A developing Knomad addiction

I love my Knomad mini, as is apparent from this post. It’s incredibly handy for traveling, keeping my passport and iPad safe and looks good too. Too good, perhaps…

Since that last post, my Knomad collection has grown, worryingly. I now have a black leather Knomad built for an iPad Air, the same model in brown and yesterday, I got a Knomad Mini in brown. Before you think I’ve lost the plot, each was at a significant discount and the last one I got on eBay for a steal.

A couldn’t-leave-it-there-for-that-price kind of price.

I may soon have more of these little things than I have Filofaxes. Which are in fact looking pretty neglected right now.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. That’s possibly sacrilegious to some of you, I know.

But I got rid of my Filofax collection once before and regretted it not long after. These babies aren’t going anywhere soon. The Knomads are getting a regular airing though.

The thing is, with an iPad Mini, an A6 notebook, a battery, pen, charging cable and iPad keyboard (etc. etc.) inside the Knomad, I don’t really need a Filofax with me.

Well done, Knomo. Proving again that iPad cases don’t have to be ugly.

Reviewing the Filofax Pennybridge iPad case

I’m working away from home all this week and, in an effort to pack as light as possible, I stripped back on the tech and Filofaxes, simply taking an iPad mini, an A5 Moleskine notebook and the Filofax Pennybridge iPad Mini case.

The latter neatly holds the iPad in a flexible shell, while also holding an A5-ish sized pad. All contained behind a zip, so loose papers don’t get lost. All in all, I really like it. Much, much lighter than carrying around my iPad Air in the Fusion organiser with an A5 Filofax. Not as flexible, in terms of removable pages, but that wasn’t needed this week.

All the same, I think it could be improved. I’d like more space for card slots on the left hand side and Filofax could have made use of the space behind the iPad’s plastic holder. They could also have added an external pocket for a smartphone (though I doubt anything they’d have added would have accommodated my massive iPhone 6 plus!)

I’ll definitely add this to my ‘everyday carry’, making my backpack or briefcase significantly lighter. I fear the A5 Filofaxes might be staying in my home office from now on…

Review: Filofax Fusion iPad Air Organiser

The lovely chaps at Filofax sent me a new organiser to test drive. So, after using it for a couple of weeks, I’m sharing my thoughts on it. But in case you don’t make it to the end of the post, my ultimate verdict is: I like it a lot and would recommend it.

I got the Fusion iPad Air organiser in ‘stone’ from their eAccessories range. This zipped organiser fits paper inserts from the A5 range and accommodates an iPad Air in a lovely flip out section. The A5 organiser easily slips out so you can use it separately, while the iPad Air holder can rotate, allowing you to use the Fusion as both an iPad case, but also a stand to use your iPad in either landscape or portrait orientations. Very smart!

I’ve found it most useful to lay it on a desk, flip the iPad section in landscape orientation and keep the organiser section separate, allowing me to take notes while reading on screen. Or, as I did when on a long train journey on Thursday evening, set it up like my very own cinema and watch a film as I returned to London.

The interior also has space for a single pen and there are several slots for business or credit cards and (if you’d like) your mobile phone. There’s a slot to fit an A5 note pad in there as well. A couple of external slip pockets on the front and rear are useful for holding stray pieces of paper to which you need quick access.

All in all, it’s very versatile.

The Pros

  • It’s super light and yet the material is very sturdy. I’ve no worries it’ll get damaged by other things in my bag.
  • The iPad Air retainer is very useful and adds next to no weight to the overall organiser.
  • The fact you can remove the A5 organiser and use it separately is great.
  • The slightly smaller organiser rings prevent you from stuffing it too full and making the whole thing too heavy to carry around.
  • I personally like a zipped organiser, which reduces the chance of loose paper escaping while you’re on the move.

The Cons

  • The internal pocket intended for a mobile phone is just too small for many contemporary mobiles (e.g. larger Samsung models, iPhone 6 Plus). I rock a 6 Plus and there’s no way that’ll fit in there.
  • There’s no mechanism for keeping the iPad Air holder in place, so on more than one occasion I unzipped the organiser while standing, only for the iPad section to flop out alarmingly to one side. No risk of it falling out, but it’s a bit worrying all the same – considering the cost of replacing an iPad Air!
  • You can’t fit the iPad Air in while it’s wearing an existing case or protector.

Really, the pros outweigh any disadvantages here. If you like to mix paper and digital like I do, you’ll see the many advantages of this organiser. In the couple of weeks I’ve been using it, it’s been a really effective ‘mobile office’. I can access all my key documents via Dropbox and Evernote on the iPad Air, while using the organiser for adding or taking notes in meetings. For a few days, it was all I took with me when going to meet clients.

If I had any small design suggestions for Filofax, they would be:

  • Add a second pen slot somewhere in the organiser
  • Provide a mobile phone pocket (preferably on the outside) big enough for the ‘Phablet’ class of phones
  • Add some more colours to the range

Thanks again to Filofax for providing the organiser for review. Although I got it for free, these views (poor grammar and all) are entirely mine.

2014-11-30 11.01.01
MacPsych hard at work!

