Written by: Stephanie Small, Edited by: Laura Morrison - November 2013
The graduate student. Part bookworm, part superhero, and multi-tasker extraordinare. In any given day you’ve got to be in at least four places – home, school, library, and work – let alone the necessary cafes, grocery stores, gyms, and of course, entertainment spots, that make a well-rounded individual. In order to stay sane you’ve got to find a way to keep the chaos to a minimum, stay organized, and of course, attend to your basic daily needs like food, water, and sleep. Here are the five items that make that process a whole heck of a lot easier:
2. Water Bottle
5. Filing System
Maybe you’re an old school type. You like to be able to hold something in your hand, turn its pages, write with a pen (and subsequently cross it out), and look at pretty images of Impressionist flowers, cats, or Calvin and Hobbes. Maybe you’ve succumbed to the siren song of the iPhone and can’t imagine a paper calendar. Whatever your choice, pick a method, and make sure it works for you. An online planner is of no use if you keep forgetting to enter appointments, and a paper planner riddled with scribbles and stuffed with loose pages has potential to create more chaos than assistance.
2. Water Bottle
Divide your body weight in half. That’s how many ounces of water per day you should be drinking. Increase that if you’re a coffee and/or sweaty workout fan. Mild dehydration can cause irritability, headaches, and fatigue. Severe dehydration can cause hallucinations. Not exactly the mental state you want while trying to complete your dissertation! Carry a water bottle around in your bag and commit to filling it 2-3 times per day.
Mild hunger can cause similar symptoms to the ones described above. And we all know how difficult it is to focus while your stomach’s complaining! Keeping a stash of protein-dense munchies around can alleviate those hunger pangs as well as the dizziness and spaciness that can come with low blood sugar. Our picks for healthy, cheap, and portable snacks include hardboiled eggs, nuts, and fruit with cheese. Check out these videos for more ideas. NOTE: snacking on sugary and carb-dense items like candy, muffins, or chips creates a blood sugar crash that might leave you feeling worse.
Invest in a bag that’s both strong and comfortable. If you’re living in a wet climate, make sure it’s waterproof – nothing’s worse than getting caught in a freak rainstorm that drenches the past three months of meticulous notes, or ruins your laptop! If you’re wearing the bag, it should distribute the weight evenly over both your shoulders. A bag that’s too heavy can cause neck, shoulder and back problems, so limit the amount of weight if possible. Nothing wrong with pulling a suitcase-style bag with wheels around, either.
5. Filing System
There’s the rare individual that scans every piece of paper she receives and uploads it all onto her hard drive, but most of us have handouts, pamphlets, and other miscellaneous “stuff” from classes, workshops, and conferences. And it’s all too easy for that “stuff” to become piles of clutter on your kitchen table and nightstand. Invest in a filing drawer or cabinet, grab some colored folders and labels, and organize those flyaway sheets. You’ll feel so much better when you do, to say nothing of increasing your efficiency and productivity!
By making sure you have the items that may be necessary for survival as a graduate student you may help ensure you are ready to take on your busy and chaotic schedule. Stay healthy, think comfort and function, and keep yourself organized, and your graduate school experience should be significantly enhanced!
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