I Should Have Been A Student In The Eighties

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m obsessively and unhelpfully organised. I say unhelpfully; when plans change for reasons beyond my control, it kind-of upsets me, and definitely stresses me out! Tonight I’m going to blog all about one of the ways I stay organised – my Filofax.

Filofax’s were really popular way before I was born, in the Eighties. I love the Eighties, I wish I was my age (too close to 20 for my liking!) in that decade. Everything just seems so much simpler, the music was better (I’ve been addicted to Bon Jovi for many years now) and it wasn’t seen as odd to carry a Filofax. I get a few funny looks when I full out my Filofax, and I think that’s a shame. Just imagine how many less people would miss deadlines if they actually wrote them down! That said, I think they are beginning to become more popular. I’ve seen a few around and about, particularly on trains, and I even see a girl on Loughborough University campus jogging with one a few days back…

Back in the “good old days” a sign of popularity was whether your Filofax was stuffed full or not. Nowadays, people are being a lot more creative. If you look on any of Philofaxy’s ‘Web Finds’ post you’ll find many links to other blogs showing their Filofax set ups, complete with bright colours, stickers, washi tape etc. They’re not limited to diaries and business-card-holds – you can buy and make so many different types of inserts, and they’re completely versatile.  I currently use mine as a complete organiser, and here it is…


I have a Personal sized Vintage Pink Malden. I agonised for weeks about which Filofax I wanted (it was a gift from my parents in reward for my A-level results). I knew I wanted a Personal sized one (for those who are wondering about sizes, have a look here). Basically, these are roughly the same size as the academic diaries given out yearly by many schools, they aren’t too bulky, but nor are they too small (being a very awkward left-hander, I was conscious I’d struggle to write in anything smaller).

After going and touching them up in Paperchase, Rymans, and pretty much anywhere I could get my hands on them, much to the embarrassment of my other half, I finally decided that I definitely wanted a leather organiser. They’re just softer, and more luxurious. Because lets face it, if you’re a student being offered luxury, grab it with both hands and make the most of it! If you’re just starting out on the ‘getting organised’ route and are not sure you’d use a Filofax, I’d suggest getting a non-leather one, or even an alternative brand, as they are very pricey. After much more stroking and leather smelling, I fell in love with the softness, floppiness and luxury feel of the Maldens. It is such a strokeable (yes I sit and stroke my Filofax…) leather, and it smells so lovely too! I then had to decide about colour. I was deeply tempted by the Ochre colour, but in the end the girliness inside me won. Vintage Pink it was. The colour is ridiculously hard to photograph, I’ve seen nothing which has managed it, but I’m hoping the following photo shows it off reasonably well:

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I apologise for the quality of all of these photographs – my university accommodation attracts a lot of sunlight in the evening, and I also wanted to use as much natural light as possible as I often find colours distort under artificial light.

Inside my Malden there is a lot of pockets and card slots – perfect for someone who likes to stay as organised as me. I keep all of my bank, and loyalty cards inside, as well as ID and stamps. Anything I might need in fact! The zipped pocket holds spare change, and emergency £5, and a memory stick.

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Although you can’t really tell from my photos, the fifth ring down is misaligned. Not hugely, but enough to make my pages catch and be annoying. I’m not too sure what to do about it though!

Skipping to the back of my Filofax now. Built in there are two large pockets, and a pen loop at the back. The top (horizontal opening) pocket is one that is used a lot. It is the perfect size for my passport, and also houses a pen and usually a Filofax holepunch. It is very significant that the pocket houses the pen – the pen loop on my Malden is actually fully closed up – if you push a pen through it can’t go through as there is an ‘end’ to the loop. This is clearly a fault, but as you can’t get hold of these Filofaxes anymore, its a problem I again don’t know how to address! The pen I use is a black Pilot Frixion – one of those erasable ones. I use these all the time, apart from for coursework and exams. I love them, they don’t smudge from my (dodgy leftie) handwriting, don’t bleed through, and last a reasonably long time. Well about a week, but I do use them a lot. Next year I hope to use some of the coloured ones to make my Filofax a little bit more organised, but I couldn’t fit them in the budget for this year. The holepunch I have is a WHSmiths branded one. Its fiddly and difficult to use  –  I’m definitely in the market for a more sturdy one, preferably one that punches A5 filofaxes too. Any ideas?

