31 Dec 2011

2012 - looking forward to...

So, with 2011 rolling to a close and 2012 looming on the ever nearing horizon, I thought I'd post the things I'm most looking forward to in 2012. Although I should hard at work right (exams are only 11 and 13 days away, eek!), I feel that taking a break to blog is also good.

1) Temperley for Filofax

I have blogged about this before earlier this year but I want to emphasise just how excited I am for this! Although it won't be on sale til later on the year (if rumours are to be believed), I'm still working up an appetite for it... and will probably end up selling a few belongings to get my hands on one of these beauties! The leopard print is delightful although I can't say I'm a fan of the zip design? Either way, I look forward to analysing this collaboration more as further details trickle out of the Filofax and fashion world grapevine.

2) Versace x H&M

With this second collection also Versace's last with H&M, I didn't think I would find anything I would like at all, if the first one was anything to go by anyway! For me, the first collection screamed trashy with a capital T but for some reason, I'm really enticed by the tropical fruit prints of the second collection! Although it has quite a summer theme to it, it will be on sale in mid-January - but online only - and guess who will be eagerly shopping this collection? You guessed it - me!

I especially love the shoes on the top left and also this bikini... And I may get plenty of use out of it too if I do well in my exams as I'm anticipating a summer holiday full of fun...and sun! Watch this space as I have many plans for the summer but I may have to sell my soul first in order to afford any of them.

And the shoes! Isn't the butterfly detail just so adorable? Though, I'm not sure if I am just in love with these pair of shoes because I like them or if I am in lust because it is another high street v designer collection?? Hmm, will have to sleep on this...


3) Graduation

Although I will be sad to leave Imperial and all the lovely people I've met through these few years of this degree, I will also be happy to close one chapter of my life that I have worked so hard in. I know that if I were to obtain a place on a medicine course, the hard work won't stop for another few years but for me, at least that means that these three years on this degree have been worth it. 

During my time here, I have had some amazing experiences - from karaoke with my Hong Kong friends in first year, hot pot to celebrate Christmas in halls in first year, an amazing year of netball with an amazing bunch of people in second year, learning how to deal with depression in second year, meeting my current boyfriend and lastly, meeting a whole bunch of people who I know I'll stay friends with for life. 

-------

And so it is. I'm limiting this list to three because I want to be prepared for the unprepared next year. I'm usually someone who loves to make plans (that's why I own so many Filofaxes) but my boyfriend has taught me to be a bit more spontaneous and to take things as they come rather than plan. Even before he taught me this, my mum had been telling me that life doesn't always work out in the way that we plan it to. She's right - I never imagined I'd be such a commitaphobe in relationships after dreaming of weddings and children until the age of about 16! However, I'm trying to change that part of me (as it's a major negative) and just take things as they come.

To end this post, I would just like to say a major HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all - I know for some of you it will already be 2012 (I'm looking at you Australia and Far East Asia). I hope that, for all of you, 2012 is full of positives and that it's a brilliant one!

25 Dec 2011

2011 'can't live withouts'

Here are my 'can't live withouts' for 2011. I kinda slacked on the monthly ones but hopefully I will be better next year :-) Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the picture quality - my camera is in London and the colouring - I still need to purchase Photoshop for Mac.

Beauty:



The Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Butter - it smells divine and makes my skin so soft, especially if I apply it after I've had a shower!



Cherry Carmex lip balm - I've been using Carmex for years and my little pot only ran out recently so I opted to try the cherry one for a change and it turns out that I prefer it to the original! Carmex moisturises my lips but now, the cherry flavour makes me want to lick my lips all the time - something I've had to refrain myself from doing countless of times.



No7 Shine Free Primer - honestly the best primer I have used. It's over £20 but if you buy it on the 3 for 2 deals or whatever No7 usually has going on, it's not too bad. I stock up when they have these offers as they're sealed so keeping them for a few months doesn't matter too much.

Other heroes: tea tree oil (for those annoying little pimples and spots that come up after a night of bingeing on chocolate and sweets), Aussie shampoo (the only shampoo to actually keep my hair shiny and healthy) and Garnier B.B. cream (though I haven't tried any Korean brands but this one cuts the mustard just fine!).

Next, fashion.



My Ugg Australia earmuffs - the wind is chilly and the temperatures are dropping and what better way to look stylish than a pair of earmuffs! Hats don't suit me so these earmuffs do fine for me. (As you can see, mine are still in the box! I got them on sale and I can't stop wearing them already!)

