05 February 2024

Trying different sizes with a difference

On Friday Laurie asked had people successfully downsized their size of Filofax. I mistakenly read it as downsizing their Filofax collection <cough!>  No!! It was definitely the size of Filofax you regularly use. 

It was interesting to see the cycles people had been through. Take a read of the comments for yourself. 

Here is my own 'cycle' 

Before 1986 I used to use an ordinary pocket diary, nothing special, a different one each year. I wasn't very well organised at all. 

In 1986 I got my first Filofax a Winchester in Personal size of course! 

Looking back at my inserts for the years 1987 onwards I used it partially as a journal with minimal planning. If only I had known this wasn't quite how I should have used a Filofax then! 

For what ever reason I drifted in to using an electronic organiser in the form of a Casio Digital Diary in the mid 1990's 

Considering the amount of storage this had (64 kilobytes) I was able to store my reminders, appointments, telephone numbers and a few notes. I still have a couple of these and the PC cable. The software though was written for Windows and it was always a little hit and miss to sync it with Outlook. 

However, as a very portable digital device it worked/works very well. Batteries only need to be changed about every 18-24 months and it is possible to change them without losing all the data. 

The main limitation was the screen size, typing on such a small keyboard took a little bit of practice!

By the time I 'upgraded' to my Psion 5mx, my Filofax had been stored away and more or less forgotten. 

I really liked using the Psion, the 'Agenda' layout even looks like a Filofax M2. 

The Psion was my workhorse for a number of years in the late 1990's and in the early 2000's. I briefly used an HP iPaq, but I didn't get on as well with its Windows operating system as I did the Psion. The Psion could be synced with Outlook and had applications for Email and Contacts etc. 

It has 16 Megabytes of internal storage plus the option of additional storage in the form of a CF Memory card (up to 2GB), quite a jump compared to the Casio. 

Sadly security of email servers has overtaken the standards that the Psion was written for, so even if I could connect it to the internet, it would be very difficult to fully use all its applications. In-stand-alone unconnected mode it is still possible to use the Psion as a diary, To-Do list and with some applications. 

Then a big changed in my career. In 2005 I started a new job where I was not permitted to use personal electronic devices in the office. I went back to using my Winchester. 

With a new set of inserts and an up to date diary insert I was up and running again. 

I then discovered that Filofax now did A5 and Pocket sizes. I got a Filofax Finsbury A5 mainly because printing my own inserts for A5 size was going to be much easier. 

It was the start of my A5 obsession I guess. 

Then along came Philofaxy and the Filofax obsession really kicked in. Whilst I was still an A5 user. In retirement I started to experiment with all the sizes. 

From the massive A4 Classic shown here next to the A5 Finsbury. 

Whilst it doesn't look that much bigger, it is when you open it up on your desk you realise how much space it is going to take up! 

At the other extreme I've tried out the Filofax M2 as a pocket planner/wallet. Shown here next to a Malden Mini, similar page size, but the M2 is Landscape rather than the usual Portrait and only has three rings rather than the five in Mini size. 

I've also used Pocket and A6 with varying degrees of success! 

If you look at the different personal size organisers I've used, they have varied from the Slimline Personals with 11mm rings through to the big Moterm Versa with 30mm rings and the Gillio Mia Cara (similar to the Moterm in bulk) 

The Gillio Mia Cara (Medium/Personal Size)

The Moterm Versa

Having settled in to A5 size over 10 years ago, I've not changed from using that size. I have often changed which A5 organiser I use, but that was just to try out different ones. 

It wasn't until 2012 that I got my first iPhone and that was fairly limited because of the small screen. I've replaced my iPhone a few times since then, but my use of 'digital' planning has not increased. If anything my use of my organiser has increased, because I am more comfortable using that and there is less distractions and less chance of losing information down a digital rabbit hole. 

For me settling on an insert design that suits my day to day life has been more important than what organiser, or what page size I use. 

I have a wide range of A5 organisers in ring sizes from 16mm to 35mm. I tend towards 25-30mm most of the time though. 

Overall my progression has been Paper (Personal Size) > Digital > Paper (Personal Size) > Paper (A5 Size run in parallel with some Digital planning but not in place of paper.  

My most often used A5 - Van der Spek Custom. 


  1. Don‘t ask me about changing sizes 😉 I changed so often, let‘s see if I can recap: years ago, at school I started with Pocket size, I had it a long time just for appointments (don‘t know the name, little leather zip one, still in good shape); no digital device after that; A4 sometimes with self printed journal pages; kind of A5 bound thin planner for appointments. Then, about 10 years ago the rabbit hole started: A6, B6, Personal, A5, HBxWA5 …. rings, discs, bound book … with varying paper sizes, depending on what would fit into what cover (A6 wide, B6 wide, Franklin Compact). A change would happen very often throughout the year. Right now either A5 or HBxWA5. Everything else is too small for me. Let‘s see where the journey will take me, the year has just started 😊

  2. I had a casio electronic diary like that but possibly with a smaller memory. I was still at school so couldn't take it there and it basically became something I played with in the evening than a planning tool. Later on my pocket zip filofax did a similar role, but very productive use of either of them.

    I so wanted a Psion though. They were so advanced and expensive. Much like the latest galaxy s series ultra smart phone or latest iPhone is today! Not in my budget. Which is where an £80 Holborn personal sized filofax seems like a real bargain!

  3. Thank you for sharing your 'cycle', Steve. Very interesting & great minds think alike, as I will be writing my own post too about how I've changed organiser sizes over the years.

  4. Marie-Hélène Lachaud05 February, 2024 07:27

    My most used size is Personal. I’ve tried many others, from Happy Planner (every size !), Erin Condren, to A5 rings, pocket rings, A6 rings, mini rings, but I’m feeling most confident and comfortable in my Personal planners. I even tried personal wide, that I liked a lot, because you can adapt any A6 insert to this format, only by printing a little bigger.
    This year though I wanted to use my A6 binders, without losing the height of personal inserts. This is how I discovered Franklin Covey Compact sized inserts. Now I’m using both : personal and FCC, so two planners parallelly. I must confess I had my first Filofax in the early 90’s… Then I found - as I’m French and living in France - the Exacompta inserts, same height as personal, but up to 10,5 cm wide. And some German similar inserts, also a little wider than personal. So I like personal, yes, but a little wider.
    This was my planners size journey !
    Emmashell1 ( = Marie-Hélène Lachaud )

    1. I tried Exacomptinserts some years ago. I liked the daily layout (day per page or two pages per day, can‘t remember). The paper was of good quality then.

    2. Hi Steve, I had the Psion 5mx too. The integrated keyboard was great. I would have bought a successor at once, if they had made one with Bluetooth, WiFi, Cellular, colour display, more memory, USB, MP3…

      I had some smartphones from Sony Ericsson after putting the Psion at rest, now using an iPhone. In the end I returned to paper planning after about ten years of trying out digital personal devices - that was 13 years ago, and I am still on paper.

  5. I got a personal size ring binder in 1996 as a teenager, but I only used it for about a year because I didn't bother buying any refills. After that I used simple pocket calendars and of course my iPhone from the 2010s onwards. My Filfax passion began late in 2018. But it was always clear to me that it was personal size for me. I've also recently started using A5s for work. But the other way around would never be an option. My “weak point” lies more in the setup. Greetings, Klaus