Thursday, June 26, 2014

Using Your Planner For College (+tips and advice)

Hello everyone! I hope you're all doing well, and that the heat isn't getting to you this summer ^-^ This post is inspired from someone's comment on a Facebook group for Filofaxes, they were wondering if anyone used their planners for college (keeping track of assignments, dates, schedules etc) and it gave me an idea to do a whole blog post about it seeing as I've just finished college altogether, and I've definitely learned a lot about organizing and planning whilst in education. So I thought I would share my experiences with you! These may not help you, or you may not agree on some parts, but remember this is what helped me and what I learned. If it helps you, that's awesome :)

I realized I needed a consistent and dedicated planning system about half way through the first year of my course in order to stay on top of assignments and meet deadlines. I thought about what to put in my planner, and wrote a list of things that I would need and what would be useful too:
  • Timetable of all my classes (I will post a photo below of my template)
  • Class information such as place and tutor (this will help especially when you're beginning the course)
  • Unit name and assignments (my course had 10 units each year with either 4 or 6 pass assignments, so I made a list of them all and highlighted them as I completed them)
  • College information such as address and phone number (you could also put in directions or a map if you think it would be helpful)
  • Tutor information (names, email addresses and phone numbers)
  • Class/assignment grades (I didn't do this but you could keep a note of what grades you get for your classes or assignments)
  • Dates of all the terms 
  • Colour coding for each class (I didn't do this but it is a great idea! I would've done it but I kept forgetting to change the pen colours)
  • Attendance recording (you could print off your own record sheet, or you could just write a note of any days you had off for college and the reason in your monthly or weekly planner pages)
  • Finances (this wasn't relevant to me but if you have to pay for your courses and want to keep a log of it for whatever reason, you could set up a sheet especially for your college finances so it is separate from your other finances)

Those are all the things I could think of which you could include in your own planner, all of them I included besides the ones I said otherwise. It took a while to find the right way of setting this up, whether to use normal lined Filofax paper or to print out my own sheets and templates. You will learn what system and layouts suit you and your courses, what works and what doesn't for you. 

This timetable template was designed because my classes were on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday; and they were from 9am to 4pm. So I then filled in each time slot with the class I had (I put the times next to the classes because my times were odd, such as 10:15am to 11:15am)
This is a weekly timetable template which would suit someone who had classes from Monday to Friday. You can edit it online or print it out and fill it in, whichever you prefer. It's also very easy to create on Microsoft Word by going in Insert > Table. To make the edges of the table fit nearer to the edge of the page, go on Page Layout > Margins > Narrow.
I made this timetable template for more of a weekly planner for college as well as other commitments such as work times. You could use it to plan study days or times to suit you. If you would like any of the three templates I have just shown, please email me with the template you would like and I will send it to you at
I printed all of my unit assignments on A5 size paper, so each unit was on a separate page. You can do this however you want, as it will depend on your course (whether it's coursework, exams, or both). You could also add each assignments deadline if they are handed out, which only two of my units were, but a lot of them changed so it was easier and more reliable for me to write down in my daily planner pages what day an assignment was issued (for example June 11th) and when that assignment is due in (for example June 18th). If it's on another week where you may forget when it's due, you could always write it somewhere where you will remember to do it before then (especially if you typically leave everything to the last minute!!). You could also use to-do sheets for each unit/classes and your assignments, with the hand out and due in dates on them so it's all in one place - it all depends whether it helps you or not :)

Class information can be added onto the back of the timetable (written or printed out) as a quick reference. I didn't do this, but for when you're starting college this will be a big help! Another thing you could do is include a map of your college layout, especially if it is a big or confusing layout, so you know where each of your classes are.

