Archive for the ‘College Life’ Category

5 Easy Mental Hacks that Instantly Boost Your Productivity

productivityIn the pursuit of being successful and making dreams come true, productivity is the lifeblood. In the age of social media and the 24-7 digital distraction machine, productivity is a big issue with even the most ambitious students. How do you get past the urge to procrastinate? Most of us love to laugh at videos on YouTube, chat it up on Facebook, or simply daydream about not having to do what’s necessary, but before you know it, 40 minutes have passed and you’re doing anything but the task you set out to do. With technology continuing to offer more and more interesting means of instant gratification, what can we possibly do to drop those distractions and maintain focus and productivity?

There are many great ways to boost your productivity, but we’ve put together a list of the five best ways to give you impenetrable momentum and powerful focus that will help you plow through even the stickiest and most mundane tasks.

1. Listen to Background Music

Some music simply sets the mood for getting things done. In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, assistant professor of music therapy at the University of Miami, found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood. Listening to music during your times of serious work and focus can make a notable difference. You might be tempted to play your favorite tunes, but for this purpose, it’s best to choose music with no words or at least words that you cannot understand, such as classical, atmospheric, opera, jazz, new age, etc. If you’re stressed out, try listening to nature sounds or calm, meditative music to help reduce your stress so you can focus better and get more done.

2. Get a Productivity Accountability Partner, a popular blog on entrepreneur lifestyles, recently started connecting their blog readers with each other as accountability partners to get their personal tasks done. They used actual money as a penalty if the task wasn’t completed. This is an extreme example, but simply having someone else who can hold you accountable for your tasks can really keep you on track to getting things done. Reach out to your classmates or use social media to find someone you can work with to keep each other accountable for anything from daily homework assignments and studying to research projects and papers. Establish times to check in with each other on the status of whatever you’re working on. Knowing that someone else will be checking in on your progress can provide great motivation to get started on — and ultimately finish — that project.

3. Positive Affirmations

Before it all comes out, it starts from within. We can change what is within by telling ourselves in advance what we can accomplish. Many people use the power of positive affirmation to start their day off right. Simply beginning your day by telling yourself that you’re going to have a great and productive day puts your brain in the right mode to do just that. Apps like Singulaa allow you to record your own voice over soothing music so you can play those positive messages back to yourself. Write down your best and most powerful ideas, speak them into existence using the app, and listen to them daily or whenever you find yourself in need of a productivity boostEventually, your mind will absorb the positive messages and you will find yourself working more efficiently and with greater purpose.

4. Identify and Destroy Bad Habits

Take some time to sit down alone in a room or somewhere else private to do a simple self-assessment and identify any bad habits that you’d like to change. Charles Durhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” says that with every habit is a cue, an action, and a reward. Put some thought into identifying what cues your bad habits and why you do each one. What is the reward? Why do you continue that action over and over? Through this exercise, you can identify patterns and learn how to change your bad habits while keeping the same rewards and cues, thereby creating a more productive lifestyle.

5. Accomplishment Journal

At the end of each day, write down everything that you accomplished that day. Take note of all the big things (finally finished that big paper, received a scholarship, got an internship, etc.) and all the small things (got your laundry done, tried a new food in the cafeteria, made it to the rec center to work out, etc.). Giving yourself recognition for and being excited about what you did each day can create a habit of looking forward to all that you can do the next day, giving you more purpose and reason to be productive.

This is an amazing time to live in. We have more access to powerful and positive resources that can give us the type of life we want to have. Using these five clever mental hacks will not only allow you to boost your productivity, but will also improve your general outlook on life.

Russel Cooke is a journalist and business consultant based in Canyon Country, CA. and Louisville, KY. He thoroughly enjoyed his time spent in college, and considers it his best series of learning experiences to date. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.

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4 Tips for Getting the Perfect Class Schedule

Categories: College Life


Registering for classes can be stressful and frustrating. The classes you want might be filled and the others may be uninteresting or their times clash with your other classes. To avoid such a conundrum, you need to plan ahead and adjust accordingly. Here are some useful tips to help you get the prefect class schedule!

1. Take care of all of your required courses.

Every major at every college has a list of course requirements that must be satisfied in order to graduate with a degree, so understanding those requirements is a good first step. Once you have researched the requirements and learned more about the available classes, you can then loosely plan out your remaining years at school. Some of your classes may overlap and/or satisfy general education courses, which will give you more freedom to choose other fun classes to take outside of your requirements. Pay attention to classes that have pre-requisites (a class that must be taken before you can take that class) and plan accordingly.

If you’re uncertain about your major at this point, try taking some introductory classes across multiple subjects to gain exposure and figure out your interests and strengths. Ensure they are general education requirements so they can be applied to your major requirements once you’ve decided. Many colleges even offer special programs for undecided students that allow them to explore multiple areas of study to help them decide what to ultimately major in, so see what’s available at your college.

2. Timing is everything.

Thoroughly research when your available classes will be offered. Some classes are offered only one semester a year, and some special topics classes might be offered once ever, so make sure you know when and if you’ll be able to take the ones on your wish list. Checking out courses offered in previous semesters will be beneficial as certain courses tend to have registration and time trends.

