Tag Archives: Planning

Yo, sound the bell. School is in, sucker

It has been a very long time since I wrote a post for my blog…so I decided to write on someone else’s blog instead. You can find it by clicking here.

First off you get points if you can name the song I stole the title from!

Hi I’m Emma, I used to write at a now very abandoned blog – hopefully one day I will revive it! But for now I am taking over Philofaxy again (if you didn’t see my first post you can catch it here. Today is going to be an extension or an update of that blog post.

It’s that time of the year again when us students sigh and begin to think about preparing for another year at our studies. Naturally, we are all full of the enthusiasm of being organised and ready for the academic year and it’s important to try and sustain that throughout the year and be prepared for exams. I am normally really keen at the start of the year and then towards exams tend to panic – so it is important to get organised early so you can help remove some of the stress.

A5 vs. smaller?

This is the big debate. I cannot use bigger than A5 personally – I hate writing notes on A4 paper and always have. So I do write my notes in an A5  However, I need to carry a LOT of books, often on a four hour round trip on public transport and for me the carrying of a quite heavy A5 with the books was just painful.

So I used to leave my A5 at home unless I really needed it. This year I have decided to try a Filofax Clipbook as they have the bonus of being a5 but are also lighter than my A5 original. I love the blank inserts which means I can begin to set it up for September/October when my academic year begins.

It also means being blank that I don’t have to fill in all the weeks and only use the pages during the academic year. I usually always carry a smaller personal sized planner with me – but I’ve taken the plunge and gone for an A6 which I am in the process of setting up and playing with. I will be trialling new styles of inserts and giving them a go.

At the moment I am thinking of a day per page but we’ll see how effective it is, usually I am more a get tasks done by the end of the week rather than the end of the day type of person. I am also going to consider writing academic dates in the A5 and the A6 (which will also house personal appointments). This will mean I have the potential to leave the A6 at home and take the A5 instead but we’ll see.

What should I put in my Filofax?

Well that’s a good question but I really recommend:

  • A personal plea in your Filofax saying this contains your academic life, notes and potential valuable research so if you are holding it – you’re clearly not me and therefore I need it back – contact me here and I will reward you handsomely. I’ve know people that have lost their academic work – it’s NEVER pretty.
  • Deadlines. Academics seem to like to put evil and never put these in one easy to access and convenient place. So I suggest you do it yourself. Write down every date – in order with times. Triple check it’s right and then check it weekly to make sure you’re not going to miss ANYTHING.
  • Timetable – you can print this out as well as write it in weekly. Be sure to spot those weird start week 6 workshop changes.
  • Sign-ups – there may be times you need to sign up for classes as well. These are usually first come first serve so the popular classes go quickly. Make a note and make sure you get the class you want.
  • Reading lists – always a good idea to have a copy particularly if you have essay questions related to reading lists. I always find it easy to take a page out of my filofax and take it to the library to raid the book shelf. Set a reminder in your diary to get your books early because they are always a limited supply and others also raid the books.


It takes skill to write good academic work and sometimes it takes time to jump levels (GCSE > A level, A level > Degree). Reading feedback is key and sometimes it is good idea to have a feedback tracker.

Where you can pick apart your feedback into what I do well and what I can improve upon. Then when you prepare for your next assignment you can start at this page and go from there.

Even if you are a first year at Uni it is NEVER too early to think about your dissertation in the final year. It will go by so quickly and you’ll be sitting there having to submit a form and you may not even know what you want to write on.

Sometimes lecturers make off-hand comments or you yourself ask a question someone cannot answer. These can be the basis for excellent research ideas. My dissertation came from an off-hand lecture comment and not only was it highly original it was exciting to research and it was well received by my department. So put the effort in early and you will be rewarded later.

Random advice.

Did you know that there is a form of dyslexia that only become noticeable when you’re at University. If you are struggling a little it’s always good to pop along to your Access Ability (or equivalent student support service) and get tested.

