Red Rover, Red Rover…Send Malden Right Over

Disclaimer: This is not a post about dogs.  Or children’s games for that matter.

It’s a post about day planners…in this case, Filofax in particular.

Go figure, right?

The dilemma of figuring out which of the oodles of brands, inserts, sizes, formats, colors, materials, yada, yada, yada work the best by using several incarnations of a planning system  at the same time to see which one you tend to gravitate toward is referred to as “Calling the Dog”.

Confused? Exhausted? Me too. I think this post describes it best.

In my last post, I asked which of the three Filofax Pocket sized contenders for use as a wallet you all thought I should go with.  Before I tell you who won and why, let me just say that there was some significant dog calling going on, and I must have switched in and out of both the black Chameleon and the Ochre Malden at least four thousand times over the past week.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating.

But it felt like four thousand.

Although it was too close to call for a few days, in the end it was the Ochre Malden that came away as winner (both in the poll with 40% of the votes and in real life usage) and here’s why:

1.  While I do like the smaller rings/slimmer profile of the Chameleon, at the end of the day it was the sheer abundance and variety of pockets that made the Malden a winner.

Having the zip pocket for coin right up front was far simpler (and for some reason, was faster/easier to access). My preferred pen of the moment is the Frixion Ball Knock retractable. Too fat for the pen loop & has a grippy (and therefore inconveniently sticky when it comes to pen loops of any size)  comfort coating where you hold it.  Slipping it into the back “note pad” pocket on the Malden works like a charm.

2. As for the plethora of card pockets in the Chameleon…I kept running across instances where I would have to take my ID out so it could be viewed.

(No, I was not pulled over. I was buying booze and my youthful appearance belies my cougar-y age. So there.)

In reality, using those little clear, plastic card holder sheets worked out better than regular card slots – and by the way they are a heck of a lot easier to pull cards out of too – as all I had to do was open up the Malden and turn it to face the liquor store clerk so he could verify my digits. No removal of ID necessary.

3. Although I do love the Chameleon’s looks, call me crazy (and I know many of you do) but it is seriously hard to beat both the feel of the Malden and that drool-worthy leather scent.  I know I’m not the only one who sleeps with their Malden on the bedside table (I may quite possibly be the only one who will admit to that publicly however).

Anyway, the Pocket Ochre Malden was the ultimate victor. I think you should all go buy one right now, as a matter of fact, as that color option seems to be disappearing fast.

Ironically, I ended up taking quite a few of the contents out as well for lack of use (thus making the larger rings of the Malden rather redundant…but who cares) so there was some interior dog calling happening as well.

The final setup goes a little something like this:

* Front zip pocket – coins

* Front slip pockets – coupons, receipts, a book of stamps, stray business cards and the like

* Three clear, plastic card holder sheets (the 1st of which holds my ID for quick and easy liquor store viewing)

* Personal information sheet (“if found, please leave cash & cards intact and return to…”)

* Vertical fold out year (this may end up coming out as well, as my schedule is also on my iPhone and to be honest I haven’t referred to this insert once yet)

* One tab (yup, just one) called “lists” with a bunch of lined paper behind it. Of all the reasons to use a Filo as a wallet, this has proved to be the most invaluable.  All my shopping lists in one place.  All of ’em.  No sticky notes jammed into my pants pockets, stuff I remember I need on the run scribbled on a napkin from lunch and abandoned to the bottom of my purse.  Almost makes me tear up thinking about it.

*The “note pad” pocket inside the back cover holds my Frixion fat/grippy pen (which neatly clips over the edge) and has become rather a catch-all sort of pocket. I have found I can quite easily stick stuff in there without even taking the thing out of my purse, or unsnapping it. I also have a sticky note pad in there just in case. I have yet to actually use it, but somehow it makes me feel better knowing it’s there.

Easy, peasy, bacon and cheesy.

(P.S. I just made that up.)

