Monday, 29 August 2011

Filofax spot!!

On the BBC's drama Page Eight last night I spotted a Filofax, an A5 brown Amazona! It looked particularly elegant and sophisticated and made me really want one!

It was quite difficult to get a picture of it, but here's what I took from my screen shot:

Please watch it on the iplayer if you want to see it a bit better. It's only on the screen for about 5 seconds, so keep your eyes open!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Reader question: How to organise/write a dissertation


Recently EmmerLouise asked me to write a post on how to organise or write a dissertation/thesis. This is an important issue for students who are about to start their last year in university, and are facing this scary time.
    This post is going to be a list of tips which should help you organise yourself in writing your dissertation. I am not going to tell you how to actually write your dissertation, because each university, course and dissertation question will need a different way, which I can't summarise here. However, I think my tips should cover every type of dissertation, whether arts/sciences/humanities, undergraduate or postgraduate level, polytechnic or Oxbridge. This is because these are fundamental tips ALL students should use. Even if you're in last year of uni, it's best you learn them now, rather than after it was too late like I did. No-one told me these things and I had to learn them for myself. So please print this list out and think about how to use these tips to help you in your dissertation/thesis writing.
    I have to be honest, I didn't do very well in my dissertation. This is because I didn't follow the tips I am about to give you. Over the summer holiday, I've realised what I should have done to make my organisation better, and this is what I have listed here. I will be implementing these rules/tips when I am writing my MA dissertation over the next 12 months.
    I really hope these help you! If you think of any more, please write them in the comments, and I will add them to the list!
In no particular order:

  1. Start early! If you can, do some preliminary research during the preceding summer, or start early in the first term. Time goes quickly and soon you will have lots of other work to do, so get as much done as early as possible.
  2. Use the research and writing skills you have learnt throughout your course. 
  3. Make sure you have regular contact (meetings) with your dissertation supervisor.
  4. Make sure your dissertation/thesis question is one you can understand. I didn't, and it screwed me up for the whole research and writing. You can always change it early (ask your supervisor), but always make sure you understand it.
  5. There will be some specific things you have to do to format your dissertation- for example, a particular way to format the bibliography and pictures, specific chapters you need to write etc. Make sure you know about these early because doing them as you go along will save you a LOT of time just before you hand your dissertation in. 
  6. Make scheduled time to do your dissertation research every week. Once you have lots of other work to do in other modules, it's easily forgotten. 
  7. Write a diary listing what progress you have made so you can tell your supervisor when he asks at meetings. 
  8. Do your bibliography etc as you go along. This is the easiest way to make sure you haven't forgotten to list a specific book, and means you don't have to rush doing it at the end. Not doing this is what has made me late on so many essays!
  9. Very important: Keep your stuff organised, whether it's on your computer or on paper, or both. I had a folder full of articles. I decided not to staple the pages of individual articles together, because I thought I may need to lay the pages of the article across my desk to cross reference things, which I couldn't do if they were stapled. Because of this, when I put my articles together in a pile on my bed, and kept on flicking through them to find a particular page, everything got very mixed up and I had to spend my precious time sorting them all out again. Whether it's a folder full of articles like mine, or your own notes, or computer documents and folders, make sure you are organised. This is essential and invaluable!
  10. If you need books etc that may be popular and out of the library for a long time when you need them, make sure you request them (ask the librarian to recall them from the user) early so you can have access to them before it's too late. This is especially important when you need a book that your library doesn't have. You can use a system called Interlibrary Loan, where your library requests the book you need from another library, sometimes for a small fee. This can take a few days to a few weeks. When I was trying to order the massive list of books I needed that weren't available in my library, it was that April time when there were LOADS of bank holidays! So my books either came late or not at all! Always be careful of this!
  11. Set yourself deadlines. Your university may set you draft deadlines, but setting your own deadlines might keep your progress on track a bit more.
  12. Back your work up all the time! It would be a nightmare if you lost the only copy of your work (trust me, this has happened to me once!). Email it to yourself, buy a memory stick, back it up on the university central system. Print hard copies and put them somewhere safe.
  13. Ask you friends to read it through to see if it makes sense. Tell them to give you constructive criticism.
  14. Finish as early as possible, preferably about a week before the deadline- you need to check references etc, possibly change things etc. The most important reason you need to do this is that you need to get your dissertation printed and bound. It is chaotic trying to do this at the last minute- hundreds of other students are trying to do this at the same time as you! 
Good luck everyone!!


