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12 April 2012

How do you? - Studying

This weeks 'How do you' question comes from reader Graham who asks:
I am about to commence some Open University first degree studies and wondered if there are other followers who are currently carrying out such studies and who use a Filofax to plan and coordinate their studies who would be prepared to share just how they do it?
I certainly recall a few people setting up Filofax organisers specifically for their studies, and there are plenty of students amongst our readers.

Dredging back through my very vague memory, I recalled the following posts:
And I'm sure there are many others I'm sure... so please step forward and post some links people...

Thank you. 

    18 comments:

    1. I don't have any links to share, but can say that I am currently in paralegal studies and track it in my one filofax which I use for everything. I write assignments on post-it notes and stick them to the daily diary page several days before I need to complete the assignment, to make sure it gets started. I draft out my plan on paper outside the filofax for when I will fit in what school work, and then copy it into my diary and notes once the kinks are worked out. This helps a great deal to prevent the diary pages from becoming a mess of scratched out junk. Writing things on post-its makes it easy to move them from day to day. I also write projects on the little colored tape flags on the filofax sticky note insert, and move them each day to keep a reminder to keep the project in mind. I find that the reminder helps me make a little progress each day, sometimes just 10 minutes per day can save a great deal of trouble closer to deadline.

      I suppose, essentially, I treat my studies simply as another project in my life, and they are managed in the filofax the same way I manage my work and home projects. I *really* like using the sticky notes for a lot of this, it's easy to move things around and rearrange etc.

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      1. Hi Josh

        Post its and coloured inks seem to be a major element of planning both for study and the work bit too; thank you for taking the time to respond.

        Cheers

        Graham

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    2. The very best advice my tutor gave me was, plan your time and your assignments in your diary and planner and then double the time you think you will need. He was utterly on the button with that pearl of wisdom, especially when it came to my master's dissertation. Diary in your working plan, deadlines etc, but allow bags of time. Also remember it is a marathon not a sprint, so chip away at the work little by little and keep mailling it to your tutor for tutorial feedback, before your final submission. I've got a few pro- formas I used, which I'll share if you mail me at je.mccourt@virgin.net.... may or may not be of use.... each of us is individual in our working methods. I used a lot of box files for my reading materials and notes and memory sticked everything and saved assignments rigorously as I went along. You do NOT want to lose a dissertation through computer fail or lost laptop at the very last hour!!! Keep your fees receipts VERY safe, and your mark sheets and second assignment copies for external examiners,.... a darned nuisance to do additional copies later for an external examiner when other work piles up. Universities can need these slips of paper as proof you have completed the course and have paid everything up front, or rather mine did, before you could graduate. All the best.... and enjoy the course.

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    3. I've made some pages to support the Cornell Note taking method:
      here is the link.

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    4. I've been studying at uni for years and have never heard of the Cornell notes system - it would certainly straighten up my notes, however, so I'm going to be implementing it ASAP. Thanks for the heads-up Ray.

      I use an A5 Domino (so lightweight + 30mm rings) to keep track of all my class papers and lecture/tutorial/assignment notes, keeping a separate notebook for reading notes and assignment drafting. Classmates marvel at my A5 printouts...certainly not an idea for those who can't stand small print.

      I always had trouble writing over the rings...until an insanely simple idea came to me: I use scissors to snick through the paper from the edge to the ring-hole...the pages become instantly removable (a bit like the Today page-marker) so that I can flip them over to write (saves time, but also spares everyone else the constant clicking of rings opening/shutting in class). These pages are also remarkably stable and need a solid tug to be removed.

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    5. I started my MSc last September and originally had 2 personal filofaxes - one for "personal" stuff and one for MSc stuff. I quickly moved over to a single consolidated A5 Finsbury which I find much better.

      I use the TM inserts. You can see my set-up here http://www.flickr.com/photos/_babs_/6788303367/. On the right hand page I have personal things, plus at the top I have a count-down to any important deadlines (essay, exam, assignments, etc) and a general "to do" list for the week. On the left hand page I have my course reading, split into topics (so if you can make it out, in the picture I have 10 chapters / papers of T&D reading and 3 chapters / papers for PHRM). It's then easy to keep track of what I need to do that week and score off when I've done it.

      I did set up another A5 as a revision Filo for my up-coming exams, but the narrow-ruled paper doesn't work for me taking lots of notes, and I still can't find an alternative at the moment, so I've moved over to an ARC notebook for that as it's a bit more manageable. I can heartily recommend using the Cornell notes system, though, as it's an excellent tool. Have a look at http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/cornelllined/ for a free tool to design and print your own Cornell templates on A4.

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      1. I should qualify my statements in saying that my MSc is a part-time, distance learning course that I need to fit round day-to-day life as well. You may find that the set-up you need varies depending on what kind of course it is, is it FT or PT, etc. I would definitely recommend printing out some diary sheets, etc, to trial before-hand before spending lots of money on them until you find out what kind of set-up you like best.

