Student Summer: A Filofax for University

My first Filofax is one of my most treasured possessions, and I’m rarely without it. It was a gift from my parents for my A-level results, and I was so, so, so sure it was the one I wanted. Sure it was expensive at the time (around £50) but it’s definitely been worth it. Its not fallen apart like past diaries, and I actually want to use it. Plus I’ve had offers/emails to buy at at ridiculously high prices (I’m not selling) as it turns out it’s actually quite a rare organiser. Anyway, I thought I’d do an update on the system I’ve got set up for now – it’s working really well for keeping me organised whilst on my placement, and also worked well during my second year. Here we go…

 photo 2014-09-24175026_zps64eef189.jpgI’ve finally found a pen that fits in the pen loop of my Malden! I was sent this Pink Gold Parker pen a few months ago from Pen Heaven (see here) and I keep it in my filofax all of the time. Means I will always have a pen with me, though I do wish it was black ink.

 photo 4bce8a46-d4a7-4f15-91af-c4b1efccba35_zpsefa76f54.jpgOnto the inserts, and I’ve finally found my perfect combination for keeping myself organised. I was going to take photos of the system in action, but I’ve gotten rid of last year’s inserts, and my placement involves some confidential details. So blank pages it is! I use the standard mid-year diary from Filofax – a week to view. Sandwiched between this is an undated ‘day’ planner for each week. This gives me enough space to add daily appointments/meetings/lectures, important things, deadlines, to-do’s and notes. For university, I’d generally put my lectures into the standard diary, and all other important things into the planner.

 photo 13bb4b5a-0572-4b23-93d0-fc022f362a89_zpsdefa7e5f.jpgTo keep track of deadlines, payment dates and boyfriend visits I like using a fold out year planner, though monthly planners are also useful. My pretty dividers are from an Ebay seller – I can’t remember the name off the top of my head, but I do have her business card at home so will add it in soon. I also have inserts tracking finances and address of networking contacts, but obviously it’s not appropriate to post pictures of those on my blog!

I’ve found going simple with my Filofax is the key – I was using an undated planner for each day, but found that required a lot of work keeping it completely up to date. This way is much simpler, and it’s easier to keep track of the whole week too. I may get mocked by my friends for having a Filofax, my bag may be slightly heavier, but I find a paper diary so much easier to handle than typing into my phone. Plus technology always breaks on me – hence why my blog has been offline with a down server for the last few days (sorry guys!). Paper is the way I’m going from now on!

 photo 2014-09-24175015_zps1b3bd22c.jpgOh, a little note about Student Summer…with the sad end of summer, and the great reaction to the series, I’ll be continuing with University themed posts every weekend. Unsure yet whether it will be Student Saturdays or just University, but either way they will be sticking with the blog past summer now! So…

How do you stay organiser?

Blogger Link Up: Coping With University Timetables

I know when I first started university I really struggled with keeping up with my timetable each week – it changed! I generally had very few changes, but even those threw me and until I got myself organised I quite often found myself rubbing shoulders in a History lecture (for those that don’t know, I study Maths…). I wish I’d had this post by Loretta from The University Project to help organise me! I hope its helpful for you:

 photo photo29_zps48e7fbaa.jpgAt sixth form my timetable varied on a fortnightly basis as in I had a Week A and a Week B but when I got to University I thought that I would end up with a nice weekly timetable as some of my friends had. Boy was I wrong my timetable is different from one week to the next and some weeks I can have just 4 hours of lectures whereas the next I can have up to 30 hours. This made developing a routine very difficult and it was something that I really struggled with during my first year at University but I feel like I got the hang of it much better in my second year.

I don’t know if it is the same for all Universities but I generally have about 2-4 weeks to complete most of my assignments and generally I know when all of my midterm exams are at the start of the semester. I often find myself tempted to put off doing work until the next week but my timetable means that sometimes this is the best option if say the following week I have a low hour week and will have a good day or so to focus solidly on my work. However if the week of the deadline is a high hour week then putting off my assignments to this week generally leads to high stress levels and me not completing my work to the best of my ability.

So here are my tips that I have come up with for combatting the demands of a varying timetable:

  1. Have a diary. I am an avid believer in having some form of organiser to keep me on track and I am very rarely seen without my Filofax but you don’t necessarily have to have a paper based diary and I have a lot of friends at University who swear by Google Calendar as you can still colour code events as well as having the option to get reminders sent directly to your inbox or smartphone so you never accidentally miss a deadline.
  2. Get into a routine. This is perhaps the most painful thing to develop and it took me a good month to get into my routine but even on days when I don’t have 9am lectures, or any lectures at all I still set my alarm for 7.30am and try to get up and ready as though I did have an early lecture to go to so that I start working early on in the day.
  3. Make the most of your Library. This might just be me and my lack of self-control but I find that I am much more likely to focus and do my work if I make the effort to go to the library rather than staying in my room all day where the draw of my bed and Netflix is often too tempting! On my low hour weeks I often have at least one day which is completely free and I try to spend this in the Library so I can either get a head start on next week if it is heavy hour week or play catch up if I have had a few heavy hour weeks in a row!

