Tuesday, 30 October 2012

365/30 Lists: November!

Here is November's 365/30 Lists!

If you don't know how this works, please see this post!

If you are on facebook, please join the group https://www.facebook.com/groups/196198370510150/

1) Goals for this month
2) My favourite things about November
3) Best childhood memories
4) My perfect house
5) The best things in life are free:
6) Recipes I want to learn
7) Favourite things to do on the internet
8) What colours should they add to existing Filofax ranges?
9) Best gadgets
10) Historical figures I would like to be
11) Guilty pleasures
12) 10 favourite blogs
13) If you could only read 3 books for the rest of your life, what would they be?
14) Favourite healthy food
15) If you were a Filofax (style, size, colour), what would you be and why?
16) On my wishlist...
17) Favourite names for pets
18) TV/Film/Book characters I'd like to be
19) Favourite subjects at school
20) Filofax inserts I use the most
21) First 5 things I do in the morning
22) What I am thankful for (Thanksgiving)
23) Favourite names for pets
24) Sources of inspiration Filofax should use
25) Dear Santa... (Christmas list)
26) 5 things I'd like to be an expert in
27) Favourite things to do on days off
28) In 10 years I see myself...
29) Preparation for the holidays
30) Review of the month

Monday, 29 October 2012

Filofax vs. bound notebooks- what I'm going to do next part 2

NB: If you haven't already, please read this post first

So this is a quick turnaround...

This morning I wrote a post about not using a personal filofax because they get damaged in my handbag. So I tried to start using a notebook for my day-to-day stuff...  

I wrote a day plan thingy for today, and a shopping list page, which only has 1 thing on it- a little hand whisk!

Well... harumphh. This isn't working. I just can't get used to a bound format, the randomness of where my lists etc will end up because I don't have specific sections, and the inability to move/remove/add things! :(

Also, the quality of the paper in the Moleskine I am using leaves much to be desired- the following page (shopping list) is decorated by some stamps, my new favourite thing- 

But the ink bleeds through to the other side!! :(

So, I'm going back to my personal Filofax for my daily organisation. I am still REALLY annoyed that the quality is rubbish, but I notice that the majority of damage (rings getting worse and dents in the leather) happens when I carry my filofax in my handbag. So, maybe I should change the way I carry it! It shouldn't go in my bag any more!

So the next question (besides solving my planner fail), is how should I carry my filofax when I can't have it in my hand?

Do you have any ideas for me? Please comment below!

BTW, I am still thinking about selling some of my personal filos, so if you see one you want, make me an offer!

Filofax vs. bound notebooks- what I'm going to do next! Part 1

NB: My system has changed since this post, so after you read this, please read this later post

Over the past few weeks I have been VERY annoyed with the quality of new Filofaxes. What with my Purple Malden debacle, and the problems with rings, especially in my brand new Holborn personal!! Quite frankly, I'm scared to use my Filofaxes at the moment, especially out and about when I carry them in my handbag! This is where the problems arise- my purple Malden has become really dented through things resting on it in my handbag (although this hasn't happened with any of my other Filofaxes, so I think the leather of the purple Malden is just too soft!), and I have noticed that the already bad rings of my brand new Holborn (it came to me like that) have got worse after an afternoon in my bag! I don't treat them badly- in fact, when I take my filo in my handbag, it sits inside my handbag organiser, in a special compartment, so it's not anywhere near any sharp things like keys etc! But they just get damaged when I take them out with me. I used to always carry my filo in my hand at uni, but when I'm carrying other bags or it's bad weather, I need to put it in a bag. But I'm scared to do so as they are getting damaged!!

Damage to my Purple Malden after one afternoon in my bag!

Yesterday, to try to get ideas to solve my planner fail, I went to Waterstones, who have some nice diaries at the moment. I saw the Moleskine 2013 daily large diary, and I have to say, when I held it in my hand, I really liked the feel of it, how chunky it was, how all the pages were uniform and 'together'. I didn't like it as an actual diary/planner- I have had a Moleskine pocket DPP before and didn't use it much- but I did like how chunky it was. It didn't feel bitty like a Filofax does. But most of all, I liked the thought that it was simple, and straight forward. This isn't just for Moleskine diaries/notebooks, you can say the same about any bound book.
When I got home, I noticed the rings of my Holborn were getting worse, which REALLY ANNOYED ME!!!, and something else struck me about the Moleskine I had looked at earlier- it wouldn't suffer as much damage as my Filofaxes (although I have read about some binding issues with the Moleskines); and also, I wouldn't really care as much if the cover etc got damaged, because I would replace them more frequently, and wouldn't want to keep it forever like my filos. And not to mention, bound planners cost a LOT less than filofaxes!!

