Thursday, 6 December 2012

Late-night realisation!

It's 1:05 here in the night/morning, and I have realised something! Yes, my brain does work this late at night (when it is supposed to be fast asleep, whoops!!)

When me and my brother were little, my mum used to comment on an invisible being called Mr or Mrs I-Want. Mainly, she talked about it when once of us (mostly my brother, the most materialistic person I know!) started saying "Mum, I want this", "Mum, I want that". Not "May I have...", "I would like...", but demanding "I want...". My brother is not a polite person. Actually, come to think of it, I probably never got told off for Mrs I-Want coming to the surface of my Id (Freud!), because I find it VERY difficult to ask people for things like objects and money, even on my birthday and Christmas. Seriously, ask me what I want  for Christmas from you, and I will squirm in my seat and not look you in the eye, and mutter that, quite possibly, it would be nice to have X. Oh, those awkward phone calls asking my mother for money at uni when I was close to the hellish end of my overdraft.

But that doesn't stop Mrs I-Want from materialising inside my head. Currently, I WANT a plum personal Osterley. No, let me change that- every fibre of my Id is saying I neeeeed a plum personal Osterley!!! Fortunately, Ego and Superego are helping to reign Id in, and I haven't bought one, or (awkwardly) asked for one for Christmas... YET!

Anyway, this brings me to the point of this blog post!

Last week I won Filofax's twitter Win Wednesday competition! The prize was an Osterley!... in Orange!!!

Orange, like the orangest of oranges!!!

It's gorgeous!!! It's certainly not a colour I would have picked myself- I'm not an orange person- but it's absolutely gorgeous!!!
It has some fantastic features (which I will tell you about another time), but this competition prize has just shown me how amazing the Osterley is... and has made me want the plum Osterley even more!!!

But the practical side of my brain is stopping me from buying the plum Osterley! I don't have the money, I don't need another Filofax... blah blah blah! Mrs I-Want is saying to me "But you could have the plum for Autumn/Winter and the orange for Spring/Summer!! Look at the beautiful colour of the plum, and the pretty pink stitching!! Wouldn't this amazing filofax be EVEN better in a colour you actually LIKE!!"

But... Imy said something to me the other day, while I was professing my love for her plum Osterley and saying I really wanted one of my own- she said "But don't you already have an Osterley?"

Yes. I do.

And why isn't that good enough?? OK, it's not a colour I would have chosen, and it's not very Christmassy or Wintery, but it's a binder tonnes of people would love to own, and I got it for FREE!! Why am I wanting another one? Why isn't this sufficient? Is it just the colour? Or is it Mrs I-Want?

But, strangely, the more I use it, the more I am falling in love with this binder! I am forgetting that it is bright orange, and starting to fall in love with its... personality?? (if Filofaxes can have a personality!!) I think that it is such a strange colour that in 5 years time it will be so unusual that it will be a classic filofax that people crave and wish they had bought when they were released. Like those bright red strange leathered Winchesters, of which you can find rare and drool-worthy photos on the internet!
Would I love a plum Osterley as much? Maybe if I had got one before this one, or if the competition prize had been the plum, then totally! But I feel that if I get a plum, it might not seem as... special as this one! It would be my perfect filofax... for a few weeks, until I got bored of it! Oh, fickle brain!!

So I have been thinking about my thought processes and logic behind all this. How can I love a filofax that I didn't really like more than a filofax that I (or Mrs I-Want) really really wanted? I have been watching a lot of Big Bang Theory, so don't mind me while I try to put this into a semi-scientific formula!

When I want something I really really want 100%, I can't stop thinking about it (like an iphone, which I wanted for years), and substitutes or alternatives won't suffice (like that cheapo Nokia I bought instead), I HAVE to have the thing I have been wanting for ages, or nothing at all. And it's all good when I get it.
But, when I get (as an impulse purchase, as a present or competition prize etc) something that I haven't been thinking about too much and I haven't been obsessing about (like my orange Osterley), and it works perfectly, I strangely find myself loving it all the more.

