books

Tips for Beating Finals Stress

By now, finals are probably right around the corner, which means you’re in high stress mode. Personally, I think I’ve been on edge for the past 3 days, and I don’t think it’s going to get better for another week. I haven’t figured out if I’m shaking from the stress or the coffee. (Just kidding, it’s not that bad, but you know what I mean.)

You’re trying to get everything done and study for finals, and you probably don’t want to think about the fact that your freshman year of college is almost over. (It went way too fast. I’m not entirely sure where the time went.).

Stress is normal. But it’s uncomfortable, and it feels deadly when combined with sleep deprivation. We will get through this. It won’t necessarily be fun, and it won’t be easy but it’s almost over. The end is near, and all this stress will melt away quickly so stay positive! Please! Because sleep deprivation and anxiety are dangerous together. 0/10 would recommend.

books

As you head into your final week of classes or your exam week, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stay hydrated. I definitely recommend the large water bottle for finals week!
  • Don’t neglect organization. Just because you’re almost done for the semester, doesn’t mean you can ignore organization. Plus those book tabs will be really helpful when studying for finals.

book tabs

  • Sleep. At least as much as possible. That still might not be much, but some sleep is better than no sleep. Blankets help too.
  • Stay positive! Sometimes just a healthy, positive mindset can help you overcome negative emotions and block out some of the stress so you can concentrate better.
  • Be confident! Take control of your studying habits and walk into your exams confident that you know the material and that you prepared as well as you possibly could. Check out my post Studying for Success: Tips and Tricks for Finding Efficient Study Habits for more positive study tips.

Good luck!

lights

Hang it UP: Tips for Maximizing Your Wall Space

Command Hooks are basically a necessity if you want to hang anything on your dorm room walls. Duct tape looks messy and just doesn’t work well, and pins are typically off-limits so the walls don’t get damaged. Before coming to college, I had heard that Command hooks were great to have, so I picked up a pack of them thinking they might come in handy.

Little did I know that Command hooks would be a hot commodity. Luckily my roommate brought a ton of them, and we ended up using most of them. They’re just so versatile, they don’t damage the walls, and they come off really easily when you take them down.

There are also Command strips, which are great for hanging posters and pieces of paper on the walls. The Velcro is quite sturdy, and they’re very easy to apply.

There are so many uses for Command products. We mainly use the hooks to hang string lights and pictures around the room. My roommate also uses several hooks to hang her wipe-off calendar above her desk, and we used a combination of hooks and strips to hang our bulletin board (read more about bulletin board organization in my post Put a Pin in It: The Key to Bulletin Boards). I have a few in my closet on the wall where I hang purses and extra bags to keep them off the ground. Keep in mind that they don’t hold much weight, typically only about 3 to 5 pounds, so you may need a few of them depending on what you’re trying to hang.

lights

hooks

Now as helpful as they are, there are some things you should be aware of when applying them to the wall. For the first few days of college, we struggled to get them to stick to our walls without falling off when we tried to stick something to them or hang something from them. What we didn’t know was that you need to wipe off the wall area where you are going to place the hook or strip with rubbing alcohol and wait for it to dry. This cleans the surface and helps the product stick to the wall.

hook

hook

Also, read the instructions! If it says to stick the hook or strip to the wall and hold for 30 seconds, then do it. Maybe even hold it for more than that. If it says to wait 30 minutes to hang something after applying it to the wall, then wait. We ruined several hooks before we realized we needed to wait, so be careful.

As long as you apply them correctly, Command hooks and strips will make your life much easier and will free up space elsewhere in your dorm by letting you keep things organized on your walls instead of on desk or floor space.

bulletin board

Put a Pin in It: The Key to Bulletin Boards

College comes with a lot of flyers. You walk through the student center and there are papers everywhere urging you to come to this meeting or a certain color on Tuesday or join that club. Or people come around to dorm rooms to pass out reminders and takeout menus. I can’t tell you how many I’ve gotten over the past few months, but definitely enough to be a little overwhelming. You probably end up with an absurd number of flyers (some that you want and some that you don’t), but you should have a way to keep track of the important ones.