So I'm going to start using a bound notebook for my day-to-day stuff. I am still going to use my Filofaxes, BUT they are going to stay at home, safe, where they can't get damaged!!
The way I am going to use the bound notebook is to hold important reference information and lists I will need while I am out and about (shopping lists etc), as a notebook, and a daily planner. BUT I will still use my filos in the same way I am currently using them- my A5 purple Malden for my hobbies/projects, my A5 ochre Malden for my research project (PhD) planner, with a cheaper A5 to take the insides of my A5 ochre Malden to uni (I don't take my ochre A5 to uni through fear of it getting scratched, so I use a cheaper one to take the insides to uni instead), and of course my personal-sized filos for organisation. I am going to use personal weekly diary inserts (probably WO2P from Europe, with appointment times and room for to-dos) as my normal weekly planner, but I won't be doing daily planning in my filo- instead, I will be doing daily planning in my bound notebook.
But now I am thinking, why use personal-sized filofaxes any more? The reason a lot of people use personal rather than A5 is because A5 filos are too big and bulky to carry around with them every day, but when they stay at home, they are great. Well, my filos are going to be staying at home- so maybe I could use an A5 as my organisation filofax! In that case, I don't need as many personal filofaxes as I have, because I won't be using them all the time. However, I will be using some of them, for hobbies, a journal/log-book, a notebook, and there are definitely some I WON'T be selling, because I love them too much! So I'm going to start thinking about selling some of my personals- keep watching my blog for a list of them!

If anyone wants a specific filofax that I have, email me with an offer at bernasconiray at hotmail dot com, and I'll get back to you!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Planner fail with my Filofax inserts...


For the past few days I have been feeling Planner Fail. I know a lot of other people have been feeling the same- a general dissatisfaction with their planner, and uncertainty how to solve it.

Since mid-August I have been using a hacked Organised Mum diary, which is Week on 1 Page with Notes. It has been working well for me, because until mid-September I had very little to plan day-to-day, and now since then, I have been using it for forward planning and a weekly over-view, putting my weekly to-do list on the notes page on the left.

I don't have a lot to write on the diary page on the right, and during the current week, I won't write anything extra on that week's diary page, because I use other, additional pages for the current week. I then use the spaces for each day as a space for a little log book and journal, which is working really well for me!

I can't possibly use the WO1P as my main planning space, so I utilise other diary pages along with them. I either insert these pages in between the notes page on the left, and the WO1P on the right, or I put the WO1P/notes back-to-back in between the extra pages.

I have been trying to plan my time better, so for a while (7th Oct to 21st Oct) I used DPP as my extra diary pages with the WO1P plus notes. In the left column, I put appointments (although I don't have many of those at the moment), or try to block off my time so that I can organise my day better, assigning myself time to do the things I need to. On the right, I list my to-dos, maybe some quick notes, and my priorities for the day. I colour-code to make things easier to organise in my head.

A typical couple of days.

The weekends are more difficult- the 2 days are divided over 1 page, and the appointment times aren't there so I have to write them in myself. After that, there's not much time to write to-dos!

This is my most successful and productive day- this is what I'd love every day to look like!!

But that's the problem- most days don't look like this; I'm not using the DPP inserts to their full capacity.
Some days I don't plan in advance, or I don't need that amount of space. The majority of days I used the DPP inserts, I either didn't stick to the time slots I had made for myself, or the entire day was blank because I hadn't forward-planned, so instead of having a big blank space, I just went to fill in what I had already done, so it's nothing more than a detailed log-book. And on days where I have been lazy, on my computer all day, there isn't anything to write, reaffirming my laziness and making me feel guilty!! I'm not using the DPP inserts properly, although all-in-all, they are probably my favourite format and I think they have great promise if you use them well!

This is where my massive planner-fail started! I wanted to use something different than DPP. Something that wouldn't be left so empty on my less-productive days, but would still have enough space for my busy days. It's just like that conundrum between personal and A5 filofaxes- people want the space of the A5 binders, but the portability of the personal-sized binders- I want a lot of space that comes with the DPP, but a smaller, more practical insert like WO2P. But one is too big, and the other is too small!