Like I said it took me most of first year to get into a good routine and even now I still have days where I am completely unproductive and end up making more work for myself in the long run but I am relieved that I have at least figured out what I need to do to stay on track before I have started third year which is worth a whopping 2/3 of my degree!

Thanks Loretta for this great post! I know I’ll be putting some of the tips to great use! Remember to check out her blog here.

Do you have a varying timetable? How do you manage it?

 

Blogger Link-Up: Stationery for University

First of all I’d like to thank Chloe for allowing me to write a blog post for her amazing (& yummy blog – seriously the images always make me drool)..

My name is Sarah and I’m a 19 year old university student due to finish university in 2016! I blog over at EverydayConcepts about organisation, beauty, fashion and entertainment as well doing some giveaways so keep tuned!

Since I am really obsessed in love with anything related to organisation and stationery, I thought what could make a better post than where my passions lie?!

Before starting university, I went onto a massive stationery haul and purchased many things I didn’t even need. This caused me to waste a lot of money and just stare at the beautiful writing instruments and gorgeous notebooks I wouldn’t be needing. By the time second year started I sold nearly all of my items on ebay at discounted prices which was bad in terms of me losing money but good in terms of me allowing others to feed their passion and helping them get organised for cheaper!

However, I learnt my lesson. In year two, I stuck with a strict budget and only purchased items I needed:

 photo DiaryOrganiser_zps5969491d.jpg1) Diary/Organiser – This is a definite item all students should purchased. I’ve had a bit of a hassle finding out how to organise myself jumping from well known organisers to self-made diaries. Then, I popped into my local supermarket and found the diary of my dreams for only 70p!!! Advice: Always visit supermarkets first before hitting large stationery outlets.

 photo NotebookArchlever_zpsaf81c7ff.jpg2) Notebooks – I prefer good quality Oxford notebooks. I purchased two A4 ones to see if they lasted me a whole year and luckily they did! I LOVE the paper quality and how smoothly the pen writes on them!

 photo Writing_zpsf2cc1250.jpg3) Pens – Obviously a MUST (unless you use your IPad which I have seen many students use but I’d hate all my work to get lost in a dramatic technology fail!) I use Papermate inkjoys for note-making in my own time and frixion pens for rushy lectures and seminars because then at least I can rub wrong things out! I’ve not really used highlighters because I get carried away and highlight everything , so instead I use sticky notes which brings me onto my next point.

 photo StickyNotes_zps7b2415d1.jpg4) Sticky notes – These have saved me a lot of times. I am forever indebted to you sticky notes! During revision time, I use larger ones which I stick around my room. They are always popping out from my diary reminding me of deadlines and meetings. Finally, they always allow me to further cut down my notes into concise versions which are easier to remember – they are the reason for my success.

5) Arch Levers  – I have two arch levers – one with a copy of all my assignments and grades and another with all my notes. The one with my assignments and grades usually stays put until I print out everything however the one with notes sleeps under my bed! I update the notes throughout the year and collaborate notes from other modules together and develop them with further research. This helps greatly when it comes to revision.

On a final note, don’t splurge on stationery and stick to what you really need, unless of course you use your IPad (or other technology). It’s best to always see what sort of modules your degree entails – if it’s more chemistry/maths based, go overboard with the notebooks and pens! If it’s more hands on, only buy the essentials. As for me, I’m on intercalation for the following academic year, so it will be great to see what I discover however I won’t be able to indulge in stationery much! Also, for the 1st anniversary of my blog (29th July) I will be doing a HUGE stationery giveaway and fundraising for a charity so stay tuned!

Sarah 🙂

Massive thanks to Sarah for writing this post – I know I find organisation really important for university! I’ll definitely be entering her giveaway, and although I don’t want you to ruin my chances keep an eye on her blog here.

What’s your must-have bits of stationery?

The Leather Satchel Co – New Website & Discount

As you all know (from this post, this post, and possibly this one too!) I’m a huge fan of the Leather Satchel Co. I love my satchel (it’s a bespoke custom design), it gets lots of comments from people (including impressing on a recent interview), and it fits everything I need into it. It’s the perfect bag for me!

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The company my satchel came from are pretty much the original satchel makers (they’ve been about a LOT longer than the Cambridge Satchel Company), and they were absolutely delightful to deal with. They listened to everything I had to say, did virtually everything I wanted, and delivery was exceptionally quick (though they did email to warn me of what they felt was a delay). However, some things did go amiss. There was confusion about a small part of my order, and a mix-up of delivery addresses. I felt these problems stemmed from the fact that they didn’t really have a proper website, more an online display, and customers needed to email to order. It was a long-winded way of doing things, and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t the hugest fan of their system, nor their website design. But all that has changed!

They have this month launched a new website, and whilst it’s still the it’s tweaking stage I personally believe it’s a huge improvement! There’s a wider selection of photographs open, and you can buy a variety of standard satchels easily straight off the site – but you can still order your customised satchels too!

2013-06-17 15.17.58There’s also a much-improved care guide (though I’m curious as to the product photographed – I’m trying to find out more about that!), an excellent size guide, and the colour guide seems a lot more accurate now. I think my favourite part is the fact you can order standard satchels directly from the site now – I have my eye on these (a blue one, and a lovely brown one).

