29 Mar 2012

university: dissertation

This is an addition to the 'university' series - on how to plan your dissertation. I've used my Flex by Filofax notebook for this but you could also use normal Filofax notepaper too.

Stage 1: Planning the course of action.

I first looked at how many weeks I had left before it was due in and wrote those weeks down. I then figured out what needed to be done and then spread the work out in manageable weeks. Of course, I may end up doing things ahead of schedule but this is the rough plan:

Stage 2: Planning the dissertation structure (preliminary - things may change!)

This is me planning the structure of my project:

On the left is the rough plan and requirements of the project and dissertation. And on the left, is a rough structure for it. This may change and the number of chapters may also change.

Stage 3: The reading and researching

And then the actual researching. On the top of the page, I have written the reference of the paper or article or a general title such as below ('Basic stuff'). Then I will take note of the important points read in that particular file or article.

Stage 4: Writing the actual thing

Then, the home straight - writing the actual thing! This will require countless cups of coffee and green tea for me but with perseverance, if we get as far as this, the end is in sight and that should be motivation enough!

Although I've not written mine yet, I am currently at the researching stage. Any other tips? Send them my way through a comment or email - I will be grateful for anything that may help too!

27 Mar 2012

university: revision and exams

Revision and Exams - not exactly the most interesting topic I could write about but we will always face tests and exams in life...

Here is how I do things - this may or may not work for everyone but I find it works fine for me.

1) Write out your lecture notes - this is always my first step for revision.

Include any other notes you may have made through extra reading, watching other university lectures, etc. too.

2) Summarise each topic on one side of A4 - two sides if it is a big topic.

Particular emphasise should be on the parts that you find most difficult to learn or understand.

3) Write out sticky notes with the information you find particularly difficult to understand or remember.

Or even for the bits of information that are purely factual and can be listed - such as the ionotropic and metabotropic sticky note on the top right of the picture.

4) Do past papers! Plan answers to them and add in any extra bits that may show a deeper level of understanding. 

Try and link up lectures from the same module or even different ones.

5) And finally... plan your revision schedule and stick to it.

Again, simple tips but I find simple works best with exams as complicated as the ones I've had to sit for my degree!

I hope these help and if there is anything else you think would be useful and would like me to blog about, do let me know via a comment or email (contact details are on the 'contact' page).

25 Mar 2012

brightening things up...

Been having some trouble recently just by feeling seriously fatigued. Luckily, I have about two months to do my dissertation so hopefully things will be looking up quite soon!

So to brighten my desk up, I bought this:

Prepare for my review of my current Filofax: The Affair by Temperley by London for Filofax. I'm going to review how it has survived a month of solid use and a month of being thrown roughly into my handbag and stuff. 

20 Mar 2012

university: balancing social life and work

At university, you'll find that there'll be plenty of opportunities to have a social life as well as work. You may decide to run for president or another position on the committee of a society or you may decide to take part in a time-consuming sport; either way, you'll need to balance your time carefully in order to keep on top of your work.

Here are my tips:

1) Write everything into your diary.

This is what my diary looked like a few weeks ago when I was busy every day and night:

If you don't have a diary, invest in one! Don't rely on your phone or whatever - these things break down - trust me, I've had it happen to me!

As you can see, I've been pretty busy - I wrote in films I want to see (with the asterisks), what happened that day as you can see from the Friday (yes, I finally got that elusive offer for medicine!) and Saturday and Sunday - the things I did. It's a mixture of work and play - the work side was the lecture on Thursday and the play was mainly at the weekend.

2) Learn to prioritise.

If you have a lab report due in, don't plan for something the night before that will last for quite a while. Here is an example: I had a lab report due in at 2pm so I opted to play squash with a friend at half five that evening instead of the evening prior to this hand in deadline.

Another is here:

My essay deadline. This also marked the beginning of my revision week for this module and so I wrote down to make loads of frozen meals - another way to organise.

3) Write things into your diary as soon as soon as you get advanced notice for something.

I'm currently a hall senior so I have to attend fortnightly hall meetings and I write these in my diary as soon as the date for the next one is set. The pancakes event on the Tuesday is also a hall event - hence why it has also been written in. This was also during my revision week so I had planned what to revise that day - which is what 'functional methods' and 'principles' stand for.

