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 ; )

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kanalt17
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 16:50:17

    So what DO you carry in there? Inquiring minds what to know. This is the basic reason of why I went down to the compact size. Somehow, I manage to carry everything (or those thing I need on the fly) I need.

  2. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:36:07

    i carry a full year of month on 2 pages tabs (trimmed down & re-punched franklin covey), a full year of week on 2 pages (just the regular filofax ones) and my subject tabs. i don’t keep a lot behind those and i clean the sections out weekly so i only have what is actually in progress or in use.

    i don’t carry my bills around with me all month anymore…after all, i only pay them twice a month. i transferred my a-z tabs to the notes app on my iphone and of course i took all my wallet stuff out and went to a separate regular wallet. now my planner is very svelt 😉

  3. belenesq
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 21:19:30

    I am equally enamored of my yellow personal Original. All I need now is the pillarbox red in A5 and I will live happily ever after.

  4. jodie
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 06:12:18

    excellent review. while the malden is a favorite of mine because of the possibility to stuff it full, the original is an equal favorite because of how it seems to steamline my life. both gems by the company.

  5. thecrazylifeofj
    Apr 06, 2014 @ 23:59:14

  6. Trackback: Filofax Original A5- the Dark Teal Reveal! | the zeitgeist of zoe
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