19 October 2007

A5 Access

In a comment on a recent guest post, a reader asked about the availability of A5 binders to store archived Filofax pages. The Filofax post storage binders make it hard to read or photocopy completed pages.

In Europe, there's not much of a problem. A5 2-ring binders and hole punches are everywhere. (You need a separate hole punch, because none of the 6 holes in Filo paper line up with the 2 holes in an A5 binder. Funny, that.)

But in the U.S., A5 paper and accessories are very hard to find. You can possibly find items in the Japantowns of major cities, as I did in New York last year.

Recently, I found another source, located in Massachusetts, that will ship anywhere in the U.S. It's Empire Imports. The #1075 binder on this page is A5 size. There's only one color (dark), and only one spine size (3"), but it's available in the U.S., it holds tons of paper, and Empire Imports is increasing its selection all the time. For example, the company recently added reams of A5 paper, so you can print your own Filo forms. You can also get hole punches from them.

(By the way, if you need A4 or A3 paper and accessories in the U.S., Empire Imports has an even bigger selection.)

17 October 2007

Thanks for the comments!

I just wanted to thank everyone who's been commenting on new (and not-so-new) entries. I don't always respond, but I do read them, and so do our regular readers and those who come to this blog via search engines.

Thanks for contributing to the discussion! It feels good that this blog gets so many visitors, and I'll try to come up with more posts to gratify all of you!

16 October 2007

Guest Blog: Laurie Huff

Today's guest blog touches on points that are near and dear to all of our hearts. I know they are to mine. Especially since I've solved my own constant "should I switch" dilemma by making a simple rule: Only switch at the change of a calendar year. (OK, at the change of an academic year if I'm really desperate.) Well, the change of a calendar year is coming. What's in store for us Philofaxers?

The 2008 Itch

As 2007 starts to wind down, my thoughts turn to 2008. Specifically, what calendar will I use next year? My lust for the new and exciting has me reeling with the possibilities. Will I stick with the Filofax week on 2 pages? Should I go for that nifty week plus notes? This of course runs into my classic problem: My Personal size Filofax just doesn't give me enough room to write each day with a week at a view. So now I wonder, should I branch out? Should I switch to a page per day? I tried this one year and, though I had more space to expand my thoughts and plans on a daily basis, I tended to do a poor job of planning ahead without the whole week spread in front of me and the next whole week just a page-turn away. I was lost in a sea of individual days.

So then this begs the question: Should I upgrade my Filofax? Is it time to move up to the A5 size? Will sacrificing portability be worth the gains of writing space and future planning?

Which begs another question: Why do I think about it so much? Is my life really so complicated that I need to find a system that works absolutely flawlessly for me? What about the fact that my needs change every few months and suddenly what worked before is now woefully inadequate?

Questions, questions. Maybe I feel this way because of testimonials from people about how the "perfect" planner system changed their life. Covey, GTD, Uncalendar—the list of systems is endless. People seem to find their perfect system, and suddenly their life is easier, more efficient, and they accomplish their goals! Why can't I do that??

Every year I continue my quest for the Filofax Holy Grail. Would I accomplish just as much with a spiral bound notebook and some Post-Its?



(By the way, Laurie, here's how I settle the A5/Personal conundrum: I use an A5 for business and a Personal for personal. In both cases, I use a week-per-2-pages...vertical for the A5 and horizontal for Personal. I used a day-per-page A5 for work for quite a while, though. In that case, I need to supplement it with a month-per-2-pages or a fold-out year. Since my daily activities are ratcheting up these days...more appointments, workouts, events, and errands to record, I'm seriously considering a day-per-page Personal for 2008. Just thinking about it is delicious. -- Inky)

28 September 2007

Guest Blog: Jeff Abbott

Okay, it's official. Philofaxy has gone--temporarily--fallow again. But like the proverbial Little Engine, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can bring it back again. Actually, that should be WE can, because the comeback post this time is from a special guest blogger, Jeff Abbott. The following passage was inspired by, and originally published on, a discussion forum on 43 Folders.

I hope you all find it as inspiring as I do:

I’ve had nine suspense novels published; my most recent, FEAR, was a top 5 bestseller in the UK. I’ve also done some rewriting work for a major film studio. I use a simple GTD set up, paper-based, to both clear the decks so I can deal with the administrative side of being a full-time novelist and get my creative writing done.

I use an @Studio context for all my creative writing work. If I need to write five pages each day in completing a draft, then “write the next five pages” is a next action and it repeats until the draft is done. Not glamorous but it keeps nose to grindstone. If I need to devote an afternoon to brainstorming, I will block out that time on my calendar, to be as sancrosanct as a business appointment would be. If I have more than one project—say a rewrite on a novel and writing a film treatment—I may divide the day between the projects, just as if I had two appointments that split my day. So some example Next Actions for @Studio context might be: —write the next five pages —rewrite character bio for Lucy —brainstorm on how James can steal a gun in Chapter 13 —rewrite murder scene from new notes on blood splatter or in the case of film work: —reread Act One to find a more dramatic way to introduce the character of Fred.

This sounds uncreative, I guess, but this keeps my focus on what I need to accomplish to move the book/film forward. If I have a brainstorm I capture it and deal with it later if it’s not relevant to what I’m writing at the moment. If I feel like surrending to distraction (say I’m writing and I suddenly feel I must get on the internet to research some obscure data, a common way for writers to avoid working), I add that as an action for @Online so I remember it, but I don’t let it derail me from what I’m doing at the moment.) If I’m not worrying about what to do next, my brain is free to concentrate on the art. So my writing next actions tend to be different depending whether I’m writing first drafts or rewriting.

For research, I will use a mix of contexts—@Online for web-based work, @Errands for when I need to go to the library or the bookstore. If I’m interviewing someone, the context depends on if it’s face-to-face or more likely, through email or phone. I don’t have a lot of phone calls to make in a normal day, but I do use an @Office context for calls and administrative stuff—filing and research I’m doing via phone. I use an @Home context for normal family life.

When I’m on book tour, I create an @Tour context just for that period of time, although since my publisher handles the details of touring for me most items land on the calendar (radio interview or book signing or print interview), but I feel better having the context when I’m out of the office—although it could be argued it’s a project not a context, but I don’t want to think that much.

I now have a part-time assistant and quite a bit of those next actions that used to crowd @Office and @Errands are now delegated. I use Someday/Maybe lists for things I’d like to do in the future, but NOT for forthcoming book ideas—those get captured and then processed into a notebook where I keep such musings.