4) If you organise something, make sure you keep track of it. 

Here, I have organised a poker and monopoly deal night. In preparation for it, I have to buy some food, drinks, snacks, etc and so I will organise this using a post-it note stuck to my 'today' marker.

5) Know what things are more important than others.

Of course, that netball/football/rugby match against a rival university is less important than a lab report but it is also more important than going food shopping - as you could do that straight after or on the way back.

These are the tips I have for this section - most of them are common sense; nothing special but sometimes we need to go back to basics in order to move forward (at least I did this year).

The next and final section is about the most important part - revision and exams. Not gonna be a fun post to write but it will hopefully prove useful to any students who read it :-)

17 Mar 2012

what's in my bag #8

This is what I pack in my bag when I go out in the evening. I really struggle to pack for clutch bags as I usually like to carry the kitchen sink everywhere but here is what I usually take with me!

14 Mar 2012

university: lecture notes

This is the first in a series about university, organisation and everything else. Any specific requests for blog posts, please do email me or let me know via a comment (as I read all comments!).

This one is on: lecture notes: what to do with them, how to utilise them to the full and why they are useful.

So, first question: what do we do with them and why are they useful?

Well, at my university, they ply us with bucketloads of information in every single lecture. They expect us to be able to take in more at a faster rate than at other universities and as a result, some of my lecture notes can be quite thick (even though I print six slides to a single side of A4!). They are useful because they give you somewhere to start with regards to learning more about a topic. Although they are already very much in depth, one can still do a bit more by seeking out papers in relation to the topic and reading them to gain further insight and a deeper level of understanding.

So, what to do with them? Well, I always make sure I have them printed in time for a lecture (some subjects at my university don't supply lecture notes that have already been printed and mine just so happens to be one of these subjects) and then I bring them along. I also use a voice recorder in case I miss anything, and I find that revising whilst listening to the lecturer also helps me take in the stuff easier.

Here is a sample of a side of lecture notes (from my most recent module of Neuroscience):

As you can see, I annotate the slides as appropriate with information that I deem important. This could be something a lecturer said during the actual lecture or something from outside reading.

Now that we've established why they are important, we can see how to use them to the full.

After a lecture, I will write up the notes along with any extra reading I have encountered. This then makes my notes look like this:

or like this (for a different lecture)...

And then, I will do further reading through papers (from a different topic within the module):

This is it for the first part of this series on lecture notes. The next part will be on assignments and balancing your social life with university work.

11 Mar 2012

an update about my affair

This is an update about the set-up of The Affair. As I mentioned in the previous post about this, I ordered normal Flex notebooks which I am now using instead of the Temperley for Filofax one that came with it. 

I've added a personal and cuter touch to my Filofax by using stickers. There is a panda and two apple stickers on the cover of my Flex notebook. I'm actually using the thinner Flex notebook as at the moment, I don't need a thick notebook as I don't have lectures - only a dissertation and literature review to do.

Within the note pages, I've also written lists of things - here is one of them: a list of places I want to visit in the next few years if I can. I'm going to try and do most of them on the cheap so for the European ones, Interrailing may be an option. If you have any other suggestions for travelling on the cheap - let me know! Along with any other places you think I should see as I'm open to any recommendations!

My diary tab now looks like this - a row of pandas doing a roly-poly; two teddy stickers and one of a flower from a friend.

I've added in a geeky sticker for the day that represents the end of my degree...

And for my sister's birthday, I've added an orange monkey as she likes the colour orange and she was born in the year of the monkey (with reference to the Chinese zodiac).

A list of restaurants I want to visit - for various reasons such as the fact that I may have vouchers for them or my Tastecard works for them and I've never been before, etc.

Movies I want to see... I'm going through a Disney phase at the moment after my friend forced me to watch 'Wall-E' (and I'm glad she did! It was such a cute film).

So this is the update of how my Affair is currently run. Until anything else changes, this will be my set-up for the time being!

