Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Filofax Want-Need-Buy-Dismiss Cycle and how to break it.

Hi guys!

Sorry I've had an unplanned blog hiatus, but I just couldn't think of anything to write about!

Anyway, this one started out as a post on the Facebook Midori TN Resources group, but it was so long I decided to make it into an actual blog post!!

When I started out in the Philofaxy community over 3 years ago, I was caught up in the 'I need to buy X Filofax because it will change my life'. Nearly everyone in that community goes through a stage when they think that buying a particular Filofax with a different pocket layout etc will solve all of their organisational problems, because they think that their life wasn't perfect when they were using their previous Filofax, and everything will change now with a different one. Looking back a few years later, I see how silly this stage of my Filofax voyage was. OK, some binder changes will help- upsizing or downsizing as best suits your needs, or getting one with bigger or smaller rings- these changes are practical and sensible. But really all a binder is is 2 sides of a cover and a set of rings. What they look like and how their pockets are set out shouldn't change how you enable the key purpose of a Filofax- to organise your life- and that happens on the rings with your organisational set up. Really, all we need is something as simple as a cardboard or plastic cover and a decent set of rings. Then set up the actual pages and sections as YOU need. But it's easy to get caught up in this whirlwind of planner buying, and thinking a new one will change your life is part of a largely unavoidable cycle; after a few weeks or a couple of months, if the user's life hasn't miraculously improved, they think it's the binder's fault and look for yet another one with a different pocket layout etc, thinking that will solve all of their problems. It's so easy to forget that with all of the binder configurations out there, it's more important to work on the inside set-up of your sections etc and how you use them, than to worry about the actual binder they're in! You could spend £10 or £300, but really, it's what's inside (i.e. the set-up) that counts.

    Since I've been using my Midoris and Fauxdoris I've found planner peace. The beauty of Midori Traveler's Notebooks and Fauxdoris is that they're so simple. Because they all (well, most) start out as only a rectangle of leather and some elastics- no pockets, no zips- it really is up to you how you customise it to your own needs. There's no need to buy another one because this one doesn't have the pockets you need, because you can just buy the Midori pocket inserts, or make your own file folder insert.  In a Filofax, if you want something with the Holborn pocket layout, you have to buy a Holborn. In a -dori, all you have to do is make a folder insert with the same pocket configuration out of an old file folder. I did it last night for my new A5 one; it took me a couple of hours and cost 80p for the file folder, instead of £70 for a new Filofax. It's so easy to make things yourself that it is possible to customise your -dori almost to perfection. No need to buy a brand new one because your current one isn't working, just modify the insides to your needs. And because they are all basically the same, you don't think 'this rectangle of leather with elastic bands isn't working for me, I need to buy another rectangle of leather with elastic bands to change my life'. There just isn't the same market out there with all of the options like there is in the binder market, so if you want your -dori to be a certain way, you are forced (in a good way) to do it yourself. This helps you achieve planner peace on the superficial level (i.e. the 'pockets and pen loops' level) so much quicker, and in a way so much more perfect for YOU, because the Midoris and Fauxdoris are simple objects with the ability to be moulded to your life. OK, there are some fauxdoris made with custom options, like ones with different elastic configurations and ones with pockets built in, but in essence the majority are the same, they are just made with superficial changes like a different colour leather. Unlike the buying binders frenzy of the Philofaxy world, the only way that I can think that buying a new one would improve the way you plan and organise your life is that getting one in your favourite colour would make you use it more, or buying (or making) one with 4 elastics instead of 2 would let you fit more books in, enabling you to fit everything you need in there. So once you have customised all of the pockets etc to your needs, you can stop worrying about it, and get on with the important thing: creating a set-up that is ideal for your life and helps you stay organised. Instead of the stress of thinking "I need to buy a different binder", you now have the focus and concentration to perfect your set-up, and find planner peace.

I'm not trying to say that Midoris are better than Filofaxes, or trying to insult the Philofaxy community. I love this world, and the Philofaxy community is full of wonderful, helpful people. It's just that I recently read a post by someone who I know is still going through all of this stress with trying to find the perfect binder even years after she started looking, and I wanted to write something that could maybe help some people realise the binder isn't the important thing, it's literally what's inside that counts. I've used Filofaxes and Midoris as my two examples, but you could say the same thing about other types of planners too. I'm not saying you need to buy a Midori or Fauxdori to find planner peace; you can do this with the planner you already have. Basically, for a couple of months, try this experiment. Sit down and really think of what you really need from a planner. Pick up the planner you are currently using. Does it have the pockets you need? No? Well, get some card and make a pocket insert that sits on your rings. Does it have a second pen loop that you need? No? Make one out of washi tape or duct tape and stick it on to a divider. Make other modifications as you need. Now it has everything you need on a superficial and practical level, you can give out a sigh of relief and concentrate on your set-up. Then, just USE it. If ,after a couple of months, you still really need something with different pockets, consider buying it. But hopefully this experiment will help to break the want-need-buy-dismiss cycle.


  1. Very true what you say Kate - I think part of the reason for not finding "planner peace" is that we are offered too many choices. As you said the Midori TN is so simple in structure that the external choices are limited and you just make it work for you via the internal choices you CAN make.

  2. I agree so much with this. I've bounced around from binder to binder and, while I like having many options for switching out (like having multiple purses, just basically a fashion thing), I have recently decided that I need to back away from the facebook groups. All these charms and tapes and pouches make the binder itself less functional, not more. Seeing everything just makes me want to buy stuff, when I don't need or even honestly want it. I'm tired of buying more crap!

    1. Elizabeth, you are so right!!! I am of the same mindset. This was a great post. I'm actually getting ready to sell my Filofaxes and Gillios, and settle into a very inexpensive but practical DayRunner zip binder as my wallet & planner. It has huge rings, and is everything I need. I don't need $300 Italian leather.....

  3. I have my Malden in personal and pocket size and a red Cuban in A5. I don't need any more than that and any others would be greedy and wasteful. I love the idea of just hacking what you need; just making sure it works is the important thing. Well said!

  4. Great post Kate! It's so true,,,,,,and a viscious cycle! Very well said. Thanks for sharing.

  5. So true. I think with FFs we are so spoilt for choice and the allure of yet another binder just sucks us into the vicious cycle. I do love the simplicity of the MTN even if I am a FF person. :)

  6. Great post Kate! It's not quote so simple with a dori though. I've decided not to buy one until I can decide whether a full size, a passport or a Field Notes size and whether a MTN or one of the (now) numerous "fauxdoris". If the latter, do you have closure elastic in the back or the spine? Do you go for pockets or add them later? etc. etc.