Google+

30 July 2012

Reader Under The Spotlight - Helen

Today I would like to introduce you to Helen, I am sure you will enjoy reading about how Helen uses her very mixed collection of Filofax organisers. 

My name is Helen and I have long said that my epitaph will be "She died in an organised manner".

By day I am a lawyer, the irony being that my current job provides me with staff whose sole job is to organise my diary and present me with a list of appointments every day, a fact I see as a distinct downside of the job as it deprives me of the joy of planning!

By night and weekend I am an emerging textile artist and am a member of the Twelve by Twelve quilt art group. I live in the North West of England.

I love to plan travel, probably, even more than I love the actual travel and accordingly have a freakish knowledge of airline routings. Whenever I arrive at a European train station I want  to get on a train to another country just because you can.

I design quilt kits for The African Fabric Shop (www.africanfabricshop.co.uk) and am the author or co-author of six books. I love all things African. Nothing makes me much happier than sitting in a well appointed cafe with cake, tea, my iPad, a Filofax and a good novel. 

I can be found all over the web... My blogs are at downthewell.blogspot.com and teaandtalkfortwo.blogspot.com (which I write with fellow Philofaxy reader Diane Hock). My art websites are www.twelveby12.org and www.helenconwaydesign.com


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

I know I bought a couple of organisers from Selfridges in around 1999 when I was doing a lot of travelling for work, the perk of which was some London shopping time.I would have said  from recollection that I had a Personal Cherry Classic and a Personal Brown Cuban. However, recently I found one of them in a memory box and... Shock! ... It was not a Cuban, it was a knock off! So it is possible that my first genuine Filofax was an A5 Pink Classic I bought when I wanted a more creative colour for my art organiser.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

The knock off was a Microfile and it has simply disintegrated. Horrible! I have tried to understand the allure of the Dodo pad but I am afraid it passes me by totally. So I am pretty loyal to Filofax now.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

My A5 Cherry Classic. It feels really solid and business like in my hands and the colour is neither garish nor boring.

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

Ah well that depends on the outcome of the Ebay Auction on going at the moment! As I write I have eleven. None of which I have paid full price for, I hasten to add! The hunt for a good price is part of the fun. And part of reassuring my husband I will not remortage the house behind his back to fund my passion. *

5. What do you use your Filofax for?

Short question, long answer necessary I am afraid...

(a)  Personal Mushroom Aston : this is my every day planner. It has a monthly, weekly and daily diary. I have the Olympic inserts as my weekly diary and a personalised version of Ray and Steve's two pages to a day diary. I use finance sheets to note my spending on and have a few sheets of notes. To-dos go on the daily pages. This is carried with me.

(b) A5 Cherry. This is my 'studio' journal and  organises my textile art practice which I take quite seriously. Sections include time recording, project sheets for in progress works, calls for entry, ideas for Articles, income/ expenditure, year planners, personal leaning plans (where I sort out what I want to learn in terms of new skills ) inspiration and evaluation of works completed.

(c) A5 Pink. I have come to dislike the pepto - bismal colour of this and may sell it to someone who is a pink girl in due course to justify a new purchase. Brown and green is more me. I use this at work to make notes on new statutes and case law. Homemade dividers separate topics like Road Traffic Accidents and Domestic Violence from Child Law and Court of Protection.

(d) A4 Black Classic. Very serious looking! This contains notepaper (I LOATHE the scratchy quality of the recycled paper we have to use at work so I buy my own!) ,proformas, referral sheets etc. it keeps my desk tidy. before I had it no matter how hard I tried paper would spread everywhere.

(e) Saddle brown Cuban A5. Sketchbook. Not nice drawings but notes and inspirational clippings and scribbles that all relate to ongoing art projects. So dividers at the moment include diverse topics such as kuba cloth, transitions, Soweto riots and urban myths. A bound sketchbook never worked for me as I do not work sequentially and I hated never being able to find an idea from months ago that was now coming to fruition.

(f) Mustard Finchley. This was a gift and is the perfect colour for my research notes on contemporary African art and artists. This has just two sections. The first is a series of reading lists because every book Or website I read seems to throw up twenty more names to research so I just list as I read and then follow up whenever I have time. Then there is an A to Z set of dividers containing notes on individual artists and exhibitions.