9 Mar 2012

february review

Couldn't live without: Feb 2012

Korres pomegranate lip butter / / Cafe Nero mocha coffees (exam season life saver) / / Madsen restaurant for excellent Scandanavian food / / Michael Kors watch / / Sticky notes / / A fluffy coral angora jumper to brighten up dark evenings / / Valentina by Valentino perfume / / The Body Shop hemp foot protector for those cracked heels / / The Body Shop Moroccan rose body butter for elbows, knees, etc.

Now that the weather is brightening and warming up, I'm hoping that I can put the jumper away, use less lip butter and also less of the foot protector and body butter!

7 Mar 2012

review: muji jewellery organiser

This is another post based on organisation!

It is basically on how I organise my jewellery. I bought this from Muji back in October and it has come in so useful.

You can also get ones that open at the top too but mine doesn't - I thought the two drawers would suffice and they do.

This kind of drawer is good as it doesn't take up much space but it can store a lot within it. Definitely worth purchasing it - I paid less than £20 for the perspex drawers and the soft cushiony thing in the bottom drawer.

4 Mar 2012

the set up of an affair


So, you guessed it! I decided to keep the Filofax. But I'm going to be selling my other ones (most of them anyway) so keep your eyes peeled for a 'For Sale' page on here - coming soon (in a few week's time as most of my other Filo's are at home and term doesn't end til the 23rd.

Therefore, this blog post is about the set up of it.

Firstly, the Flex notebook on the left. I've ordered a 'normal' one from City Organiser as I can't bear to use the Alice Temperley one (as you can't buy it unless you buy the actual Filofax! Until Filofax release it as a product which can be bought, I may just save it for a special project or something instead). It's not arrived yet so you won't see it in the picture below.

I've also left the yoga card there. Then there are my National Insurance card, vouchers, a Paul's bakery card and a membership card for a local casino (I only go on special occassions, mind you, so don't judge!).

At the bottom of the left hand side is an embossed bit of leather that says 'Temperley London for Filofax' and under that are the words 'The Affair'.

On the left, the first tab says 'Projects'. In fact, this is just a tab for my stuff in my halls (as I'm a hall senior so there will be events to keep in check, etc). I also write in stuff to do with my Final Year Project and Dissertation under this tab too. I love the gold lettering on the tab.

Next is the tube and train map that came with the Filofax. Handy as I'm in London for most of the year and on reverse...

... is the National Express train line map. Handy for when I travel home as my route is on there so I can see other places I could potentially visit on my way home if I ever wanted.

Next is my Diary. Again, I've opted to use the Temperley tab.

This is what the year planner sheet looks like. I love the vegetables and fruit illustrations - displaying what's in season in that particular month. Over my next holiday, I'm going to colour these in (as my colouring pencils are at home).

Then there is a sheet which shows the Chinese zodiac years...

...and also the astrology signs on reverse.

Then the diary pages. The ruler has post it notes on - one with a shopping list for Chinatown, one with which tv shows are available for me to watch on which days and finally, a shopping list for stuff I can buy from a supermarket. I also keep a spare post it for other things.

And the coming week...

And the most important week of the year so far...

...and the most important day...

Next tab: Notes.

Here, I have a to-do list of restaurants to visit, films to see, books to read, etc. On the left is a post it of things which interest me or things I may want to check out and below that is a list of classic items I aspire to own. I've written down the Mulberry Bayswater but I actually prefer the Alexa or Tilly now.

And the restaurants... I'm slowly adding to this list as I hear friends recommend restaurants to me. These four are listed as I have vouchers for them so I'll need to go anyway.

Then blog ideas... Blog post ideas I may think of on the train, blog design, etc. Talking of design, my blog is definitely due a re-design of the layout and header. Stay tuned for that.

And on the back - in the card holder, I've put a picture of me holding my cousin from a few years back when I was in Hong Kong. It's one of my favourite photos and it cheers me up instantly everytime I see it.

So, this is my Affair. I hope you've enjoyed this tour although I'm sure a few more tweaks or hacks may be coming its way as I'm still getting used to the smaller rings and the larger size of the actual Filofax but I still love it and the pink satin as soon as I open it along with the lace outer... I'm officially in love!