With colour coding, the way I would do it is I would pick a colour for each unit/class. I had 10 units so that would mean 10 colours (which is why I didn't use a colour coding scheme as it was too many colours to carry around and remember to use), so this would be easier if you have less units/classes (you can carry pens around in a pencil case or a clear zip pouch which can go inside your planner, or you can get a multi-coloured pen with the colours you want in them). Another way you could colour code for college is using a different colour for notes, assignments, term starting/ending dates, finances related to college, important information/reminders, class/assignment changes and so on.

My term dates were on the college website so I wrote them down (my college was split into four terms as well specific days off/college training dates etc). This was so I knew how many weeks were left until each half term and I knew how long I had left until I got a week or two break (which was pretty motivating to get work done sooner rather than later!). With dates, you could also add anything else which fits.

Any college information I kept on a blank lined page in my planner under the Info section. It included my college name, address, telephone number, absence number, email address, library times, and so on. I also kept a note of each of my tutors names, phone numbers, and email addresses. You could keep the term dates sheets in here too, but I kept mine in the calendar section at the front. I also had a list of my bus times to and from college on a separate page in case I needed to get a later/earlier bus. 

Attendance recording is easier than it sounds. What I did was write each day I had college, and either ticked when I attended or crossed when I didn't (I tried to put down the reason for not attending as much as possible, as I tend to get sick a lot). You could also highlight the days you don't attend so it stands out more, or keep a separate sheet and write down each day you don't attend so you can easily keep a check on how many days you've attended. 

Finances may or may not be relevant for you. It wasn't for me so I didn't keep this, but I know that a lot of people need to pay for their courses, books and other equipment, travel (petrol/bus/train etc) and so on. It's important to make sure you're all up to date with any expenses coming in and going out. I had some money coming in to help with college each term but that went into my regular finance sheets. But if you want to create your own finance sheets, here is what my own finance sheets look like (again, they are really simple to create using Microsoft Word):

DOs and DON'Ts!
  • DO keep all of your college notes in folders so you can reference back later, even if you think it won't be relevant. Keep all notes until each assignment or class is completed and you won't need them again.
  • DO write the dates on all of your college notes that you write them, as well as the class/unit which they are relevant for.
  • DON'T rely on others if you miss a class. Talk to your tutor as soon as possible to ask what you missed and whether there are any notes/handouts and assignments you need to know about. That way you won't be missing anything important (I often thought maybe someone would let me know if an assignment had been given out, but I was let down a lot of times).
  • DO keep a copy of all your class/unit assignment in two places. I kept mine on the college computer (where I did practically all of my assignments) and I also took them home and put them on my computer. College's or tutors will usually advise this in case something happens to the college computer systems, so it's important to back it up somewhere just for peace of mind.
  • DON'T hide away if you are struggling. Your tutors are there to help and support you, so please confide in someone and let them know as soon as possible. Keeping it to yourself will only add to stress and make things worse (I've been through this and my tutors were amazing). Some colleges will have student support where you can talk about college work, personal problems and worries, health, financial troubles, housing issues, relationship issues, and so on. 
  • DO use post it notes to write down things in your weekly planner pages. This is because things will change and you don't want to write something down, only to have to cross it out and change it (unless you use a pencil or an erasable pen). I keep a business card insert in the front of my planner with small to medium sized post its so I can easily grab one and make a note. Then when it comes to the day, if it happens I can write it down and throw the note away, or move the note onto another day or change the note.
So I hope this post has helped or inspired you in some way, especially if you're getting ready to start college. It will be a trial and error process, some things will work better than others, but it's good to give them all a go and see what works best for you. I really wanted to use a colour coding system for college, but when it came to it, it really didn't work for me as I would forget to use the specific colours, or bring them with me, or to even colour code at all (especially if you're in a hurry).