The advantages of switching between multiple Filofaxes

Some people may say that you only need one Filofax. I know a lot of people who use Filofaxes for multiple purposes; for work, for home/Fly Lady, for family, for medical things, for projects etc. But here I'm talking about  your daily Filofax, which contains the normal things you need every day: your diary, lists, to-dos etc, which you take everywhere with you. Filofaxes are designed to last years, and therefore, theoretically you only really need one Filofax until that one dies.

BUT I don't agree with this. Personally, I think that having more than one Filofax at a time to switch between is a good thing.

I have two personal-sized Maldens, a crimson and an ochre. I love them both! I loved the Malden range as soon as I saw a picture of them on the Filofax website. Looking at pictures of them on Flikr, I fell in love with the ochre colour, and thought it would be perfect to use as my daily Filo, so I ordered it for my birthday. I had to get it from the US because it was no longer available in the UK. I am a very impatient person, and couldn't stand the wait while it arrived from America and got stuck in customs. So in the end, I bought a crimson personal from cityorganisers, which was about half-price! So finally when my ochre arrived, I had 2 Filofaxes to use as my daily Filo!

The Malden siblings :)
There are a few bonuses to using 2 Filofaxes to switch between. Using 2 means that 1 doesn't get used up (i.e. damaged) over the years as quickly; in fact, if you use them equally, they will both take double the time to die! (yes, I do personify my Filofaxes :-) )

I think the main bonus to switching between 2 Filofaxes is that it means that if you get a bit tired of looking at one, you can switch to the other. When I was using just one particular filofax as my daily one (first my raspberry Finsbury, then my Kendal), I quickly got bored of it. I then found myself on ebay and other websites, searching for my next Filofax, which I believed would meet all my requirements and forever be my perfect Filofax, relieving me of the need to buy another one. But, the thing is, I never found the 'perfect' Filofax; even if Filofax made a filo that met all of my requirements and I loved, I would get bored of it eventually. I'm just not the sort of person who can settle with one particular Filofax, or anything else I am looking at everyday. I quickly crave something new and DIFFERENT. I couldn't afford to keep spending all this money, I'm only a poor student!
By buying the 2 Maldens, I accidentally found the solution. If I use the crimson for a few weeks, and then get a bit bored of the look of it, when I see the ochre I find that I see it as a truly beautiful Filofax again, and vice versa. I love them both! But at any particular time, I love one above the other, and then at another time I love the other above the one. For me, the Malden is almost the perfect Filo. Because I have used them for approximately 4 months as my daily Filo, I just can't use any other Filofax for this purpose; the Malden just represents my daily organisation now! Even though I would love, for example, a plum Osterley or a raspberry Chameleon, I just don't think they will work for me. The Malden IS my day!  I wouldn't say no if someone gave me one, and I would love love love one, but I just don't think I could use anything other than my Malden(s) any more. So now I have solved the problem of having to keep trying to find my perfect daily filofax. (The only way I would buy another, is if Filofax brought out the Malden range in new colours, wink wink nudge nudge!) And by being able to switch between the two Maldens, now I never get bored of my daily Filofax! This is the perfect solution for me. But... I would LOVE a deeper pink Malden!!

And, to be honest, for the next couple of weeks, I need an alternative daily filo, because I am going to have to send off my ochre Maldenz to Filofax UK because the pen loop is breaking :( and I need to get it fixed!

Although I have found my perfect daily Filofax(es), this doesn't mean I won't be buying more and different filos for different purposes!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

First-time students: tips for preparing for university/college


Now that the new university year is fast approaching (approx. 1 month away) I thought I would do a post about how to prepare for university for new students.
It is a daunting task, especially if you have no elder family members/friends who have already been there/done that, like I didn't when I was just about to start my undergraduate degree. But don't worry, it's not that scary!

Hopefully by now you have got somewhere to live, whether it is in a university- or privately-run halls of residence, or a private rented place. If you haven't, get this sorted ASAP!! This is the most important thing to sort out after actually applying to university.

Getting information from your university and/or department about anything you need to do to prepare for your course is important. This is usually delivered by email or some booklets etc. If you haven't received this yet, don't worry, a lot of departments won't send them out until September. But if you are getting worried, give your department a ring or an email. Usually, what they will tell you is any equipment you need for your course (e.g. lab coat), a reading list, meetings etc you will have to go to during Freshers' Week, maybe a timetable, and if you are unlucky, perhaps some homework you have to do before you get there!

