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Organizers: Chic Datebooks That Can Make Your Day

January 31, 1986|TIA GINDICK | Times Staff Writer

One of the most pressing causes of anxiety this year is whether you have enough people, activities and projects in your life to warrant an "organizer." And if you do, then there's the inner turmoil while you determine which organizer--given your needs, finances and the image you want to project.

It's an issue to be faced with as much courage as conviction. Possession of an organizer means coming face to face with one's life, clearing the clutter and Getting On With It.

And that can be a terrifying proposition. But to people who have them, they're as revered as the Bible.

Fulfilling a Need

We're talking about a movement here, a movement that has captured people's imaginations, lives and finances as surely as any religious cult.

It's a movement, converts will tell you, born as trend but matured into necessity.

There are, of course, skeptics. By whatever name--there's DayRunner, Filofax, Day-Timer, Running Mate, Recordplate, to name just a few--the organizer is really just an overgrown datebook upscaled to include addresses, scratch paper and tabbed dividers. Its purpose is fundamentally the same as all those little pieces of paper, 3-by-5 index cards and assorted notebooks which, for centuries, have served the world well.

Sales Are Booming

Yet last year, according to industry estimates, Americans spent $300 million on organizers. At Fred Segal Paper on Melrose Avenue, which is to local Filofax devotees what Antelope, Ore., was to followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, calendar inserts alone have been selling at a rate of 300 a week since mid-September.


Status, say cynics. It's status to be busy, to toss your worn DayRunner or Filofax on the table, rummaging through the calendar to see if you're free for lunch on Thursday. Then, given that the time is clear, to turn a few pages for instant access to

a restaurant phone number. And finally, inside the plastic coin slot or envelope--two dimes so you can make reservations right then and there.

Even die-hard organizer obsessives admit there's something to the status argument. But you quickly get past that, they contend.

Says Randi Jacobsen, 28, an associate news editor for "Entertainment Tonight," who runs her life from a burgundy Filofax purchased last October, "I'm really an organized person and this is the ultimate. There's a place for everything. Anything I need to know, I have right there. Why, even when I'm playing Trivial Pursuit--I was asked the capital of Iraq--I just sneaked a look in my Filofax and it's Baghdad."

"We're all leading a busier life," she added. "And we find we have a lot of input that needs to be stored and retrieved at a moment's notice."

Exactly the thinking of Leonard Fagelman, owner of Fred Segal Paper and a new Tarzana store, the Daily Planner, which stocks nothing but organizers. Fagelman, whose life is contained in a Whipsnake-covered Filofax, is truly hard-core. "Those people who don't have organizers, should," he contends. "Sure it was trendy in the beginning. But now it's a necessity. I walk into a business meeting with my Filofax and I have every piece of information I need. An organizer is like having your own Atari always with you," he said. "In fact, I could pull up your phone number faster from my Filofax than from a computer."

And why is this so important?

Silly question, Fagelman scoffed. "Why, to free up more time for yourself in today's cluttered world."

Most people with organizers try to keep a sense of humor--even as they are giving witness.

--Joan Peter, 42, a Santa Monica management consultant, says she "resisted and resisted" before she succumbed and purchased her brown leather Time Bank four or five years ago. She figures it ran her $75, including all the inserts--two types of calendars, the address book, a communication record, special paper to record her projects in progress, plus blank sheets. Before Time Bank, she says, "I'd have piles of paper in the den, the kitchen, my purse." Pulling everything together, she admits, was a chore. "In fact, it took a person sitting next to me saying, 'Do this; do that.' But now I don't have to remember anything."

--"I was like a little kid with a dollhouse. You know, arranging and rearranging. I don't think I talked to my husband for a week," says Joan Weiss of Century City, a free-lance consultant for corporations giving charity events and one of L.A.'s super-volunteers. She received her navy-blue Filofax as a 50th birthday present last year. Since then, she says, she's probably bought at least 20 more--though not in the United States, where the standard Filofax runs about $150. Weiss buys her organizers at Harrods in London where the price runs about $75. "I feel like I'm supplying the world."

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