After some testing of other formats (Day Timer Flavia WO2P, home-made WO2P columns with appointment slots), I decided on Cotton Cream WO2P. They have equal space for all the days of the week, so the weekend slots aren't teeny-tiny! I inserted the Organised Mum diary/notes page in between the 2 pages of the week, which works quite well.

I have tried to use WO2P before, but my brain NEEDS my daily things to be structured more linearly, which is why the time slots of the DPP work so well for me. But this page is much too-unstructured for me- everything I write down seems to float around the page. I have tried to make it a bit more structured by designating areas for specific things (top-right for priorities, bottom-right for TV progs. to watch), but it's still not perfect.

So now that I've gone from the overly-structured (DPP), to under-structured (WO2P), I know that I need something between the two. But this goes to more than just what planner format I use, but how I use it, and how I manage my time, which is something I am trying to improve.
I need appointment slots, preferably with half-hour slots, because a few of the shifts in my new job start on the half-hour. I would like them to go from 8am to 6pm minimum, although later into the evening would be ideal. And I need a bit of space for to-dos etc. BUT I don't want too much space. What would be a good idea is a system where I can have a weekly overview, then I can add extra space when needed. For example: WO1P or WO2P for the weekly overview, and for the less busy days, but a range of inserts I can add as necessary for more busy days, such as 2DPP, DPP or even DO2P. I am happy to make these myself. But I think that might get too messy for me- I think a regular weekly system would be better, where I have the same inserts every week, but it still has the flexibility I need.

I am thinking of a format where I can have a weekly overview with appointment slots on the left, then a page on the right for to-dos. A column on the right-hand page to write down a deadlines for these to-dos, and using post-it flags to show priorities. But I don't know if this will work at all!

Do you guys have any ideas for me?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

University advice to my 18 year old-self!

Hi everyone!!

Today's post is about becoming prepared for university, or What would I say to my 18 year old-self regarding university? This was a question asked by Deborah-Jane, whose daughter is going to university next year. I know I haven't been writing about studenthood much lately, so I'm glad to be writing this post to help people thinking of going to university!

What would I say to my 18 year old-self regarding university?

Before I went to uni, I really wanted to know what it was like, because no-one in my family had ever gone before, so I knew nothing about it. I wanted to find some young-peoples' fiction about it, to see what the day-to-day experience was like, but I never did. So this is what I would say to myself now:
    University isn't like school, it's actually a whole way-of-life. Mostly so if you live away from home, especially in halls; if you live at home, it might feel different. When you live in Halls (which the majority of 1st Years do), you are surrounded by students; you may travel to campus everyday on a bus surrounded by students; you spend all day in lectures and the library surrounded by students; and, if you live in catered halls, you eat in the canteen with students. It's very different to being at home and school, but in a good way, and it's easy to transition into this new environment, if you go with the flow!

    You do need to do a lot of work, definitely more than at school! Think of your course as a full-time job, around 40 hours of work per week. You will be expected to read a lot, and learn a lot of information. Expect to have weekly work, including set books or articles to read, perhaps a little test or two, and at least one essay for each module per term. Also, there will be the big exams at the end of term- make sure you write revision notes regularly (after each lecture would be ideal), so that you don't have to catch-up all subjects at once!
University is about independent work- you are set work in your lectures, seminars and tutorials, with instructions, and a bit of extra guidance if you ask your tutor, but otherwise you are expected to do the work mostly yourself. You can work with your classmates, but remember that you are at uni for your own education, so make sure you put the work in yourself! Don't let your classmates do all the work for you! And importantly, assessed work, especially essays etc, are supposed to be independent- if your teachers suspect you have been working with someone else on your work, UNLESS it is a joint or team project, then you will be in big trouble!

I used to worry about silly little things, like how people would think about me, what I should dress like, will they judge me by my appearance?

No-one cares about what you look like. Or, at least in my experience, they don't! University is much more grown-up than school, and people tend not to judge you so much by what you look like. Not to mention, people tend to think of uni as a place where you can be yourself- no rules about what you can or can't wear, or do your hair or make-up like at school- if you want green hair and nose-studs, feel free!! If you want to wear no make-up today, then people won't care, because they judge you by your actions and your personality instead!

