Monday, 18 April 2011

That old chestnut... A5 or personal?

I do love my filofaxes, but I am struggling to get one to work ‘in the handbag’ for me.

I keep wanting to get on with a personal size (and I keep on looking at the beautiful Baroque and sighing) but it still just doesn’t seem to be happening for me. It’s a shame because I have (um, several…) beautiful filofaxes without a use (yes… how did that happen??) But, I have the age-old dilemma of wanting to carry something small around with me, but feeling as though I need something larger to make it useable.

My work set-up (which I blogged about here) is still ticking all the boxes for me. It uses a modified four bucket system and so far, has not let me down. But, I only thankfully work part-time and the jade Finchley stays at work and I currently don’t have a home-filofax that travels. I have a writing filofax which makes the odd trip, but not something that I couldn’t leave the house without.

Since my work filofax set-up is going so well, a huge chunk of me wants to replicate it for a home version. The modified four-buckets system would still work well – diary, to-do (‘global’ but non-work), the daily plan, and information (addresses, personal info etc). I would always add a ‘notes’ section as a fifth bucket – basically a landing pad for jotting things down which then gets sorted more usefully. But, do I replicate it in the personal size or in the A5?

I’m generally an A5 girl (ahem… woman) – I like the ability to produce my own pages and I love the space to be creative, but is that what I need for my carry-around?

Let’s take each section/bucket and think about it.

Oh yes. Let’s start with the difficult one!

Now, those of you who follow my ramblings here and on Philofaxy will know that I have talked about the DO2P being my thing, since I like to have my daily To-Do list and so on to hand. But… I also like need to see my week to view and life is too short to write things out again and again. With a work diary, and a week to view and then also a daily one in a carry-around, this seems like too much effort and a chance for things to go wrong. I also only need a non-work filofax to plan half of my week since the work half is planned brilliantly in my jade Finch. So to my mind, a whole year of week on 2 pages diary when I only need it to plan about half the week (and then not really the weekends) is just too much. I also don’t have squillions of non-work appointments in a day and so I reckon a week on one page with notes would be the format to go for in a carry-around. Then I would know what was coming up at work (in a “am-I-lecturing-first-thing-tomorrow?” kind of panic way) and have space to write notes relating to the week . Since I don’t really care which side of the rings the diary is, I also reckon I could do a fix with the basic week on a page diary interleaved with notes or to-do pages, but we’ll see.
A5 or Personal? As long as it lies flat out of the box so I can have it open on my desk at home when I need to, to see both sides of the diary pages, the size isn’t important. I can handle taking the pages out to write the daily list in if the rings get in the way and probably don’t need the size of the A5 if I’m honest.

Thankfully, life splits easily into work and not-work and this would be for everything ‘not work’. Again, I am happy to take the pages out of the filofax if I have to (but would prefer not to). I do like the big pages because to-do lists can run on a bit, but it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. I often make a To-Do hack of drawing a line down the RHS of a normal lined sheet of paper (for ticking things off) and writing To-Do on the top of the page. In a personal size, this would give me more than enough space.

The daily plan
This is where I struggle on non-work days. I generally work better if I plan my days by putting things from the global to-do list into real time slots – i.e. scheduling the tasks. At work, I use scrap paper (A6 size), punched with three holes (to fit one set of rings on the A5) and I throw them away at the end of the day, which implies that the personal size would be okay and the A5 perhaps too big.

Another area where I have found working out what to carry around more tricky than I expected. The filofax should be a repository for all the important information, like addresses and phone numbers of friends, contacts and services. I even have some ‘yellow-pages’ personal size address pages to put the details of essential companies on. So why are these still written on scraps of paper or just circled in the phone book? More because I haven’t put the effort in than because the size/format is wrong. Again, no need for the A5 size and I have plenty of personal-size inserts that would work (and the yellow-pages ones would be excellent).

Landing pad
I like my landing pad to be either a block of paper near the front or a pad of paper in the back cover in an A5 binder. In a personal, this would have to be a pad in the back because of the rings/large hands issues. Incidentally, my personal-size Baroque has a slot for a pad in the back…

Other stuff
Yes, I know, there isn’t an ‘other stuff’ bucket (and probably nor should there be) but this is about aesthetics and personal things, like, I want to carry around some cards or pictures with me to remind me of people/things etc. In an A5 this would be easy-peasy because I have splashed out on a hole-punch. For the personal, short of buying a personal-size punch this would be less easy-peasy. I find the filofax hole-punches a complete rip off, but there is probably a non-filofax hole-punch that would be the right size for the personal (whereas there just wasn’t for the A5). Maybe if it would make me carry a personal size filofax, the expense of a hole-punch would be worth it.
I’ve already said that I like to make my own inserts for the A5 and these are incredibly easy with A4 paper, booklet printing and a hole-punch. I even get them all to match using the same cream printer paper, which gives an extra point to the A5 size. However, in the personal size’s favour, you can get lots of other brands to fit in, as well as filofax’s own brands which makes less need for custom pages. In addition, I could buy a pack of plain filofax paper and print onto it for anything else that I needed.
Weight: A5-girl as I am, even I recognise that the personal has the edge when it comes to the sheer size if the thing!

You know, in writing this, I’ve just about persuaded myself to give the Baroque a spin and see how it goes… Keep you posted!


  1. Wow. wow. wow wow wow. I wish I was that organized about not knowing what to do. Honestly I have no idea what to do but I feel like I'm not even close to knowing.

    I also wish I had more then one - I just found my filofax -having misplaced it for a few weeks. I'd all but given it up for gone and had no back up.

    It was humbling.


  2. You have lots of great ideas! I really think you should give the personal baroque a try. I have an A5 as a craft o fax but it is way too big to be portable for me so I stick with the personal size.
    I look forward to a personal Baroque post ;-)

  3. @Crazy Suburban Mom - maybe it's just my OCD shining through! :-)
    Glad you found your FF and hope you don't lose it again.

    @CP - your wish may come true!