After a while, I don't love the thing I have been obsessing about so much when it works perfectly, because I always expected it to work perfectly, so when it does, it isn't a surprise or special to me. 
But, when something that I didn't expect to be perfect for me does work perfectly, I love it even more, possibly even more than the thing I actually really really wanted!

Case-in-point: my A5 red Domino filofax. This was one of the early filofaxes I bought. I bought this particular one because it was my first A5, which I needed for uni, but it was cheap and I didn't want to spend tonnes on a leather A5 (even though I really wanted the A5 Kendal), because this size might not work for me. Actually, Rufus (my A5 red Domino's name!) worked great for me! 

So everything's good, right?
No. For some reason, after a while with one of these not-obsessed-about binders, I find myself disliking them. There's nothing wrong with them, they just aren't... right. Cue part 2 of my realisation:

I suddenly realise that it isn't what I always wanted (e.g. a really nice leather A5, instead of a cheap Domino), it isn't my ideal thing I have dreamed about, and even if it's perfect for me, I start resenting it, and wish I had the perfect thing that I (retrospectively) realise I should have got instead/in the first place!

I start not liking Rufus. No Rufus, it's not you, it's me!!! It's not anything thing he's done, or anything about him- he works great- the perfect size, light weight, great rings, etc etc- it's about what he isn't. He just ISN'T that gorgeous leather filofax I have been looking at online. He isn't... perfect... even when he is working perfectly for me!

So how do I stop this? How do I prevent myself from becoming this way with my gorgeous orange Osterley? It isn't want I truly wanted, the plum one (through no fault of its own!)... I could still start resenting it! How do I secure my love for Orangesterley (gosh, it needs a better name than this!!)?

Well, here's a (long) mantra I have made for myself!

If something is working perfectly for me,


I shouldn't have to change it just because it's not the ideal I imagined!

So, I can't let myself get to the point where I start resenting my filofax!! I must stop it before it starts!!

Actually, this is all a good life lesson. Nothing's perfect. But I can't suddenly abandon things just because they aren't what I wanted them to be. I can't dump a potentially great future husband because he leaves the toilet seat up or something (although, eww!!). Suck it up, live with it, and see the positives!! And don't let my thought process become negative!!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Filofax advice for Beginners :)

The world of Filofaxes is quite complex, and if you are just starting out in it, it can become quite daunting. You know you want a Filofax, but which size, model, leather/non-leather, diary insert, layout, etc etc!!

So I am going to give Filofax beginners a bit of advice today!


Filofaxes come in a range of sizes, from M2 to A4.