To top it all of for you, I have a unique discount code that is still valid, which entitles you to an amount off of your order. I don’t get paid any money for providing you with this discount, and all the opinions of the company are entirely my own but the code is unique to my blog/name so please don’t share it out anywhere else!

EDIT: due to my code being shared externally to this site it was removed by the company – understandably as it was being used excessively. I’m hoping to do more collaborations with The Leather Satchel Company in the future, so watch this space!

I genuinely do recommend this company – my bag is amazing and I’m sure others made by them will be too. For all of my readers wondering about longevity of the bag, a post will be up soon. But for now, go ahead, use my code and treat yourself!

What’s your favourite satchel? 

Also – Don’t forget to vote for me in the National UK Blog Awards 2014, in the following three categories; FoodLifestyle; and Young Persons (18-25) 

Review: Stationery Haul from Elba & Oxford Campus Notebooks

Over my summer break I was contacted by two lovely ladies who offered me a range of stationery items from Elba and Oxford. I obviously squealed with excitement, and waited patiently for the postman to arrive…which he duly did with a very large box. Here’s what was inside…

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As you can see, I have a lovely big haul there! I’m a stationery lover, but what really appeals to me about these brands is the functionality of their goods. Much as I do enjoy looking at it, I’m not one for really pretty stationary. For one I’d be too scared to use it, and quite often it is out of budget. If that is your thing though, I recommend you try out Wilkinson’s, as they always seem to have a great range.

Here’s what the lovely ladies sent me:

 

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A Campus Notebook from Oxford. As a lot of stationery-lovers will know, this is a brand well known for its thick and good quality paper. I personally have never used it – I HAVE to use narrow ruled and so I will be gifting this to my lovely housemate and blogger Libby (check out her blog here, and the amazing amount of make-up I get to borrow!). I also have an issue with spiral bound notebooks being left handed – it’s refill pads all the way for me!

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There was a couple of these in the box (one in a lovely sunny yellow, the other a vibrant red). They are nice and sturdy document holders, secure but still extremely lightweight.

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As all sides of anything inside is protected, these are slightly better than the cheap ones you can buy on the highstreet, and so I would definitely recommend these.

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Next up is one of my favourite products, or at least the one I needed immediately. This is again a pretty generic product, but with an Elba twist. Here is is the usual plastic folder with plastic pocket inserts, but the addition of an elastic closure just keeps it looking neat and professional. This will be used to hold my CV, exam certificates, and all other things I may need for an interview.

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Very similar to a previous product, this blue folder actually takes the form of a box, closed by elastic. I would definitely not recommend this for carrying around stationery, but for storing things in the home I find it useful – it currently housing my spare plastic wallets perfectly!

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Then there was a couple of again pretty generic items with a twist. First up is the black ringbinder (above, the blue one on top is from WHSmiths). As you can see, it is a good deal wider than regular ring-binders, and so it easily accommodates the extra wide dividers I love so much. A word of warning; if you wish to use dividers with plastic pockets you will need extra wide ones, or to make your own as I did last year. Comment if you want a tutorial in this!

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Next up is a lever-arch folder. Again pretty generic (not extra-wide this time!) but with a twist; the side is curved, making it easier to grab off your shelves. An interesting innovation, perhaps not something I would pay extra for (unlike the extra width), but it does seem to make things easier. Again, I will be donating this to one of my housemates for their use, as it upsets my folder colour scheme…more about that in another post!

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Next up is a prettier folder; this has become my everyday to-uni folder. I’m a little disappointed it isn’t extra wide, but it is still a little wider than regular binders. This is nice and strong, very sturdy rings (beats WHSmiths by a mile!), and the two sets of rings close independently of each other, which does take some getting used to.

 

Now, a little word about the promotions these companies are currently running (exciting stuff hey);

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First up there is the free cinema ticket, with two qualifying purchases. All you do is peel back the sticker to reveal the code, plug into a website and off you go (after a bit of waiting obviously). As the cost of two products will be less than a cinema ticket, it really will save you money!

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Finally there is the Oxford Big Project. Unfortunately entries have now closed, but you can still view and then vote (from the 15.10.13) here.

 

And that is my little review of my lovely stationery haul. Thank you so much to Elba and Oxford for sending me your items – I highly recommend these companies as the products really are of a fantastic quality, and with little twists are actually a lot more functional than items which are readily available. Check them out on Amazon!

 

If you liked this post, check out my post previously on student organisation. Any stationery loving readers out there? What brands do you recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: A5 Original Filofax in Patent Black

I have a few points to make before I begin the proper review of this lovely Filofax. Firstly, thank you to Steve of Philofaxy for featuring my blog on various posts, and for putting Jess from The Ideas Network in contact with me. Then, thanks to Jess for sending me this Filofax, and for putting up with the long wait before this review has been published. It arrived in the middle of my exams, and obviously getting a 1st (which I’m over the moon about!) took a lot of work and needed no Filofax-shaped distractions. Thirdly, thank you to whoever nominated me for “Best New Filofax Blogger” in the Philofaxy 2013 Blog Awards. They feature some excellent blogs, so the nominees are well worth a glance at, and please vote in the sidebar for who you feel is the worthy winner!

