5 Apps to Make You More Productive

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. During this busy time, technology can make your life more manageable. These apps that will help you organize your time and increase your productivity.

5 Apps to Improve Productivity

  1. Evernote

Not only is Evernote free, it is on the list of The New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps.” With this app, you can write notes, capture photos, keep to-do lists and record voice reminders. You can sync Evernote with all your devices and search for specific notes. You can organize notes into specific “notebooks” or with tags and email them to others via Twitter or Facebook. College students can use this app to snap photos of PowerPoint slides and textbooks, take and organize class notes for studying later and even to upload their favorite recipes and grocery lists.

  1. Dropbox / Google Drive

As a student, you may do work on multiple computers, even working on your smartphone when you’re out. Dropbox eliminates the need to email documents from one computer to another. It also eliminates the need for a flash drive. By installing the free app on your computer, phone or tablet, you can save any file to a Dropbox folder that you can access from anywhere. You can even create folders that you can share with other people.

An alternative to Dropbox is Google Drive. You get up to 15 GB of free space with your Google account. Not only does Drive come with the free space, you can also use it to access Google’s free software like Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

  1. Trello

Trello is one of the best organizational and collaborative tools available. It’s the perfect place to organize projects and tasks. Trello is like a digital whiteboard filled with lists of sticky notes. You can do more than move the notes around. You can upload files, make checklists, add links, labels, and due dates to all of those notes! Unlike a whiteboard, Trello is available online and on smartphones.

  1. gFlash + Flashcards & Test

Another great freebie, gFlash + Flashcards & Test lets you create and edit an unlimited number of flashcards for studying, with the option of adding images and sounds. You can also download existing cards from the gWhiz collection. Cards can have up to nine sides, and as you quiz yourself, you have the ability to track your progress. Because it’s free, there are some ads, but they don’t get in the way of your studies.

  1. Zapier

For those seeking the ultimate productivity app, Zapier is the easiest way to automate your apps and programs. The possibilities with this app are endless. Set it up to automatically convert calendar events to Trello tasks, save email attachments to your Google Drive, or backup your Evernote notes to Dropbox.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

College is the perfect intersection of freedom and young adulthood: Never again will you be allowed to have that much fun while being responsible for so little. But as generations of students have learned the hard way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that freedom and go overboard. It’s a fun but intimidating time, and the best way survive your freshman year is to be prepared.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spoiler alert: You can’t do it all. Not even close.

College is about learning to prioritize and tell the difference between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you need to do. The biggest mistake freshmen make is taking on too much.

If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to scale back.

Set up a schedule to follow each week and stick with it. It doesn’t have to overly detailed or break down your life into 10-minute chunks. But, you should be able to look ahead each week and know what you’re doing every day and every night, from attending class to studying or just taking some time off to be with friends

You should also plan for free time, too. That might sound counter-intuitive or just plain impossible, but it’s not, and it’s absolutely worth it. As you build time for study and class, leave open chunks for hanging out, eating, wandering the dorms, or just seeing what comes up. Maintain your schedule and your sanity.

Avoid Credit Cards

Building credit is important in the long run. It shows banks that you’re trustworthy, it gives you access to better interest rates on loans, and it generally makes you feel like an adult.

But it takes years of controlled work to do that, and freshman year isn’t the time to start. Managing credit means using cards wisely, and only to make purchases you could buy with cash at that moment. Credit cards aren’t for making big buys that aren’t in your budget; they’re for showing banks you’ve got enough cash and maturity to pay your debts in full.

Getting into credit card debt while you’re still in college means you’ll be under the thumb of major lenders before you’ve even gotten your degree.

There’s plenty of time to be an adult and work with the complicated payment structures that come with credit cards. College is not that time.

Establish Your Independence

Don’t go home too often.

College is a crucial part of the development process as you make the rocky transition from childhood to young adulthood. It’s tempting to make frequent trips home, whether for a homecooked meal or clean laundry.

Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to your long-term success as a student and a rounded human being.

Independence is usually hard-earned, and that means getting used to being bored or rejected or even alone on campus. It means meeting people and making friends. It means shaking up your established routines and coming up with new ones. It means staying away from home.

College teaches resourcefulness and problem-solving, but you won’t be able to learn those skills without first relying on yourself.

Don’t Rush the Big Choices

Freshman year can feel like a barrage of life-or-death questions: What’s your major? What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go out sometime?

Guess what?

