Friday, November 23, 2012

Diaries storage

Hey guys,  I'm not the only one hoarding past pages!  Look at Angela's post today:

Lifestyle changes

i've hinted before to some health issues i have. i've seen a doctor this week for it, and he's asked me to do some changes in my lifestyle. nothing major, but still hard for me to implement. i know my Filofax could help me with that, but i don't really know how. would you guys please help?

so first, i need to change my diet. i have to reduce my consumption of dairy and carbs (all kind), not totally cut them out though, but have one portion a day TOPS. and i have to up my protein consumption.
then i have new rules: i have daily exercises to do, i need to work out regularly, and work on relaxation.

how could i use my Filofax for it?
i thought about different ways to keep track of these changes:

-writing a checklist at the bottom of every day's block, and check when i have had my protein, when i did my exercises, etc.

-write in red when i've eaten dairy/carbs so i now not to eat it anymore for a few days,

-i could have a list of foods i like that are within the new limitations, to help me when shopping

-i could have one checklist and erase it/move it from day to day (maybe using a flyleaf?)

-i should maybe keep track of these things in a different calendar ? (but keep the list of foods i can have in my one life/one binder one ?)

what do you think? do you do something similar, and how? i need the system to really help me reach my goals without it being hard to maintain... the hardest days so far have been when i'm out with family/friends.
waiting on your suggestions you guys :) thanks for your help!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Storage of past diaries/pages

i know this topic has been discussed many times, among filofaxers on their blogs, in Philofaxy's Free for all's, on twitter, in real life... but since it's been on my mind a lot lately i'm touching on it again.
before i used a Filofax, i mainly used bound diaries (such as the Moleskines). i have always kept them, since i was ten! at the moment they're all in a cupboard, organized by date, at my parents' (wish i had a picture to share though!). i have now been using a Filofax consistently since last september, and i've changed binders once already, so i'm getting to the point where i need to archive some pages.

-my first idea: using other binders to sort the pages
considering how expensive the Filofax storage binders are, i bought a cheap pocket binder and a cheap A5 (a pink Finsbury off ebay for that one) and thought i would use them to store blank pages and past diaries. how very stupid of me. these binders are the same size as the ones i use, right? once i've filled them with 3-4 months worth of past diary, as much of blank calendar pages (for months to come), and a few blank inserts (lined paper, finance pages...), they're done. very pretty way to store, not so efficient though.

-my second idea: buying cute boxes
i've looked for boxes roughly the size of my inserts for months, no luck. my binders never came with the famous black box, so i couldn't use that. when i use bigger boxes, i lose too much storage space, and if i put other things in the box, the pages get all wrinkly. also, i want to keep easy access to past pages, and in this case it was hard to go through the pages in chronological order, they were not ordered...
which leads me to...

-my third idea: binding the pages together with ribbon or big clips
thanks to Crazy Suburban Mom for the clips idea, and a discussion with Sew Saffy for the ribbon one! she even adds a cardboard cover and back, which i think is a very good idea, must protect the pages very well. so i'll do that i think, and then just put the different 'packets' into a pretty box (whatever its size now!)

i feel rather stupid it took me so long to understand this would be the best idea, because, well it's pretty simple!
and what i love about it is that i'll be able to do a small stack if i want to have for instance only my job searching notes, and another stack for my distance learning notes, and a bigger stack for a year worth of inserts, and so on. really lovely idea! i'm sure i'll share some pictures when i'm done, especially if i do pretty covers like Sew Saffy suggested. right now i'm gathering supplies :)

how do you stock past pages? do you throw them away? i thought about scanning them and throwing them after, just storing them digitally; do you do that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Counting my blessings

so life lately has been harsh on some aspects and great with others. actually my job has sucked the life out of me and made me see everything through a depressing lens. i've talked a little bit already on this blog and twitter about my job and how much it sucks. while i love being able to just SAY IT, and have really appreciated your support and comments and general help, i also think that when you keep talking about a situation you don't like it puts you in a bad mindset...
so one day, when i was very aggressive and pissed and sad and having all those feelings, and couldn't really explain why, i sat down in front of my Filofax. i decided to write down a list of all the things i hate/don't like in my life right now, things that bug me, make me mad, make me sad. my challenge was to be able to list 10 of them, and i thought it would be sooo easy to do. Turns out, i had a hard time filling that page!
when that was done, i felt so much better! everything negative was laid down in front of me, for me to contemplate and act on it if i could, or when i couldn't, for me to measure it and decide how much i would let it affect me. i can't begin to tell you how 'zen' i felt! to continue with the exercise i decided to list the 20 things i love most right now. much easier to fill that page! you'll see i have included big things as well as very small things, but i guess life is just as much about the small things than the big :)
i've tried to do a Gratitude List many times, like a lot of you do, but always had a hard time with the consistency of doing it every day or every week. but doing it this way, when i was angry and needed to readjust my vision of things, that really helped. i'll do it again, and if you've never done it i say you should try next time you're feeling down :)