(P.P. S. I have also had 3/4 of a bottle of wine at this point, if you hadn’t already guessed)

*The Piece de Resistance is going to be a Pocket sized Filofax calculator for the abundant and as yet vacant ring space. I ordered one, it arrived and turned out to be damaged (the screen was cracked & had been reduced to a giant black blob) so the good folks at Filofax USA Customer Service are dispatching me a replacement.  Again…probably redundant since I have a calculator on my iPhone, but I suck overwhelmingly am not very good at math, so better safe than sorry, I always say.

UPDATE: The new (unbroken this time) calculator arrived today so I can finally get this posted! As a super neat-o treat, the kind folks at Filofax USA also stuck a pocket-sized magnifier in the envelope. Not sure whether this was intentional, but I’m sure it will come in handy for checking out the fine print!

Check out the photos of the new rig on Flickr and thanks bunches for your comments and votes : ) You guys are seriously the best!

…And I’m not just saying that because I’ve been drinking either ; )

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The Great Wallet Experiment

I know I’m not the only one who has been confounded by which size planner to use. As you have read in my last post, I’m guilty of going here there and everywhere (and back again) when it comes to searching for the ever elusive Planner Nirvana.

Twice before I have attempted to use a Pocket Filofax. Both attempts were with a mind toward making it a combination every-day, stand alone planner and a wallet.  Both met with various degrees of failure.

I even, lured in by blog posts about Mini’s, tried one of those.  My eyesight is still recovering from that debacle.

This time around…because giving up is for sane people…it hit me to leave my every-day Filofax be (currently a Personal size Ochre Malden with Franklin Covey 1 day per page “Monticello” inserts, for those of you keeping track) and try using a Pocket as a wallet only.

Right?!

As Gru would say, “Light bulb!”

And seriously, if you haven’t seen Despicable Me yet, go see it. Right now. Even if you are an adult with no kids. Just do it.  I’ll wait.

Oh, and this post is gonna be loooooooong and require some thinking on your part, so also why don’t you go pee, fix yourself a drinkie-poo and get comfy.

Ready?  Good.

So anyway, it occurred to me that I don’t open my wallet up when I need to schedule an event, and I don’t reach for my planner when I need toll money.  Therefore, why not put together a Pocket Filo to serve as  JUST a wallet (with only a very minor planner function), rather than trying to force it to be all things to all people.

Or, in this case, just me.

Et voila! Behold, a very organized wallet was born.

This whole thing started because, thanks to someone wonderful, I found out had a Pocket Malden in Ochre coming my way and I really, really, really wanted to use this amazing and generous gift daily, to both demonstrate my gratitude and positively reinforce the habit of giving me presents : )

But, you know me, I lack all things even remotely related to patience, so I got out my planner bin and found a suitable practice Filo to use in the mean time, thus honing my set up for when the Ochre Pocket Malden finally did arrive.

I chose, because I am a total lemming, the Pocket Chameleon in black.

Ironically, I had purchased this initially to use as an every-day planner, but didn’t do my homework thoroughly enough and failed to notice the ring size is only 5/8″ and therefore too small for a full year of 1 page per day inserts. Into the bin it went.

Lo and behold, last night it came back out, precisely because of those smaller rings! Nice and compact for a wallet, I thought.

One thing I really love about the Chameleon (in general, but especially on something I was intending to use as a wallet) is that the peen loop is on the left…conveniently away from the zip compartment, which in this case will hold my change.

Other features I love are the fact that it is all leather and the high number of card slots (5 for the Pocket & 6 for the Personal respectively).

The only downside I could find is that the zip pocket construction makes the zipper pull (which is tiny) hard to get at. But a quick addition of some bling solved that.

A rogue cell phone charm doubles as a zipper pull

Here is a teaser of my set up (which I will detail later…promise) in the black Chameleon Pocket; pay close attention, as there will be a quiz later. Ok, maybe not a quiz…but definitely a poll.

The Chameleon open. Love all the card slots!

I know, it's blurry. But here it is on its side with its skinny rings.

Open. Doesn't quite lay flat, but who cares...it's a wallet

All fine and good, but then after a couple of hours I said to myself  “Self, what happened to your craving for color?” And I had to agree with myself, so I got out my much-loved Aqua Fins.

The plus for wallet-dom here is that it has that groovy ID window inside the front cover. And the color is way more funky.

