Anyone still use a Filofax?

by Carl. 55 Comments

Filofax and iPhoneThe first Filofax was sold in 1921. A Filofax was once the must-have accessory for the young and upwardly mobile in the Eighties but today, some might even wonder what a Filofax is…

I used to love my Filofax. I moved to PDAs some time ago with the Palm Pilot III, to Palm Tungsten-T, to Windows Mobile based HP iPAQ and now to Apple iPhone.

I’m never on the move without my 3000+ contacts, my wireless Internet access, my 7+ days of music and so much more.

I still have my twenty-year old Filofax but have to admit it’s been ages I did not buy any refill. My Filofax now looks so useless, does anyone still use a Filofax?

55 Responses to Anyone still use a Filofax?

    • Carolina says:

      I love my Filofax. I have an iPhone, iPad, outlook, all that but I can’t live without my Filofax. I finally bought a style I think I can live with forever, I’ve purchased so many. I can remember things I write instead of what I’ve pecked on a gadget.

  1. David Bosman says:

    I hope you won’t mind my comment: I stumble on your blog googling about Filofax :)

    I probably went trough everything digital (palm, psion, PocketPC, smartphone, iPhone,…). Always came back to my trusty, sturdy, easy (as in “nothing as intuitive &/or as fast as pen & paper”), crash free and no-battery-required Filofax for calendars and projects planning.
    Contacts are in the iPhone, since I often need to mail or phone them :)
    As far as I am concerned, the only digital gizmo that can compare to a Filofax is a Psion.

    • gillian says:

      Oh yes! I still have my Psion 5 and then the 7… now my children use them to ‘play’ at computers… and I have just dusted down my old filofaxes and one is being used in school and I use the other one….
      and I now have an iphone too…. but there is something potent about pen and paper….
      ;-)
      regards from Australia….
      gillian

  2. Carl says:

    True, I forgot about the Psion. They used to build some remarkable devices and their philosophy can be seen as still been carried on with the survival os Symbian…

  3. Carl says:

    Hi Johannes,
    That’s uncommon… While I often would be glad to switch back to Filofax, I immediately see the drawbacks, mainly in terms of updating and backup of my agenda and contact list.

  4. Jørgen says:

    How do you store old filofax sheets? Is there anywhere to get a simple ringbinder for this purpose? The official filofax storage binder is quite expensive. It would be nice to have a reference if I suddenly have to check what happened ten years ago etc.

  5. Carl says:

    Hi Jørgen,
    I have to admit that my old Filofax sheets are stored either in shoe boxes or, worse, just as is in my desk’s drawers as so many other stuff. My Filofax sheets go back to 1991… Sad to say but I almost never go back to them except by chance.

  6. Tom Adams says:

    Hi guys, my name is Tom, im 14, i run a successful business converting photos, videos, slides and negatives to DVD, email or prints. I recently bought a Filofax Identity (Personal Size) to keep the business organized, i too own an iPhone 3G and find it invaluable but still prefer pen and paper. If anyone has any tips on how to properly organize a filofax (e.g proper use of pages, indexers etc) please let me know, also any suggestions on how to keep my business organized on my iPhone and also some pros / cons of paper and digital would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks Very Much in advance,

    Tom Adams
    tomadamscc@hotmail.co.uk

  7. rahman says:

    Hi guys
    I am a 50+ grandfather still working in the administrative area and also active in community works. Need to balance time for family, works and my community works. Now using iPAQ for contacts and to access e-mails and internet. but still rely solely on my A5 filo for time planning, projects follow-ups and for quick recording of notes (my iPAQ slow to do this).
    The other plus about filo is that I could keep receipts, cheques, etc important piece of paper…..

  8. Erin says:

    I do. I wouldn’t be caught without it. I’ve tried many, many PDAs and “Smart Phones” with little success. Among those: Apple Newton, Palm Pilot, several Handspring devices, Palm Treo, General Magic DataRover, RIM BlackBerry..

    Need to enter an appointment? How about a phone number while in a crowded restaurant / busy establishment. Wait. Turn on. Select App. Select field. Key in using tiny keyboard or stylus. Select field. Key in phone no…. repeat…

    Ugh, was just a pain. That said, I do use my phone’s built-in address book as I find it much quicker for on-the-go dialing.

  9. Jjeopp says:

    I’ve tried the iPhone – its a HUGE non-productivity gadget. It actually distracted me more so since its limited in what you can do with it and regardless of the GTD apps you use on it, a horrible device for organizing and Getting Things Done. Wretched.

  10. Rahman says:

    Yes. I started using Personal Lincoln about 19 years ago. In between, bought several more Filo. Migrated to PDA for about 3 years, and now back using A5 Finchley. Entering the 2010’s holidays and birthday in the new calendar refill.
    I guess this is the planner for me.

  11. Phil says:

    Hi there, couldn’t be without my dear filofax, I have tried all sorts of gadgets and PDA’s etc. even a Windows Mobile but nothing beats my filofax. I use it for cash expenditure, diary, work, contacts even meal planning and shopping (must be quite sad!!). Goodness knows what I’d do if I lost it, I’ve been using filofax for around 20 years now. A true companian!

  12. Patricia says:

    I love my filofax. I’m a visual person and as such work better with paper, those who are logical get on with PDAs. There is a place for both.

    It takes me just seconds to find things, while if I use a mobile it takes me ages. The filofax doesn’t need recharging, doesn’t break when dropped, looks professional, doesn’t bleep at the wrong time, and can’t be hacked.

  13. Michelle says:

    Definitely Filofax. Love both my pocket and personal Finsbury to pieces. Sure, I keep my BB on hand for emails etc, but the organisers are still the best way to keep track of your appointments and to-do list.

  14. Janek says:

    Hi. I have been using both a pocket and a personal Filofax for over 30 years, before they became fashionable in the 80s! Would be totally lost without them. The personal sits on my desk and acts as a backup for the pocket version, which never leaces my side (sad, eh). I also use a Palm-based device, but find using paper and pen much easier, etc., as also mentioned by people before. Can’t see me ever giving up the Filofaxes.
    I also keep my old diary sheets – they enable me to recall events which would otherwise have been long forgotten.

  15. Rahman says:

    Deal all and Janek
    We are the small breed of pple still using the Filo….. many in my circle already using phone’s organizer.. like the iphone. Life had became too complex. Once I asked someone for direction.. instead of just tell me where to go.. he fished out his phone and started checking the G-map. All are in the phone now… with very little left in the head!

  16. Zedzian says:

    Janek, how long have you had your Pocket Filofax? I’m curious as to when this model was introduced, originally with only 4 rings, later models with 6 (that’s why the diary inserts are punched to fit 4 OR 6 rings). I know the “Personal” size was the original size, going back to 1921. If you’ve been using the Pocket for 30 years, that puts it at 1980, at the least.

  17. Janek says:

    Hi Zedzian. Apologies, but my poor grammar skills have led to the impression that I have been using a pocket Filofax for the same amount of time as the Personal. In fact, I think it’s only some ten or so years that I started uding a pocket version as well as the personal version.

  18. Rahman says:

    Glad to know there are still many using the Filo! To me it is more than an organizer – its my tool for “Getting Things Done”. I’ve printed the GTD’s template on blanks Filo’s papers and used them to track my projects, my agenda, etc, etc. Of course, these are some trade off – i.e. ease of entry vs search capability,etc, etc

  19. Mark says:

    I’ve been using a filofax since 1985 (I think); it’s a bit battered now, and I love it. For me, an iPhone wold never be a substitute. BUT, I now have to have an electronic calendar shared with others (sigh…..). What I really want is an insert for a filofax that would carry and iPhone. This must be easy, but I have yet to find one. Any thoughts?

  20. Philthewizard says:

    In reply to your comments Mark, I think we need to write to Filofax to ask if they have any plans to make an accessory to support iPhone/blackberry etc. In our Filofaxes. I heavily rely on my Filofax (just got a Scanda personal) but use iPhone for music, games and for excel and word and emails. Think I will be writing. Good to hear you’ve had your Filofax since 1985. I had mine since 1990 so it was time for a new one!

  21. Mark says:

    Seriously, Chris, I do. I also use an iPhone 4, and a whole heap of other toys which – unlike a filofax – will be in the trash in three years time. But thanks for your kind feelings – the sort of people who use a filofax will enjoy them :)

  22. Chris says:

    Fair enough, i guess i was just trying to stir it up in the filofax community :-) Forgive me.

    On a serious note, do you think an iPad could replace a filofax? I know there are plenty of decent looking note taking apps for it.

  23. David Bosman says:

    I mean, cm’on, you still use a filofax? Seriously?

    Seriously? Yep. Even if I also own an iPad, an iPhone and a bunch of laptops.