Now the thing I was most worried about: Packing. And be sure, you WILL over pack!! I took at least twice as much as I needed! Remember, you will be able to get a lot of the stuff you need when you are there! For example, I packed way too much stationary and toiletries, many of which I didn't even use. I also overpacked on clothes. You have to take into account how you are going to get all of this stuff to your university; my poor dad had to drive me in our small car, with all my stuff literally bulging at the seams! This is especially important to think about if you are travelling to your uni from abroad, or just a long distance, for example across the US. If you are taking an aeroplane, or even some sort of ferry etc, there is often a luggage allowance that won't meet all the stuff you want to take to uni. Here are my tricks to limiting the amount of stuff you take to uni:

  • Ask friends/family who have already been students what they really NEEDED at uni.
  • Do a practice pack- try to fit everything in your suitcase or car. If it doesn't fit, something needs to go.
  • Write a list of everything you need to pack. Come back to it a couple of days later, and look at it with a critical eye, crossing off anything that doesn't meet the qualifications of something you NEED. Do you really NEED that second hairbrush? Or that milk pan? How many pairs of fluffy winter slippers will you really wear? Will you really use a whole dining set?
  • For common things you use, like toilettries, make an 'I actually use...' list. This is where every time you actually use things, you write those things on the list. You will be surprised, by the end of the week, how few things you actually use off the big list you made earlier of everything you wanted to pack. This is because it is the human condition to pack things 'just in case'. Well, chances are, those 'cases' never happen.
  • But, that said, there are some situations where you will NEED some things. Think especially about medical situations. Even if you don't have a condition, everyone needs access to medication quickly in some situations. For example, say you wake up with food poisoning. The last thing you want to do when you have diarrhoea is to have to walk down to the pharmacy, so always make sure you have such medication available in your room at uni. Go to the pharmacy with your parents before you go to uni to get them to help you buy your emergency medicine bag for all such situations.
  • Remember: you can buy the majority of things you will want/need when you get there. For example, stationary. I packed enough to last me for my whole degree, let alone year 1. The thought didn't occur to me that I could actually buy all that stuff there!
  • If you really can't take a lot of things with you travelling to uni, draw up a list of things you will actually NEED in the immediate 24 hours when you arrive. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, bedding (or even just a sleeping bag), money, phone etc. Then, the things you definitely don't want to buy again: laptop etc. 
  • Consider alternatives to transporting stuff. Ask your parents to do a second trip later in the term to bring the 2nd lot of stuff. Use vacuum bags to suck the air out of things like your duvet and pillows to dramatically decrease the amount of room this takes up in your packing. Use a cheap courier service to deliver a box of books etc that you can't manage in your suitcase (I have done this a couple of time, it's very useful).

And most importantly, don't worry! Uni is so much fun, look forward to it!!
If you have any questions, please comment and I will try to answer them!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Journal Filofax

I watched Bridget Jones' Diary last night, and it got me thinking about starting up a diary/journal again. The trouble is, I NEVER stick with them. If I start one, I may use it for a couple of weeks, and then I slowly stop... I'm rubbish!! By the time I'm ready for bed I'm too tired to spend time writing in my journal. And because my journal would stay at home, I wouldn't be able to write in it throughout the day as I think of interesting things to say; and I have a bad memory so it's difficult for me to even remember what events happened that day! So I really am not a good journal-writer. I really can't assign a whole, beautiful, expensive notebook or journal to a diary that probably won't even last more than 2 weeks.
Plus, I'm not the sort of person to indulge my feelings like that. I feel like it's a waste of ink and paper for me, as I DEFINITELY don't intend on reading it in the future. But... maybe it will be kind of cathartic for me. Living at home, where I feel like I can't express my opinions or my dad will shout at me (he has his opinions, and I'm not allowed mine if they contradict his, seriously!!), I think I need somewhere to get rid of those pent-up feelings. Somewhere to write with lots of capital letters and exclamation points! Maybe even somewhere to doodle my feelings away. Plus, I kind of like the idea of sitting in my cosy pjs and writing in my diary :)
(minus the alcohol)
I like the idea of the 2 line diary I read about somewhere, where you just summarise your day in 2 lines; but I think that some days I would like a bigger space to write.