A pair of riding boots - I got mine from the French Connection sale last year for £30! Such a bargain as they are 100% real leather and have lasted me so many wears since.

A thick wool coat - mine is from Reiss and the material is, I swear, the thickest I have ever seen in a winter coat EVER. (Well, for a wool coat anyway!)

Leggings - I'm more of a dresses and skirts kinda girl than a jeans and a casual tee one so leggings for me, are perfect. For dresses or skirts that are too short - a pair of leggings makes them acceptable and in the winter when tights are too thin an option to even contemplate, I opt for these bad boys.

Organisation



My Filofax - well, what else? Since reverting back to my Filofax, I have had no regrets. It's honestly the best thing in my bag - it's pink and girly, crammed to death with silly scribblings but also holds my diary - something which is invaluable for planning and organisation for social, work and sport life.

Muji pens - I think I've mentioned these before on here but the 0.5mm gel pens are literally the saviour of my life. I've been using these for five years now and I wouldn't dream of switching. Although I do use other pens for other less important stuff, I opt for these when writing out lecture notes, writing in my Filofax or writing up information gained from reading academic papers and the like.


So, this is my review of 2011... my New Year's Resolution for 2012 is....not to have one! I'm going to try and be more relaxed in planning things by planning less (but still planning some things of course) and learn to be a bit more spontaneous - something my boyfriend is very good at as he's the complete opposite of me in this respect (he doesn't even own a diary.....!). Hope you all have had a very, very merry Christmas (with Santa bringing you what you wanted) and hope you all have an excellent New Year too!

19 Dec 2011

playing the waiting game

A third of my final year has already gone and I feel a little bit sad about it. Time seems to have flown for the past two years since the commencement of my degree and obviously, after all this time at the same university, I do feel attached to it. Imperial College has become a place where I have met friends for life - friends from my course, friends from halls and lastly, friends who I met through other friends but got along with really well.

This term has really emphasised one thing for me: make the most of your time. Don't waste time on Facebook when you can be out there interacting with other people. I'm thoroughly enjoying my time as hall senior and living in halls has one great benefit - there will always be someone there you can chill with or just chat to if you need/want. Although this term hasn't been the easiest for me emotionally - what with my family having a few problems (which have since been sorted, thank goodness), it has taught me to be a stronger person and also how to deal with shortcomings and things that are unexpected.

So, what is the main point of this blog post? Well, the waiting time, a.k.a UCAS. For those who don't know, UCAS is the portal all students have to go through if they want to apply to university. This may confuse some of you - I'm already at university - but the point is, I want to study medicine after my degree as I really, really, really want to be a doctor. A summer of work experience in two hospitals has allowed me to confirm that, hence why I've decided to go through the pain that is UCAS once more.

The waiting game, for the time being anyway, is over for me. I have heard back from all four of my universities and medicine courses. I have been invited to attend three interviews but have been rejected from one (my own university, as it happens!) without an interview. I won't go into reasons why because the reason infuriates me (as I know it's not my personal statement, not my work experience, not my grades... but one result in one section (out of four; where in the other three sections, I scored ridiculously highly in) in an entrance exam - though, this said entrance exam has got me interviews at the other two universities for two graduate courses and one undergraduate course so I probably shouldn't complain too much...).

I do feel a bit sad that my own university hasn't even given me a chance to prove myself through a face-to-face meeting. I've given so much to this university in terms of sport (netball and squash), subject (Biochemistry open day tours, Biochemistry buddy to younger students) and other things (hall senior) and I feel quite betrayed that I have felt such intense loyalty for my university when it clearly doesn't value me in the same way. Oh well, onwards and upwards and a change of scenery will be good too as the other two universities are just as prestigious and I am sure I will grow to love them as much as I love Imperial College London.
Anyway, my three interviews are after my exams, but not that long after my exams so this holiday for me is all about two things: revision and interview preparation. For me, there is no Christmas, no New Year - just an ominous countdown to two final exams and three interviews where I have to put my heart and soul into as for me, there is nothing I want more than to be a doctor.

15 Nov 2011

life update :-)

So, I've been very, very bad on the blogging front lately. Anyway, here is an update with what has been going on.

1) I have been using my Filofax a lot more so far this term as deadlines have been tight and my social calendar has swelled.

