Grad School Survival Kit

I recently completed coursework for my master’s degree. During the last year and a half, I’ve been exhausted, overworked, and pushed to my breaking point, but I have proven to myself time and time again that I am far more capable than I give myself credit.

Along the way, I’ve relied on a few simple things to keep me motivated and productive. Since school is back in session for so many this month, it seemed like a good idea to share the products that helped me through my accelerated master’s program.

First up on my list is AdvoCare Spark Energy. Last fall, I relied on coffee to give me the extra boost of energy I needed in the morning. However, I crashed HARD every single afternoon, and I was gaining weight from the tasty additions (flavored creamers, sugar, etc.) to my morning brew. With Spark, I have lost weight while receiving not only a morning boost but also mental clarity that lasts all day long. I can’t imagine starting my day any other way now. Plus the flavors are absolutely delicious.

The next item on my list is tiny but crucial to my ability to focus: bobby pins. (These are my favorite!) I have spent countless hours at my desk every single day for the past year and a half hunched over textbooks, and bobby pins ensure I can focus on the task at hand by keeping my hair out of the way. It’s a simple thing, but it makes a big difference.

A good planner. It’s been said time and time again that one simply cannot be organized without some type of planner, whether digital or paper based. In my world, if I don’t write an engagement down, it doesn’t exist. I’ve used a leather Day-Timer planner with monthly and weekly calendars for the past two years, and I love it. On each week, I insert a to-do list for all of the assignments I must complete each week. The entire thing zips up so it’s professional enough when I need to travel for meetings, etc. Plus, the entire thing is customizable to my preferences. I can also stuff quite a few extras inside it (calculator, pens, notes, business cards, etc.)

School Survival at BetweenWeekdays.com2

Lots and lots of paper. As an MBA student, I find myself constantly scribbling formulas and notes. I really like larger notebooks with dividers as well as project planners for individual assignments. The larger notebooks were especially handy for the math required in my accounting and finance classes, while I preferred the project planners for the individual projects required for each class as well as work meetings and projects.

I also discovered that I definitely have a preference when it comes to highlighters as gel highlighters are so much better than their marker counterpoints. I prefer the Sharpie brand of highlighters. Gel highlighters are mess free, and honestly, they’re just more fun to use.

Felt pens are also one of my favorite office supplies at the moment. I liked to use different colors for different classes when taking notes or filling out my planner. I also liked to coordinate my pen colors to my highlighter colors for study sessions. Having that visual representation in color really helped me when studying and preparing for the week ahead. (Felt pens are also good for taking mental health breaks to color  in adult coloring books!)

Tabs make it easy for me to reference my textbooks for important information. I adore the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery Tabs for several reasons:

  1. They’re large enough for me to write on.
  2. They’re pretty.
  3. The tabs remove easily when I’m done with the subject and it’s time to return my textbook.

I certainly am glad to not be heading back to the (virtual) classroom this semester, but I do hope some of these products may be beneficial to others who are. I still have one academic requirement left to complete before I can don a cap and gown again to earn my MBA this December, but, in the meantime, I’m glad to return to a slower pace for a few weeks and hopefully resume blogging on a more regular schedule soon.

All comments are encouraged and appreciated!

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