It can be hard to adjust to the university environment when things are so different from home; you may not be used to living with so many, very different, people; you might be really struggling to find a functional work-life balance; and it can generally be hard to get by on the notoriously tight student budget.
No need to panic – we’re here to help! Take a few deep breaths, and remember these useful tricks that they definitely won’t teach you in lecture…
1. Take your lecture notes using different coloured pens…
There really are a tonne of benefits to using coloured pens for your notes. The use of multiple colours helps map your thought pattern, allowing you to think deeper into the topic. The use of colour helps fire up your visual memory, giving you a greater chance of actually being able to remember what you’ve written. Colour also improves recall time on graphs and charts, and can be a really effective performance booster when it’s not overdone.
You’re not in school any more guys, and there’s a whole palette of colours out there just begging to be used! Ditch the dull black and the boring royal blue – it’s time to technicolour your world-class education!
2. Are you really hungry, but feeling way too lazy to handle the thought of dishes? Got a spare tortilla wrap in the cupboard?
Tortilla wraps don’t have a long shelf life, so why not save yourself some time and effort and use them as a plate or bowl? You can even eat it afterwards, I mean, what could be better than that?!
3. Buy yourself a laptop lock
The majority of people you meet will be super nice and genuine, but as with any situation or environment, there will also be bad people. There may be times when you’re studying that you have to get up and leave your stuff unaccompanied – why risk losing all your work- and your really expensive laptop – when you could invest in this nifty gadget? If you like to work in the public library or any other public space, this is definitely a good idea.
It might also be worth looking into student insurance policies to get all your gadgets covered. You might not think it will happen to you, but if it did, you’d be pretty screwed…
4. Make the most of the space in your wardrobe with this simple, handy trick…
If you have a lot of clothes, an excessive amount of empty cans (you’re a student – you definitely do, so there’s no point denying it) and a severe lack of wardrobe space, this little hack is literally a dream! You no longer have an excuse for using the floor to store your clothes, and have absolutely no reason to wear creased clothes ever again – you can thank me later.
5. Trick those pesky, no-good pen thieves by replacing the ink cartridge of a red pen with a blue or black one.
It’s true! Have you ever stolen a red pen?!
It’s such an inky injustice – how do they sleep at night?! Seriously though, we all hate it when our favourite pen mysteriously goes missing, so remember this little trick and you can guarantee it won’t happen again.
6. If the temperature is rising and you’re burning up in your room, hang a damp towel in front of an open window and it’ll cool down in no time
It’s hard to be productive in a room that’s like a sauna. Your brain is an organ after all, it needs energy to function and make sound decisions. The body’s main energy source is glucose; the substance that fuels us through any activity, including maintaining a healthy internal body temperature. Warm temperatures result in the faster depletion of our bodily resources, which therefore makes it harder for your brain to function normally. Well, now there’s no need for you to sweat it out- use this hack and get your head right back in the game.
7. If you’re in the mood for spontaneous grooves, blast tunes from your iPhone with these makeshift speakers
It’s cheap, easy, and it really works!
8. If every morning is a struggle to get out of bed, pop your phone into an empty pint glass before you go to sleep and leave it beside your bed
It may not look great, but you really can’t knock it because it actually works! Dropping your phone into a pint glass creates an Echo Chamber Effect, boosting the sound by a few decibels. Soon, you won’t be able to miss that dreaded morning alarm and you’ll never be late again!
9. Here’s a neat trick that allows you to heat two bowls in the microwave at the same time
Now you and your buddy can reheat yesterday’s leftovers and even sit down to eat at the same time. Amazing!
10. So, you really want to drink a beer but there was no room in the fridge, and now they’re all warm and unpleasant
Problem solved – no one wants a warm beer!
11. When giving a class presentation, tell a friend to ask a particular question before you head to class
That way you’ll already know the answer and it will look like you’ve done some pretty thorough research. Of course, it’s always a good idea that you actually do the research…
12. Another useful presentation tip: use ‘meme’ font when writing text on a bold background…
This is a really great tip – if you’re sure that all text can be read, no one will miss anything and that way, your grade will truly reflect the content of your presentation.
13. When reheating pizza in the microwave, stick a small glass of water in along with it
Because we all know that chewy pizza crusts are definitely not the one!
14. Are your power cables constantly getting tangled?
It can be really annoying having to unwind your cables before you sit down to do work. Paperclips are cheap and really easy to get hold of (you should totally have some anyway to keep all those assignments in order!) so hook up all your cables and live a tangle-free life.
