Tips and Tools for Back to School

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If you’re following the IMC group on LinkedIn, incoming student Kristi Hansen started a great discussion by asking – “any recommendations for a first time online student?” The responses include tips that I wholeheartedly support and at least one that I can’t believe I’m just now learning of (built-in citations in Word). Thanks, Kevin!

Whether you are completely new to the program, returning from an extended break, or still catching your breath after completing the summer term, now may be a good time to refine your productivity habits and get ready for a successful year. I tend to be a late-adopter, but a great lesson I’ve learned from my classmates and professors is to accept technology and take advantage of resources that enable us to work smarter.

Turtle on a skateboard

Work smarter, not harder

I’m currently working through Michael Sliwinski’s 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course. This is a free course that offers advice on how to stay on top of it all by managing your inboxes, knowing when tasks are really projects, working through tasks by context, and more. While each step only takes about five minutes to watch or review, you may want to take time out to integrate some suggestions into your own processes. Sliwinski often pairs the advice with his own Nozbe system, but I found that I could apply most of his recommendations with Evernote.

Let’s talk about Evernote. Every so often I come across an app, movie, food, or some other product that I could shamelessly promote in the street without any paid compensation or company affiliation. After some initial resistance and a few trials with inferior applications, what finally convinced me to give Evernote a shot was the fact that I could download and manage it on my PC. This not only speeds up input and organization but gives me the option to keep notebooks local or on the cloud. Cloud items are synced with my phone app, and their Android widget allows me specify which lists I keep at a glance.

Evernote logo

For IMC coursework, you can use Evernote to create notebooks for each class and sub-notebooks for each week. Given that course readings, discussions, and assignments are often catalysts for new ideas, another great feature of the application is that you can organize your thoughts and classmates’ suggestions on other marketing or job-related projects. How many brilliant ideas never see the light of day because they get buried in a college-ruled spiral notebook? If you’re looking for a better system to get and stay organized, I encourage you to give Evernote a chance.

My last recommendation is a bit less technology-based but an invaluable resource nonetheless. For students who’ll be juggling family and home life with their coursework, a local library can be a haven for quiet time and longer sessions of uninterrupted work. This may seem like unnecessary added time away from the family, but a few hours of productive alone time can actually help you be more “available” to your loved ones later on. If your county or city library branches are not up to par with good Wi-Fi and quiet areas, don’t be afraid to “blend in” at a local college library. I personally alternate between several local libraries with varying early morning to late evening hours that fit my family schedule.

Library Photo

The best libraries are spacious with quiet zones, multiple power sources, and strong Wi-Fi.

What tools, tips and resources will you use to manage the upcoming school year? Let me know what you think of Sliwinski’s productivity course or how you use Evernote to juggle responsibilities.

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2 Responses to “Tips and Tools for Back to School”

  1. Kristi Hansen Says:

    The responses have been great on LinkedIn! I look forward to putting all the advice to work.

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