spotlight on a website 5

It has been a while since my last spotlight post, so it’s high time. Today there is a great website that I want to share with the academics and thesis writers among you: the thesis whisperer. This blog is written by an Australian woman, who is very inspiring and friendly. I recommend following her on twitter as well. The blog is about being productive and staying sane and healthy as a phd student. It covers all aspects of phd student life, from technology to supervisor issues to productivity. I think almost all post are worth reading, but I will share some favourites:

Publications in your PhD: this is about the issue of doing a phd based on articles or writing an actual book, or something in between. This can be a tricky issue, especially with all the different norms and standards between fields and countries. See also my own comment on this post for what I think about this.

A visit from the procrastination fairy: about procrastinating on difficult or boring or otherwise annoying tasks. It affects us all.

Top 5 phone apps for researchers: this can help you get more out of your phone. I am not the biggest user of technology apart from my laptop, but still an interesting post.

Another way to write 1000 words a day: this post introduces the pomodoro technique, a special time boxing technique to help you stay focused. This has been the most useful to me so far, and everyone should at least try it out. Really, I’m serious.

I hope you find something interesting in the posts, and I urge you to also go to the website and read the other posts. It will be worth it.

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monthly magic: october

October is for me the month were the summer seems really far away, and yet the holidays are not yet in sight. There really is no festive occasion in october is there? Maybe halloween for the Americans, but for us? Nothing. (I am quite happy that we don’t have halloween though, I absolutely hate dressing up. But that’s beside the point.)

So we have to make our own occasions and fun. What can you do to make October a happy month? Here are some ideas:

Make something involving pumpkin It can be a jack-o-lantern, but if you are somewhere outside of the US you might prefer something like a pie. Pumpkins are all around now, and they are cheap and taste great while in season.

Buy or make something nice for your home Some pretty candles, a soft colourful plaid or a new plant can give your home (or room) a nice warm touch. And as with this weather we are spending more time inside now is the time to invest in your home.

Start thinking about Christmas (or for me, Sinterklaas) gifts No need to hurry yet, and no long queues at the shops. But if you start thinking about what you could get your family and friends and what you would like yourself now, you won’t be stressed out when December comes around. I am doing some list-making in my filofax.

I hope these ideas can make this dreary month a bit more cheerful. What are your ideas for making October fun and succesful?

monthly magic: september

O no, it happened. I let the blog die a little bit over the summer. I have been busy working, writing my dissertation and visiting London during the riots. The weather here has not been very summery at all, it feels like autumn has been here for at least a month now. Anyway, I am intending to do better from now, and I am starting wit this series: monthly magic. This is not a new idea in any way, I saw it on the former blog of A. (glamourous grad student) who now writes positively prettyful. I hope she doesn’t mind, it is intended as a compliment as I loved those posts! In this series, which I post at the beginning of each month, I will share some ideas on making the new month a nice, happy and succesful one.

September is for many people the start of a new school year or the return to work after a holiday, and the transition of nice summery weather to fallen leaves and rain. (We seem to be a bit ahead on that part this year.) Summer is my favourite season, so I always like to try and keep the happy feeling of summer around a little longer if I can.

This month will be busy for me with a few work deadlines, a journal paper revision and the first two chapters of my dissertation due. But still I want to make time for other things, and make sure I have fun and keep myself happy and relaxed. Some nice goals to consider for September are:

Getting organised in style Do we ever need an excuse for looking at new office and paper suplies and fiddling with our working system? No, but still September is a good one! If you have fallen out of the habit of making todo lists and keeping your diary updated, why not make it a challenge to plan the upcoming week every weekend. And a nice new diary and pen will definitely keep you motivated. I am trying out a paperblanks one.

Gathering new recipes Autumn is the perfect time to start trying out new baking recipes, nice coffee variations and the like. I just bought Nigella Lawson’s kitchen, and I will definitely try some of the recipes in there.

Planning the winter wardrobe A new season is a good occasion to take a good look at your wardrobe and do some “spring” cleaning. Throw out or donate anything that is outdated, ill-fitting or worn out and start thinking about the missing pieces to make your wardrobe  winter ready. Planning out a list now gives a good idea of what you might need and like, and you will have some months left to buy them so you can spread out the expense and look for nice well-fitting items.

What are your plans for the month?

favourite beauty products

Nice to see you here, after such a long absence. The absence had to do with some private issues, that I will not share here right now. Maybe I will at some point in the future, but for now let me say I am ready start writing posts again. And with that, I start writing about something completely unrelated to previous posts.