  • The smallest is M2, a binder size which isn't manufactured any more, but are occasionally available on ebay. I am not sure if they still make inserts for it, but lined paper for this size is available at City Organiser. It is a really tiny size, not very usable for most people, but maybe a good size as an extra binder to your normal planning system, to fit into a suit pocket! Here are a few of posts about the M2 size.
  • The next size up is Mini. This is quite a small size, but I think quite usable. Filofax makes a range of inserts for this size, including diaries (limited formats), lined paper, to-do sheets and address sheets. But again, I think it isn't a very good size for a main planner, but it would be good as an additional binder for note-taking, or hand-bags!
  • The next size is Pocket. This is a popular size, with many people using this as their main binder, and others using this as their planner for part of the year when their lives aren't so busy. It is a good size for smaller hand-bags, but ironically doesn't actually fit in regular-sized pockets in clothing! There is a good range of inserts for this size, including many formats for the diary. Pocket-sized Moleskine pages can fit into pocket-sized Filofaxes, although their isn't much space left around the pages for tabs; however, I prefer this page size to Filofax pocket-sized paper, which is just too small for me. There are 2 ring diameter sizes for personal, 15mm and 18mm, so bear this is mind when choosing a pocket-sized filofax.
  • The next size is Personal. This is an extremely popular size, most people I know in the Filofax community use this as their main size, although they have a couple of binders in other sizes; in fact, I know of a few people who ONLY use personal-size, because it's so perfect for them. The closed binder is close to the size of an A5 piece of paper, which is why personal-sized binders are often listed as A5 on ebay, so be careful! The personal-sized paper is relatively tall and narrow, which some people don't like; some prefer the squarer proportions of the pocket and A5 sizes of paper. I find it is particularly good for lists, but there isn't much width for proper writing, which is why I use A5 for uni work etc. There's a reasonably great range of inserts for this size!
  • Filofax also make 2 other sizes, which take personal paper. These are the Slimline size, and a recent addition, Compact Size. The binders are as tall as the personal-sized binders, but narrower. They have much smaller ring mechanisms; Slimline is the smallest, and Compact is about halfway between that and personal. Slimline binders don't have a clasp, so can open up in your bag quite easily, which can be annoying, while Compact binders have a clasp to keep it closed. 
  • The next size up is A5. This is quite a popular sized binder for work, but can be tricky to use for your everyday binder, because to accommodate the A5 sized paper, the binder is actually quite big. Many people complain that the binder, filled with paper, becomes too big and bulky to carry with them on a daily basis, especially in their bag. People often prefer to leave them on their desks However, the page size is ideal, so they have a dilemma between paper size and portability. Therefore, most of us want a happy medium between the two- something in between A5 and personal! One of the best things about A5 sized binders is that you can easily make your own paper, or print your own on A4 paper, which you then cut in half! There are 2 ring sizes for A5 binders, 25mm or 30mm, in which you can fit a lot of paper, although Filofax have started to make some smaller ringed (compact) A5s.
  • The next size is Deskfax. This is a size which was popular over a decade ago, but the binders are no longer manufactured and the inserts are quite sparse too, although City Organiser sell some. The ring mechanism has 3 sets of 3 rings, unlike all other sizes I've talked about already, which have 2 sets of 3 rings (except Mini, which has 5 rings). It takes B5 sized paper.
  • The biggest size for Filofax manufacture is A4. As the name suggests, this size takes A4 paper, which is easy to refill yourself, and make your own inserts for, although of course Filofax make their own diary pages, to-do sheets etc. The ring mechanism is 4 widely spaced rings, similar to other (cheaper) ring binders. This size is most likely too big to use away from your desk, and there isn't much choice in the binders, and they are quite expensive.

There is a wide range of binders available to buy now, and a range of choices within this. 

Leather or non-leather: 
The majority of binders are leather, but there are a few non-leather ranges, including Domino and Metropol. You may have a moral/ethical reason for not using a leather binder, but leather ones are also more expensive than non-leather binders. I tend to think that leather binders will last longer than non-leather binders.

Pocket layout:
There are a lot of different combinations of pocket layout within Filofaxes, including card slots, notepad slots etc. You should consider whether you want horizontal or vertical credit card pockets (compare to your favourite purse/wallet), full-length pockets, a secretarial pocket, a notepad slot, a zipped pocket, etc etc.

The ability of a binder to lay flat when open is important for most people, as they want a surface which is easy to write on, and they don't want their binder to close on itself, or to have to hold it open with one hand while writing with the other hand. You can train your binder to lay flat, but it is often easier to buy a binder which will be flat to start with!


There is (generally) a large range of inserts which you can use in your Filofax, from diary inserts to specific sheets for particular purposes. Brand new filofaxes come with a standard fill, including a diary (usually Week on 2 pages), notepaper, address sheets, to-do sheets, dividers, etc etc. However, most people want to personalise their filofax for themselves, whether just rearranging the order of the pages, taking pages out, buying more and different inserts, or making their own! That is the beauty of Filofaxes- they are completely customisable! There is a wide range of different formats for the diary part of your filofax. Filofax sell year planners, Month of 2 Pages, Week on 1 page, Week on 1 Page with Notes, Week on 2 Pages, 2 Days per Page, Day per Page, Day on 2 Pages, and the Time Management range. There is also an extensive range of Filofax pages on the Filofax UK website, by binder size.

So that's just some starter information for you, to help your with your Filofax journey!
I recommend going to a shop that sells Filofaxes so you can see them in person, to try to work out which size, pocket layout, etc etc, is right for you. Then, buy your Filofax!! You can buy Filofaxes in a shop, or try to get a bargain online! But be warned, once you have bought your first Filofax, it won't be your last- they are VERY addictive things, and within a couple of months, you will have a little collection of your own!