My roommate and I share a giant bulletin board that we hung above our mini fridge. We typically use it for flyers for upcoming events or for important pieces of paper that we want to be visible. This is especially helpful for long term flyers with multiple events on them or for long term project guidelines. We also have some postcards from family members, school business cards, and photos up there too because it’s nice to have a balance. This could also be a great place to put some of your checklists or mini schedules if you think it will hold you more accountable to them. (Check out my posts Write It Down: The Guide to Making an Effective Checklist and The Unintimidating Way to Schedule Your Week to learn how to make effective checklists and schedules). Oh, plus there’s the multiple takeout menus because those are key for college.

bulletin board

We have a lot of space on our wall, so we use this large cork board, but if you don’t have that much wall space, try this smaller cork board instead. The important part is to have a communal space where you can post important reminders or just share your fun pictures. And don’t forget to pick up some cool push pins to keep everything in place!

bulletin board

Now you don’t have to fear running the gauntlet of flyers anymore because you have a way to effectively manage them. But you’re still going to get a lot of flyers.

storage bin

Storage Part 2: Making Every Space Count

By now, you’re probably running out of space in your dorm room. It’s only so big, and you’re (probably) sharing it with at least one other person. All the crates, shoe bins, and cubes still aren’t enough. Some might say that you brought too much stuff with you. I say you just need more storage.

Probably the biggest dorm room struggle I’ve had all year is fitting my clothes in my dresser. I arrived at college with a reasonable amount of clothes but after going home on breaks and coming back with a lot more, both my closet and my dresser were overflowing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to reorganize my drawers every week to maximize my drawer space.

Between bulky sweaters that I haven’t worn in 2 months but are still lurking in the back of drawers to the countless free t-shirts I have accumulated over the last 8 months, there isn’t a lot of space. Depending on how often you go home, you might not be able to drop off out-of-season clothes that take up precious space.

So where do you put all this clothing?

My roommate uses a drawer tower to supplement her drawer space. Honestly, I was a little skeptical that she would need that much drawer space, but now I wish I had one myself. It essentially doubles the drawer space, which allows her to better organize her clothes by type or season, and it frees up space in her closet for other things. It fits perfectly under her lofted bed too.

drawer tower

Besides clothes, there are plenty of other items that require storage that you probably don’t have. For example, towels, sheets, and washcloths take up a lot of space, and you really don’t want to just shove them in your closet when they’re clean. I use one of these large plastic storage bins to keep all my towels, sheet sets, and washcloths under my bed. They’re easy to access when I need them, but they’re out of the way in a clean space with a lid that locks.

storage bin

Hopefully these additional storage bins will help you take control of organizing your room and give you some extra space in a small dorm room. Check out my post Steps to Organizing Your Dorm Room for more tips and products to keep your room organized!

 

folders

Folder Hacks to Stop Losing Stray Papers

I know folders seem pretty boring. They’re helpful and compact but how important are they really?

VERY important.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people shove handouts into their notebooks (or even worse, directly into their backpacks) at the end of class as everyone rushes to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done this on occasion when I needed to, but it certainly should not be your go-to method for paper storage.

We’ve all lost important papers over the years. Maybe you unwittingly threw them out. Maybe you dropped them somewhere. Maybe they just disappeared. Maybe you’ll never know.

But folders will save your life, more or less. I recommend having a folder for each class where you can keep the syllabus and any handouts and homework as well as quizzes and tests. For most of my classes, I use colorful transparent folders because they’re easy to color code (please see my post 3 Tips for Stepping Up Your Color Coding Game for more info on how to color code your life). They hold up well, and I can transition them from one semester to the next.

folders

I love the colorful ones, but sometimes I need sturdier, more professional ones depending on the situation. I use glossy folders in solid colors for most of my business classes and for when I need to meet with professors or advisors. Typically, I buy them in more neutral colors like navy blue, black, maroon, white, etc. This looks more professional, and they don’t call attention to themselves like brighter colors would. It’s just personal preference for me, and it depends on what you’re using them for, so feel free to get brighter ones if you want.

folders

Keep in mind that you can never have too many folders. You can think you have enough, but suddenly you realize they’re all full when you need a folder last minute for a meeting. Definitely keep a few empty ones on hand just in case.

Your folder collection will help you keep your papers organized by class so that you can find all your papers in one place, rather than having to sift through several notebooks and your backpack to find them. Frantically searching through multiple places like that to find your calc study guide is not worth the stress. And remember, you don’t have to shove papers into your backpack!

drawer

Tips for Organizing Your Desk Drawers

So hopefully the top of your desk is well organized after my post 5 Tips for Organizing Your Desk and Keeping It Clean. But what looks organized on the outside, isn’t necessarily organized on the inside. Desk drawers are amazing because you can just throw random stuff in them when you need to make the rest of your room look organized. While this works in the short run, you end up with messy drawers that are completely useless whenever you need to find one of the things you threw in there 4 weeks ago.

In particular, I struggle with THE drawer. What is THE drawer you ask?

I’m pretty sure everyone has one in their lives. It’s that drawer that becomes a black hole for all random small items in your life: sunglasses, old receipts, tiny scraps of paper, earbuds, gum, old batteries….the list goes on. (Please refer to the pictures for just how bad mine have gotten lately…It’s kind of a problem). You haven’t seen the back of that drawer in months, and you’re probably starting to wonder if the drawer actually ever ends or if it the clutter is just infinite. Stranger things have happened.

drawer

Tackling this drawer can be daunting but it’s important to do. You’ll find things you forgot you had like your retainers and that really cute bracelet you thought fell off your wrist in September. But at the very least, you will have an organized place to put all your random things, so say goodbye to rummaging around for 10 minutes to find your sunglasses.

drawer

Of course, things don’t magically remain organized by themselves, so you’re going to need a few items to keep everything sorted. I use a drawer organizer tray to keep all the little things sorted out. It has plenty of space for various office supplies that easily get lost in larger drawers. The different size compartments hold everything from push pins to pens and sticky notes to staples.

I have also found these longer organizers to be helpful in different drawers, even for items like nail polish. It helps to put similar items next to each other so that you train yourself to look for particular items in certain places. Nothing is more frustrating than tearing apart the drawer while searching for the stapler, only to find it wedged in the back.

Now that they’re organized, try not to just throw things back into the drawers. The goal is to keep everything in a place where you can find it, and for different people, this means different levels of organization. So go reclaim your drawers and say goodbye to the back hole that sucks away all your hair ties.

pop up hampers

Laundry Struggles: Hampers that Hold Up

Doing laundry at college is one of those tasks that you think about in advance but that you underestimate. You start off well, doing loads on a regular basis and all of that. Then the semester progresses and you start doing laundry less before you realize you’ve run out of clean socks and there are shirts you haven’t worn in weeks because, well, they haven’t been washed in a couple weeks.

As much of a hassle as laundry can be, it actually shouldn’t be as hard to do as it is. You can multitask while you do it by putting in a load and doing work until it’s ready to be put in the dryer. But it always seems to get neglected anyway. Fight this by scheduling in your laundry time like I talk about in my post Write It Down: The Guide to Making an Effective Checklist.

For actually doing the laundry, everyone has her own system. I tend to use pop up hampers versus plastic laundry baskets but it depends on your preference. I have two of these squared hampers because they fit under my bed nicely and they’re a lot sturdier than the ones my friends have. I use the navy one for dirty laundry and the blue one for clean laundry after it comes out of the dryer. This makes it easier to transport your laundry and it keeps your dirty clothes away from the clean ones.

pop up hamper

My roommate uses a plastic basket that she keeps under her bed because it gives her more space to store dirty laundry. I have noticed though that this system makes it a little bit harder to sort out the clean clothes from the dirty ones, and it takes up more precious storage space under the bed. If you do choose to use a plastic one, I would recommend this one because it is a little bit smaller and easier to carry to the laundry room.

Again, everyone has her own laundry habits, but I’ve seen plenty of broken and abandoned hampers in the laundry room to know which ones to avoid. Because chances are you’ll have a lot of laundry to do when you do remember it, which means you need hampers that can handle the weight.

pop up hampers

Also, random PSA but don’t forget to wash your towels regularly! People get sick so easily in college, so that last thing you want is for everyone to be using the same hand towel for 2 weeks.

storage cube

Steps to Organizing Your Dorm Room

College life has taught me that you can be as organized as possible in your academic or social lives and still have a concerningly messy room. Oh, it starts out well, but things start to get crazy, and then you realize your drying rack still has clothes on it that you washed a week ago and you can’t quite remember the last time you reorganized that pile of books and notebooks under your bed.

It happens, and that’s ok. The key is to organize your room in such a way that it is difficult to reach critical levels of disorganization. Cue storage containers.

If you’re like me, you have a lot of shoes and not a lot of space to keep them. Most likely, you end up with shoes scattered around your room: shower shoes by the bathroom, rain boots in the closet, sneakers by your dresser, and heels somewhere under your bed. Unsurprisingly, you can never seem to find the exact pair that you’re looking for, especially when you’re already running late.

I keep this rolling shoe storage box under my bed for most of my shoes. It rolls out easily, and it can open from either end, giving you direct access to your shoes. I typically keep my shower shoes outside of it, as well as one or two pairs that I wear most days; however, I put most of my shoes in the bin. Every so often, I rotate the shoes so that the out-of-season ones are towards the back.

shoe box

shoe box

For my books, I have a couple of these milk crates that keep all my notebooks and books in one place. I usually keep the books from the past semester towards the back and then stack some of the books I am currently using on top so that they’re easier to find. My roommate and I also use one of these to hold our snack supply.

book crate

Besides my makeup and hair products, I have a lot of other random, smaller items that I don’t want sitting out on my desk. My closet has a built-in shelf network, so I use this fabric cube to hold my sunscreen, extra shampoo and conditioner, razors, and other products. It fits perfectly in one of the closet shelves, and it keeps all the items in one place rather than strewn around my room or cluttering up the bathroom.

storage cube

These three different bins help segment different categories of your stuff, like books versus personal care products, and they help reduce the stress of running around your room trying to find your Econ notebook before class. If you want to know more about maximizing dorm space, check out my post Hang it UP: Tips for Maximizing Your Wall Space.

So now you don’t have to feel like you’re living a double life of having an organized life in all respects except for your room.

 

nap chair

How to Nap Your Way to Success

Yes, you read that right. Naps are crucial for sleep-deprived college students like you and me. When that headache starts to hit, and you barely made it through your last class with your eyes open, it’s time to nap.

In high school, you typically didn’t have time for post-school naps because of sports or clubs, but in college, you probably have some pretty big time gaps in your schedule. Definitely schedule in some naps during this down time if you need it. I started doing it, and it has saved me from walking around like a zombie on more than a few days.

My roommate actually introduced me to the concept of regularly napping. We both stay up late, and we’re not morning people, so naps are essential. That being said, you have to nap smart, otherwise you wake up from a 20-minute power nap 3 hours later. Happens all the time if you’re not careful.

Here’s what I’ve learned (mostly from my roommate, who is the napping expert. Trust me, she’s currently napping as I write this post):

  • SET AN ALARM. This is the most important tip. You can try and convince yourself that you’ll naturally wake up in 45 minutes, but you probably will sleep for much longer.

 

  • Plan your naps. If you only have half an hour to nap, that’s fine. Just make sure you schedule it in and set that alarm. You can read more about scheduling and making checklists in my post Write It Down: The Guide to Making an Effective Checklist. If you say you’re going to take an hour nap, then get up after an hour. Don’t wake up and then just set an alarm for another hour after that unless you have the time.

nap chair

  • Don’t get into bed. This is probably the hardest to follow because there are those days when you just want to come back from class, hop into bed, and burrow under 5 layers of blankets. This is amazing until you really have to get up and be productive but you physically can’t drag yourself out of your comfy bed. Unless I know I can nap for multiple hours, I just lie down on my bed and put a blanket over me. I have this Vera Bradley blanket that folds up into a pillow. It’s fuzzy and compact, and the pillow pouch part doubles as a cozy little pocket for your feet. Another option (and my roommate’s preferred method of napping) is using a “nap chair.” We have one such nap chair in our room, and it acts as extra seating as well. It folds up but it’s large enough to curl up in and very comfy.

Speaking of naps, I should probably go take one now….

Multitasking at the Gym

It’s Wednesday night, and you really want to go to the gym but you still haven’t finished your homework. (Ok personally, I love going to the gym but my suitemates tell me that some people usually don’t really want to and I get that. Maybe you just want to go so you can procrastinate on that paper for another half an hour. No judgement.) So, you can either hit the elliptical and stay up later than you want to finish your homework afterward or you can skip the gym and just get your work done. Right?

Wrong.

As a college student, you’re probably getting pretty darn good at binge watching shows on Netflix while doing your homework or catching up on your social media while sending emails. But multitasking while exercising is woefully neglected.

book stack1

Now this isn’t for everything. I wouldn’t recommend trying to write a philosophy paper while on the elliptical, but there are certain things that lend themselves to multitasking.

For my Econ class, my professor often has me listen to Econ related podcasts. While they aren’t bad in and of themselves, I hate just sitting down and listening to them when I know I have a million other things to get done. A couple of months ago I started going to the gym and listening to the podcasts there. I was a little worried that I would get distracted too easily or that I wouldn’t be able to do both.

Surprisingly, I loved it. The podcasts are typically about an hour long, so I feel more motivated to stay at the gym for the full hour instead of leaving after 45 or 50 minutes like I typically do. I actually found that I remembered the material from the podcast better because the noise in the gym forced me to concentrate harder on what I was hearing. There was no fear of falling asleep while listening to it either, since I was working out rather than sitting on my bed.

Maybe you prefer to do your homework quietly or maybe the gym is your break from homework. But depending on your assignments, I really recommend trying this technique.

If you really don’t want to leave your room or you don’t want to commit to a full gym routine, no problem. Try stretching, doing a few yoga poses, or doing some planks and other core exercises in your room while studying. I use a yoga mat to stretch or work out several times a week in my room, and it’s easy to do while reviewing notes or finishing a reading. Another option is using a foam roller to stretch out while you study. 

Don’t be afraid to try multitasking beyond Netflix and homework. Working out is key, but it’s easy to fall out of a routine as the semester gets crazier and crazier. Take the homework to the gym and see what happens!

Check out my post The Unintimidating Way to Schedule your Week to help schedule in your gym time!