I was just sorting out my bag for tomorrow (organised much?!) and decided I would do a similar repeat of this post, and show you what day-to-day things my satchel carries. You will remember from a post way back at the beginning of the year that I was really worried about getting a bag that would fit my university essentials in. Unfortunately all over summer I have been secretly worrying that whilst my beloved satchel is pretty big, it wouldn’t quite be big enough. I’m pleased to report that I was worrying about nothing, and it is perfectly fine!
All of this stuff, everything I need to have with me on an average day, fits in (plus an umbrella if necessary)…
So, what do I have. Firstly, I’ll go over all of the berry/burgundy shades in there. I’m sure you can guess from the amount of products I own in that colour (in particular my satchel!) that I love it. I know it is one of the ‘in’ colors for this season, but I have loved it for years, it really suits me, and so I’m loving being able to buy everything. I’m definitely making the most of it being fashionable and stocking up for years to come!
Anyway, I have my beloved Vintage Pink Personal Malden Filofax, which carries my whole life around. Literally. It has everything in it, diary, calendar, important details, important contacts, spare cards, everything. I’d truly be lost without it. There is a big post on my new Filofax layout which I will post soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Then there’s my new J by Jasper Conran purse. I decided to replace my Monsoon purse (seen here) as it did not last well at all, and looked decidedly tatty. This one matches my bag almost perfectly, is a lot smaller, and the coin compartment is far roomier. I must say though that this doesn’t always make an appearance in my day-to-day bag…
…I generally try and just take my ID and bank cards out, and I do so in my card holder from Filofax, which matches my organiser perfectly. This is a huge space saver, but also completely necessary when travelling on trains as its so easy to throw in your pocket and retrieve tickets when you get to a barrier laden down with stuff.
Also in the same colour scheme is my new pencil case…I bought it cheaply from Wilkinson’s as it was thin and smaller than all the others I can find:
I say it is thin and small, but I can still cram an awful lot in!
Lunch stuff now! I was really concerned about being able to fit a lunch box into my bag, but this one fits perfectly alongside everything else, and is the perfect size to fit a ham cob (I am a Leicestershire girl at heart!), a packet of crisps, biscuit bar and some fruit. My general lunch at least!
Speaking of food stuff, I have to mention this little biscuits that my boyfriend bought me as part of my anniversary, aren’t they cute?!
Now onto the important bit – everything I need for some studying. You know from this post that I use a big four-ring binder from Elba to carry around my ‘in use’ notes for all my modules. I then always carry around my Actuarial Gold Tables around with me, as I need them for a lot of my modules. Finally, as a mathematical science student, you’ll never find me without a calculator!
And so that’s everything that I squeeze into my satchel – as you can see from the next photo it does take a bit of arranging, but it does fit really quite easily, and the bag isn’t toooo heavy with it all in!
Oh, and finally I have to tell you about my purchase of today that will be featuring in my bag tomorrow. My lovely housemate has had me wanting a snood since the weather turned colder, and today I finally found one in New Look in my perfect colour. Here it is!
And so that is everything that fits into my lovely satchel.
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.
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!
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:
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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:
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
If you liked this post, I suggest reading this and this.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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!
If you liked this blog post, feel free to check out this, and this.
This post has been in my drafts for a long, long time. I kept meaning to come back and add how things have lasted over time, but just didn’t have the motivation. So now, when I should be revising for my exams next week, I’m doing it. Perfect procrastination!
I’m going to concentrate here on the organisation of the learning part of being a student – how I take lecture notes, work independently, stay on track of things and all little bits like that. What I’m not going to take about is the format of my notes, and how I revise. I think that’s something that is very individual to the subject being studied, and I’m not sure many of you will want to read all about how I learn maths – maybe that’s a post for another day!
Organisation is something very important to me – many will call me obsessively organised, and yes, if something is out of place, it will stress me out. One of my key priorities is to have subjects/tasks/stuff differentiated and separated into sections.
The way I do this within my university work is through (lots of) folders and (even more) dividers. For my first year, I have gone with a colour scheme of pink and green – this goes for my whole room (and I was very happy to arrive at university and find I’d been allocated a green room, completely by fluke). So I have pink folders, and green folders. All of these I actually saved after condensing my notes down at the end of sixth form, but if any of you are interested they are all from WHSmiths. Cheap(ish) and readily available. They get based quite easily, but mine generally stay in my room so I’m not too worried about that.
Pink and green folders. Because of the way my course is split, I do Pure Maths modules, and Applied Maths modules (the interesting ones!). Because of this, I’ve split my folders up – pink for the applied, green for the pure. Some of my folders are not ringbinders, but lever arch, and these bigger ones hold bigger modules, ie the 30 credit ones.