And don't forget to visit Philofaxy, your home for everything Filofax-ish! Here, there are daily blog posts about Filofaxes and organisation, free downloadable diary inserts and other inserts, a list of Filofax bloggers all over the internet, a place to advertise Filofaxes for sale, and so much more!! This is one of my favourite websites, and will help give you brilliant advice if you are not certain about buying a filofax!!

Happy Filofaxing!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Having a job while studying at university

Hello class!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin!

I'm going to talk to you a little bit about having a job while studying at uni. This is all based on my own experiences, so it might not be true for everyone, but I think most of what I say will be true for everyone.

As you probably know if you have read my blog, I have done 2 degrees at the University of Liverpool, studying a BA in Egyptian Archaeology Hons. and an MA in Egyptology Hons., so I have spent 4 years at uni. I lived either in Halls of Residence (years 1 and 2), or private rented houses (year 3 and my MA), rather than living at home because I couldn't commute to uni. So I was in Liverpool for about 8 months of the year.

When you are a student at university in the UK (other countries are different), you can apply for government grants, loans etc etc to help pay for your degree, accommodation, and other living expenses. However, as I am sure most students will agree, it is hard to make that money go far enough! And for postgraduate students, you generally can't get any money from the government, and although you can take out loans from banks, you will have to pay back a lot more than you are getting. So, a great way of getting money is by working while at university.

Obviously there are lots of different types of jobs you could do while at uni. Most unis will probably offer some opportunities like showing people around during open days etc, in which you can earn an hourly wage, but these opportunities can be quite irregular. If you are doing a specific degree, you may be able to get a job related to your degree, such as a job in a bank if you are doing a degree in business, mathematics etc, which would give you work experience as well as money. However, I think the majority of students with jobs work in 'unskilled' positions, for example as a bar tender or as a shop assistant. In my personal experience, it's nice to have a job where you don't have to think too much, as you are using your brain so much in you university degree!

During year 3 of my BA, and during my MA, I worked in my students' union shop. It is a little shop selling lunch food, especially crisps, sandwiches, soft drinks and chocolate, and stationery and university memorabilia, particularly hoodies. It is a nice little shop, and I have enjoyed working there, and I want to carry on working there when I do my PhD. I wish I had started work there during my year 2, when I lived on campus- it would have been a very short walk to work! I am very glad I worked there during my degrees, as it gave me something to do other than my essays! I made some good friends, and I feel like I have gained skills in many areas I didn't have before, and I have gained confidence too!!

There are some things you have to take into consideration when you are thinking about getting a job at university.
In particular, where you work: I worked in my students' union. 99% of people who work there are students, and therefore the working situation is very flexible for us- we tell the managers our availability for working by the Thursday, and then on the Friday we get the rota for the next week. If we can't do a shift for whatever reason, we email everyone on the staff email "Can you cover my shift", so you can have time off if you need it. If you can't work a certain week, for example if you have an essay due in, you just don't give in your availability. You can work as many or as few hours as you want. The shop isn't open during Christmas and Easter vacations, so we don't need to work then when I want to go home, and it is only open for short hours during revision periods, so they didn't expect many of us to work when we had to revise.
However, other companies and employers are not so flexible. If you work somewhere such as a shop in the city centre, they may give you a fixed rota, and they will expect you to work that. It may be very difficult to get time off when you need it, or get cover. If you have a timetable of lectures for your degree, you can try to fit your rota around that, which would be ideal, but in my experience, lecturers rearrange lectures quite often, and this is difficult if you have a fixed rota for work. If you are late because a lecture over-ran, you may get in trouble at work. If you work in a shop, most likely you will need to work during Christmas Eve and Boxing day, which means that you will find it difficult to spend Christmas at home if you can't commute. If you work in a bar or similar, you may need to work very late, which means that if you need to get up for a 9am lecture, you may not get much sleep! Also, some degrees require you to do a work experience placement, which may be difficult if you have to work in your job! And if you have a permanent job which requires you to work during the summer, you may never be able to go home to visit your parents!
Remember, working while at uni is a big commitment. If you are doing your uni course full-time, you are probably expected to work around 40 hours on your projects etc; if you work, for example, 12 hours per week in a shop, you are actually working 52 hours per week!
Don't forget that you have to factor in travelling to and from work. Fortunately, my work was on campus, so about 5 minutes work from my department, and if I walked REALLY quickly, a 7 minute walk from my house. However, if you work somewhere off-campus, it might take you quite a long journey to get to work. It may cost you extra money every day to get to and from work, such as if you take the bus, and it will take you time to get there and back, especially if you walk.

