Tag Archives: stationary love

My ‘New’ Filofax

Warning: (blurry) image heavy!

When I was nine, my brother and I flew to the UK (aka the motherland) for a two week holiday with my dad (who was working overseas for a few months). As a gift for my mum (all alone back in Australia), my dad sent us home with a personal sized, dark green Filofax – which  I seem to remember purchasing with him from a large department store, having found it on a square ‘sales’ table.

From that time, my mum always used her Filofax. Religiously. It went every with her throughout my entire childhood and adolescence. Even as I entered university, mum’s Filofax was still a key member of our family.*

So when I asked my mum at the start of this year “How’s your Filofax going?” it was with surprise that I heard that both my parents had been converted to the technological world of the iPhone since their respective retirements: my mother was no longer using her Filofax. Clearly this was the end of an era!!! But also my chance to indulge my organisational dreams of owning a Filofax.

And here it is, in all its 16 years of glory:

The markings inside read “Filofax / Personal Portland / Real Leather”

I’m still playing with the internal schematics of my ‘new’ Filofax but, for now, the (homemade) tabs and contents are as follows:

Tab 1: “Info”
Contains: personal profile (below), general dates (holidays, school terms), notes subsection, and shopping subsection.
The inside cover has a zippered pocket, which usually holds a yellow highlighter and some sticky notes.

Personal profile (including the ever important ‘reward’ statement)

Tab 2: “Agenda”

Being the middle of the year, 2012 Filofax inserts were on super sale at my local Officeworks. I purchased a set of two pages per month, two pages per week, and one page per day diary pages for 50c each (I can’t see this deal online, but it was definitely available at the Albury store). The only thing I ‘splurged’ on were the monthly dividers. I have been using the monthly and daily pages (stashing the weekly pages for later use – if needed/wanted):

Month on two pages
I write things in black pen, then highlight over to define the task/event further
(personal, medical, uni, Guiding, bills, holidays)

Day per page outline as follows:
– Scheduled events (appropriately highlighted) at the top of the page
– Daily to do list
– Bottom ‘notes’ regard my husband’s work

I have daily pages inserted for the current and following month. The rest of the months hold a blank sheet to jot reminders, events, etc. down on so I remember things more easily (baby brain is real, ya’ll!) – a bit like a GTD ‘tickler’ filing system, but more compact.

Tab 3: “OBPA” (or Olave Baden Powell Award)
The cover features my name tags from the last two NSW/ACT state Olave Program conferences

I have a basic overview of my Award progress and key contacts

I printed the Award checklist over two pages for easy reference

Second page of checklist | The current overview of my Award challenges

This section also has two subsections (labelled ‘1’ and ‘2’) to use for the current two challenges in progress (two being the maximum of the seven challenges I plan to work on at any given time).

Tab 4: “Thesis”
I made the cover for this tab from a suitable magazine advert

The ‘research overview’ page for my thesis
Includes info I might need readily on hand (topic, basic outline, my uni info, supervisor details)

This section isn’t yet ‘fleshed out’ – simply because I am still trying to figure out what thesis related items I want to be kept in my Filofax. A running to do list / capture page is behind the ‘research overview,’ and I have allowed two (currently blank) subsections in this tab for later use (probably for recording meeting notes and ethics details).

Tab 5: “Baby” — I haven’t decorated the tab for this section yet (waiting for the next scan!) This section contains a go-to page for my hospital/midwife, doctor (once I find one here!), and a brief overview of upcoming appointments.The two subsections are ‘Lists’ (running to do, shopping, wish list, etc.) and ‘Appointments’ (obvious).

The back cover features six card slots and a longer slot.
I keep general (non-everyday) cards in here, along with ‘next appointment’ cards.
In the long slot I have a pad of pre-punched note paper.

Side view of the main five tabs

View of the top tabs:
“Grocery” (my current grocery list)
“Month” (the current month)
“Today” (…)
“MCP” (‘Midwife Care Program’ appointments and notes)

And just for giggles, here’s Charlie ‘helping’ me with my Filofax.

* Not so much a ‘family member’ was dad’s Filofax, which was boring and ‘executive’ (in comparison to mum’s Filofax which reflected her roles as school teacher / principal, wife, mother, and friend). NB: I’ve also adopted this Filofax (an ancient black ‘Lincoln’) and intend to use it for my (potential) new job – mainly because it is more ‘professional’ looking (and, emotionally, it feels more ‘professional’).


#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?