How I Use my Filofax: time management for work/life balance

Back at the end of June I shared how I use my agenda to manage tasks for work and life. Since that time I have taken on a new job and encountered a stack of barriers regarding my academic life. I have had to adapt my agenda (and ‘one true Filofax’) to suit.

I still rely heavily on a two-pages-per-month calendar for scheduling tasks. And I still write things in black pen, then highlight over to define the task/event further (personal, health, uni, Guiding/work, bills, holidays). I also use this overview to keep track of what week it is in the school term (Guiding and work related) and in my pregnancy.


August 2012

In conjunction with this calendar I use a two-week timetable from Philofaxy to track recurring tasks. My work ‘week’ is actually a fortnight, which explains the need for two weeks of timetabling. This also allows me to track which rubbish bin goes out  and when (we have three bins now!)


Timetable (week 1)

My day-per-page diary has been replaced by Philofaxy’s enhanced TM two-pages-per-week calendar. This format works best for me as I am able to easily record the handful of appointments I have each week on the left-hand-page and daily (or weekly) must do tasks on the right-hand-page.


3-9 Sept 2012
(I don’t usually highlight my weekly calendar but did so to show the variety of appointments and tasks I track via this layout)

In each day box I also track my husband’s work schedule (above the day name), the start of my work ‘week’ (red dot sticker), what bin needs putting out (green or yellow dot sticker), the school term week (the number on Tuesday), and the current week in my pregnancy (the number on Wednesday).

Further to this system I have dedicated ‘running to do’ or ‘capture’ pages for the various aspects of my life. My MA has two (LitReview and Masters/general), one each for my work projects (tracking both my tasks and those assigned to other stakeholders), one for my Guide Unit (for program ideas, etc), and one for my OBP Award. These are simply downloaded from Philofaxy and edited (either by hand or in Word) to include the appropriate ‘document’ title.


LitReview running to do list

Although looking at my time-management system in this format it feels overly complicated, it really does help my manage my time efficiently in order to balance work and life. If I can see I have a work trip coming up, I ‘write off’ the next day (basically just to recover!) And if I am away or having visitors on the weekend, I know not to schedule big tasks for that time. And sticking with my ‘one true Filofax’ I know I always have all important information on hand to make notes, take calls, and run errands while I am out and about – meaning I rarely ‘waste time’ when I am out of the house.

How I use my Filofax: goal tracking

In an effort to track the goals I set for myself this month, I printed a month-on-two-pages calendar insert from Philofaxy. I track my goal targets each day using coloured dot stickers and a monkey stamp.


Overview Week 3-9/9/12

  • Calm Birth practice 0/3
  • 1-2 hr of LitReview per day 1.5/7
  • Charlie (dog) walk 4.5/3
  • Wini walk 5.5/4
  • Antenatal fitness 1/1

So far, as you can see, I am on target for dog & Wini walking (thanks to continued Spring-like weather, yay!) and I’ve not yet skipped an antenatal fitness class (so proud of myself). I am, however, struggling with my LitReview daily target, but count any little bit I do towards it as an achievement (hence some of the half-circles). The plan is to make my LitReview my morning focus (generally after the ‘daily’ walk) and spend my afternoons ‘at’ work.

I have also managed to arrange for 1 of 4 library displays to go ahead. The second I need to book and numbers 3 and 4 are requiring the go ahead to be booked from other parties.

The nursery is still not set up (it requires a massive change around of two rooms in our house) but will likely start taking shape this weekend and be completed during the last weekend of September (we have our baby shower and a short trip planned for the intervening weekend).

Practicing my ‘Calm Birth’ techniques was added at the start of this week (8/9/12), to make sure I am continuing to not only physically but mentally prepare myself for the birth of BabyGirlC.

Pretty sure my next step should be looking at how to reward myself for ‘achieved’ goals (or a whole week of achieving goals).

How do you track your goals?
How do you reward yourself for completed goals?

#filofax 365/30 5 & 6 + 7 & 8 September 2012

Here are days 5-8 of 365/30 September:


5 & 6 – looking at my bad habits should be in my monthly goals…


7 & 8 – not very long lists

Goal Setting: September 2012

Being accountable is my primary motivation for keeping to my goals. Thankfully I’ve the lovely Jenn keeping me on track (and enabling me to produce more Filofax inserts for keeping myself organised!)

This month I set my goals as part of the #Filofax 365/30 challenge. My goals include academic, personal, fitness, and work related tasks.

  • Do 1-2 hours of reading for my LitReview each day
  • Set up the nursery for BabyGirlC
  • Walk Charlie (the dog) 3+ times per week
  • Walk myself 4+ times per week (this can be doubled with dog walking)
  • Start attending antenatal fitness classes (each Wednesday)
  • Arrange library displays for my 4 work projects

Like the massive Filofax nerd I’ve become, I had to find a way to track my goals in my Filofax. I decided to do so on a month on two pages calendar (homemade insert from Philofaxy) using coloured dots to track the repetitive tasks.