So I thought... if I don't want to spend money on a journal or notebook, I should use the resources I already have. And what do I have a LOT of? Filofaxes!!
Just think about it: a journal filofax. I can write as much or as little for a specific day as I want, because the day can expand by putting more paper in. I can even print photos out and put them in there to illustrate a specific day! I can have some doodle pages, maybe write a poem about my day, a gratitude section for each day. Ok, you say, you can do this in any journal! But if my journal doesn't work out... I can just take those pages out and reuse the filo for something else! And I can solve the problem of not having the journal with me throughout the day- I can just use paper in my daily filofax to write my daytime journal entries, and take them out and put them in my journal filofax when I get home. That's the beauty of a filofax, you can take paper out and add it as you like. And if I can't remember what I was doing that day, I was planning to write a log-book for each day anyway; well I can integrate that within my filofax :) And the beauty of the plan: I can use my (at present) unused raspberry personal Finsbury for it! :D Unfortunately, this is in Liverpool and I still have 2 weeks left until I move back, but my journal can live in my Happiness Project filo until then :)
Grrr!! As soon as I finished reorganising my personal daily Malden and A5 Malden I found that I wasn't happy with the new set-ups! I seem to constantly need to rearrange them because I can't find the perfect set-up for me!  I really want to sort this out once and for all by mid-September, because I don't want to have to keep rearranging it during term-time; I spent ages doing Filofax things earlier this year when I should have been working.

Does anyone else find it difficult to find their perfect set-up?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

My lovely A5 Malden!


Yesterday I spent ages rearranging the set-ups of my Personal and A5 Maldens. I just can't seem to settle on a particular fixed set-up for the Personal; when I think I have finally found the perfect set-up, I read someone's blog and it gives me ideas for my filofax and suddenly I have to rearrange the whole thing! Well, basically I wanted to stop duplicating a lot of the lists etc in both of these filos. At first, my Personal held a section for me/fun stuff. I wanted to keep this in my filofax I have with me all of the time because I am trying to spend more time during term-time doing fun stuff, rather than 24/7 doing uni stuff, or else I'll crash one day because I have just had NO free time. But then when I decided to buy my A5 I wanted to put it all in here too. And recently I realised that I had a lot of the stuff in 2 places. I wanted to make some more space in my personal for the upcoming term's DPP diary (3 months), and while it was so fat with all these duplicated pages I wouldn't be able to fit it in. Also, I wanted to stop using coloured notepaper in my personal, and just use white to make it look more stylish and professional, so I would rewrite the pages and lists on coloured paper. One day I took all of the miscellaneous pages out of my filofax to do all this, which gave me a good excuse to see what I really needed in both filofaxes. Well, long story short, I rearranged both my personal and A5 Maldens. This is an overview of the new set-up of my A5 Vintage Pink Malden.

The first section is Diary. I have the rest of the year's DodoPad (used for forward planning of to-dos), the rest of 2011's WO2P diary (not using this at the moment, don't know what to do with this) and WO2P columned, which I have had to stretch across the next academic year.

Purple sparkly card
I have some lovely dividers for my tabbed section. The first 2 are beautiful sparkly purple card, but it is made of some strange paper, that almost feels like soft, smooth art paper. It is easily creased and damaged, so I am trying to be careful with it. The second 2 are made of some metallic, reflective pink card with raised raised spots.
Pink reflective card

The first section I have behind these dividers is my 'Time Management' section. It holds lots of my rotas, routines and timetables I am going to use to help organise my time etc at uni. They will all contribute to making my overall rota. I used to have these in my personal filo, but I don't really have a need to take them with me everywhere they go, so they can stay at home in my lovely A5.

Then I have my 'To-do Projects section; projects that are made up if a lot of to-dos. For example, the project 'Sorting bedroom' is made up of a list of areas to sort. My main projects (ones that aren't made up of a set of to-dos) e.g. housewarming party, are in the next section.

Lastly I have my 'fun' section: blog planning stuff, books I want to read etc. I put the divider from my personal filo in here because I love it so much!