2) I have barely spent any money on things that aren't necessities this term! Apart from my bag, the only things I have bought are food and household items.

3) I have made many new friends since commencing my role as a 'hall senior' in a university hall of residence, including other hall seniors from other subjects and as a result, I have met someone who has become more than a friend. He is lovely but he has taken up a lot of my time of late!

4) My family are having a few problems at the moment but I'm trying not to think about it and my friends are trying their hardest to cheer me up.

Overall, it's been a bittersweet month for me with impending deadlines and personal life happiness and sadness. However, I'm hoping to be a better blogger in the next few weeks :-)

28 Oct 2011

alice temperley for filofax

If you're really into fashion like I am, you may know about designer collaborations with high street stores such as Sonia Rykiel for H&M, Lanvin for H&M, Kate Moss for Topshop, etc. However, this time, there is a very exciting one on the radar... Alice Temperley for Filofax!

This is all very exciting and I just hope that it will be within my budget as I would love, love, love to get my hands on one of these! Apparently, according to this article, it will be on show during AW12 which is a hell of a long time to wait (cue sad face) but I'm hoping it will be worth it!
I have to say, I'm more excited for this than Versace for H&M! What about you? Does this collab take your fancy?

24 Oct 2011

what's in my bag #7

Sooo... I was in Westfield White City last week and with some money in hand with my 21st birthday coming up, I splashed out. I'd be coveting a Prada bag for quite some time and when I walked into Miu Miu and saw a bag in exactly the same style but a few hundred bob cheaper, I knew this bag was the one. After all, Miu Miu is part of Prada anyway so it wasn't like there is much difference!

Here is the bag the bag came in - isn't it lovely?



And here is the bag itself:



And finally, what's in my bag:



In my bag are: headphones (as I also bring my Macbook Pro to college), pencil case and pens and pencils, a Cafe Nero card that is fully stamped - ready for me to claim my free coffee as I'll need it after a hard day of studying!, mentos, Panadol, Paul and Joe Sister lipstick, pocket mirror, bottle of water, Kleenex tissues, Strepsils, Caramel wafers and an Alpen bar.

So, this is what's in my bag at the moment - what's in yours?

13 Oct 2011

my finchley family

This post is about my Finchley family :-)

First picture - family portrait. All that's missing are the Pocket and Mini sizes but for me, I think they will be too small to do anything with. At the back is the A5 Vintage Rose, then at the front from left to right is the Personal Vintage Rose, Personal Jade Green and the Personal Teal.



Next is a shot of how they look stacked up together. I love my Filofaxes stuffed to the brim but looks like I failed with the A5 - maybe due to a lack of inserts? Looks like I'll be stocking up at the November Philofaxy meet up :-)



Finally, the sides of the binders. I think this picture really captures the quality of the leather well. The leather is soft and supple and gets softer with use and that's why I love the Finchley range so much. The only Filofax I own which is of a different model is the Personal Raspberry Finsbury but I find the fact that it doesn't lie flat a bit annoying.



Please excuse my Carlsberg jug in the background - I use that to hold water in as I don't drink alcohol! It's much more convenient to have water in my room than have to walk to the kitchen to get water when I want it.

10 Oct 2011

my classic items

Here are a list of my 'classic' items I could not live without. These are things to do with fashion, life and study and some may be a bit generic but maybe that is what makes a classic in the first place, right?

Anyway, here is the first one. This one is in the fashion category.

My Aquascutum Fleet mac.



I got it in the House of Fraser sale at 70% off the RRP and I have to say, I love it! It goes with anything and is a classic item. I do think they are better than Burberry trenches as these are less 'chavtastic' due to all the fake Burberry caps and whatnot that 'chavs' wear. (For those that don't know, 'chav' actually stands for 'council housed and violent' and was actually used first by the police in the UK but in time, people have taken it as another word for yobs.)

My second item is in the life category and is, of course, to do with organisation.



Since reverting back to my Filofax, I really appreciated how much fun organisation can be! And with Filofaxes being 'big' back in the 80s within the 'yuppie' culture, it can be deemed a classic as that was before I was even born!

My third item is 'study' and although I haven't had this item for long, I am in love with it already! It's my new Macbook Pro!



I bought it instore in the Regent Street store in London and I'm so glad I did for the experience of taking it home and setting it up myself, etc. The Macbook Pro is included as it is a classic - it is something that is important for the computer industry and that is why it is here in my post.

What are your classic items? Is it a bag? Or a car? Your house if you feel it is full of character? Or is it something that reminds you of something good?

7 Oct 2011

a new setup

Since returning to my Vintage Rose Personal Finchley, I have had to set it up again in a way that would work for my lifestyle. And this post is all about my new set up.

1) Opening it up, I am greeted with this: a tube map and photos of my mum and dad with me when I was a baby (to remind me of hard times when we had to scrimp and save on everything). There is also a picture of a duck my sister drew.



2) My 'Today' ruler - it has two sticky notes on it, one of which is for planning my 30 day wardrobe challenge with only ten articles of clothing and the other has my '30 Day Clothing List' which currently only has one item on the list.



3) Here, you can see that I have checklists for each day. These should lessen when term starts as I will have to start using 'To Do' pages instead of writing daily checklists in the required space for each day.



4) The next picture is a week view. You can see I underline important times in red pen and you can also see the piping I added to separate the weekdays from the weekends and also the 'This Week' section from the the weekdays on the left.



5) These are note pages that came with the German 2011 and 2012 diaries.



6) In my notes section, I have tabs labelled as follows: 'General' (actually just a 'Notes' cotton cream separator), a tab for the hall I'm living in next year as a hall senior so I can plan events and also write packing lists and my university wardrobe inventory, etc. These two sections come before the diary and then after, there are more notes. The next tab is the 'Information' tab which houses my UCAS stuff - for my graduate medicine application and the last tab is the 'Blog' tab where I write down blog post ideas I may get whilst on the tube or just randomly. It is also where I plan new blog layouts if I have a sudden impulse to change the design.



7) Finally, this is the business card holder which holds sticky note tabs and also other random bits. I'm considering getting rid of this business card holder though because I can house these note tabs on the card holders which are part of the binder.



So this is how it is now set up :) Obviously it may change from time to time but that's the beauty of Filofax(es). You can change them every day if you wanted, thanks to the rings but that would be a bit excessive!

1 Oct 2011

september { can't live withouts }

This is a start of a new series of posts :-) Every month, I'll be posting the things I couldn't live without and why. Here is this month's (September 2011) with a commentary below the image.



From top left to bottom right:

Muji 0.5mm Gel Pens / /  essential for the exam prep I was doing! The amount of writing I had to do was crazy - practice papers, practising essay writing and planning under tight timed conditions - it was crazy to say the least and I have no idea how many pens I went through!

Sweet snacks / / for the times went I couldn't think and nothing was working! Jelly beans are good for an instant sugar boost and mentos are good (but only occassionally of course as we all know what the consumption of too many mints can result in...!) for the times where I needed to wake up a little. I normally feel sleepy between 2pm and 3pm so the occassional Mento was beneficial for that reason.

Arwey notebook / / to plan blog posts in! The pen loop and pen is very, very useful. The notebook is also small (but not too small) and light enough for me to carry around in my handbag.

Nail polish / / The ones on the left and right were freebies from magazines and the one in the middle is 'Peach Melba' by Barry M. I love painting my nails girly colours and the pink ones match my Vintage Rose Finchley which is always a bonus :-)

Comfy flats / /  for those long days on my hospital work experience where I may have to walk a bit. Also for the days where I go shopping or days where I know a lot of walking is involved. These Clarks shoes are perfect for that and they actually look quite cute too! These shoes completely changed my opinion of Clarks and I now think that they also cater for the young as well as the old.

Andoku Android App / / ideal for those moments where you're bored for some reason or other. I also do one every morning when I wake up to try and get my brain into gear. To top it off, the app is free!

No Filofax this month as I was using a Moleskine in the first two weeks and only changed to a Filofax in the third week. Maybe next month though when I'll be up to my neck in helping freshers' settle into uni and also new academic year admin.

What were your September essentials?

Stay tuned for October's essentials towards the end of the month :-)

22 Sep 2011

revision timetabling

Jennifer commented on this post asking about revision timetables so I thought I would do a post geared towards those of us who study or want to study something - be it in their spare time or at university/college/school.

As you can see, I write my exams into my Filofax (this was back in January before my fling with the Moleskine) when I had two exams in three days (one on the Tuesday and the other on the Thursday). So the first tip is: write when your exam(s) are (if you have any), what time they are and also where. This must be the first thing you do - as it really reaffirms (in your mind, at least) that the exam is in the near future - near enough for you to write in your diary! Sometimes, you are also given a seating plan (I know I am for mine) so checking beforehand where you're sat can reduce panic on the day if you fail to find your seat. Luckily, I just follow my friend who is straight after me on the year list so I give him the responsibility of finding where we're sat.



Next, you'll notice that I wrote on each day not only what module I should be revising, but also what part of that module. I know it says 'PB everything' but on the previous week, it said things like 'PB NMR' or 'PB Mass Spec'. So the second tip is: work out what you need to revise for the exam. I'm lucky in that most of my exams can be selectively revised for in that I can choose what questions to answer. If this is the case for you, your task would be to also work out what you want to revise - as you'll do best on the questions relating to topics you're most interested in.

Once you've got the two most important bits sorted out, the next is to work out your 'body timetable'. Now, for me, I feel sleepy every single day (without fail) around 1:30pm-3pm and so, when it came to revision, I either avoided revising at this time at all or I did some light reading instead - such as reading a journal article about a related subject or reading a fictional novel. So work out what time of day is best for you. If you find that the best time for you to revise is 3am, it may be best to try and alter your sleeping pattern a little as I had friends who pulled 'all nighters' before an exam and came out of it feeling worse for wear! Needless to say, they didn't do as well as they hoped. Another way to combat your 'sleepy time' is to drink a cup of coffee or suck on a very strong mint. I find the Trebor XXX mints quite good.

After this, figure out how long your attention span is. I can work at a decent rate for at least two hours straight without a break. I know some people say you should work for an hour then take a ten minute break, or whatever, but I find that an hour for me is too short. I get so little done and by the time my brain is working at its best, I'm due to take a break!

Now that you've got all that done, your revision timetable can be devised. Stick to a certain routine with regards to waking up time and sleeping time. I tend to wake up at 8am for a 9am start to revision and then I go to bed at half 10 at night. I can actually function on eight hours of sleep but I'd rather play it safe for those nights where you can't fall asleep instantly.

Obviously, other advice (which can be useful) for revision is:
- to clear your desk (one that works wonders for me as it means less distractions!)
- work out if you need total silence or can bear a little noise
- and figuring out whether you learn better from writing things over and over again or need to use the a diagrammatical or pictorial aid. There is no shame in either method, or any method for that matter but I find that a mixture of both works well for me. As does colour.

I hope this has helped a little but this is basically the way I go about making a revision timetable. It has worked well for me thus far but of course, the main thing is sticking to a timetable and discipline :-)

19 Sep 2011

happiness project / / update #2


So, as you may remember, for August, I did a month of daily goals. These goals ranged from just baking a cake to reading a chapter of a book. For most of the goals, I succeeded – particularly the baking, watch x and y and volunteering but the ones I commonly failed on were ‘read a chapter of z’ where z would be a book I misplaced on a regular basis!


For September 2011, my overall motto is to ‘be more organised’. I’m moving back into hall accommodation in the last week as a re-applicant so I’ll help look after the freshers and stuff so I need to work out what to pack and what to send. I usually overpack so I’m going to try and pack less – remember my minimalist project! The picture above is just one draft (I know what you're thinking... draft?! Of a list?!) of my packing list but I need to whittle it down further as what you can't see overleaf is a list of the clothes I want to take - and that would take up two suitcases alone.

I also need to prepare for three entrance exams for my post graduate study application of medicine. I’ve decided against a gap year post graduation and have opted to go straight into study if possible. After all, I’ve enjoyed these two months of work experience so much – I want to get my teeth into a medicine degree ASAP!

So, it’s going to be a busy month full of organisational orientated projects. After all, this is what my packing list looks like and it is pretty long! Too long to take with me within a day, even with the help of my mum; so it needs whittling down.

I’m also going to draw up a revision timetable schedule that should be able to be applied generally so that I don’t need to make another one each time I revise for a new module. 

Hopefully, with this challenge, I will gain happiness by regaining more control of my time and life. At least, that's the gist of my September goal.

16 Sep 2011

my favourite scents...

...match my Vintage Rose Finchley!

my favourite scent




I sprayed this onto one of those cards you get from department stores and waved it around for a bit to sniff it’s true scent. After this, I put it into my pocket and the smell followed me round for the whole afternoon and it really is a pleasant smell. It’s not overpowering, nor is it underwhelming and the fragrance really does smell fresh and girly – not the mention the fact that it really does last, but this may be due to the fact that I sprayed the Eau de Parfum variety.

With this experience, I decided to purchase Eau de Parfum and I’m really glad I did. It’s fast becoming my new favourite scent as it lasts the whole day (two squirts does the trick – once at the neck and once on the wrist) and I often wake up the next morning still smelling faintly of it. And, I shower really thoroughly – trust me! I’m starting to believe that this will be my new signature scent.



I’ve been using Marc Jacobs Daisy for the last three years now and I love it. It’s nice and girly – exactly the way I dress and as a result, it suits my dress sense. However, with the release of Eau so Fresh this summer, I dragged myself down to my nearest department store and sprayed it onto a card. The card you see here incidentally. Anyway, this made my Moleskine smell so cute, that I had to purchase it. It’s an Eau de Toilette so it doesn’t last as long as my Chloe perfume but it’s perfect for those hot summer days where you want a light perfume that isn’t overpowering with the heat and humidity. It’s sweeter in terms of smell than the original Daisy but for me, I actually prefer it. Both variants actually last for about the same amount of time and a top up of the fragrance may be necessary later on in the day.

I actually use Miss Dior Cherie too but that’s currently in London (and I’m at home with my parents at the moment) and is a nice, more ‘mature’ fragrance for a grown up rather than a young girly girl – something that I think Eau So Fresh is more geared towards.

As you can see, my favourite perfumes are pink – whether it’s the bottle or the actual fragrance I don’t know. Either way, all I know is that it suits my Vintage Rose Finchley – something I’m trying to use once again.

10 Sep 2011

the cutest notebook ever...

...and it's not mine! Well, anymore. Last month, it was my sister's birthday and as you all know, I placed an order on Artbox for two diaries which I reviewed also: here and here. In this order, there was also a few presents and this is one of them: a cute notebook. And I had present envy when I gave it to her, too.

Anyway, isn't this the cutest notebook ever?





I don't think she has started using it yet so I can't comment on the paper quality, but the exterior just looks so cute and if I had it, personally, I wouldn't want to use it!

Do you have any stationery that you just don't want to use as it is cute/expensive/whatever else?

8 Sep 2011

help, i miss my filofax!

"Which one?" I may hear you ask but I mean my Vintage Rose Finchley.



For this reason, I'm looking for a way to incorporate my beloved Vintage Rose back into my life. The only thing I can think of is to use it as a 'food diary' but a Filofax deserves better treatment than that! Shall I use it as my desk diary? So, I'll have a smaller planner to lug around with me but a very nice Filofax sitting on my desk, wide open?

Any suggestions?

After all, as a girly girl, I need to have a girly accessory in my life - and this Vintage Rose fits the bill nicely.

5 Sep 2011

preparing for my final year / / part one

So far, in preparation for my final year of my bachelors degree, I have done the following:



I have chosen what diary to use when my Moleskine runs out (read: when 2012 commences). This is one of the two that I ordered from Artbox back in this post. This diary was chosen instead of the other one because it has a plastic cover - a detail I love as it adds protection to such a pretty little planner. I may use the other one as a food diary or something too.


I've 'dated' the monthly pages already for 2012. I used fountain pen and the paper is of a fairly high quality - high enough so that no bleeding is present when I used Parker ink and also no show through! Winner.


On the inside cover, I've stuck this sticky note to remind myself of what the left and right hand side of the weekly pages are for. You'll see why in a second...


You'll note that the boxes for each day is quite small which explains why I've separated the use of the left and right hand sides.


At the back, there are quite a few pages for lists - ideal as I can make lists for coursework assignments, shopping, life admin, etc. Plus, I love making lists so pre-made list pages are a bonus in this planner!

 

Finally, my mum saw these pads on sale for half price in Tesco and as a result, she literally cleared the stock. (When I say literally...I mean, literally!). It's because she knows how I rave on and on about how good the paper is and she's trying to help me minimise the need to spend next year as I'm not getting much from the loans company - and whatever I am getting will go purely towards my accomodation. This means I'll be digging into my own savings and will have to plan my spends carefully!
Anyway, hope you've enjoyed this part of my preparation. Part II (and maybe III) will entail my packing woes (as I always overpack and then end up not having enough space for essentials) and also budgeting matters.

2 Sep 2011

guest post / / time-management

Today's post is from Amanda at Paper Pens Ink; a blog whose name links together what I love so much about stationery (which also includes pretty colours of course if you hadn't already noticed). Anyway, Amanda does so much with her time - I wanted to learn more about efficient time management as I thought I was good - but no, Amanda is better (she juggles so many things, I'm in awe!) and I'll definitely be taking pointers from her post about it; and if you had any sense, you would too ;)

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When I offered to do a post for Angela, I gave her a list of the things that I do (to see what she would like me to write about). Her response was to ask how I managed to do all the things I do and asked me to write about my time-management. So, here goes! I do not profess to be an expert (far from it!); I just do my best (and my parents always told me that as long as I had done my best, people couldn’t ask for more).

I am not a magician (or Doctor Who or a physicist) and I cannot manage time. I can manage what I do with my time, but I cannot actually change the laws of physics! Assuming you are equally ill-equipped to warp the space-time continuum, but still have stuff to do and time available and somehow have to marry them up… let me share some of the tips and tricks I have acquired along the way of my life.

One thing I have always found is that I cannot hope to manage any to-do list unless I have a clear idea about what the whole of that to-do list looks like. Some people have one giant to-do list with everything from the entirety of their life on it, ready to be crossed off. Others have a multitude of lists – one for each area they want to achieve something in. I currently tend to fall into the last camp, but have also happily resided in the former for great swathes of my life! What my list(s) look like has always been less important than what I have done with them. I don’t manage time so much as I try to manage tasks.

“Hang on,” some of you might be saying, “How do we get to that list?”
[if you already have a massive list, skip ahead. If you always feel at sea and like you miss important things, stay with me?]

A few months ago, I was completely adrift and knew that there were huge holes in my time/task-management ‘plan’. Work-related tasks were going just fine, but the rest of my life… hmm. Not so good.
So, I sat down with a big sheet of paper, wrote ‘ME’ in the middle and enclosed the word in a wiggly-line cloud. Then, radiating out from that cloud, I wrote out the different areas of my life: work, hobbies, relationships, etc. In each of those areas I wrote out my goals. Now, I am a really visual-coding kind of person and so I gave each area its own colour, but each to their own! Colour-coding works for me so I can see whether my week is balanced or not.

Now, many a time/task manager will tell you a goal is just a dream without some plans! The goals were where I wanted to get to. Just writing them out wasn’t going to get me there. Working out key steps along the way was needed, just like if I was planning a car journey I would need to know what towns etc I would be going through before reaching my destination.

Goals to key steps/projects

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a first step” – Lao Tzu

With key steps towards my goals organised, the whole planning side of achieving the goal became easier to manage. Key steps got broken down into ‘what do I have to do next’, and each key step had an ‘estimated time to complete’ added to it (some turned out to be pretty realistic, other wildly impossible, but, you live and learn!). I also shifted away from vagueness (sort out the garden shed) and started being more specific (empty the shelving on the left side of the shed and take all the empty tins of paint to the recycling place). My lists were starting to look much more achievable as I realised what I was supposed to be doing. I also run a ‘don’t forget’ list that has all the other stuff I need to do that don’t add up to achieving my goals (e.g., pick up the dry-cleaning; buy stamps). I keep all these lists of goals to key steps to next actions, plus my don’t forget list behind a tab in my filofax, just ahead of my diary.

Key steps to next action list (with estimated time to complete)

Okay, many of you have these lists. Is there a key to fitting all these things into so little time? What do I do to get as much out of the day as I can?

Well, I choose my priorities. I once did an exercise where I had to put all the areas of my life (other than work) in order of priority and say what proportion of my spare (non-work) time I wanted to spend on them. I then had to record, for a week, what I actually spent my time on. Unsurprisingly, they did not match!

According to how I had spent my time, my major priority in life was watching TV, closely followed by browsing aimlessly online and playing Tetris. No wonder I didn’t achieve my goals!

It was clear to me that spending time with friends was more important than watching Friends; writing a blog post was at least as important as reading others. I needed to realign my priorities.

What I do, each week, (almost) without fail, is to book an appointment with myself. I go through all my lists of things that need doing and decide where in my ‘spare’ time they are getting done. Sometimes, that’s just allocating a day to it; sometimes that’s allocating a specific time-slot too.

