Saturday, 16 July 2011

Filofax for students


This Tuesday, Katie asked a question on Philofaxy's Free For All Tuesday asking if anybody was using their filofax to get organised for university, and for any tips.
TPS to the rescue!!

This is an excellent question because this is just the sort of job Filofaxes are designed for! I think the advantages of using filofaxes for this function might be overlooked slightly on the internet, because blogs dedicated to filofaxes are written by (ahhem cough cough) slightly more mature people ;b And I mean that in the nicest possible way, they are people with real lives, jobs, families etc!!
This blog post is about being organised at university. If anyone wants me to write a post on using your filofax to get you organised for PLANNING to go to university in the future, or just how to prepare for uni generally (not necessarily with a filofax) please ask in the comments!
Now I am going to discuss how you could use your Filofax for organising your life while at university!

First up, the diary.
For people who have already used their filofax for a while, or even another kind of diary, they may already have a diary format that works for them and know how to use it properly for their lives. However, being a student (in comparison to being at school, or on your gap year etc) introduces a LOT more that needs writing into your diary on a daily basis. So read on, you may learn something new or get some new ideas, even if you don't change your actual diary that much.
Which type of diary you use is completely up to you. However, I think a version that gives you ample room is essential. You will probably need to write quite a lot into your diary on certain days. (Some of these things are applicable to non-students too).
For example:

  • Appointments- lectures etc; meetings and appointments; shifts if you work a job; social appointments etc
  • Whole day things- deadlines, goals for that day (for example, "[today I will] FINISH ESSAY"; birthdays, anniversaries etc
  • Recorded things- journal entries; log-book; recording the weather etc; food eaten and amount of water drunk (I tend to get de-hydrated); money spent (esp. good if you're on a budget) etc
  • To-dos
  • Notes on above things- e.g. clarification on to-dos; information on location of lectures, homework due for them etc
(I've probably forgotten some things, but they will come to you gradually as the need arises when you are actually at uni, and you can add them to your diary then).
As you can see, this list is quite long. And when you have a couple of entries of each on a page, even a page-per-day diary, it can get quite hectic on the page, especially if all this is written in 1 colour! A really good way to deal with this is colour-coding (e.g. Jordan). Assign a colour ink to a specific thing in your diary, so that you know at a glance what you are looking at/for. A really good type of pen for this is the 4-colour pen, I like Bic 4 colour-pens, as they have the normal black-blue-green-red and the lovely fashion colours, pink-purple-light blue-light green. These type of pens are really handy because sometimes when you need to colour-code you don't have access to your pencil-case. However, these are very thick pens and don't fit in many of the pen holders in filofaxes as they tend to be slim, but soon I'll do a post on alternative ways to fix your pen inside your filofax.
So, with all this to write in your diary, you may need quite a large space to write in your diary. I prefer the day-per-page format, which nearly always has enough space for my day's writing. I love the appointments view on this, as I need to be able to see my day in chronological order and the gaps in between appointments to see how long I can spend in the library. If I need any more space for notes, I write them on a post-it and stick in on the page, or for a long list I write it on a piece of notepaper. However, some people prefer to see their whole week at a glance (WO2P)- this has less space to write stuff, though.

I also have month on 2 pages diary. I use this for deadlines etc. I put DL for a deadline, EX for an exam etc. This is especially important to know how many days you have got before a deadline or exam, how many days you have left to research, write or revise because day-per-page and WO2P obscure this. This has really helped me to get organised in my uni work.

This part is completely up to the individual. You may want a separate section, with dividers, for each part, or just a few sheets together for each not in a separate section. I have only used filofax since March, and I am still working out my system. You may already have a system of your own, but these are just a few things to think about when going to university.
- Finances
You could write down your student loan instalment dates (and then you could write them into your diary), customer number/username and password for the Student Loans Company, also phone numbers if you ever need to call them. Make lists of direct debits/standing orders- rent, bills etc. Your budget (a good idea to stick to as a poor student!), and your income/outgoings on the filofax finance pages. On a piece of notepaper, make a list of IOUs: who owes you how much, when, and for what. Of course, DON'T write down your credit/debit card pin in your filofax, just in case it falls into the wrong hands!
- Addresses
Obviously, family, friends etc, just in case your phone stops working. For emergencies, put an emergency contact/next of kin down, where it would be easy to find. A good idea is to note down the phone numbers, email addresses and office room numbers of your lecturers or the secretaries in your department just in case you ever need to phone/email/write them a letter. This might be a good idea too for any experts in your field you happen to know- I am slowly getting a list of Egyptologists' phone numbers! 
- Assignments
This might be one of the most important sections of your filofax. You could dedicate a single piece of notepaper just to write down the title of the essay you have to write and the deadline; or you could have many sheets of paper, with notes such as books to look up, issues to investigate, maybe even notes from your research. However, I find that this really fills up your filofax; writing your lecture notes and research notes in an A5 filofax might work, but it would be a bit of a tight squeeze in a personal-sized filo or smaller. In my opinion, a normal notebook or folder would be better.
Also, sections like shopping lists, general notes section, maybe a separate to-do list, etc

I may have forgotten some things, but this is the basic stuff you will need for using your filofax to organise yourself. Each course and individual differs, so you could find things you need to add when you actually get to uni. Just use this as the framework for your filofax, and let the rest evolve naturally! 
If you have any other ideas, feel free to add them in the comments!!
Hope this helps! x


  1. Thank you! I enjoyed reviewing this post, even though I'm part of the *ahem*"slightly more mature" crowd!

    I'm actually hoping to go back to Uni next year, and writing everything down is even more important to me now in my *more mature* years than it was when I was younger and could remember a few things!

    Great post :D

  2. Ooh exciting Rori, what are you going to study?

  3. Thank you for this post! There are a lot of good ideas that I will no doubt use come September!

  4. I am also (ahem) long past being a student, but as someone on 'the other side of the fence' (lecturer) I think this is a brilliant posting and wish more of my students would follow these ideas. Despite all my heavy hinting (and in fact, giving them links to helfpul articles like this), only a small proportion seem to get it. I might add, these are largely the ones at the top of the class! [look and learn, students. Look and learn].
    Great post TPS.

  5. Very useful post! I am just finishing my first semester of grad school and your tips will definitely help me shape up the semesters to come! Thanks for the detailed explanation!

  6. Thanks for this post - I'm new to filofax and I'm in the process of switching from a smartphone setup to a filofax paper one. I'm working on my BA and your different section ideas will be a lifesaver! Especially the finances one. I didn't even think about keeping that in there. Thanks so much!

  7. Thanks for this! Just starting uni in September to study law so will most likely have many reading lists to organise :) Can't wait to get my new filofax and put all this into practice!

  8. I'm a Law fresher this year too :D Have a personal finsbury in raspberry, just trying to work out if it'll be big enough for the demands of being a student!! I like a decent amount of space to write in so considering getting an A5/A4 filo - what do you think? Thank you also, this article has been really helpful!! :)

    1. Hi Kate! Haha, we have the same name! :D
      If you love more space to write, I definitely recommend getting an A5 filofax. However, they can get really heavy, and I know law courses require lots of books, so you might not want to carry it around every day. If you need more space for note taking, but your personal filofax is the right size just for just day-to-day planning, one solution for you might be just to use an A5/A4 notebook instead. They are much less heavy for carrying on a daily basis. In fact, several stationery shops sell A5 ring binders, which would be good if you need to move around or remove your papers. A lot cheaper than an A5 filo! Maybe you could try using that for a few months, and if it works out, get an A5 filo for Christmas? :)