All-in-all, having a job at uni is very beneficial; however, I would recommend getting one that will be flexible, such as a job in your students' union! Your uni might (should) have a 'job shop', which will hopefully be full of flexible jobs suitable for students! There are other places you can go to find a job, such as employment agencies, where they can either find you a job or temp work, the Job Centre, online, or ask for vacancies in shops and bars! Remember to update your CV, and have a photocopy available when you are out and about, just in case you see an 'Employees Needed' sign in a shop window!

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

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!


Sunday, 30 September 2012

365/30 Lists: October


For those of you who want to be involved with the 365/30 Lists for Philofaxers, but aren't on facebook, here is the List of Lists for October, by the wonderful and lovely Imy!!

1 goals for the month 
2 who would you want to be stuck in a lift with ? 
3 favourite Filofaxes 
4 five most craved Filofaxes
5 what would you take on a desert island 
6 perfect music playlist 
7 Halloween party ideas
8 films to see
9 fancy dress ideas 
10 favourite films 
11 places to visit this month 
12 celebrities you would like to meet 
13 favourite pens/pencils 
14 Beauty products I need to try/buy 
15 best stationery websites 
16 what I was doing when I was 16
17 what is in your happy place
18 favourite quotes/sayings 
19 today was amazing because....
20 favourite characters from films 
21 foods to try 
22 colours of rainbow in order of most favourite to least 
23 sports you want to try 
24 ideal jobs 
25 accessories I wish I owned 
26 pets you would like 
27 languages you would like to learn 
28 5 things to do in November 
29 how do you have your drink in Starbucks/costa etc...
30 dream cars....
31 review of month 

If you are on facebook and haven't joined the group yet, please join! Here is the group.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or email me :)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

I'm back!! And an update :)

Hello everyone!!

This is my first proper post back after I finished my dissertation last week (feels like longer ago!). So expect lots of posts from me from now on!

This post is just going to be a load of waffle really :)

As I said, I am going to post a lot more from now on :) I am going to set up either a specific blog-planning filofax, or maybe just a section in my A5 filo- I have to decide. Could you guys please help me by voting in the poll in the side bar? Thanks! So the options are: 1) a section in my A5 purple Malden filofax; or 2) A specific blog filofax in one of my personal-sized filos!
I will spend a little while setting it up once I decide, but I know that it will have lots of notepaper (I have tonnes in my collection!), and a diary of some sort- maybe just a month on 2 pages printed from Steve and Ray's fabulous inserts!
I promise my forthcoming posts will include lots of pictures, because I know people get bored by too much text!

As I speak, lots of lucky Philofaxers are meeting-up in London for the Philofaxy meet-up! Lucky duckies! I wish I were there, but I'm hoping to go to the one in November!

Courtesy of Tracy/Icclewu

Currently I am using my lovely new purple personal Malden as my main filofax!

I got her a couple of weeks ago, and I really like her, but she's actually really easy to scratch (I have sharp nails) and she dents really easily :( Normally I'm very panicky about damaging my filos, but I am trying to be less sensitive about this one. I figure that if I use my filos on a daily basis, they are going to get damaged eventually, so I should be prepared for it! Also- and this may sound weird- but as you can see from the photo, and the comparison with her big sister A5 purple Malden below, the leather of my personal is very VERY smooth, and I don't think it has much character to the leather. I think that the scratches (little ones, not big ones please!) and marks bring some life to it! It shows that it is well-loved and well-used!

The 2 sisters :)

I am currently making some pretty filofax dividers out of some scrapbooking paper I get from a craft shop here in Liverpool called Rennies. They are taken from pads of scrapbooking paper/card that come in lots of about 50 sheets, that cost quite a lot! But by splitting them up, I can buy only the ones I like at about 60p each! I love the Cath Kidston-esque type of patterns.
Here's some of the card I am about to turn into dividers- some of them are double-sided too!!

