Zen and the Filofax Original

a zen arrangementBack in the spring of 2013, Filofax debuted it’s Original line of planners. You can see the announcement on Philofaxy here, and a very comprehensive review of the A5 size here.

I even jumped on the Original bandwagon in the summer of 2013, and you can read my write up of the stunning Patent Fuchsia personal size here.

Ultimately, I ended up selling that Filofax, despite being very much in love with it. I suppose the rather unconventional interior failed to meet my needs long-term and although I adored the shiny, patent leather gorgeousness, I moved on to something without that confounded “multifunctional elastic holder”.

Then, the other day, a funny thing happened. I was reading through my old blog posts, cleaning up links that no longer worked or whatever, and I re-read that post.  Suddenly I found myself overcome with seller’s remorse. My mind flooded with memories of the summer I spent with the fuchsia Original…


(PS you should totally be hearing Barbara Streisand sing “Memories” in your head while you look at those photos…)

Anyway, my own damn post made me long for another Original.

Yup. If that’s not some sort of planner pathology, then I don’t know what is!

Happily, I found a great deal on a Retro Brown one on eBay and it arrived at the beginning of the week. Remarkably, I have been in it for the entirety of the week, without one moment’s thought to using a different planner.

If you know me, that is a BIG DEAL.

I even have a vacation coming up, during which I had planned to move into a Filofax Compact for use as a travel wallet…but I find that, as my departure date approaches, I am re-thinking that.

Now, I will spare you a review, as so many have been done already (the model is, after all, a year old at this point) but what I wanted to share this time around with an Original as my constant companion once again is this:

I have a new-found respect for the Zen like simplicity of this planner.

Confucius said, “Life is simple…but we insist on making it complicated”.


Once I was a woman who wanted to carry literally everything for any contingency life would, could or even might throw at me, in my planner. What if this happened? What if I needed that piece of information?

Yeah, what if the world had to chillax and wait a few hours until I could put my hands on said information? Would the apocalypse ensue? Or have we just become accustomed to the idea that everything must happen NOW?

The interior of the Original once left me wanting (and scratching my head frankly, but I digress…). But now looking at the clean lines and iconic starkness of it makes me smile.

Simple is far more difficult than complex.

Simplicity requires discipline, focus, awareness, clearness of mind.

Here is the inside front cover of my Original this time around:

inside front
No more trying to fit the world inside my planner. Just what I need today.

It is said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (in meditation) and sweeping. Sweeping is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep, and they try to do nothing else.

They aren’t thinking about whether or not they have their significant others social security number or shopping lists for stores they aren’t even going to today, just in case they need it while they are sweeping.

“What tools do I need for today’s ritual?”

My Coleto multi pen. A couple Oli Clips to bundle receipts. My business cards. A few other business cards for people or places that I need to contact. That’s it.

Fact of the matter is, when I’m not using my planner as a wallet in addition, I don’t need a whole lot of card slots or pockets. And, there is probably a case for separating planner and wallet (loss or theft, for example, come immediately to mind) more than one for combining them. I mean, how many times have I been in a checkout line and needed something planner-y? Me personally? Zero.

I was attached to the idea of how cool it would be to have everything with me, all the time…but the reality was that I never once needed it.

Staring at the empty Retro Brown Original and wondering how the heck I was going to fit my entire world into it (and then experiencing the aha moment that  I didn’t need to) helped me realize that.

The Filofax Original definitely has a sort of je ne sais quoi about it. Everyone I’ve spoken to who owns one loves it and raves about it. And really all it is, is a thick hunk of leather with some slits cut into it, a couple of rivets, some rings and a bit of elastic.

Therein lies its appeal I (for me). It is pure leather. One piece. Laid out flat in front of you with no pretense. It is going to be with you a long, long time…all you have to do is look at it and you know this.

It is said that Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.

“Sun is warm, grass is green.”

I think the Original is sort of a planner manifestation (plannerfestation?) of that same principle. Not distracted by what goes in which pocket (and my OCD’s need to put something in each pocket), I am able to fully focus and stay mindful about what it is I need to do on a given day. Like those monks, I also try to do those things one at a time, with all of my attention. Full focus, to a pre-determined point of completion. Then shift attention.

“Before enlightenment…chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment…chop wood, carry water.”