(g) Olympic lineburst personal blue. I bought this for the inserts but actually it has proved wonderful for a health filo and setting this up has been key to me maintaining a good exercise habit which I never managed before. I use a week with notes diary and use stickers to show that I did exercise that day (red for cardio, blue for strength, green for yoga) and note where I did it. The notes pages I use as a journal. i have sections for health info, workout suggestions, goals and records of achievements, planned treats when my stickers show I met a goal (yes, the Supernanny system works for adults too!)  and yoga classes online to try. Because it is cheap, both in price (£7 from staples) and in construction I don't mind it being in my gym bag with sweaty clothes on the way home! my dividers have pictures of athletes who inspire me with space to add some from London 2012.

(h)  A5 Jade Finchley - due to a rejig this is awaiting new dividers. It is now a combo life planning filo with monthly tabs for goals and a review journal and a home filo with sections for recipes to try, planning the garden redesign and the conversion of a garage to a dyeing studio, joint finances etc.

(i) A5 Chocolate Classic - this is the one I am also still setting up. It is to accompany my very full cherry classic and will be what I am calling my Prepared for Success Filo. As my at personal develops and as the exhibiting group I have newly helped form also develops i know I will need to know more about marketing, exhibitions spaces, social media, photography etc. if the cherry is about my work now, this is to be where I note what I learn in preparation for the future so I am ready when opportunities come.

(j) A5 Cuban chilli - using so many A5's works for me but it does mean that sometimes I head for a cafe with an African basket full to the brim with filos and my ipad. That's OK but less practical when I might get odd moments here and there at work. I have just started to use this as the centre of a hub and spoke system. Or a transit A5 if you like. All it has is sheets of all the type soft paper I use in my various A5's and a next step sheets on which I have listed a few things I need to do from each of the other A5s. So right now I am in a cafe with that and ipad and when this is done I see I plan to check out the price of garden sheds, the Dak'art festival in Senegal and to read an art business kindle sample. I make whatever notes I need to and every now and again transfer them to the appropriate A5. 

(k) Personal Aston Orchid.  Don't laugh but I bought this because it matches my bedroom decor and looks great on my dresser next to the bed and a real orchid plant. It is a little underused as a gratitude journal and repository of 'i'll do that one day' dream plans. But it looks great sitting there all elegant!

6. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

The flexibility to move pages around as things change. And the tactilty.  I am wedded to my iPad but I like the feel of writing notes on ipad content on paper. Its a good practice too. Otherwise I surf and the information washes by me and links get lost. Making notes keeps it in my working memory and ensures I use and retain what I read.

7. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

An electronic chip linkable to an iPad app so that I can send the Filo a signal and the iPad will tell me which room of the house I left the Filo in.

8. How do you carry your Filofax?
Most days I have a leather tote bag and the aston and the transit one go in there with a bound journal and large amounts of other random rubbish. I have  a parking space at my work building so lugging it is not an issue. Sometimes when I want to review the content of all my A5s (say on my monthly reflection morning when I review my life goals) I put them all in a woven African basket from Ghana and take them all for a day out.

9. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

No I am not. No.No.No.No.NO.
Maybe:)
I have all the classic colours so there is no temptation there , but I love the colour of the Cuban chestnut.. I meant to buy that on ebay but the vendor messed up and sent the saddle brown instead. I did a deal for such a big compensatory discount off what was already a hugely reduced price that it was worth keeping it but I still eye the chestnut. The Pennybridge looks intriguing for travel.  And I am wondering if I ought to try one of these Maldens people rave over. Maybe some floppiness in my life would be a good thing?! *

10. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model? 
£75 for the pink A5 classic. The one I love least and have least used!

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

The Community. The ability to join in and belong. I confess that I stumbled on Philofaxy when surfing on an entirely different topic and took it to my husband to show him ," this crazy woman who has 28 Filofaxes".  I am now educated and know that  either (a) you are not crazy at all and I wholly apologise or (b) you are crazy as a coot but I am right there with you and cannot throw any stones

12. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?
 

