College Day in My Life // Online Junior Year Edition

I can’t believe I’m already a junior in college. Not only that, but I’ll be graduating two semesters from now*. Absurd.

I thought that I would give you a look at one of my days while taking classes online! Obviously everyday is a bit different, but this is what my day looked like yesterday.

*I’m graduating a semester early woohoo!

6:30 am

I wake up between 5:15 and 6:30 every single day because I have to be up by 5:30 for work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I try to keep my sleeping schedule as consistent as possible on the rest of the days.

I actually wanted to sleep in until 7 today, but my body woke me up at 6:30, and I just stayed in bed for a bit.

After going to the bathroom, washing my face, and stretching a little, I read a few chapters of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.

8:00 am

Around 8 is usually when I’ll go make myself breakfast! Today I made a bowl of oatmeal topped with bananas, blueberries, and chopped pecans. I ate it in bed (because my housemates were still asleep and I didn’t want to be loud), while I looked over some of my assignments.

Then, I did some more reading of The Poppy War because I really want to finish it over the next couple of days. I normally would do some kind of workout in the morning, but it was a stormy day and I just wasn’t feeling it, so I let myself take a rest day!

Then, I eventually got dressed, made my bed, and listened to a podcast for a bit.

11:00 am

My sister Facetimed me around 11 while I went to make an iced coffee for myself before class. I honestly talk to my sister or my parents on the phone a few times throughout the day.

11:40 am

Then, I had class my first and only class of the day at 11:40: Foundations of British Literature. It was a pretty easy class because we were starting a new unit, so we basically just went over some of the historical context of the time period.

1:00 pm

The class ended at 1, at which time I went to make myself some lunch. I made a spinach & berry smoothie with some avocado toast. It was phenomenal.

2:00 pm

At 2, I got started on my thesis, which is what I spent the majority of my day working on.

I am currently in the development stage of my thesis, which basically means this semester I focus more on research, while next semester I’ll be doing the actual execution/writing of the thesis. But I still need to submit a proposal this semester which is going to be around 15-20 pages long (possibly longer??). On top of this, I’m taking 5 other classes, so it’s overwhelming at times!

I’m somehow powering through, though, and I know it’ll all be worth it in the end!

My housemates all joined me in the dining room while I worked, and it was nice to get some social interaction for the day (considering we’re taking our classes online, and, you know, COVID means I don’t see too many other people).

5:00 pm

At 5, I made myself some dinner which was a turkey wrap and some steamed veggies on the side! I continued working while I ate. I actually got a lot done during this day of working, so I was feeling great.

6:00 pm

I stopped working on it at 6 because I was exhausted at this point. I made myself a little yogurt bowl for dessert and ate that while talking to my dad for a bit.

7:00 pm

At 7, I took my (minimal) makeup off, washed my face, and changed into pajamas because that honestly is the best feeling ever.

I then started writing this blog post!

8:00 pm

At 8, I did some reading for the class I had today just to get it out of the way, and then I watched an episode of The Haunting of Bly Manor (which I will share my full thoughts on soon!).

10:00 pm

Finally, I read a bit more of The Poppy War to just prepare myself for bed, and then I went to sleep around 10:30. I usually try to go to sleep by 10:30/11 because I do wake up so early and sleep is important!

That’s it for my day! If you guys want to see a more detailed morning or night routine, I would definitely be able to do that soon!

Are your days structured or do you have a more loose schedule everyday?

Quarterly Favorites #3 / July-Sept 2020

We are already entering the final quarter of 2020. It’s definitely not how any of us expected the year to go, but I’m taking things one day at a time and just focusing on taking care of myself.

Anyway, let’s talk about some of my favorites for the last 3 months! Some of these you may have seen if you follow me on social media, but I wanted to be sure to talk about them here, too!

Writing

  • Scrivener: At the start of July, I focused A LOT on writing, which you guys saw a little bit of. I have been using Scrivener for about 2 years now, but I recently started using it even more and I have been loving it! If you don’t know, it is a word processing system that allows you to create multiple folders, rearrange chapters, outline, take notes, etc. There are tons of videos online that go into more detail with how it works, but it truly is my favorite writing tool.
  • Writer group chats: July was Camp NaNo, which is why I was doing so much writing! Finding a few friends to make group chats with was so motivating. I joined a few Discord servers where people were constantly sharing their updates, planning long writing days, and giving advice. Having this support system is really what kept me going, and it’s how I managed to win Camp!
  • Writing vlogs & livestreams: I have been following a lot more writers/authors on Youtube and social media platforms recently, and it has been so inspiring. I love watching writing vlogs so so much, as I feel like I get to learn so much from other writers’ processes. And livestreams helped me get SO MUCH writing in! I highly recommend them if you are looking to get motivated.

TV Shows & Movies

  • Normal People: I read and watched Normal People during quarter 3, and let me tell you- I liked the tv show more than the book. Personally, I just didn’t connect with the book as much as I thought I would, but the tv show really brought everything to life for me in a way that was more fascinating. I think it was really well done, and Hulu adaptations just really have my heart at the moment!
  • Criminal Minds: I am currently in the process of watching this show from start to finish, which is something I’ve never actually done before. I basically grew up watching random episodes of it that were on TV with my dad, but now I’m actually following the storyline. I love this show and these characters with my whole heart.
  • Katherine Ryan Glitter Room: One thing that I want to start watching more of is comedians/stand up shows. I recently watched Katherine Ryan’s Glitter Room on Netflix, and it was so funny! It was also super empowering and discussed a lot of women’s issues. I highly recommend it! If you have any favorite stand up shows or comedians, please recommend them to me!