This is what I want my planner to be…a simple, useful tool to help keep me clear of mind and light of heart so that I can experience each glorious moment of my life to the fullest.

The Original accomplishes this, all with a clean, minimalistic (yet pleasingly beautiful) aesthetic.

I have ordered another Patent Fucshia….but then I bet you knew I would ; )

Falling In Love All Over Again

This past Saturday, I ventured down to Boston to participate in a Philofaxy Meet Up for Filofax addicts enthusiasts. The weather was gorgeous, the food was to die for and the company was out of this world!

First up, let me say that lunch at Marliave was spectacular! I think all of us were suitably impressed by our meals.


(On the left side (front to back) we had Nan, myself and my better half Doug. On the right side (also front to back) we’ve got Leilani, Juan and Josh. photo courtesy of Nan…click on the photo to see everyone)

Don’t we look happy?! A couple other people were slated to come but couldn’t make it at the last minute, so we ended up with a small, intimate, yet still rather boisterous group.

Our waiter was amazing, and it didn’t take long for  him to ask why we had so many leather books out on the table. He didn’t seem to quite “get” that we collect the leather binders and just change out the paper inserts each year…but hey, he was a very helpful, attentive and friendly waiter so he gets props for doing his part and managing to refrain from treating us as though we were all nuts!

Here we are in another group shot, this time outside Bromfield Pen Shop where we may or may not have added to our collections.


(Left to right: Leilani, Nan, Juan, Josh & yours truly. photo courtesy of Doug)

Back to the Filofaxes…..Josh and Juan brought some fantastic examples of vintage models.


Here you can see my lone Gillio in the foreground and Josh’s lovelies behind. I was especially enamoured with the Hamilton (precursor to the Kendal), but the leather and old school craftsmanship of the Winchesters was definitely something to behold as well. Gotta love vintage Filos!

Nan brought six of her Filofaxes and I was very impressed that she actually has a use for each and every one of them. Stupidly, I was too busy pondering how organized she was to take a photo of her mini-pile (I even caught her noting down her meal in the one she uses as a food log….I, on the other hand, was in complete denial as far as my own food log went, lol!).

At any rate, here is “the pile”…all of our beloved planners. As my late mother used to say, a thing of beauty is a joy forever!


So, that preface aside, this is not an account of our wonderful Meet Up (I do believe Josh is going to be posting the official synopsis? Or Nan? Someone will….that much I’m sure of) as much as it is the story of how I fell back in love with one of my Filofax.

Because, you see, Leilani brought her awesome Regency compact and I have to admit that I had “a moment” when I saw how stuffed and well-loved it was! In fact, until she TOLD me it was a Compact, I thought it was a Personal!


She uses it for her personal planner and wallet (with the larger Erin Condrin planner underneath as her school planner &  for lesson plans). When she took it out of her bag and put it on the table,  my heart went pitter pat.

Now, the days of being able to use a Compact as my one and only planner are long past for me…but I do have a Personal size Regency at home, and seeing Leilani’s made me want to drop everything, run home and move back into it immediately like a desperate, lovesick puppy.

Ok, that analogy made no sense at all….but I’m sure all you Filofaxers know exactly the feeling I’m talking about!

As some of you know, I’ve been all over the place, planner-wise this year so far (just say it…”what else is new”…I know you’re thinking it) spending some time with another favorite brand, Gillio, and then trying my hand at an A5/Compact combo, but seeing Leilani’s Regency sort of brought it all home for me…

I’m a one book kinda girl and that one book is Personal size. Period.

I may downsize to a Compact for vacation and I may leave an A5 at home for hardcore project planning, but for my Every Day Carry, it’s gotta be Personal all the way.

That night, after an awesome day in Boston with the Filofax group and a quick jaunt to the Aquarium with Doug (my all-time favorite place to go in Boston as a kid), I did indeed move back into my Regency…literally moments after we got home.


The Regency really is a stunner, isn’t it?

My very first Filofax was a brown Ostrich Personal from “back in the day” (aka the 1980’s) and when the Regency came out it made me think of the planner that started it all for me and attracted me to the brand in the first place. So when I first saw the Regency in person after it was released I had to have it of course, lol!

Anyway, I digress….

Because I have this ideal of “one book for all things”, I set it up to be my planner and wallet.


