99 things to do before you leave the university

I like these kind of lists as they always have new ideas to try. Go through the list and make sure you do most of them! Have fun.

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Increasing efficiency: get organized

Getting organized is not easy. By organized I not only mean getting your room straight but also your digital and professional life. It is very tempting to be messy because students having “don’t give a damn” attitude are considered cool. I get that. But it will not help you in the long run. When the time comes, you will blame yourself and regret not putting your affairs in order. Sooner you realize this truth, the better. Start today and get organized.

Set goals

dreams

To get anywhere, you must know where you are going. Ask yourself what you want to be in 5 years? Note it down. Break down your goals into yearly bits. Decide what you want to be by next year. What are your dreams? Put deadlines. Break them down into monthly and weekly to do lists.

Start with your room

Always have a tidy and clean room. Creative energy gets blocked by clutter and you are unable to concentrate. Sort out all your stuff and throw away or donate whatever you don’t use. Here are some tips to declutter your room:

  1. A golden rule of thumb is to throw away anything you haven’t used in a year. Of course it excludes collectibles and stuff with sentimental value. But do not cling on to things that get you down.
  2. Make three piles of clothes: one you like and wear often, one for the classy and the ones you saved for special occasion and one for the ones you want to donate. Throw away the rest or recycle. CLOTHES
  3. Make a rule: for every new piece of clothing you buy, remove an old one from your closet. Donate, recycle or throw it away.
  4. Make a place for everything you keep. Do not have a miscellaneous area. It is a trap. If something doesn’t belong anywhere, there is no use keeping it.
  5. Have your supplies ready. It is frustrating to trying to find a pen that works among a bunch of used up ones. Throw away stationery items you can’t use.
  6. Do your laundry once a week at least.
  7. Clean your room at least once a week. dust, vacuum and wipe off the surfaces.
  8. Check regularly to see if you have expired cosmetics, medical supplies and food; throw them away.
  9.  Make your bed first thing in the morning.
  10. Make shopping lists any time you need something. Do not buy impulsively.

Declutter your laptop and phone

  1. Delete the very old messages and update contacts. At least once a month.
  2. Make folders and put things in them on your pc/laptop. Start with your desktop. Keep minimum icons( I keep only 4) on the desktop.folders
  3. Delete songs and movies you don’t like. Everything is available online and you can always download them later if you need. They take up a lot of space.
  4. Keep backup of your personal documents, photographs etc. both online and in DVDs/ Hard drives.
  5. Declutter your inbox. If you have like 200 unread messages, put them all in a new folder named Archive_date_of_today. Sort them later. Do not keep more than 20 emails in your inbox at a time. Empty the inbox every sunday.
  6. Unsubscribe from online newsletters, promotional offers and other emails you do not read but think you might.

Submit assignments on time

No explanation needed.

Check your progress

At least once a week, check if you  are on track. Are you working towards your goals? Are your actions in accordance with who you want to be in a year or two? Stop wasting time. If you are losing track, get back. Stop the activities that don’t add to your efforts of reaching your goals. It is ok to take breaks but do not procrastinate.

Being tough on yourself makes life go easy on you. A cliche but true. Be tough, be organised, be determined. Aim for excellence. Success will be at your footsteps. Good luck!

Get confused often? Write things down

DSCN3782

When I was young, my father used to constantly remind me to write things down. He insisted I should note down every important point in a rough notebook. I used to loathe this nagging habit of his. I couldn’t see why I need to write down when I could easily remember stuff in my head. However, looking back I think things were simpler then. The textbooks were sufficient and regular exams ensured we stay on track in school.

As I entered high school, things changed. The level of studies got higher in terms of diversity and difficulty. I could no longer read a single notebook and give exams. I was supposed to go through reference books and give my opinion on things. As I entered college, the standard got even higher. Now major portion of my studies involve going through reference material deeply and squeeze out important information. The assignments are more interactive and allow me to think freely, giving my point of view instead of adopting the bookish view.

Still, I didn’t follow my father’s advice. I continued my habit of reading and trying to remember everything. As exams approached, I discovered I don’t remember half of the stuff. I panicked. I was so confident I knew it all, I didn’t make notes. I could remember only in parts and it got me confused and frustrated.

Now I was wishing I should have noted things down. There I was, sitting in the examination hall and getting all confused. Somehow all the information in my head mingled into each other in a way I couldn’t sort it out. I was very upset with myself.

Why writing helps?

The thing is, as a human being we have the tendency to overestimate our strengths. I am good at remembering stuff but I could not recall them in the exam. I realized how important writing is. When we write things down, we are completely engaged in the material. We try to concentrate our knowledge and try to write in easy and simple words. We frame a structure in our mind of what the facts are and how they relate to each other. It is like painting a picture in the brain.

Writing things down prompts you to think straight. Anything you write, you tend to analyze. Subconsciously, we try to make sense of things and when we see written information, we try to relate and verify it with already familiar things. In this process, we make new neuronal connections. In other words, we create long term memory.

Therfore, today’s tip is to write things down. Even if you are not going to look again, even if it is a rough scrambling on paper. Put things in writing. You WILL remember better.