What is lacking are card slots (only 2, aside from the ID window) and, annoyingly enough, the pen loop is directly in the way of the zip pocket. Fine if you’re toting around band aids or hair elastics and the like, kind of a pain in the bum if you need to get in & out of it frequently for change for the meter or quick like a bunny in the check out line at a shop.  Also, fatter rings (3/4″) and thus a larger footprint in my bag.

Here is what the wallet will look like in the Aqua Fins:

Love this Filo! Glad I nabbed it, because now they are hard to find.

Open. Pretend the JetPens card is my ID...

Side view. Again it doesn't lay flat. And again...I don't care!

So, because  as Popeye said, ‘I yam what I yam’, I brought both with me to work today, and have probably switched between them four times now. Not because I am certifiably insane, but because both have aspects that I want in a wallet and I can’t make up my mind.

I had assumed I would have a week or so to mull over these two practice options.

Wrong. Way too easy.

Just to throw a wrench in the works, the Ochre Malden arrived today, far earlier than I ever imagined it would.

What I adore about the Malden is of course the scrummy leather, the plethora of pockets (an especially handy one being the note pad pocket for quick list making inside the back cover) and the fact that the pen loop, once again, does not interfere with the zip pocket (even though the Malden zip pocket is a wee bit small for my tastes to serve as a change purse).

However, large 3/4″ rings = more bulk than I really need as a wallet, and the card slots are more free form than in other models. They aren’t really even card slots; the website merely calls them “pockets”.

Yet again, some features I like, some are less wallet-optimal. Still, here it all is in the Ochre Malden for your ogling pleasure:

Pocket Ochre Malden Open

On It's Side

Just for kicks...my old Fossil wallet on top of the Ochre Malden Pocket. Almost the same footprint. And color, now that you mention it.

I know you are chomping at the bit for a breakdown of all the interior why’s and wherefore’s I have neglected to discuss in the photos thus far, so without further ado, in order of appearance:

3  Pocket Credit Card holders right up front (4 slots total on each insert – 2 front & 2 back) for my various plastic cards.

Personal Information Sheet (I have, knock on wood, never lost my wallet…but just in case I do)

Now for the Tabs:

1st Tab – “Go”. Plain note paper for lists of errands I need to run, places I need to go. I like to pre-plan my shopping excursions to maximize my time & minimize my petrol use, so typically this list, in the order in which I would run the errands, would go in my every-day planner on the daily task list (and fill it up all too quickly). This way I can merely write “errands”, or “shopping” on my daily task list and leave the details in the wallet.

2nd Tab – “Do”.  Filofax To Do pages for ticking off shopping or errand related tasks. One sheet per store/destination.

3rd Tab – “Plan”. The only planning component of the entire wallet set up. Merely a Vertical Full Year Planner on which virtually no details are recorded, just a very simple & brief schedule overview for reference so I don’t over-book accidentally. All planning will remain in my Personal size every-day planner.

4th Tab – “Save”. Probably don’t technically need a tab here, but you know how linear I am. Behind the tab are 2 Plastic Envelopes (so far) to hold coupons, receipts, those annoying, easily torn paper ‘eat 10 burritos and get the 11th free’ cards, and the like.

In case it was hard to visualize - coupons, reward cards, recepits & stuff go here

5th Tab – “Buy”. This section is last because originally I thought it would be really cool to crazy glue a Day Timer Self Stick Hot List pad to a piece of hole punched card stock and use that for making shopping lists. Then I could tear them off  & toss ’em when I was done.

Shopping List Hack. Not so much actually.

BUT…what I failed to realize is that, because it is basically a sticky note pad, I could only have one shopping list going at a time.

Oops.  Fail.

Cool in theory, but too limited to be practical, so I just put more lined note paper behind the tab for multiple lists. Eventually, I will probably just pick up some cheap graph paper and cut  & hole punch it for this section, as I will no doubt go through this paper pretty quickly and the lists will just get thrown out anyway.

I am going to leave the Self Stick Hot List hack in there for quick, disposable list-making though. And so I won’t feel like a total loser for coming up with it to begin with.