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To up the storage in my Filofax, I make good use of the card holder inserts that came included, and I also bought two zip pocket inserts from Paperchase. I use the extra card holders for business cards, and cards I don’t use as often as the ones in the front. Inside the zip-pockets goes receipts, and vouchers. You can see a Golden Ticket in the following picture – this is the voucher I received from my other half for Christmas, and entitled us to an afternoon of Chocolate making at a shop in Loughborough (review to follow I think!). I also keep some painkillers in my Filofax, just for sudden migraines.

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So, now you’ve explored the actual physical features of my Filofax, it’s time to take you inside and show you how I use it.

I use it mainly as a diary/organiser. For this, at the moment, I am still using the original inserts that came with the Filofax – week to view. This doesn’t work particularly well for me. At the start of the academic year, I was really organised and colour-coded everything. As is very clear from the photos, I got bored of this, and instead it now contains a lot of scribbles, and a lot less writing. I’ll definitely aim to use it a little more next year – hopefully with some more suitable inserts. The best I’ve seen are on Philofaxy, but I don’t have a good enough printer so I’d be looking for someone to print and send them to me for a bit of payment – not sure who to approach about that, definitely something to look into over the summer! I ideally want  something a little like the undated planners, but with only half a page per day, and less note-taking space.

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As you can see, my Filofax definitely got more bare as the year went on, and I think the main reason for that is the setup just wasn’t right for me – definitely need to change my planner style!

Next is an insert which does get a lot of use – a horizontal year planner. I got mine from WHSmiths, as I prefer the layout and font. Plus its cheaper, particularly as there’s no shipping costs. I use this to record term dates, deadlines, exams, breaks, boyfriend visits, holidays, rent payments, pay-days, work commitments. I have to be intelligent in how I note things in, as the space is very small. I also use the back (note spaces separated by month) to jot down train times relating to that month.

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I then also have a ‘weekly’ section in my Filofax. This is homemade, using a Philofaxy template, and involves a physical copy of my university timetable. This year I used a bright pink paper, I’m going to tone it down a bit next year!

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I love this layout, as it shows when my free periods are, when I’m busy at the weekend, work commitments (which change weekly due to my wonderfully flexible job), visits to the boyfriend, lecture venues, and just about everything. I don’t include deadlines though. I’m not sure whether I will continue this for next year, though, as my lecture timings get more complicated (so there’s won’t be enough timeslots), and my university does have a very good system and so my timetable is synced seamlessly onto my phone calender. I will look for another type of weekly planner though. Or maybe a monthly one. I just feel something a bit more detailed than my yearly one would be a good idea.

A quick note about dividers. I still use the ones that came with the Filofax (the lovely cotton cream ones), although the A-Z ones are currently hiding in a drawer somewhere. I don’t use them in any particular way – their headings don’t match up to the contents, but I know where things are. I may cover them with a nice cream or plain-ish pattern over summer, and just use them unlabelled.

I then have a Finance section. At the beginning of the year, I used Filofax’s standard finance inserts, but it got very confusing. Plus to look at my sorry empty balance was getting a little depressing. So I gave up and just relied on my internet banking. I do however keep a note of what I’m spending any physical cash on, as I find otherwise I’d spend it here, there and everywhere.

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I keep a section full of To Do List inserts. These are from Paperchase, and I really, really, really dislike the border – I’ll definitely splash out on nicer ones for next year as they really annoy me, and the paper feels so cheap and scratchy. But they do the job I suppose. (the following shows a typical fortnightly shop for me).

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Finally, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite things about the Filofax brand. If you register your Filofax, and put it’s unique code on a sheet which comes with every Filofax, then if you lose it, and if someone finds it, they can contact Filofax with this code, it will be returned to you and they will receive a free gift. I recommend every Filofax owner registers theirs, as I know I’d be devastated if I lost mine!

