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17 Back to School Lifehacks to Start Your Semester

17 Back to School Lifehacks to Start Your Semester

    I remember a few years ago when I was gearing up to start the fall semester of my undergraduate’s degree. I was just getting into productivity, how to spend my time more wisely while working and educating, and how to get the most out of school. I didn’t get the luxury of “simply being a student”; I was a more than part time worker and full time student.

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    It was rough to say the least. That is, until I found some solid recommendations for making school and getting things done easier. So, instead of making you scrounge around for the same resources, here is a handy list to get you started.

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    Here are the 17 best lifehacks for your college semester:

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    1. The Productivity Made Simple series. The Getting Things Done system was one of the most helpful ways to stay on top of my school and work life. This series will help you get started with GTD in a simple way so you can stay productive too.
    2. Police Your Productivity with RescueTime. One thing that inevitably happens when trying to do school work is that you will tend to get side tracked. Look something up on Google, and boom, you are reading something about the Kardashians. Take your time back with RescueTime.
    3. Advice for Students: How to Talk to Professors. The first of many of Dustin Wax’s excellent articles. Talking to your professors is extremely important if you want to get a good education. Here is how you do it.
    4. Why You (Probably) Shouldn’t Take out Loans for College. Being in debt up to your ears sucks. Although getting money for college in the form of loans is pretty easy now-a-days, you may want to reconsider if you have the options.
    5. Back to School: How to Graduate from College with a High GPA. Okay, GPA isn’t everything, but it’s definitely something. Whatever you think you know, employers mostly care about it. So, rather than role your eyes, learn how to get the highest GPA you can.
    6. 5 Tips for Effective Digital Note Taking. We are now more connected than ever, so taking digital notes during class is the best way to go if you want to be able to search and reference them easier later.
    7. Freshman 15: Coping with the First Year of College. For all you freshman out there, take this article to heart. And, what better guy to explain what to expect in your first year and how to deal with it than Mr. Wax.
    8. Back to School: Keep an Academic Reading Journal. We all know the benefits of journaling every day, but it doesn’t have to just be about your hopes and dreams. You can also keep an academic reading journal to reference through your entire college career. Now that is smart.
    9. Tools for taking notes in school. Let me interject here. If you need some ideas for note taking during college, may we suggest these fine tools:
    10. The Ultimate Student Resource List. Even though it’s a little older, this list still holds true today. There are a lot of good resources here to set you up for a good school year.
    11. How to Study. A nice list of all of the different ways you can study for school. Remember that studying the one way will work for some but not for others. It’s important to know that you have options.
    12. Advice for Students: Start Planning Now for Life After College. I wish I would have taken this to heart and did it a little sooner than the last few months of school. A great way to make sure that you have a job after school is to start working on your after school plans while you are in school.
    13. Advice for Students: Taking Notes That Work. Some people take notes for the taking notes sake. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure that when you are taking notes that they are relevant and functional. There is nothing worse than reviewing for a test with a bunch of crappy notes that don’t make any sense.
    14. 10 Skills to Succeed at Almost Anything. Yeah, that includes college.
    15. Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Writing. I found while going to school (as well as while in the real world), writing well was one of the most important skills I could have. So many students were bad at it, so being good at it helps you stand out.
    16. 6 Things That Every Workforce Entrant Should Know. If this is your last school year coming up before you enter the real world, congrats! Oh, by the way, there are a couple of things you should know before you venture into the workforce.
    17. How to Revamp Your Study Habits for Better Grades. Cramming for quizzes and tests is no way to get through school. Follow Clint’s advice to change the way you study to become more efficient and effective.

    Do you have any good lifehacks for college goers? If so, drop them down in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Education book on table via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    How to Stop Information Overload

    How to Stop Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    How Serious Is Information Overload?

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

    This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

    We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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    The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

    Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

    But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

    Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

    Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

    When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

    How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

    1. Set Your Goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

    If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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    • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
    • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
    • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

    If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

    (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

    Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

    3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

    Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

    Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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    4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

    Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Summing It Up

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

    I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

    I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

    More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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