Journal in hardbound book; Planning in Filofax Original A5

It’s time to revisit my Filofax setup and capture some thoughts on the A5 size now that I’ve been using it for a few months. What have I liked? What have I disliked? Does it still suit my purpose, is it time to change up a few elements, perhaps even take a more drastic course of action?

Overall I’ve had no further wobbles over paper size since early March when I toyed with the Personal Sized Filofax. I’m entirely confident that A5 is my Goldilocks page size and I’m getting good at kicking myself whenever my eyes stray to smaller books.

I still think the Filofax Original binders, with their simplicity of design, are excellent at reducing the bulk of an A5 planner to a manageable level whilst still providing an acceptable ring capacity (25mm). If I’m honest, I am beginning to crave a more structured cover, but in the ring-planner world these come with a lot of pockets which I know I won’t use. Also, the nice stiff covers impact on the binder’s ability to lay completely flat when open and I rather like that in my Original. My cover is still pristine since it hasn’t been asked to leave the flat although, like its owner, it is probably ready to be out and about!

One big change I’ve made to my inserts as of the beginning of May has been to move my daily journal back into a bound notebook. I wasn’t loving the loose-leaf option as much as I hoped I would. I felt strangely restriced in the amount I could write each day as I found myself sticking strictly to filling two sides of A5 paper. Some days I wanted to write a little more and some days I didn’t have much to say, but the format played funny tricks with my brain, keying in to my natural inflexibility which I try to expunge whenever I can.

That’s about as stuffed as I like it

My other reason for moving the journal pages out of the Filofax was to keep the number of pages in the binder down. Although I was emptying out the pages at the end of each month, I began to realise that I was getting frustrated with the amount of paper in my Filofax. This does make me wonder (not for the first time) whether the ring-planner system itself is my first choice. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, and I’m still intending to use the Filofax A5 for the entirety of 2021, but let’s just say I’m keeping my options open.

I still love the paper quality of the Stamford Notebook Company Burghley Organiser Refill and I’m in awe of how well it handles fountain pen inks. I’ve been using up all sorts of scraps of paper since the beginning of the year and I’ve come to the conclusion I really love a good ivory-coloured paper best of all. If I have a problem with this insert, it’s that I haven’t yet settled on a system for laying items out on the horizontal weekly spread which entirely pleases me. I often feel the pages get messy as I use them although, strangely, I really like the weekly spreads when I look back at them – hell, I even like the horrid “too much colour” week I did back in February!

Looks lovely now, but just wait until later in the week

I think I’ve identified one promlematic element in my setup: how to bookmark my current week. I’ve been clipping a magnetic bookmark to the right-hand side of the page, but have come to feel that this is too distracting. I need something which makes it easy to turn to the current week, I’m just not sure what I’d like best – I have a multitude of ideas to work through and eliminate.

Another minor irritation is the feeling that I under-use my Filofax; I sometimes find myself wishing that I was a more avid note-taker, but I rarely come across anything I need to jot down. Shopping lists go into a separare little notebook in my wallet, and I’ve set up a Pen and Ink Journal so notes about that side of life are kept separate. I find, particularly when I consume the output of planner “influencers”, that I have an irrational desire to engineer situations where I can use the Filofax, and that is something I try to resist. The point with anything like a planner is to have the equipment to hand when we do need to search for a date or take notes rather than creating situations to fit the desire to play with our toys.

Overall, the Filofax has been a beneficial tool in my life over the past few months and I’m going to keep using it unless I suddenly find that it doesn’t suit my needs any more. If this should happen, I might well look at a traditional bound diary because they have been increasingly catching my eye. As it is, my next task is to address my Filofax’s page-finder/bookmark issue, which should provide sufficient entertainment for my needs.

Petty Peeves: I've got an irrational dislike of diaries which have been designed and manufactured ignoring the capital letters on the names of days and months. I know it's done in the spirit of being cute/rebellious/cutting edge, but to me it's just plain wrong and I won't consider even the most perfect diary if this basic rule is flouted.

So what do you think? Would this bother you, or would the overall design win out?

5 thoughts on “A5 Filofax update – 135 days later

  1. I’m with you on the capitalization of proper words. I will also judge a product by its font. I know…I like the size of the A5 too. I don’t like it overstuffed because I want my pages to lay nicely. Don’t get me started with torn page holes. The ultimate decision comes down to the feel of the paper and how it lays when it is open.

    1. One manufacturer I follow on Instagram posted a picture of a truly beautiful mid-year diary, but when I checked the site they had used lower case throughout, so I put a comment saying I loved the cover, but I’d never buy the product because of the choice not to use proper capitals. I don’t really like to be negative, and plenty of people don’t mind, or positively welcome anarchism, but I think it’s fair to point out that they are also alienating some customers.
      I get very frustrated watching YouTube videos where people struggle to turn the pages in their planners because they’ve stuffed them so full.

    2. I think *all* people would purchase a diary with proper capitals, but not all people would buy one without. Therefore, it is not a good business model. 🙂

  2. Interesting and informative article.
    As a long time Filofax user, all sizes, but later focus entirely on A5 I, probably 5 Yrs ago , dropped Filofax though I still own several binders (1 or 2 never opened) due to my intense irritation with not being able to use full width of left hand pages due to the rings,
    I have gone through several Moleskines (weekly + Notes, a format I also used with Filofax) I moved to Leuchtturm 1917 weekly as it is ink friendly unlike Moleskine which doesn’t tolerate ink at all.
    I am like you on my latest system -a William Hannah A5 Notebook (Discbound) with 6 monthly renewals of weekly planner which isn’t working for me as I thought it might so I am about to to switch (1st September ) to Quo Vadis Plan Note 16 month Weekly + Notes planner together with a Flex notebook and Paperchase Craft Cahiers (all A5) and ink friendly which will live in a Start Bay Duo Navigator A5 Leather cover.
    The William Hannah will be used exclusively as my journal.
    I have briefly used the Start Bay cover before with a Leuchtturm 1917 planner, Flex Notebook and cahiers,1 for tasks etc, the other for notes which worked well.
    I had hoped to use the Leuchtturm 1917 18 month weekly planner but i can’t get one (except at 2 x normal price supposedly due to Brexit) so have settled for Quo Vadis. We’ll see how it all pans out,

    1. Hello, thanks for your comments, you’ve raised some good points. I’m afraid it boils down to the fact that nothing is perfect, it’s just a matter of finding the option with which we’re making the least compromises and bearing in mind that our needs will change over time. I haven’t come across Start Bay before so thanks for providing another rabbit hole for me to explore! I do like a nice Cahier/exercise book and I’ve been thinking of the possibiity of a notebook cover with a couple of them in. One thing that draws me to the bound books is that they are so much easier to archive than loose-leaf systems. I hope the Quo Vadis works out for you, at least until you can get your hands on the Leuchtturm you want. Many years ago, my favourite ever boss used a Quo Vadis pocket diary and I had to get the refills for him every year. Happy days!

Comments are now closed.