An example of my weekly list (using scrap filofax pages!)
Colour-coded tasks, plus stuff from ‘Don’t forget’

I keep a filofax with two sets of diary pages in it – a week to view where appointments go (so I have an overview of the week) and a day to page where my day-planning goes. Appointments get transferred from the weekly pages to the daily pages during my planning session. If you work more electronically, you don’t need to do that transfer, just switch views from week to day. Colour-coding my tasks makes sure that time spent on areas reflects the priority they have.

Day-plan, colour-coded to areas and with a list from ‘Don’t forget’ allocated too
Some time-management gurus will say that you shouldn’t allocate specific time to a task in case you get it wrong. I’ve tried that but just putting a list of ‘things to do today’ on my daily schedule usually means I overload myself. I also like to see the size of colour blocks so that I can see where I am spending my time.

Anyway, that’s how I fit my ‘things to do’ into my available time. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this and I would love to hear what tips and tricks you all have.

1 Sep 2011

a year as a minimalist / / part five


PART V: DETERMINING YOUR FINANCES

This ties in with the previous part in which you have to figure out your income and essential spends. Then the next step is to figure out other outgoings such as the weekly grocery shop which may differ in how much is spent each week.

After all this, any extra money can be put into a savings account with a decent interest rate. My aim is to save £2,500 throughout the next twelve months from September 2011. This equates to £48 a week which might be possible if I factor in the money and vouchers I make from survey sites I'm a part of and if I scrimp a bit more on grocery shops. Obviously, I'll have the ocassional treat too - one of which is a goal to eat out once a month (made possible by a Taste card I have - free from the Carphone Warehouse of course, not bought!). This goal to eat out once a month ties in with my Happiness Project.

P.S. It starts today! As does my spend monitoring via the use of self-made spreadsheets!

28 Aug 2011

review / / ARWEY notebook part II

Here is part II as promised - a review of the Reich notebook. As said previously, I got this one in blue.

The cover - which is also removable:



The colour in the picture is accurate in the colour of the notebook.

For all you Filofax lovers, there is card slot in the inner cover. But it's only one slot - so maybe if you're going to work and don't want to bring your whole purse, you can just bring one credit or debit card instead.



Reich, unlike the Flavin, has plain pages. This makes it ideal for sketching or just jotting things down randomly. The paper is the same as the Flavin with its 70GSM ivory paper.

Anyway, continuing with the cover. There is a page marker of the very creative kind:



I love that the page marker for this notebook is like this instead of the typical ribbon. And this is the other side of the back page of the notebook.



As you can see, there is a pocket, not dissimilar to the Flavin notebook.

Also included with this notebook is a writing guide with a side that is dotted, two that are ruled (one wide and one narrow) and a side that is squared.



Finally, the paper quality. It's literally the same as the Flavin notebook, but here it is anyway for comparison. I used the narrow ruled writing guide to write with each of the pen types.



Reich comes with the same information and back pages as Flavin too.

In terms of value for money, I honestly think that this notebook is better than a Moleskine and is also cheaper at $13.50 which rougly equates to £8.30.

Honestly speaking, I love Reich more than I love Flavin. The page marker is fantastic and innovative - I've not seen anything like it - and the colour of the notebook is vibrant but not hideously so. The paper quality is good, though I would have preferred it if it were 80GSM instead but it works and that's what matters. 


It's also important to note that Arwey do notebook sets too and in brilliantly fashionable colour schemes too. From what I can see, it looks like you can order custom ones made with the colours you would like - and if this is the case, I'm definitely thinking of putting in an order for a notebook set (Rebecca said the 2011 ones are out soon!) in colours that take my fancy. At the moment, however, there don't appear to be any sets with Reich in but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when the new 2011 sets are released, there will be at least one with Reich in!


If you'd like to know more, Arwey are also on Twitter and Facebook and here is the product video for Reich if you'd like to see more.


Also, with my minimalism and money saving project about to begin, I'm beginning to think of ways to save parts of my weekly budget in order to place an order for a few of these notebooks in about two and a half months' time! But then again, the design of these notebooks are pretty much the definition of 'minimalism' so maybe that's half of my challenge accomplished?


Finally, I just want to say a big thank you to the lovely Rebecca at Arwey for sending me these lovely notebooks to review. I'm thoroughly impressed and definitely think that they are worth their marked prices.

Now, if only Arwey also did dated diaries.... 

REMEMBER: Enter PAPERLOVESTORY at the checkout to get 15% off your order (no minimum spend) but get in there quick - this code runs out tomorrow night (Monday the 29th of August).