6 Aug 2010

how I use my filo for courseworks

As you can see above, I write in what tutorials/lectures (if important) and other uni related stuff in the relevant day in my Filo. As you can see above, I had a tutorial on the 27th of April at 2pm. I've smudged out who the tutor was and what room it was in case anyone from my uni stumbles upon this blog ;)

On a side note, I have also written in when to watch the new episode of Gossip Girl and 90210. I always watch the latest episode the day after it was screened in the US as the UK is pretty late when it comes to showing American dramas.  I think the week shown above was also influenced by the Tangible set on Flickr, but obviously not a patch on the creativity shown in the aforementioned set!!!

Now, onto the real bulk of this post. Coursework. Oh oh oh how I dread that word (though funnily enough, I don't mind the word 'essay' as much? Call me crazy, but I actually quite like writing essays...). When I get a new piece of coursework, I note the deadline it is due in and I write this into my Filo in a certain colour ink or just use whatever pen that is nearest to my hand at the time. I write in the piece of coursework, the doctor or professor it is for, the time it is due in (usually 5pm) and whether or not it needs to be uploaded onto the Blackboard portal most unis use in the UK (as far as I know? Correct me if I'm wrong :) ).

After the is done, I get down to the real nitty gritty. I figure out how I will structure the coursework. For example, if it is a lab report, I will write down the components needed for the finished article which are usually: an introduction, the results, analysis of the results and then a conclusion. Sometimes I'll also be given some questions to answer in relation to the practical that corresponds with the coursework. Once all this has been sorted, I will write in my filo, on a post it note, what needs to be done. I will then space out the days in which to do each bit. I usually do a bit every two days. So in my Filo, if the coursework was set on the 14th (for example), in the 15th or 16th space (depending on how motivated I am), I will draw a box and then next to it, a goal to accomplish in relation to that coursework. So that could be 'Sort out results of lab report and display them neatly on a graph'. Then on the 18th, I will draw another box and then next to it, I could put 'Introduction and analysis of results for lab report' and so on until the lab report is done and handed in.

If I use an example of an essay, here is how the system would work. I'll number each stage to make for easier reading!

  1. Write in the deadline, plus other details, with a box next to it which I can tick when I have handed it in.
  2. The first tick box would be something along the lines of 'brainstorm the essay title to see what sort of things I can write about'.
  3. Second box would be 'research the better ideas and one or two of the lesser ones'.
  4. During the research, I would keep an index card in my filo with any references which I need crediting.
  5. The next box would be 'do first draft of the essay and check'. For this stage, as said, I will do the first draft. I will then print this out, highlight the bits which don't quite make sense or need more elaboration. These would be the first things I change in the second draft.
  6. 'Do the second draft and check once more'. If at this stage, the essay is fine (hardly ever the case), then I will add the references and diagrams, etc.

Thinking about it now, it all seems a bit complicated and I will think how I can refine this system. Although it has worked for me, it must be noted that I rarely had multiple courseworks on the go at the same time. I remember, at one point, I had an essay due in, some multiple choice questions (harder than it sounds, trust me. All the options (usually five options) all seem plausible and there is negative marking for wrong answers!) to complete along with a genetics problem to be done. To juggle this, I use another post it note or index card and wrote down the title of each piece and then I noted the percentage progress of each as I completed each one bit by bit. That also worked quite well, so I think I will stick with the percentage progress system I have been using.

It must also be noted that I use the To-Do sheets as well. As mentioned before, I colour code the urgency of the item but with courseworks, I also take the level of coursework into account as well as the deadline. For instance, some courseworks need more work than others - an essay would obviously need much more work than some multiple choice questions!

Overall, although this system has served me well, I think I can still tinker this method. Oh, and another thing, this post can also be applied to those who do projects at their workplace or anything similar. If anyone has any suggestions, please do speak up! The more options available for tweaking this coursework system I have (or others may have), the better!


  1. Thanks for sharing how you use your Filofax to track your coursework.

    Could you share an example of how you use post-its and index cards to record the percentage progress? Is this simply a number, or do you use a visual (pie or line graph that you fill in)? Do you list which tasks represent reaching, say, 25% or 50% complete? Also, how do you use the To Do sheets in conjunction with the weekly diary and index cards/post-its? Is it a redundant system or a complementary system?

    Sorry to bombard you with questions, but I'm having a hard time juggling various (contemporaneous) projects. I worked in an office for several years where, with the help of several databases and Outlook, workflow was straightforward and easy to track. (I was in fact the person responsible for tracking project workflow.) Nowadays, I'm working from home on self-initiated projects; I'm having a hard time both tracking progress and staying motivated. I'm using a matrix to track which days I work on which projects, but have stupidly not even thought about things like percentage completion, which is a lot more of a motivational way of tracking work than day-by-day plodding. Your system has started some gears turning, so I want to know more!

    Whew, longest comment in the history of blogger.

  2. Hey there :)

    Absolutely no problem! I will go ahead and start drafting this post for you now as it will, surely, be a lengthy and image heavy one! I will look through my second term's diary (as third term was a bit bare with exams and barely any coursework) and see if I can find you an example of how I did the percentage thing (with explanations) amongst other stuff :)

    I totally agree that the percentage completion keeps the motivation there. Previous to that idea, I was completely unsure of how much of each coursework I had done and often did things twice, thus wasting time.

    Thanks for your comment, and no need for apologies about the long comment! It's nice to know what others think about this system and gives me ideas on how to improve it :)