College isn’t “real life.” At no other time do adults have so much freedom in their schedules or so few responsibilities. That’s why many people look back on their school days as the best days of their lives.
But that freedom can be a problem, too. There is so little structure that they frequently have a hard time keeping focus on doing their studying. Free from their families, they struggle with keeping their spaces clean.
Is this you? Most people have problems with this. That’s why we put together a list of our 10 life hacks to make life easier as a student.
1. Pop Tops For Closet Space
If you live in a dorm, you don’t have much space. You might just have a small closet and a few drawers in a tiny space. How can you fit more of your stuff into a tight place?
Here’s a simple trick to double the number of items you can hang in your closet. Slide a top from a soda or beer can onto a hanger. Then you can hang another hanger below from the soda tab.
2. Cell Alarm In A Pint Glass
Late nights and adult beverages can make for hard mornings. I’m a heavy sleeper, too. Noise doesn’t wake me up unless it’s really loud. That’s a problem when I need to get up early. You’ve probably struggled sleeping through your alarm, too.
Try this: Place your phone in a pint glass, speakers facing down. When the alarm goes off, the sound will bounce around the glass, making it louder. If that doesn’t work, turn on vibrate. The phone will rattle the glass and make the alarm even more jarring.
3. Use Binder Clips To Organize Cords
Student housing isn’t known for lavish space. Small desks mean you have to be organized with all your electronics. The tangle of cords sliding all over your desk just gets in the way. Between computer, tablet, phone, and whatever else, that’s a lot of plastic to wrangle.
If you want to tame that jungle, use a set of binder clips. Clip them to the side of the desk. Then you can use the metallic hooks to hang each of your cords down the side of your desk. This simple trick means you’ll have space on your desk without sacrificing anything.
4. Use Apps With Roommates
Roommates complicate life. Don’t get me wrong. They can be amazing. If you like your roommates, there’s always someone to talk, to watch TV, or to just hang out.
But roommates make everything serious more complicated. You have to figure out how to pay bills together, split expenses, divide up chores, and all the rest. Here are our favorite apps to do just that:
- Venmo: An app to easily split bills and instantly pay your friends and roommates
- Chore buster: It’s the new version of the classic “chore chart.” Use this app to divy up responsibilities.
- Roof: This app is a great way to split up roommate responsibilities and set reminders for the whole group
5. Work 9 to 5
Students have a flexible schedule. Aside from classes and work, you can do just about whatever you want. That’s the problem, of course. When you have too much freedom, it’s easy to get distracted or to procrastinate.
When you get out into the “real” world, you’ll have to work a normal schedule. Why not start right now? Start your work, right away at 9:00 AM and keep working until 5:00 PM. That gives you plenty of time to have fun, but you’ll also have tons of time to finish your homework. Imagine finishing your assignments long before they’re due! No more late nights with homework. No all-nighters. Just a regular schedule.
6. Do Focused Work With The Pomodoro Technique
Of course, it’s impossible to stay focused for hours and hours. How can you do focused work over the long haul? You need to break up your time into smaller chunks.
Try the Pomodoro technique to focus your time. It’s simple: Set a timer for 25 minutes during which you focus on a single task. When the timer goes off, take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat four times. After the fourth round, take a longer break, usually 20 minutes.
7. Use Cloud Documents For Assignments
Not too long ago, the most terrifying thing a student could face was a frozen computer. All the sudden, the paper you worked on all last night has disappeared. Or what about when you accidentally quit your word processor without saving? Paper gone.
Cloud based word processors can save you. When you type, these online word processors save as you go. You don’t have to worry about losing files, either. They’re stored on the cloud, far away on someone else’s server.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Google docs
- Zoho Writer
- Microsoft Word Online
- Calmly Writer Online
8. Clarify Your Writing With The Hemingway App
Academics tend to write as complicated sentences as they can. When a short word would do, they find the longest one. If an idea is simple, they make it more complex by writing impenetrable sentences.
If you want your writing to be clear and easily understood, use the Hemingway App. Upload your paper into the app, and it will edit it for you. It will highlight complicated sentences or overly difficult words so your writing can flow easily and express your ideas simply.
9. Write Your Notes By Hand
When you go to class, odds are that you’re surrounded by students clicking away on their keyboards. They’re all taking notes on their laptops, of course. But studies show that taking notes on a computer isn’t the best way to remember what your professor says.
Instead, try taking notes by hand. There’s something physical about using your hand to write notes that helps you remember. Plus, when you write by hand, you can’t keep up with word-for-word note taking. You have to process what the prof says and write down a summary. You have to use your brain!
10. Control Electronic Distractions
You probably think you’re great at multitasking. You seamlessly switch back and forth from your phone to your homework to the TV. But no one is really good at multitasking. There’s always a cost from switching from one task to another. The more you do it, the more costly it becomes.
If you want to focus on your work, you need to control your electronic distractions. Think about the Pomodoro technique. Turn off your notification for the 25 minutes of work, and then turn them back on for your five minute break (if that’s really what you want to do with your break). When you control distractions, you control your focus, too.
It doesn’t take a life overhaul to make it easier to be a student. All it takes are a few simple tricks to save a little time and effort every day. After a while, it’ll add up to a big time savings.