International paper people: an interview with Steve Morton

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steve and laurieNext up in our round-the-world series of international paper people is UK native Steve Morton, who lives in France and blogs at Philofaxy (and is pictured above with fellow Philofaxy contributor Laurie Huff).

Introduce yourself! Where in France do you live, and what prompted you to move there?

Hello I’m Steve Morton, I’m a 54 year old English guy living in France with my wife Alison. We moved here to our house here in May 2010, having bought the house as a second home in 2005. We got the opportunity in 2010 to escape the rat race of the South East of England and semi-retire to the slower pace of life here in France and after three years here we have no regrets at all. Sure there are a few things we miss, but nothing that makes us want to move back again.

We live on the edge of a small village near the town of Thouars which hardly anyone has heard of! Thouars is in the north of the department of Deux Sevres, which is south of the river Loire at Saumur and North West of Poitiers. Thouars isn’t really a tourist town, it’s a typical French town with some light industry on the edge of town, it does have some medieval towers and walls though, but the town is relatively undiscovered. We are one of the few English couples living in the area, the only full time English family in the village, so we are fairly well known!

steve sun

Our house is less than 50 metres from a panoramic viewing point of the Circ de Misse which is the valley of the river Thouet, as a keen photographer I often dash down the road to take a photograph of a lovely sunset or sun rise!

These days I devote most of my free time to writing on Philofaxy a blog devoted to Filofax organisers. I also contribute to the reader community as much as I can too on Facebook and Twitter and help with arranging meet ups as well.

When did you get hooked on planners?

I started seriously using a planner back in about 1985 when I discovered Filofax organisers. I used it for all types of planning and recording of details about life in general and as a store for reference information, phone numbers maps etc. Like a lot of people I moved over to electronic PDA’s in the early 1990’s and used one or other of those for about 15 years I suppose. The Filofax was tucked away in the office cupboard. I never thought I would use it again.

However in 2005 I changed jobs and within a few days of starting I was told ‘You can’t use any personal electronic devices in the office’ Oh dear I thought… so out came the Filofax again and I refreshed some of the pages and got up and running with that again, and quietly forgot about my electronic PDA’s and since that day never really looked back I suppose.

In about 2008 I discovered Philofaxy by accident and started commenting on posts and contributing my own templates to the site and the small readership. Then I was quite shocked in June 2009 to be asked by Nan B if I would like to become a contributor to the site. At this time I was still working full time, so I started to post when time allowed at weekends or in the evenings but gradually our readership started to increase. Laurie of Plannerisms fame also joined the team at Philofaxy very soon after I did.

Laurie and I met for the first time in April 2010 in London, our meeting sparked off lots and lots of ideas and the meeting of minds sort of laid the foundations of what you see on Philofaxy these days.

What’s your current planner set-up?

My own planner set up has varied quite a bit since 2005, at first it was a fairly standard diary/planner I included appointments and details of meetings at work and at home. Holiday bookings and some tasks.

When I stopped working in 2010 my needs changed quite a lot and I wallowed around a bit for a few months trying to find the ideal set up for what I needed on a day to day basis. I tried various formats including some locally sourced Quo Vadis Timer inserts in Personal Filofax size and A5 size. When I blogged about these I got several requests from readers in the US to buy some and mail them to them! The paper quality is exceptional and I still love the quality of them.

My planner also became my focus for my task lists and I started looking for a planner layout that could remind me of things to do that week in addition to highlighting what appointments and events I was due to attend that week. Being in semi-retirement it is very easy to lose track of what the day of the week is!

steve planner

So these days I have my A5 Filofax always open at my side on my desk, it’s so easy to just glance across at it without taking my hands off the keyboard, I can continue to type and enter information in to an Email or a Facebook update or a blogpost, there is no need to switch applications it’s all there just at my side.

In late 2011 I joined up with one of the readers of Philofaxy in developing some diary insert layouts of our own for readers to be able to download and to print off themselves. These have proved to be very popular and naturally I was able to customise the layout for my own needs and requirements fairly easily!

What’s it like to be a planner fan in France?

Locally there are no stockists of Filofax things unless I drive to Poitiers, so I either create my own or order it via the internet. However, the local newsagent/office suppliers is a stockist for Quo Vadis and Excompta planners both bound and ring bound inserts and I love going in there in September to see what they have in stock. There is another stockist in Saumur that has a larger stock holding.

You might be surprised to hear though that I’m not totally in the ‘ring bound camp’ I have started to use a bound planner for my journal, for this I’m using a Quo Vadis Daily 21 Habana day per page planner. I love the paper quality and it takes fountain pen ink very well. I like the flexibility of a ring bound planner for my present and future planning, but the security and permanency of a bound planner for my journal. I treat as them as entirely different requirements.

The Quo Vadis range seem to be very popular with local business people, although occasionally I do see people with Filofax type organisers and I offer them one of my Philofaxy business cards with the site details on the back… never miss an opportunity!

What do you like to do when you’re not planning and/or blogging about planners?

When I’m not planning or writing on Philofaxy I am normally busy out in our garden helping to keep the lawn under control or trimming the shrubs and the boundary hedge and maintaining our in ground swimming pool. The pool is included in my routine task lists in my planner of course! But I get a lot of enjoyment from interacting with the Philofaxy community and also dipping in and out of lots of different blogs, viewing You Tube videos, always looking for things to share with our readers so they can make the most of their organisers and planners.

If I’m sat at my desk I’m often listening to music whilst I’m typing away. There’s never enough hours in the day really!

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