14 February 2016

Reader Under The Spotlight - Elin

My name is Elin, I’m 33 and I live in Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. I live above the family pub (currently under renovation) with my husband and little boy where we both work teaching music. I am an organist and Director of Music in a local church and volunteer as the Area Secretary for the Derbyshire region of the Royal School of Church Music where I work to further education and opportunities in the field of sacred music.

I have a degree in the Welsh language and use it to teach a surprising number of people to speak Welsh in the local area.

I am also a writer and at the time of writing have just finished my fifty thousand words in another year of NaNoWriMo fun.

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

Thinking back, I remember being totally sold on the Funfax as a child and had a binder with dozens of the books you could buy to go inside, so I suppose that’s the first. After that, when I was around 17, my mother bought me a pocket Graduate in royal blue which I used going into university. I seem to remember its fabric covers getting a little grubby though and am not sure where it’s ended up.

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

I have toyed with the idea of using Paperchase and other high street own brands of organiser, but I really do like the quality of Filofax. I haven’t yet been tempted down the road of some of the more luxurious brands, but there’s time!

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

I make the most use out of the black A5 Domino that my mother bought me a couple of years back and I have become oddly sentimental about it despite it being a little on the scruffy side now.

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

I have a Personal Original in black patent, an A5 Charleston in brown and an A5 Malden in ochre. I also have an old personal knocking about that mum bought off eBay and didn’t like. I have yet to make use of it, but can really see the strength in the rings there and understand people’s dismay about the deterioration in quality and structure of binders over the years.

5. What is the oldest organiser in your collection?

The one Mum bought off eBay which looks 1980s to me but it is sadly unloved at this stage.

6. What do you use your organisers for?

I use them for keeping my teaching schedule in order and rely on them when it comes to busy periods in the church calendar when I have many services to play or conduct for. I also use them to keep lists of sheet music I need to purchase or which I’ve lent out to people. I keep records of pupils’ exam entries and payments and keep my financial records in there too. I plan things like Christmas gifts, food shopping, cooking, travel and lots of other things. What I don’t do is much creative work in my planners. I tend to do much of that in Moleskine notebooks, long hand, which I find easier than having rings in the way. I also use Evernote to keep track of my writing and to take minutes at meetings, though I also use my Filofax when we’re having discussions about up-coming events to jot down ideas. I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to come up with a way to integrate Evernote and Filofax but I’m not actually all that organised and any system that requires too much effort would quickly fall apart for me. I’m experimenting with including some manuscript paper in there too because I’m always scratching about for it during lessons.

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

The main section in my Domino is the vertical week to view diary with times which I use daily to keep record of pupil’s appointments, attendance and payments. I also use that to track my personal appointments, payments and deliveries, my son’s timetable and any meetings or travel.

I have an addresses and contacts section, where as well as an A-Z I also have contact lists of the people in classes and committees.

I have a financial section where I keep track of my income through teaching and performing which I rely on to make tax returns very straightforward each year.

I have several non-specific note sections where I keep information about pupils or projects. I am hoping to make these a little more focused this year and now that NaNo is over, might set about that as something of a December project.

It’s becoming quite clear that I’m better working with one planner. Despite having three beautiful leather ones, I’ve yet to make proper use of them. I filled one last year with the Church Book and Desk Diary which is a day to page diary published with detailed information about the church year but found that I didn’t use it as much as I’d hoped.

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

I just love all sorts of stationery and I found the tactile nature of the product as much of a draw as any organisational qualities that it had.

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

You know, I know they’re not particularly popular, but I really like the elastic closure on the Domino. I also like the notebook/pen straps by Papelote which you can buy at Bureau Direct so something like that built into a Filofax would please me greatly. I would also love it if Filofax created more and better stickers to go with their range of papers. I’m a huge hoarder of stickers and post it notes but have been disappointed by Filofax’s offerings.

10. How do you carry your Filofax?

I tend to keep my A5 folders at home, but if I do take it somewhere I always have a handbag that’s large enough for several paperback books, some notebooks and a good handful of pens so it’d go in there.

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

I don’t feel drawn to buy new Filofaxes in the way I have been in the past because when I finally splashed out on the Malden some months ago, I found out that I wasn’t really using it and so felt a bit disappointed. That may change if I can tear myself away from my beloved Domino. I always have a good look when I see Filofaxes in shops and I would quite like an A5 Original in monochrome. A5 will always be my planner size I think and so those will always tempt me.

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

You know, I can’t actually remember, but I don’t think it was more than about £50 – I got a really good deal on the Malden. I wouldn’t go much higher than that. It’d have to be pretty magnificent for me to spend more, I think.

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

I’m not sure I have one, but I am always watching Filofax videos on YouTube and am impressed seeing people’s amazing creativity. Oh, no, I know! Whenever I buy a new diary for the year, I store the last year’s pages in the cellophane wrapper and keep it in a drawer. I’m required to keep my diaries as I’m self-employed and find this is a tidy way to do it.

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

It satisfies the geek in me. I love reading about the details of different planners, seeing people’s ideas and collections and rejoicing in the fact that technology hasn’t quite yet overtaken the pen in all things.

15. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

Oh I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like! Only perhaps the slightly enabling qualities it has in terms of shopping sometimes!

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

A friend recently shared with me a few tracks from Show of Hands new album after he went to see them in concert. They sound amazing and I’ll make sure to get the whole record when it comes out.

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

Not managed it yet, but London is very quick from Derbyshire these days so perhaps next year?

18. What was the last movie you watched?

Oh dear! Here I confess to rather enjoying the terrible Christmas movies that Channel 5 show every day leading up to Christmas. They all blur into one fabulously saccharine Santa fest so goodness knows what it was called. Something like… The Christmas Bride! Or Snow In Love at Christmas! I think I should write a script for one next year. A busy working Mom looks at the Filofaxes in a department store and thinks that if she were just able to plan it a little better she’d be able to Have It All in time for Christmas. Unfortunately her husband has gone off with the nanny and her teenaged son is having a Crisis involving skateboards, cheerleading and the Bad Boy at school. She’ll pull it all together with the help of a heart-warming if cantankerous down and out who shows her the True Meaning of Christmas in a soup kitchen Nativity play where the Angel Gabriel is played by a drunk woman called Annie and the Teenaged Boy and redeemed cheerleading girlfriend play Mary and Joseph.

19. What was the last book you read?

Currently reading Alan Bennett The Uncommon Reader. Last one was Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love which is the writings of a Christian mystic who lived in Norfolk in the fourteenth century.

Thank you Elin.

As you know we are always looking for new people to appear in our 'Reader Under Spotlight feature, you don't have to be 'well known' or a long term user to be considered to appear in this 'spot'.

So please contact Steve philofaxy at gmail dot com today. Thank you.


  1. Hello Elin

    In your answer to 6 you mention wanting to find a way to integrate your hand-written note taking with Evernote... have you considered a scanner? I use the Scansnap one - it's a bit pricey, but I find it very quick to use, and it can scan straight in to Evernote. It scans both sides of the page in one pass, and has the ability to turn notes into editable text (though that does depend heavily on the neatness of your handwriting!)

    I know it sounds like I'm on their payroll, but I'm not - just a happy user!


  2. So good to meet you, Elin! I love your storytelling abilities; have you finished your Christmas story?
    Does the dad come back from his fling with the nanny? Did the family hire an older, unpleasant looking replacement nanny?
    I have great hopes for this family's future!

    Seriously, I've truly enjoyed getting to know you; great post!