Monday, 20 February 2012

Oh Osterley How I Love Thee (and can you help out on this assignment?)

So it's been a while since I blogged about a Filofax set up - mainly as my systems had been working so well. However while the Personal Deco that is my everyday contains everything I'm supposed to be doing set up is working perfectly from an overview perspective - juggling my studies has become more and more difficult to schedule....

So I started thinking about how I could more efficiently track what I'm supposed to be doing and when!

In comes the return of an A5 Filofax. Now regular Filo-crack readers of my blog will know that for a long time I'd been using an A5 for work. Until last year when I switched to using an A5 Flex and combining it with an A4 notebook for meeting notes/to do's etc (I was getting through so much Filofax paper it was costing a fortune!!)

Now this system is working fine for just my work bits. I could see the week at a glance, I had room for priority tasks and had all the space I needed for lists and notes in the A4 notebook. BUT I missed the flexibility of the Filofax set up - being able to move sections, have pages inserted wherever I wanted them, you know the usual reasons for liking a Filofax system in the first place. So I got to thinking...

Could I return to the A5 and schedule my school work alongside my work work. This would have the added benefit of meaning that I could really start studying in the evening post work (at work) and achieve things before leaving to drive the commute home and being too tired by the time I got there! Something I'm really struggling with - the 70+ mile daily commute takes at least an hours drive each way and means I don't get home until gone 7pm. So by the time I've said hi to Mr P the earliest I could sit down would be 7.30 which is bang on dinner time...

Anyhoo as always I digress.

So with a new A5 Osterley just screaming to be used (I'm so in love she is so soft, lies flat straight out of the box and is that combination of cool but classic that I love and I got her for a bargain from City Organiser who not only are far cheaper than the official Filofax site their customer service and speed of delivery is amazing) I've mixed up my set up...warning lots of pictures incoming!

In it I've got 3 diary formats. Yep 3! This may sound mad but wait until you see why.....

So here she is:

Not a fantastic shot but you get the idea...

Really love the popper clasp and the feel of the leather
Inside front - lots of card pockets and a full length pocket currently holding a jot pad from my Flex
The obligatory post it note holder!
The start of the diary pages...note the Today marker and Pink top tab...
The Pink top tab takes you to my monthly view of the's January
The black Today marker is for a week on one page with notes format diary (this is a mock week)
Then a clear Today marker takes you to my appointment times week on two pages diary
The newly set up "Dashboard" for an almost GTD inspired section
Then it's my To Do's section - again this is a mock up 

And finally the back with A5 notebook pocket (and notepad) plus a clear top opening pocket

So my diary layouts and system runs thus:

  1. Month to view - long range planning, key meeting dates, holidays etc. Essential for me to see when things are scheduled in for the year (and once 2013's pages are released for next year!) I've got a 2013 year planner but the boxes are just too small for me :(
  2. Week on one page with notes format - this allows me to see the whole week, key meetings only and top priorities for the week and to do's. So if I'm in London I can note what I need to take with me. Plus my main priorities for the week are always in front of me!
  3. Week on two pages with appointment times - now this is new to me. I'm trying to use these pages to block out time when I can work on specific projects BUT also block out study time - so for example the time slots go up until 9pm meaning I can allocated 2 hours post work finishing at 5.30 on specific school work related items eg read X chapter or complete Y workshop project.My theory being if I'm staring at the appointment to do these things all day I won't a) forget to do them and b) will make time to complete them. Having these items in my Personal diary meant I didn't look at them enough and didn't update them enough...this way as I use this Filofax constantly during the day for notes etc I will always have these front of mind...
Will this system work? Who knows but I'll keep you posted :)

Of course what I really want to try are the Philofaxy print your own A5 time management inspired pages - but no printer access...darn!

Any tips for work/life/study scheduling gratefully received....


Friday, 17 February 2012

Loulou goes loopy over laptops

I’m currently on a train tootling my way up to the big smoke for a couple of days of meetings. And after 2 coffees, some breakfast Jaffa cakes (don’t judge me i was up at 5am!) 2 hours of studying and all before 8am I fancied a break and was musing on potential blog posts that I could get crack on with and thought of this one....

My study kit gained a new addition this week after my faithful old laptop crashed out on me one too many times. So in desperation I hit the high street seeking a replacement. Now any of you who read my blog know that while I adore shopping, especially for handbags, I baulk at spending large amounts of money on technology. It just seems alien to me (as you can read about here) so I can assure you dear readers that I didn’t take the new laptop purchase willingly or in haste. It’s been a decision looming for some time L

Of course I could have done without it being 2 days after I signed up to buy a brand new car but these things are sent to try us. So off to PC World/Currys I went in Bournemouth after work on Monday. Now while I think it is fantastic these stores on retail parks open until 8pm and  I appreciate the hard job they have in the face of internet comparison shopping, crippling economic conditions and decreasing profit margins I can’t say this too lightly, this one was RUBBISH.

Appalling selection of products despite the fact the store was the size of an average Tesco superstore, almost zero staff available and those who were of course were both chatting to their colleagues and had umpteen customers waiting for their time.

Half an hour I was in that store looking at pretty much the same 3 laptops continuously. Did anyone approach me? Could I find anyone to talk to? Could I heck. I’m lucky that Mr P is an IT boffin so I spent my evening on the phone to him reading out specs and names and him googling the laptops to see if it met my needs (ram? Processor speeds? Core i5? I mean if they wrote it in English maybe I’d understand!!)
Anyhoo after getting irate for a while trying to find someone, I was waiting in line to attempt to spend £500 and googled on my iPhone (at least that works) the nearest Comet which was thankfully only yards away. 

So I hotfooted it out of PC World and literally skipped over to Comet. Now I didn’t have high hopes I have to say after the PC World experience but I could not have been more wrong.

Really nice selection of laptops, much better store design, some great (and clear) offers PLUS helpful staff! Needless to say I spent my money there....I even got an absolute bargain I bought a Sony Vaio laptop (which was the one I really wanted for no other reason that I think they look nice – shallow I know but as Mr P kept saying all the insides are pretty much the same for what I need it for why not be shallow considering how much I have to stare at it!!) Now the only thing that was putting me off the Vaio is the price as it does appear you pay more for the Sony name...

Unless you are a Comet shopper and don’t mind a pink laptop – yep I said pink....In Comet, on the night I went shopping, there was a Sony Viao on sale for just over £400 – still a lot for a piece of tech but a whopping £250+ off the price they were being sold for on the Sony website (see here if you want to know more) But to purchase the laptop in a more subtle blue was an additional £150.

Now I love pink, I have a pink purse, a pink iPhone case, even a couple of pink Filofax in my collection BUT I would usually draw the line at a Barbie pink laptop I mean I use this thing on trains (yep the suits are staring at it I think they’re just jealous) at work (I’m going to be mocked mercilessly I know this already as I work with nearly all men in a tech firm...Apple is the name of the game with their smooth effortless sleekness) And of course I use it for studying (well that’s ok as it’s only me) but I like to pretend I have an air of professionalism at times and surely a pink laptop flies in the face of all that is business like?

But then the Frugalista in me thinks getting a top spec laptop (Mr P’s verdict) at a bargain price is worth a little ribbing (and of course the money I save can be invested in bags so it's win win) which means, ta da, drum roll please......and here is Barbie in all her glory:

I do have to admit though in an attempt to tone down the pink-ness I did opt for a turquoise blue sleeve to protect Barbie when out and about...well the pink one clashed a bit!

So dear readers what are your thoughts? Would you ever be seen out and about with Loulou brandishing a Barbie pink laptop? Does it make me look like a tragic teenage wannabe? Or, as I work in media marketing, can I get away with it being just a bit of fun?


Thursday, 2 February 2012

The pros and cons of train travel (or why I'm enduring cattle transport)

So this week not only am I battling the post holiday blues, a touch of jet confusion (not quite jet lag just a general tired confusion over what day/time it is) but as Mr P's trusty steed (the tardis corsa) is having a meltdown I'm also travelling to work each day via train! Eeesh!!

Now I live about 35 miles from my place of work and it takes around an hour to drive it - on the train it still takes an hour but there's the 20 mins to get there & purchase ticket of a morning and then a half hour trot into the office at the other end - and of course a repeat on the way home - thus making my daily commute even blooming longer!

Of course this is all fine as being public transport it must be cheaper than driving surely? Is it heck! The princely sum of £14.10 is what it is costing me PER DAY to get to work this week! Far more than the petrol costs! No wonder people don't use the trains!!!

Surely though for this extortionate amount of money it's a luxurious and stress free journey? Fat chance! It appears this morning train is favoured by the local college as its full of loud, noisy teenagers (yes I'm getting old but it's early and they are very loud!!) However should anyone wish to know about the sex lives of 16 year olds in Dorset and all the mating rituals that must be observed I'm now an expert!

Of course as I've mentioned before I am hoping to purchase a new car soon. Of course I've been wanting to do that for a long while - but I'm awaiting Mr P's full evaluation of all options to be completed on the most fuel efficient/suitably sized/practical to be completed.

I think so far we've dismissed pretty much every car on the road - too common/not efficient enough/not large enough/too large/tendency to breakdown/risk of coil snappage....

I blame the recovery mechanic last year as until he came and pulled a face when we mentioned the A3 due to its tendency to breakdown regularly we were sorted. Of course now we know a couple people who've bought one (and both of them have had issues since) so I guess that was a lucky escape!

Anyway if we don't get something sorted soon I'm going to end up with a season ticket to the damn train. The only saving grace is that Mr P has to get up to drop me off at the station and as he's not an early morning person this won't be happening for long before he gets annoyed enough to sort it out.

Of course I could always sort a car myself - however not sure how happy Mr P will be about being chauffeured around in a bubble gum pink mini!! But then as you know me dear readers I'd probably spend far more time researching a new handbag than I would a new car - I mean after all I have to carry that bag around all day and the car is just for getting from A to B!