I then use dividers to split modules into topics. Usually this is quite easy, in that at the start lecturers told us what topics were coming up. Its not so easy when they just present you with a stream of knowledge, and I’m expected to organise it myself. Potential lecturers/teachers, take note of that! Because I put a lot of things into plastic wallets, normal dividers don’t come out wide enough. You can buy extra-wide ones, but they are expensive. Instead I cut slots in plastic wallets, and put dividers in those. Works just as well.
So, that’s my main folders discussed.
I then have another ringbinder – a more expensive plastic one this time, again with my widened dividers in. I carry this around with me, with each division devoted to a module. I aim to keep at least one spare plastic wallet per module in there at all times, and some extra paper. This keeps my ‘current’ lecture notes organised, and allows me to slot new things in whenever.
I usually file the stuff in this folder away into the main folders either at the end of each topic, or when it is getting very full and heavy. I confess I usually leave it too late, so it tends to take much longer than it should!
I also keep in this folder two of an item that has become incredibly useful over this last year. It’s going to be difficult for me to explain these, without sounding like a total idiot, so have a look here. I find them invaluable for throwing in things I will need quickly (I don’t need to take the folder out of my bag to retrieve things from these), and for keeping things in when I inevitably run out of plastic pockets. I actually bought mine from the university’s stationary shop, and paid considerably more than on Amazon, I know I’ll be ordering from there next time!
I then carry around the usual pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers, calculator etc. I actually use a make-up bag as I couldn’t find a pencil case I liked in September, however I do now I have a smaller case from Wilkinsons for days my bag is really heavy. Such is my obsessiveness about being organised, I also have an exam pencil case – an extra large clear plastic one, in which a spare calculator lives, and some never used before pencils. Sad I know!
A quick notes about the pens I use. I have been using Pilot Frixion erasable pens since the start of university, and I really do love them. They erase reasonably well (not perfectly, particularly on low quality paper), are quick drying (a huge necessity for a leftie!) and last a while considering a write a lot! A box of 12 pens lasts me just over a 12 week term, at £17 a box. So they are pricey, but for me they are worth it.
For paper, I buy refill packs from Rymans – they’re cheaper (with student discount) than WHSmiths, a better quality paper and they always seem to have narrow-ruled in stock. I have to use narrow ruled!
That is my absolutely essentials, for carrying around a normal day at university. Now if only I could find a bag that would comfortably fit those (and lunch and a textbook) in I’d be happy!
For keeping track of timings of lectures, deadlines, exams, and all other activities, I use a combination of things that work for me. Everyone is different, so don’t assume this works for you!
I obviously make use of my smartphone, a Samsung. In my case, my university timetable has synced to my calendar, with all information about lectures. I keep an alarm on set for an hour before the beginning of each to give me enough warning. I also put exams and deadlines on here. I try to keep my work schedule on here too, particularly as I work flexible and so difficult-to-remember hours.
I then have an A3 wall planner. I bought mine from Rymans, as it was the only A3 one I could fine – other sizes were just too big! I record on here term dates, exams and deadlines, visits to/from my boyfriend, and important financial dates such as payday and rent day. I cross of days with a big black marker – this helps me easily see when I need to do what, and how long it is before I get hugs!
The most important part of my organisation is, however, something any older readers may recognise from the eighties. Yes, I have a beloved Filofax. This was not bought on a student budget (although some models are more easily affordable) and was in fact a treat for my A-level results. I chose a Vintage Pink Personal Malden, which retailed at around £75. I paid £41 for it on Amazon, and got a bargain, especially as second hand versions of this model are currently selling still for it’s retail price. My Filofax contains everything about my life – important medical information, diary (which EVERYTHING goes into, including minor to-do’s such as exercises from lectures), shopping lists, timetables, careers notes, finance recording, cards (credit, store, etc) that I don’t use too often, spare money (I advise to always keep a spare £10 somewhere!), university passwords, shopping vouchers, year planner. Literally everything. It’s currently stuffed to the brim and in need of a sort out. I’m definitely glad I paid a little bit extra for a leather filofax, it lies flat (a problem I have heard about affecting some of the cheaper brands), is lovely and soft, smells wonderful, and will last a long, long time! I am also still in love with the colour. It’s a lovely, romantic, dusky pink – girly, but professional too. Definitely something that will last in terms of style.
(I’ve recently noticed that Filofax have been producing a new range, called the original, which is produced by the Leather Satchel Company, who I talked about in a previous post. I could get a bag matching a (new) Filofax! Ah, if money were no object…)
At some point in the near future I plan to publish (another half-written) article fully reviewing my Filofax, or at least a more in depth discussion of how I use it. Until then, look at Philofaxy for inspiration about how others use them!
I believe that I have discussed the main points about my organisation, for now at least. I aim to blog more (i.e. procrastinate more) over the next few months, particularly as those a year younger than me will be preparing to head to university and I want to help them as much as possible. Bye for now!