Tag Archives: #phdchat

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My day-per-page diary has been replaced by Philofaxy’s enhanced TM two-pages-per-week calendar.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.


My Thesis Journal & Notebook

When I completed my Honours thesis in 2009, my ‘sister-in-law’ advised me to keep a journal as a way of tracking my progress, taking random notes, brainstorming ideas, and so on. I tried this time around (with my Masters thesis) to keep an online journal, but it soon floundered. I found myself constrained by the virtual environment – plus, it was clearly failing at indulging my love of stationery!

My Thesis Journal

Cover (with the starting date for this particular notebook)

After forking out $2 for a composition board notebook* at my local Officeworks (and beginning to feel a little lot like Harriet the Spy) I pre-numbered every page in the book. I also created a grid-style table of contents (which needs updating and rejigging, now I’m a little further on in the process) to keep track of what was where in my journal. I find pre-numbering all of the pages keeps me from tearing out pages that aren’t so ‘perfect,’ thus allowing me to keep a consistent record of my progress, ideas, and notes.

Inside front cover (‘reward’ notice & thesis overview) | Table of Contents

The first pages I have glued in a print-out of my original, online journal

Consistency is also maintained by (trying) not to use white-out in the journal – crossing things out means I can still re-read what was written underneath.

Some things are glued into my journal, including some readings, emails from my supervisor, all of my mind maps, notes from web browsing, etc.:

Some daily notes and print outs from an NGV annual report

Daily notes and supervisor emails

Mindmapping my thesis topic/statement
I find it easier doing this by hand on blank A4 paper

Notes from web browsing (to do with note taking haha)

I keep blank scrap paper at the back of the notebook to scribble quick ideas on (like ‘capture’ pages). I also have an A5 sleeve (page protector) in which I stash random print outs, notes, etc:

Using a notebook/journal as part of the process of creating my Masters thesis allows me a lot of flexibility as to where and when I can fit in some nerd time. When I purchased this notebook, I made sure it would fit in the majority of bags I use which allows me to take it everywhere (including places I can’t easily use my laptop or access the internet).

Writing in my journal at Muffin Break while waiting for Dan to finish work



* I have never seen composition board books in Australia and have always wanted one. Unfortunately, it looks like Officeworks have sold out in store and you don’t get to choose the design/style on the website.

Gallery Visitors of the Future

Image source

I realised I hadn’t posted my MA thesis topic anywhere on my blog. Basically, my thesis will combine two of my major interests: curatorship / public programming in galleries and child development / learning. Right now, the topic is as follows:

Engaging with the Gallery Visitors of the Future
Building relationships with the gallery visitors of the future by encouraging positive gallery experiences for child visitors today: a comparison of children’s programs provided by the National Galleries of Australia and Victoria.

Do you think this is a topic worthy of investigation?

What experiences do you remember of art galleries as a child? Have these past experiences impacted on your visits today?

How do you feel visiting galleries (as an adult) at the same time as groups of children or parents?

Do you take your children to galleries?
What do you think they gain from the experience?

MA Thesis Journaling 12/06/12

This morning I walked from home to Dan’s work (2.5km, with Charlie the dog) and then sat journaling while I waited for my baker to finish work. Below is an edited version of a half hour of writing, muffin, and Diet Coke.

Follow me on Instagram: @winic_pgm

I went down to the Albury LibraryMuseum during the week to have a look at their exhibition spaces (and, you know, to borrow a nerdy book – which ended up being useless). I managed to time my visit with a group of school kids (and I believe, given their fancy schmnacy  uniforms, they were from a private school). My instant though was “Great. Kids. Totes gonna ruin my nerd times.” and then I mentally had to kick myself for evening thinking such thoughts, given my MA thesis research topic and general interest in museums/galleries (and especially given some recent articles I have read regarding the negative feelings towards youth in galleries). Taking a step back (mentally), I reassessed the situation: were these kids really ‘ruining’ my exhibition experience? Or was it an excellent coincidence? Clearly the gods of museum and art gallery nerdery were shining on me! It was the perfect opportunity to observe, ‘off the cuff’, youth in  a cultural institution:

The exhibition with which these children (and subsequently myself) were engaging with was Frock Stars: inside Australian Fashion Week (Thursday 31 May 2012 to Sunday 24 June 2012, a traveling exhibition from the Powerhouse Museum). Girls and boys were present and actively engaged in the exhibition experience (having more of a ‘hands on’ feel to it, I can see why these kids liked this exhibition more than the ‘traditional’ looking permanent exhibition next door). Teachers and a museum staff member were on hand, presenting hands-on fashion-related activities for the class group to complete (remembering that this group were probably in year 9, so about 14 years old), including, from what I could surmise, the age-old ‘dress someone in a plastic garbage bag’ game, and designing outfits on dolls. It was (nerdily) interesting (for me, not so much the kids) to see the ALM staff-role in this setting, and I intend to follow up on their educational/children’s programming.

The exhibition lent itself to a youth-orientated audience: the theme of fashion, in conjunction with the innovative exhibition design elements (eg. backstage and fashion studio areas were simulated and given an interactive feel), is easily aimed at youth who (presumably) hold a greater interest in the fashion industry that most adults.

But I wonder why this exhibition was brought to Albury. Does Abury LibraryMuseum ordinarily have a lot of traveling exhibitions from the Powerhouse Museum? What is the appeal of the Australian Fashion Week to the general Albury public (given that you must walk through this temporary exhibition to reach the permanent exhibition)? Was the exhibition selected purely as a draw card to a new, youthful target audience?

#phdchat 06/06/12: note taking methods


This past Wednesday I crashed took part in my first live (Australian) #phdchat (first Wednesday of each month, 7-8pm EST). Hosted by Dr Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer), a lively debate regarding note taking methods, tools, and strategies took place (with no one noticing my ‘lowly’ MA status, fools!):

This week on the monthly live #phdchat on Twitter we talked about taking notes – a topic suggested by @riotk. It’s an area researchers don’t talk about much; we tend to make up our own idiosyncratic systems. I wondered: what can we learn from the note taking systems of other people? (source)

But what did I actually take from the experience? Well, lots! I certainly got lots of ideas for note taking, but most importantly (at least for me, as a stay-at-home researcher/housewife) I got to socialise with people who ‘get’ me: other nerdy (notebook obsessed) postgrads and academics. And I haven’t exactly had a whole lot of that recently!

Whilst chatting, a few people mentioned they were taking notes about note taking. Personally, I had a bunch of new tabs open in my browser to peruse post-chat. Points I wanted to follow up included:

  • The Curious Researcher, Bruce Ballenger (NB: can’t access from any of ‘my’ libraries, have to source from elsewhere or purchase)
  • Skitch (NB: iOS/Android app that seems like an academic version of Evernote – aka not my cup of tea!)
  • Livescribe (NB: not my cup of tea > handwritten notes uploaded, which means my horrid handwriting would have to be deciphered in the future!)
  • Double-entry note taking method (NB: found some simple overviews of this method via quick Google search > it seems a really handy way of note taking, but not sure how I would integrate it into my personal note taking method)
  • Using symbols within your notes to define ideas vs. content, etc. (NB: interesting ideas and possible to incorporate into my current note taking methods > currently use different colour fonts in Word, but symbols would by helpful in Mendeley)
  • Helping Doctoral Students Write, Pat Thomson (NB: available via ANU and CSU)
  • Waterproof crayons and ‘Aqua Notes’ (NB: for taking notes in the shower; Aqua Notes are USD$7 for 40 sheets + pencil + suction caps)
  • Cornell note taking method ( (NB: found some simple overviews of this method via quick Google search > would have been handy in lectures that had exams but not useful to me now)
  • Using verbs in note taking (NB: still following up on this point)
  • @deborahbrian: “…I take notes first, then review and a short overview at the top – like an annotated bilbio” (NB: this seems like such an obvious idea, why haven’t I encountered it before?!

Needless to say, conversation quickly turned to where we all take notes: handwritten vs. digital. I have developed a primarily digital note taking system (adding notes in Mendeley as I read a PDF, then transferring notes, etc. to Word as I start typing up thoughts towards my thesis) but I do take some in my thesis journal – and I am yet to take notes from a physical source, such as a book or gallery, etc. – and haven’t worked out a way to transfer these to my digital method. BUT! The point I wanted to make here was: academics seem to be a bunch of closet notebook lovers! (just like me, haha)

“…a new notebook is a big commitment (as well as a great joy)” @deborahbrian

“…The smell of new stationary gives me a bit of a rush :-)” @thesiswhisperer

“notebooks are one of the small pleasures of academic life. Full of hope & potential” @AnimiaSophia

What note taking methods/strategies do other people use? Any other closet stationary lovers out there?