Since we met, I've been dragging him over to the dark side of stationery, Filofaxes and fountain pens and he has kindly agreed to do a guest post about how he uses his Filofax for keeping his life in order. Over to you, Stuart!
[click on any picture to enlarge]
|Stuart's trusty Malden A5|
Late in 2014, I sold my business and set up a website, www.stuartlennon.com boldly declaring myself a writer.
Waking up without a business to run was liberating. My time was my own. Soon, I discovered that without focus, my time was simply evaporating.
In an online writer’s community, I met a certain Amanda and somehow or other, we got to talking about fountain pens and paper.
Within days, I was an inveterate stationery addict and began considering whether Amanda’s excellent ‘Planning System’ (which you can read about here) might help me get a grip on my productivity.
Size / SystemI had used DayTimer in the past, and researched other US systems, such as Franklin Covey. I saw no compelling reason to go for US binding over UK/EU. On size, I knew that A5 was my favourite. If I need to have a planner with me – then it is not too cumbersome, but it is big enough to be easy to write in at my desk; where it spends most of its time. I carry an A6 notebook as my ‘portable’.
My wife has pointed out to me that I am therefore not able to commit to further appointments if I don’t have my diary with me. She is right (always!), but I see this as a benefit. It allows me to return home and reflect on whether I need or want to attend another meeting rather than be pressganged into an unnecessary one.
Planner LayoutI have traditionally used two page per day, with every moment of every day accounted for (and often billed for). I no longer need this. Amanda put forward a persuasive argument about the benefit of seeing an entire week at one glance. My intention was to use the planner pages for fixed appointments and time blocking. Notes and task lists were going to be somewhere else. Week to view looked good.
|Week to view diary (by Smythson)|
Planner PaperI now use and enjoy a fountain pen. Modern Filofax paper is not well thought of by fountain pen users. Despite this, there seems to be very little provision in the market place for ‘ink friendly’ Filofax inserts. One possible solution is to print my own. Some clever and generous people at www.philofaxy.com and www.mylifeallinoneplace.com have designed bespoke layouts, which can be downloaded and printed at home. A less labour-intensive, but costlier solution is to buy Smythson refills. Being clumsy and incompetent at most craft activities, I went for Smythson.
BindersI researched at www.philofaxy.com, another excellent recommendation from Amanda. Committed as I was to Smythson diary refills, one of their binders seemed a good idea. The price gave me pause. I settled on a Filofax Malden in Ochre. I prefer a little flexibility and soft feel over rigidity. There are two pen loops. I am able to fit my fountain pen in either. Inside front cover of the binder has a variety of slip pockets and a full height zipper pocket. The Malden goes for £112 on the Filofax website, but I found it at £77 at WH Smith online.
|A5 Malden Filofax|
SetupInserts: Week to view diary, section dividers, address pages and lined note paper – all from Smythson. Another section divider, address index, more note paper, neon Post-it selection and plastic wallet are from Filofax. Information pages are from both suppliers.
There is something reassuringly snobby about the Smythson information pages. A chap needs to have a wine vintage chart, the telephone numbers of the principal London Clubs and of course the the British Field Sport Season dates to hand at all times. Obviously.
Next come my Key Result Areas, and adaptation of Amanda’s planning system. These nestle behind the numbered cream dividers supplied by Filofax.
|Key Results Area cover|
|Key Results Area sheets|
Then come the gilded royal blue diary pages from Smythson and the addresses section. I keep postal addresses here – for people with whom I correspond in the old-fashioned way. Electronic data and telephone numbers live with their devices. Finally comes a notes section and the utilities, such as the Post-Its.
My intention is to carry Rhodia shopping lists in the pocket on the inside of the rear cover of the Malden. These will serve as my task lists. Keeping them as pads will allow me to use them independently of the binder – perhaps open beside me as I tear through my admin chores for the day (Please God!)
|Two Rhodia shopping list pads in the back notebook slot|
ReviewSo far, I have found it useful to place the paper where I intend to write the most in the middle of the binder. This ensures a flatter surface than when writing on pages at the front or the back. The look, feel and smell of the Malden is gorgeous. I’m convinced that my vowels are more rounded, simply by carrying it. The Smythson paper is fantastic to write on. It is indulgent, but, for me at least, worth it. The Filofax inserts in cotton cream were not as poor to write on as I had expected, but do suffer in comparison to the higher quality paper.
Many thanks to Stuart for letting us peek into his Filofax!