Whenever possible, try to schedule your classes during the time of day when you’re most alert and productive. Early birds, for example, will thrive in morning classes. However, if you’re more of a night owl and have a hard time functioning in the morning, consider filling your schedule with afternoon and/or night classes. If you end up having to setting with a class at a time that’s less than ideal, try your best to prepare adequately for it. You wouldn’t want to do poorly in an early class just because you decided to stay up way too late the night before and couldn’t concentrate.

3. Having fun isn’t hard.

If you decide to take a heavy course-load, you might be satisfying more requirements per semester, but it can certainly get stressful. The pressure to do well in all those classes can make you go crazy. To save your sanity, try taking one or two lower-pressure elective classes each semester to ease the stress and pressure. These electives can be fun and might even fulfill a few general education requirements for your degree program. Electives in subjects like physical fitness or art can help you learn new skills, improve your current abilities, gain more knowledge, get creative, and even socialize.

4. Take a breather.

Be reasonable and practical with your class schedule. If you’re just starting college, remember that college is different from high school, so take it slow and test out how much work you can handle. Don’t forget to leave a break in your schedule to eat lunch and/or dinner, because being hungry during class is horrible. If you’d rather not be alone during your breaks, try scheduling with a friend so you can have some company. A break is also great for catching up on homework, working out, or seeking tutoring or advising. You can also aim to have classes only on specific days of the week, leaving other days completely free. Free days can leave you with the opportunity to focus longer stretches of time on your studies or even work part-time to get some extra spending money.

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6 Tools to Help You Get through Freshman Year

Categories: College Life

classroomWell, you did it. You’re finally here. 18 years of life, 12ish years of school, all leading up to this: college. Maybe you’re going to school in your hometown or maybe you’ve moved across the country, but regardless of your individual circumstances, this is going to be a big adjustment. We’ve assembled six of our favorite tips to help you hit the ground running.

1. Google Drive for Collaborative Note-Taking

First of all, if you’re not on board the Google train already, Google Drive is a free suite of online office software designed to compete with Microsoft Office. But it’s so much more than that: with Google Drive, multiple people can work simultaneously on the same document in real-time, making it perfect for collaboration with classmates.

Here’s how you do it: when you join a class, seek out some likely classmates who you believe you can rely on. If they’re already your friends, great, if they aren’t…well, get out there! You should be making friends anyway!

Once you’ve assembled your study group, create a Google Drive Folder and share it with them. Just like that, you’re all working on the same document. This allows you to work on a master notes document. With three or four of you following the lecture at once, you’re sure to get everything the professor mentions. Best of all, you can be sure that you have access to the notes even if you happen to miss a class.

2. Whatsapp for Free Text Messaging

Cell phone plans can be very expensive, especially for a student on a limited budget. Luckily, as the world becomes increasingly data-driven, alternatives are starting to crop up. WhatsApp is an app you can use to send texts and pictures using your data connection, which means that you aren’t using up your monthly text message allotment. Best of all, if there’s a wifi connection available, it will use that, saving your data for when you’re on the go. Since most universities blanket their campus in wi-fi, you’ll be free to text to your heart’s content.

teacher3. for Investigating Your Professors

Would you go to a restaurant without looking it up on Yelp first? Then why wouldn’t you check out the professor before signing up for a class? is an indispensable service for college students, allowing you to read ratings and comments about professors before you sign up for that class. No surprises here!

4. for Used Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the major expenses of going to college. Before you buy books at the on-campus bookstore, check out their price on If the book is a few years old, you’re likely to find a used one for substantially cheaper than at the bookstore.

5. for Compiling Bibliographies

You know what’s annoying? Losing points on an assignment because of small errors with your bibliography or works cited page. makes it super easy to create and download a complete works cited page for your paper—just add the books, websites, and articles you use as you go, and download it at the end. You can even use your phone to scan a book’s barcode to add it that way. Never waste time on a bibliography ever again!

6. Petition for What You Want

The petition is one of the most underappreciated tools in the enterprising college student’s arsenal. Think you deserve a Fine Arts credit for that literature class you did the summer after your junior year of high school? Go to your advisor and explain yourself. If you can clearly and logically explain why you think you deserve the credit, your university will usually be happy to oblige you. You never know until you ask.

Making the Most of It

No one goes through college absolutely certain they’re doing it exactly right. It’s a time of rapid change and uncertainty for everyone. These tools are sure to help you get through your freshman year, which in many ways is the hardest.

But wait! There’s just one final tool we want to give you. You can’t download it and it’s not available to be purchased in any store: it’s open-mindedness. Remember, college is a time to experience new things and grow as a person. Get out and get involved. Try not to spend too much time pent up in your dorm room, and when you are there, leave your door open in case a new best friend walks by. Practice saying “Yes” to things. This is your new life—now go live it!

Russel Cooke is a journalist and business consultant based in Canyon Country, CA. and Louisville, KY. He thoroughly enjoyed his time spent in college, and considers it his best series of learning experiences to date. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.

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