Also I am dyslexic and I use a Dictaphone. I found it invaluable for recording lectures and I have an archive of lectures I regularly look back on for references. So if you struggle with writing notes and sometimes find them unreliable maybe consider investing in a Dictaphone – or getting an assessment from Access Ability – often you will be given a Dictaphone as part of your package.

If you have any questions comment below. I have only just begun to set up my academic planner so I don’t really have enough to show you what my planners look like at the moment but I can come back and do another post if people would be interested in that.

Maybe there is also the potential to organise a Sunday Philofaxy Skype chat dedicated to getting organised for the new school year and we could do this at the end of August (28th?) or Early September if there is enough interest. Comment below and Steve and I can organise something.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming year and may your deadlines be well spaced and your stress levels be low!

Thank you Emma for a useful post with the new academic just around the corner.


Buying and Selling Planners: What you need to know!

Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few posts of people buying and selling planner related goods online and people have been scammed. Firstly people pay and the goods never show up, or they send the goods before money has been sent. The condition they turn up in is terrible etc. So I thought I’d share sort of a code or guidelines of what buyers and sellers should be doing.


  1. If you see an item you like – make sure you request photos of the entire planner – inside and out – close up of the rings etc.
  2. When buying always use paypal. It protects you and makes life stress free.
  3. Never pay via Penpal’s friends and family. That is not designed for buying and selling and does state in Paypal terms and conditions that if you use that method to send goods your account can be suspended and even restricted.
  4. Unless a Seller states a specific date on when to expect your goods, they seller has up to 30 days to send you the item after paying for it.
  5. Check the seller’s return policy before buying. If the item arrives in good condition and you simply do not like it. Tough. The seller does not have to accept returns or refund your money if the item is exactly as they described it.
  6. If you get the item and there is something wrong ie. The item is not fit for purpose or is faulty. You can request a repair, replacement and as of October 2015 you can request a refund. Bare in mind that if the item is faulty, the cost in you returning it, such as bus fare/petrol to a post office and postage costs should be met by the seller. You as a buyer do not have to be out of pocket for a faulty item. A faulty item is if the item has a fault when you buy it…or it develops a fault within a reasonable time frame – usually set at 30 days. Your dog getting a hold of it and wrecking it, your toddler drawing ink on it or you dropping it and scuffing it are not developing faults, that is life and the seller cannot be held responsible for your maltreatment of the item.
  7. Be sure to take photos of the condition of it if you are not happy and send these to paypal when requesting a refund. Time stamp photos.
  8. When returning the item. Keep the original packaging – including any cable ties or little bits that came with it. You can providing the packaging is in good condition repackage it and send it back with a return address on it. If possible record a weight of the item. Ask this to be recorded on your proof of purchase receipt. Where possible send the item tracked. Recording the weight lets the seller know you are sending the item – see scams section below.
  9. If you are unsure about a purchase and you are on a Filofax group. Check out the sellers previous posts. See if there has been any trouble. Try searching planner groups for a seller’s name or say selling on a site such as gumtree. Sometimes warnings come up and people tell you to avoid certain buyers as they have known to have scammed in the past.
  10. If the goods don’t turn up – file a dispute with paypal. The Seller has to send proof of postage to paypal, if they can’t prove they’ve posted it they can’t proof they’ve sent it. So you’ll get a refund.
  11. Shipping can be expensive, but remember sellers can charge a fee that includes, post, packaging and handling. If you state, or they state they are going to send it a specific way – such as Royal mail recorded delivery, request a tracking number. If what you get is less than what you paid for you can dispute that. But if you pay £10 for packing, handling and postage and the postage you get is what is started, only it’s higher than the cost of the stamp – you can’t dispute it. Postage can factor in petrol to post the item etc.
  12. Do your research and see how much a planner cost new. If you are buying a really great filofax and it’s at a steal of a price…stop and think. Yes it may be a good deal, but it may also be a scam. People are out there scamming. So do your research. Check the person out on facebook groups. Sometimes there is no such thing as a good deal.
  13. Share you experiences with the community. If someone has been a great Seller, tell the facebook groups. If you’ve had problems let people know. Often you may find it’s a repeat offender and by working together and telling people that person can be stopped.


