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Life hacks for getting more done each day

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Time is your most precious resource. Here are a few things you may not have thought about to optimise a few idle moments of each university day.

There’s plenty going on in the life of any student. Part-time work, relationships, friends, family and of course... all the assignments! We’ve prepared a few ways to juggle it all a bit easier using some simple, daily habits that you can use throughout your life. These are just a couple of simple ideas to get started; we advise you to invent your own ‘life hacks’ to get the most from your time. These often involve getting two or three things done at once during the same timeframe. 

Optimise your commute

Your commute is a valuable time for lectures, assignments or even just some light reading. Yes, even if you drive! Audiobooks, recorded lectures and transcripts of meetings can all contribute to getting some much-needed study done so you have more time to cook dinner and have time for yourself back home. You can even set up a recording device and jot down your thoughts as you drive for later transcription or implementation into an assignment. If you have a hands-free device, you can even make calls to graduate employers if you’re feeling particularly bold! Just keep your voice down if you’re on a bus! Just about any learning that doesn’t require your hands can be done in the car, so long as you’re staying within the bounds of the law.

If you take the bus, you have even more options. Most Australian cities have city-wide WiFi, so pull out your laptop and get some work done on the way there and back. It’s tempting to just listen to podcasts or check Messenger feeds, but whenever you’re feeling up to it, make some time for studying. You’re essentially shifting time you’d be studying back at home or at uni to the commute, which is dead time otherwise! Lifehack. 

Get to lectures early and stay a bit later

This one should be used at your discretion. If your lecturer isn’t doing it for you, feel free to skip this one, but for others, you can use the time before and after to get exclusive insights into your course and the kind of work course coordinators are looking for. This off-the-book knowledge can be more valuable than any rubric or other written assignment criteria (unless they just refer you to them!). But hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. You might find these little stays before and after are more valuable than the lectures themselves! 

Have lunch with people in your class

We’ve all gotta eat. Many students use this time to socialise with friends, which is perfectly fine. But if you’re looking for more ways to optimise, get to know others in your class, not just mates. It’s really easy to slip into a pattern of meeting people and losing contact every six months. If you have lunch with people, you’re somewhat consolidating your tenuous relationship with them and potentially making a new contact… or even a friend! 

Networking generally is one of the most important things you can do as a uni student looking for a graduate job on graduation. Whether it’s with classmates, or even professors and tutors if you’re bold enough, this sort of thing can go a long way to boosting your chances when you graduate (and even before). 

Load up on productivity apps

There are plenty of free apps on the market that help you concentrate or plan your day. The Forest app, for instance, makes trees grow on your phone’s lock screen, which get cut down when you access your phone. This is designed to discourage excessive phone use. Users report this to have a surprising effect on their habitual checks! 

Make use of the G Suite or similar services too. Google Calendar is a great way to set up alerts and notifications for all kinds of things, be they dinner dates, assignments, exams, car maintenance. Whatever you need. You can use Drive to collaborate with others and store info when switching between several devices. 

You can also get to-do list apps for just about any platform. Todoist is an example of these. These let you colour code your priorities and integrate with other services. Not a bad way to get things done! 

Have a browse of Google Play or the Apple App Store for more examples. You might be surprised at the number of free services. 

Double up your exercise routines

Whether you’re going to the gym or for a run, solo exercise is primetime for squeezing in some more learning. Chuck a lecture onto your phone, get some unintrusive earbuds and away you go. Two birds with one stone. 

The most important lifehack…

Try not to stress about making everything more efficient. It’s good to think about, but there comes a point where you’re thinking so much about optimising that you’re doing the opposite! Stick to three or four ‘life hacks’ that suit you and then call it an issue. After all, if you do too many things at once, you might end up doing nothing at all. 

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