I have tried to keep my A5 simple because I know I can really overcomplicate it if I think about it too much. I hope that it will work for me; I just can't seem to settle on a set-up for long! But the beauty of filofaxes is that they can adapt to whatever you need them to do. I may use it as my at-home thesis planner when I do my PhD.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

First Impressions of 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin

Hi! This is my first impressions review of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

I must admit, when I first heard about this book and the project itself on several blogs, I didn't know what it was and I didn't have any interest in finding out. Recently, I joined the Facebook fan page ran by Philofaxy fans- only because it was something to do with Filofaxes! But then I stumbled upon some sort of description of it, and realised that a) it could be quite fun and b) it could help facilitate the self-improvements I want to make. I had been looking for a 'project' of some kind to do, because it's the uni summer holidays and I'm BORED!! Also, I wanted an excuse to buy (or rather, a purpose for) this Teal Finchley personal Filofax I had found on ebay, and was hoping to win. Although I didn't know much about the Project, I knew I could use a Filofax for it from a post by Kanalt. And I'll take any excuse to buy and use a pretty new Filofax!!!

I wondered, one day as I was sitting bored at home, if my local library had a copy of the book. I checked the online catalogue, and it did! So I went out that afternoon and borrowed it. I started reading it and I have been semi-obsessed with it ever since; with the interesting book, with filling in my new Teal Finchley, with the self-improvements and Happiness I could get out of it!

I've only read the first 3 chapters, but I feel I'm in a position to write my initial impressions about it now.

The book itself is the story of the author in her attempts to take action to become happier in her life. It isn't a handbook about how to set-up your own Happiness Project (although my copy, the paperback 2011 edition, has some pages at the back with advice that will help); but it isn't hard to use it to help develop your own. In the 'Getting Started' chapter, you can see the structure (commandments, areas of focus, resolutions etc) that Rubin's own Project took, and this will help you set up your own. In reading Rubin's story, you can take or leave as much as you want; adopt some of her resolutions, commandments, or let it spark your imagination about what areas your could focus on, or even realise fixable problems in your life you didn't even know were problems! It is, in itself, an entertaining book (and we all like reading about other peoples' lives), but it could also be an invaluable resource in helping the reader set up their own Project. But in the end, it is up to you to sort out your own Happiness Project, by identifying the areas in your life that need improving and taking individual actions (resolutions) to help improve them, in an effort to make you happier in general.
Here are the reasons I like this book.

The author is Gretchen Rubin, a writer who lives in New York with her husband and 2 daughters. And I think that is what makes this book and her story so understandable; she is a NORMAL woman. She's not a celebrity who takes a limo everywhere (she takes the bus) or has an army of maids (she cleans her apartment herself); she has many of the same problems as her readers will. Of course, her life, and therefore this book, won't perfectly match the lives of her readers; she says in the 'A Note to the Reader' section that everyone's Happiness Project will look different, because we all have unique lives, but our own Projects will mold to our own individual needs. For example, she is married with children; I still live at home with my parents. She was trained as a lawyer and is now a writer with 4 published books; I'm still a student. But while I think her life seems completely different than mine in those and other respects, I'm still learning from her experiences, such as in the February chapter where she talks about how she learnt not to snap, something I need to learn not to do at home.
    Rubin uses her own experiences to give the story of each individual resolution. She starts off each section by explaining why she needs to make those self-improvements, e.g. 'Go to sleep earlier', using her own experiences or habits, justifies it with her own research into how that resolution helps people in general, and explains how it has helped to improve her life as a result. When you read this, you understand this action helps in reality. Rubin has tried and tested this; she is her own guinea pig. And because she is a normal person, you understand that these can help your own life too.
    Another reason I like this book is because Rubin is a writer (and she has a wonderful writing-style).
1) She isn't a doctor, or a psychologist; this book isn't a self-help book. It doesn't patronise, or lecture; it gives Rubin's entertaining story of her own problems and her subsequent efforts to improve. I must admit, I have never read any self-help books, and I don't want to; but I can't imagine the expert author of a clinical or psychological self-help book would use him- or herself as the focus of the book, or the subject of the experiment (although I may be wrong). Rubin's 'experiment' is her own, that she just happens to have written down. You can tell through her wording that she did this for herself, and therefore she doesn't lecture the reader. It is enjoyable to read, and endearing.
2) Rubin trained as a lawyer, and has also written historical biographies. In both of these roles, research is incredibly important. Throughout the book, it is clear that she has done a lot of research into the subjects she is focussing on in her own project, reading books on philosophy, biology, psychology etc etc to research just the first few topics I have read about in the first 3 chapters, happiness, energy and marriage/love. Rubin did this research for herself (rather than for the book), to understand the best actions to take in improving the areas she wanted to focus on. This is very important, as it helps to scientifically justify to the reader, for example, the importance for your health of going to bed early, or the importance for your relationship of not snapping or nagging at your other half. Rubin isn't just making this stuff up, and she hasn't just happened to stumble upon some good approaches to self-improvement; everything is scientifically justified. This makes me confident to trust the book in helping me work out what is best for my own Happiness Project.