  1. If your goods come from a smoke free, pet free home. Please state this. A large amount of items appear to come stinking of perfume and cigarette smoke. If you are sending them please make sure you send them in a condition you would like to receive them in. Keep them away from strong perfumes. Make sure they smell ok. If there are any imperfections on the planner take a photo and show them. Make sure the buyer can really see what they are buying. Make sure it is fit for purpose, ie. if it’s a personal planner state that. If it’s a Filofax state that. If it’s not a filofax don’t mislead people, state it’s a no named planner. If you are not sure of the details. Do your research and check before you sell. Pick a realistic price for it, again research.
  2. Sell good through Paypal, do not send through Paypal friends and family. You are not suppose to sell goods through friends and family – if you do you can end up with your account being restricted – it’s in those guidelines you agreed to when you signed up and probably didn’t read.
  3. Do not send any goods until you have received payment. Once you have payment send goods within 30 days. If payment is sent and you break your leg tripping over the dog and you can’t send it. Contact the buyer. Make them aware. Let them know it’s going to be a few days. You’ll let them know when you’ve posted it. They can know when to expect it etc.
  4. Sometimes people like to package things with certain goodies and extras. This can be sweet and a thoughtful gesture but bare in mind certain things. Some people send Haribo sweets which are not always vegetarian or religious dietary observance friendly. Lavender seeds might be a nice touch too, but people are allergic. So just keep it simple and stick to the items being sold.
  5. Package the item well. If you are selling a planner, make sure the ringers are protected. Take a photo of the condition of the planner as you are selling it. This will protect you if the item gets damaged in the post you can then claim through royal mail. Time stamp photos.
  6. State quite clearly what your returns policy is. If you do not want the item to be return. Specify no returns and no refunds but bare in mind that if an item is faulty or has been misrepresented and therefore is not fit for purpose, the buyer has the right to expect a return within a reasonable time frame. This is UK law and unless stated it a reasonable time frame is set at 30 days. State whether seller or buyer is responsible for paying return postage. If it is not specified UK law states the Seller must pay return postage.
  7. Record the weight of your parcel when you’ve sent it – see scams below.
  8. Where possible, pay for tracked shipping. If you stated you would send it a specific way – ie. Royal Mail first class. Send it Royal Mail first class. It is your responsibility to make sure you sell it as specified.
  9. Obtain proof of postage. Email an electronic copy of it when you send this to the seller.
  10. If you get a dispute and the item is faulty. Request photos of the condition the buyer received it in. Send the photos of the condition you posted it in. Send proof of postage to paypal in the dispute. Request the item be sent back. If the item is sent back you should expect to return postage, it’s the law the buyer should not be out of pocket. However respond within a good time. Ask for the seller to send recorded and ask for the recorded weight to be recorded as well – see scams below.
  11. Share you experiences with the community. If someone has been a great Buyer, tell the facebook groups. If you’ve had problems let people know. Often you may find it’s a repeat offender and by working together and telling people that person can be stopped.


Below is a list of some of the scams I’ve seen/heard of.

  1. People sending empty boxes both in returning and sending the item in the first place – why you should record weights. If a seller has proof of postage it will be proof of postage for an empty box. You won’t get a successful claim. If it’s empty. Call the police, report it and get a crime number. That way you’ll get paypal should then give your money back.
  2. Items being in an unsellable condition – which is why you should always request full pictures.
  3. If the rings arrived damaged and they weren’t in the photo try opening and closing them a couple of times to see if they realign. It could just be a slight hiccup in postage. If it can’t be fixed send a photo. If you’re a seller request a photo – remember claiming an item is photo is a way to get your money back. So request they return the item. If the item is in the condition you sent it in – take photos again. Time stamp them. So you can clearly show before and after. If they’ve scammed saying it’s faulty then request that the buyer pay for postage, because after all why should you be out of pocket for their dishonesty.
  4. If you are scammed. Do report it to the site you buy from and warn others. If you are on ebay, gumtree, facebook they can block and stop people from selling. It means that scammers can and still be stopped eventually but only if they are reported. You can even report the crime to local police and get a crime number.

