Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Techno Gadgetry vs The Filofax

So I may have mentioned that I am a tad obsessed with Filofaxes - I currently have 11 of the gems - and my entire life is organised and encased within I perish the thought of what mishaps would occur if I mislaid the current Raspberry Chameleon bible I rely on for remembering all the what, wheres and whys needed to maintain my everyday life.

But I am also a massive gadget nerd. While some things, like the PS3 and how you can stream movies from a laptop to the telly via it mystify me, I adore my iPad and iPhone (currently only a 3GS but upgrade looming so possibly the 4 or even 5 if that is a September launch hopefully). I avidly follow Twitter feeds and blogs about the latest Apple rumours of what technological greatness they are coming up with next and I am constantly rooting my way though the App store to find new App gems that I surely can't live without (current faves are BBC iPlayer App, Whistler Traveller for our trip on January, Zinio for downloading magazines from all over the world and The Times and I for showing how newspapers can evolve into tablet devices).

Now the big question rolling around the office at work since the great iPad giveaway is what To Do app is the best. As one everyone at work has their own iPad the option to use it as the organisational tool of choice over Outlook, iCal or a notebook has risen. And there are several contenders vying for title of King of Organisational Apps and being the nerd that I am I've been wondering, which is the best from a functionality standpoint but also could an electronic Planner ever take the place of my trusty Filofax sidekick? My gut says no but let's let the science speak....

Option 1 - Awesome Note
I have this on my iPhone so I added it on my iPad as well, cost for the iPad version is £2.99. I love the look of it, the customability of it - you can change headings, colours, layouts etc. All your sections have their own diary view as well as to do/list view and it is easy and quick to add new lists or items. You can also add a pass number lock onto individual sections in the App so you don't have to log in every time you open it. Perfect for storing passwords/registration details etc.

I like being able to see everything on one calendar from all my sections (these include such riveting finds as To Do List, Event Planning, Fashion Stuff, Skiing and many more). 

Option 2 - Toodledo
I tried this one and was disappointed. It kind of does what it says on the tin in that it is just a basic to do list. You can set reminders/priortiy but it is not especially dynamic or exciting and I think for the money (£1.79) you can get a lot more functionality from other apps.

Option 3 - Pocket Informant
This is the professional App of choice of many of my colleagues. It syncs with desktop calendars, has a fab year/month calendar view and even looks like a Filofax in some ways with the pages and tabs.

It is however £8.99 - quite a lot for an App especially if you aren't sure you will use it. But it does work along the GTD methodology so will work really well for those following this style of organisation. If I was to ever give up my trusty Filofax this could be the App that would replace it..

Option 4 - Daily Notes + Todo
This is another App that has created a "journal" style to do list/calendar. It is made to look like leather (apparently) and you can have customised tabs, easily add in photos and view tasks either individually or all together. But it just doesn't feel as fun to use as Awesome Note or as organised and well thought out as Pocket Informant.

There are of course hundreds of Apps that can be used for organising yourself and these are just the ones that are discussed and used by me and the people I work with. But could an iPad App ever replace the trusty Filofax?

  • Interactivity - Being able to copy and paste web links, photos, email copy, instructions etc quickly and easily into a Task is great for archiving information, or compiling project outlines. You can quickly save the links and articles you think you might need without having to write them down. And then copy the links back into Safari - or link directly depending on the App
  • Synchronisation - Being able to sync your calendar with Outlook or iCal is a benefit if you have a diary that other people manage or that contains a lot of repeat meetings. Also being able to link meeting information and Tasks together easily like this would be a dream.
  • Scale - You can save and store so much more in an App like this potentially than you could in a Filofax. As you wouldn't need to archive so much as the volume of content does not increase the weight or size of the iPad in the same way that extra pages in a Filofax does.
  • Flexibility - Each App is individual in its design so finding one to suit you is key. However while you can customise colours or layouts the actual Apps aren't that flexible. Unlike a Filofax where you can change your sections, diary format, layout as often as you like to make it fit your life and schedule demands.
  • Power - The iPad being an electronic device while it has exceptional battery life does need plugging in and recharging.
  • Bulky - The iPad while slim, and relatively light is still relatively large (much larger than an A5 or Personla Filofax for example). Will it fit in a small everyday handbag? Not easily. So transportation can be an issue - I have to have mine in a bag I wouldn't be able to walk around carrying it as I'd put it down and loose it!!
So what's the verdict? For me - paper wins out (I think we all knew that was coming didn't we) but I do think that the iPad will become a very important organisational aid for lots of people. And I certainly do use it for certain project planning - where saving links/content/photos/pages is so easy. Will it ever replace my trusty Filofax to do lists? Unlikely, but a hybird paper/iPad model of organisation is sure to emerge!!


  1. I agree! My techno toy box is never too full! I have Outlook synched to my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Since we are required to have a shared calendar for my office, this is pretty painless. Plus, it's an easy way to deal with a ton of appointments.

    However, I just started printing out my Outlook calendar and punching it into my personal Filo. Easy-peasy - best of both worlds (and it's free). I posted a (semi-ugly) pic on my blog:

  2. Ooh Robin I have been checking out your post - what a fab idea. If I used my Outlook more then I would totally do that - luckily though I don't have that many meetings so it's easy enough to log everything in my Filofax :)

    Am also loving your tabs!!!