I am in the course of making my own Happiness Project. I understand this will take a long time, but I am prepared to stick with it. I think the book, and Rubin's associated blog, toolbox and facebook page are invaluable resources in this endeavour. I think everybody should give the book a go, even if you think you are happy enough already, you will undoubtedly learn SOMETHING from the book. Take as much or as little as you want from it to contribute towards your own Happiness Project; or just read the book because it's an interesting story. In this post I have discussed the reasons I like this book; but each specific chapter is up to the individual to read and analyse. When I read something I like, I underline it in pencil, then write notes in my filofax. Later I will review these notes and use them to help me set up my own Project. I am doing it this way because this is how I analyse articles for my university course. You can do it your own way. Just try it; borrow it from the library if you don't want to buy it.
My next post concerning The Happiness Project will discuss my own project, including the set-up of my HP Filofax. I don't know when this will be, but it might be in a few months, as this is an ongoing project for me. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

My new DIY dividers

Hello for the second time today!

Recently I've been using Paperchase's own version of the Filofax dividers, which are unlabelled and in pretty colours. But I wanted something more fun and personal. I've been buying some pretty card to make my own dividers, but it's all plain because I haven't been able to find any flowery card. So I when I went to town and still couldn't find some perfect card, I had an idea: postcards! No, not 'Wish you were here' types, but pretty fashionable ones! I found some really pretty ones in Clinton Cards, which were 50p each, so I bought 5 different types. They are typical postcard size, which is wide enough to be a filofax personal-sized divider, but not tall enough. However, I wasn't bothered about this, they still do their job and look lovely!

Here are some pictures of my new dividers!
This is my favourite postcard so I put it at the front! Behind it is 1 sheet of notepaper for quick notes and my rotas/timetables and diary :)
My to-do/project section divider. "Keep calm" when you see how much you have to do behind it; "carry on" should actually say "get on with it!!"
My 'me/fun' section, with fun stuff like stuff about my blog, books I want to read etc behind it. I like this card because not only is it beautiful, it reminds me that in the midst of all my crazy uni-filled days, sometimes I have to stop and smell the roses (or blossom) :)
My 'ongoing/lists/finance' section divider; no reason I have this one here, it's just pretty :) Shoooess!!! lovely!!
My reference section :) But I suppose that if I ever have a hobbies/crafts section, I could use this divider for that, because it is a nice patchwork Union Flag :)

All I did to make them was punch them with my new Rapesco punch (which I will review soon) and cut a part of the right-hand side out, leaving only the tab remaining. Easy!

Pen loops!

A while ago I said I would do a post on ways to hold your pen in your filofax. Here it is!!

As far as I know, every Filofax binder comes with 1 pen loop attached to the binder itself. On average, these tend to be very slim (especially on the smaller models, personal and smaller) and therefore not very accommodating! It is very difficult to find the perfect pen or pencil that will both suit your needs and fit into the pen loop! I did an experiment of how well (or badly) some of the common pens I use fit into the pen loop of my personal crimson Malden, which is the normal type of pen loop I have come across (although there are different types, see below).
The pens I used were: A Zebra Z-grip medium pen (of average thickness, with a rubber grip); a Pilot V5  pen; a Pilot Frixion 0.7 pen; a Uniball Signo jell pen; a Bic 4-colour pen; a Staedtler Elance pen (with a plastic grip); a Lamy Safari fountain pen; a Lamy Safari pencil; a Sharpie permanent marker; a slim ball-point pen with a medium-thick rubber grip (sorry, don't know the brand); a highlighter pen (don't know the brand).