    A Filofax (pen + paper in a clever binding) is dead easy, flexible, fast and reliable. Not only that, but it’s a nice object that wears well (“wear off well”? My english is rather poor, I’m afraid) and, as stated by Mark, that’ll last quite a bit longer than any of the high-tech gizmos some of us are also using ;)

    Thxs for your concern, but there is no need to feel sorry for us ;)

  24. Philthewizard says:

    Chris, I have noted your comments about Filofax and also noted Mark’s reply to them. I can assure neither an Iphone nor an Ipad (which I am in possession of both) could not replace my Filofax. I see this sort of technology as the latest ‘must have’ gadgets and like most men want them. However, when it comes to requiring prompt and reliable information fast, then I use my Filofax which I have recently renewed and cost me £100 as it is a Personal Scanda, which, for me is a better companion than any technology on the market.

  25. Chris says:

    What if you loose your filiofax? Or there is a fire? or someone steals it? If you use an ipad correctly then you can’t really loose any data because it will all be backed up in the cloud. So, in a sense, the data on an iPad could last forever.

    Also with online calendars you can easily setup reminders. e.g. on google calendar i can setup free SMS text message reminders for events.

  26. Chris says:

    Just imagine a world without filofaxes (god forbid!), where all you could use was an iPad. In what situations would the iPad not suffice?

  27. David Bosman says:

    A reminder ? A glance at my daily calendar gives me all the reminders I may need ;)

    Loosing/burning/stealing a Filofax? I guess it may happen. But it never happened to me in the last 15 years. On the other side, I stopped keeping count of all digital things I lost in the same time–blame it on faulty hardware, thiefs or my own and numerous mistakes (I also do mistakes on paper, but the cost is always so much less than accidentally wiping a file and its backups) ;)

    It is not a question to know wether the iPad is “enough” or not. Of course it is, and it’s a great tool. But as far as I’m concerned, the question is to know which tool is the best for doing what I want, the job I am being paid for. It’s all about finding the right tool, be it digital or not. And I don’t mind having more than one tool in my toolbox.

    What does the iPad gives me I don’t already have with a Filofax?
    What does it take away from what I already have with a Filofax?
    When you answer these questions, you know if and why you have to change your tools, or not ;)

  28. David Bosman says:

    Update: For example, one thing the iPad (or any other digital calendar I know of) still doesn’t have, that I have on the Filofax: a 6/12 months view.

    I am a publisher, I constantly need to see my planning for the next 6 or 12 months (with almost day to day appointments), in order to make decisions and adjust things. Try to display 180 or 360 days on a single view on the iWhatever–I mean without having to click trough a hell of sub-menus. On the Filofax, it fits on the two sides of a single sheet of paper ;)

  29. Sarah McQuaid says:

    I rely on iPhone (synced with a MacBook) for contacts and calendar (as well as for emails, maps etc etc) but — after trying a whole host of “To Do” apps over the past couple of years — have concluded that I’m better off keeping my GTD system on paper. Bought a Filofax Mini (Lyndhurst as I wanted the zip-round, Mini size as I refuse to tote around anything larger) and immediately discarded the calendar and address pages. Think I’ve pretty well sorted out how to use tabs to implement GTD in it, but would appreciate suggestions for keeping it stocked with paper in a cost-effective way — the Filofax branded paper is bloody expensive!

  30. Zedzian says:

    For my Pocket Executive (which is a slimline with 7/16″ rings, I just buy cheap lined 3 x 5 notepads, tear out the pages, then punch them with the Filofax 6-hole punch. Come to think of it, you could do the same thing. Using a guillotine, just trim the 3 x 5 notepaper to Mini size (2 5/8″ x 4 1/4″). Punch your five holes, you’re in business.

  31. Achim Müller says:

    Hi
    Years ago i used a Filofax Personal Format, later a A5 – but then i changed to PDA’s like BB, Nokia E71 and at least a IPhone. These PDA’s were really good, it is easy to work with, easy to take it with you all day,you can make Backups in “the cloud” which is really safe, you can phone, mail, sms, take pictures and videos and so on…..

    But the PDA must be on, the Akku must be filled, writing a notice or a Phone Number, a date in the diary – it all takes Time. If you change the whole system it can be very painfull to transfer all your data from (for example) Apple to Windows, to keep all your Information like ToDO/Diary/Contacs on the “new system” – and I cannot switch that easy from page to page, it’s easyer and faster to do such things in ….

    A Filofax

    So i came back to my “old” A5 Filofax, because it is sometimes easyer/faster to handle, it smells phantstic (Leather – i have a Finsbury), looks so good – and it has something a PDA will never have – Stile, a very special oldfashioned Feeling that i love much more than a “cold” PDA.

    So now i will still use my IPhone for a lot of Things (and i really love this tool) but for Diary and ToDo’s i prefer my good old Filofax..

  32. jayzee says:

    Well, well, well. Nice discussion. I will probably make the end of it if you don’t mind. Here are the solutions for your problems:

    1. for having both digital notes and hand-written notes at the same time:
    http://www.amazon.com/Solidtek-DM-PF200-Deluxe-Portfolio-DGMEMOL2/dp/B000LB3A1Y/

    2. for iPad owners very smart cases:
    http://www.forevergeek.com/2010/03/7_ipad_accessories_for_every_need/

    http://www.ereaderleader.com/apple-ipad/accessories/

    3. 6/12 months view etc. applications:
    http://windowgadgets.com/notopersonalorganizer.html

    http://www.individualsoftware.com/software/personal_organizer/anytime_organizer_deluxe/

    So, now you can sit back and relax :)

  33. David Bosman says:

    @jayzee: thxs, but your solutions won’t do it, for me at least ;)
    1) I’m a Mac/Windows/Linux user, I need something that works on the 3.
    2/ And, when I asked about a 12/6 months view, I meant something useable, allowing me to see and add appointments, like this ;)

    Nice try, but I think I’ll stick with my Filofax ;)

  34. Mark says:

    @jayzee: I doubt your suggestions will stop the discussion. The very first item you list is largely useless. It’s as big as a 15″ laptop and ugly as hell. What we need is an insert for a filofax that will let us put an iPhone into it. And that’s what’s we’re currently missing.

  35. Zedzian says:

    Jayzee’s Item 1 description: Stylish synthetic leather–that’s an oxymoron on the level of military intelligence, banker’s trust, and jumbo shrimp (I apologize to the shrimp). Sorry, no cigar. It also ranked a whopping 3 stars on amazon. Nyet, mon ami.

  36. jayzee says:

    OK, at least I tried “to pease You” :)
    Nothing against shrimps. I love shrimp coctails.
    And I admit, the portfolio is rather “hefty”.

  37. kristie495 says:

    I’ve been using a Filofax for as long as I can remember – my first was an olive Winchester (color well-faded), my second black pocket with tab&snap closure (now holds umpteen years of addresses and sits by the phone). Currently engaged is a black Classic Personal, which I use every day as a professional diary, to do and annual calendar, as well as to organize business & household accounts & services, hold my checkbook, sort receipts, and manage a running grocery list. “Smartphones” are great for some tasks (phone, phone numbers, email, mobile internet), but still have lots of glitches – starting with poor voice command comprehension and having to combine voice and key commands. Plus, inevitably, when someone wants to jot down a note, I always have paper & pen. Most beneficial: I spell better than the Smartphone and I don’t have to jam up or confuse the Smartphone with people or service vendors I haven’t been in touch with in years.

  38. Lee Osborne says:

    This is all very interesting. After struggling to organise myself using gadgets patently unsuitable for the task, I’ve gone back to using a Filofax. The only PDA worth using for organising time and tasks is a Psion, and sadly my Psions have all died on me and they’re not worth replacing. Although they still work well if you get one in good nick, it’s increasingly difficult to back up data or sync it with anything, because PsiWin is really ancient. It was designed for Win 95 and hasn’t been updated for many years, and won’t work properly with 64-bit versions of Windows. So…I just about managed on my old Windows Mobile device, which was horrible compared to the Psion but did just about work, but now I have an HTC Desire. It’s an amazing device and the best phone I’ve owned, but it’s hopeless for time management, and out of the box it has no task management software at all. Sod it…the Filofax works way better for all of that, and it’s a genuinely nice thing to own. Sure, the phone is great, but it’s for connectivity rather than planning and organising.

  39. Derek says:

    Hi, an interesting discussion!!..
    Well I am now 68, and have been using Filofax since 1970, & in the late 1980’s I turned to a Psion 3, a wonderful tactile object, and again later to Laptops, while still keeping the Psion going for passwords. (They are virtually uncrackable I am told!!)
    But now in the new Century I have returned to the good old Filofax, with the smell of Leather!
    I have also discovered Chinese Fountain Pens,
    Superb Quality, and for the price of a Parker you can have Five, and use different colour Inks.
    That really does Brighten up the Coloured Pages of my FILO!! But the price of the New Cases are really expensive, Its lucky I have Two large and Two and a half Thin cases. (the half is the 1970 one now held together now by gaffer tape!), things seem to go round and round….
    Paper has been in use since about 3500BC!!
    derek

  40. Bard says:

    I still use the filofax, as the matter of fact I just bought a new one. I am one of those people who jot down notes on paper to remember, like stick-it, shopping lists, birthdays on a calender and so on. The filofax is ideal for me as it doeas all above plus, planning, travel, meeting, journal, actually everything. There is no way I WOULD do all that on a smartphone. I own a smartphone but I do not use it the same way.

    I find people don’t mind me pulling up my filofax to jot down notes in a meeting, but people who pull up smartphones are frowned upon.
    Actually people seems to find others with a nice leather filofax more serious in business than smartphone jotters.

    In mine I have all I need including business cards, member cards and much much more. I love it as a planner, notebook, hold coins for parking, business card holder, organizer, and yes even a contact management tool. Why, well I work worldwide, to use a cellphone for email is in many places so expensive it cannot be defended. Many places I have to use a corporate computer, or even internet cafe. The filofax has all the important contacts right there with me, open bang use. Or smartphone, open in menus, search, find, start typing… curse as the phone shut off screen, get it on again, write the rest on a – – paper – – then use it.

    I cannot use a smartphone as efficient, nor as comfortable to jot down on as the filofax.

    Once in Italy, I had a meal for Gods, and I managed to get the receipe from the chef. At the time I was in smartphone mode, jottet it in, flying home my daughter played with the phone, and voila gone. Never again, Filofax is my tool of choice and I love it.

  41. Linda says:

    I use a Filofax! This was not by choice originally… I developed hypersensitivity to electro-magnetic fields and went from an uber-geek with all the latest gadgets including smartphones as organizers, to paper. To my amazement, I have rekindled my love of paper organizers, and the Filofax is, for me, the best of the best. I use a pocket size but I am investigating the mini. Even if, in the future, I am able to return to electronic organizers I believe I will carry my Filofax… it is so efficient and somehow comforting… but then I do not read E-books… only the good old paper kind! ☺

  42. C says:

    Gosh, what a polarised bunch. I have both. iPhone is great for storing a LOT of stuff in a small space, but yep, it takes longer to flick from one app to another than one page to another and so on. And it’s not terribly good at holding business cards. Plus, since Apple have never condescended to make notes sync with the desktop (do not talk to me about the “to do” function in Mail, it is a totally cacky apology of an excuse of a miserable hack) I might as well use my nice old fountain pen and paper and enjoy the process. For regularly used notes of course I have my shopping list app and so on, there is stuff I absolutely wouldn’t want to do on paper, but there is also stuff I absolutely prefer to do on paper. As for contacts, I have a nice little application (not app, it’s on my desktop machine) that prints out my contacts book in the proper format. Punch the paper and away I go, updating is as easy as a new printout every so often. iPhone and fILOFAX can live together (they even both have problems with capitals in the right places, they were made for each other…). Maybe this is because I’m a woman and I carry both in a bag rather than relying on a pocket and only wanting one thing. I would LIKE just one thing, though. I keep eyeing my Personal size fILOFAX and thinking one of the inner cover pockets could be slightly restitched and windows cut in it so I could keep the iPhone inside it. Just need to get my nerve up and take a scalpel to it.

  43. Linda says:

    I think I would try to get hold of a cheap Personal – Ebay or somewhere – and do practice surgery on that first… it’s a neat idea to embed the iPhone in the Filofax! (I uset those pre-printed contact forms for my Filofaxes too – they are great!)

  44. Jayengee says:

    I’m a convinced Filofax user. I’ve used them since the late 1960’s and have a number which I use for different purposes – recipes, address book, holidays and wildlife recording and one which has everything I need – contacts, various computer settings, abbreviated passwords, career and courses, you name it. I am also a regular user of laptops and, this past year, an HTC Desire smartphone. Many of my ‘pages’ are actually printed as I have set up Filofax templates using Microsoft Word and have used these to produce specialist forms which I use for motoring expenses (Filofax stopped producing theirs, and needs must…) for Scout programme ideas, wildlife recording and so on. If I lost my Filofax all would not be lost, but it is far more useful than any smartphone could be, and much smaller and neater than a laptop or netbook.

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