You don’t have to commit to a major when you begin your freshman year.

Many schools don’t push you to declare until you start your sophomore run. Use your freshman year to take your school’s required course and explore topics that interest you.

Your major will be a guiding force in your education and career, and it’s not a choice to be made lightly.

One of the worst things you can do is select a major because you don’t want to weigh any other options, or if it’s something you don’t like but are betting you will come to love in time.

Take your time on this one. Take a month, a semester, a year. Don’t just leap; look carefully. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guidance and career counselors, as well as professors in fields that grab your interest, to find out what’s required by students in your prospective major. Check out employment prospects with seniors or counselors.

The real lesson in picking a major is to learn how to examine yourself and figure out what you want, then take the steps to get it.

That’s not something you can knock out overnight.

Get Some Sleep

Really, do it. Get some good sleep as much as you can. Your mental and physical health depend on it.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 30% of college students surveyed got more than 8 hours of sleep a night, while more than 68% percent (!) had trouble sleeping because of stress related to their academic or personal lives. As a result, students with poor sleep habits turn in greater numbers to over-the-counter drugs to regulate their sleep cycles and moods.

Sleep-deprived students tend to perform worse in class and on tests than their more rested counterparts. Your body becomes sluggish, your brain operates through a thick fog, and your moods become erratic.

So what do you do?

Freshmen are terrible with time management. They stay up too late the night before an early class. They skip sleep altogether in favor of doing all the things. The FOMO is real, and it leads to some hectic and damaging hours. Don’t cheat yourself out of healthy sleep. It’s one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.

Moderation

If there’s one adage every freshman should heed, it’s this:
Strive for moderation in all things.

Party, but party responsibly. Work hard, but leave time to relax. Make new friends, but give yourself time to recuperate. Don’t shy away from big choices, but don’t rush into them, either. Lean on your folks, but not too much.

Freshman year is like nothing else. If you do it right, you’ll never forget it.

How to create a successful outline

Few people know how to create a successful outline, and that amazes me.

The first step is to understand the material you’re reading. If you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are two different outlines: research outlines and chapter outlines. I’ll cover both here.

Research outline

Every good research paper should start with a great outline. A great outline serves as the skeleton for your entire paper.

Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is straightforward. You must thoroughly understand your thesis before completing the outline. If you’re confused or stuck on a thesis, don’t worry about it until the end. Start with the information.

Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.

Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. (more…)

Eating on a College Student’s Budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things. One of the first things to go for college students is food, because it can be so expensive. I know how hard it is to be creative when trying to eat for only a few dollars per meal. Fortunately for you, I made a list of budget meals for college students. While they’re not all healthy, you’ll be fed with money in the bank.

Most college students can budget about $5 to $10 a day for meals each month, and Ramen noodles get old quick. I have a few tips that can help you make the most of your grocery budget without breaking the bank.

Tips for Meal Planning

Coupons

Coupons make a huge difference. You can score major discounts when you combine manufacturer coupons with your local grocery store’s coupons.

Shop Store Brand

Let’s keep it real: the only good mac and cheese is Kraft. But for most everything else, the store brand is just as delicious as name brands. In some cases, like the Costco brand Kirkland Signature, the store brand is often better!

Meal Planning

Never shop hungry and always shop with a list. Plan your meals for the week, utilizing leftovers as often as possible. You can make a crock pot full of shredded chicken on Sunday, and use it throughout the week for nachos, quesadillas, soups, burritos, chicken salad, and so on. Plan ahead so you know exactly what, and how much, you need.

Go Meatless

Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Try out “Meatless Mondays” for an easy way to cut a few dollars from your budget. Replace meat with black beans, tofu,

Budget Upgrades

If you’re budget is tight at the end of the month, you might still get stuck with Ramen noodles. Keep your kitchen stocked with affordable items Sriracha, green onions, dried seaweed, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs for an instant upgrade.

Buy In Bulk

If you’re lucky enough to have access to bulk stores like Costco or Winco, these are most often your most budget-friendly bets.

Budget Meal Ideas

Here is a list of cheap, but filling, meals that I eat regularly.

Meatless

  • Eggs. Scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, baked, in a frittata, as a quiche – eggs are a great source of protein.
  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Upgraded ramen
  • Protein pancakes
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt

Meat-Based

  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • chicken quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dogs
  • Frito pie
  • Homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)

Pre-Packaged

  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • Spaghetti-O’s (or your favorite canned meals from childhood)