Mixing digital and paper…again

While out at Ryman’s stocking up on home office supplies, I stumbled across this little beauty. It’s a combined Filorax / iPad Air case and I snapped it up immediately.

(My 20% off coupon, courtesy of @FrankDJS, made this decision a lot easier).

It takes A5 Filofax paper and accessories, which fit into a completely removable ring-binder. It has a zip enclosure which keeps the internals secure, with a single external slip pocket.

Underneath the removable binder, there’s a handy see of card slots and pockets. There’s also a lot to hold an A5 pad which will accommodate any pad that sits vertically. Importantly, this doesn’t need to be Filofax paper, which is useful as I recently acquired a stack of very, very cheap HEMA A5 pads which are perfect for scribbles, notes and scratch-paper.

While it’s bigger than any other Filofax I’ve owned, I like it a lot. For me, it represents a useful mix of paper and digital productivity. I got an iPad Air while in Tokyo last month, primarily because it’s so light. (That and the virtual redundancy of my iPad Mini once I had an iPhone 6 Plus).

The iPad doesn’t add a huge amount of weight to the Filofax and, as long as I’m choosy as to the paper that I keep in the binder, it shouldn’t get too heavy. For a start, I took out the diary and contacts pages that were included. This short of information is covered by my iPad. The binder is now set up with various kinds of note-paper, which I’ve divided up according to the projects I’m working on right now.

In terms of keeping paper to a useful minimum, I spent a useful couple of hours yesterday emptying my various binders and notebooks of contents I want to keep: notes, conference materials, flyers etc. All scanned into Evernote and then shredded/binned as appropriate. My A5 Original was half its weight by the time I’d finished. So it’s probably a good idea to do this weekly, at least.

Will this replace all my other Filofaxes?

No, because sticking to the A5 size means it’s easy and very quick to move between one and another. My A5 Original now seems to be my lightest, followed by the A5 Finsbury. You could argue that a man really only needs one Filofax. But that is rational thinking and, as we all know by now, my relationship with paper and Filofaxes in particular is not at all rational!

My Travel Filofax

So I fly to Japan this Saturday. And I simply can’t wait. I don’t want to miss out on a single thing, but I just can’t trust my memory to remember every detail. No news there!

As always, I’m using Kayak to store my flight details and automatically add them to my iCloud calendars on my iPhone and iPad Mini. This trip, I’m also trying something different. Rather than bring along a heft guide book – that might be out of date – I’m using Tripomatic to build a personalised itinerary for the holiday.

Using this application – available on iOS and Android – you can access a day-by-day plan for your trip. Very neat and very easy to use.


I’m also planning to bring along my Filofax and have converted my Clipbook into a “Travel Filofax” for the trip ahead.

I’ve printed out key information, like flight and hotel confirmations and reference numbers, as well as the Tripomatic guides for each of the cities we’re visiting: Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Handily, as well as accessing them via the web or on a mobile device app, you can also download and print the document as a nicely-formatted PDF.

But before any information, a printout of The Great Wave of Kanagawa. Because I like the look of it.


I’ve got details of how to reach each of the hotels we’re staying in, contact details and a map of the vicinity for the final walk.


Public transport guides are a must. I still have a guide to the Tokyo Metro, saved from my last visit. This is stored in a zip-up plastic envelope at the back of the Filofax. Meanwhile, I’ve printed off a simplified version of the Kyoto public transport system. Really important, as we won’t be limiting ourselves to the centre of town.


And finally, a print out of each Tripomatic guide, divided by sticky tabs. I printed each single-sided, so there’s space to add in extra sights and plans as we discover them. It’ll all serve as a log of the visit, and get added into DayOne each evening – bits of it might even make it as far as this blog (or Google+).

IMG_1093-0.JPGThis combination of paper and electronic works for me – the Clipbook is still incredibly light and and the iPad Mini is barely noticeable in my backpack. It also leaves plenty of space for the things I’ll inevitably pick up along the way, if last year’s experience is anything to go by.


Advanced planning…

I picked up a 2015 year planner for my Filofax while in Selfridges yesterday. I’ve been working on some big, long-term projects (more on that in a few months) lately, and I’ve noticed that looking at the year on a single sheet of paper is actually more helpful than on screen.

Even the 21″ screen of my iMac.

Having used my 2014 planner to good effect, I picked up one for next year, as some of my projects definitely spill over into 2015.

Most helpful? Seeing ‘blocked out’ days that are either already spoken for or are spent on a plane. I’m definitely not noting exactly what I’m doing on each day – that detail still goes into my calendar on my iPhone/iPad/iMac. But for a top-down view of my general business and key deadlines, paper can’t be beat.

Planning your week is very, very useful. Reviewing your month also. But seeing your entire year, its commitments and – for me, anyway – where free spots are, to facilitate travel to far-flung lands, is incredibly useful. Seriously though, it’s too easy to over-commit or be too optimistic about what you can actually do without a higher-level view of time.

I’d never (if I can help it!) book in two full weeks of training delivery, for example – as it just keeps me away from the ‘office’ and the day to day admin that needs to be done in a business. All that stuff piles up in the background. Looking at my calendar only from week to week means this could actually happen!