Now the part I need you for:

Each of these Pocket planners has features I would like to have for something I use as my wallet. But of course, no one Filo has all the features I want.

To recap –

Option 1 Pocket Black Chameleon, with its slim rings, well-placed pen loop and multiple card slots

Option 2 Pocket Aqua Fins, with its fun color and handy ID window

Option 3 Pocket Ochre Malden because, well…it’s a Malden.

or, going out on a limb here –

Option 4 None of the above, buy a NEW Pocket Filo! Come on, you know you want to!!!!!

Which one do YOU think I should use for my wallet? Below is a clicky-poll for you to vote so that I can stop pulling my hair out trying to decide, and feel free to leave me reasons WHY, should you feel so moved, in the comments.

Lucky 13?

Well, I added up the changes to my planner so far this year and guess what the running total is?

Yup.  13

Come on, you knew it would be.

1. I started the year with Day Timer week on 2 pages in a Black Filofax Malden. Functional & I could fit a veritable ton of other tabs too.  At the time my schedule was pretty light, but I soon discovered my year was ramping up fast and I could really use more daily space to write…

2. Day Timer 1 day per page. Ok, more room on the page and still works with my other tabs but what a wonky page layout.  I hate it.  Let’s try…

2. Franklin Covey 1 day per page in the only design they offer this in, Monticello. The layout is wonderful and I really do heart FC paper best of all, but I sure do hate this dark blue crap all over the place. I don’t even last a week in these. How about…

3. Franklin Covey Her POV week on 2 pages. Much prettier and still my beloved FC, but even with the wider width pages I run out of space on the daily slots. As if 1/2″ would be enough to make this format work.  Fool!

4. Determined not to spend any more money on refills (HA! Right…) I force myself back to the FC Monticello 1 page per day.  My most favorite for function, my most despised for the “design” and I use that term loosely. This time I make it three days. Screw it, I am hereby abandoning Personal size all together for…

5. Pocket Filofax 1 day per page.  Hey this might work! And I can use it as my wallet too! Why oh why didn’t I try this sooner? Come hither, adorable Fins Pocket in Aqua…mama is calling!

6. Love the Pocket size, but alas no tabbed months. Flipping around trying to get an overview of my schedule confounds me,  so out of sheer desperation I try Day Timer Jotter day on 2 pages…yes, 2 pages this time (because they are thinner than Filofax Pocket pages).   This lasted one whole day. The lines on these babies are wuh-AY too small.

7. From one extreme to another, let’s try A5. You want room? I’ll give you room. Hey look, a Finsbury in Aqua on clearance…that would complete my set!  Sold.  Came with Filofax vertical week on 2 pages (lined).

8. Nope, not enough room. Try A5 1 day per page Business format.

9. Much better, but oy this thing is heavy to lug around everywhere. Maybe I’ll go back to Personal after all. Seriously…everyone else seems to do just fine with Filofax pages. Let’s give the Filfoax 1 page per day Personal the ol’ college try. In a Personal aqua Fins no less. Let’s get some color into my day.

10. AAAARRRRGGG! I need my tabbed months dammit!! Moving on to Personal (er, I mean Compact in FC lingo) day on 2 pages in original green.  Sigh of relief.  Those monthly tabs truly are my comfort zone. Phew!

11. I actually go for several months with these.  But, wait a minute: in this mid-year planning period, I sure would like to be able to see more than 1 month previous, 1 month current and 1 month future…so by this time I have forgotten how counter-intuitive I found the Day Timer 1 day per page and throw those back in.

12.  Oh yeah, right…I hate these. Two days later & I’m back in my FC 2 pages per day green & white babies.  Why can’t someone PLEASE IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY make a 1 page per day format that I like??!! I’m talking to you Franklin Covey! Just the masculine dark blue of Monticello? Really?

13. Fine. You’ve broken me. I cave to the desire for my favorite paper and the format that just plain works best for me. I will force myself to be stronger than my loathing of your dark blue. The Monticello goes back in. Somewhere along the lines,  I have also switched binders too and am now in my Ochre Malden. Huh…these pages don’t seem to look as hideous as they did in the aqua Fins. Brown & blue…aren’t they complementary colors or something?

Predictably, now that I have run the whole freaking gamut of planner refills (and spent enough money to buy a Yugo)…I have come to appreciate them & may actually even like them.   Hey, dark blue isn’t so bad. I mean, is it?  It goes nicely with my Frixion in blue/black (which is my fave color for some reason) I suppose.

You’re probably laughing.

Hopefully with me…

As promised, I made it through the weekend, so head on over to the Flickr set, check out how I’m diggin’ the FC Monticello pages in the Ochre Malden and let me know what you think.

Sarah Winchester, Eat Your Heart Out

Do you know the story of Sarah Winchester?

Sarah was the wife of gun magnate William Winchester (of Winchester Repeating Arms fame)  and heiress to his estate following his death in 1881.

Despondent over the loss of both her only child & her husband, Sarah consulted a psychic, who was able to convince her that her family was cursed by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle and that  she must move west and begin construction on a house for herself and the spirits.

She believed the spirits would kill her if she ever stopped work on the house, so she used her fortune to continue uninterrupted, round-the-clock construction on what is now known as the “Winchester Mystery House” for 38 consecutive years.  Until she died in her sleep.  Presumably from natural causes.

(Cue eerie music…)

The house is maze-like, with stairways to nowhere and doors that open onto nothing.  This was to confuse the spirits so that they could never find her in the house. She was also rather obsessed with the number 13, as she thought it a talisman to ward off vengeful souls.

But she was also quite innovative, considering she knew nothing of construction or design, with a servant call system, sub floors for drainage in the solarium and crank window shutters – all unheard of at the time.

I have personally visited Sarah’s house many times as  tourist (one of my tattoos in fact was inspired by the pattern on the horsehair wallpaper in Sarah’s bedroom) , and although I have several photographs taken on the site that show “orbs” hovering around me while inside the mansion, I have never felt it to have a haunted energy.

But last night as I was changing the inserts in my Filofax YET AGAIN, Sarah popped into my mind, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit of kinship toward her.

Okay, not really…but certainly some sort of restlessness has gotten hold of me and it occurred to me that I have been in and out of so many planner inserts (not to mention sizes) this year, if I wanted to reconstruct it day by day I don’t think I could.

Part of the year is in this diary format, part in another, winter is in Pocket, the fleeing weeks of spring in A5, summer finds me back in Personal but now going on the third page format in so many days.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, that does mean I have switched out of the inserts I only blogged about YESTERDAY into something new altogether.  If I can make them stick for the weekend I will do a post and Flickr set, but I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you.

I toyed with tallying up all the changes thus far, but I am afraid it will be 13.  And that would really freak me out.

While I am not trying to elude the spirits like Sarah was, undeniably 2011 is quickly becoming my Mystery Year.

Will I ever settle upon a diary insert or will I, like Sarah, go on tweaking my masterpiece until my last breath?  Am I really just bored and indulging a harmless obsession with fine pens and the scent of paper & leather?

Or am I seeking solace from my own, very personal losses in the endless “planning of my planner” the way Sarah did with her once simple 8-room farmhouse?

Only time will tell….

If It Ain’t Broke…

…fix it anyway.

When it comes to planners, I seem to have a very difficult time leaving well enough alone.

I’m not talking about tweaking it to accommodate life changes (which I also do and consider perfectly normal), I’m talking about messing with it for no apparent reason beyond boredom, curiosity, sadomasochism, or some combination of the three.

I change the binders themselves at whim, make no mistake about that…based on season, wardrobe, which handbag I’m carrying…you name it.  But the guts always stay the same.

Until last night.

I had made it halfway through the year with my beloved Franklin Covey 2 Page per Day inserts in the Original green & white design (with the tabbed months of course), making full use of the Task List and Daily Schedule on one page and logging my daily Gratitude Journal on the second page.

~LOVE~

Except for the fact that I can only fit 3 months of the 2 Page per Day leaves in my Filofax at a time (along with all the rest of the stuff I keep in it).

