19 March 2014

Felix the Filoflex - Guest Post - Holly

This 'Filoflex’ is inspired by Tim's creation of 2012 (Part 1 and Part 2  here). Mine is rather more 'cut once, measure after' and 'not really meant to be a wine glass coaster'. It is just as well I am not very precious with things. Prior to photos and explanation of the set up, a run down of how the Filoflex, affectionately known as ‘Felix' came to be;

After the post-Funfax wilderness years involving notebooks of all types and  'diaries' scribbled on the back of pay slips, I acquired a pocket Songbird, which suited my organising needs until Personal became more my thing. Then the rings got in the way and I took too many notes and people gave me too many bits of A4 paper to look after. It was all going a bit wrong for me planning-wise in a year (2012) that was already proving to be chaotic and emotionally draining.

Personal life aside, at the time, I was both training in retail management and trying to complete my Masters degree in conservation and restoration with part time self employed in same. I carried note books for both, but I would sometimes find myself dropping out of one 'life' and into another sometimes without warning - a shift needing covering here, a meeting in my capacity as branch and area representative or an impromptu trip to the library or laboratory there.

I bought a Flex on a whim in early 2013, imagining a Flex would allow me to use the paper size I wanted without the cumbersome A5 Filofax rings and bulk in my bag, but I soon missed having more places to stow away loose bits of paper securely and also my beloved Dodo Pad. I also didn’t have the cash to spend on an A5 Filofax to try for size. This is where Tim's post inspired me. A few ebay auctions and trips to shops followed, and much procrastination led to this:

Unlike Tim I didn’t have a decent binder mechanism to hand. I ordered an A5 15mm 2-ring binder from Snopake. I hacked it out from the plastic with brute force and the biggest pair of scissors I could find. I measured the holes, deciding to use haberdashery eyelets to secure it into the Flex.

I used Hemline eyelets, with a 7mm external diameter, 4mm internal. The provided punch was useless, so I just used a hammer to secure them to the binder - I didn’t really measure where to put the mechanism in the Flex, I just roughly lined it up to the centre.

Very quickly into using Felix, two issues became apparent. Firstly - I couldn’t bare the fact it didn’t close, my bag is messy enough without a half open Filofax getting on my nerves. I’ll get to the second later. To remedy the closing problem I tried threading a pen between two pen loops, as others have done, but it was no good owing to the sheer amount of stuff I cram in there.

Inspired by my old Domino, I simply looped two pieces of black elastic and threaded them through the holes created by the eyelets. As you can see - the result isn’t exactly neat, but later photos will show that with my inserts, the knots are not visible most of the time. Personally it doesn’t bother me, and they will be easy to replace if they get slack or start to fray (which you can see if already happening!)

Onto the inside of Felix - I use Moleskine cahiers as my notebooks, with my ‘Conservation’ notebook kept at the front and my retail notebook and Flex jotter pad at the back (no prizes for guessing where I work, the evidence is littered in this Filoflex!). As a side note, the front ‘card’ pockets store various cards, knick knacks and my passport. First in the binder section is my ‘dashboard’ of sticky notes.

My dividers and the secure top pocket are both Martha Stewart for Avery - I love the colours of the dividers, matching the sticky notes and tabs I use regularly.

In the above photos are where the second issue with Felix becomes apparent - standard A5 non-paper inserts such as dividers and pockets are too wide (you can see the clear pocket interferes with the line-up of the divider tabs) and the hole placements on everything are generally wrong.

I had to cut down and re-punch all the Martha Stewart dividers and I have to re-punch all my Dodo Pad pages and blank Filofax paper. At home I keep a single hole punch and approximate hole placement but for the go, I just use a pen or a scalpel! The Dodo Pad is a non-negotiable part of my organisation (even if this week currently looks quiet! It will soon change) and one of the main reasons I ended up creating my Filoflex, so I don’t mind the re-punching.