Another one that I have already chopped up into the individual squares/rectangles. I love these ones, they look like book plates. I am going to stick them onto filo dividers :)

Here's a divider I made earlier! It is for my 365/30 filo lists section of my A5 purple Malden! (Sorry about the sidewaysness!)

Next Friday I am moving back home, so these next few days will be spent sorting through my stuff and packing. Boring. The good part of this is that I get to have a rummage through my filofax and stationary stuff!! :D

So that's an update for you! I'll be back soon with lots of posts I have been meaning to do for a while!

Have a lovely weekend!

P.S. For me writing this post, it is in the new blogger format which I don't really know how to use, so I hope it looks OK as a published post!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Retail Recommendations and Product Review: Dodo Pad!!

Hi everyone!

Today I made a video reviewing the 2013 Dodo Pad insert for Personal-sized Filofaxes! So this video is a product review, and a review of the fantastic Dodo Pad company!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

AWOL... but I will be back!!

Hi everyone!

I'm sorry I have been away for the past few weeks, I have been writing my dissertation!! I will be FINISHED next Friday, so you can expect lots of new posts after that (and after I have had lots of sleep!!).

I am especially sorry I haven't been able to do any posts for my student followers in preparation for the new school/uni year, as is one of my aims in writing this blog. So if anyone has any requests for a blog post that I can write to give advice etc for students, please leave a comment to this post!!

Also expect lots of blog posts about my filofaxes, stationery etc, with lots of pictures!!

See you soon!!

Friday, 31 August 2012

September 365/30 Lists!!

Hi everybody!

Well, it's the last day on August already! So tomorrow we are starting our new lists club! Here are the list topics:

  1. Goals for this month
  2. My friends/family would describe me as….
  3. Where in the world do I want to visit?
  4. Reasons to start ______
  5. Reasons to quit ___________
  6. My favorite stationery items
  7. Midnight snacks
  8. Filofaxes I crave
  9. I am at my best when
  10. Philofaxers I have met
  11. Places I’d like to live
  12. My proudest moments of me and my loved ones
  13. What am I wearing today?
  14. If I won the lottery I would...
  15. Places I have visited?
  16. Imaginary Dinner Party Invites?
  17. Favorite Names?
  18. Favourite scents and smells?
  19. Perfect Filofax?
  20. Lists to make?
  21. Things to buy at the Philofaxy Meet up / list of stationery you need for your Filofax)
  22. Bucket List
  23. Things I’d like to learn
  24. Jobs I have had
  25. Music I have bought
  26. Ideal inserts you wish were made?
  27. Diary formats tried? Formats to try?
  28. What I ate today?
  29. Events I would like to attend?
  30. Review of the month

Remember you can do these any way you like! I know some people are doing them as posts on their blogs, or limiting it to just a few words, are doing it on their diary pages or in a separate section of your filofax... you can do it any way you want!!

If you are on facebook, why not join our group for this:


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

365/30 lists!!

Hi everybody!!

Me and the wonderful Imy ( have just set up a lists group on Facebook!
It follows the 30 days of lists idea, but we have made it just for us Filofax/stationery fans! Each month we post a list of 30 things you can write about the next month, whether in list form, or maybe as blog posts if you like! We are starting September 1st!

Here's the link to the group on Facebook!/groups/196198370510150/196202430509744/?comment_id=196204350509552&notif_t=group_comment_reply

If you don't have Facebook, no problem! Leave a comment here and I will email you the new list every month!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A gold day all around, for Team GB and my Filofax!

Hi everyone!

I have had a very good day, and so have Team GB! I am really getting into the Olympics- I'm not normally a sporty person, but it has been brilliant! I was quite pleased that the library is shut at the weekends now (something which I normally hate), so that I was able to spend all day at home and not only do lots of work, but watch lots of the Olympics too!! Today Team GB managed to win 6 gold medals- yes 6!!! I know that USA and China have won a lot more, but we are only a little island nation, and I am so proud of all the Olympians today!! In particular Jessica Ennis, who has such a hard contest in the heptathlon- normal athletes have to be excellent at 1 sport, but she has to be really really really good at 7- a very difficult thing! She has been waiting for a gold medal in this for so long, and I am so happy for her!

