Monday, May 30, 2011

Plannerd: Filofax Part 1

When I was in college, my roommate and bestie, who was a far better student than me, carried around a navy blue, pleather-bound agenda to keep track of her classes and whatever extra-curricular activities she participated in. (She kept up her grades, worked a part time job, and joined clubs. I drank beer, watched Melrose Place, and sometimes remembered to go to class.) After studying, she would pull out her agenda every night, ticking things off on its pages, and looking somewhat smug and accomplished as she closed the cover with a little flourish. I was a diary-nerd, constantly buying different hardbound blank journals and pretending I was Anais Nin, so I understood the satisfaction of closing a cover after scribbling, but still. I had no interest in planners and no idea of their potential. (Plus I saw them as a symbol for super-conservative, ultra-boring business people--how wrong I was!) Outwardly, I would laugh at her nerdishness, write "Psych Midterm?" on my Andy Warhol calendar in the general vicinity of when the midterm might be, then go back to watching Melrose Place. But I secretly envied how competent and organized she was.

Fast forward a few years later to when I was an impressionable, twenty-five year-old retail store manager and one of my employees showed up with a Franklin Covey planner. She was young, scatter-brained, and even more disorganized than I was. But IT. IT was large, made of smooth, black leather, zipped all the way around, and had handles that slid out from its exterior pockets. It was beautiful and so business-like. She waxed lyrical about how this bad boy changed her life and opened it up like she was revealing some sacred book to me. OK, her calendar wasn't very exciting ("Work: 5-9"), but the forms! The tabs! The blank note pages! I had no idea what the hell it meant to "sharpen the saw", but the diary-nerd in me was beginning to see the potential.

My gateway planner was Franklin Covey. My first was a burgundy binder with sliding handles and a long strap so that I could carry it like a purse. I looked so organized! So competent! Like someone who made lists! But the planner was bulky and I couldn't actually use it as a purse because it would hold neither lipstick, nor keys, nor tampons. And it still looked really "corporate zombie" to me. So I ditched it for several no-name day planners bought at Target or Borders or the grocery store. Then I began a series of "grown-up" jobs and thought it was time to get serious about my time management again. I went back to Franklin Covey, though I was never satisfied with it and still had no idea what "sharpen the saw" meant. Over the years, I've bounced back and forth between Franklin Covey, DayTimer, Levenger, Palm Pilot, Designers Guild, Moleskine, and, finally, Filofax!

Stay with me, planner-nerds (Plannerds!), now comes the good stuff:

I am a sucker for a beautiful notebook, so that right there made Filofax perfect for me. My first was and still is a sexy beast. It was a personal sized Dorset in the loveliest, warmest shade of orange. Not creamsicle orange, but not so somber as rust. The interior was a creamy light beige (but beige is too boring a word for this color) that contrasted beautifully. I used the week-on-two-pages to schedule in appointments and deadlines (I was a grant-writer for a non-profit then), and I filled the address section with my Christmas card list, but I hadn't found a way to use the other tabs, so they remained blank, blah and empty. This was my go-to planner for years. Here she is today:

Currently, she holds my Christmas card list, and important information like bank accounts, passwords, etc. This is the Filofax I will grab on my way out the door during a house fire.

After several house moves and, oh, a daughter being born, my Dorset was packed away in boxes we hadn't yet got to, and I admit I strayed and used a moleskine for about 18 months. In researching other planning systems,  I came across the most awesome Filofax community ever, and I was once again obsessed with Filofax. So I bought another Filofax to use in absence of my Dorset: a Personal Domino in Electric Blue, which ended up being ordinary purple. It was fine, it was serviceable, but it didn't excite me. I didn't love writing in its pages, I didn't love holding it, I didn't stroke it. Nope, not even once. It was clear I needed my Dorset back. Still, I hated to get rid of the Domino so I continued to use it. Here it is today:

Currently it holds archive pages and blank pages for future use. It makes cute storage.

I finally found my Dorset and she was buried under the heaviest paper cutter in existence. I'd also packed her with a small binder clip still attached to her front cover, so she was, to say the least, a little mangled. Oh, my baby! I was heartbroken.

I needed a new Filofax. A beautiful Filofax. One I would use everyday and treasure forever, and not bury under heavy office supplies in a box misleadingly labeled "books". I also decided, it had to be yellow. Sunny yellow. The Filofax website didn't offer anything I was interested in, but I was sure dream-Filo existed somewhere. And then I remembered Ebay. I typed in "Yellow Filofax" and to my surprise and joy, this turned up:

She is a Personal Piazza in Sunflower. She was PERFECT! I used the Buy It Now option and in less than two weeks, she was in my hands, being stroked, cuddled, even talked to. (Yes, I am aware I may have a problem.) I bought a pen in brown ink especially for her cotton cream pages. Not only was she as gorgeous as I'd hoped, but I was suddenly struck by inspiration and began decorating her divider tabs, coming up with different uses for each section. Let's have a few more looks:

Front page shows a picture of the kissiest three-year-old ever and a note from the husband.

Divider pages made from scrapbook paper.


Diary pages on the left because I had extra from 2010, so I use them as note/scrap paper (but turned upside down so I don't confuse them with my actual diary pages.) 2011 diary pages begin after the polka dots.

Fashion inspiration--I love Kate Spade and I love yellow.

I carry my Filofax in my bag every day. I love to write in her every day. I love to hold her in my hands, even when I don't need to use her. I keep my calendar, tasks, key contacts, lists, projects, inspiration photos and random bits and bobs in her. I even use her as my really big wallet. I refer to her as "her". I've stopped just short of giving her a name. My husband thinks that if I wrote a list of who I loved best in my household, my list would look like this: 1.) daughter; 2.) Filofax; 3.) husband; 4.) dog.

I have no response to that.

So after all this, she seems like the end-all, be-all of Filofaxes to me, right? Or is she? 


  1. Excellent post! I love that yellow Filofax! They should totally make more yellow cheery and special!
    The "who I love best in my household" list is hilarious :O)

  2. At least your husband got 3rd place. Mine...well...hmmn....lovely post about your planner history!

    That sunflower color is so pretty! Love the Domino, too. They all have a job to do, so all are cherished, yes? Thanks for posting!

  3. Love this post - the orange Dorset and yellow Piazza are such beautiful colours!!

    And your dividers are very pretty!!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I came across it on my search of filofax binders. I also am a planner lover and nice to know the passion is shared!

  5. Your blog is pretty funny. After decades I finally found the best way to use my Filofax. Feels good! Are you still around on some other media?

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE your Filofax Piazza in Sunflower! I have been trying and failing at finding one to purchase! Beautiful!