12 September 2011

Reader Under The Spot Light - Helen

I love reading the Reader Under The Spotlight posts, so I was really excited when Steve asked me if I would like to take part myself. My name is Helen (aka Nellie) and I live in Hampshire in the UK.

I am an engineer by day and an extreme book addict by night. Other than reading and blogging about my literary adventures I like walking and have a keen interest in AI Robotics. I am a little bit torn between ultra modern technology and the vintage/traditional.

As far as planning goes I am sure you can all guess the winner of the electronic versus paper struggle in my life!

1. When did you buy your first Filofax and what was it?

My first Filofax was a Personal Cherry Red Classic. I bought it in a shop on Oxford Street in London about 10 years ago after seeing a colleague with one. I took ages to decide between personal and A5 and even longer deciding on the binder. I still have it, but it’s rather elderly now, so stays at home.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?
Before coming to Filofax, I just used any diaries I was given at Christmas. I have looked at the other major brands, Day Timer, Franklin Covey etc, but none of them have ever quite had that mysterious pull which Filofax has.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?
I think I like my Personal Ruby Deco the best. My Husband gave it to me to record my reading. It truly is a thing of beauty, and it seems to add to the joy and discovery I get from reading. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of a long lost book which contains exciting secrets and adventures!

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?
Ermmm... Oh dear... I have 5, is that a high or low count?! If it’s low, I’ll try harder! My collection contains a Personal Amazona in Almond, a Personal Ruby Deco, a Personal Ebony Deco, my much loved Personal Cherry Red Classic and an A5 Chocolate Finsbury.

5. What do you use your Filofax for?
My main Filo is the Amazona. I use it for everything, both work and personal diary, planning, lists, contacts, I would be lost without it. I take it back and forth to the office, and out and about. I was worried that the leather wouldn’t hold up, but it looks immaculate after a year’s hard use.

I bought the A5 Finsbury to use for work, but it really didn’t work out. I liked the extra space, but it’s too heavy to take on the train, and I really needed everything in one place. I am definitely a one life one Filo girl! I need to find a use for it.

The Ruby Deco is my Book-o-Fax where I record all my reading, book reviews for my blog and literary wishlists. The Ebony Deco is destined to be volume 2 of the Book-o-Fax. I saw it at a bargain price and couldn’t resist. I wish I had an ivory Deco, to have the set of three!

The Classic is in retirement for now.

6. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?
The obvious answer here is the flexibility to make a Filofax absolutely tailored to your individual needs, but I think there is more to it than that. There is the essence of permanence to Filofax which you don’t get with electronic applications. My Filo somehow grounds me, reminding me of what I have done, what I have achieved and what I have to look forward to. Filofax is the antithesis of the transient rush which is everyday life, it feels long lasting and comforting whilst still managing to keep you on track and on top of everything you need to do. Perhaps that feeling comes from being paper based...

7. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?
Tricky question! I really like the pocket in the Amazona, it’s really useful, but I think I would turn my attention to the inserts. The Diary formats could use a little work so you could combine to-do lists and appointments. I would also develop a set of inserts to support a productivity methodology.

8. How do you carry your Filofax?

In my briefcase for work, and handbag out of work. It has a special pocket it my briefcase so I can reach in and find it!

9. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?
Oh crikey! I wasn’t thinking about another purchase, but now I have been on the Filofax website and you have started me thinking! I have been toying with the idea of a pocket, and I like the look of the Aston in Orchid. The Otersley also looks nice. My Husband recently bought a Flex for work and has really taken to it. Perhaps I should buy one of those, for research purposes only you understand!

10. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?
I got my Black Deco for £99 which was half price. I was very pleased with that!

11. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

I love the mix of useful information and ideas. One of the biggest benefits I have got from reading Philofaxy is the change in approach to my use of Filofax. I think far more about time and task management now which has really helped me juggle tasks. The other big change in my Filo use has been influenced by Philofaxy too. This has been to make my Filo my own. I now doodle, write odd things down that have happened, and really relaxed around it. Before reading about how other people use their Filos I was very formal with it, perhaps because it is expensive and so didn’t want to ruin it somehow, but now I pour anything I want into it, and it’s very liberating.

12. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

Awww, there isn’t anything to dislike about Philofaxy, it’s fab.

13. What was the last music album CD you bought or downloaded?
I bought the soundtrack to the Lord Of The Rings Movies. It’s a set of three CDs and has the most wonderful music, really energising, and beautiful.

Thank you Helen for agreeing to go under the spot light.


  1. Thank you so much, as always- a superb post! :)

    And while I'm still taking it all in, a short NEWSFLASH: the first package from The Great German Train Robbbery (hihi, Steve) AKA German Filofax sale just arrived this morning: BE PREPARED, it is AWESOME, you happy people! :)


  2. Lovely interview Helen. Nice to "meet" you. The deco is a gorgeous binder. No wonder you have two!!

  3. 'I am a little bit torn between ultra modern technology and the vintage/traditional.'
    I guess the Ruby Deco is a quite Steampunk ;-)

  4. Nice to 'meet' you Helen.

    @Vanjilla - so what did you get? I was late to the party do no binders left that I would have liked, but I have today ordered some special edition accessory case and purses for Christmas presents. I can't believe the price! I wish I could buy more for pressies, but I don't know anyone else who wants one!

  5. PS Helen - I have an Ivory Deco which I haven't started to use yet - it almost seems to nice to use! The only thing I don't like is the wapping great big pocket on the back which I think makes it bulky.

  6. Lovely to meet you, Helen :)
    Your Decos are gorgeous. I've been very tempted by the ivory, but it's always been too much money for me.

    I'm in Hampshire too!

  7. Hello! I am not alone in the love of Deco then! The pocket is quite large, but it doesn't bother me when using it as a book-o-fax.

  8. Lovely to read about you Helen. Two Deco's, wow. I would love the Amethyst Deco.

    @Alison, I ordered the special edition accessory case and purse too for a friend in Oz and of course a set for me.

    @Anita - That makes 3 of us in Hampshire.

  9. Great to read about you.... also a fan of the deco.

  10. @ Alison - I know, I was so sorry when I read the comments of people being too late for the full choice... usually I am the one that always misses such things out ... I was early this time for a change and soooo wanted everybody to get a good bargain, was also willing to help with shipping for those who were outside of the ff shipping range, but just found noone interested! :(
    I got the "standard combination of the 2" (I think everyone bought them): A5 Finchley and Personal Topaz (and both are true gems, I never imagined Finchley to be so supple and already lying flat - there's no Filofax store in Slovenia!)and then also a Personal Piazza Sunflower (I once read a blog about it being someone's happiness journal due to its colour and therefore always wanted one). I'm now eagerly awaiting the pockets - Red Topaz will be a present, while Tropic Bamboo and Panama will wait a bit on the shelf if I decide to downsize some day again, which is very unlikely as I tend to cram my Personal (Malden at the moment) more than to its full(and besides I already have the idea of filling the pockets with plastic envelopes and using them for storing my small stuff...) Any other ideas? Would be glad to get some! Alison, which did you want to buy? I loved your Under the Spotlight post, was hyperventilating when reading about your collection! :)

    @Helen - I really long for an almond Amazona, but am afraid darker stuff in my bag will rub its colour off and onto her... what is your experience? And -mmmm, what a fine collection you have! :)

  11. @Saffy - well a set just happened to drop into my basket for me as well!

  12. nice to meet you nellie! the ruby deco is my favourite of the decos. you should TOTALLY get the ivory!!!

  13. @Vanjilla I was worried about the cream leather marking, but it's fine. It hasn't become grubby or marked and it rattles around in my bag with keys, mobile phone and the normal stuff you keep in a bag.

    I say go for it if you want one!


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