Sorry for my lack of posts lately! Unfortunately I don't have wifi in my new house yet, so I can only post when I'm in the library. Thankfully, Angela from Paper Love Story has a great guest post for you to read about her experiences using both Filofaxes and a Moleskine diary at university. If you haven't seen her gorgeous collection of personal sized Finchley filofaxes, please visit her blog!
Going into my third year of university, you’d have thought I’d have my planner problems sorted by now… but I don’t. For my first year, and for the first two terms of my second year too as it turns out, I used a Filofax. I started with a Raspberry Finsbury, changed to a Vintage Rose Finchley, changed once more to a Jade Green Finchley and then reverted back to a Vintage Rose Finchley for the second term of my second year. Further changes ensued when I got a Moleskine on the cheap in March and so commenced its use for the third and final term of my second and penultimate year.
Did this switch cause my productivity to increase? Far from it, it seems. My best exam marks were when I had used the various Filofaxes! Why was this? Well, one of these reasons may be the fact that the Moleskine layout was a day per page whereas my Filofax diary layouts had always been the ‘Week on Two Pages’ (in cotton cream of course). This extra space meant I scheduled more things to do on a daily basis – whereas the Filofax layout forced me to limit any activities I wanted to plan that were not related to study.
This is how a week looked with the Filofax inserts:
You can see that it’s pretty crammed with writing. I write in when my lectures are, and what lecture number they are too just to make sure I bring the right set of lecture notes with me. Television show episodes that need watching (the day after airing in America usually) are written in with colour to add a bit of spice to what would be a boring looking week. Sometimes, I also plan my outfits in advance – this may seem strange to some as students are commonly regarded as hoody and jeans wearing youths; but living in London has caused me to dress as a bit smarter than I may have otherwise done. Not to mention the fact that London is a fashion capital of the UK too (controversial, maybe but I have to stick up for the city that I so love – but is also flawed in many respects, i.e. public transport!).
Here is a page of my to-do list from February 2011. Long term, short term and urgent (immediate) things are filed into those categories so that more important tasks are done first. I’ve lost this system of organisation since I got my Moleskine though and as a result, my time management and life admin productivity has also gone down. Knowing this now though, I can use Amanda's time management post to good use to try and incorporate my previous system with the use of some of her tips too.
In comparison, here is how a day looked in my Moleskine.
See the bareness? This bareness leads me to schedule things in that I wouldn’t have done previously with my Filo and this lead to me leaving barely any time for study in the summer term! I ended up messing around a lot with socials and other stuff.
Again, lectures and lecture numbers are written in, as are things such as ‘what I wore’ and vitamins I need to take, etc. Writing in what I wore that day helps with my decision about what my wardrobe is missing (nothing it seems) and what I don’t wear (a lot). This enables me to decide what to sell on eBay and what to keep.
I can’t seem to find a page where I have written in coursework stuff – maybe it didn’t exist in my Moleskine. It does in my Filo though but unfortunately, I’ve filed away the pages already so I can’t show you. As mentioned in a previous post of mine, I did use notecards to help me organise coursework.
Overall, I had more success with my Filo(s) than I did with my Moleskine. But, this is due in part to the layouts of the two, rather than the fault of the brands themselves. Also, the Moleskine is a boring black colour whereas my Filofaxes are of interesting and lovely colours – not that I’m relating design of a planner to productivity… Ok, maybe I am but just a little!
A day per page Moleskine (the large size too!) is probably not the best for a student wanting to increase productivity – a week per page with the opposite page for memos and notes is probably better.
The ‘Week on Two Pages’ layout for the Filofax works fine – there is enough space to write when lectures are, when tutorials are, etc. Obviously, this is providing your lecture venues don’t change as mine didn’t and were always in the same place for the first two years. Next year though, my lecture venues may be different for successive lectures so we’ll see if I’m still saying the same thing in December (at the end of my first term).
If you are still to decide on what diary to use for 2012 or if you're itching to change, my only advice is to seriously consider what you want out of your diary. I initially thought a large space to write daily tasks and other stuff would be great - turns out, it was not so great for my studies! If you, like me, think bigger is better for diaries, then I'd urge you to honestly ask yourself, 'Do I really need all this space?' - something I really regret not doing, myself! But, as they say, you learn from your mistakes and I've certainly learnt from this one - that day per page large Moleskines aren't for me.