I would love to hear about what you do whilst in college or even university (as I plan to go in the next 1-2 years). Do you have anything which I've not mentioned in your planner? Has anything I've mentioned worked for you? Would you recommend anything else to others who are starting college? We all love some advice as I feel we all learn from each other, so I'm more than happy to hear feedback :)

Thanks for reading!
Abby x

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Friday, June 20, 2014

My Health And Fitness Journal Set-up 2014

Hello everyone! I hope you're all having a lovely day (or night). Firstly I apologize for the lack of posts... I have a lot of ideas for future posts, but I just need time to create them and photograph, but don't worry I am still alive and well and ready for planning!

Okay so this post is all about my NEW health and fitness journal for 2014. I know half of the year has flown by already, but it's never too late to start looking after your health. I have been struggling for the past few months to look after my health and weight, not being able to find a system that works for me. I knew I wanted it to be written down, that way I can remind myself and carry it with me. So I was in The Works one day looking for washi tape (which they didn't have... boo!) and found this beautiful thick A5 owl designed notebook for something like £3.99! It was originally £12.99 (or something around that, my memory is awful) and I had to get it. It has plain white lined paper, which is actually quite good quality, and it also has a strap which is super useful when you're carrying it around with you. The only thing I wish it did have is a pen loop, but you can either keep one with you, or clip one to the spiral. I bought two pink floral pens from The Works too as they were two for £1 and I couldn't resist!

 Isn't it gorgeous?! The pen is lovely too, however sometimes the ink doesn't come out and I have to turn the pen around a few times and get it going again, and the cap sometimes get stuck when I push it down, but besides that for the price and design of them I would definitely recommend them! Now I'll show you through each page of my setup so far, I've only been using this for the past few days so I am still adjusting and adding/changing things.

When you first open up the notebook, this is what you see on the right-hand page. I've used the idea from the bullet journal system of having an index at the very front in order to know what each page contains (and whether there is more than one, you simply add the extra page numbers next to it). I really love this idea and I've used it in another notebook besides this and my bullet journal, I'd definitely recommend it! The tabs I am using are the Martha Stewart note tabs which I got from a seller on Amazon US. I had been searching for them for months as nowhere in the UK seemed to have them, and I couldn't find them online who would ship to the UK either. But I searched on Amazon and emailed a US seller to see if they would ship a pack to me as a one off (as they shipped to the US only) and they agreed! I was so thrilled as they were such great price, and even though this is the first time I've used them, I love them!!

If you're unfamiliar with the bullet journal system, I will briefly explain what I have done for the index so you get the idea :) Basically I have numbered each page (excluding the index page) and given each page a title such as 'weight tracker' or 'exercise tracker', that way I can easily flip to the page knowing what I want and where to find it. I added on the tabs as it just made it easier to flip to the pages quicker as they sometimes got a little stuck as it's such a thick notebook (and I wanted a reason to use them ^-^). I can add page titles and their page numbers as I create them to the index, and add on the page numbers if there is more than one.

My first two pages included my daily food diary (the current day is marked by the 'today' tab) which I didn't really want to show you guys, it's nothing special right now, just trying to cut down and make better choices, so I've skipped ahead and gone to the next page title which is my weight tracker. Being completely honest, I was very nervous about posting this... I knew I could easily blur the number out, but I thought "No, come on Ab you need to face it, you are this weight right now, your highest ever weight, and the reason why you've made this journal is to become healthier and lose the weight! Inspire and motivate yourself, and hopefully in time you can inspire and motivate others as they have done for you!" - so yeah, I am currently 204lbs. I have certain goals but I won't go into those as I've not written them down yet, and of course your goals are going to differ from mine. I will weigh myself at least once a week, and write it down as shown.

Next up is my measurements chart. Again I was hesitant to show this to you, but I knew being honest would motivate me to make that change and become healthier, so there is nothing to hide from you guys :) I will be measuring my chest, waist, hips, and thigh (I usually measure my left thigh...) at least once a month to track progress.

Next I have written a bunch of inspirational quotes I have found from around the internet (you can easily find them on Pinterest or Google by searching fitness quotes). For me I think these will be a nice reminder of what I am working towards especially if I am having a rough day.
On page 11 we have my exercise tracker. It's basically just the date and time I exercised, and what I did. Like I said I've only just started this a few days ago, my main focus being on writing everything I consume down and making better food choices, but I aim to work out 4-5 times a week so this will start to fill up soon!

I decided to write down all the work out DVDs I have so I can see which ones I may want to do, it helps with planning out and mixing things up so you don't get bored. They are all the Beach Body work outs (my current favourites are Insanity and Turbo fire).

And lastly/most recently, I've just written down a few of my own personal motivators such as being able to fit into a UK size 12/14 jeans without having the horrible muffin top showing through all my t-shirts, and my mom is a smaller size than me and has a whole room full of clothes which I would easily like to wear each day but sadly can't fit into them right now (especially the jeans), so that's a big motivation for me.

And that is all I have so far. It's working out better than expected so far, I am remembering to use it each day as I keep it open on the today page and I make it a priority as soon as I eat/drink something that I write it down with the time (I'm not fussed with calories, fat percentage etc but that's completely up to you if you want to do that). I hope this will really help in my weight loss journey, and I will do an update post of how it is working out for me (as well as some *fingers crossed* results with my weight/measurements!). 

If you have a health and/or fitness journal, please leave a comment as I would love to check it out! I'm always looking for ideas and motivation :) I hope this has helped you if you were looking for ideas on keeping a health/fitness journal.

Thanks for reading,
Abby x

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paperchase Review!

Hello my rays of sunshine! I hope you're having a wonderful day, and if you're not, this post will DEFINITELY put a big smile on your face. I bring you some stationery products to review from the lovely Paperchase :) 

I have been a huge fan of Paperchase and all of their beautiful products since I got into Filofaxing about 2 years ago. I believe Angela from Paperlovestory had a link to Paperchase in one of her posts a while back, and I just clicked on and fell in love. I have ordered from them a few months back and bought some heart stickers, appointment stickers, and A4 plastic dividers for my college folder. Since finding Paperchase, I have kept a running wishlist of their products, and if I could I would own everything they have! So I got in touch with a lovely lady from Paperchase called Tracy, explaining that I adore stationery and their products, and would absolutely love to do a review on their products for my readers (as I get asked a lot about what stores I recommend/if I have used this products etc). I honestly didn't think I would get a yes, so when she agreed I was surprised and extremely excited!! It arrived the next day and I got ahead with taking photos as I took everything out of the packaging (so get ready for some awesome eye candy!)

Firstly, I must say the postage was extremely fast. It arrived the day after Tracy agreed with the review. I remember the postage time was very fast the first time I ordered a few months back, it took about 2 days to arrive which is excellent in my books! For UK standard delivery it is £3.25 when you spend up to £24.99 and they deliver within 3-5 working days; and it's free delivery over £25! They have other delivery options here including international shipping :) 

They also included a little note from Paperchase, which I thought was so lovely. It was really nice of them to let me do this review, I know all of you stationery lovers will adore their products as much as I do (who doesn't?!). 

So this is the first product I took out of the package, and I was like OH MY GOSH.. It's as though they knew I had six cats and knew it had my name written all over it!! It is the A5 glitter cute cats notebook and it is adorable. The quality of the notebook is really well made, and it's pretty thick too with 192 lined pages. I never really thought about buying this from their website as I'm not a fan of glitter, but this really is just so cute in person, and the glitter doesn't even bother me as it's got a clear (I want to say plastic?) covering over so you can't rub the glitter off which is what I was worried about when I first saw it online a while ago.

This is the inside of the notebook. The paper quality is really good, it's thicker than Filofax paper but not too thick. It also has a pink ribbon bookmark which is super handy! I wanted to see whether the two pens I use most regularly would bleed through, and they didn't! The first pen is a normal black ballpoint pen from Asda, and the second is a uni jetstream 101 1.0 in black which is more of a gel rollerball I guess, and on the Filofax papers this one bleeds through. I would definitely recommend this notebook, I can't say any faults on it, besides wishing there was a Paperchase store closer to me :)

Next is this beautiful vintage butterfly sticky note set. I can't find this on their website, so it may be a discontinued product, however other vintage butterfly stationery is available here. I love sticky notes, they are so handy in a lot of situations. I use them a lot in my planner, to note down reminders, to-dos, appointments, deadlines, overtime etc. Here is the inside of the set:

The sticky notes seem to be good sticky quality too. The small and medium sizes are pretty handy to use inside my A5 planner, as they both can fit into my credit card holders, and can fit onto pages without covering everything else up.

Aren't these dual ended colouring pencils awesome?! They are so bright and fun to look at! They are chunkier than normal colouring pencils, but I find they actually have a better grip. There are 24 colours in total, and the window in the kraft box makes it easier to see which colours you want without taking them all out. They have a nice range of colours too. I haven't tried them on paper as I decided to give them as a birthday gift for my boyfriend, which I'm sure he'll love as he is very creative :)

These are adorable floral sticky note (which even my mom was jealous about!) and I can see myself using these a lot in my planner!! They are so fun and the colours will go with any style design I put in my weekly planner pages. They are very sticky and have enough room to write a whole list of to-dos, a few appointment reminders, maybe even write a weekly dinner planner on it :) I absolutely love these already and will buy them again for sure, I definitely recommend them!

Paperchase sent me these awesome stickers. It's very difficult for me to find novelty stickers to use in my planners and in my penpal letters as there aren't many stationery stores in the countryside >.< So I was super thrilled to receive some awesome stickers! Here are some close ups of each of the sticker sets, with links to the products on the Paperchase website:
These are cupcake capsule stickers, the striped hearts move within the capsule which is super cute. I cannot find these on their website, but here are some similar cupcake capsule stickers :)
These are Archors Ahoy stickers which are a set of 40 stickers and they include
anchors, shells, seahorses and starfish.
These alphabet stickers are perfect for using with penpal letters and even decorating the envelopes with. I cannot find these on the website, but here are some other cute alphabet stickers!
How adorable are these cat calendar stickers? I actually have been wanting these for a while now, so I am super happy to finally have them :D I didn't realize there were 6 sheets included, so I will be sending these off to some penpals abroad who aren't able to purchase things from Paperchase (I hope you guys like them!). They have a cute cat sticker for each month from July 2014 to June 2105. On their website I noticed it says they have 5 sheets of stickers which is a total of 60 stickers, however I had 6 sheets in the pack sent to me (I'm not sure whether this is a mistake on the website or with my pack). 

They also sent me 5 gorgeous washi tapes! I love washi tapes, they are so handy with decorating my planner sheets, penpal letters, envelopes, birthday cards, little notes and so on. Two of these tapes were on my wish list too, which is an awesome surprise! They are very thick and the quality is amazing. I bought the cloud heart washi tape a few months back from a seller on eBay, and the quality was nowhere near as good, and it was half the size of the tape too. They have various other washi tape designs which you can check out here
Here are the tapes they sent me, the designs are so cute and colourful. I can't wait to use these in my penpal letters and envelopes, especially the handmade with love one! I put them on a piece of paper for you to see the designs and how it will look when it's stuck down. They were easy to peel back and change where you want to place them.
I hope you enjoyed these awesome Paperchase goodies they very kindness sent to me to review. I honestly cannot say anything bad about these products, they are all great quality and make me want to own all the products even more! Thank you Paperchase for letting me do this review, I enjoyed all of your products and I cannot wait to share them with all my penpals and also in a few surprise happy mails on the Facebook groups FiloRAKING, Happy Mail, Planner & RAK Lovers, and RAK-A-HOLIC DIVAS

I am going to be ordering some more products in the future from Paperchase, including stickers, sticky notes, washi tapes, and pens. If there is any stationery you are interested in from Paperchase but want to see what they are like before purchasing, comment below and include the link, or email me -

Let me know if you have any Paperchase goodies, and which ones are your favourite :)

Check out Paperchase and all their cute goodies here. Check out their Instagram page @frompaperchase and give them a follow to see some of their work!

Thanks for reading!
Love Abby xx 

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

5 Things you didn't know about me!

Hello my sunflowers! I haven't posted in a while and I quite missed you guys, so I wanted to blog a little bit about myself today :) I haven't really posted much about myself before, so I guess for you all as readers it would be nice for you to get to know more about me! 

fact one
I have 6 cats (yes... you read that right... SIX!!). I quite often hate telling people this fact about myself because they usually assume that I am a crazy cat lady. Well I do like cats, but I'm not obsessed or crazy about them. One is officially my cat, who was the first one we got and is also my baby called Shiloh. She was a present from my mom after I had my tonsils removed in June 2011. Then over the years we 'collected' them of my mom's interest, but they are all absolutely lovely. They have all been 'done', however we did have kittens before which went to new, loving homes.  If you want to see more photos of them, check out my instagram. We now have (in order of arrival - Shiloh, Oki, Luna, Penny, Pepper, and Mila):

fact two
I am a new snail-mailer! I started penpalling a few months ago for the first time, I found a few lovely people from Instagram who were into similar things as me (stationery, organizing, planners etc) and we swap letters and little gifts every few weeks :) It's a great hobby, it's helping to improve my writing, and I've made new friends all over the world! I currently have 14 penpals from America, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Philippines, and England. You may think "Whoa, fourteen?! How do you keep up??"... Well, I reply and send out mail every 4-6 weeks, so it's not straight away (I don't like when it's super fast, plus I get paid monthly so I usually do it when I get paid), and it gives me time to find little gifts to send :) And my penpals all usually reply within that time too, so it's a nice surprise to find a cute little letter waiting for me one day!

I would definitely recommend penpalling for any age, there are thousands of people looking for new penpals each day. You can google it and find a bunch of neat websites which will help you find a new friend, or you can use Instagram and search #penpals #penpalswanted to find someone too. I personally like to keep my penpals updated when I receive a letter and when I send one out too with Instagram or send them a quick email (I think it's quite polite and friendly). Here are some of my sent and received penpal letters:

fact three
I've owned 3 miniature dachshunds and 2 English bulldogs. They were absolutely wonderful, especially the bulldogs, but we sadly couldn't keep them for personal reasons. We actually still have an English bulldog, Lexie, who is my brothers dog and currently lives with his girlfriends parents as they have a bigger garden and no other animals. I adore English bulldogs, they are so friendly and fun! I could see myself getting another dog but not for a while (my boyfriend wants a pug so badly......... :3). So in order: Sasha, Lily, Frankie, Lexie, and Rigsby.

fact four
I have two older sisters and an older brother, but they have a separate father to me so technically they're my half siblings); which means I am the baby! I love being the youngest, I've never wanted a younger sibling and I used to have nightmares I would suddenly have one (I'm not sure why I really hated the idea...). My siblings all have moved out, and I rarely see either of my sisters. My brother lives in the same area as me so I see him occasionally. I also have 4 nephews, 3 from my eldest sister and 1 from my brother.

fact five
I've always been extremely ambitious. My mom said since I was little, I have always had a dream of different careers and ambitions to achieve. I've been through pretty much everything you can imagine: singer, actor, teacher, astronaut, firefighter (although I have a fear of fire), baker, tattooist, photographer, interior designer, game designer, radio presenter, artist, paramedic, writer, and so on. Currently (and for the past few years) I've had big ambitions to become a qualified paramedic, which is what I'm hopefully going to uni to study :)

Now you all know some possibly useless facts about me, if you want to know more feel free to leave a comment or email me :) Thanks for reading!

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