No one ever puts on adspot the discontinued model I really want to buy. I am not telling you which it is because that will only encourage you to hike the price if you do sell one!

13. What was the last music album CD you bought or downloaded? 
Lupercalia by Patrick Wolf. I am glad that was my last one otherwise I would have had to confess to the one before that which was Better Day by Dolly Parton.


Helen

* Darn it. I need to work on my willpower. Correction. I own Twelve. My bid at 45 seconds to go for an A5 ochre malden was successful. Sorry if you were the other bidder! I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Thank you Helen, I think that must be a first, in the length of time it took to conduct your interview your ownership of Filofax organisers increased... must have been those enabling vibes travelling down the wires...

42 comments:

  1. I see some typos crept in... Ruztopean??!! European. Must have been the excitement of the ebay auction! Plus I have half sad news. The Classic cherry developed creasing on the spine and after encouragement here it has gone back to Filofax and I am awaiting their response. But it is only half sad as the studio journal transferred to the A5 Ochre Malden... Oh what gorgeousness, what wonder of 30mm rings....
    Oh and I bought an A5 Osterley in Plum from Adspot. Could not resist the price and that is a wonder of elegance too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corrected, although it took me a while to find it!! And oddly it wasn't highlighted as a spelling mistake!

      Looks like we have a great name for our new country where the ownership of Filofax organisers is not only acceptable and not made fun of but it would be compulsory!

      I too have just moved in to an A5 Ochre Malden, from a grey one... very different, must nicer I think and it matches my Compact Zip Malden!! Any excuse...

      Delete
    2. Steve, how did you justify the purchase on grounds of colour alone? ;)

      Delete
    3. Well firstly I didn't pay full price for it, which would be a hard pill to swallow. Although the organiser looks like it has hardly been used, flat pen loops was a bit of a clue there. And I bought it from a seller on AdSpot.

      I'm not attempting to justify a purchase on colour alone but in the scheme of things some people in UK will spend more than I paid on the Malden on a meal in a restaurant.... the Malden will give me a lot more long term use than the memories of a single meal will.

      But apart from the colour difference the leather is also more supple. I'm a bit of a fan of the Malden as my Flickr photos will prove!

      Delete
    4. Paul... why must it be justified? As Queen of Ruztopenia I declare the requiring of justification for filofax owning an imprisonable offence (the filofax being the national emblem and featured on the coat of arms with crossed Frixons).

      Delete
    5. It's like all of those 'Why do you need another (insert item of your choice here) type questions, normal logic does not apply...

      If you have ever learnt about Boolean Algebra and its use in electronic logic circuits... 7400 series IC's etc... the one gate arrangement or rule you will not find is the 'If Not Why Not' gate. Although many a student has been challenged to design such a gate arrangement, by the wicked older tutor, who wanted a quiet half hour on a Monday morning, until they realised they had been had....and how would I know about such tricks ;-)

      Steve

      Delete
    6. I didnt understand a word of that but if it is geek speak for 'you can have what you want if it makes you happy and you can afford it after paying all your bills ' I totally agree!

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. What a FABULOUS post....LOVE your sense of humour Helen....I'm off to save you to my reading list....**smile**....!!

    Cheers,
    Tamarah :o)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Helen, thanks very much for a great post. I was dizzy by the end, from the sheer number of Filofaxii. How on earth do you keep them all going and not get confused? You sound like a very busy woman packing a lot into life, it was a great read. I did wonder what Ruztopean was. It sounds like a great nationality to be! Thanks for the glimpse into your extensive collection of Filofaxii. Can we look forward to a guest post of how you set them up? I know that may be longer than the works of Shakespeare but you know we can take it :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes I can do a series of how I set things up...maybe by video even in the near future if Steve is prepared to host it as a guest post. Although setting up is of course a constant process... Is that not the fun of it?! A lot of my other projects are on hold pending the olympics ( I am going for gold in the couch event and if I have success I may double entry in the armchair) so I have time to perfect my set ups before revealing to the world and heading back into all my projects!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great interview Helen. I'm off to sneak a peek at your websites now (in lieu of working!!)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh Helen, oh Helen! My new best friend, you had me at "She died in an organised manner".
    Such a fantastic post and I must beg of you to update everything and anything as soon as the Osterley arrives?!? I´ll be getting A5 in brown but it´ll take months for me to get it on my hands since my supplier called to Filofax and they told that all colours are finito at the factory. The reason why I`m so chuffed is because my Balmoral has been the lifeline for about two decades now and I am so eager to give B new life as a home organizer and O as a diary that takes me through the days. Excuse my verbal dumping here but when it comes to these darlings, there´s no restraining myself.

    Very inspirational post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I am delighted to have a new best friend! I am happy to update and share the Osterley ( amd all other) set up in due course.. but I am debating.. do I have enough material for a new blog? Do people have time to read another filofax blog.. should it be wider.. about personal organisation and goal setting in general... do I really have time/ material....hmm....

      Delete
    2. Helen - you need to do this. I'd love to read all about your take on personal grains action and goal setting.

      Delete
  7. Lovely Post. Steve and Helen - I am very pleased my A5's have found good homes. I am determined to stick to one personal filo!! In saying that I love how each of yours have different uses...

    ReplyDelete
  8. What? What? The Osterley's are finito at the factory? Noooooo! now I have to buy a grey and a brown wherever I can get my mitts on one because... well.... Ok no, (she says, suspecting that due to temporary star status her husband might for once be reading this blog) I don't HAVE to. Thats ridiculous. I just want to. Which is not ridiculous at all:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THEY ARE MAKING NEW ONES PROBABLY AS WE TYPE! They are not finished for good, just a temporary bump on the road. I´ll get my shipment ( I ordered through a department store )in 3-4 months, as soon as they send my beauty from England.
      Wanting anything is a good enough reason to get it as well. See, I have this fabulous philosophy that what I want, I should get it. And so should anybody! ( as long as we are morally correct in ways that won´t cause any other or others unwanted consequences ).
      When it comes to the blog thing, I already have both of yours on my bookmarks so be sure to inform if you should make another blog for FF only.

      I probably " replied " in completely inadequate spot but oh well. See who cares.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and when I discussed of the evaporation of Osterleys, it was during week 29 and that´s when they FF called to the dept store that all colours were finished at the time. But that they were making more all of the colours ( I had also left the word to the dept stationary that if they didn´t manage to get A5 in brown, I´d be all peachy for a plum as well but FF assured that all of the colors are being remade ) and having a history in fashions and interiors- I already know that the first shipments are always provided to close- by retailers and shipments abroad are sent only after a certain amount, bulk is fulfilled and if I were to close this monstrosity of a sentence, I´d be willing to claim that you will be able to get an Osterley on your hot little hands way faster than I can even dream of one ( well, I already have dreamed of it and it was beautiful! )and I so want to pre- see everything Osterley A5 before my new lurve waltzes home ( Or is driven home, all + 6 hours of driving. This is Dedication. )
      A moment of exhale now. So she said to herself.

      Delete
    3. Wow! That sentence would FILL an a5 Osterley! Thank you for removing my panic buying mode!

      Delete
  9. Most lovely post. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your interesting life, Helen.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Loved your post, and would love to read a filofax blog should you write one. I am dazzled by your quilting, and happy to find the 12 x 12 info. It looks like you all are having a great time within the small size parameters. I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Twelve by Twelve project has been amazing. We started out just playing together and now we frequently told we are 'famous' which is rather humbling!

      Steve has now agreed to host some more guest posts for me so I will be here rather than on a new blog for the foreseeable future ... got to keep focussed on those quilts for now!

      Delete
  11. Helen, your guest post is just awesome! I really admire the fact that you do so much and combine work as a lawyer with such a wonderful and absorbing hobby. Wow!! I've secretly always wanted to try quilting, but have never taken that leap. Now I think you may have inspired me to start a new hobby there. Thank you... I'll certainly be looking up your sites you have listed. What an inspiration you are!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I do so hope you will give it a go. Let me know by email if you need any advice in starting up. But be aware, it is as addictive as filofax buying!