10 i don't like:
1. my future parents in law
2. my job
3. having my friends and family living far away
4. being tight on money
5. feeling ugly in my clothes/make up
6. the cold weather settling
7. my insecurities
8. my awful procrastination, and the fact that i procrastinate about doing something about it!
9. my health issues
10. my 'fear' of driving

20 i love:
1. my fiancé
2. my parents
3. my apartment
4. having a job
5. living in the country side!
6. my awesome phone
7. my pretty car
8. having nice things (my coffee machine, my shoes, my leather jackets... material girl much??)
9. my Filofaxes! and my stationery. that makes me very happy
10. meeting people in this new city we moved to
11. the interwebs! twitter and Philofaxy people, i may not always participate but i love reading it all!
12. studying
13. my body since i lost the weight
14. slowly decorating our house and feeling that, this time, we're here to stay
15. my Kindle, and reading in general
16. cooking and eating good food!
17. listening to classical music at work
18. being able to be happy and generally ok when i'm alone
19. not being afraid of other people's opinion anymore (still working on it though :) )
20. being happy and thankful for my life <3

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A sort of daily arsenal

Let's forget a minute about Planner Fail, ok?
i thought i should speak a little bit about what actually works for me [and would work whatever the binder i use, btw!] and NOT talk about filofaxes :)
my filo really is my portable desk, and with my great smartphone and cheap data plan, i really have a portable desk. i thought i would do a tour of the apps i use and are a good complement to all the organization i do with my filo.
[all apps available in android]

here goes:

  • access to emails and bank account : this is very basic in terms of apps, but crucial nonetheless. i do most of my work from emails, and usually have my filo open next to me when looking at either those apps [i do my budget in my filo]
  • evernote : THE app when speaking about a portable desk. i use it for everything. i have notebooks for reference material, wishlists, travel plans, filofaxes i want to buy, recipes, business cards, blog posts, diet info, school info, websites and log in info [under code], last Christmas' menu... just anything. i can just open it on my phone, type an idea i had for instance, and then work on it later on at home on my laptop. it's perfect if i'm working on something that has to be in numeric format, for work for instance, otherwise i jot down directly in my filo. if you don't use evernote yet, look into it, it might help you lots.
  • my running apps : not one i really love, i'm still testing different ones. i used to write down training plans in my filo but it's just much easier to use directly an app when i start running. then when i'm done i only write the important info, like how long i ran in my filo [usually very short amount of time :/]
  • and then for the fun ones : twitter of course, facebook, linkedin, but also google reader [filofax blogs!!] and beyond pod [podcasts aggregator].
With my phone charged with these, my filo, and a few pens, i'm all set. if i can add my kindle, a little bit of make up, and a bottle of water, i'm one happy camper.

So, if my filo is not gigantic, my bag could be quite lightweight, right??