Today I want to share with you some of my favourite beauty products. Now before you all start thinking that I am some kind of expert, please know that I am not. I work in a man’s world, and they do not care one bit about this stuff. For a long time, I did not use many products either, but over the last few years this has changed. Probably partly due to my increased spending budget, but also because I now realise that it can be important how you look, whether you like it or not. And by this I mean your grooming and neatness and such, and not skin colour or something like that. People take you more seriously as you look after yourself, and in most cases this is a good thing.

Also, it is fun and makes me feel better!

Now, let me start with my moisturiser. It has the imposing title of DayWear Sheer Tint Anti-Oxidant Moisturizer SPF 15 by Estee Lauder. It moisturises my skin without being too oily, has a sun filter and smells nice according to my husband (I have to take his word for it, as I do not have a sense of smell). But the best thing is, it makes your skin look nice and even, without having to use foundation! Isn’t that great? I know this has been said about more creams, but for this one it really is true. It comes out of the tube in a kind of green-grey colour, and matches your own skin tone when you put it on. It is not cheap at all, but everyone should at least try it out. Really.

Then on to another great product: my  lipstick is rouge coco shine by Chanel. I normally do not like to use lipstick, as I am very lightskinned and blonde-haired and it is quickly too much for me. But this one comes in nice soft-coloured shades (I have the one called boy), and is transparent and a little shiny. I love that I can wear this to almost any occasion and not look weird. It is quite moisturising too. There are many colours, so probably something for everyone. I have had good luck with other Chanel products in the past, so I think their whole range is pretty nice to use.

As I already mentioned I have a very light skin, and so dark circles under my eyes are here to stay not matter how much I sleep. And for that there is a solution too, called touche éclat by Yves Saint Laurent. I have tried other products for this before, but nothing beats this one. It is easy to apply, comes in a few different shades and it makes the circles much less visible. Again, not a cheap option, but you get your money’s worth.

Something that always bothers me is having dry hands. I have more oily or normal skin on my face and the rest of the body, but for some reason my hands are always dry. I have found something to help with this in the form of hand therapy by Rituals. This is not a cream as you maybe expected, but a scrub based on oil. You rub it on your dry hands, and the rinse it off. It leaves your hands feeling slightly oily, but this wears off quickly leaving nice soft hands. Not for everyday use, but great for once or twice a week. For anyone with dry hands: try this.

And the final product on my list: lip balm by The Body Shop. Apart from my hands, the only part of my skin that is dry are my lips. This helps to keep them nice and moisturised, and it tastes nice as well. I use this alone or under my lipstick. For the winter months I need something heavier, but for this time of year this is the lip balm I like most.

So, these are some of my favourites. There are some other products that I use and like, but these stand out. And there are still some things left I am looking for, most importantly a good shampoo and conditioner. I have long thin blond hair that gets greasy very very quickly. I have tried all shampoo brands I couls, cheap and expensive, and nothing worked. I tried washing it twice a week or every other day, or every day, and nothing made a difference. So in this area I still need something good.

Do you have any favourites? Or have you tried any of mine?

what’s in my bag

Today I am going to show you all what is in my bag. It is one of my favourite types of post to read on other blogs, and I hope you will enjoy reading this one too.

First the bag itself. It is from the Italian brand Cromia, that I have never seen available in any shop outside of Italy. There are a few websites where they sell some of them, for example this one in Dutch. Mine is extra special, since it was a gift from my husband on our honeymoon in Rome. Here it is, with the detail I love most about it:

This is a view from the side, and as you can see the handle can be set to different lengths, and the remaining part is made into decoration. Isn’t that great? I also love the colour and the metal details. On the inside there is one tiny zipped compartment for keys and such, two open pockets on the other side and one zipped part in the middle of the main compartment. I put my wallet in there for extra protection, the phones in the open pockets and the other items I divide over the two sides of the main compartment. The inside is a lovely cream colour with beatiful details on the stitching and the zippers.

