As this year ends and 2013 appears on the horizon like most I turn to thoughts of how to be organised for the next year both in a personal way and professionally.
This week I was almost tempted away from the trusty old Filofax by a new system made by Staples called Arc (click here for product details). I started using an A4 Arc file alongside my flex for work, the flex contains my work diary, year planner and notebook but the A5 flex system although great is too small for everything I need for work. I needed something that was flexible and could be changed around but also A4 size to take lesson plans, support plans and other printed material that I need to carry with me neatly whilst looking professional.
After reading some tweets and looking on you tube I started to investigate Arc for myself and once seen in the flesh I was taken with it. I rolled the A4 system out this week at work and I was very impressed as were my colleagues.
Filofax could learn a few things from the Arc folder system due to my initial impressions and recent gripes with Filofax.
Firstly, the paper quality with Arc is fabulous, I can use fountain pen, gel pens, felt tip etc with no worry about bleed through.
Secondly, there is a good quantity of paper in the folder when purchased and also in packs available to purchase and the price of the paper pack is reasonable, a choice of graph and lined paper (there may be others I didn’t see). However if you purchase the hole punch for the Arc system you can also use your own paper.
Thirdly, no matter if you go for A5 or A4 size Arc folder the hole punch required is the same if you wish to add your own pages into the system. This means a greater option to swap between sizes for those who need that versatility and A5 sheets can slot nicely into the A4 folder all with the use of the one size punch that is robust.
Finally, the ring size (or discs) can be enlarged or reduced according to the needs of the individual. Meaning that the Arc folder can be beefed up at key times with 1 inch or even 1.5 inch discs and then trimmed down in a new year diet to normal size.
I have always been a huge fan of Filofax and have used different sizes and styles over the 20 odd years but recently I have become frustrated. Filofax quality has gone slightly downhill, I have myself suffered from rings not meeting nicely and leaving a smooth join as a consequence paper gets caught in the gap and worse still fall out of the binder. The paper quality and choice is shocking, again I am not alone in wanting cotton cream for my A5 and I really do not want to print my own diary pages onto cream paper, why can’t Filofax print diaries etc onto cotton cream if the demand is there? I also love writing with a fountain pen and the Filofax paper really does not like fountain pens.
Secondly, having moved from personal size to A5 I have had to purchase a new hole punch, not very versatile at all moving up or down sizes appears to be more of a faff.
The choice of quality binders (step back Apex) is limited with Filofax especially with A5, the really nice binders also come with a price tag that is not so nice and for those on a limited budget but want a well made good looking professional binder (professional doesn’t always have to be black or brown) choice is limited unless there is an ebay bargain to be had. I am also concerned with the new styles that Filofax seem to think we need, the mash up (click here) is funky and I can see it suiting some, mostly us crafters and those who wouldn’t take it out of the house but I am concerned that the patches would come apart after a small amount of usage and it is only available in one size. Also any Filofax that needs to be priced at over £300, Temperley I mean you, is not for those I know who use Filofax for the practical things in life and I also think the Temperley range is ghastly (sorry to those who like it but its not for me). Aimed more for the posh fashion victims I think, not suitable for me to chuck into my bag as I run out of the house in the mornings.
My last gripe with Filofax for now is the pen loop, I love my pens some were gifts from loved ones and I love to use them but the pen loops with Filofax are limited in size, there are only a few binders that can expand to take pens of any size and I hate having to try and push a beloved pen into the loop of a beloved Filofax.
All this means that at the moment Filofax have had a reprieve all because my 2013 diary has already been set up into my A5 Holborn and Staples have not as yet released a diary system for their Arc (but they will soon as its available in the US), as soon as they do and if Filofax does not improve their quality I may consider changing over.
The Filofax customer service have always been great when I have dealt with them and happy to help, maybe the design team need to start to listen more to the customers whilst also seeing what else is now coming out that could pull people away from their brand.