      Delete
    2. Thank you Helen, that is just so very kind of you. It certainly looks like a great hobby! I love the quilt on your knee in the photograph,it reminds me of Klimnt (not sure if I've got that right!) the artist who used a lot of golden colour.I just adore anything in autumnal shades. One day when I can afford it, I want to see Boston and New England in the fall and some of the American quilts. My friend works at the American Museum in Bath and their American quilts are well worth a visit to see.... as well as Bath itself of course!!Of course if I do make that trip to Boston, a travel Filofax would go along with me!!

      Delete
    3. I've just taken up quilting (off to read Helen's links!) and I highly recommend it. I've not completed my first one yet and I'm already planning my second and third!

      Delete
  12. Apart from hoping you buy mince pies to distress a la 'I don't know how she does it' I loved your guest post. Love 'She died well organised' and the rutzopean train station. And seriously I AM NOT BUYING ANYMORE FILOFAX AT THE MOMENT but when I do I will read this post to remind me how to juggle them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't hate me but, I do actually bake my own mince pies! they end up looking pretty distressed though!

      Delete
    2. Promise we'll only get really distressed ourselves if you make your own mincemeat too, a la Delia!!

      Delete
  13. Thanks for a great post, Helen :)
    I think it's a great mix of your work in both law & art. I loved hearing about your uses for your filos & how you manage them all.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I really enjoyed your post! You've alleviated one of my nore recent fears (how and if I will be able to combine my future job as a lawyer with my current job as a 3D-artist/concept artist... and law student). I've thought of freelancing during the weekends/evenings but didn't know if it was actually doable.
    I also like the different functions you have for your filofaxes! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally combinable. You just need committement and organisation. Set your priorities ( which can change as time goes by) and determine how much of your life you are going to dedicate to which careers at any given time. But remember you need free time too! And dont fuss about what people will think of you in the law if you have another sideline. It juts makes you a more rounded individual and interesting. I have had colleagues who are a stage singer, a budding TV curry chef and a novelist all of whom have successful legal careers too. and if you can rely on the artistic freelance to offset the law school fees all the better. I used to write for legal mags even as a trainee for a bit of extra cash.

      Delete
  15. Is your staff’s list of appointments on paper, even a Filofax insert, or on computer software?

    Do you spend much time in Court? If so, do you then tend toward a smartphone outside and just try to remember appointments inside?

    I’m an accountant but I often spend a great deal of time in Court, but I have to admit to preferring having a fax with me at all times….thought the phone does get switched on and off umpteen times per day (outside the Court room). What do other Lawyer’s think of you using a fax? Do your staff like the fax?

    ReplyDelete
  16. I spend all day every day in court and no where else! The list of court hearings I get I get is on paper ( nasty recylced paper sadly) and I punch it and place in my A4 usually. So I have no need for a smart phone as well. I have infront or to the side of me at all times A4 filo for notes and A5 fax with reference material, a work laptop for emails but also my personal ipad is close by and my smartphone on silent except when the battery runs down and I don't notice because I never look at the thing now I have an ipad! No one has ever commented on my filos sadly! But I do see other people useing them and have to restrain myself from identifying them as a raspberry chameleon or whatever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and my personal aston in my bag too!

      Delete
  17. This was one of the most enjoyable post on Philofaxy in some time. Thanks, Helen, for guiding us through your collection with such wit! I see quite a few lawyers here in the States toting various paper planners, despite the saturation of Outlook and, more recently, iPads. Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Quite some compliment. I enjoy the act of writing very much and never turn down attention so look out for some guest posts. Ipads are becoming very common in court here too and are great for emailing draft orders and showing photos of a place in question on google earth but I am afraid we still generate files and files of paper!

      Delete
  18. Great post Helen, i'm glad it's not just me juggling filofaxs, there's never any chance of one true filofax :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wanted to say how I loved your post. How you keep all those filos put to good use is very inspiring. I have to walk everywhere for my job so even one A5 kills me after half an hour. I have about seven though and I love them all! Today actually I separated job organizer from health organizer after reading your post!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails