I'm a medical student and so obviously have a desk and bookcase stuffed to the brim with notes. I'm in my final of five years and so have had plenty of time to experiment with different methods. For the first two and a half years I was always in lecture theatres or the lab, so it was pretty easy; very wide spaced lecture notes in A4 loose-leaf paper, fill in the gaps whilst reading up on the topic afterwards. I was SORTED.
Then placements started! At first only half the time but for the last year and a half I've been on placement all the time apart from the odd lecture week here and there. It's taken me forever to find the right notebook. I started off with a teeny notebook I could fit in my pockets. That was scrapped when a (scary!) consultant told me it was pathetic and I couldn't hope to take decent notes in that. I flirted with my usual A4 looseleaf paper for a while but it was quite large and unwieldly. It was difficult to find somewhere out of the way to put it when I needed both hands as well. I had an A5 spiral bound notebook but it got too battered in my bag - the wire caught on everything. The hard-bound notebook I tried next was great for a couple of months but again, took a beating in my bag and looked horrendous before it was even half full.
Late last year, I found the answer. The Moleskine Large Cahier is a little narrower than A5 and has 80 pages of nice-feeling cream coloured ruled paper. It works perfectly; the fact that it's not too thick means I've filled it before it looks too battered. The pocket inside the back cover lets me tuck in scraps of paper and save them there until the book is full THEN tape or staple them in place - means I get a smooth writing surface while the book is still in use and everything is in the right place when I'm rereading at exam time. It's small enough to carry everywhere and big enough to be able to take decent notes. I've filled almost three so far this year (and by this year I mean since September… still running on an academic calendar here).
Finally, since all posts are useless without pictures:
How do you use bound notebooks?
P.S. stay tuned because I'm currently working on designing my own planner inserts, heavily influenced by the fabulous Amanda H over at ahhh design! Can't wait to show them off once I'm finished!