I have had a good day too! I have been struggling with writing my dissertation lately, and after a huge confidence loss earlier this week, I managed to develop a new structure to my diss. and get my tutor to agree to it, which has given me new confidence and now I feel like I can really get this thing done, and well! So I tried to do lots of work today; I managed to write about 1300 words today, which is a lot more than I have managed to write all week due to my writer's block and lack of confidence- and my reward for it isn't a gold medal, but a gold star!
A star for today!

I made this month-on-two-pages spread as part of my DIY diary, and haven't written anything in the boxes, so I thought I would use it to record when I have done lots of good work on my dissertation by putting a star on that day! I plan to have every day of the month filled in with a star! (Although I haven't done enough work for the first 3 days!) I bought these lovely star stickers from Rymans, they are metallic colours and very pretty! I wanted to use the pink for my first star, but I thought what could be more relevant for today- but gold! So I have a lovely gold sticker for 4th August!

Friday, 3 August 2012

OTF: Many True Filofaxes Guest Post

Hi everyone! 

Here is a fantastic guest from Marcus, who wants to show us how 2 filofaxes used simultaneously works perfectly for him!



As an Army officer I am, apparently, one of the original target market for Filofax. I have been a committed 'user' since being an Infantry Platoon Commander in 1996. I don't remember the model of the binder I had at the time, but it was Personal Size with 2 sets of rings (duplex?) and 2 heavy duty press studs. In a time of limited computer use at Battalion level, this served me well for many years. This was also a time when more Filofax inserts were available. I actually had and used many that were available, including the likes of  the 'Soldier Record Cards' to keep details of all my troops under command. As an Infantry Company Commander, I now have have over 190 troops under command,  more responsibility, a much faster pace of life and the curse of Email. my organisation system has therefore evolved considerably.

Anyway, scene setting – onto what works for me. My system consists of 2 Filofaxes, an A5 and a Pocket. Currently, both are Kendals, although the A5 was a City until recently. It had to be retired after 8 years of hard service (including two tours of Afghanistan!) and it now reclines on the bookshelf in my office looking after all my spare inserts. The Pocket Size is my analogue PDA and has been with me for 5 years now, hence the colour difference in the photo below.

The A5 Filofax
This is primarily my work Filofax. During the working day, I will have this to hand in the office, or in my daysack when I am out and about. It provides me with room to scribble and therefore think. The best thing about A5 size, is the ease with which I can print, punch and file documents. Whilst this is also possible in personal size, every page requires trimming, which can be a pain. In the Filofax I have the following:
ñ  Blank Notepaper – My 'Inbox' and capture tool when at my desk. I use standard (non Filofax) quadrille paper which I punch to fit.
ñ  Actions, Projects, Waiting and Agenda tabs. These are based on GTD and are mostly extracted from the DIY Planner kits. It is also the most worked part of the Filofax and I can quite easily fill (but also cross off) 2 sides of 'Next Actions' for the office in one day. This is also where I keep track of tasks that I have delegated to my Platoon Commanders. Personally, I find pure GTD too detailed, meaning I spend more time scouring my lists of next actions than actually doing stuff. I have settled somewhere  between the minutiae and the big picture which seems to work for me. (I can expand on my system in a later conversation if anyone is really interested).

ñ  A Reference Tab (although I called it Info), which has further tabs behind, dividing up information along Military Staff Functional Areas. This is the information I need to hand most days, either in the office, or in meetings, but probably not in between.

ñ  Towards the back are the ubiquitous card holders, along with a zip wallet containing my passport and various other paperwork.
ñ  Finally, right at the back, in the pocket designed for the Filofax Notepad, I keep a Moleskine Cahier for taking notes that I need to keep. These will either be meeting notes, or the regular download from the notes section in either the A5 or the pocket. I find that I am less 'prissy' about cahiers than the posh notebooks, so am more likely to use it. I also find that when using squared notebooks, you can rotate it 90 degrees and have almost an A4 / letter sized page if you need yet more space to think.