I used to try to do all my simple GTD via my Mac and my Palm, but I found it distracted me from writing (mostly when I’m at the computer, I just want to write). I also never found an electronic way to manage projects that I liked. So I now use a Filofax Classic A5 to hold all my project notes, my To Do lists, and my calendar. It lays open on the desk all day. I keep a lot of blank pages in there for idea capture and I find the paper approach is easier to review than on the computer. Again, not at all sophisticated but simple and it gets the job done. The tabs on my Filofax read: PROJ—for all project notes, and also includes a vertical year planner with due dates for projects so I can see my year at a glance DO—my next action lists IDEAS—whatever I need to capture LISTS—books to read or buy, movies to see, music to buy MAYBE—a Someday/Maybe section REF—reference that’s useful to have always—phone numbers, sources, the last time I had my oil changed, etc.

I do think GTD is very useful for ensuring forward movement on creative projects, but I think there is a big danger in fiddling overmuch with the system instead of doing actual work. I keep thinking an electronic way might be better but I haven’t found one yet, so I’ve happily stuck with paper. Hope this is helpful.

04 July 2007

American Eagle Day

Don't bother checking your Filofaxes, gentle readers. I guarantee you won't find this one. In fact, I spent an embarassing portion of my July 4th holiday searching the Internet to find out whether American Eagle Day is for real.

It all started with the June 19 episode of the Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert featured a bald eagle on his show, and invited everyone over to his house for an American Eagle Day celebration. I wasn't sure whether to believe it. (When faced with a sexy guy in a well-tailored suit and silk tie, my powers of reasoning somewhat fail me.)

Here are the facts, as I've been able to ascertain them:

May 1, 2007: According to the American Eagle Foundation, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed a special resolution naming June 20 “American Eagle Day." The House of Representatives is expected to pass a similar resolution.

June 20, 2007: The International Fraternal Order of Eagles celebrates American Eagle Day. (According to legend, the Eagles were always a little ahead of their time; they were early proponents of legislation that created Social Security and Mother's Day.)

June 28, 2007: U. S. Dept of Interior removes bald eagle from endangered species list.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to watch a cute guy in a well-tailored suit conduct a 4th of July concert.

28 June 2007

Green Flags

I write my day-to-day to-dos ("call the bank," etc.) right on my daily pages, and if I don't get them done by the end of the week, I flag them. I make my own flags by tearing small Post-it notes into strips.

So now I have green flags going back to February. What month is it...July? I used to use a To Do page and bind it in the middle of the weekly spread. I quit doing that because the page started collecting "maybe do's." But it occurs to me now, I could just move it behind to To Do tab, which is where I keep all of those nonurgent to-dos. Or I could at least look more respectable by using actual Post-it flags, maybe in red to match the binder.

But that doesn't answer the real question: why do I have undone URGENT tasks going back to February?

24 June 2007

Flags and Frenzy

A reader recently asked about a day that's not listed in the Filofax, but on many American calendars -- Flag Day; June 14. "Could it be as simple as flying a flag?"

Well, it's even simpler than that. According to US CODE: Title 36,110, it's just a day to recognize the adoption of the American flag, which became official in 1777. No one's required to fly the flag, but many cities and towns do put up a few extra flags on the main street, though. Some places have parades.

Here's a Web page with more than you ever wanted to know about the Stars and Stripes -- the original Stars and Stripes, that is, which is still on display in the Smithsonian. (I love stuff like this.)

I haven't been posting during my current busy season at work, but I'll try to do something about that soon. My A5 Filo has come through for me at times, let me down at others. Its To-Do pages are great for recording everything I need to do and what I'm waiting for others to do, but not for helping me decide what to do first and when. Some days I just have to grab a separate sheet and make a quick daily list.

Editor's note: President and Mrs. Bush are violating Flag Code in the above picture, according to USHistory.org. Thought you'd like to know.

10 June 2007

In Praise of Procrastination

I've successfully scaled the wall of procrastination enough times to notice some side effects. For example, when I really crack down on keeping up with paperwork, I find that any money I save by paying my bills on time may actually be outdone by the extra money I end up spending through the mail. When I set aside time to do mail every week, I actually open and read subscription offers from fascinating magazines...and end up subscribing to them. Getting so I actually have time to fill out a Who's Who questionnaire -- hoo boy, big mistake.

I think the reason I'm procrastinating with mail right now is I know there's a jury duty notice in there. The last time I returned one of those, my boss threatened to revoke a recent promotion if I failed to keep up with all my new responsibilities while I was, you know, in a jury room instead of the office 8 hours a day for 2 weeks. That was a fun couple of weeks. I'd rather be arrested for forgetting to update my address, thank you.

I guess sometimes when I postpone or avoid decisions, it actually helps me not make the wrong decisions. If subscription offers expire, I end up not subscribing to magazines that I really didn't need in the first place. Which begs the question, why am I not better at making decisions in the first place? Could it be because I've procrastinated so many times, that I've never really learned to make them?

Scary thought.

Oh, well, I'm little behind in mail right now, but not drowning in it. As I pick my way through the small pile on Monday, my paperwork night, I'll strive to do only what's necessary, not what looks interesting, even though I have the time to do it.

22 May 2007

OBG: Oldie but Goodie

Recently, someone commented on a 2005 post by Philofaxer, and it reminded me of what a great post it was. So since I've nothing Newie but Goodie to share with you today, I'd like to direct your attention to: http://philofaxy.blogspot.com/2005/11/faith-in-system.html.

17 May 2007

Guest Blog: Filofax Adultery

Today's guest blog comes to us from world traveler and Filofaxer extraordinaire, Laurie Huff.

I have a smooth black leather Personal size Filofax that I picked up at a discount store for $25 in 2001. Since then it has traveled the world with me, gotten me through graduate school and multiple moves, one of which was to a foreign country. In it I recorded the births of my daughter and of my son, all their milestones and cute antics. It has held my hopes and dreams along with my travel plans and financial planning. Everyone I know is written into my Filofax. It has been with me through thick and thin. Whenever I am without it, I crave it. When it is with me, I feel secure.