Remember communication is key. Keep communicating to ensure a channel is always open and you are post happy with the process.

If you are buying from overseas be aware that buyer’s protection is different and the laws are followed from where the seller is. If the seller has a UK website, they are bound by UK. European countries share European law – which is the same as the UK.

If you buy outside the UK you may be subject to customs so do expect to pay them.

Do not take people at their word. Remember the great Dr. Gregory House: Everybody lies. But you do enter into a contract buying and selling. So clearly state what that agreement is ie. what goods for what price and service. If the contract is broken in anyway you can dispute it, you can report it you can be protected by it. Report it to the police. Don’t get calling 999. Just call the local police and report it. If more people stopped and reported it to the police, it would make buying and selling community less of a horrid scam invested place.

Above all do your research. Know your rights. Be professional, calm and polite. It costs nothing to be polite and if people were nicer and kept communication open the process would often be a lot smoother.

My Filofaxes: Compact Patent Lemon

*I did mean to post photos with this although time and other commitments have prevented me from doing so currently*

I thought the lemon colour of this planner just looked so beautiful, it I got it for around £20 so I thought it was a reasonably cheap planner. However I just don’t like it all that much.

Firstly it’s a compact, which means it has smaller rings and whilst they maybe great for stopping planners getting too bulky, I just don’t really see the point. It’s the same size as a personal so in reality it’s not any less bulky, it just means that you fill it more quickly and then you have that annoying pages flying everywhere when open it.

Another thing that annoys me with this planner is that it does not remotely lie flat or want to attempt to do that. My personal original lies flat and it has done so from day one – it’s so nice to just lie in on a table open and see my task list. I can’t do that with this patent planner.

Next off I don’t really like the plastic-feel of the planner I suppose it’s personal taste.

However, the biggest problem I have with this planner was the dye transfer from of my other planners. So it now has brown stains on it. I tried somewhat successfully to get the colour off using nail varnish remover and whilst it lightened it, it did in one part take off the shiny feel to the planner in that spot. It’s not very noticeable in terms of looking at the planner, you mostly feel it (and see a little bit of the brown stain). I shouldn’t have really tried messing with it but I wanted to give it a go and I wasn’t overly worried about ruining it because it’s only going to sit on the shelf and store spare pages in it – of which I appear to have rather a lot of paper. So much so that I don’t think I’ll need to buy note paper for the next two/three years.

All Stars 2016: Using a Filofax for your Academic studies

My post for today is actually on Philofaxy’s website…you can get it out here.

Filofax: To Daily or not to Daily?!

I have talked before about my weekly layout with a square grid sheet of paper which is my current setup. Since writing my blog about my perfect layout I have seen this layout more and more and it is even for sale now – something that I didn’t see before I decided to make it.

However, for the past month since I have been doing my Page-Per-Day journalling challenge and I have been really drawn to the Franklin Covey Daytimer inserts, particularly the seasonal ones. They are really pretty and I really like the look of them.

Yet, I do have some reservations about them. Firstly they are American dated, so will have all the American holidays on them. I guess this isn’t too much of a big deal, but I would prefer it to be free of holidays.

Next, they are slightly bigger than filofax inserts, which means with dividers on them they stick out in a filofax, meaning the dividers will get bent, again not really too much of a big deal but I don’t know if it would annoy me.

I am also left handed, which is why I have my graph on the left hand side. This allows me to use the most use page, my graph paper, on a side where I am not leaning on or battling with rings. Ideally, if I was using these inserts I would like my writing side to be on the left. I could take them out and write and them put them back in afterwards, but would that just be obstacle to getting me to jot down quick quotes or something I like?! I feature I do love about the day on two pages is the bullet journal style margin where you can mark things with a code.

