've been using this for about 3-4 weeks now, and I have far less forgotten thoughts and ideas, far less frustration because I had an idea and then a few hours later I can't remember it.

Oh and you will like this.... I discovered my Kindle clip on light fits on to the top of the M2 a treat, so I can get to jot things in the middle of the night even without putting on the main lights and risk waking up 'the hand of Philofaxy' !

So a great success and it's now part of my tools that I carry around, the M2 goes in my pocket where ever I happen to be. But please don't go rushing off to Ebay to look for an M2 for yourself... yes they do appear on there from time to time.

The Filofax Mini is virtually the same paper size but the traditional portrait format as opposed to the M2's landscape format... but there's nothing to stop you using a Mini around the other way? With the rings at the top of the page holding it with the paper in landscape format. 

So I tried some of the A7 size paper in the Mini and it fits in there very nicely too. Although I have found that with the A7 paper the pen doesn't quite fit, so I have trimmed it down width wise by about 8mm or to the nearest line which was easiest to line up each time..

Remember if you have a punch that will punch Filofax Pocket size... it will also punch for Filofax Mini size too... Mini is the same but one ring less.

Comparison of paper sizes.
A7 10.5 x 7.4 cm
Mini 10.5 x 6.7 cm
M2 6.4 x 10.3 cm

So with M2 and the Malden Mini I have two very nice organisers I can use as capture notebooks.

Do you use a separate notebook or organiser to capture your thoughts and ideas during the day? 


  1. Neil's video also awakened an interest in deploying my mini Windsor as a capture tool. I've not yet done so but am equipped to; I've got a mini pen and a good supply of blank mini paper. My issue was that the Windsor, while much smaller than contemporary mini binders, is still a bit large to comfortably fit in a pocket. But I love the idea! I keep my personal size with me very frequently but not always, and I hate when I've not got something to write with while out and about. Especially when taking walks, where I don't bring my filo or my mobile phone, and I have an idea or see a sign with a phone number I want to jot down... I might start carrying a small notebook and pen in my coat pocket for the winter. The Clairefontaine notebook is personal size in height but slightly wider, so if I leave a good margin I can cut out the pages and punch for my filofax. It's small enough for a coat or jacket pocket (11x17cm)

  2. I love this idea! Unfortunately due to the lack of practicality of most women's clothing (bugbear) it's not always so easy to carry a notebook around the house, although I'd love to hear suggestions on where to carry one. :-D

    At the moment I have placed a block of post-it notes and a pen in the front room, kitchen/diner and main bedroom, so I can jot a note and stick it near the door, taking it with me when I'm heading towards my chair and filofax. It's been partially successful.

    1. Yes this is the issue I have - I'm often at my desk, but I don't want to be chained to it! Your idea of a small notebook or post it stack in each room is excellent!

    2. I have post-it note stacks everywhere :D
      And I totally agree about the pockets issue. One of my favourite outfits has SIX pockets - can you imagine? (and yes, that's one reason why it's a favourite... denim dress (two hip pockets), zippy hoody (two pockets) and jacket (two seam pockets.

    3. Because our house is so spread out I find it easier to have something in my pocket, it could be an ordinary notebook I suppose, but I like the loose leaf approach so using a Filofax is a natural contender!

      Knowing me I would forget where I had put my post-it note pads! Or find the pen had disappeared.

  3. Interesting post, Steve.

    As an update, I'm still using a Rhodia no12 pad, as shown in my video, but I have trimmed along one side in order to accommodate a pen in the pen loop as an experiment. I'm undecided, to be honest, and may go back to the full size no12. I'm certainly finding my M2 very useful, and much easier to get in and out of a pocket than a Filofax Mini.

    With regards to always having an "input device" to hand, I'm experimenting by cutting sheets of A4 paper into stacks of A7, each stack held together with a bulldog clip and placed in various locations, a bit like the "Hipster PDA" popularised by Merlin Mann a few years ago. It's quicker than breaking out my M2 all the time and it certainly solves the issue of having to constantly carry a notebook from room to room.

    Whatever the pros and cons of all these paper experiments, at the back of my mind is the fact that 4,000 sheets of A7 (roughly cut from a ream of A4, costs around 3 GBP, whereas 4000 sheets of Filofax paper costs around, wait for it, 160 GBP. I definitely feel less constricted by paper costs, now I'm using small pieces of paper for memos and Filofax paper for more permanent material.

    1. My supermarket didn't have the no 12 pad in stock but they had plenty of the no 11's I got another one yesterday for a few cents over one euro, so they are cheap enough to use and discard the pages and yes considerably cheaper than using Filofax paper.

      Also I can only locally find the graphic pads not just lined or plain paper pads, they exist in the catalogue, may be available at bigger stockists or on-line somewhere.

      But your video certainly inspired me to carry something around and it has been a big help these last few weeks. So again thank you.

    2. Also Neil, I came across this post this evening:


    3. Thanks for that, Steve.

      "Rhodia Drive" are known to have a fair capacity to influence Rhodia themselves, and I've already suggested that a Rhodia pad, punched and sized for personal sized filofaxes, could well be a hit. So far, I've not had a reply, but it's early days.

  4. Possibly an unpopular idea here, random thoughts and ideas are things I would use my iPhone reminders app for. Whenever something random pops into my head, I'm more likely to grab my phone to add it to my reminders than anything else, as its usually always next to me, the phone or my iPad (when my filo is out of reach),and seeing as the app syncs on both devices, it works out well. Once in the app, I will set the task to ding at a particular time, as a best approximate as I can get. Once the app actually reminds me, I move the task or idea to the appropriate place in my planner. So, if during the day I remember that I want to research a certain book, I'll add it to my app, set it to remind me at 5:30 (usually the time I walk through my front door), then add it to the list in my filo. When I have a moment, I will refer to that list and research anything listed there. I find that this eliminates the need for an additional source of paper and finding a place to keep it. The app is also great for things I wouldn't necessarily add to my planner, like putting a new pack of gum in my bag when the old one is finished, etc.

    1. Kanault, I agree with you entirely. IOS Reminders is, after all, a very useful capture device, particularly when used in conjunction with Siri.

      I guess that the four obvious downsides to using an iphone for this purpose are the increased risks of a flat battery when you're out and about, the difficulties of making a note when already using the iphone for some other purpose (ie a call or internet search), the increased time to actually take a note when compared to using pen and paper, and the inreased risk of being robbed when engrossed in using your phone instead of keeping it safely out of sight in certain situations.

    2. Neil - very true on all accounts. I try very hard not to be too engaged with my phone when out and about. When I'm in the city I constantly see people who are listening to music while doing things on their phone, not paying any mind to their surrounding. New York City crime is up and the iPhone has been blamed for this increase since it is often stolen right from the owner's hand. Luckily, when I most often use my phone it at home or in a safe place, such as my car or at work. I rarely take it out while in a store or such places.

  5. I use a filofax notebook and I just scribble words and ideas - for blog posts, shop names, websites etc. Then if I don't have time to act on it that day I just file it in my big Filo and know it is safe in my 'extra brain'. I do have a tiny tiny gold notebook in my bag but I prefer the FF paper because I need to have everything in one place or else when I need something I don't have it with me.