The Pocket Filofax
This goes everywhere with me and is the core of my planning function. Although it is not truly 'Pocket' sized, my uniform has cargo pockets on the legs, which are designed for carrying notebooks and maps. Out of uniform, I tend to wear cargo shorts in the summer and a jacket in the winter. Carrying the Pocket Filofax is therefore not an issue. Because I always have it with me, I always have somewhere to jot notes, or information I need to hand. In it I have the following:
ñ  Blank notepaper, for jotting general information and capturing ideas.
ñ  Actions, Projects, Waiting and Agenda tabs, as per GTD. These are mainly for personal projects and tasks and although a duplicate of the system in the A5, the contents are different.

ñ  A Reference Tab which has information I need to refer to regularly (my Company Nominal Roll, Battalion Telephone List etc). These are shrunk and punched to fit.
ñ  A home made month on one page calendar (inspired by the templates on Philofaxy)

ñ  A Filofax standard week on 2 pages diary.
ñ  The standard card holders, containing stamps and post-it page flags.
ñ  A clear slip envelope for receipts with a number of Post-It style sticky notes.

With a few useful tips, tricks and hacks, the pocket Filofax is almost enough to run my life, albeit in miniature. During my most recent 7 months in Afghanistan I found that I very rarely used my A5. Because the IT system was classified SECRET, printing and punching documents was avoided. Therefore my pocket Kendal, a Moleskine Pocket Notebook and access to the IT system, were all I really needed and helped me reduce the 'combat' load when travelling. For those of you thinking about using a Pocket Filofax,or struggling with one now, the following may help you get round the size issue:

Don't try to carry too much:  Rather than carry a whole year's worth of diary, carry a few months of week to view, and the rest on month per page. You can still make a note of appointments far in the future, but carry a lot less bulk. If you use day per page, again, carry 2 weeks worth of DPP, a couple of months of 2DPP and the rest on month per page.
Carry an extra pen: Obtain a Filofax Flex slim pen holder insert. Trim the top and bottom, so the pen loop is central and punch to fit. Voila!

Handwriting:  I use a 0.1 mm black ink drawing pen to write, along with pencil for the diary. When taking notes, small handwriting is still neat and tasks can generally fit onto one line of a Pocket sized page.

Make things stand out:  Being slightly cramped, in pocket size, sometimes your writing can look a bit jumbled. Go over completed tasks with a blue highlighter. Your incomplete tasks will be far more obvious than trying to identify tasks without a line through them. Use Post-It style page flags to highlight important stuff. Write on the flag and put it wherever you need to. (I use them to highlight important dates or tasks).

Diary Size:  To prevent the diary from being too cluttered, using pencil means that you can erase and rewrite, which takes up less room than scribbling out and writing a second time. I also use Post it flags to alert me to impending important events that may get lost. When things get really busy however, I may print out a week's worth of 2DPP and insert it where required, giving me more space. This format is available free from Philofaxy, making it ideal to to mix and match at no extra cost.

Daily Overview:  To enable me to concentrate on the day itself, I cut a single page of Pocket Sized paper in half and annotate the day's appointments on one side with key tasks on the other. Again, if things are really busy, a full page is more than enough. Following a recent idea by Ray Blake of My Life All in One Place however, I am tempted to hack his handy tasks tab with times down one side and use it instead of the today marker.

Over the years, this system has served me well. During the last 18 months however, It has been tested to its limits. It is during this time that I have experimented the most in order to try and improve it and I think that this has helped me get the most out of the system. I think that everyone's Filofax needs are different, both from person to person and from month to month. It is OK to change up and down sizes, or use different inserts as your needs see fit. I often wish that Filofax would take a look at Apple and realise that the App Store brings in most of their money. Filofax inserts could be analogue Apps. In the meantime however, I am glad for the likes of Ray Blake of My Life All in One Place, Steve Morton of Philofaxy and the folks at DIY Planner to help fill a need and provide some inspiration. Thank you for reading.

Marcus Myles