Monday, November 12, 2012

In which we discuss Planner Fail and Downsizing

only a month ago i was telling you how much i loved my current set-up... and then what Laurie was talking about happened: it's Planner Fail Season.
i really really love my A5 Aqua Chameleon. it's perfect in so many ways: it's pretty, it looks durable [hope it is!], it smells good, it holds my whole life, it's easy to write in, it has a bunch of pockets [but never enough for me...], it's just awesome. and i'm truly a one life one binder kinda girl at heart, so having a very big binder makes sense, right? and it does fit in a lot of my handbags, which is great. well sure, it does break my back. but who cares?? except i saw my doc last week, and he was horrified by the state of my back and joints and, wait for it... i actually 'displaced' [no idea what the word might be in English] some ribs and bones from my back! so, how crazy is that?
now, i'm sure you see, it's really not a planner fail on my part... more on my back's part. but i do have some smaller handbags i would love to use...
so of course now i find myself considering a personal. i explained here why i thought i wouldn't like the personal size: i really like staying with the ISO proportions of A5, A6... and personal looks plain weird. But i've now been using a filofax consistently for a year, and i really don't see myself changing that and going back to using only google cal or a small notebook type of planner. i would miss the flexibility, ease of use, and pockets of the filofaxes too much. so here i am, looking at personal binders. and finding them prettier and prettier, more and more attractive every time i lift my handbag. i may or may not have a personal binder coming my way as you read this... watch this space.
i'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of downsizing. i have not regretted my pocket once since switching to my A5 [except... why yes when my back hurts!]. as you may remember from my last set-up post, i have a lot of 'reference' info stored at the back of my binder, using the A-Z tabs. i love having all of that with me, it's so useful... but not necessarily used every day. so i guess this part will stay in my A5 at home. i will also only copy my most important contacts to my personal. i'll keep all my projects in the A5 and only copy their 'planning' part to my personal. in the personal i'll use note paper to write down any ideas about projects and such and transfer those to the A5 in the evening. i played around today with Steve and Ray's inserts to create my own week on one page + notes [using the dot paper ^^] and printed it out in personal size. i then proceeded to copy over last week's content from the A5 to the personal paper and it worked out pretty well! of course i think i'll need to take the pages out of the binder to write on them, but oh well i can live with that :)
i would also like to use the personal binder as a wallet, further reducing my handbag's weight... and i think it will work out, i may add a small purse on the side for coins, that's all...
i'll stop my ramblings here, not sure anyone stuck with me until the end of this post :) it's very nice to have a blog where i can just lay down my thoughts on this very important topic, without annoying my boyfriend, and maybe even interesting some readers ?
i'll let you know how this downsizing works out for me!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

School week: so what do i have in the end??

So if you followed since Monday (kudos to you!) you know that i have for each class, each month:
-a 200 pages book, with the theories, the exercises, and the paper due;
-extensive notes;
-a summary of important concepts, ideas, and formulas in an A5 notebook.
That'll be a LOT of paper when the end of the term comes!
I discard the scrap paper used for the exercises almost right away. I do keep for the moment my extensive notes, in a regular A4 binder. Not very exciting, i would love to use something nice, but now is not the time to spend monies :)
In the binders the different sections of the classes (one section = roughly one month) are separated with plain ugly dividers. I don't know yet how long i'll keep these notes though, because it's already quite a lot to keep in my cupboard, alongside the books!

And now the mothership from which i command everything, my "classes" section in my Filo!
You saw most of its contents in the previous posts, but here is the structure:
-general info i researched before registering for the classes;
-my "typical" weekly planning (i.e. when and how long i can work, after having taken out working time & fitness time);
-the things i need for the classes (mainly a bibliography of reference books to get, but also stationery i *might* need);
-all my log-ins info (a bunch of different usernames and pwd are used for the different websites we need...);
-the table summing up my deadlines and how the work is planned, from now till June and the first exams;
-the calendar with the deadlines, important meetings and such written.
This is all stored in my A5 Chameleon that's always with me, and i refer to it quite often. When i have a panic-attack wondering how am i doing with time, when planning something with friends or family, and of course when i study!

So there, you have it! I think we discussed all the aspects of my study-organization, what do you think? Is there anything else you would like to see covered?
It was really fun for me to share all that with you along the week, and i hope the few who stayed until today enjoyed it too :)

And here are the results of the poll!
I asked how many among you would consider working full-time and study part-time. 9 of you answered, thanks for participating :D 4 have done it (please let me know how you survived??), 3 would only do it if they could stop working or work part-time (the only sane people here, i'm telling you :) ), and 2 said yes, they would do it.
Thanks for giving me your opinion guys, and reading me all week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

School Week: Revision

Yes I'm back with more! Are you tired of my posts yet??

I left you after i finished all my exercises. Now i have a good understanding of what's important in these chapters, how the concepts work, and what's expected of me on the exam day.
But I have over 50 pages of these notes, and as i told you, some parts are left blank. That means that nothing in the exercises and paper relating to these chapter touched on these parts. And i have other sections full of scribbling and highlighting, not very readable...

The idea is now to condensate the chapter in a readable and transportable way! This is when i stop using my beloved binders and switch to bound notebooks. Clairefontaine, A5, one per class, square paper.

I re-write the now completed notes, and leave blank pages before the next chapter to add stuff later if necessary.

It becomes my own version of the class, my companion of sorts on this journey :) I'll be traveling to take the exam, and this notebook is much easier to transport and flip through than all my notes. Rewriting one more time the same info also helps me remembering it better.
I draw a margin on the outside edge of each page, to add remarks later on, or indicate an important or difficult point.

The poll on the right hand site of the blog is still going on, until Sunday, did you participate? Please hop there and cast your vote! Also, please add any comments you might have in the comments section, let's start a discussion about going back to school ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

School Week: Note taking 2

Thank you for spending the week with me talking about school organization :)
I find it so hard to stay on top of things between my full-time job and my distance classes that i think it's super important to be as prepared as possible. I'm sure my system is not that good and will evolve during the year, but i hope it might help you anyway!

The course i received is structured in such a way that you have a bunch of exercises to do after you've read through all the 125 pages of theories of the book. I showed previously how i get through that much reading in 10 short days. For me it involves a lot of note-taking, as it's the only for me to remain focus on what i'm reading. I need to write stuff to remember it, i guess that's also why i'm a paper-planner user :) But i do realize that these notes are not very useful in themselves: they don't condensate the book into what i really need to know, i won't be studying from my exams from them. They help me get to the point where i can start working on the exercises though.
So now i have pages and pages of very plain notes, and i start the exercises portion of the book.

I'll dive into the exercises, flipping through my notes to the appropriate section to look up formulas, definitions... and then i'll add my own remarks on my notes, i'll highlight what i now understand to be an important aspect of the class. Also, while working on my notes, I might need to search for some more info from other sources, which i'll add to the same notes.
However, i do not keep the exercises. If they exemplify an important demonstration for instance, i'll write that directly in the notes in front of the relevant section.

So now i have heavily annotated, highlighted, and scribbled on notes. I also have completely blank parts. It's now easy to know what parts to focus on and what has been harder for me to get and required more research on my end.

Now onto the interesting stuff, what stationery do i use! I use the same brand of highlighters as before, only different colors: pink for important to know by heart (such as here the formulas for instance), yellow for important concepts, green for examples. Post-it flags help me recognize important sections. And sadly that's it for now :D

I'll see you tomorrow to show how i use these notes to prepare exams!
And go participate in the poll, of course :D

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

School Week: Note taking 1

This is the second post on my back to school organization. You can read the first one here. Also please answer the poll on the right hand side of the blog!

So here's the thing: if I only read something, I have a hard time understanding it and focusing on it. I need to take notes along with reading to be able to follow. So here's my tactics for these classes. I first read through a determined chapter (according to my planning), and I take notes on the side. I tend to write almost everything that's in the text, which may seem counterproductive, but it really helps me when I rephrase it and write it down. I write everything with the same color pen, I only underline the titles and such, so as to not make anything stand out yet. You see, I'm just reading the text for the first time, I'm still understanding the concepts, I don't know where the story ends: I don't know yet which are the important parts or the ones that will be difficult for me to understand. So I write everything the same way, which is the most neutral possible.

Here you can see a typical page, looking very blend. But it's the point! You'll see in later posts how I go over these notes later. Right now the note taking is here to help the reading :)
Also, I always use the same format to number my pages, top right corner: date, class number, chapter number, page number / total pages.

And my tools :) I write on a Seyes (French ruled) Rhodia pad. The sheets are already punched. I use my faithful Lamy for most of the writing, and the Stabilo purple pen and the Bic blue highlighter to make the structure stand out a little bit. Finally, an ink eraser, because you know...

I hope this was interesting! I'll continue on my note taking tomorrow :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

School Week: Planning

So to kick off this week, I will describe a little bit how the classes are set up, and explain how I put together my planning.

