07 June 2015

Reader Under The Spotlight - Bree

Today I would like to introduce you to Bree.

My name is Bree. I’m from Western New York, which means I live closer to Canada than I do to Manhattan. I use various planners to coordinate my roles as a woman, mother, wife, PTA board member and fundraiser for a large regional nonprofit. I inherited my obsession with leather and notebooks from my grandmother – she kept a running notebook worth of common phrases in what I suspect was one of her engineer father’s Lefax manual covers. It was nearly disintegrated when I rescued the pages. When I’m not obsessing over planners, I am an amateur photographer and frequent reader.

1. When did you buy your first organiser and what was it?

My first was a Cambridge zip ring binder. It was navy blue twill, with tan vinyl trim and a strip of ribbon to “feminize” it. I purchased it from Woolworth’s in 1991, plus a variety of inserts. Even with my employee discount, it was a significant investment for a teenager. I used it through high school and the first few years of college, and handed it down to two of my siblings. I thought it was long gone, but I recently discovered my mother still uses it as her address book.

The first Filofax I bought was the orange Calipso Compact in 2013. It turned out to be too narrow, but it was a breath of fresh air compared the bulky zip binders I was familiar with.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

I’ve owned many US ring brands over the years – Cambridge, Day-Timer and FranklinCovey throughout the 1990s, Levenger Circa Junior with a Palm device for most of the 2000s. I still miss my Palm – the devices had their flaws, but the desktop software was excellent. Recent smartphones aren’t as functional without an excellent desktop component, which is why I’ve added paper planning with the Quo Vadis Visual for 5 years.

After some major life changes, I spent the last 18 months pin-balling between Filofax, Kate Spade and Franklin Covey binders, all sizes. I prefer the FF and Kate Spade binders –  they have smaller rings and are less stiff/bulky. But FranklinCovey makes an great selection of inserts in both Compact and Classic size. Hence the indecision.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

No contest  –  Filofax Personal Bloomsbury in Teal. It smells and feels incredible and I love the 20mm rings in combination with the traditional Personal width. The Bloomsbury has the small rings, but the wider cut for two pen loops. And the smooth Nappa leather with the slightest bit of padding is very pleasant to hold. The Boston A5 is the exact same leather, but the interior layout isn’t as functional as the Bloomsbury, although it does have the coveted elasticated pen loop.

4. How many Filofax or other brands of organisers do you own?

8 right now –  all have 20mm rings or smaller.

5. What is the oldest organiser in your collection?

Oldest age-wise is the Kate Spade Elyce from 2002. The glazed leather is just so wonderful.

6. What do you use your organisers for?

I do my long-term planning in electronic methods. Calendar in iCloud, notes and lists in Evernote. I use binders for a variety of things.

  • Filofax A5 Boston in electric blue  – my custom WO4P and MO4P inserts
  • Filofax Pocket Bloomsbury in tomato – shopping + on-the-go when I leave the A5
  • Filofax Personal Bloomsbury in teal – health & current reading journal
  • Filofax Personal Piazza in a medium coral – empty
  • Kate Spade Personal Elyce Glazed in brick red – book journal archives
  • FranklinCovey Compact Sophia in white – goal notebook
  • FranklinCovey Compact Color Shrunk in navy – the Tomoe river inserts – waiting if the custom A5 system fails
  • FranklinCovey Classic Prestigio in black – family finances

All have been purchased second-hand – retired models appeal to me more, and I see better pictures buying second-hand. Manufacturer promotion photos are abysmal.

7. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

Flexibility.  I haven’t committed to one format for any length of time as my needs change, and the ring binders let me change inserts/sizes as needed. I’ve used inserts from office supply stores, Etsy printables, disassembled bound planners and I went so far as to order Tomoe River paper Universal inserts from Franklin Planner Japan. Right now I’m trying my own A5 design.

8. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

A portable binder that can magically hold Letter month view, Half-Letter week view, and Compact Daily view (A4 month, A5 week and A6 day for non-North American readers)!

Achievable features I would really like in ONE binder:
Non-riveted, removable rings. I prefer my rings on the small side, others prefer huge rings. Give us flexibility. I’d love more options in Personal and A5 20mm rings. I like my Boston, but don’t love the color and would prefer the secretarial flap be on the left.

Secretarial flap – it’s my favorite feature and it’s so simple to add.

Double snap clasp like the Mulberry planners, for days when you’ve tucked a few too many things inside.

Minimum of 5 horizontal card slots that are wide enough to hold US business cards. That’s one of my bugaboos about Filofaxes – the card slots are too narrow for US business cards.

Wider binder - I’d probably own more Filofaxes, if they were a teeny bit wider to accommodate FranklinCovey pages and thick pens. Maybe it’s better they don’t!

Two elasticated leather pen loops that are high up (like the Japanese binders) rather than hiding under the clasp – makes it easier to hook pen clips.

9. How do you carry your Filofax?

For work, my Coach Kimberly Carryall can hold up to an A5, plus my pen case. For weekends, I use a couple of different cross body styles. All new bag purchases must hold a Personal planner and Moleskine Large Volant. The A5 doesn’t go everywhere, unfortunately, which may be its downfall. I’ve noticed it barely gets used on the weekend.

10. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

The Saffiano A5 tempted me, but that weird open notepad slot puts me off. I love the look of all the luxury Compacts, but so many barely hold a pen once you put stuff in the rings. What’s the point of an organizer without a pen? I’ll probably buy one of the new patent Dominos for my daughter, if I can ever find one here in the US.

11. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?

I bought a gorgeous NOS A5 Ascot in blue - $180US a year ago, and sold it in frustration because I couldn’t get any dated inserts for it here. Even though FFUSA has opened the new warehouse, they still have a very limited selection for A5, so I’ve finally found time to design my own.

12. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?

I cut up report cover plastic and use it for a page-wide today marker, dashboard, whatever. It’s thin and clear, so it’s very versatile. I also prefer to buy nice notebooks and cut/punch them for my binders, rather than spending it on flimsy lined paper with narrow ruling. 5mm graph paper is the best!

13. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

I love the fact that there's such a huge international community here, with different people who all have various planners, in various sizes, with various uses - and yet everyone bonds over their love of planning and organisation!

14. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

That it sucks me into its treasure trove of archived information when I should be sleeping… Plus the reviews of all the older models that get added to my wish list.

15. What was the last music track you downloaded or bought?

Am I Wrong, Nico & Vinz. Inspiring and catchy.

16. Have you ever attended a Philofaxy meet-up? If not do you intend to one day? 

No, but for the nearest one planned during Steve’s trip this summer, I will do my best to attend.

17. What was the last movie you watched?

The Imitation Game, in theatres.  Captain America: The First Avenger on Blu-Ray. I’ve been sucked in by the Agent Carter TV series and realized I was really starting in the middle of her storyline. Hayley Atwell is amazing.

18. What was the last book you read?

The Time Trap, second edition by Alex MacKenzie and Patricia Nickerson. I’m still reading it.

Thank you Bree and I hope to meet you in June/July.

As you know we are always looking for new people to appear in our 'Reader Under Spotlight feature, you don't have to be 'well known' or a long term user to be considered to appear in this 'spot'.

So please contact Steve philofaxy at gmail dot com today. Thank you.


  1. I had to laugh at this statement: "A portable binder that can magically hold Letter month view, Half-Letter week view, and Compact Daily view (A4 month, A5 week and A6 day for non-North American readers)! Wouldn't that be wonderful! I'm with you on the pen loops, too.

  2. A universal size for all cards would be a major bonus. New Zealand loyalty cards are all different sizes and plenty of them don't fit into binder card slots.