 

A quick warning – my pictures aren’t currently very great at the moment – I only have my phone as a camera (as much as I’d love a digital camera, I really don’t know how to use one, and I really don’t see how much better they could be). Normally my phone takes pretty amazing shots, with some spectacular ones taken in the Switzerland Mountains last summer, but for some reason it seems to fail in focussing occasionally. A lot of these photos were taken on one of these occasions.

 

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So, here’s the lovely note, and almost lovely packing sent to me by Jess. The packaging is almost lovely because I unwrapped it in excitement, then tried to rewrap it!

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And here’s the Filofax in its actual packaging – what you would receive if you bought and ordered it. I’m not convinced it’s an improvement on the old box-type packaging. I can see the point if they are in a shop – sort of. As long as one was out for the prospective purchaser to feel (and, erm…sniff…?) the rest being in the packaging could be beneficial as it would prevent accidental damage, and fingerprints. But then, I know from experience and reading many blogs that Filofaxes leather can vary hugely between each actual Filofax – many have commented their Maldens feel differently, and I have to say the leather on my card holder (see here) and personal vintage pink (see this post) are quite different in texture. My biggest bugbear with this packaging is that it would not be protective AT ALL if items are sent in the post. And the last thing you want to receive is a damaged Filofax!

 

First of all, I’m going to discuss the basics of this Filofax. It’s actually made by some of my favourite people at The Leather Satchel Co (if you remember this post, you’ll note how I wished for a matching/coordinating Filofax and bag – that wish came true!) and so is truly made in the UK. I’m not sure if the ring mechanism is also made in the UK, but the leather does show the true quality that appears in many of the vintage Filofaxes (I keep losing out whilst bidding on Ebay – I’ve love a vintage Mulberry organiser, or a Filofax of course!). It’s a single piece of leather, with no cardboard in between layers as I’m led to believe is in the Malden. The leather is nice and thick, but with a huge bonus – it lay flat straight out of the box! My Malden also did this, but quite a few Filofaxes need training, or never lie flat at all, so it’s worth a look at this product is that is something important to you. Everything feels very strong, and sturdy – I do get a feeling that it is a Filofax that is built to last. Here is is:

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Compared to my Malden, it is quite simplistic in terms of the insides, no fancy zips or pockets. I’m not entirely sure whether this is a good or bad thing. It definitely wouldn’t work if you’re like me and want to store your whole life in there, and use it as a purse. However, I think this is going to be my placement Filofax, in which case it doesn’t need all that storage. Also, the big elastic strap is the perfect size for holding my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S2) although seeing as I use this as a camera I have no photographic evidence. I have no idea what the slots could be used for!

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One thing I do like is the back pocket/features. There’s a wide pocket, which could be used as a notebook storage, or possibly for some papers/post-it notes. But my favourite feature is the jotter pad. I think this is an excellent feature, and perfect for a leftie like me as it’s easy to write on. One thing I do think is that a right-handed person may struggle as the folder’s strap does tend to get in the way from that side. Comments welcome on that matter!

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Now to the insides and inserts. Here comes the big issue – rings. The fifth ring down, the exact same one as my Malden, has a gap. It’s not quite big enough to snag pages, but it is noticeable. And to me, I really don’t think Filofax should be selling expensive products with continually appearing faults like this. I know many over on the Philofaxy community agree with this viewpoint, and it’s something Filofax should really work on in the future. I’d attempt to swap both my Filofax to get ones with better rings, but (1) I don’t want to risk not being able to get another Vintage Pink Malden, and (2) this Filofax was a gift, so obviously asking for a better one is hugely cheeky and just not something I would do!

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Inserts. This Filofax came with a good variety of inserts, of which I have a lot of photos. I won’t post all of them, but if anyone requires to see them they will be in a folder on my Facebook page.  Another complaint however is the dividers. I’m not sure what on earth Filofax were thinking here – they look cheap and tacky! I love the Cotton Cream ones in my Malden, and I’d expect these as a minimum standard in any other leather Filofax. These look and feel far inferior, and I will be covering them at first opportunity, or buying some more! Inserts included a To Do List (I love Filofax’s layout of this sheet), a Contacts list (new, and in my opinion improved, from the one that came in my Malden), various bits of paper in various colours (narrow-ruled lined, square and plain) and then there are the diaries. Sorry Filofax, but here comes another complaint! If you are going to send me a 2014 diary, and one with the remainder of the 2013 months, at least make it so you’ve sent me the same layout! Rant over, as I utterly adore the layout of the 2014 diary, picture below. It just seems perfect for a business diary, and something I will probably make full use of next year. You know, when it actually starts.

 

Finally, I’m going back to the outside of the Filofax. The patent finish is very shiny, which I think is clearly shown on the next photograph, where the Filofax is alongside my Malden, and my Leather Satchel. I like how it looks, but for me is just isn’t particularly practical in that I’m becoming obsessive about removing fingerprints!

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The next photo shows the thickness of the leather, compared to my Malden. Remember that the Original is a single piece of leather, unlike the Malden.