I registered for 2 different classes this year. I have 6 papers to hand in in each class, up until the end of April. I have specific deadlines to respect for the papers. If they are not met (even once), I'm out. After that I'll first sit for the exams mid-June, then again at the beginning of October. Right after this second round of exams I'll start next year's classes. I sit twice for the 'same' exams (=same program) because the first is just for the degree, the second to work towards a national certification. If all goes according to plan, I'll repeat that for the next three years, and then work on a thesis for another three years, and then graduate and receive the certification :)

Now I'll take you step by step through my planning process. I realize how boring that might sound to some people, and can literally hear the footsteps of my readers leaving... I'll try to add some picture to spice things up though :)
To start on planning this project, I first worked out how much time I could spend on it each week, and when that would be. I jumped to my 'distance degree' project page in the 'Projects' section of my Chameleon. The section already existed since that's also where I did all my research before I actually registered. I wrote down my usual (and optimistic...) working hours, set aside two/three days for 'sports', and figured I could study for 2 hours 2 nights a week, plus a good 7 hours on Sundays. At that time I hadn't realized that I'm not able to study for 7 hours anymore... but anyway it amounted to 11 hours a week.

Then I printed out a yearly calendar to use only for this project, and wrote down all the papers hand-in dates. I figured I would start planning backwards from them, since they are the only thing 'imposing' me a rhythm of work.

From there, I looked into each class what chapters needed to be done for each paper, and, working backwards for the hand-in date, assigned weeks of studying to each part of the class. I summed it up in a table, because it wouldn't be readable if I put it on the calendar (but if you have an idea around it...!!)

Now I can see what chapters I need to have studied each week, and I know I need to study around 10-15 hours a week to get there.
Each week I go over my plan, to see if I sticked to it or not, and write in my diary what I'm supposed to do the coming week. Of course, it's color-coded, orange for my classes :)

I can haz editing skills

My initial plan of studying only three times a week for longer periods of time is not working out too well for the moment, as I already said, so I find myself working around an hour everyday instead, and more on weekends. In order to keep track of the time spent studying, I use this very nice little application, Timesheet. It's intended for much bigger projects than mine, you can export the data and stuff... I use it because it's very pretty and easy: just press start when I start, pause for break time, then done... then I can see the data for that day, that week, and so on.

That's it for the planning part. So I have a section dedicated in the 'Projects' part of my Filo, with my master plan, and then the more detailed program goes into my diary. As for a lot of things, my phone and apps help me :)

Hope you enjoyed this post, and I'll see you tomorrow for the rest of our school-week!

Monday, November 5, 2012

School-themed week!

As I hinted to in this post, I decided to register for a Masters and started taking distance classes a couple of weeks ago. Basically, I received books about Finance and Accounting that I have to read and prepare by myself, and I have papers to send every month for correction. I of course continue to work full time.

There are different challenges here for me to face. The first one is the whole going back to school thing. I always loved studying and always knew I would go back for a degree like that at some point. I'm actually very surprised at how hard it is to go back to that special rhythm, mindset, way of working... that is the one of a student. Even though I graduated only a couple of years back! I feel stupid when I see how long it takes me to read a chapter for instance, or that after 3 hours of studying my brain is toasted... guess it's a good thing I decided to work my neurons out before they all started disappearing!

The second challenge is to balance it all. Right now it means working, managing our finances (we are tight right now and need to work on our debt repayment), taking care of my health after what happened last year, being with my fiancé :), and succeeding at this new project.

I've received my books 2 weeks ago now, and since then I've taken the time to come up with an organization and a way of working, which are still very much tentative. They might get improved or totally changed as things advance.
I thought I would spend this week talking about the different aspects of this organization and what it involves. Nothing groundbreaking, I just wish to share how I do it, since it's been so interesting to me in the past to read about how others do it.
I'll first explain how the class is set up, then show you my overall planning, and how I came up with it. Then I'll talk about the different sorts of note-taking I do, how I work on a chapter, and how I tackle the monthly papers. Then we'll talk about storage and physical organization of all these notes :)

To accompany this theme, you'll see a new poll on the right hand side of the blog, which will be up all week. Please participate, the more answer the more accurate the results will be :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What makes a Sunday perfect

If you guys follow me on twitter or instragram, you'll have already seen a lot of these pics :)

After an awful week (this job...), I really need to enjoy my Sunday, and relax.

A beautiful perfect fall day greats me when I wake up
Huge, fresh, OJ to start the day!
I made a good ole veggies soup to enjoy tonight, and probably the rest of the week :)

No photo of my brunch, inhaled too quickly, but please picture delicious poached eggs on toasts, with avocado...

My Filo, tea, favorite pens and PC, good looking back on previous weeks and scheduling the one ahead

After some planning and filofixing, my afternoon will be filled with baking (cinnamon rolls?), studying, and enjoying time with the fam :)