College, Life

Tools for Academic Success

School is well underway and today’s belated post is about what items, resources, and tools I use to be as successful as possible and as environmentally-friendly as I can be.
Some items linked in this post are from my affiliation with Amazon. The way the program works is when you click and purchase the item from the link provided, I ern some change from the referral. It’s an interesting process since (as far as I know) items added to lists and saved for later doesn’t count. Boo. I operate via lists as well so its a bit of a downside.
Below are some inside looks into what I bring to school in my backpack, laptop bag, and mini lunch bag!

Tools for Success

The Basics: Technology

Last year, I bought a sixth-generation iPad before returning to school for the first time in over three years. I’ve been able to use it for my second year back as a Junior English-Writing student at the University of Oklahoma for language learning. Apps I’ve used include Canvas and Duolingo for education, WordPress for blogging, and more. I’ve been able to store a wealth of knowledge with notes, YouTube, etc I do have a folder section of entertainment apps such as Hulu, WWE Network, MLB at Bat, Pinterest, etc.
When my Fitbit crashed and had some technical problems in April this year, I waited for the right time to invest in another fitness tracker. In August, I added the Apple Watch to my Apple-tech and the upgrades allowed me to monitor more than just my heart rate, step counts, and calories burned. At work, I tend to spend time away from my phone because of the kids I work with and the job I am required to do. If my boss or a co-worker ever need me, I can always check my watch instead of my phone.

The best part is that the Apple Watch reminds me to breathe via the breathing app on the Watch. this has allowed me to look into time management apps while doing school work and reducing my anxiety before important quizzes and exams. For university, any portable laptop will do to assists you with excelling academically. IN 2016, my 2012 MacBook Pro crashed (then came back to life in April 2019). My 2016 Chromebook charger faulted out on me and I was without a fully operational laptop from June-August. Before I bought my 2017 refurbished MacBook Air, I moved everything from my Chromebook to digital space to wipe clean my Chromebook to send to Lenovo. That gave me $41 for recycling my laptop. After I bought my 2017 refurbished MacBook Air, I transferred everything from the 2012 Mac to my “new” laptop. And after my 2012 Mac was sent to Apple to recycle and earn $30 Apple credit, I’m finally down to one functional computer. I ended up cashing in the $30 apple credit towards an HDMI extender for my iPhone and iPad.

A few minimalism goals I have is to declutter my digital space. With a new laptop, I’ve been able to use the “new” laptop to help me out with academics, work, and personal life. I’ve begun to utilize some unique apps to help me succeed. For example, Grammarly allows me to edit y work as well las fix some basic grammar., spelling, and editorial fixes. With NaNoWriMo approaching, i”ve considered moving to scrivener to help me organize all my writings and continued editing all the works I have going on. I plan on starting a trial over the next month before I invest in buying the app.
The best part about a functional laptop is during my free time, I’ve been able to play online-computer games again! Somedays, I leave my laptop at home so I can lighten my backpack and put my wireless keyboard to use. Especially, useful with I’m on my little couch typing away! I bought this wireless keyboard last year when my Chromebook was starting mt obe difficult to do most school work with.

And my tiny little Bluetooth speaker’s useful during showers and bubble bath nights to help me relax, or to help me sleep at night! I also have Bluetooth-over-the-ears headphones I’ve had for two years now that are perfect for working out on at the park or a late night at the gym! The biggest struggle with being a university student is the amount of waste that follows essays, index cards, single-use items, etc. There’s a small set of swaps I’ve made to help me adjust the amount of waste that goes into being a student.

THis was from meal planning back in August. Twas a nice summer day for a Saturday at home to meal prep for the second week of classes.

Reusable water bottle, cup, mug, etc.

I tend to leave my reusable water bottles around breaking the lids, etc. For instance, last week I left a bottle out in public and broke a lid to a cup. I also had to throw out one reusable cup because, after 5 years, it was beyond repair. Instead of spending more money on another reusable water bottle, I’ll use what I already own to save on the use of plastic. even when nI goes visit a local coffee shop, I bring a reusable coffee cup to help save 10 cents and on the use of a single-use item.

