Planning: Filofax (02)

So, it’s been a couple of months since I started using a Filofax organiser as my diary/planner (I am using the ‘Personal’ size). So far, I am really impressed!

Here are the things I consider to be an advantage (which almost all stem from this being a loose-leaf system):

  • I can choose my own kind of diary insert depending on how much space I need per day. In my case I chose to have two days per page as this allows me to write down a few plans for each day as well as to track what I have done on the day. If in the future I require less or more space, I can make this change without having to get a whole new diary.
  • Because the sheets are all loose, I can insert and remove however many or few sheets as I want (within the capacity of my rings). My rings are 25 mm inner diameter giving me space for four months of two-days-per-page diary in addition to all my other stuff (to-do lists, (blank) notepaper, yearly calendar, lists of other things etc.). When a month has passed, I remove it and store it somewhere safe and then put in a new month so I always have four months of diary with me. Side note: I really want a Personal organiser with 30mm rings. Of the current products, only the Norfolk collection has this size but I don’t buy leather new, so I am keeping an eye out for second-hand Norfolk as well as some of the older collections that do a Personal with 30mm rings.
  • I can have any kind of sections I like because I make my own dividers. For this I use a special hole punch as well as a paper cutter (it saves time and always gives me a straight cut). I can move these sections around as I please and remove and add sections as needed. This means my diary/organiser changes as my needs change as opposed to me having to buy a new diary and copying over the sections I want to retain throughout the years.
  • I will never run out of note paper because I can add in blank pages whenever needed. In this way I also use my organiser as a notebook of sorts meaning I don’t have to carry a notebook in addition to a diary. My Filofax also holds a 4-colour pen so I never have to scramble to find a writing implement.
  • I create some of my own inserts. It is easier to make your own inserts for the A5 size because it means you just cut an A4 size piece of paper in half, whereas the Personal size requires more trimming of paper. However, it is worth it for me to do this for my Personal size for things like printed out to-do lists and some trackers I designed (using Microsoft Publisher software) as it’s faster to create these in a word processor than trying to draw and write them neatly myself (my handwriting is pretty bad!).
  • The inner pockets of my organiser (The Metropol Personal) provide storage space for stickers and sticky notes. You could also use that space to store bank cards, business cards etc.

So, what are the downsides for me? There aren’t many, but if I have to come up with some disadvantages for myself or that I imagine might be the case for another person, I would say these are:

  • The Filofax holes do not align with the ring binder holes that are standard in Europe: I am talking about the generic 2-ring lever arch file. I imagine this might be deliberate so that if you commit to using Filofax, you have to go ‘whole hog’ and get your organiser AND inserts AND dividers from Filofax (or other companies making compatible products). I am currently looking for a way to store my used pages and for now, I just keep them together using loose-leaf binder rings but they are not so convenient if you want to flip through your archived pages. I know Filofax makes ‘storage binders’ but the Personal size costs £11.50, is only 18 mm high (can contain up to 200 pages of 80 gsm paper) and is currently also sold out on their website. Being a ‘stingy Dutch person’, I feel that I wouldn’t be able to fit a whole year into one binder and then it gets a little costly just as a storage solution (more so because I use an A5 Filofax for course work and would like to also store this content but not inside an actual Filofax organiser as that’s too expensive as a storage solution). I wish I could fit my Filofax contents in an A5 2-ring lever arch file as it can contain about 4-5 cm of contents and costs around £5. But I appreciate things cost money and Filofax is entitled to want to make money.
  • One of the selling points of Filofax is that you only need one organiser that you can use throughout many years. My current Filofax organiser is made of faux leather. I bought it second hand but it was unused and is still in really good condition after now being lightly used by me for about three months. However, another unused Filofax I bought, also made of faux leather, had deteriorated over the years (sun exposure or just being exposed to the atmosphere/air) meaning that you may eventually need to replace your Filofax if it is made of a less-durable material. I think you will still get several years of use out of a faux-leather Filofax assuming it’s not too old when you start using it, and leather organisers probably last much longer. I am now just cautious about buying second-hand faux leather as I won’t always be able to tell from photos whether the material is still going to be durable. You would have this same issue with organisers, diaries, and notebooks by other brands made from similar materials.
  • The ring system may eventually wear out. It may eventually not close as tightly anymore or the two halves of a ring may close in a way they are no longer aligned perfectly. This can catch the contents of your organiser. This is a very minor issue on the bottom ring on my Personal organiser. It appears that in Filofax, the rings are not (easily) replaced so when your rings are busted, you may have to retire the whole organiser.
  • The inserts are not cheap when you look at original Filofax products but they do have a wide range of inserts, even some on coloured paper! However, when you compare the costs of a diary insert for a year with a cheaper-end bound diary, Filofax is more expensive. The same goes for Filofax (lined) note paper inserts compared with a cheap (lined) notebook. For some people, it might be too expensive to use a Filofax. I get around this by making many of my own dividers and some of my own inserts. For this, I bought the special hole punch (less than £10 here), but I already had all of the other craft tools I use to make my Filofax stuff, such as large scissors, a paper cutter, a laminator, a label maker, a printer, a ruler etc. I also already had coloured card and coloured paper, label maker tape, laminator pouches. If you would want to buy all of this only for making your own Filofax stuff, then this would be very expensive and not worth the cost: you’d be better off just buying from Filofax or companies/people making compatible dividers/inserts.

I have become a big fan in just these few months of use because for me, Filofax has so many advantages that I can’t imagine going back to a bound planner.

I wish I had known about the rings system as a teenager and student. I honestly don’t know why I never considered such a system before. The only thing I can think of is that I might have thought “I really hate writing on the ‘wrong’ side of a ring-bound notebook as my right hand would be uncomfortable resting on the rings”, but for something like short diary entries this is not an issue at all. If I want to write more than just a quick note on the ‘wrong’ side of the paper, I just take the page out!

Another thing that I might have thought when I was younger was that these ring-bound systems were quite expensive, too expensive for me when I was a teenager. And they do cost more money, even buying a non-leather Personal Filofax you are looking at spending about £35 (or more). The cheapest bound diaries of a similar page size can be purchased for less than £5 at Tesco (I even saw a few that are just £1-2), so that’s a huge difference in price. Additionally, the diary inserts, which you would have to buy each year, cost around £10, which is obviously more expensive than a cheap bound diary. I think here you will just have to consider the difference in quality and the features of a loose-leaf system vs a bound system and decide whether the price difference is worth the features of a loose-leaf system. For me, right now, it absolutely is!

PS: And here is an image of my organiser Metropol in the Personal size:

This Metropol is made of black faux leather. The rings are 25 mm inner diameter, which is smaller than I would prefer, but it’s still very convenient to use (I just can’t store as much junk in here as I’d like!). I created the dividers myself using thick paper, labels made with my label maker, and the whole divider was then laminated. The ‘dashboard’ is made in the same way. I love the plastic from the laminating on the dashboard: sticky notes stick really well to it and you can remove them and place them back many times without the sticking capacity being affected.

By Alex

I have been crafting since early childhood and currently do mostly sewing and illustration. 'Almalauha' is the project I started to showcase my sewing/fashion hobby, at least that was the plan. But because I like a million different arts/crafts things, I'm just going to share most of the creative things I do on this blog.

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