While tolerable, I do a lot of long-term project planning for work and I would ideally like to see the entire year. But since I need more room than a Week on 2 Page format, I compromise and sacrifice having all 12 months at my fingertips for a page that allows for more detail.

As a side note, Franklin Covey used to make a 1 Page per Day annual pack with the tabbed months included in the Original design and they were my insert of choice…however they currently offer only ONE design in 1 Page  per Day and it is (in my humble opinion) ugly.  Too odd a tone of blue and waaaaaay too much of it on the page.

Trust me, I bought the pack thinking I could get used to it, but my dislike of the color got under my skin to the point that it made me want to open my planner as little as possible so I didn’t have to see it.

Kinda defeats the whole purpose.

So anyway, there I was last night, staring at my Personal Malden in Ochre laying open on my coffee table, contemplating how fast this year is going by, wondering what inserts I will choose for 2012 and wishing there was a 1 Page per Day format out there in the world that I actually, you know, liked.

Filofax, you ask? Nope.  I like to have a specific daily To Do section I can tick off and their pages are too free-form for my tastes.  Plus, I must have the tabbed months.  I simply must.

Day Runner maybe?  Nuh-uh.  While they did copy exactly the Franklin Covey layout for their 2 Page per Day inserts, the 1 Page per Day are basically the same as Filofax (except they are maroon shaded rather than white and you can tab the months, but still not enough to sell me on them).

DayTimer then? Same thing.  The 2 Page per Day format works (because again, they have copied Franklin Covey’s layout), but they chop up the 1 Page per Day pages in such a way that none of the sections seems to have room enough for what I need to write in them.

And they waste half the bottom on an Expense section. Yuk! How much I’ve gone & spent in a given day is the last thing I want to see when I open my precious Filo!

However, I did have a pack of DayTimer 1 Page per Day refills for 2011 lying around (bought ’em, opened ’em up, hated ’em, stuck ’em in my refill bin unused), so I figured what the hell and made the switch.

This time I only re-copied the first five daily pages for July and transferred future items, rather than redoing the entire year to date and risking it being for naught if I change back in a day or so.  Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt thank you very  much.

On the plus side, I can fit 6 months of inserts now, which certainly beats 3, and the pages are the same size as Filofax so I can mix & match without having a glaring width difference (which totally makes my OCD twitch so I don’t even try mixing FC pages with anything other brands for fear of an utter and complete nervous breakdown).

The downside is that, as I suspected, the page layout is rather annoying; it isn’t laid out nearly as intuitively as FC, and there is no denying FC’s paper is better quality.

Weary sigh.

Every year I spend an inordinate amount of money on refill options for my planner. Typically I buy annual packs of more than one brand, and often more than one format.  Hell, it’s not beyond me to stockpile more than one SIZE as well.

And every summer I hope beyond hope I can find one that I will like enough to make it all the way through ’till December.

This, my friends, is apparently not going to be that year.

I am going to give these pages the old college try though, if for no other reason than because I need something to blog about.

Here is how I am going to “hack” the page for my own, albeit quirky, use:

On the left side of the page is the “Appointment” section.  I will track meetings, appointments and any timed events here and just learn to cope with the fact that they put this bit on the wrong side of the page for my tastes.

To the right of the hourly ticks is the “Diary and Work Record”, which to be honest I am clueless as to what the intended function is,  given the shared use of the hour markers.  So I’m going to use it for miscellaneous notes and my gratitude list, thus ignoring the hours all- together.

I know, right?  I’m a total rebel!

The bottom left section marked “To Be Done” is self-explanatory (I only wish they gave me boxes to tick off…as that is SO freaking rewarding) and the bottom right section they designate as an “Expense Record” is going to become just plain “Record” and I will put my daily tracking items there (weather, mood, exercise, whether or not I flossed…you get the idea).

If it turns out that I like this new-fangled format, sweet – I’ll order up a set for 2012 and rejoice in the ability to fit half a year in my Filo.

If it drives me shithouse – no harm, no foul…I may try a pack of FC Her Point of View 2PPD inserts in that case, and learn to deal with only seeing a quarter at a time if I have everything else to my liking.

At any rate, this particular neurotic planner spasm gave me something to write about, so at least there’s that : )