Being the first person in my family to go to uni, I had no-one to give me specific advice about university- which is one of the reasons why I write this blog, so that I can give advice to new students! Now I have lots of info to share to others. And one major thing I should tell you about uni is: it's not that scary!!
It's a big responsibility, and it's not a walk in the park- but it's all manageable! It takes a lot of time, energy, and requires a lot of motivation. You might not get a lot of sleep some nights, and have to neglect your social life, but it is all worth it! It's such a satisfying experience, and it's fun; you get to meet so many amazing people, it feels like such an achievement, and you are doing something for yourself, to help your future, which is so satisfying!! If you feel like you are struggling, there will be a great support network at your uni, so use them. Make friends, have fun, don't drink too much, work hard, play hard, and do well! You will only do your degree once (hopefully!), so make the most of it!

I've written about a few of the pieces of advice I wish I could have told my 18 year old-self- but there are many more things I could talk about! 
Do you have any questions? Write them in the comments below!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Purple Malden: Dents and Complaints

Recently I wrote a post and made a poll asking "Do you care if your Filofax gets beat up when you use it?"

The results of this post are:

I get really upset:  22%
I get a bit annoyed:  48%
It doesn't really bother me:  10%
I like it beat up a bit:  18%

I am definitely in the "I get really upset" camp, but mostly I think it depends on which Filofax it is, and what the type of damage is- cheap vs. expensive, wear and tear vs. permanent damage.

The reason I made that poll is because my otherwise beautiful purple personal Malden gets dented REALLY easily!!!!

Here is a photo of it when I first got it:

Smooth as a baby's bum!!

The leather was sooooo smooth, I was surprised actually! It is one of the 'new edition' purple Maldens, when Filofax changed the supplier so the leather would be much more regular between binders. 
Compare the different leathers of my 2 purple Maldens: A5 is first edition, personal is new edition.

I must have been one of the first people in the UK to get one of the new edition purple Maldens- I got it as an exchange for a faulty filo direct from Filofax UK, I asked for it before they had been delivered from the manufacturer, and they sent it out to me as soon as they got them, even before City Organiser stocked them!

I really prefer the leather of my A5- it's crinkly and wrinkly, but I love it because it's got much more character to the leather, and it feels tougher and less puffy to the more regularised leather of the new edition personal.
It has no problems- except for the rings- but the leather itself hasn't got any damage to it. Ok, I don't take it in my bag or whatever, it just stays at home, but I think the leather is tougher than the personal, because:

Look at my personal!!
And it looks and feels worse in person than it looks here!

The personal 'new edition' dents soooooo easily!!! This is after only a few hours in my bag!! When it's in my bag, I keep my filo inside my handbag organiser, so it isn't resting against anything sharp like keys! But this is still what happens! It has happened 3 times before, on the front and back. And, for an obsessed Filo addict like me, who likes them all to be perfect, this is a nightmare!!

This is how I get the dents out a bit, with a hairdryer, but I don't like doing this as it makes my filo and everything inside really hot, and then it leaves a bit of a scar!

It is unacceptable!! Yes, Filofax, you made an effort to regularise the leather across the different binders, but the leather that you are using now is way too sensitive to normal daily use! I am scared to use my purple Malden now! I feel like every time I need to go out, I should put my filo insides into a cheaper filo, like a Domino, and leave my Malden at home! But then I feel like I will fall out of love with my purple Malden and I won't use it any more!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Who needs friends, or enemies, when you have computers like these?

I love my laptop. And I mean, really REALLY love! I recently realised how much I use it, and what I use it for.

  • social networking (facebook and twitter) 
  • watching videos- filofax videos, music videos and, of course, the ubiquitous cat videos! (youtube)
  • reading blogs, mainly filofax ones
  • looking at pictures of things I like- filofaxes, other stationery etc (flickr, google images)
  • the news (BBC news website)
  • watching TV (BBC iplayer, ITV player, 4OD etc)
  • listening to music (itunes, spotify, youtube)
  • learning general knowledge about random things I hear throughout the day and want to know more about (wikipedia)
  • word processing etc (Microsoft Office software)
  • storing and looking at my digital photos
  • playing games (Sims 3, Pharaoh, silly internet games)
And lots, LOTS more stuff that I can't even think of right now!!

I couldn't live without my laptop. It does everything for me. I have a smartphone, which does quite a lot, but not everything that I need it to do, and I think I would feel the same if I bought a tablet. Recently my friend had a break-in and her laptop was stolen- I would be distraught if this happened to me!! I back it up frequently, but I would still be heartbroken. I don't think I could go 3 days without going on my computer!

So my laptop is my best friend, right?