So far so good! And knowing I need to ‘show’ my progress to Jenn each week keeps me accountable and motivated to complete my goals (and, hopefully, form some new habits).

#filofax 365/30 3 & 4 September 2012

I have added to my ‘Where in the world do I want to visit?’ list constantly since I first wrote it. And my ‘Reasons to start…’ list was inspired by my monthly goals set on the first day of this challenge.


#filofax 365/30 days 3 & 4

Seeking #AcWri Motiviation: working outdoors

In an attempt to start working on the goals I set for myself for this month, I decided to trial reading outdoors in the sunshine.


I set myself up on a quilt in some dappled shade.

I managed to read my article in the allotted 1-1.5 hours and discovered some pros and cons of reading academic material outdoors:


PRO: It’s really pretty

PRO: This handsome fellow visited me a number of times


CON: This little lady decided to try napping on my  papers


CON: I kept getting cornered by green ants – and then one bit me!

Despite the scary green ants, I did succeed with my goal of finding reading motivation outdoors. I found the sunshine, fresh air, and new environment a nice change from my desk/couch.

Unfortunately Albury has turned off the sun for the next few days so I cannot repeat this #acwri adventure as soon as I would like to do so!

#filofax 365/30 1 & 2 September 2012

Whoops, didn’t mean to go AWOL for so long! I started a new part-time job right at the start of August and I’m just getting back into a routine that allows for all most aspects of my life to get some attention.

I have decided to plunge further into the online Filofax realm by participating in the ‘#Filofax 365/30’ challenge: “It follows the 30 days of lists idea. On the last day or first of every month there will be a new set of lists for the whole month published, either in a document in the Facebook group or on a blog post on the person who is hosting it’s blog, it depends how they want to do it. There will be a notification on the Facebook wall.”

I made up some pages for my Filofax from Philofaxy templates (comment if you’d like me to send you a copy – in personal size only).


The monthly overview for 365/30 September


Lists from 1st & 2nd September

I will try to upload photos of my lists every couple of days (mainly due to the layout in my Filofax making this the easiest option!) as a way of getting back into blogging more regularly.

It’s gotten to that point in the pregnancy…

That’s right, dear readers, I have embraced the ‘use a hair tie to expand the waistline of my pants’ phase of my pregnancy:

But soon I fear I will need to fork out the money to buy a Belly Belt (about $26 – !!! – from my local BigW). Perhaps it shall be my first purchase with my first paycheque from my new job…

22 Weeks

This week, BabyC is the size of a:
How far along? 22w6d
Due date: 21/11/12
Total weight gain/loss: +6kg
Maternity clothes? yes-ish – I’ve divided my wardrobe into “my belly will keep fitting in this” and “not for very much longer” groupings
Sleep: happens, but not sure I’m getting ‘good’ sleep lately (feeling exhausted a lot of the time)
Best moment this week: Getting the all-clear for BabyC after we had a (really scary) car accident
Movement: Lots and often
Food cravings:protein and fresh salad… and sweets
Symptoms: getting hormonally emotional over the smallest things!
Labor Signs: not yet, too early
Stretch Marks? not yet
Swelling? not yet
Belly Button in or out? still in
Feeling toward Pregnancy: feeling more ‘pregnant’ and less ‘fat/bloated looking’
What I miss: being able to fit into some of my clothes
What I am looking forward to: really looking forward to meeting our little one (but do not want her to come earlier than she is ready!)
Milestones/News: 22 week antenatal appointments with doctor and midwives (and signed up to be ‘followed’ by a student midwife); having a car accident while pregnant (that’s news, right?)

Coping with Pregnancy Hormones as a PostGradMama

A brain dump on my current #postgradpregnancywoes

Contrary to my initial thoughts and feelings: growing a thesis and a baby IS hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Today I hit 21 weeks down and 19 to go with my pregnancy, and my postgrad/mama life balance isn’t getting any easier.

I am tired.
I am teary.
I am irritable.
I am subject to constant mood swings.
I am suffering from ‘baby brain.’
I am having trouble prioritising my life.
I am lacking in academic self-confidence.

And this lack of self-confidence means my academic productivity has slipped. Greatly. I have been avoiding my LitReview like the plague. But considering a) I want it done before Smeagol arrives and b) it won’t do itself, I need to somehow get myself out of this  rut and get my LitReview mojo back on track.

My goal is to read 2-5 articles every day (including weekends) with the average goal being to read 3 articles every day. Part of the reading includes transferring my notes to my LitReview notes document (I take notes as I read in Mendeley, but am starting to arrange them into something somewhat somehow someday structured in Word).

My other daily goal is to take time out to remember ‘Hey, I am pregnant’ and to stop stressing over the little things. The most important things are my well-being, the well-being of my little one and my husband (and my furbabies), and then worrying about academics.

Sometimes I feel like I need a similar wall mural to this infamous one by Homer Simpson:

Other PostGrad/Mamas:-
How do/did you cope with the postgrad/mama balance?

Help?!