Earlier this year, I used up the last of my highlighters. When I moved to the apartment complex I’ve stayed at for close to two years, I had one entire storage container dedicated to office supplies.I’ve now be able to sue that storage container for something else and move the leftover office supplies to the one shelf on my bookshelf dedicated to office supplies. When I used the last of my highlighter,s I never felt a need to stack-up or buy another pack. Instead, I’ve used the resources I have now to cross items off my list or to highlight important texts. Crayons and colored pencils can be used for more than just coloring!

Around the time the last of the highlighters were done, I also used the last of my index cards. I have considered buying some for Spanish but I’m holding out as long as I can. That’s where Quizlet, a flash-card learning app, assists with reviewing Spanish vocabulary and learning in an engaging way that keeps my learning as clutter-free as possible!
In the process of using the last of my single-use pens and gel pens, I have invested in a reusable foundation pen for at-home use. Once the last of my single-use pens are done, I plan on buying a second one to take to school with me. I’ve even been counting down the number of pens I have left:

4 black and 2 blue pens
27 gel pens and 27 refills
The gel pens have been the quicker pens to use up this year. I started with 250+ colors last year (that was given as a gift). I’ve been able to recycle the plastic parts of the pens, which is comforting.

Now I’ve got an interesting habit that’s allowed me to focus on my writing easier- writing by hand. This blog post was originally written on paper torn out from an old composition notebook. I’ve been using the last of my single-use paper (aka loose-leaf) for a few years. For the notes I keep in notebooks, I enjoy the decomposition notebooks with gorgeous covers! I’m considering transitioning to tree-free paper (and toilet paper) in the future. My Spanish textbook is a loose-leaf textbook that’ll help me out for the next three semesters of Spanish. The binder is falling apart and I may have to purchase recycled eco-friendly 3-inch binder at the end of this semester as a replacement. I also forgot to mention the decomposition folders I have that hold the loose-leaf papers from school, work, etc. The other two binders I have in use for school are for both school and personal use. The first one is a binder dedicated to Spanish notes and the second one is my 2019 planner. The second binder was purchased at Goodwill because the cover is cute! I’m looking into going “paperless” with my 2020 planner after a couple of decades of having a planner, this will be a new adventure for me. 

With the digital calendar on my MacBook and iPad, I’ve had an easier time using it and utilizing the tools to invite friends to events and such. With this use in my digital space,e I can move away from having a large planner in 2020. I also have a monthly and weekly dry-erase board calendar at hoe that aids me in being on top of my schedule and deadlines.

Current backpack set up!

The one area university students stress about is finding the money for food and meals. In October, a tiny adjustment I’m making is reducing how much I go out-to-eat. I went out a lot in August and September because of the abundance of coupons I had and the less amount of time I had at home preparing meals with this new schedule. Over the past week, my schedule has become more set in stone and I’ve been able to increase the number of meals I’ve prepped at home over the weekends and having breakfast at home. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about this and you can check them out here:

The (plastic) Bento Box I bought in August fell apart last week and I’ve also had one reusable ziplock bag break. I am still using both items to store fruits and veggies instead of soups and messy PB&J sandwiches and will one day upgrade to metal food containers. After years of plastic reusable containers breaking on me, I’m more willing to shell out extra money for a more sturdy container.
And these small multi-use items may not seem like they aren’t making a difference, but they are making a change for the environment and my budget. Most weekends, I make homemade bread (for PB&J’s) and one veggie slow cooker meal so I’m not scrambling to make lunch or dinner during the weekdays and on the late nights I return home.

This post about what items help me at school was quite lengthy but I hope you found at least one section useful for whatever you’re living situation is!
What are some items you use to help you succed? I’d love to read about them in the comments and I’ll see you all again soon!
Danielle Sullivan

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