David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology reminds us to look up from the immediate tasks level on a regular basis. It’s a really useful way to remain mindful of longer term commitments and goals. A pure focus on tasks to be done in the here and now means we’re unlikely to ensure we achieve goals most important to us.

I’ve been playing around with the year view for a few months now. It’s not a replacement for iCal, and couldn’t accommodate the level of detail I put into my electronic calendar. But for getting a bird’s eye view of commitments and free time, I can highly recommend it. I’m not a fan of writing and re-writing things: be it to-do lists or calendar entries. So only the most important and key deadlines go in here.

And I’m even using colours. Which is most unlike me! But it helps me tell what’s what on such a small page. Green for confirmed client work, red for ‘blocked out’ or ‘busy’ time and yellow for my holidays. The latter is quite motivating! I’m counting down the days until our next trip to Japan. But I can also see the relatively ‘dead’ time around the Christmas holidays and other Bank Holidays.

This is not me moving to paper full-time – I couldn’t live without my gadgets – but for high-level planning, I can really recommend the year planner approach.

Not another Filofax?!

I’ve flitted and hopped from one paper-based note-taking solution to another over the last few years. I love Moleskine notebooks due to their quality. But removing pages for scanning or sharing is a pain. Plus, they’re pricey.

On a similar note, I love Filofaxes due to their flexibility and how I can personalise the set-up and content. But they can get quite heavy – especially the A5 models – making them less than portable. And they’re pricey.

Ideally, I like to rely on one system for those times when paper is the optimal solution. When typing straight into Evernote would be disruptive…or impossible.

Without wanting to jinx myself, I think I might have arrived at a solution.

Continue reading “Not another Filofax?!”

The downside of paper…

2013 - 1Quite obviously, the downside of user a specific-sized paper in a paper planner (i.e. Filofax) is that you can run out of said paper.

Since returning to the A5 fold and using my A5 Original for work purposes, I’ve been tearing through my supply of A5 Filofax paper. As part of my job, I take a lot of notes.

Noticing my depleting supplies, I logged onto the Filofax online store a week ago and ordered some replacements. Being a semi-loyal Filofax customer for the past few years, I purposely opted to buy direct from Filofax – rather than save cash by buying via eBay.

A week later, and I’ve yet to receive my paper.

(I think this definitely falls into my oft-quoted category of “First World Problems”.)

As Filofax has shut its stores in London, I’m reliant on either speciality stationary shops or department stores to get Filo-supplies. That, or eBay and Amazon. Filofax are not doing themselves any favours by taking so long to dispatch something as simple – and small – as some A5 paper.

could have bought this via Amazon and had it on Monday. As it stands, I popped (hobbled, rather… I’m still on crutches) into an office supply shop in Canary Wharf this afternoon and picked up a couple of Filofax A5 pads – all the paper they had in the size I needed. I really wanted some loose-leaf paper. 

Come on Filofax – it’s 2013!

filofax-fusion-a5-black-largeOn a related note, I dug out my A5 Fusion in black, firstly to seek out some A5 paper that was still in there. But then, to wonder how I could make use of it. Despite getting an A5 Original a few months ago, I never ended up selling the Fusion. It’s definitely heavier than the Original, but it’s also sturdier.

I really need a Filofax full of paper due to my return to work in the real world next week. I have coaching sessions and a two-day coaching psychology conference in Edinburgh to attend. I will be taking a lot of notes. The Fusion is definitely superior for note-taking on the knee – when I don’t have a flat surface to lean on.

I may well take the Fusion to work next week – complete with my iPad Mini holder – and see how it goes.

iPad quandary

ipadminiGreat excitement in this household at the launch of not one, but two new iPads recently. I was surprised by the iPad Air, though it looks gorgeous. A lighter and much faster version of the iPad 3, it’s quite desirable.

For me, the main focus was the new iPad Mini with Retina Display – despite all other announcements, this got most of my attention. I love my iPad Mini and it’s basically an extension of my arm – never far away from my reach, in constant use throughout the day. And now I have a fab insert to keep it snug in my A5 Filofax.

But having finally picked up (and fondled) an iPad Air, I’m seriously considering replacing my Mini and with Air. It’s insanely light compared to the original iPad I had a few years ago. It’s possible to read for long periods holding it with just one hand. The screen is gorgeous and the finish and details are beautiful.

However, the Mini is so portable. One of the reasons I use it so much is that it’s so small and light and easily fits into any bag I’m carrying.

Interestingly, when you compare the iPad models side by side on the Apple site, the screen resolution on the Mini is actually higher than on the Air: 264 pixels per inch on the Air but 326 pixels per inch on the Mini.

Would my insanely tired and bespectacled eyes notice the difference?

Probably not.

And after all, I’ve finally managed to get my iPad Mini to work well with the Filofax. An Air just wouldn’t fit.

I sense a visit to the Apple Store to get physical with these models before I hand over any cash. I also need to decide between a Wifi-only model and one with 3G. I’m erring towards 3G for the many, many train journeys I need to take for work where there is no wifi available.

But the jury’s still out.

Anyone out there with either an iPad Air or Mini with Retina Display care to comment?