In front of the business card holder and secure pocket, I keep a section of blank paper for things that fit into neither of my ‘lives’ - random notes or information I need to give away. I use the coloured Paperchase ruled paper, which is again re-punched to fit. Behind the secure pocket of knick knacks like stamps, elastic bands and passport photos is where I keep loose bits of paper I need, or at least ones I can punch. Ones that need to be intact without holes are tucked into a pocket of the Flex, or the flap pocket in the back of the Moleskines.

My 'Filoflex' is by no means neat, tidy or probably even vaguely professional, but it works for me, and I smile whenever I look at it. I use it daily and it really meets my needs, combining the flexibility of a traditional binder system with the principles of the Flex without having to work around enormous rings or deal with a brick in my bag.

I’m happy to try and answer any questions any have regarding my set up - Holly

Thank you Holly, I'm sure a few more people might follow your example.


  1. Hi Holly,Felix is absolutely awesome ! A prime example of making your planner work for you. A fun, well loved planner and so cheerful looking, love it !

  2. Wow, thank you Holly. I love Felix and this is definitely a project I'm going to copy.

  3. Hi Holly - I love your Felixflex! It looks like a really fun organiser that you've made. I'm delighted that, nearly two years on, my old post here on Philofaxy may have - in a small way - inspired you (and others) to hack a Filofax and make something more suited to your needs! I would urge others to have a go as it can be a lot of fun (with an occasional bit of frustration!).

    My grey First Edition Flex that featured in July 2012 was upgraded to a tan leather version when that Flex was introduced later that year. It has the same ring mechanism. I then found a 17mm ring mechanism that I fitted to the grey Flex to test what would be be maximum ring size that could be used. 17mm is too big - especially if you want to use the Flex pockets for notepads and year planners. For me, the 13mm ring size was ideal and it's still used everyday (alongside a Slimline Holborn and various time management apps on my iPad 2). Tim

    1. Hi Tim. What exactly is the problem as you go up in size from 13mm to 20mm? Id it that the far edges of the pages stick out from the flex? or is it that there's so much in it that the covers can't close? I found a seller on eBay who has 20mm A5 FF inserts, but your experience seems to say this wouldn't work. Its a pity, I really like the idea of a very slim A5.

    2. Paul - it's both problems! The Flex cover just isn't able to cope with such rings! .20mm rings would force the paper contents 7mm to the right, meaning the pages would stick out. Also, to accommodate 20mm rings would need the a Flex spine (where the rings would be fixed) to be 7mm thicker. This leaves less space for the remaining cover (front and back) to protect the contents, meaning they would stick out even more, rendering it pretty ineffective. A third problem is that chunky rings would prevent you using the inside vertical pockets as they would clash with the rings. Also, you'll find that the opening tabs on Filofax A5 mechanisms (of any diameter) will stick out of the top and bottom of the Flex and look very unsightly! By all means try, but don't expect satisfactory results!

      I'm looking forward to experimenting with the new Filofax Clipbook, due to be officially launched shortly.

    3. Thanks Tim, that's a lot clearer. I too am looking forward to getting my hands on a clipbook. It may be the answer to the A5 slimline dilemma.

  4. I like how you have really made this work for you, and really that is what its all about isnt it? having an organiser that helps you...organise! enjoyed reading this. thanks

  5. Holly, thanks so much for this, I was really curious to see how you did it. Its a brilliant organiser, and looks fun too. I think there's no point having an organsier if all it does is look good, but doesn't work for you. For me, the clue is in the name - if it isn't helping you to be organised, then it isn't working, and I'm much more keen on the practicalities of using one than whether its a thing of beauty or not. Look forward to a follow-up post, to see how the threads hold up, and if you make a Felixfax 2.0 :)

  6. Really enjoyed reading this! Thank you for sharing!

  7. So incredibly cool! I love this post.

  8. A bit late but I've been unwell this week - thank you to all Philofaxers for your wonderful comments on Felix the Filoflex. I'm glad you enjoyed the post :)