And yet, my wandering eye has settled upon the beautiful violet-hued Piazza, which I recently discovered on the Filofax UK website. (Here is the link for your admiration). There is no Filofax even available in that color in the U.S. I love all things purple, and have frequently wished I had a lovely purple Filofax to better represent my personality than the slick black. It seems my wish has come true. But I can't help feeling more than a twinge of guilt at the thought of leaving behind my trusty black one. Despite having been shoved into countless bags, being banged-around constantly, and being handled by my often dirty, sweaty, or sunscreen-covered hands, the smooth black leather looks good as new and handsome as ever. Would the lovely violet leather look dirty after a couple of years of abuse? What about that suede strip? Would it turn scrubby-looking and gray over time? Would it be as tough and unflinching as my black one?

In my mind the dilemma has turned into the Team Aniston vs. Team Jolie debate of the Filofax world. Do I leave behind my faithful, lovely but rather vanilla-looking Filo and go for the sexy, beautiful, exciting Piazza? Will it be all I hope it will be, or will things turn sour later when it loses its luster? Am I better off just staying with what has worked for me so well for so many years? Or, if I let the Piazza pass me by, will I always wonder what could have been?

Not the least of my concerns is the price of the Piazza. It clocks in at a spendy $126, which is beyond even splurge range for me. I'd have to save up for it, and consider it an investment that should last me for many years.

I want to know if anyone else has switched Filos not for a different size but just a different model. Especially, does anyone have a Piazza? How does it look after some abuse? Any wise words for me?

Meanwhile, my internal debate continues.

14 May 2007

Another Kindred Spirit

Stevie, a new reader to Philofaxy, wrote a fantastic Filofax post on his own blog, which I would like to share with you. Click here to read about Man's Best Friend on Strong Stiff Scotch.

(It's actually some women's best friend, too. The Filofax, I mean, not the Scotch.)

11 May 2007

Cooling-off period

In 2004 and 2005, my lifelong habit of tweaking my organizational system reached toxic levels. At one point, I changed at least twice a month, and I don't mean just changing my calendar or to-do list. I mean changing all of my information from Palm Pilot to Circa to HPDA to Moleskine and back again.

And now...I've been using Filofax exclusively for over a year. I recently tweaked the arrangement of my work A5 Filofax, and considered abandoning it for letter-size, but in the meantime, I've been using what I've got and am in no hurry to make the next change. I made this recent change not because I felt impatient for a change but because I found I wasn't getting a good enough handle on my projects' milestones (those mini, internal deadlines). Otherwise, the system was working well enough, so I left it alone.

How did I reach this point? I roughly went through the following stages:

• Tweaking overload. I think there was a certain amount of tweaking that I needed to get out of my system, and for a while, I allowed it. I bought columns of index cards, hundreds of dollars worth of software, and reams of Circa paper. I let myself go as far as I could in every possible direction, until I was just worn out. I think my eventual landing on the Filofax airstrip stemmed from a desire for a fairly simple system with built-in limits. But I had to go through the mad, crazed tweaking to get to this desire for sanity.

• Doing what works. I stopped reading Getting Things Done and The Seven Habits; stopped visiting 43folders.com. I took a look at what I needed. I do need a calendar that I can mark up with reminders before things are due. I don't need to write down major life goals; I know what they are. I do need a list of things that must be done. A "maybe do" list proved to be of questionable value. I need to be able to move pages around. But that's just me. (And that's the point.)

• Imposing time limits. When I decided a Filofax would do everything I needed, I still couldn't commit for the rest of my life. I was way too scattered for that. So I made a limited time committment. I decided to stick to Filo for a year (2006), at the end of which year I could switch again to anything I wanted. I even bought a variety of 2007 Moleskine diaries (they sell out quickly), to prove to myself that my options were still open. The Moleskines are still sitting in my drawer. (I do use a large ruled Moleskine for my journal, though.)

• One change at a time. I'd say this practice is the one most people can and should implement, and it's actually the easiest. It's make one change at a time. In other words, say you're using a day-per-page Filofax calendar and find that you're not filling up the page each day, and your book seems too thick. So switch to a week-per-two pages format, but don't change anything else. Don't buy a new binder, don't change all your tabs, don't change where you're keeping contact info. Live with the one change long enough to evaluate it. If you need to change something else next, it will become clear soon enough.

The whole process reminds me of something I read in a Natalie Goldberg book, in which she was quoting her own Zen master. The master was giving advice to a young, budding musician who was planning to move to Los Angeles to "see what happens." The master said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Don't go to see what happens. Go to make it. It's only when you give something everything you've got that it will become clear when it's not right anymore."

So don't change your Filofax system to see if it works. Make one change, and give it a chance to work by actually using it, wholeheartedly, for some amount of time longer than a day. Like a month, a year, or a season.

10 May 2007

Punch drunk



With a Filofax punch, you can punch holes in almost anything and stick it in your organizer. I tend to take that advice literally. Here are a couple of the more unusual things I've punched holes in lately:
- Map to my dentist's new office. He sent a letter with the change of address, and I placed a sheet from my Filo over the map, traced around it, cut it out, and punched it.
- A postcard from my mother of a creche she visited in NYC in December, 2006. It was set up at MoMA. I put it in my organizer to remind myself to try to see the 2007 version of the MoMA creche.

What have you punched?

04 May 2007

Potpourri

Isn't that a Jeopardy category meaning "a little of this, a little of that"? That's what today's entry is about.

Lightening up. Last week, I changed by A5 work-dedicated Filo from a day-per-page to week-per-2 pages. Boy, did that lighten my load, and made me more likely to use the book. It was just so much easier to find things! It meant I had room to put the A-Z tabs back in, and I also renamed the 6 blank tabs, giving each major project its own tab, plus a tab each for meeting notes and miscellaneous notes.

Creativity. Went back and looked at all the A5 pages I filled with ideas last year. I found I've actually done a lot of those things in the meantime. Others were truly valuable ideas and reminders that I've since forgotten -- which defeats the purpose of writing them down in the first place. There was a lot of great thinking I could use here. Considered going back to an A5 (instead of a Personal size) for these personal matters, too.

Impulse purchase. Based on the above item, I'd need another new A5 for the kitchen counter. Something inexpensive and easily cleaned with a sponge, right? Wrong. On impulse I purchased a fancy, red, alligator-look leather organizer, which I now have to return to the store (but I'll take a picture of it before I do). As I said, total impulse.

Rethinking. After using my new, lightened up work Filo for a week, I see that it's helped me get better at getting individual tasks done on time, and keeping all the notes for one project consolidated. But I still have lots of material for each project (timelines, documents, printed emails) on 8.5 x 11 paper, and I see that I should be looking at that information, now in file folders, more often, too. Plus I have our company's electronic shared calendar to update. See where I'm going with this? Why not just use a letter-size 3-ring binder for the stuff I have loose in a file now, PLUS the handwritten notes that I have in the A5 Filo now? I can't make the change now, since I'm in the middle of a hectic project...but I created a to-do item in my Filo to switch the future projects to letter-size.

Ouch. The poor thing must be crying now. Containing the declaration of its own demise.

23 April 2007

Guest Blog: Amen to Tough Love

Spring...A time to cast off winter bulk, to refresh, renew...simplify. It leads some of us Philofaxers to declutter our systems, to change what's not working. Sometimes, the only way to find out what doesn't work is to try it.

How many of us have been in the situation described by today's special guest blogger, DeWanna Walser? (I have...except I didn't have the wisdom to walk away from the cash register.) DeWanna wrote this exceptional essay in a recent comment, and I've brought it out of hiding, with her permission. More people need to read this:

For the last two weeks I have switched from a fully loaded personal size Filofax to a wallet and monthly calendar. In my effort to streamline and carry less, I ended up with more. My wallet held all the basics, the monthly calendar captured a snapshot of what was going on with little room for planning. Planning required a small notepad and I dusted off my PalmPilot to house my contact information. My landscaping plans and house projects for the summer were floating around my purse with no permanent home. It was then necessary to consult the Palm for suppliers, the calendar for delivery dates the loose copies of the layout and my wallet to make purchases. You’d think I’d learn. Prior to this bout with insanity I was tired of lugging my book around. After this experience, I have decided that my little book does it all with minimal effort.

It never fails. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take it out on my Filofax – it’s too packed, it’s heavy, I don’t need this much info every day. The list goes on when, in reality, it’s not the tool it’s me. I finally put an end to this confusion when I visited the Franklin Covey store over the weekend and the clerk was about to ring up a mountain of products I was convinced would help -- a classic binder, filler, forms and accessories. It was only when he told me the total of $189 that something snapped inside and I put everything back. I was embarrassed, thanked him for his time and walked out. It was a small step that really paid off. I have spoiled myself to the point that if one system isn’t working, it’s time to trade up. How silly and expensive that can be. I went home, emptied the contents of my Filofax and reassembled it with fresh forms and the original divider tabs. I reverted to the original tabs because every time I try to customize my setup, it’s never enough. I start thinking ‘this system would be perfect if . . .’ and I never implement what I have so far.

It’s time for some tough love. Everything is now backing in its place where it will stay. The next time I feel like my system isn’t working, all I need to do is look in the mirror.

21 April 2007

Still More Spring Cleaning

Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, says, "The main reason there is so much clutter is that it represents all the decisions people aren't making. Delaying decisions about what to do with things is what leads to the clutter in people's lives," he says.

Credit: I found this quote on http://www.angryfatgirlz.blogspot.com.

A5 Paper

Recently, a commenter to this blog asked me about an inexpensive source of A5 paper. If you're in the United States, as I am, A5 paper and accessories are surprisingly hard to come by, considering our nation's melting-pot reputation.

As an A5 Filo user myself, I've found a few sources of A5 paper that may or may not be less expensive than buying the 20-page packets from Filofax. None of the following prices include shipping.

- Staples.com has plain A4 paper from Hammermill by the ream (500 sheets), and can cut it in half for an additional fee. If you want lined paper, you have to print your own lines. (And the paper needs to be punched for Filofax.)

- graytex.com has A5 paper at $16.40 for 200 sheets (inkjet quality) or $29.75 for 500 sheets (copier quality). Also needs to be punched.

- timedesign.com has blank A5 paper, punched for Filofax, at $3.99 for 50 plain sheets; $4.99 for 50 lined sheets, either loose or padded.

- succes.com has lined white A5 paper, punched for Filofax, at $10.92 for 100 sheets.

Another option, and one I've used most myself, is buying A5, perforated notebooks from Miquelrius or a similar company, and punching pages that I wish to carry in my Filo. There are also notebooks from an Italian company, available at some specialty stationery stores, that have enough holes to fit the A5 Filo or 2-ring A5 binders (but these are pretty expensive).

20 April 2007

More Spring Cleaning

Thanks for the great comments on the "Spring Cleaning" post. I thought I'd answer up front here to make sure everyone sees it. Please keep the conversation going:

Anonymous - Please email me personally (nanbarber a gmail) about your "tough love" post.

Penny - congrats on the A5! Now are you going to give us the name of that Web site, or keep it all to yourself?

To "Will Not Sign" - We all share your struggle! We feel your pain. Many busy people use a combination of a Filo and electronic device and an online calendar. You might keep contacts on the handheld; there's really nothing better, and it will take some bulk out of the Filo. An online calendar like iCal is great for a monthly view and sharing with co-workers. Nothing wrong with using that at your computer and a more detailed daily or weekly schedule in your Filo.

My advice is not to worry about synching everything up. It's usually not necessary. Don't make the mistake I made. If you can easily print iCal pages that fit in your Filo, fine, but don't go crazy tinkering with the formatting. I wasted an entire week of my life that way! Now instead of trying to keep everything in iCal and print to my Filo, I keep work appointments and deadlines in iCal (actually, we're switching to a shared calendar system at work called Zimbra); I'm always at a computer for work, anyway. I keep a bare minimum in the online calendar, and write everything else down. That works for me.

Speaking of deadlines, I've got to run. But I'm still grappling with the loss of an outlet for my creative engines. Keeping my journal and ideas in an A5 Filo that I always had with me just made the ideas flow. It also meant I could use cool A5 notebooks with detachable pages and group related pages later. Sounds perfect, right? Not necessarily. More on that next time.

31 March 2007

Spring Cleaning

My return to Filofax was precipitated by a desire to rid myself of attachment to various rigid systems -- Getting Things Done, Franklin Covey, and so on. Filofax organizers are unobtrusive, customizable. And when I'm really busy or focused on things other than my process itself, I can disregard all systematology. I can write to-dos on diary pages, ideas on list pages, projects on to-do pages, anything wherever. In the heat of the moment, the point is to do what works; just capture the information, right?

Well, after several weeks of this, I find myself at odds. I'm missing things because I'm avoiding opening my Filo because it's just a little too chaotic inside. I've been remedying this condition gradually, trying not to let it grow until my life is in an equal state of disrepair. That's a good thing.

What's the solution? If things in my Filo aren't the way I like, change 'em. I wish I could say I'm OK, even prospering with a little bit of chaos, but I can't.

26 March 2007

April Fool!

Three weeks after the 2007 revised Daylight Saving Time date (also a week after after Europe went to Summer Time), I found this entry in my Personal Filofax diary. Sure, I know the reason for the problem is that this diary refill was printed before Congress decreed the date change, but it's an amusing April Fool's gift nonetheless.

The ever-proper Filofax does not mention April Fool's Day, since it's not an official holiday anywhere. And the wikipedia article on April Fool's Day is flagged with more than the usual number of tags warning of its inaccuracy...a portent in itself?

Yet, this humble Philofaxy blogger, whose birthday happens to be April 1st, has found that mentions of this date are recognized with knowing smiles throughout the world. Oddly, I seem to have been the victim of fewer than average April Fool's jokes. Sure, there were the unextinguishable birthday candles and the elaborately gift-wrapped dirty sock, but nothing truly creative. Perhaps that's the ultimate April Fool's Day joke.

So, I'll leave you with my favorite April Fool's quote, from Mark Twain: "April 1st is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four."

09 March 2007

PSA: Daylight Savings Time

In the U.S. and Canada, Daylight Savings Time stands to be more treacherous than usual.

First of all, if it seems like it's too early for all of this nonsense, you're right. The "spring forward" time change will being three weeks earlier (the second Sunday in March instead of the first Sunday in April). The "fall back" will also happen later (the second Sunday in November instead of the last Sunday in October). Supposedly, the lengthening of the time shift is to help conserve energy, like one that was also temporarily enacted in the U.S. in the 1970's.

My A5 day-per-page Filo shows the new start date, March 11, as shown here. My week-per-2-pages Personal size still shows the former, first-Sunday-in-April start date. I guess it was printed earlier, before the enactment. The European version -- Summer Time -- remains March 25th, shown correctly in both Filos, free from the mood swings we're so prone to in the Western Hemisphere.

But the trouble continues. This shift in daylight time is going to affect one heck of a lot more computers than there were during the Carter administration. Computers built before 2005 are unequipped to deal with this change. Some folks are even calling the situation Y2K7.

If you rely on a computerized calendar instead of a Filofax, and if you need to know exactly when your email was sent, you have a couple of options. You can change your computer's clock manually. Or, if you use one of the popular Mac or Windows operating systems, use your computer's Software Update feature to make sure you've installed the very latest updates. Both Microsoft and Apple have created updates that compensate for the daylight time change.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Filofax to debug ... anybody got a pen?

03 March 2007

Right Turns Only

If I had to pick one way that my Filo paid for itself more often than any other, it would be as a keeper of directions and other place-related details. When I get directions to, say, a friend's house, I write them on a single page. I can move the page around, edit it, and move it from one organizer to another without rewriting it. And no matter how much time elapses, years even, I'm always able to return to that same address (assuming that my friend hasn't moved). Need a code to get into my doctor's office door? It's right there on the same page.

Similarly, whenever I call a phone number, I write it in the Filo, even if I don't know if I'll ever need it again. I did the same thing on my Palm. If I ever wanted to order a pizza from the same place again, I could do so without looking up the same number more than once. For some reason, that efficiency really appeals to me. Look a number up once, write it down once, use it forever with no further effort.

But then, I'm weird.

01 March 2007

One Book, Single Pursuit

In my last post, I talked about devoting a single (Pocket) Filofax to wine and travel notes. The illustrious Philofaxer does the same thing -- he has a Pocket Filo for wine notes, and a Personal devoted solely to financial matters.

I've noticed a trend among Filofax aficionados to accumulate more than one organizer before settling on a favorite. Has anyone else ended up finding a use (even a limited one) for an orphaned organizer?

For example, do you have a large Filo on your desk and a smaller one to carry? Do you have a separate family organizer and a personal one? Do you use one for organizing and a different one for notes and ideas?

Let's hear it in the comments!

27 February 2007

Miss Confidentiality?

Would you ever hand someone your Filofax and let them open it? Would you trust them to just ogle the well-burnished leather and not peek at potentially embarassing sections like your phone numbers, to do list, or weight chart?

Well, I did it today. My vocal coach caught me taking notes for an upcoming singers' party in my red Finsbury with a red Waterman pen, and demanded to examine the pen. (She loves cool pens, but then who doesn't?) "In fact, let me see that whole thing," she said. So I handed her my Filo and held my breath as she flipped it open. To her credit, she didn't leaf through the pages, but I'm sure she got a gander at my tabs (To Do, Projects, Ideas, Lists, Fitness, and Tel).

Why did I give it to her? Well, again this is my vocal coach. I can't possibly humiliate myself in front of her even more than I already have. The entire first lesson, I couldn't even sing and keep my eyes open at the same time.

I think I do things like let people look in my Filofax because I know it's probably going to happen anyway, and I want to stay prepared for it. In my career of using planners and handhelds, I've had plenty of embarassing moments. I left my DayRunner in a nightclub, and my brother, who was performing, found it and returned it to me by slipping it in my car window while I slept in my apartment above. My mother once checked out my Palm and found a packing list for a trip. She found it hilarious that I needed to write down a count for the number of slacks, sweaters, and dresses I was packing. One time I left a Palm at work, and called a co-worker to see whether it was there. When she found it, she started reading my To Do list to me: "Call Ford dealership. Pay your bills." These days, I figure anyone who has nothing better to do than read other people's organizers is no threat to me.

In other news, I'm going to pick up an idea from Philofaxer. I attended a wine tasting the other night and found myself taking notes on wines I wanted to purchase later. I think I'm going to resurrect my old Pocket Filo for a wine journal...and for other travel stuff, too, like hotel and restaurant reviews.

22 February 2007

Guest Blog: The Curse of the Cross -- Rectified

We're proud to introduce a new feature here at Philofaxy...the Special Guest Blog. Our readers are a thoughtful, articulate bunch, and we knew it was only a matter of time before one of them would ask for a piece of the prime time. It's the first time we've published a reader essay on the front page, but we hope it won't be the last.

So without further ado, here's today's reader story, from Miss Anon E. Mous:

Two years ago, I found myself at a point of having visted the Filofax Web site numerous enough times to warrant my little brother having to comment that "this obsession is getting out of hand." This 'madness' was enough of a worry that he committed to buying me the item I was lusting for; a black personal size cross Filofax.

When it landed on the floor of the hallway with a loud but not quite ominous thud one sunny February morning, I knew my beloved Filofax had arrived. Excitedly, heart palpitating, mouth salivating, and eyes ceasing to move in their sockets, my whole being waited till the final shiny cardboard box was tilted to reveal the dark, luscious, and classy organiser.

Fast forward 24 months... I have taken care of this baby and delighted in its simple design and wondrous beauty, but one thing has eluded me and driven me to distraction enough to prompt me to peruse the Filofax Web pages with manic obsessive regularity again: The silly thing would not lay flat!

Now dear reader, laying flat is one of the most important things an organiser can do for me... Laying flat means that I can glance upon my days plans and plan for my week ahead. Because the little darling did not open flat, and would instead balance precariously on its erect little spine flapping from side to side like a devious little vulture, I had little time or inclination to glance upon or fill in the languishing pages. This ultimately led to me being disorganised again. This was bad news.

The situation was thus that I conspired to dump this little lovely and as mentioned above began coasting the pages of Filofax looking for a alternative that would lay flat... I even began looking to A5s in the hope that my favourite Belmont’s inherent lay-flat-ability would resolve my problems, but then this solution was space consuming and unfeasible, and, frankly, my budget would not permit such spending...

Today after much soul searching and gaining permission from brother (after all he bought it for me and should have a say - plus I needed the go-ahead and hand-holding) I took it upon myself to commit the ultimate act of infliction upon my Filofax... namely physically manipulating my beloved organiser by bending back both the covers (I hear your gasp; don't worry, I supported the spine) and holding them back until my beloved Filofax developed creases where the stress was placed... This took a few goes, and now my perfect, albeit slightly creased, Filofax is laying flat. Hurrah...! The sacrifice has been worth it, now I will use my faithful Filo more often... Yes, I will... I promise. And you know what? It's still gorgeous!

I would love to find out if anyone else has manipulated/customised their Filos for the sake of manageability and organisation...? This would in part make me feel better. It would also be interesting to know what exactly you have had to resort to to make your Filofax more user-friendly…

I feel a little guilty for the violence acted upon my beloved Filo, but the results should be worth the sacrifice.

Sincerely,

Miss Anon E. Mous. (a.k.a. AK)

20 February 2007

Shrive, Shrove, Shriven

(Insert your favorite pluperfect-subjunctive joke here.)

Check your Filofaxes. Although it's not a national holiday in many countries, our diaries label Shrove Tuesday on February 20 of this year (the day before Ash Wednesday).

Does anybody except me know what this means? I grew up calling it Pancake Tuesday, because that's what my Italian grandmother made us. Big stacks of them for an early, after-school supper.

"Shrive" is an English verb meaning "to confess and obtain absolution for sin." Going to confession was an English tradition on the day (Tuesday) before the start of Lent.

The other common name for this day (Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday) goes back to the pancakes. Ash Wednesday used to be a day of fasting, so in the days before refrigeration, people had to use up perishable items (eggs, butter, milk) before the fast began. Part of the idea is also to stuff yourself to help offset the upcoming deprivation.

17 February 2007

Year of the Pig

Lunar New Year (celebrated in China and some other Asian countries) begins at the first new moon of the first lunar month. Filofaxes recognize the Lunar New Year -- but stealthily.

First, as shown here, moon phases are represented on diary pages by empty (full moon) or blacked-in (new moon) circles. This photo shows a day-per-page format, but the weekly diaries have the moon phases, too.

On the International Information page (the one that lists national currencies, time zones, and holidays), you can see which countries celebrate the holiday by looking for the new moon dates (in 2007, February 17 and 18). Looks like Hong Kong (HK), China (CN), Taiwan (ROC), and South Korea (ROK).

Brazil (BR) also lists February 17-21 as national holidays, but I suspect that has more to do with Carnaval than Lunar New Year.

My favorite part of Lunar New Year as it's celebrated in China? Many people get days or even weeks off from work in order to travel back to their old hometowns and celebrate the new year with relatives.

14 February 2007

We ♥ Our Readers

As many...uh...a few...uh...okay, TWO of our millions of readers have complained, I'm now just as bad as Philofaxer. It's true. For one week, I honestly was on vacation without Internet access. Since then, I've just plain been a negligent blogger.

But I have the perfect excuse -- I've been focusing on doing the things inside my Filofax. Over the past couple of weeks, I've finalized my kitchen-counter Filofax, cleaned the house, taken down a pile of undone paperwork, started planning our next trip (including tickets to a TV show taping), got my husband a nice Valentine's Day present (tickets to a series of wine tastings), got my winter coat out of storage, had my car detailed, bought new sheets, and the like. (Well, that just about does it for my Christmas money.) I also prepared to sing in a recital, but didn't (it got canceled).

And, to be honest, I've been wobbling, as I know all Filofaxers do. A few more responsibilities have been added to my job description, including a new team member to delegate things to, and all of a sudden my A5 Filo work setup seemed wrong. Where do I track the delegated items? How do I remind myself to extract tasks from meeting notes without losing them? Are my project pages still working now that I have a lot more projects? Wouldn't a plain notebook be easier?

You get the idea.

However, I've pulled through. My work Filo sits at my right hand, a single recepticle for notes, work records, and schedule. Any failure to sort out my work is my own, not the Filo's. I think.

The next step for me is to start posting again, while trying to maintain my new level of offline activity, too. I understand that our faithful Philofaxy readers have missed the articles, and I appreciate the support. I'll try to give you more of what you come here for.

Meanwhile, it must be said that Philofaxy isn't the only place to read about Filofaxes on the Net. There aren't many oases for us lovers of the rings, but today I've one to submit for your perusal: Pig Pog's Moleskine vs. Filofax cost comparison.

02 February 2007

Public Service Announcement (Pee-ess-ay)

It has come to my attention that there may be some confusion about the pronunciation of this blog’s title. Namely, my wife told me that her internal voice pronounces it, “fuh-LAH-fuh-xee.” She said she had assumed that its pronunciation would track the syllabic emphases of “philosophy” (i.e., fuh-LAH-suh-fee). That sounds totally weird to me.