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I’ve had my Filofax for around 9 months now, and its hardly worn at all. There’s the few issues (rings and pen loop) that I have pointed out, and it also arrived with a dent on the front. But you can rarely get hold of these now, so I’m prepared to put up with it. I really do love it – the perfect way to look smart, but a little pretty, unique and slightly vintage-y, and stay organised.

And so that’s my Filofax. And one of the reasons why I should have been a student in the eighties. That and my hair would have fitted in a little bit better than it does now!

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If you liked this blog post, feel free to check out this, and this.

  • kenounirenashin

    Regarding your misaligned ring… You can either take it back to where you got it from and try and get an exchange, or you can contact Filofax via their website. They might not be able to offer you another pink one though, so… I think there’s a way of wrestling with the rings with some pliers? I haven’t personally tried it so I’d ask on Philofaxy/the Philofaxy Facebook page (faster response time) about that one.

    • Hi – I’ve had it a year, so I doubt anywhere could do anything, and I definitely don’t want it replaced with an alternative. Will definitely ask about fixing it myself though! Thanks for commenting, hope you liked the post.

      • kenounirenashin

        I think some people have emailed Filofax after all sorts of time-frames. If you get an answer about fixing it yourself and you’re not sure, try emailing them anyway. The worst they can do is say no, right? And you can always ask if they’d be able to replace it like for like if they give you the option to do so.
        Good luck! 🙂

        • Thanks, I might give it a go. I definitely won’t be replacing unless it’s like for like, but I’ll give them an email.

  • love your blog! [I’m the one who asked for your url on TSR] 🙂

    ATA|All Things Anita… please give me some feedback on my blog! x

    • Thanks for reading/commenting. I’ll definitely have a look at your blog (I have a lot more time now – exams finished yesterday!).

  • Oh my gosh another Bon Jovi fan! I saw them on Sunday in Birmingham <3 have loved them for 20 years 😀

    • I am extremely jealous – I would LOVE to see them! Currently have all their tracks on a playlist going whilst I attempt to pack my whole life up ready to head home for the summer!

  • Gail

    I’m addicted to Filofax and been a massive Bon Jovi fan for 27 years, in fact, I go to see them live on Thursday. Very excited!

    • Maybe there’s a link between Filofax addition and music taste…? Hope you like my blog, thanks for commenting!

      • Gail

        I love it, looking forward to reading more x

  • Love this post, and you are not alone with wanting to live in the 80s. I was born in the wrong decade and would have loved to have been around in the 80s. (Although I think we may need to expand your music tastes..lol)

    I’ve never seen that weekly page before but it looks awesome! I am going in search to find it 🙂

    • The weekly page is so useful, glad I found it! I’ll need to make some changes to make it work for me next year, and I think it’s probably slightly more helpful for school/college students with a more 9-3.30 day, but it definitely helped this year. Thanks for commenting!

  • Oh My God. I lived in the eighties…. I was a student then and I have to say I think life is better now….. The music of the eighties that survives is classic now, and the dross (and there was some) is forgotten about, while the Filofaxes were not as ‘pocketed’ so not as useful, and a lot more basic! Added to that, they cost a bomb! And there was no internet, no smartphones, no MP3 and music streaming so listening to more than one band at a time was out. Nah, look back with nostalgia and be grateful to be a young person now!
    BTW, the pink is gorgeous. And so organised.

    • Oh, I know we have so much more now (not that the internet comes in handy for my degree – other than for procrastination) and I’m so thankful for it. My boyfriend is at university a couple of hundred miles away and I couldn’t survive without smartphones or internet in that way! I guess that there will always be an element of ‘grass is greener on the other side’ no matter which way you look!

  • I know what you mean about the 80s. 🙂

    Your planner is beautiful. I especially love how you set up your schedule for the week in the boxes.

    • Thanks! Hopefully it will still work for me next year, though will probably have to make some adjustments. Ta for commenting!

  • Gerard

    Nice post – thanks for all the details. I was a student in the eighties, and I did use a Filofax 😀 I think I may also have made that Timetable template. Good luck with your studies – being so organised, you’re bound to do well!

    • Afraid I can’t take any credit for making it, but I’ll probably have to alter it myself for next academic year. Thanks, it’s going well so far so fingers crossed!

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