  • Pilot V5- as I mentioned in my review, the Pilot V5 pens fit easily in my pen loop. Unfortunately, they slide in (and out) so easily, I lost one yesterday (my black one) when scrambling around in my Filofax for tickets in a rush for the train :( This is a disadvantage to such slim, sleek pens.
  • Pilot Frixion 0.7- this much-loved erasable pen (not my favourite, I must admit) doesn't quite fit into my pen loop. The barrel is quite thick and about 8mm of the top of the pen sticks out the top of my filofax. The 0.5 variation is thinner though (although I've never tried it in my filo) and they make a special more professional-looking slim version too.
  • Lamy Safari fountain pen and Lamy Safari pencil- my beloved writing tools! Unfortunately they don't fit in the pen loop, as they are very thick-barrelled.
  • Bic 4-colour pen- the barrel of this pen is quite thick because it has to accommodate 4 biro ink refills. It doesn't fit into the loop properly, it only comes out of the bottom of the pen loop about 4mm (see photo below)
  • Sharpie permanent marker- doesn't fit in at all, it's very thick.
  • Highlighter pen- the same as the Sharpie, doesn't fit in at all.
  • Uniball Signo- ironically is actually too slim for the pen loop! It just slides right down through the pen loop and only the lid of the pen stops it from falling through. It would slip out and be lost very easily.
  • Staedtler Elance- similarly, this slips through too easily as well. It has a plastic grip area instead of a rubberised one, but this doesn't help it grip inside the pen loop and stop falling through, only the clip does that.
  • Zebra Z-grip- the rubberised grip means that it doesn't slide into the pen loop at all. When I took off the rubber grip, it still didn't go into the loop, as I think the pen is slightly too thick in general.
  • Non-brand slim ball-pen with rubber grip- although this pen is quite slim in itself, it didn't slide in because of the rubber grip.

In summary, you can see that (at least in my personal crimson Malden) the thick pens have no chance of fitting in the pen loop; the slim pens would slip out too easily; any rubber grip on a pen stops it sliding in at all; and only a few pens are able to slip into the pen loop, and then they are so slim they might actually slip out! I would suggest, if you are afraid of this, I wouldn't buy a very expensive pen you are scared to lose!

Strangely, some of these pens fit better into the pen loop of my personal ochre Malden (which, buy the way, has a piece of fabric coming loose from the inside of the loop :S ). For example, my fattest normal pen, my Bic 4-colours pen, fits quite well!
My fat Bic 4-colour pen in my personal CRIMSON Malden 
Bic 4-colour pen in my personal OCHRE Malden
I guess the pen loops stretch a bit with use, at least on the leather binders (I'm not sure about the non-leather ones). Or maybe it was just made slightly bigger; I haven't used it as much as the crimson Malden, and to look at it, the pen loop of the ochre looks bigger in comparison. Maybe it's because I bought it from the US?

Some Filofax binders come with 2 pen loops, e.g. the Kendal. Some binders' pen loops are elasticated in part, e.g. the Kendal, or completely made of elastic, e.g. the Domino (unfortunately, while I am in Plymouth and those Filofaxes of mine are in Liverpool, I can't show you pictures of them!). These are very useful because they theoretically will house any thickness pen easily. However, it is still difficult to get pens with a rubber grip in properly as the rubber pulls on the elastic as it goes in.
The pen loops in the A5 (and I guess A4, which I've never tried) are slightly bigger, and I think most come with 2 loops, at least I know the Malden, Finsbury, Domino and Kendal A5s do, and I'm sure many others too. If in doubt, take your favourite pen(s) down to your local Filofax stockist and do your own experiment!

So what are the alternatives to using the Filofax pen loops in the traditional way?

1) You could slip the clip of your pen through the pen loop.
Pen with just the clip slipped into the pen loop.
This works really well with the Lamy!

However, you should only really do this if your pen clip will hold onto the loop quite tightly so it doesn't slip out. Also, a problem is that if the pen is long or the clip is quite far down the barrel, it means that your pen is positioned quite low in the filo and might stick out of the bottom!
2) You could put your pen in the rings, by pushing the clip over the rings and the barrel of the pen in the middle of the rings.

However, I think this is what damaged the rings of my raspberry Finsbury (my first filo), so I don't do it now.
3) If you have a notepad pocket in your filo, you could use the clip of your pen to fix it to there.

4) If your pens are slim enough, you could fit them into the notepad pocket of your filo.
5) You could even fit a small pen in the zip pocket!
6) There are some good DIY projects- e.g.
7) and some you can buy-
8) Quiver-
9) Leuchtturm 1917- I have 2 of these, and I find that even though they are elastic, they don't accommodate a thick barrel, and trying to push a pen in is very difficult. Instead, I just push the clip of my pen through the loop, and leave the rest of my pen hanging on the outside. The glued area is very sticky and I suggest using it on a business card insert or top-opening envelope instead of on your actual binder.
Business card insert with a Leuchtturm 1917 pen loop
If you have any alternative ways to house your pen(s) within your filofax, please tell me in the comments!!