Find your personal legend-4

Hey there! As my regular readers know, I’ve been posting about finding your personal calling or your “personal legend” since last few weeks. Today is the fourth post in this series. (You can check out previous posts here)

DREAMING Versus DOING

As I said last week, actually trying out something is very different from dreaming about it. You think you like to do something but if you do it consistently and regularly, you might feel differently.

dreaming vs doing

 

Take my example. I thought I liked photography to the extent that I would make a career out of it. I decided to explore career opportunities in wedding photography. Turns out, professional photography is more about getting clients and post processing than actually clicking pictures which I enjoyed. I volunteered at one of my cousin’s wedding and the pictures turned out horrible. I couldn’t keep up with the demands of his parents and the wedding ceremony was moving pretty fast. Moreover, there were a lot of people who wanted their pictures clicked and I was the only photographer. I couldn’t take the pressure.

I believe that somebody else who is used to dealing with crowd and pressure of missing out important moments would have worked wonderfully in my place. The job wasn’t that tough but I didn’t like it. I decided not to pursue wedding photography anymore.

 

Where I failed

I wasn’t prepared enough

To start with, I didn’t have a good camera. Yes, I didn’t. How could someone be such an idiot as to forget the most important thing? I was overconfident. I thought my camera was nice enough. I was afraid if I bought a new one and failed, I would lose my money.

I didn’t research on what kind of rituals will be performed. I thought I knew how an Indian wedding goes. However, when I actually had to be there, I realized there are a lot of small ceremonies and customs I had never paid attention to.

I didn’t interview bride and groom beforehand. I didn’t know what they want. The bride didn’t know me well and thus wasn’t comfortable around me. It was a major factor of ruining their couple photographs. Getting to know the couple before the wedding will acquaint them with you. Once people are comfortable, they give natural and memorable shots.

I didn’t have any previous experience 

This point can be ignored as I was just trying out. It wasn’t supposed to be that great. However, I wish I would have started small with simple assignments before taking a wedding shoot.

Keeping up with the circumstances

When I took this opportunity I had some idea of how difficult the job will be. However I failed to prepare myself for the unseen circumstances. The crowd and the poor lighting, it was a nightmare. No matter how detailed your plan is, something will definitely go wrong. In my case, everything went wrong.

 

What I could have done

First of all, I could have borrowed a good camera from a professional. I knew some professionals and they would have lended me their camera. But I didn’t ask.

Secondly, I should have researched. I should have interviewed and spent sometime with the couple. I should have prepared a list of the rituals so I would knew what to expect.

Lastly, I should have practiced with smaller assignments first. I should have gone to another wedding and clicked pictures without the pressure of me being the only photographer.

 

What I learned

It is this kind of real life experiences that let you discover more about yourself. You discover the particular aspects of something you actually like and can do under pressure. You may even discover new interests. I discovered that I should not be overconfident but I should always believe in myself. sometimes, taking a few deep breaths is all you need when you are under stress.

Conclusion

I assume you are working on your interests. If you already found something which clicks, congratulations! But if you have not, keep on trying. A week is a very small time to judge. Take more time. Keep on looking until you find something you both enjoy and get something out of. Something will go wrong,  make a plan nevertheless. You might fail, try again. Change your approach, change your strategies.

The important thing is not to succeed, but to discover yourself.

Money is tight

Money is a difficult affair for most students. Since we don’t earn full time, either our parents pay or we have to take student loans. It can be tempting to spend a lot when you are handed over the amount for the month but it goes as quickly as sand from hand.

money

In short, money saving is very important. It is not enough to make a budget(from my experience, budgeting never works out) but you have to cut down some of your expenses. It is not necessary to stop buying, you can buy smarter instead.

Ok. HOW?

Let’s say you need sugar. If you go to a supermarket, you will see a number of brands selling sugar. Generally, we go for the most familiar or popular one. However, the quality is almost the same. Sugar is sugar. If FDA approved it, the chemical composition is the same and the difference in cost is only for the brand name.

You can check out this post for a list of items to buy generic. In my experience,the average monthly expenditure got down to 70% by following this tip.

Today, check your shopping list for items which can be bought generic. Do not shop impulsively and take advantage of student discounts. Happy shopping!

Learn to cook

Hey there! The title of this post is self explanatory. Learn to cook. I’m not asking you to become a masterchef overnight but at least learn the basics. Trust me, you will have to, eventually. You can not live on take out food all the time and making instant noodles or breakfast cereal is not an option always.

As a student, many of us leave parental home and live in hostels/dorms on campus. Generally you are provided food there but you eventually get bored of it. The cafeteria food isn’t great either and you never have enough money to buy delicious food outside everyday. Most of you would have experienced this. So what do you do? Do you eat the crappy food? Do you buy potato chips or cheaper street food?

If you are like me, prefer to take the middle route. I take the crappy food and reinvent it. Add more veggies, seasoning, sauce or whatever else you feel like adding and then eat it. It tastes good most of the time but sometimes you just can’t eat it no matter what you add.

Therefore, I learned to cook. There are so many simple recipes out there which are easy and get ready in minutes. You can try smoothies, sandwiches, semi cooked foods, two ingredient desserts etc. which can be learned very easily and the ingredients are readily available. Here is an excellent post which lists a number of exciting ways to get delicious food in dorms!

If you can’t do much, learn these 5 skills at least:

1. How to make a simple sandwich. Did you try ironing your sandwich?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgPBQpkh60I

2. How to use a knife to chop vegetables(seems easy? I’ve seen people who never touched a knife in their life)

3. How to cook eggs. Omelet, scrambled, boiled whatever you like. Easily available and very nutritious.

4. How to cook ramen. There are very different ways

5. Smoothies and easy drinks(e.g. lemonade)

Below is a list of some student friendly websites which offer super easy recipes that anyone can make. Take your pick and try: