16 August 2015

Reader Under The Spotlight - Karen

Today I would like to introduce you to Karen. 

My name is Karen, I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. My family & I moved here from Hertfordshire, England almost 11 years ago. I am supposed to be a SAHM, but somehow I never quite manage to SAH! I have a small home based art studio business with a friend & together we teach art to students of all ages.

As a parent, I volunteer at my son's elementary school providing art lessons to students K-5 two days a week. I am also on a committee for a large annual art show that takes place at the summer Exhibition, I have responsibility for school art, and, I also just started a Facebook group called Get Mailed. I had been posting photos of envelopes from mail I'd sent out and friends were wanting to join in - so now I put people together so they can send each other mail and Get Mailed themselves!

Can you spot that I have ADHD?

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

I'm a bad Filofax owner - I don't remember my first! I am long time user though!

Around 1992 I discovered the City Organiser along Bow Lane (London) on a lunch break one day - and was a place of worship forever after. The oldest Filofax I have is a personal black nubuck Connaught which came with us when we moved across the Atlantic.

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

I haven't! If I was considering a new purchase I go straight to Filofax online stores. I am a big fan of all stationery products!

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

Until very recently I had used the same A5 Finsbury in purple (it might have been called a different colour in the brochure - but it's purple as far as I'm concerned!) for 5 years.

Ahead of our recent UK visit I had pre trip shopped an A5 Ochre Malden. It was waiting at Mum's the day we arrived. I half heartedly moved into it while I was there - but we were so busy I never really got to hang out with it until we arrived home. And I didn't like it. At all. I was avoiding it. I think it was just too floppy. It didn't feel sturdy like my old faithful Finsbury.

Then on one of the Filofax Facebook groups someone commented that they had put card in the cover pockets. Problem solved! Now I actually like the Malden! I'm not precious with any of my Filofaxes, so this one already has some scuffs and scratches in the leather - it's character building!

4. How many Filofax or other brands of organisers do you own?

I have 8 Filofaxes of varying sizes & styles. It's a collection that spans three decades and two continents! Most of them have been bought from Winners (TK /TJ Maxx) since moving to Canada. I think I bought them mostly as a "little bit of home" connecting with my English heritage - it's always so good to see something you know from home in a store here!

5. What is the oldest organiser in your collection?

The oldest would be the Cavendish. I used it and then I passed it on to my husband to keep track of the hours he worked - so the nubuck is quite worn!

6. What do you use your organisers for?

Out of the 8 Filofaxes, I only use one. I prefer to keep everything in just one place - then I can't lose or forget anything!

7. How many sections do you have in your organiser and what is each section used for?

I have the main calendar section. I have yearly, monthly and then daily pages.For daily pages I'm currently using just the right hand pages from my DIY Fish day on two pages. I'm playing around with layout so I can get the right fit. I kinda like the blank space!

The next section is dedicated to the main four or five areas that I have to keep track of. Mostly its the info that I might need at anytime or place - so it's always close at hand. I very rarely go out without my Filofax.

I have Brain Dump section - where I just throw everything down occasionally. I find it really does help to get me on task and stop procrastinating!

An address section - which could go somewhere else - but there have been times when I've needed an address on the run - so I just keep it all together.

A small section at the back where I keep a (coded) note of passwords for websites etc. a new sheet I recently added that I titled "Where I Put Stuff" - the amount of times I put things somewhere safe and then can't find that safe place again! I also added a list of keyboard shortcuts - I have referred to that quite often.

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

The more I use it, the more flexible it becomes - as in what it will hold and how I can use it. With my first Filofaxes I always stayed with the same papers and dividers they came with - and they never worked for me. Now I make new dividers whenever I want a change, I use sticky page tabs to label up new sections as the need arises. Nothing has to be permanent!

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

It would definitely have to have minimum 30mm rings. Lightweight - so the weight can be from contents not the cover. Lots of interesting pockets and tucking places inside the covers. Two pen loops and maybe a spot for clipping a third. It's a bit like shopping for a new handbag - you'll know the next perfect bag when you see it. It can't be a big empty void but should have room inside for everything as well as pockets for the little bits and pieces.

10. How do you carry your Filofax?

In my handbag/purse. These days I always consider if a new bag can accommodate my Filofax and if the carrying style of the bag will be easy on my shoulder with the Filofax in it!

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

Currently I'm more tempted by the colours in the ranges than the styles. The Original, Saffiano and the Domino have some great colours - but for various styling reasons I wouldn't purchase them! If the Finsbury was to have colour options like a yellow (again), emerald green or aqua I would be all over that!

12. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax or other brand of organiser? Which model?

I can't remember how much I paid for the Finsbury 5 years ago - but I'm pretty sure it was around the CAN$100 mark. The Amazona I didn't actually part with any cash for (& that's another interesting story and a testament to the great customer service from Filofax Canada - when they had an office I Canada). The Malden I just purchased was 65 GBP on the WH Smith website - which converts to a lot less than the Canadian price! A better question for me would be "what's the least you've spent"?

13. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?

Make the planner work for you; change it, add to it, do what you need to do to be successful. Right now I'm more into creating a system that really works for me and my ADHD - which means clean, clutter free pages, not even lined paper!

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

I like the community. The long history of the Philofaxy blog also means any searches on the blog can answer pretty much any question I might have.

15. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

It's a time suck! I spend too much time clicking on post after post!

16. What was the last music track you downloaded or bought?

I haven't downloaded any music for quite awhile. If I'm working on an art project I'll use my phone and ear buds to listen to classical music or if I want something I can sing along to I choose "Today's Happy Pop" on Songza.

17. Have you ever attended a Philofaxy meet-up? If not do you intend to one day?

I haven't attended one - do you think there will ever be a meet up in Saskatchewan?

18. What was the last movie you watched?!

Men, Women & Children, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel & The Age of Adaline on the flights to and from the UK!

19. What was the last book you read?

I'm reading The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I don't buy brand new books - I go to the second hand book sales that happen two or three times a year here and I stock up!


  1. Hi Karen, nice to meet you. I've been trying to de-sticker-i-fy my pages to get a cleaner, less busy visual.

    1. I am ( finally) beginning to learn that less IS more. I used coloured pens but only as a way of breaking up the page - I've tried colour coding but I can never remember they system I had come up with - even when I write it down - it just doesn't work for me!

  2. Thank you for the lovely post Karen. I also have a "Where I Put Stuff" section. Mine is just called "FAQs" and I list where I've put spare keys, seldom-viewed paperwork, etc. Good to know someone else does the same.

  3. Hi Lisa - I have to do self talk when I'm putting stuff away - just to remember to write things down! 😂
    About six months ago I put something of sentimental value in a very logical, safe place. I just found it last week! This lost item was the start of the Where I Put Stuff list!

  4. Hi Karen, great post! I identify in regards to the dividers...I always use what was given, but I do need to be more flexible. Now you have me thinking about unlined day per page! Thanks for the tips!