*Update: I think the reason my ochre pen loop accommodates a thicker pen is because the leather of the loop is coming away. The stitching is loose, the thread is coming off, and the leather is coming away from my actual filo. I will be sending it away to Filofax UK to get it fixed soon, and I will do a post about that soon.

Friday, 5 August 2011

My personal filofax set-up!


Here is my personal filo set-up post, as promised! I did a video for it!! Please watch it on youtube :)

Thank you!! I'll put some photos up on flikr of my new set-up, I know how you guys like to drool over things like that :)

Please watch out for my next posts/videos which are related to my filofax set-up, my overview of how I use my personal DPP inserts and my time management system!

Have a lovely Friday!! xx

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My colour-coding and review of Pilot V5 pens

This is an overview of my colour-coding system I use in my daily filofax, and a review of the pens I use :)

Because I use DPP refill in my filofax, I write a lot of things on one page and it can look very busy and cluttered on the page, especially if I don't organise it with colour-coding. So, I decided I needed to sort out my colours once and for all!
My earlier attempt at colour-coding came from the 4-colour pen I have, which is black, blue, red and green. I assigned black to appointments, blue for to-dos, red for uni work and green for recording things.

In my new attempt, I wrote a list of the common type of things I write in my daily diary. Many of these were the same as I used to have, but then there were some new things or new systems for things. Here is a picture of the list I made and the colours I assigned to them, which I will explain further below.

I use black for appointments because they are concrete events that I must do- a hard, black colour, kind of the opposite of "pencilling it in".
I use red for university, either for uni to-dos or daily goals like "FINISH ESSAY" (written at the top of the page in capitals), or just for time-blocking between appointments. The red colour just shouts at me: DO THIS!!
I use green, purple and turquoise for to-dos. I group my main to-dos that I want to do that day by the place where they need to be done- at home (green), on campus (purple) or other places (turquoise), rather than by subject. This is so that when I'm in a particular place, I can see everything I need to do there before I leave, instead of getting home and realising I have forgotten to do something on campus or in town!!
Pink is for fun things because it's my favourite colour- social events, TV programmes to watch, time-blocking for hobbies etc :)

I use Pilot V5 rollerball hi-tecpoint pens for colour-coding in my filofax.

I really like these pens, the ink is very smooth and doesn't run, fine lines at 0.5mm, and works great in my filofax- most importantly, it doesn't bead on the paper!! The pen barrels are thick enough to hold properly (I find it uncomfortable to hold thin pens in my hand when I have long nails), but not too thick- you can actually fit one into the pen loop of my Malden!! They are relatively inexpensive, about £2.50 per pen- which is OK if you are going to use them a lot, but you can buy them in multi-packs (turquoise, pink and purple; black, blue and red) which are about £5.50, saving you £2!
Unfortunately, they don't make a lighter green colour. I wanted to use that for at-home things, and the darker green for recording stuff like a log book, but unfortunately I can't do that and just use the dark green for home things.

Something I don't like about using multiple pens in my filofax (although I don't think I would be as organised if I used just 1) is the fact that when I need to write in a specific colour, I have to fish around in my bag/pencil case for the right pen. I have tried to overcome this by just writing my to-dos in black and underlining them in the corresponding colour when I have my pens out later. But I think I have come up with a solution:

They fit perfectly in the notepad pocket of my Malden!! The clips hold them on really well and they don't slip out! This is good for when I am out and about, and need access to my pens quickly, but not in my pencil-case.
However, this is only a temporary solution as they make my filofax quite fat, as you can see in the photo below. When I finish setting up my filo, I will have loads more stuff on the rings, so I don't think I'll be able to close it properly when the pens are in it! 

Skinny filo! (Minus the pens ;b ) Don't worry, I'll be fattening it up soon!!

Monday, 1 August 2011

A promise...

I promise to write a post (or maybe even make a video!) detailing my personal filo set-up by Sunday 7th August 23:59 at the latest.

The reason I haven't yet written a post about the set-up of my personal filofax is because I haven't finalised it. I'm not happy with it, it's not working for me yet. But I feel like I'm getting there, I'm trying new things all the time and I'm crawling to the finish line. I aim to find a perfect solution, live with it for a couple of days to make sure it's right, and post about it, by next Sunday. That means I will force myself to work it out rather than sitting around complaining about it! 
Watch this space!!