Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Filofate

Several years ago, I didn’t know about Filofax. I remember being in one of my planner crisis modes—I liked the planner I was using okay enough (truth be told, I loved that planner for the space it provided, the slimness, and how professional it looked), but it was no longer serving my needs (despite the love). I didn’t exactly know what my needs were, just that I needed something better, more conducive to working on projects and long-term planning and something a little more fulfilling.

A friend of mine used the ring-bound planners and swore by them. At the time, I didn’t like them, mainly because I felt that the rings got in the way of writing and that the binders were too bulky (compared to my slim planner). She was the one who introduced me to Filofax, which is slightly odd, if only because she didn’t have tons of them. (Obviously, since then she has bought a few more.) I don’t remember the exact date or time or even the situation in which she got me to look at the website. But once I did, I was smitten.

So I looked online at the fabulous range of binders. I remember thinking that they were so expensive and that I couldn’t possibly in my right mind consider buying one (if only my today self could talk to my back then self…). Plus, I truly did love “Old Faithful” and was very reluctant to give him up despite the fact he was no longer cutting it for me and that I had thought of replacing him so often.

I hemmed and hawed and just couldn’t bring myself to do switch brands.

Until…

One day (and I remember this so clearly), my husband and I were going to Starbucks. I still had the whole planner issue on my mind. I stepped out of the car, looked down, and what did I see? A Filofax page marker lying on the ground—dirty, alone, cold, obviously lost from its binder home (now I wonder just which binder it sadly fell out of, where that binder is today, and in what town or city it resides). And because Filofax had been on my mind as an option for my new planner needs, I truly felt that this was fate. Here was some higher being telling me to switch to Filofax. Why else was this poor little page marker alone in the Starbucks parking lot? There could be no other reason.

After that, I put the personal brown Domino on my birthday list. The same friend who told me about Filofax so kindly purchased my very first one for me. I was skeptical at first, not sure how long my Filofax love affair will linger. But it did. Once I saw the magical things it could for me, how it could be molded into anything I needed it to be, I was smitten. I couldn’t turn my back on it.

And I haven’t since.

This is truly a feat for me. Prior to this, I had tried many different planners and systems and always ended up with Old Faithful again, probably because he was steady and confident, and I knew him well. He and I fit together like hand and mitten—a warm, comfortable, soft place to land when the world was cold and dreary. But Filofax and me, we fit together like hand and glove—he is everything that Old Faithful was and more—warm, comfortable and soft, but he also fit into those places that Old Faithful couldn’t simply because he wasn’t made that way.

Of course, after falling so deeply in love with Filofax, I found Philofaxy, read every post and every comment. I neglected any work that I should have been doing to catch up on all the Filo love I had been missing. I watched from afar until one day I was brave enough to post my very first comment. And it all became history from there.

Sometimes I wonder why Filofax has been so successful for me. It is because of the flexibility the binders allow? Is it because I can basically make it my own? Is it because there is such a variety and now that I have quite a collection I can change my binder on a whim, all but eliminating boredom without giving up any of the functionality that I crave? Sure, it’s all of these things. But I believe that the number one reason it has been so successful for me is because of the Philofaxy community. What other brand has such a loyal following that a blog was created to honor it? (Well, I have seen a Moleskine blog, but I don’t consider that to be a “planner” community because Moleskine is a range of notebooks which includes planners, art books, etc. It’s its own beast altogether.) In addition, what brand has its own loyal following blog that spawned other blogs dedicated to Filofax and planners and organizing and the like? Think about it. We really have something special here.

For a long time, I thought I was the only planner geek. I never knew others existed. But then I met the friend mentioned above. Finally! Someone who understands! Then I met the Philofaxy community. More people who understand! International people, at that! Then I started my own blog. People who want to read what I have to say about a topic I so love!

Amazing.

My amazement topped when I received the highest compliment I have received as a Filofaxer. New-to-Philofaxy reader J had posted a Filofax topic on her own blog. Lucky for me, I was the first to comment, saying how we are all a bunch of enablers when it comes to purchasing new Filofax planners. She made mention of this on a recent Philofaxy post. Steve mentioned that I was a “good mentor to follow in the footsteps of.” J then responded by saying, “Kanalt seems like the perfect ‘Filo expert.’” (!) I tend to disagree for many reasons—I’m quite new to this field myself considering that many other readers have been loyal to the brand for so long; I tend to stick with the personal size rather than branching out and trying new things; I feel I’m fairly boring in how I use my Filo; I am not one of those people who can make my Filo inserts and tabs into amazing works or art. However, I am grateful for the compliments. They both truly made me blush. I also remember how excited I was when I told my husband about it. (“You like me. You really like me.”)

All joking aside, I truly feel that this is a one-of-a-kind community. And on that fateful day when I saw the page marker in the Starbucks parking lot, how could I ever know what it would lead to? It seems to me that Filofax really is “a way of life.”

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! And I still maintain that it isn't how many Filofaxes you have, or how you use them. It is really about the journey (how lame does that sound?)

    Reading this post made it really sink in- this community is AWESOME! I discussed it in my blog post as well-- how I felt like I was the only planner geek until I found a whole group of people just like me!

    And who knows? Maybe someday my posts will be as inspiring as yours have been for so many :)

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  2. Great post I've just added it to my web finds late night post of last night.

    Filofax and Philofaxy are great... I've never come across anything like them both before.

    Filofax itself is not perfect, nothing ever is for everyone. But with the rich source of ideas and experience there is in the community there are always plenty of people willing to step forward to add in their thoughts or two cents worth.

    Never have I seen 'Oh don't you know that...' sort of comments, no matter how often a question comes up. Even I don't tire when I see the same question. It just spurs me to add a little more detail or to reword a post to explain things better.

    Philofaxy is just incredible, again not perfect, but we are flexible and constantly trying to improve the blog and the other associated sites. The community of readers are just wonderful, a lot of trust has built up. Where else would you find people willing to buy things and post them to the other side of the world!

    Like you I think we are very lucky, and I hope it stays that way or gets better.

    Thank you.

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  3. An interesting post. I think the page marker that you found was a signal, but knowing this to be an enabling community, if you give anything enough thought, eventually you can rationalize it. I am that way also.

    I have tried the pocket, and still use a wo2p as a medical diary. I have an A5, but it just seems to large. I have more personal binders, and really have a system set up that works real well so I am reluctant to try to change over to a whole new size.

    I enjoy reading your blog, an look forward to your postings.

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  4. Thanks to you both for your wonderful comments!

    J - It is true that it's all in how you use 'em! And I've seen so many great ideas from people. Not all of them are workable for me personally, but they are things I never would have thought of, and I think that's one of the many things that makes this community so great - we're always giving ideas to each other.

    Steve - I have to say that one of the best things about this community too is that no one ever seems to say one's ideas are no good, or anything negative really. Just a LOT of support. And trust - you are right about that. Everyone is so willing to help each other out in any way they can. And not just where Filos are concerned. I've seen a lot of emotional support for situations that extend way beyond the blog itself. What a great thing that has emerged from a love of planners, of all things!

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  5. Crofter - thanks! I'm so glad you look forward to my posts. And you're right - I think we can all justify just about anything where our planners are concerned, and we can usually find someone who will back us up in that justification.

    Sometimes I think about changing my system to reflect someone else's because it seems to work so well for them. But I guess that's why I end up sticking with what I have - because it works so well for me, even if it a straight-forward, boring (not creative in any way) and sometimes complicated system.

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  6. Well Kanalt I am so pleased that you found out about Filofaxes and Philofaxy or I never would have met you virtually via blogging! I think the community is great which is what makes it so wonderful. I just wish that I could meet you in real life! I think you are an expert in organisation as you seem quite meticulous and your posts about how you use your filofaxes are very detailed. Your more personal posts are also great and I am always thinking about some of the things you write. As I said before I really enjoy reading your blog :-)

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  7. Thanks CP! I have to say that I am a bit obsessed with all things organizing - planners especially. I too wish I could meet you in person - one day, I promise! I have to get to London to visit a Filofax store anyway, so I might as well tour the entire country (or as much of it as possible) while I'm there. Just need to do it, really.

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  8. k - i remember when i first found philofaxy as well. i was psyched! i went to the links page and read all the blogs linked. i love your blog. there is a caring and sensitivity there like drinking hot cocoa next to the fire after a great humongous snowball fight

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  9. Thanks Snarling!!! What a wonderful image. Also, something I love - cocoa and fires. =)

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  10. I am not too far away from London by train so if you ever visit let me know!

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  11. I love that Page Marker anecdote. Imagine .... "Today" falling from heaven and landing right at your feet. I mean ... WOW!

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  12. CP - will do! Definitely! Though, I don't think it will be any time this year. =(

    Jotje - I wish I had marked that day down in my planner. "Today" falling at my feet IS a great image!

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  13. Loving this post, Kanalt! I'm pretty sure fate exists in this world - and this story is definitely on the right side of proving this theory of mine ;)

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  14. Kanalt: I love this post and as I strongly believe, there is no such thing as a coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. I myself have loved Filofax since the 80's in fact I bought almost every single one - personal size. I will never use any other size. Unfortunately, in the 90's I gave all my Filos away thinking that I would not use them ever again. Boy, does that hurt when I think of it. I have new and some older ones that I have bought and I love every single one of them. What I like is that we can change the binder whenever we want but keep our fillers,tweak them and make them our own.

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  15. MyWormy - I would have loved to have seen all those Filos! I have given some of mine away too, mainly because I didn't use them. I do miss them, but I also can't stand clutter, so my giving them a proper home where they'll be used is worth it.

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  16. I have to concur, Kanalt, it was a sign! I feel like the topic of how we all came to know and love Filofax would be really fascinating. I am enjoying your blog! You give a lot of great details,some of which I have already begun testing for myself. Cheers!

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  17. Thanks, Auds! I'm glad I could provide some tips that you can use.

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