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The photo above gives an indication of the size different between a personal Malden and the A5 Original. The next photo also does the same. To me, I like the size of the A5. I couldn’t use it as an everyday planner (or I’d need an even bigger satchel!) but I like the idea of using it as a desk planner and meeting note-taking.

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All-in-all, I really like the style of this Filofax as a folder. I think Filofax need to rethink the inserts they send out (consistency would be nice!) and the provider of their ring mechanisms. But they do need to do more good quality, simply leather Filofaxes, and I love that this is made in the UK. I like the patent leather, my OCD doesn’t. I also love all the other colours available (if I hadn’t had a satchel to match, I’d have gone with either the yellow or the green – the more fashionistas amongst you might be tempted by the fluro range too!) and I think it would be a perfect organiser to give as a graduation gift or similar, as it would be ideal for a working environment. It won’t oust my Malden as the holder of my life, but at the moment I can see it working as a careers Filofax, in helping me find a placement for my industrial year and keeping track of all the work I do whilst I’m there.

So that’s my review of Filofax’s new folder, made in the UK, and lying flat! If you have any questions about this organiser, please don’t hesitate to contact me either on here, through Twitter, or on my Facebook page.

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Once again, thank you to Jess for sending me this Filofax for review, and to Philofaxy for giving me the opportunity to get into contact with Jess. Oh, and remember to vote for my blog your favourite blog in their awards – voting takes place in the left-hand side bar!

What’s In My Handbag (or What Fits In My Massive Satchel)

This post is a little different from my usual posts. When I saw Money Supermarket were running a competition, I decided I would kill two birds with one stone – enter it, and show you all what I can fit in my satchel – something valuable as you’ll be able to see that it is indeed big enough and deep enough for an everyday school/college/university bag!

I’m still drafting the second instalment of reviews of my satchel from The Leather Satchel Co, but I feel it is getting possibly a little mean of me to not show any pictures anymore. So I thought I’d do a “what’s in my handbag” post. This is not a typical handbag contents for me (although I will briefly describe that at the end) but rather one for a mini-break. The mini-break described here in fact.

So, here’s the outside of my bag. So pretty. Ignore any heads which reflect in the patent leather, I’m having a relaxed greasy-hair-no-makeup day after waking up with a migraine.

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Also ignore my dog poking his head up above the bag. I was going to crop him out, but he’s just too cute! Here he is again…

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And so to the insides!

In the front pocket is my Filofax. I probably didn’t need this over the weekend (if I’m honest it needs pruning, and it is really heavy, and as a result my bag was far heavier than it needed to be – and walking around London for hours with a heavy bag is not overly fun!). Maybe if I got the London tube and street map inserts, which I really want but can’t justify, I’d be able to forgive the extra weight more! But anyway, the front pocket of this satchel is the perfect size for a stuffed personal Filofax. Which is excellent as my Filofax really is my must-have in any bag (see here), it contains everything (contact details, important dates, deadlines, etc) and I’d truly be lost without it. The satchel clearly isn’t too full with the amount of stuff in it either, plenty of room for more!

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Then there is the rest of the inside. The important/interesting content is pictured here:

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There are two cute paper bags, from shopping done over the break. The yellow one is from the bakery (you know, the one where I sent boy to fetch croissants, and pain au chocolat, and the one that bakes awesome bread). The brown one is from Wahaca; we had a fabulous meal there, and had to buy ingredients from the shop to make up the value of a voucher. The bakery bag obviously wasn’t needed after lunch, and the Wahaca bag didn’t seem strong enough to hold the ingredients, so these were transferred to another bag.

Then we have specific items relating to the mini-break. Train and theatre tickets in the envelopes. The theatre programme. An A-Z of London (not photographed here as I had to give it back to my boyfriends parents on returning). A whole packet of plasters (if just out for the day I usually rely on the 2 or 3 kept in my Filofax).

And then the everyday items.

  • Purse. This is a lovely dusky pink one from Accessorize. I actually made a mistake and ordered the incorrect one, as they did have one the exact same shade as my Filofax (yes, I do like thinks matching!) but these coordinate well, and it closes securely. I know I said previously that my Filofax is generally my purse – but when I have a lot of coins (as in London – I love Camden Market where a large amount of people/places don’t take card payments) I like to use a purse as well.
  • Kindle. I love my Kindle! I read a lot (come to think of it, I read and write a lot more than a mathematical science student really should, surely I should spent my time playing with my calculator…) and since I started university I missed having a big bookcase of reading material to hand. A Christmas present of a Kindle was the perfect answer to this, and I know I couldn’t be without it now. It’s also lovely to know I have a lot of extra weight available when I go on holiday – I usually take 12-14 books on a fortnight’s holiday, and last year we became the group unpacking at the check-in desks of Zurich airport… My Kindle is currently housed in a lovely Radley case, which I fell in love with the moment I saw it. It is lovely and secure, a nice neutral colour, but still different, and of excellent quality.
  • Umbrella. I’m a sucker for a nicely designed umbrella, and this vintage-style one from Primark is my current favourite. For the price, it has held up remarkably well, and is currently one of the only ones I have ever owned to last an entire winter (the other we found in a bar in Turkey, used it during a horrendous downpour, and which has lasted a ridiculous four years and is still going strong).
  • Sunglasses. I’m ashamed to say I rarely wear sunglasses, as I feel they don’t suit my face. However I found these in this month’s issue of Cosmopolitan (they are a match to my boyfriend’s everyday glasses). For some reason, taking these didn’t jinx our chance of sun over the last few days!
  • Keys. Note the cute picture of me and my boyfriend. He made me this keyring for a Valentine’s present, and there’s a disgustingly romantic note on the other side. I love carrying it though, cheers me up if I need it! He’s a budding design-y person, so if you’re interested in having someone design something similar, or indeed anything at all, contact me via the Facebook page and I’ll see if he can help.
  • Card Holder. I generally keep this within my Filofax. It’s actually made by Filofax, and completely matches my Malden. I treated myself to it after receiving an instalment/ of my scholarship at university (for academic excellence no less), as I found it difficult to negotiate ticket barriers and a Filofax whilst travelling through London during Friday rush-hour. The joys of a long distance relationship. I definitely recommend something like this if you travel regularly, or alternatively as a nice looking holder for business cards.