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    6. I use a Dodopad A5 filofax inserts to plan my time for uni assignments. In the first column I write deadlines for that specific day. In the rest of the columns I write what work to do that day- I plan it by looking at the deadlines that week in the first column boxes and working out when to do the work to finish by the night before at the latest. This works for small assignments- presentations/powerpoints that are due in, language assignments etc. I don't tend to do this for essays etc as these big assessments are always on my mind, I don't need to write them down to remember them! But because the big assessments are at the front of my mind, I have to make sure I don't forget the small ones!

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    7. I used a Personal size Filofax throughout graduate school and it worked well for me. I used the week on 2 pages to track assignments and deadlines and month on 2 pages for the larger overview to keep linger-range assignments from creeping up on me. I also used the address section for my contacts and professors' info.

      I personally can't recommend using a Filofax (even A5) for class notes. I kept a separate notebook and folder for each class's notes and papers. A Filofax would not be able to hold all of your notes, then you'd have your notes separated which wouldn't be a good idea either.

      I've posted this before but it's worth saying again: create a section in your Filofax to record and track all of your degree requirements. Keep lists of all the classes you have to take, all the required papers, etc. Then you can check them off as you complete them. Also, it's best if you can get all of your advisers to agree on paper (or at least via email) on your requirements for graduation, then keep close track of this. In my final semester my main adviser tried to tell me I should take two more classes. I was able to show her what she had agreed upon at the beginning of my graduate work and so avoided an additional unnecessary semester of classes.

      Best of luck in your studies!

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      1. That should read "longer-range"!

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    8. I would consider a Personal Filofax that you are fond of; you will want it out and with you all the time. As a university professor (in the US), my most successful students (graduate and undergraduate) write things down. As you may know aalreaddy, writing by hand boosts neural activity enhancing the learning process (vs. e-devices).

      Perhaps Doane notebooks are my favorite for notetaking.

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      1. "...writing by hand boosts neural activity enhancing the learning process (vs. e-devices)."

        I didn't know that, but I suspected something of the sort.
        Thanks

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    9. I'm doing a part time BSc as well as working full time. I currently am using an A5 with the vertical wo2p diary, I have a pocket sized page inbetween each diary page which I use as a 'floating' to do list which can be moved from week to week if I don't get everything done that week. It's too bulky and heavy to take with me to uni so I have just bought a personal sized Malden which I plan to use for the next academic year. I use the A5 for essay/experiment planning etc, and for some revision. I have not been using it to take notes as my note taking is really messy do I prefer to use a cheap notebook and then type or write my notes up later on.

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    10. A quick, but very sincere, THANK YOU to all who have responded and to Steve for posting the question for me.

      The points you all have made are top notch and I reckon that I will be 'borrowing' one or two (or all) of them to help give me a better opportunity to succeed with this first real attempt to read for a degree.

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    11. Hi I am also studying with the OU and use a filofax to record everything study wise. Such as what I need to do that week, tutorials and when TMA's are due. I also have a seperate diary area to record my thoughts on the parts I am studying eg should a section be re-read again, questions I need to ask, how I am feeling. I then use a to do list that is driven by this second section so if I feel I need to re-read a chapter I note it or if I have question I note them too. I was shown this way by a fellow OU student who had been studying 2 modules (as I was at the time) and needed to keep a good track. Regardless of how many modules you may be doing I found this way very useful and adapts along with the level of study involved.
      Good luck with the studying!

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      1. Hi Anne, thank you - it is surprising the simplest points are so often the most effective, I'm doing just one module at this point but registered for two more starting October.

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    12. Hi Graham,

      I'm a long time reader but first time commenter at Philofaxy. Your question felt like the perfect time to finally say something! I'm a full time undergraduate student, and I couldn't live without my filofax. I use an A5 Finsbury, but I don't write my lecture notes into it, just use it for planning etc.

      Like a lot of people above have said, I use a week-to view diary (the week to view with appointments). I find this gives me enough space to fit in all my lectures, commitments and things to do without having to slot in extra pages or flick back and forth between sections. I also like being able to see my deadlines for the whole week at one glance.

      One thing that I haven't seen anyone else mention (I don't think, correct me if I'm wrong!), is using their filofax for grade tracking. I have a page in my filofax used for keeping track of my marks so far, and the marks I would need to get in later assessments for a particular final grade. It's a bit of a pain working it out manually, but this is honestly the most helpful page in my filofax.

      In case you're curious, I posted about how I use my filofax for studying, including detailed calculations for grades at http://studentspyglass.com/2012/04/18/filofax-for-studying/ if not, fair enough, and best of luck with your studies :)

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      1. Hi Faith

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, I am quite quickly finding out that this here degree lark takes a fair bit of time out of the day LOL. My question originally came about thinking about balancing the OU work and the day to day work work - the comments you have made along with the others above have and will be very helpful to give me a head start at the planning bit. I did have a look at your blog post (and a very quick shufty at the 'game' too - hmmmm wonder if OU students partake of similar ???).

        I do like the idea of the grade calculation page, think that may well assist with the focus bit.

        All the best with your studies too - hope that 1st happens for you.

        Regards

        Graham

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