15 days into 2013 and I'm fairly happy with my filofax. My first filofax - could this be the haze of "I'm in a Perfect World where Filo and I will live happily ever after"? FilofaxUSA keeps sending me e-mails with sales and special offers, but honestly, none of them really tickle me. I do have been considering and checking some filofaxes, but not for me, but for a friend of mine who would profit a lot from the system - she has a job where she has to work with several clients and keep track of their accounts, so what better than a trusty filofax that won't run low on battery in a crucial moment, right?
As you know, I've got myself last year a Personal Size Chocolate Sketch filofax. Chocolate, why chocolate? Call it just brown. It's brown, and it's nice. Honestly - though I love chocolate - I would have prefered if it would have been called "coffee", but then again I think the binder isn't dark enough to be "coffee". However all those fantastic names like Cherry and Chocolate and Hyne-knows-what are - in my opinion - unnecesary adornments for this type of organizational tool. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it? If you have something like a planner, which you'll use for planning and keeping your life organized, and the seller is trying to sell you on other features that don't really have much to do with planning, like "it's so fashionable", "it matches your shoes", "it evokes a perfect vacation on the shores of Cape Verde" and so on... doesn't it make you think "Why is he trying to divert my attention? Is this product faulty? Could it be that it no longer functions as it should?". In my opinion, when the most important thing about a pen is how pretty it looks and how it can hang from your purse and function as an accesory, is because you are not planning to write with it. You get what I mean?
Anyway, edible or not, I've got my brown sketch, and I like it. The stitching isn't perfect, but I like that the corners of the binder are well worked and don't bunch up. It has many pockets, but I hardly use them. I've some of those colored dot stickers, but haven't used them yet. Maybe I'll end up taking them out and giving them to my nephew, so he can do are with them. My older nephew, I mean, because the youngest would probably stick all the dots in his golden curls. This isn't the most expensive binder of the collection, actually is one of the most affordables - currently Personal Size Maroon Sketch filofaxes are sold by as little as $16 or so! - and yet I'm not only absolutely satisfied with it, I look at other binders and think "nah, mine is better". Anyway, let me say it, so it's out there: after you had an A5 planner or so, with a Page-per-Day (PPD) for your notes and jottings, squeezing into a week-on-two-pages in a smaller size is a task. My previous planner had me all spoiled with lots of space for me to jot down phone numbers, notes, scribble down things like recipes, or what I ate, if I was in the mood, the schedules of the movies for that week... Yes, now I have a Notes section, but it's not the same, specially since I've got used to have that information on the day I looked it up, so later on I could refer to it.
But then, what was I doing before 2012, when I wasn't using a planner? I didn't jot those things down in my phone, I had a notebook with all my crazy notes, and where I hardly ever found anything. I guess it will take some time to get me used to the "notes don't go on the space of the day" system. Currently I'm set on eleven sections - yes, eleven - which are divided in three big cathegories (plus the contact one, which isn't listed under any of the cathegories): calendars, track and lists. I'm still working on this, rearranging them and all, and also considering the function some of the sections have, such as Projects, which doesn't seem to be working with me. (I normally track this on Excel, and fitting it into the filofax is proving to be a difficult task). I'm using the Financial Track quite profusely but the inserts I designed aren't as good as I would have loved them to be, but then again, Excel usually takes care of that for me, so all I have to do is still trying. Funny how both Finances and Projects are now on their second insert version and I'm still not there.
It is costly, as I'm paying for the paper and the ink I use to print out my insert versions, but at least it comes out much cheaper than if I had buy the inserts and didn't like them. Um, well... maybe... kinda. However, I must say that I'm very happy with the freedom and the options filofax has yielded for me. From tracking my consuption of fuel, the recharges I put on my phone (since the price of the minutes here are the same for prepaid and post paid mobile phone services, I choose to go prepaid, so that I've on bill less to set my budget off at the end of the month. And no surprise charges!), to keeping a list of my blogposts, and keep all my Lists of 13 in one place, my filofax is working for me quite well. No, it doesn't lie flat when I open it, but I don't see what's the big deal about it. It doesn't close up, and it keeps open the page I need open. It stays open just nice. I have it really full as it is, and as result the inner corners of some pages bend, but that doesn't really annoy me, as I have it already pinched here and there with paperclips.
The binder itself works really nice. It's quite sturdy, clean lined, simple and fits well in my bag, which is the most important thing of all. It's much thicker than my old planner, but my old planner didn't have sections, and I'm loving my sections. Maybe some will disappear with time, maybe others will remain, new ones will be added up, all that is still up to be defined, but as it is, and as I have discovered the freedom of making my own inserts, I started planning my 2014 calendars. Why? Well, it started as an experiment, and out of I have no idea what impulse, I decided to go with inserts in Hungarian. I just hope my spelling was correct. I looked at some old planners for inspiration, and came up with what you see here: a Wo2P with even slots for every day of the week, a segment for weekly notes at the end, and hours from 8 to 15 on the left block, blank for the right block. I would have loved to cover 8 to 18, but that would have been only possible if I made smaller slots for the weekends. so Why 8 to 15? Because most of my work meetings usually are summoned to start between those hours. The odd occasional meeting or appointment past that hour can be inked in the left side - normally left for things that aren't tied to specific hours, as well as for very tight days, these mark the half hours - or by striking out a non-used hour and inking it instead.
I added most of the holidays that affect my workdays here, but I plan on adding other holidays - such as Hungarian holidays, or any funny, specific holiday from wherever my friends are, as well as astrological information.
Perhaps the secret for a good organizational tool isn't in the inserts or the binder, the operative system, the app, the devise or the paper but in your attitude, in your willingness to make it work, in putting yourself the initial sense of being still out of shape for it, but once you are getting the hang of it, it's your job to make it yours. Filofax is big, is endless, and like a wild horse, you must know what you want and where you want to take it or it is going to flip you over and leave you in a bigger mess than what you started with.