And that’s what generally goes in my bag, especially for a mini-break.

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This bag is realllyyyy my university/student/I’m-really-organised bag. It will also, I hope, last long enough to be my bag I use for work when I eventually graduate, although it should at least get me to my industrial placement which will begin next summer. Because of this, it’s usual contents will be rather different to what I’ve described above. The following photos are a little bit improvised, as most of my university stuff is packed away in boxes in the garage.

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You can see from the above photo that my bag will be a lot fuller than with the contents discussed above! The next photo shows just how full it is – it’s NOT crammed, and I could still fit more it, and the straps definitely aren’t straining. But its comfortably full and, as its such a heavy bag, I’d struggle to carry it if it was filled anymore!

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There will always be my Filofax in the front pocket, or at least somewhere in my bag. There will be an A4 folder (this bag also fits an arch lever, amazingly, although not much else would go in with it!) and spare A4 paper (Ryman’s narrow ruled refill, specifically!). There would be my pencil case, and at least one calculator. Most likely a mini-makeup bag for those essential touch ups – Benefit is my go-to brand for this, as I love their pencils. Next year, there will be a lunch box and water bottle, which fit in quite nicely. A lovely classy umbrella. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is where my keys will go. There’s no pocket (other than the front one) in the bag, and I know perfectly well my keys will just fall to the bottom. I’m currently thinking of some kind of zip back which would clip onto the rings where the strap goes, but I’ve not found quite the right thing just yet. If anyone sees anything, please let me know!

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So that’s a little preview of my bag, the type of things that fit into it, and what will hopefully be generally in it next year. A bigger, better, “proper” review of my satchel, or at least part two of it, will be coming soon! But here’s just another photo of it – I couldn’t resist!

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It’s now important for me to briefly analyse the cost of what’s generally in my handbag. Just thinking about my Filofax and Kindle, we’re on just shy of £150 (eek!). Then there’s whatever is inside (luckily I don’t tend to carry cash unless I know I’m somewhere I’ll need it), any tickets (if on a mini-break), ID, make-up (as my ‘touch-ups’ are generally Benefit items, this amounts to a lot), and various random goodies. A typical non-university say would easily see me carrying around probably £250 worth of stuff. Then my bag alone would ‘retail’ at approximately £185. This is assuming my phone isn’t in my bag, as it’s usually in my hand or pocket. To be honest, despite it being classed as a ‘good’ Smartphone, it doesn’t work and I don’t value it – to the point where I don’t bother to pay to insure it. But for arguments sake, if we included it, my bag contents would go upwards of £750. If I was in university, the cost would probably be closer to £150 – I don’t tend to take my Kindle, and again my phone would be in hand. Having considered that, it’s still a surprising amount that I carry around each day, and I think I’d definitely be more wary to pick-pocketers now (having been the victim of an attempted one before, I am a lot more confident with my satchel as it’s so secure). I will point out this though – it may be worth the least amount of anything in my bag, but if anyone tried to steal my lunch, I would be entirely unimpressed. So take the phone, leave the sandwiches!

Finding my “Impossible To Find Necessity” – Part One

After writing this post here, and continuing to do a lot more research and contacting companies to find out more, I decided that the first company I would try was The Leather Satchel Co.

This company really appealed to me because of the excellent customer service reviews, and the possibility of huge customisation – I really wanted a unique bag. Not to mention that this company also make the Original Filofax (I am now the proud owner of an A5 in patent black, which will be reviewed over the next few days). What’s not to love – you could have a matching bag and Filofax!

I sent off for some leather samples, which arrived about 18 hours after I emailed my choices. To me, this was excellent customer service, and the person I was first in email was extremely friendly. You can view their colour choice here, but nothing compares to viewing them, feeling them (I found some had a different texture) and putting swatches together to decide on colour combinations.

Here are the colour swatches I ordered:

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The image quality here is really poor – no matter what I did I couldn’t get them to photograph in their true light. I suggest that if you are interested in purchasing from this company, you ask for some swatches. I believe that this service is currently free, although I definitely wouldn’t begrudge paying postage costs.