The six horizontal card slots fit credit cards perfectly and the inward & outward facing slip pockets hold my cash and reward cards (or receipts). Admittedly, having cash in the outer facing pocket would be more convenient…but with my luck all my money would fall out in the street or something, so I decided to play it safe and stash the cash in the interior one.

See, blondes CAN do intelligent things ; )

Anyway, the diary inserts I always use are trimmed down Franklin Covey Month on Two pages with Filofax Week on Two Page. I include the entire year (which is why I can’t use a Compact for anything other than as a travel wallet on vacation).

fc tabs
I love Franklin Covey’s tabbed Month on Two Pages inserts. These happen to just be the Original design (which I love for the clean simplicity). The design is very well thought out with an index page (shown here) as well as a mini look at the preceding, current and following months.

This is how my planner lays open on my desk. I love the weekly overview, right there at my fingertips and only a quick glance away. Despite my OCD, I do “mix media” so to speak….not only do I have Franklin Covey tabs with Filofax weekly diary pages, I also have a Franklin Covey page marker with a DayTimer sticky HotList tucked inside to hold my weekly task list.

I find this system works perfectly, in that I don’t have to clutter up my little daily boxes with to do’s, and I also get to see sort of a task overview. Not to mention the fact that, if I don’t get something done on a given day, I don’t have to copy it over to the following day.

It’s not that I’m terribly organized folks…it’s that I’m essentially extremely LAZY.

Anyway, aside from the weekly & monthly diary pages, I also have my six subject tabs…


These are just your standard pack of FF Blank Tabs and I’ve used my label maker to create my own labels. Creative, they are not, but they do the trick for my purposes.

Capture: (Filofax white lined note paper) Here I just write down anything and everything. Quick notes, directions, quotes I come across that I like…you name it, this section is my “brain dump”. Usually the things that go here are temporary in nature, so it gets cleaned out weekly.

Tasks: (Filofax To Do Sheets) I don’t keep daily tasks here, but rather ongoing tasks (home improvements, stuff to do before going on vacation, etc) with each topic on a separate To Do sheet.

Lists: (Filofax Quadrille paper) Shopping lists go here, each store getting its own sheet.

Projects: (Filofax Day Planner pages with auxiliary White FF lined pages) This is sort of a catch-all for any ongoing projects I may have. If a project or projects become so unwieldy as to need their own section, I’ll deal with that when it happens and buy another set of tabs, but for now I use one Day Planner page for each project (if said project outgrows it’s Day Planner Page, I just supplement with lined note sheets clipped together) and keep them all behind this one tab.

Info: (Various inserts) This is reference stuff that stays in my planner. I have FF Birthday & Anniversary sheets for the year, a few of the FF reference pages that come with the annual diary pack, my monthly photo a day challenge list (if I’m doing one), a few FF Address pages for snail mail challenge people…stuff like that.

Finance: (FF Check Register Pages, plastic inserts) This section serves as my checkbook. I have a FF Plastic envelope that holds a few loose checks and deposit slips as well as a Gillio plastic Receipt envelope.


The very back of my planner holds necessities like stamps, various business cards, my bank’s quick dial information card and the like.


While the small note pad pocket inside the back cover will hold a Slim Flex by Filofax Jot Pad, until Filofax USA gets relocated and has stuff to sell again, I just get a DayTimer sticky note pad from my local office supply store, which also fits. I usually keep a running grocery list on it, as you can see above.

One feature on the Regency that I really appreciate is the partially elasticized pen loop. I love me some fat pens and thankfully the loop on this model will accommodate them and looks great doing it.


Here you can see my 4-color Coleto multi pen looking spiffy in it.

I would have to say, the Regency is my favorite Filofax that I own. The pocket layout is versatile and useful, it has a gorgeous classic look to it, and it has a couple things that I’m very nit-picky about….horizontal card slots (and plenty of them) and a stretchy pen loop.

Sometimes when you have a lot of planners in your collection, you tend to forget what it was about each one that drew you to it in the first place. My collection certainly isn’t what it used to be, but I do admit that I was guilty of that with the Regency. When I first saw it at the New York Meet Up a few years ago, I remember gasping, rushing right over to the shelf and picking it up. When I saw the price I thought to myself, “Yikes! Put it down….put.  It.  DOWN!”

But I couldn’t bring myself to. I couldn’t walk away from it. And so it came home with me.

Thank you Leilani for helping me to remember, and for rekindling an old love for this beautiful planner : )