15. Do you need to get your head around a really difficult concept but have very little time to do so? Type the subject matter & filetype:ppt into google
…and get your hands on lecture PowerPoints completely for free.
16. Did you forget your textbook?
Don’t worry; just type the name of the textbook + filetype:pdf to scan the web for online copies. Simples!
17. Maximise your productivity by listening to a soundtrack of natural sounds or calming classical music
Listening to natural, earthy sounds or chilled out classical music isn’t just a good way to send you off to sleep – it has actually been shown to help us focus and boost our productivity, as well as our overall mood. If the sweet sound of birdsong, ocean waves or even classical music really don’t do it for you, try listening to your favourite album while you work – it will make you feel chipper and help you get more done.
What’s that you say? Where am I supposed to get a CD of the sounds of the ocean? Fear not – YouTube literally has hundreds for your natural listening pleasure. Some of them last a whole 11 hours, like this:
See? You can listen to the Earth all day, every day, from the comfort of your desk…
18. Use the Pomodoro Technique and become super productive
It can be really hard to focus in the midst of so many modern distractions – Facebook newsfeed, Twitter updates and Angry Birds are just some of the 21st century interferences students have to deal with. Coined the ‘Pomodoro Technique’, after the tomato shaped kitchen timer, this helpful method is specially-designed to help you stay on task. Shedule your work into four, distraction-free blocks interspersed with regular breaks, and smash that assignment right out of the park!
19. Use Google Scholar to find useful published papers & create alerts for new papers in your field
Google Scholar is an online, freely-accessible search engine that lets you scan both physical and digital copies of articles. It searches a variety of sources, including academic publishers, universities and preprint depositories. It’s a really useful database that will be invaluable when it comes to assignment writing.
20. Use Wikipedia to find useful sources
…but definitely don’t use it for answers. Wikipedia is not a reputable source and is a generalised overview of information, which is why it’s not good to cite it in an academic situation. It is, however, an excellent way of finding primary sources relevant to your topic.
21. Use Google Docs when writing an assignment and eliminate the risk of losing your work
Google Docs is an online wordprocessing, spreadsheet and presentation app. It allows you to share documents, edit documents while offline, and upload just about anything. Plus, as I’ve already mentioned, it saves your work automatically! Boom!
22. But if you do need to use Word, remember this handy shortcut to make you vocabulary colourful and engaging:
Shift+F7 is a quick way to access Word’s Thesaurus tool – good to know!
22. Make your sentences cleaner and more precise by cutting unnecessary words
As William Shrunk Jr once said: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
23. When working on an assignment, stop often for a short break where you can get up and move around
That’s right – stretch those weary legs! Get the blood flowing and get that energy pumping. Open a window to let some fresh air in and boost your cognitive function. Don’t stress, just remember these tips – they really do work!
24. Mix up your working environment
If you work and study in the same place every time it can really dampen your productivity, as well as your creativity. If you’re a bedroom cretin who doesn’t study anywhere other than your own desk, try having a study session in the library and see how that works out. If you love to work in the library, take your laptop to the coffee shop and see how things work there. A change of scenery might give your motivation a kick and make it much easier to focus – just remember to take some headphones so you can block out any unnecessary distractions.
25. Try writing your first draft by hand
Writing things by hand is like a ‘train of thought’; you might come up with new ideas and concepts as you write and can scribble them in after. Don’t be afraid to get messy – cross things out, draw diagrams and note down any afterthoughts. Writing by hand is a really great way to pull information to the forefront of your mind, and once it’s down, all you have to do is type it up later. You could even kill two birds with one stone and edit as you type.
26. Think you’ve finished your final draft? Copy & Paste the text into google translate and click the button to hear it read aloud
It’s a really good idea to read all your work out loud so you can hear exactly how it sounds. It’s hard to spot mistakes when you’ve been working so closely on something, so using Google Translate to hear your work out loud is an ideal way to hear the flow of the text and highlight any mistakes.
So, there you have it; 26 simple tips that will make your student life a hell of a lot more convenient. When it comes to tips for getting assignments done, if you find you’re still struggling whatever you do, DON’T PANIC. Just take a break and clear your head – there’s really no point in flogging a dead horse! Make sure you’ve had plenty of sleep, eaten properly, and drunk plenty of fluid so you’re brain is on top form – but most importantly DON’T LEAVE THINGS TOO LATE! Leaving work until the very last minute will just leave you feeling ,and is a surefire way to ensure you underperform. If the magic still isn’t happening, get some help from your university advisors – they can provide useful study tips and skills, or may even be able to get you an extension.
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