Finally, would I actually use a day or two pages?! I mean sure I would use the writing section, or a least hope to use it and this year would give me lots of practise to focus on writing everyday, so by next year when I buy them I will at least be using that side. Would I use the other half of the page though? I mean after all I only use a week on one page which does me fine. Would I just be carrying around a load of paper I won’t be using efficiently?

Perhaps, if I started using them I would find them even better than the week on one page I have now and would end up using the section to time journal my day. I could also really track more things and could even maybe use the time section to see how I am using my time and whether I could train myself to use me time more efficiently.

I suppose the solution to all of this would be to make inserts that are like the Frankin Covey inserts, but are tailored to exactly how I want them, but then there is the added hassle of having to print out seven times the volume of what I printed out before, which I guess if I am organised and do a bit each week in preparation for the new year would not be too difficult.

Decisions are hard!

Organising my Filofax blog posts

Recently, I was reading someone else’s blog and I wanted to track how they had made their own Van Der Spek planner, this person had a few posts about it but they were not consecutive posts, but done over a number of weeks and months. Blogs are designed to be like diary entries with the most recent post first and they read backwards, but what if you want to start at the beginning of a series of blog posts and read forward?

There is an option to tag blogs with a series of descriptive links, but often, like my own blog, these are done when the blog is written and then when I go to write another post on it, I sometimes go back and match up the original tags, but I don’t think I have ever gone back and gone this was the start of that idea, let’s add a new tag to reflect that. With this persons blog there were just so many tags, that I found it a little overwhelming and confusing to pick the tags I wanted to track that particular story. Whilst my blog was still relatively new, tags are not a problem – but if my blog gets as old as the other blog, will it become as problematic for a reader?

As a historian, I am quite aware that sometimes people store their documents in a particular fashion, often that is done for a reason, but it may not be a reason that is logical to anyone other than the person who created it and may not be all that useful for the person trying to access it. Having thought about it I decided to create a new page for my blog. It will organise my Filofax blog posts by topic and then have the blogs added chronologically to that topic. This way over time if I have running themes in my blog, a reader can go to this page and see the blogs very easily and be able to read posts they want to read, without having to spend ages navigating my blog.

So on the menu at the top of my blog, if you hover over the link ‘Filofax’, there will be a hover menu appear with the option to click Filofax posts by topic. You can also access it by clicking here.

I hope this is a more useful way for readers to navigate my blog. If you have any comments on suggestions on how to improve this, please leave them below.

Letters to Kitty: Journalling in a Filofax

Today is the 1st of February, one month since New Year and I thought I’d write a post about how I am getting on with Journalling and the Page-Per-Day Journalling Challenge. I have since discovered that this Page-Per-Day Journalling Challenge is only for the people who have gone corporate and bought their assigned planner for the task, rather than sticking to the intended spirit of being there as a facebook group to help encourage other people and share inspiration. So I am now on the hunt, although unsuccessfully to find some other groups that don’t really care where you are journalling.

First let’s talk about my setup. When I was planning to start journalling I didn’t know what to use paper wise. Should it be plain for free writing or whether it should have a specific format, size was also an important consideration. So I began to think what would work for me. I keep a Personal sized filofax with me pretty much all the time. My filofax since switching into a Malden has gotten extremely fat and bulky. I don’t mind that but when I use my smallest bag there is barely enough room for my phone, let alone a little mini Malden which I use as a purse. So it was quite clear from the beginning that if I wanted to save on space, rather than looking for a separate book or another binder to carry around I was just going to use my personal Filofax.


Then came the decision making with regards to what to actually use. I tried, without success to find either lined paper I liked or somewhere where I could just buy plain cut to size personal paper that was already punched. I found a couple that had logos on, such as the filofax ones, but I didn’t like them. I eventually decided that I would probably have to go down the route of making my own, at least this way I could choose the paper quality I wanted. Then there was the decision whether to have it with a date pre written on, like a page per day, or to leave it more flexible if I wanted to write more. I posted a couple of questions looking for advice on Philofaxy. People suggested that leaving it blank without a date would leave it open for me to write more if I wanted to write more.

So that’s my set up. I just have completely blank paper cut to size and punched and it just sits in a dedicated space in my planner for me to use. That way, if I wanted to write more I could, if I wanted to write less it didn’t mean I was carrying around additional pages.


There are pros and cons to this setup, which I have experienced since I’ve been using it. I like the flexibility of being able to write more or less depending on my mood. BUT one of the major problems I didn’t imagine was that if I skip a day and do not write it; I find it very difficult to be able to just fill the day I am on and go back and capture past days. I feel like I have to sit and write each day in sequence. Now because I am still new to journalling there have been occasions I have forgotten to write for days, because I crawl late into bed and I am just too tired to write. The problem thereafter is that because I have days building up I feel overwhelmed to find time to sit and write previous days and in reality all I would like to do is quickly jot down something that happened today. In the end I tend to write only a small amount, usually because I’ve left it several days and I need to catch up quickly, so at the moment I tend to write maybe 2 days on one page. I am not worried about writing less. At the moment my main goal is just to try and get into the habit of writing everyday, even if it is just a sentence or two. So I am already thinking about next year and I am thinking that I would like to go with dated day inserts, which may limit how much I can write, but may solve the problem I am currently having. Although I do have 11 months to force myself into the habit or writing everyday.

The next important thing I have discovered or done this month was that I have decided to give my Journal a name. I felt like giving my Journal a name would help me to write each day in the form of a little letter to my Journal. Whilst thinking for names, the obvious one that entered my mind was Kitty. As I am a Holocaust historian, it was natural for me to think towards Anne Frank and her diary, which she called Kitty. It got me thinking about the diary she received for her 13th Birthday on the 12th June, 1942. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Her death is believed to have occurred in February, the camp was liberated two months later in April.


If Anne Frank would have been alive today she would have been 86, and I am sure she’d have had a good 73 years writing to Kitty had she continued to do so. A few years ago there was a project within the UK to get children around Anne’s age to begin writing diaries. I decided that this year I would try and write my journal to Kitty, as a reminder of Anne and all the years she never got to write to Kitty.

Other than writing, I try to stamp a tiny icon with the weather each day so I can just have a visual record of it. I have a virtual post it note on my computer, keeping a running tally of what the weather was like each day, because like my writing I don’t always feel like stamping the weather in every day.

I did also try to keep a line guide when I was writing to attempt to keep my writing a little neater, but in the end experimented without it and decided that I was easier to write without it and it didn’t look any different without it.

That basically concludes my first month writing my letters to Kitty. If you have been doing the Day-per-page challenge or are a regular journaller I’d love to hear about your setups and maybe use a couple of your tips!

Update (01/02/2016):
Someone said they intended to find out more about Kitty, here are a couple of links I recommend:

A youtube documentary about Anne Frank

In the documentary Anne hears that Jews are being gassed to death and she wonders if that is a quick way to die. Whilst it is a quicker way to die than slow starvation and forced labour, it was a lottery depending on where you stood. It could take as little as 2 minutes to die, it could take as long as 20-30 minutes whilst the Zkylon B slowly starved your oxygen away.

Anne was 15 when she went to Auschwitz so narrowly missed the gas chamber. She instead was shaven, tattoo and sent within the work camp. Eventually she ended up in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died probably of Typhus, she was burried at Bergen Belsen, in one of several mass graves. Her exact whereabouts of her remains are unknown.

Her Father, Otto, was the only member of the Family to survive the Holocaust. He was given Anne’s diary by Miep Gies, who had saved it hoping to give it back to Anne. It was first published in 1947.

A second youtube documentary

A BBC drama of The Diary of Anne Frank

A Wikipedia entry about Anne Frank

Her Diary in Print