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12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

At some point in your life, you will come across people who, despite landing a job after college, are using their hard-earned money to study again. You might smirk at the idea of these graduate students (whether they are in med school, law school, MA or PhD) “wasting” their resource, time and effort on having a college life after college is already over, but the truth is that many people try to better themselves in this way. Here are 12 things that only a graduate student would understand.

1. We’re still friends, but I can’t come with you tonight for a drink.

You know what I’m talking about—those friends who incessantly invite you for a drink on Friday or Saturday night. While it’s tempting to enjoy a hearty dinner and booze with our dear friends, we can’t help but consider that studying for our recitation the next day is better than saying “yes” for the meantime (and meantime means a lot of time). This is no longer a stage where we can just go out and feel at ease the next morning, since usually, we have something to recite in front of the class.

2. When I say I am broke, it means that I. Am. Really. Broke.

Most graduate students are actually struggling in life with balancing full-time time work and studies. While some rich kid grad students have the luxury of both money and time to lean on, we working graduate students are paying rent, bills, books and for our own sumptuous dinner after finals. So if you try to invite us for a movie and we say we’re broke, just buy what we’re saying. We really are broke.

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3. The office is a warehouse of our research papers.

C’mon! Come clean now. At some point in our life, we asked our manager to print something for us, whether it is a research paper, a proposal or a PDF of our lesson for the semester—whatever it may be, we are very thankful to our quite-understanding managers who help us print it for free. Anyway, we work hard while we’re at work, don’t we?

4. We take bedtime as seriously as study time.

We are not just party-deprived—we are also sleep-deprived. We feel sleepy while studying, so we try to sleep, but then we just obsess over everything we’re nervous about, so we can’t sleep! It’s a vicious cycle. As a grad student, it really takes a lot of courage to embrace sleep as we did when we were children. ‘Nuff said—I am going to sleep. Bye!

5. There’s no such thing as a weekend.

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I have known weekends as a 2-day phenomenon where you can do just anything and enjoy yourself. But entering grad school made me erase “weekend” from my vocabulary. What’s the point of having this so-called weekend when all we can do is finish our paper work? So what does our usual work week look like? Mondays through Mondays.

6. Expect the unexpected with your mediocre classmates—they usually do great later!

In grad school, your peers will all be wearing costumes. It’s quite hard to pinpoint who’s who, and it’s especially difficult to pinpoint the winners. Don’t judge your peers too early—they might remove their masks and emerge as winners.

7. Our backpack is our home and our smart phone is our office.

The world is totally fast-paced right now. If you combined that with a full-time job and being in grad school, you will surely find yourself praying that days are longer than 24 hours so that you can sleep for eight. But the Earth’s axis cannot grant our request, so we are more likely live the life of a turtle, having everything packed in our bags and in our smart phone. I didn’t even know I have a cake in my bag for almost a week.

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8. Is there food in that seminar?

Are we suppose to be ashamed of this? Well, I think not. With seminars and classes piling up one after the other, grad students would probably ask there if there is food in that seminar. I mean we are going to allot our precious time on a quite long seminar so please give us a consolation of food that we can munch on once we’re bored. Make it two helpings, please.

9. Health is wealth. But I’d rather sleep.

Talk about health? I would really love to but you know…I am kinda….but seriously….zzzzzzzzzzzz

10. Graduating with flying colors doesn’t guarantee success.

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We are no longer undergrad students where a Latin Honor will hype us in the so-called “real world.” But what comes after is nothing more than the real world with a twist. Once you’re in grad school, having a special color robe during graduation is practically meaningless. It’s just another attempt to prove one’s worth; the secret to success is to be humble.

11. We are not on track with other 20-somethings.

While many of my mates on Facebook (and why am I even online when I’m supposed to be studying) are posting their photos of being married, having their second baby, or opening their online store, here we are still grappling with our books when we were supposed to be done with this like 2 years ago. But this is the road we’ve taken, so let it be.

12. We are not just students; we are GRADUATE students.

graduate

    We don’t earn our crazy eye bags just for nothing. So please understand that we won’t let you get away with saying we are just students. We are undergrad students and we are now embarking on being graduate students. Again, we are not just students. We. Are. Graduate. Students. Although it can be difficult, we certainly love what we are doing. After all, partaking in graduate school is already written in our plans and decisions as adults. Oops! I have to go work on my assignment now.

    Featured photo credit: back of graduates during commencement. via shutterstock.com

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

    So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

    While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

    Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

    What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

    How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

    But what does being productive actually entail?

    Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

    Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

    It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

    Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

    9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

    1. Avoid Multitasking

    Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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    Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

    If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

    2. Turn off Notifications

    According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

    Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

    The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

    Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

    3. Manage Interruptions

    There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

    Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

    If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

    By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

    4. Eat the Frog

    Mark Twain once famously said that:

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    “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

    What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

    We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

    Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

    5. Cut Down on Meetings

    Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

    You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

    The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

    But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

    If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

    6. Utilize Tools

    Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

    If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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    And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

    Some examples of tools that could be used:

    Communication
    • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
    • Samepage for video conference software.
    • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
    Task Management
    • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
    • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
    • Wekan for an open source option.
    Database Management
    Time Tracking
    • Clockify for a free tracker.
    • TMetric for workspace integrations.
    • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

    You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

    7. Declutter and Organize

    Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

    Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

    Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

    Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

    8. Take Breaks

    Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

    As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

    Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

    Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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    9. Drink Water

    Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

    Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

    Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

    A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

    If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

    You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

    The Bottom Line

    The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

    After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

    In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

    A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

    Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    More About Boosting Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

    Reference

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