I knew, before receiving the colour samples, that I’d want a two-colour design, rather than just the use of one colour all over. The question was which colours!

Before receiving the leather samples, I was pretty much set on having neutral brown colours. I wanted something classic, and wearable. Something that would go with everything. Although I was tempted by the green, particularly seeing this blog post here. All that changed when I saw one particular colour! I completely and utterly fell in love with the Patent Oxblood Red, satchels in which you can see on the company’s Facebook page, and on blog posts here, here and here. I decided to pair this with a non-patent leather, as I thought the buckles would be easier (having received my bag, I believe this to be true), and after tossing between the darkest brown (top left) and black (top right) I went for the black.

 

Then there was the question of the other customisations I would require. This company became my favourite due to the huge amount of choice they have available – you can buy a truly bespoke bag. If you look at this page of their website, you can see how flexible they are. AND if you speak to them direct, they can do even more. Looking on their Facebook page they have created some amazingly unique bags.

I went for this two-tone colour pattern, with the first colour being the Oxblood, and the second being the Black. I added a black handle, which from reading reviews seemed a necessity, and a black strap. Thinking practically (for once) I realised I’d need a shoulder pad, so decided on one in Oxblood (unfortunately, this detail was misread, and I ended up with one in black, rather than what I stated) as this would make carrying the bag for comfortable. Size-wise, I know I carry a LOT so went for a 15″ Tallboy satchel, with an extended gusset of an extra 33%. This makes for a very tall, wide and bulky bag, with plenty of space! I went for traditional buckles (nice and secure, plus they probably allow a little more space for tall items), and a standard length shoulder strap. On reflection, I probably should have asked for one shorter than standard, but with it on the shortest length it is just about right.

 

Having decided on my bag specifications, I was then stuck. I couldn’t afford the bag, and my birthday isn’t until December (just as a hint for all you readers…). I was content, however, to struggle through with my current bag and wait until I could persuade someone to treat me. But then Keith from the company got in touch and, amazingly, offered me a bag to review. A bag completely to my specifications, with the added bonus of embossing. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and I was also incredibly grateful. And a little nervous – I certainly hope my writing and photos shows off this bag to its best. So, I sent off my specifications, and waited. My bag is now here, and it’s virtually perfect. But that’s another blog post! I will be a doing a review of the delivery, packaging, and first impressions of my bag shortly, along with posts in a few months time as to how my bag is lasting. Because after-all, the main reason for reviewing it on this blog is to see how long it lasts with use at school, college or university. For now, I’m going to sit and stare and stroke and sniff my beautiful leather satchel. And if you want a sneak peak at it, look at my Facebook page!

 

I have become an affiliate with The Leather Satchel Co. Currently there is no referral code due to is being shared outside of this site, but I will update with more info in the first few months of 2015.

Please note, I haven’t done this for my own personal gain – I wanted to truly see whether it is worth spending the money on a bag, to see if it will last, and to work out the best specifications for a student. All opinions on the company will be 100% honest, and I will be happy to answer any specific questions from readers.

Making Halls into a Home

This post is again one I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. It follows on from here, where I talk about essentials for taking to university. I will continue to update that post, and probably do a less bulked up version, something easy to print out and take to the shops.  Here, I will show you pictures of my room in halls, how I organised it, what my essentials were, and what my tips are.

This blog post has been inspired by similar ones written by Apt Pupil (a blog I’d forgotten about until now!) and Rachel at Handbags and Cupcakes (which is quickly becoming a favourite). Thanks girls – your rooms look great by the way!

I got lucky with my university halls accommodation. I chose the cheapest available (and yep, it still exceeded my loan) for financial reasons, and was prepared to live in a box for nine months. I really wasn’t expecting it to be nice, big, comfortable or even very sturdy. But I was very, very wrong! Firstly, I ended up in a massive room, easily twice the size of my room at home, and much bigger than friends in the same halls. Secondly, the painting matched the colour scheme that I’d already decided on before university (so everything I’d bought matched…well apart from the hideous curtains and carpet!). Thirdly, it has recently been refurbished, and so the desk, shelves, drawers and bed were new, and completely functional. And my desk was hugeeee…it’s the thing I will miss most!

The next few photos were taken as I was unpacking, all the way back in September:

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As you can see, I had a LOT of stuff. To the extent that when we packed up the car, we had to make my mum and sister take the train. And daddy had to up-size his car when they came to pick me up last week. In my defence, he wanted a bigger car anyway…

I had pre-decided on a colour scheme of pink and green, mainly as those were the folders I had left from A-Level. I found two perfect duvet covers in Tesco (I really recommend them – cheap enough to throw away at the end of the year, but sturdy enough to last the fate of washing washed by the inexperienced!). I bought “velvet” cushions from H&M. These were about £5, but considering I had to buy the fillers they turned out quite expensive. I also bought extra pillowcases (plain ones) and pillows cheaply, as I love making a fort for myself to sleep in. My bed was also extra long (and those who know me will immediately say that that is completely unnecessary for me!) so I liked the cushions to make it look more like a normal size.

I bought everything to match, even the pop-up washing basket you can see in the photos, an extra waste-paper basket, and desk stationary (such as hole punch, stapler, tape dispenser, pen holder etc). One thing I really, really recommend is purchasing an additional lamp – the ones provided are often very, very bright, and I like a nice soft light to have on before bed, as it helps me to chill out. I bought mine from Tesco. I used my parents club-card vouchers, in a double-worth event, so ended up getting a lot of items very cheaply (i.e. I think we paid £1.50 for £50 worth of stuff). I bought one similar to this, but in green. I also recommend, particularly if you expect to have partners staying often (my boyfriend came around twice a term for a weekend), getting a double quilt for a single bed, or an extra blanket. I bought a fleece style throw, which I loved – it was definitely a necessity as my boy tends to steal the covers!

Now, onto the littler stuff, which made my room my home for the nine months I was there. Here’s a few pictures of my shelves, taken just before I started packing last week.

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As you can see from the first picture, I kept all of my cooking stuff in my room. My housemates weren’t the cleanest (that’s another blog post) and after a bought of food poisoning early on in the first term, everything stayed upstairs. With the amount of space I had, it wasn’t an issue, and next year I’m living with three other wonderful girls who I know I won’t have the same problem with.

After realising that I needed to store EVERYTHING in my room, I bought lots of jars, one of which you can see in the first photo filled with rice. These are lovely, pretty jars, and were extremely cheap at 99p each, from the local 99p Store. I was so proud of these bargains, and I know I’ll use this for years to come. The pink pot was a plant pot I painted myself, as I couldn’t find anything else big enough to hold my excessive (but totally necessary  – and I DID use them all) amount of cooking utensils. Almost all of my utensils came from Aldi, with  few silicone ones from a more expensive range stocked in department stores (all I can say is thank goodness for staff discount!). I also have a shop local in my home town which sells discounted branded home items, and this serves to occasionally fuel my addiction to Le Creuset kitchenwear. I love it! It lasts for such a long time, takes everything I throw at it, and is the perfect size – the only dish I currently have is wonderful for a single serving of pasta bake, or lasagne. I’d love more, but my student budget won’t allow it! *sad face*

Also in the top photo is my wonderful vintage-style alarm clock, also from Tesco. They’re currently selling similar versions like this one, but be warned; their ring is VERY loud. I have my knives, which I bought ridiculously cheaply in Switzerland last year. I can’t remember how much they cost, but it was so little I had to go and buy more chocolate to spend the rest of my currency before coming home. I also keep a little “ladies” Swiss army knife handy – it has a file, knife, and scissors, as well as tweezers and toothpick, and is wonderful for going into the handbag for dealing with clothes snagging and broken nails. You may wonder what the dog ornaments are – they are actually Cath Kidston Salt and Pepper pots which my parents bought for my birthday, as the brown one is the spitting image of my adored dog at home. That also explains the cushion on my chair in earlier posts – that also looks very much like him.

The second shelf was just above where I sat on my desk, so that mainly housed textbooks and stationary items. And a teapot, with a spout so dreadful it was impossible to use to make tea. I’m currently thinking of what it can store, as I don’t really want to throw it away! By the way, if anyone is studying maths at university, I highly reccomend the Schaum’s Outlines series of maths books – they are excellent. I have about 10 currently, and will be buying more. So helpful, with lots of worked examples! Also on this shelf are my two favourite perfumes – A Scent by Issey Miyake and the orginal Paul Smith woman. I desperately want See by Chloe this summer, but we’ll see if the budget allows it!

Also filling my room was storage in the way of lots of stackable boxes. Mine were actually from ASDA, but they are a pretty generic product that’s available just about everywhere. In these, I kept shoes, spare refills of pens and paper, toiletries, items of food I didn’t need at the time, belts, and just about anything I didn’t want cluttering up my room – they were also invaluable for packing up my room at the end of the year (and I hate the sound of cardboard boxes, it sets my teeth on edge) so I’d definitely suggest investing in some.

I bought over-door hooks, like these, which were another item that proved invaluable. I could hang my bulky coats on these, saving precious wardrobe space, and I also invested in some hanging cosmetic bags, which provided a cute way of storing everyday items – cleanser, toner etc. These were also great for hanging towels on after showering to let them dry – saved having to get my giant airer (which I hardly used) out and up.

One of my biggest points, however, is to make sure you have photographs. I’ll freely admit that most of mine are of my boyfriend and dog (although a talking point when university friends first came into my room was a prom photo – me in a fireman’s lift by eight guys) but they make me feel so much at home. One of my favourite sentimental objects was an I.O.U that my boyfriend gave me just after we started university, for our second anniversary of being together. I pinned it on the board in front of my desk, and it gave me an instant boost everytime I saw it:

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My top tips for making the most of your university halls are:

  • Try and co-ordinate everything
  • Don’t take too much (check it all fits in the car!)
  • Buy useful storage options, such as hooks and boxes
  • Be organised – have set places for everything. For instance I kept a space to the left of where I sat at my desk just for my Filofax. You have to be able to know where to find everything quickly.
  • Buy nick-nacks and homey things
  • Use photographs

If you liked this post, I suggest reading this and this.

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…

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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.