Now onto the contents:

From the top and from left to right the contents are:

  • my wallet, a brown finsbury wallet from filofax
  • my phone, a white htc desire in a simple black case
  • car key and all other keys in a holder from pylones
  • my filofax, I swapped the finsbury for the finchley last week and I am loving it
  • a notebook with a pen in the loop that I use as a carry-around journal, and a small notepad for loose notes
  • and extra pen
  • lip balms and mints for fresh breath (important for client meetings)
  • reusable shopping bag that folds into a nice tiny package
  • tissues
  • small pouch that holds things like a comb, hair elastic, cleaning cloth for my glasses, lip gloss and such

And that’s it. I think it is quite a lot of stuff, and from time to time I try to leave something out but I always end up missing it within a day or two. For work I also carry a laptop and a company cellphone, and also a notebook and some documents. Usually I carry these in a separate bag. I have about three handbags that I use regularly, the other ones are both from Esprit, one grey with short handles and one brown with a long strap. If I change my bag I just take all things out and put them in another bag. On some trips, like a bike ride, I leave my filofax at home.

I hope you enjoyed this post. For even more fun, Caribbean princess has posted her bag and contents too. Go read it too. Also, I would love to hear what you carry in your bags and what type of bag you have.

spotlight on a website 4

Not totally in the spirit of my last post, I am doing a spotlight on a webstite again. Usually I do these on Fridays, so that people have time to read during the weekend but since today is a day off here I thought why not do one today. The blog this week is one I think everyone knows, so I will not introduce it. But still I think there may be some older posts that are interesting enough to highlight.

The blog: Philofaxy. I have been a reader from almost the very beginning, when the blog was owned by philofaxer (I did sometimes comment as pauw13 or paulien over the years, before I started this blog). I loved his posts, and  I hope that he may one day rejoin the blog.

Do you do this too? It is called grazing, and I can totally relate to it. and do it every time I start using a new planner or notebook or pen.

Every time I get the itch to switch from filofax, I find this post very inspiring. It is one of Nan’s, and talks about how sometimes staying with a system can be easier. So true. In the same spirit is this post, a guest post by Laurie before she was a regular member, and also this other guest post by DeWanna. Why do I still try out other systems with all this advice? I am a slow learner, what can I say.

Great to find ideas for using your filofax: the first roll call, read the comments too. And yes, I did comment here already.

My first meeting with the finchley is here. And now I have my own

And last but not least, a post on how to learn to stay with one system and make mindful changes. I think I should listen to this advice a bit more.

I hope that there are some interesting posts here, even though you probably already read this blog all the time. Next week I will post a spotlight on Friday again. Have great day everyone.

influence of blog reading

You might have noticed that I have been absent from writng here and reading other blogs for some time in the past week. This was because I decided to try not to use the internet for other matters than work for a week. The reason to try this was to see how much time this would free up, what blogs I would miss reading and to see if it would make me feel better not to look at other people’s lives so much. In this post I will write something about the results and conclusions from this week off. And yes, I realise how ironic it is that I am writng this on a blog.

I started my fast on a Friday evening after work, kind of on a whim. The first thing I noticed during that weekend was how much time I suddenly had to read and do other things. Because we have had lovely weather for quite some time now, I had lots of time for a bike ride, eat and drink outside at a restaurant and sit and read outside. I did not even miss surfing te web.

During the week I saw the same effect. At work I just worked, and if I wanted a break I went to get some tea or coffee or to talk to someone. I did have more time to work with no blog reading as a means of procrastination. It made me feel much more relaxed. On Tuesday and Wednesday I had difficult and important client meetings that caused some anxiety and stress, and I must admit that I have surfed a little bit after that. But even then, I thought I shouldn’t have done that as it only increased the anxiety. Talking about it to a colleague might have been a better idea.

In the evenings I also noticed that the time I usually spend surfing adds up to quite an amount. I could really have done something, if only I had thought of what to do in advance. This Friday I caught up on my google reader, that had accumulated quite some posts. There were a few posts from blogs that I really like, but I also noticed that some of the blogs I didn’t even care to read and just clicked the mark-as-read button. These I will maybe delete from my reader.

So what did I learn from this? I have noticed that I am more relaxed and calm when not reading blogs. This may have to do with not feeling guilty about surfing the web during work hours. But apart from that I also think reading blogs can make me feel insecure. Maybe because people always show the most fun, most goodlooking, most positive aspects of their lives on their blog. Some more than others of course, and I am not blaming them. It makes the blogs fun to read. I do it too. And I am absolutely sure none of the bloggers I read do this on purpose, with the intention of making their readers feel insecure. But still it happens to me. I need to be aware of this, and keep everything in perspective.

So what are the things I want to keep? I think not reading blogs during the workday is very good for me. I will keep this up. Also I will give a good look to the blogs in my reader, and clean up the ones I don’t really care about. But the most important part is to also keep the time that I read blogs off work to a certain limit, and only read them for fun and inspiration and not to let them make me feel bad. And one last thing, if this frees up time, I should think of some relaxing and fun activity that I can do instead. Maybe take up drawing again, or write stories. I will have to think about this.

So please excuse my absence here and lack of replies to comments. I hope I have explained why I have done it. And does anyone else have similar experiences? Why or why not?

bound diary vs ring organisers

You may have noticed before that I love to think and talk and write about diaries and organisers. Today I want to show you a little experiment I did with a bound planner. I think there are a few reasons why a bound diary might be better than a ring organiser. The first, slightly obvious, reason is that a bound diary has more space on each day relative to the size of the book, because of the absence of rings. This also means that it is often less heavy to carry around.  The larger page size with less weight was my main reason to try out the quo vadis space24 planner. For size comparison see the picture above. This planner is the one recommended by Sarah from the shu box.

There are also drawbacks of course. In a ring organiser you can add other pages for lists and addresses, as well as carry business cards and other items around. In the case of a bound book you are restricted to what the manufacturer put into it. This might mean having to carry an extra notebook around with the diary to write wishlists and todos.  Also, with a ring binder you can just continue to use the same organiser year after year, without having to rewrite any information, while with a bound diary you have to buy a new one and start again. This can be a pro or a con, depending on preference.

The quo vadis planner I had to order from the US, as it is not available in Europe. This was not a problem, I ordered from writer’s bloc and apart from the high shipping cost it was a very good experience. I have the club cover in powdered pink. The reason I decided on this particular planner for my experiment was the layout. Here is a picture of the layout:

The two great points about it are the times printed on the daily spaces and the large empty space for lists. Also the paper is nice and smooth, but this is only a bonus point for me. I use the empty space for tasks lists for the week. The times are very handy for carving out larger chunks of time for big projects, and designating travel time to and from appointments. I can easiliy forget these with regular diary layouts. Here is the layout from last week:

As you can see, the many lines on the right page are more than enough for my lists. So was this experiment a succes?

I would have to say, no. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this diary. But I miss having space for all types of lists and notes, like blog post ideas, book wish lists, client contact information, books to get from the library and so on. The other thing that I really like to have is some place to put business cards and post-it notes. I found a partial solution:

But sticking in my business cards would not work, would it? What I learned though is that a diary layout for my filo that has the same type of daily space as this one has would be lovely. They have on in French, that I might try for next year. So it was an interesting experiment, and I learned something more about what I like and need to have for planning and organising. But I will have to accept the fact that I cannot function without having room for all types of things after having had that for four years now. I will show one more picture, because the planner is so nice:

This is with a small notebook and pen on top. Do you have a preference for ring organisers or bound diaries? And why?

spotlight on a website 3

Today I will point you to a different type of blog than the ones I featured the last two weeks. This is less a personal blog, and more a personal development advice website. I have found many of the articles on this site very helpful and insightful, and I hope that they will inspire you too!

The blog I am talking about is Scott Young. It is written by a Canadian undergraduate student, and there are articles on different topics such as productivity, life philosophy, finding happiness and healthy eating and exercising. Some of my favourite posts:

There are many more posts on the blog worth reading, but these are my highlights of the moment. I hope you get as much inspiration and advice from this blog as I do.

blog changes

This week I have been thinking a little about how I can improve this blog. I have come up with some things, and I welcome any input you may have as well.

I think my template needs a change. When I started this blog one day, I just picked the first wordpress theme that looked appealing. Now I am not very good at designing layouts, let alone put them in a workable template. What I think I will do is take some time to look at the available wordpress themes, and pick something that fits. I am thinking more clean looking, probably with a white background, but also still fun. And a little customisable, so I can do my own changes without having to learn wordpress in and out. Also, the text should be filled out (a pet peeve of mine).

I think I need categories or tags for my posts. Sure, there are not that many posts right now, but it will be easier to organise the posts well from the beginning than to later go back and tag every past post when there are tens (hundreds?) of them. I do not really like tag clouds myself, so I will have to think about a good way to let the tags be shown on a sidebar.

The last thing I want to improve is the blogroll. I have more blogs I read than are listed there right now, but I don’t want to clutter up the sidebar too much. I am thinking of adding a separate page with links, maybe separating them by type of content. Hopefully this will make finding them easier and more appealing.