26 Sep 2013

re-organising my planner so that it is functional!

Ever before the start of term, I had an inkling that week-on-two-page (WO2P) inserts wouldn't supply me with the space I would require. However, I am intent on making these beautiful Smythson inserts work for me until the end of 2013. The solution I came up with is one that Josh (one of my favourite video bloggers by the way!) has used in the past - to use a sheet of paper in between WO2P inserts. He used a sheet of notepaper whereas I have chosen to slot in to-do lists instead because my timetable is so packed that writing in to-dos can be impossible on busier days.

To illustrate just how packed my days could be; here was my first week (before any to-dos were added but after my timetable was written in):

The first week will, of course, be busy because it is 'induction week': a week where we are given a bunch of talks about essential information. Things calm down a bit in the following week but as you can see, I really struggled for space here. I had to resort to sticky notes and there is clearly no space for any to-dos on the Tuesday and Friday.
All in all, a cramped week like this isn't great when it comes to the other important parts of my life (namely: social, home and sporting!) because it leaves no space for anything but university-related things. Imagine when courseworks are set and when the bulk of the work starts? Where will I write in tasks that need doing then? The graduate-entry medicine courses in the UK are notoriously workload-heavy in the first year so I need to be on top of my time-management game in order to succeed.

This first week looks worse that it is though - possibly due in part to the number of scheduled talks. However, with my first exam at the beginning of November (yes, really), I needed to tweak my planner set-up pronto. There was no time to uhm and ah over what to do about the lack of space and more time needed to be spent on doing things rather than planning them.

Here is another week; again, before any to-dos were written in:

This week isn't as bad as the previous one - but once to-dos are added, I can imagine that it will become very messy.
Tuesdays and Fridays are my timetable-heavy days but that doesn't mean I have three days off! Independent study is expected and so a lot of my free time will be spent in the library. However, going to the library isn't beneficial unless I outline what I want to achieve during each study session - and that is where I need the space in my planner.

To combat the days where I have a lot timetabled and no space for my own checklist, I have slotted in a 'to-do list' printable that I downloaded from Squid Bits. As a sucker for cute and colourful things, I am hoping that a printable like this will inspire me to work doubly hard in order to get all of the tasks checked off. One thing to note is that I modified the original printable to fit onto a sheet of Filofax personal-sized paper - and because the original printable wasn't my own, I cannot share this so please do not ask. You can, however, print your own squid list!

The above picture was taken in late-August and you can see that my timetable is much calmer during the second week of the first semester. Look at the blank to-do list just waiting to be filled in and violated...
Using the Squid Lists has seriously brightened up what has been a hard first few weeks on this course. Because I am commuting in everyday from home (usually a 30-minute bus journey, but it can be at least an hour long if I leave the house late and catch the rush hour traffic), I try and stay on campus to work until the late evening when I commute home. Once home, I veg out and let my brain relax with either a bit of blog-reading, television watching, netball or just reading on my Kindle.

Other to-do list inserts I have used are the Paperchase ones. I'm not a fan of how they have tried to be a bit creative by adding a strip down the side, so I taped over it using some deco tape.

Another way I have worked around the limited space is to use a sheet of notepaper to note down things that, maybe, aren't so important when compared to other parts of my life. One example is the following picture where I noted down the dates of the Ashes tests, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 games that the England cricket team will be involved in this winter.

The paper is from these memo pads. They are £1.50 in Hallmark stores (in the UK at least; I am unsure if they are available in the US or in other international Hallmark stores) and for that price, you get 80 sheets of 62mm by 115mm ruled paper of a very good quality. I'd definitely guess that the paper was about 90gsm as I experienced no showthrough of bleeding when I used my beloved Muji gel pens on them and because the thickness of them is similar to the Oxford notepaper I have (which is 90gsm).

So, this is how I have tweaked my set-up slightly to fit in with this new 'lifestyle'. Look out for a blog post on revision and staying on top of things for exams - I have been using a new method and it seems to be working well!


  1. Thanks for sharing, and I love how are making this work for you. Been trying the whole day to print that same printable from Squid Bits, and I am just about giving up. Haha.. So hard to adjust it to fit a Personal. lol.. But at least I got your Month Plan inserts printed all the way till next year. Thanks for that!

  2. Love this idea, I like using large post it notes for to do lists, I prefer to be able to move it around my pages (between left and right) so I can see the remainder of the week at glance without having the to do list blocking my weekly view. :)

  3. yes, I know, I'm boring and repetitive :P but I love your handwriting, ENVYYY!
    and the post-it that says "every sunday" .....it's simply adorable

  4. Love this; I'm sure you can make the week to view work but I find that when I'm busy I need both more space and the ability to see today without distracting myself with tomorrow and yesterday. I start the day sometimes with two meetings, three appointments, and a dozen to-dos. I simply need to do everything possible to help me just focus on that particular day. With the week view I tend to become overwhelmed with the whole week. As the 12 step programs say, "one day at a time."

  5. great to see you adapting a non-ideal set up to work for you ... on your timetable heavy days had you thought about putting the lectures themselves on a postit and then leaving the planner space free for writing? you could move the post it from week to week without having to write it again and again? :)

    1. Hi, I find post-its annoying as they end up taking up space and lifting them up is a hassle too. My timetable changes every week so I can't just move the post-it unfortunately! x