Most of you have probably never said Philofaxy out loud, but you must have adopted an internal pronunciation of it. Let me go on record as endorsing the following pronunciation: FYE-loh-FAX-ee. Or, expressed another way: Filofax-ee. Does this contradict any of your internal voices? At heart, I believe that the will of the masses should, within broad boundaries, govern. So if you disagree with me, then I will have to decide whether this is an issue that falls within the broad boundaries of majority rule, or an issue as to which I will enforce my will by invading your dreams and repeating my pronunciation over and over and over until you surrender.

(Please don’t tell me that Filofax is really pronounced “fuh-LAH-fuhx.”)

30 January 2007

A Golden Oldie (Me)

Hello. My name is Philofaxer. You may remember me from such blogs as this blog. But you also may not remember me, because I have been absent for months. Please insert excuse number one here. Excuse number two goes here. You may find this to be a convenient spot for excuse number three, and I think excuse number four should go right …. Here.

Nan has done such an amazing job maintaining the substance and quality of Philofaxy that she has, inadvertently, encouraged me to indulge my innate laziness. That’s right. Nan is an enabler. Why go through the trouble of posting, when Nan will do such a lovely job in my absence? Why go through the trouble of trying to improve Philofaxy, when Nan is improving it at a pace I could never rival? Why not, instead, watch five straight seasons of 24 on DVD, because somehow you only recently realized it’s a really good show? Why not, instead, decide that you also like The L Word, and you have to watch all the old seasons of it, too? Why not, instead, spend four weeks writing a novel, so that you can say you participated in and successfully completed National Novel Writing Month? Why not, instead, spend your time playing with this silly little thing:



Why not, indeed.

My Filo-life is humming along just fine. I haven’t bought any new Filofaxes. I soldier on with my A5 Chocolate Cross as my primary data repository, and my Personal Chocolate Cross as my repository of financial data.

You may recall The Great Red Domino Experiment, in which I tested the following hypothesis: A tiny, pocketable Filofax will improve my productivity and overall happiness level. The early evidence, unhappily, did not bear out the hypothesis. But, lo, I have found a new use for the Red Domino. (The following might sound a little hoity-toity, and for that I apologize. I’m not hoity-toity at all. I eat frozen burritos for dinner more often than I like to admit. I buy store brands. I never pay retail (Unless I really want the retail-priced thing (really, really want).).) I record wine tasting notes in the Red Domino. Now, before you say, “Philofaxer, between your spendy leather planners and expensive bottles of wine, you’re nothing but an elitist with whom I share no affinity! I condemn thee!”, let me just say that I am new to the world of wine and still struggling to find words for my wine tasting notes other than “good,” “really good,” and “um, red.” I usually taste a wine and then right down some of those words. Then I look it up on the internet and find that I should have written, “Slightly oaky, with notes of apple, fennel, and beef brisket, and a finish that recalls the black truffles in the woods on the left bank of the Rhone, near that cute little bistro south of Arles.”

The other thing is that I am against paying more than ten dollars for a bottle of wine.

Anyway, the Red Domino is getting a little use now.

I also engaged in a bit of Filo-personalization. My son, who will be six months old on Thursday (holy crimoly), recently had “professional” photos taken at his daycare. Being the duty-bound parents we are, we bought some. The place threw in some small stickers of our monkey, for free. I stuck one on the inside, lower left corner of my main Filofax. Now, he faces me whenever I have the Filofax on my desk. (That corner is visible even when the pages are splayed open.) It’s really cute, too. I had planned to take a picture of it and include it in this post. Then I forgot my camera. So I planned to use the camera on my cell phone. Then I forgot my cell phone. So I’ll post it later.

Maybe. It depends on what’s on TV.

25 January 2007

Calendar Girls

A very nice reader just notified me that the February, 2007 issue of Better Homes and Gardens features a 4-page spread about how three women manage their work and family lives with the help of organizers. Filofax is one of them!

Check your local newsstands.

Thanks, for the tip, Gloria!

24 January 2007

Managing Multiple Filos

Last June, I wrote about the three Filofaxes I was using at the time and how I used them. Since then, a new reader emailed asking me to go into more detail, and reminded me that there may be other new readers who haven't seen this information before. Also, I've switched from carrying a Pocket to a Personal size Filo since then.

So, with the indulgence of anyone who already knows some of this, I'll quote from my email response here:

Mind you, this is subject to change without notice! I've tried to make a deal with myself to stick with this current system for the rest of 2007, but I'm already wavering, as I'll explain below.

Anyway, here's my current system:

1) A personal-size Filofax that comes with me everywhere. It's my wallet, week-per-2-pages calendar, and has tabs for to-dos, projects (current), ideas, lists, agendas, and telephone numbers. (As you can see, this is already different from the tab arrangement I posted on the blog a while ago.)

I do the projects as one-page-per-project, on yellow lined paper. It's fun to take the page out when I complete the project. My most recent one was making hotel reservations for next New Year's Eve!

2) An A5 Filofax on my desk at work. In this one, I have a day-per-page calendar that acts as a schedule, work record, and tickler file. Actually, I don't use this as well as I like, and it's the first thing I might change. In the past, I've used iCal at work with lots of success. This one has tabs for meeting notes, editing notes, contacts, reference, etc. (Can't remember them all since I don't have it in front of me.)

3) An A5 Filo that stays on my kitchen counter. This one is a work in progress, but it's the repository for my FLYlady system. She calls it a Control Journal. It's basically a tickler file for all your routines and house tasks, plus household-related contacts, family calendar (actually, a couples calendar since we don't have kids), emergency and evacuation info, and so on.

Anyway, if I make a change in this, it would be to use the A5 work Filo for both work and personal matters, and instead of the Personal-size Filo, use a Pocket-size as my wallet, with just a portable calendar, phone numbers, and some blank paper for notes on the fly. That's what I did last year. The reason I ended up getting a Personal-size was that I was trying to cram too much into the Pocket.

Hope this makes sense.

20 January 2007

Off-Topic, Yet Somehow Apropos

Maybe it's because I've gone 4 days without writing here on Philofaxy, but somehow I found myself reading a post on Wil Wheaton's blog about writer's block. Apparently, a professor named Piers Steel has come up with an Einstein-like formula for calculating procrastination. As Wil himself says, the advice and comments people added are the best part.

So, since we have some writers in our midst, and Filofaxes are our favorite anti-procrastination tool, I thought Wil's post might be of some interest. Besides, weren't we just talking about Star Trek the other day?

Besides, isn't it just SO obvious that I'm just casting about for Filofax-related topics to write about?

16 January 2007

Quiz Answer

OK, I'll put you all out of your unbearable suspense.

The answer to the "Taking Care of Business" movie question I was looking for is "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and the actors were Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) and John DeLancie (the Q).

And what's the connection to the movie's scriptwriter (which I mentioned in the comments)? J. J. Abrams is on deck to write the eleventh Star Trek movie.

14 January 2007

Filofax: The Movie?

The Moleskine-loving community had a collective swoon a couple years back when, in the opening scene of "The Da Vinci Code," Tom Hanks' character read lecture notes from a small, rather dull black notebook.

The Filofax, on the other hand, has been the main subject of a movie: "Taking Care of Business." That's the U.S. title; in other countries the movie was simply called "The Filofax." The movie's a comedy about an unfunny business: identity theft. I haven't seen it, but according to the synopsis, Jim Belushi is a likeable, small-time crook who escapes from prison in order to use his World Series tickets. On the way to the game, he happens upon the lost Filofax of a wealthy executive (Charles Grodin) containing cash, credit cards, and mansion key. A sort of "Trading Places" role-reversal ensues.

Has anyone seen the movie and can tell me how it ends? Better yet, can anyone take a screen capture of the Filofax in the movie?

Bonus question: Two cast members of "Taking Care of Business" were also regulars on a well-known TV show. Can you name that show?

Photo and link credit cinemafia on Flickr.

12 January 2007

Filofax Sales up 20 Percent

According to an article posted on December 11, 2006 on BusinessWeek.com (and now if this link expires you know how to find it), worldwide sales of Filofaxes have gone up 20% since Letts acquired the company in 2001. Growth is currently at a clip of 5% per year.

The article talks how Letts has endeavored to make Filofaxes more appealing to women customers (who now make up 60% of Filofax purchasers, as opposed to 60% men in the mid-90's), and in developing countries, where Filofaxes are desired as a status item.

Why else has the Filofax held up so well against Blackberries and PDAs? According to the article, people use electronic devices more for "wireless connectivity than as true organizers."

Another interesting statistic: 68% of Filofax users are under the age of 45.

08 January 2007

Tab Tweaking Two

I explained in my previous post that I've overhauled my tab arrangement. Here's what goes behind each one.

Goals - Not the lofty kind of goals you're probably thinking of. The mundane kind -- swimming a certain number of laps, drinking water, taking fish oil, and so on. I'm much better at doing these things regularly when I keep track of them on little spreadsheets.

Plans - What most people call projects. I like to call them plans so I don't have to break them down into individual projects. A plan can be getting a certain set of work done on the house, or accomplishing something in my career. I like the word "plan" better than "project" because it reminds me about the benefits I'll reap at the end.

Agendas - Running lists of things I need to tell or ask certain people -- one page per person. Borrowed from David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame). I've found this a great way to remember things I want to discuss with a doctor, with a family member I don't see very often, and so on.

Ideas - Anything goes.

Lists - Shopping lists, restaurants to try, books to read, etc.

Addresses - Actually, I only carry telephone numbers on these A-Z pages. My main address list lives on my computer.

You've probably noticed there's no To-Do section. I try to have only one page going at a time, and I keep it in the middle of the current week spread in the calendar.

07 January 2007

Tab Tweaking

I know, I know, most of us who frequent this blog are aware of the need to do less tweaking and more doing. But I often feel like speaking out in praise of tweaking.

By tweaking I don't mean buying a new Treo, or switching to an all-Filofax system when you have Franklin Covey pages that already do the same thing. (Not that I'm not pretty much guilty on both counts.) I'm talking about smaller, internal tweaking.

I say, don't hesitate to tweak your tabs. Tabs are one of those things that you need to experience in order to make a decision about. In other words, if your Filofax isn't working for you, it may be time to rename your tabs and work with the new configuration for a while.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I thought that my be-all, end-all tab set was:
Actions,
Projects,
Routines,
Lists,
Notes,
Agendas (with the address pages behind the Agendas tab, and no A-Z tabs)

A couple weeks before that, I was using A-Z tabs and no other tabs, but using a second pop-in ruler to point to my action lists.

Now, I've changed my configuration to:
Goals
Plans
Agendas
Ideas (someday/maybe, etc.)
Lists
Addresses (again, just address pages here, with no A-Z tabs)

What I want to put behind each of these tabs doesn't necessarily follow convention. More on that in my next post.

03 January 2007

Pool Philofaxy

No, I'm not suggesting you toss your precious Filofax into the drink. I'm talking about the Philofaxy pool on Flickr. Check it out (and if you haven't visited for a long time, check it out again)! Members have added some mouthwateringly gorgeous planner shots, like this picture of Morning Glory refills (a Korean stationery brand).

If you ever fear you're losing interest in using your Filo, these pictures will boost your enthusiasm, big time. I know they did mine!

Photo credit to bettybl on Flickr.

01 January 2007

Liability of Literacy

Has anyone else, like me when I first started using a Filofax, ever worried that writing things down would cause one to forget, rather than remember things? Nowadays, gurus like David Allen and Steven Covey preach the importance of writing everything down, so that it won't get lost before you have a chance to do it.

An article in the November 20, 2006 issue of The New Yorker suggests that the very fact of being able to read and write has a detrimental effect on memory. In India's Rajasthan region, a caste of bards called bhopas have been known to memorize epics of 100,000 stanzas (6 times the length of the Bible) and sing them straight through.

According to the article ("Homer in India," by William Dalrymple), "...illiteracy seems an essential condition for preserving the performance of an oral epic....This was certainly the conclusion of the Indian folklorist Komal Kothari. In the nineteen-fifties, Kothari came up with the idea of sending one of his principal sources, a singer from the Langa caste named Lakha, to adult-education classes. The idea was that he would learn to read and write, thus making it easier to collect the many songs he had preserved. Soon Kothari noticed that Lakha needed to consult his diary before he began to sing. Yet the rest of the Langa singers were able to remember hundreds of songs--an ability that Lakha had somehow begun to lose as he slowly learned to write."

As the bhopa tradition dies out, transcribing the epics is necessary to preserve them. Inevitably, some have been lost forever, dying along with the traveling bards who could sing volumes, but not write them down.

Photo of quill pen found in 15th century records from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
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