Hmm... maybe not!
I spend FAR too much time on my computer! It is the first thing I use in the morning and the last thing I use at night. In the morning I turn it on, put some music on using spotify, and start up the internet, with these webpages in this order:
  • Facebook
  • Uni email
  • Philofaxy
  • Hotmail email
  • Twitter
Then I would quickly check on flickr and youtube to see if any new Filofax things have been added overnight, and maybe ebay to see if any bargain filofaxes are ending soon or newly listed. 

Catching up on each of those things takes me a while- together, I can spend from 30 mins, up to even 1 hour 30 mins, just reading the new stuff that has been loaded overnight on those websites. Not to mention those new sites that I find through my standard websites- new blog posts and cool things that I hear about from people suggesting sites on facebook, twitter, philofaxy etc.

Then I can go for a couple of hours away from my laptop, but by early afternoon I will be on my computer again, and suddenly it will be 5pm and I've wasted the afternoon! I manage to spend the late afternoon and early evening doing some other stuff, mainly to make up for the time I have wasted, and then we have dinner, and I might stay downstairs with my parents for a couple more hours without my laptop. But by 9pm-ish, I would get bored, spend a couple more hours on my computer, because by this stage twitter conversations are really interesting, with both EU, UK and US philofaxers being online at the same time. Then my dad puts on some rubbish TV, so I try to find something interesting to occupy me- I manage to find tonnes of blogs to read, and videos to watch on youtube- which takes me all the way up to bedtime, and I end up laying in bed, with my laptop on!! 
And then tomorrow it all starts again!

So I spend wayyyyy too much time on my computer everyday. It distracts me from practically everything I need to do! It's also a way to procrastinate too, when I don't want to do my boring chores! I literally have to drag myself away from my laptop! 
I think there is a bigger problem for me- I don't use the fun stuff I enjoy doing as a reward for doing my to-dos; instead, I do my fun stuff first, and try to fit my to-dos around them- and because I don't have a lot of time left in the day once I have spent many hours on my laptop, I don't have enough time to do my chores and to-dos!

I think I'm going to have to find a way to stop going on my computer so much, and to use my fun stuff as a reward instead. I will probably write a list in my filo of blog posts I've found to read, new youtube videos I've found, etc etc, and then after I finish my to-dos for that day, I can sit down and have fun.  

What do you guys do to stop going on your computers so much? Do you find it hard to stop doing what you want to do, and start doing what you need to do?

Friday, 12 October 2012

A dying breed??


I recently came across this video on youtube:

This woman is apparently an 'organisation expert', who works with clients to get them more organised. It seems she works for high-powered business type people... OK, not like me, but I still took exception to what she says in her video!!

She says that she thinks Franklin Covey planners- and by extension, all paper planners of similar type, including Filofaxes- are dated, and a dying breed!!!

The main problems she identifies are:

  • The need to transfer (by hand) all to-dos etc to another day if you don't complete them on the scheduled day
  • Her clients have 50+ to-dos on their to-do list, and as such they need a list that can be easily updated. So she's implying they need an electronic to-do list, instead of a paper one.
  • That paper planners aren't suitable for to-dos, notes etc that come from emails- she says electronic planners are better because you can drag and drop info, to-dos etc from them into an electronic system, and not have to keep writing everything onto paper multiple times.

In my opinion, I think her argument is flawed. Paper planners, like Filofax, Franklin Covey, etc etc, aren't just for to-do lists- they are for planning your time too, and so much more. She thinks that FC is a dying breed because of her issues with the to-do lists etc- but that's not the main thing that paper planners like this are used for! I think there is a future for paper planners- just not in the way she assumes people should use them.

But I think what she says about emails is interesting. I don't receive many emails, but I guess for people who are being bombarded with emails all day long, it would be easier to use a 'drag and drop' electronic system. 
What do you think? Do you manage to deal with lots of emails effectively using your paper planner?

What do you think about what she claims are 'problems' with paper planners? Do you think that paper planners are a dying breed?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

New poll!! Please answer! :)


So, as you probably know from previous posts, I hate it when my filofaxes get damaged! Since I received my new purple Malden in personal size, I have noticed that it gets dents really easily! Well, I forgot to take photos of the dents before I 'repaired' them using a hairdryer- so I can't show you! Anyway, more on that another time.

But I just wanted to do a quick poll on how many of you get really annoyed and upset like me when your filofaxes get wear and tear- or, how many of you don't mind them getting beaten up a bit. I know people on both sides of the fence!

Please vote on the poll in the top-right corner!