06 November 2023

Guest post series - 'Filohax' No.8 - Paul

Thanks again to Paul for this eighth instalment of his wonderful guest post series. You can find all of the 'Filofhax' posts here

The Filohax Filofax Filosophy - a first year review  

Filofax means 'file of facts' and as such, each size format has a built in limit on the quantity of said 'facts' you can have at your fingertips (unlike smartphones which literally can now give you limitless access to 'facts' via the internet.) So why do we still use our FF?

The esoteric bit
Because humans have evolved to live in a physical Universe, we are hardwired to need to interact with it, and when the physical connections reduce our physical AND psychological health diminishes too.

It's my belief that those of us still using physical organisers or notebooks in general are tuned in to this fundamental drive, we need the feel of the textures, the smell of the leather and 'heft' that a stuffed binder brings (you don't read the word heft everyday, I bet!) 

But as any user of Filofaxes will tell you that imposes physical limits on the number of said 'facts' that can be carried, irrespective of size format.

The old and the new
This presents an opportunity that humanity is missing in our drive for 'more, more, more' and that is to keep the best of both worlds. In my own 'modern era' of Filofax use (my first era was pre internet in the late '80s/'90s), I've gone through the phase I'm sure many of us go through when we come back to or start using FF - where we think that we can carry on stuffing our pride and joy ad infinitum - until you hit the wall - the limits of the rings. 

The Filohax Filofax Filosophy
Rather than being a negative experience, this can be the beginning of our correct usage of our Filofax, whereby its limitations force us to impose value judgements on just what it is that we want and need from our usage. 

My own examples of 'hitting the wall'
As I have said earlier, our imaginations are limitless, but the physical Universe and its limits teaches us discernment (unless you go around the limits by buying more and more Filofaxes and dragging them around in a handcart!). From my own modern era usage, here a few examples of my initial usage:

  • Store limitless images.
  • Keep all of my contacts in written form 'just in case I lose my smartphone and digital backups'.
  • Store all kinds of stuff in the gusseted pockets
Filofax/Smartphone hybrid - Merging the old and the new
It's taken about a year, but I'm now into the next phase of my Filofax use - the hybrid stage, which allows the best of both worlds.
  • Images: instead of trying to use my FF for what smartphone apps such as Pinterest or Evernote do brilliantly, I've moved to rotating a very limited number of edited highlights images (I was only even skimming over a larger quantity anyway - less is more)
  • Contacts: I've created contexts such as Home/Cars/Finances/Entertainment - but more as a quick 'all associated information in one place store', as smartphones already store unlimited amounts of pure contact info
  • Stuffed pockets: I carry my Filofaxes in man bags - so rather than stuff my gusseted pockets with a limited first aid kit etc. it now lives in the man bag, returning a sleeker profile to my beloved Winchesters!
One area of my smartphone/ Filofax usage that has gone in reverse has been my use of 'To-do' lists. I used to use my smartphones 'tasks' app as a dumping ground for every thought/idea as it occurred. Which as a pure 'in-box'/capture device works brilliantly (you can't write a quick thought down - in the rain, in the dark, with one hand - using a Filofax, however mini you go!). But they used to mainly stay there, becoming more and more invisible to me as the list became longer and longer. I've recently bitten the bullet and created a small number of key to-do lists in my personal life FF and I'm loving it. Again, once these lists came back into the real world of paper/pen/leather, I've become engaged with the content in a way I never was when they were in digital form.

Space hacking 

Another way around the physical limitations of using a personal formatted Filofax (and even more essential for Pocket and Mini size users) is to start writing smaller - sounds pretty straightforward, but seriously - you can literally DOUBLE the amount of content on a side of a personal insert by pulling out a pencil and ruling in a line between the standard 5mm lined paper, reducing the line spacing to 2.5mm and writing smaller! I can't now remember what prompted me to do this (something in my work Cavendish - which with its 30mm rings can handle A LOT, but I needed to keep a lot on one side, so wrote smaller, and bingo - I was hooked!) I still use the same 0.7 Frixion pen I've always used, but now can double the amount of information I can store on a side of paper (admittedly my wife has likened me to the main character in the movie 'A beautiful mind'!!). 

I'm only one year in to my modern era FF usage, and with the help of this great Filofax community have come a long way already. Here's to my next year…


  1. Thanks for an interesting series.

    1. Thanks, I'm just share what occurs probably to us all . Paul

  2. A great post Paul. Bridging the gap between the digital world (Computer/Phone etc) and the Analogue world can be quite a challenge but it is worth working at until you are happy with the balance between the two.

    1. Steve, it was heartening to watch Josh L video recently about his own return to a healthier paper/ digital solution.