Podcasts

Podcasts have been a huge part of the last few months for me, as I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to reading. If you guys want a whole post of Podcast recs, that is definitely something I can do! Here are a few that I really loved, though!

  • Sakara Life: I have been really invested in my health recently, mainly after a few personal things had started happening to me. I am currently also dealing with some digestion issues (which I think is related to my recent soy allergy discovery), as well a knee injury that I am still recovering from. The hosts of this podcast bring in a lot of guests to speak about different aspects of health—from healing your gut, eating whole foods, sleep, and more—which have all been super fascinating. I am excited to keep learning more.
  • Millennial Minimalists: One thing that I have been working on over the last few months is adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle. These two best friends chat about their journey to minimalism, and they share lots of tips/advice for how to go about it. But they’re also just so fun to listen to! I have really been enjoying this podcast, and if you are looking to get started with minimalism, this might be for you!
  • The Michelle Obama Podcast: I miss the Obama’s so much, as I’m sure many of you do. This podcast feels like I’m chatting with a friend. It’s full of so much wisdom and insight, and I just trust Michelle Obama with everything. If you haven’t listened yet, I definitely think it is a must.

Food

  • Pineapple coconut water: During quarantine, I was running a lot. And it was hot for the majority of those months, so I would come back from my runs super sweat and dehydrated. Coconut water contains a lot of electrolytes and is supposed to replenish all that you lost after sweating! But, regular coconut water is not my favorite thing in the world. I was sort of forcing it down my throat. When I tried the pineapple flavor, though, I fell in love. I drink after any long workout and just when I’m feeling very dehydrated! It tastes amazing.
  • Watermelon: At one point during the summer, I was eating full watermelons by myself every single week. My parents even decided that next year they are going to plant watermelon seeds in our garden because I was spending so much money on buying them. Watermelon is definitely one of my favorite fruits, and it was the perfect snack on hot summer days!
  • Avocado: Confession—I never tried avocado until a few months ago. I have been a very picky eater my entire life (not by choice!!), so trying new foods is really hard for me. But recently, I’ve really been pushing myself to try new things, and avocado was one of them! I love it now and I eat avocado toast w/ eggs at least once a week! I’m finally on board that train.
  • HU Chocolate: I recently became an ambassador for the HU brand, and they sent me a few of their products to try out. I am completely in love with their products. They make crackers, chocolate covered nuts, baking chocolate, and chocolate bars. Their bars are my absolute favorite chocolate I’ve ever tried, and it’s so much healthier for you than most other brands! Their crackers are also phenomenal! If you want to try out any of their products, you can use the code “JessicaEats” for 15% off! I promise I’m not just trying to sell this to you (though I do get a commission if you use my code), I actually really do love it (and I ate my chocolate much faster than I’d like to admit).

Other

  • Passion planner: I recently received a passion planner as a giveaway, and it is truly my favorite thing ever. You guys know how much I love organization, so this is an item that I have been wanting for a really long time, but didn’t want to spend so much money on. Now that I have it, I know I won’t be going back to any other type of planner system for a while. I actually ditched my bullet journal for this because I was basically doing this same layout in my bujo anyway, so now it’s just pre-made for me!
  • Lap desk: I have shared pictures of my lap desk on quite a few spaces since I got it. It is truly one of my best purchases ever, especially now that I’m in school and don’t have a desk in my room. I linked one that is super similar to the one I bought, but it seems like mine is no longer being sold. I use this thing all the time. I love that it has a drink holder and it’s big enough to fit my laptop plus a book if I need. It has just helped me out a lot.
  • Sound machine: I recently bought a white noise/sound machine because I moved into a house with 6 other girls for the school year, and it can get pretty loud. I have already been having a lot of trouble sleeping as it is, so the addition of noise was not helping. I wanted to try out a sound machine, and this thing has been life changing. I’m finally falling asleep at a fairly fast rate, opposed to the 2-3 hours it was taking me to fall asleep before this. If you are struggling with your sleep, this may help!
  • Social media breaks & utilizing screen time settings: The last thing I want to talk about is screen time. My screen time was upwards of 7 hours during the summer, and I hated that. I didn’t want to be spending so much of my time behind a screen, as it was really damaging to my mental health. I talked about how I took a week long social media break a few months back, but since then, I have been incorporating more limits to my phone usage. I now have downtime set up on my phone so that between 9:30 pm and 8 am, the only apps I can use are ones for reading (kindle, libby, libro.fm). I also have an hour limit each day for Instagram and Twitter, though I haven’t even been crossing that limit much. My screen time has gone down to 4 hours or less each day! I would still love to get that down to 2 hours, but I’m really happy with all of my progress so far. It has helped me out immensely, and I feel so much better when I step away from the internet.

That is all for today’s post. I hope that you were able to find something new from it that maybe you’ll incorporate into your own life!

Let me know what some of your favorites from the past few months have been, I’d love to check them out :)

How I Stay Organize & Plan For School!

New school year = new organization post!

You guys know me and how much I love my organization. Every year, I tweak my system just a bit, but this year, I think I’ve really nailed it.

Last week, I shared my note-taking system for school, and now I’m here to tell you how I stay organized!

Since January, I have been using a bullet journal to keep track of my work life (meaning blog posts, Instagram content, reading, etc.). However, I decided that at the end of this month, I will stop using it. It is just becoming too much work for me, and I actually much prefer having a layout already made for me.

That being said, I’m super picky about what types of planners I use. I look for very specific layouts in the planners I buy.

So, today I’m going to share with you what planners and other accessories I will be using to stay organized this year!

For School/Professional Life:

Day Designer Planner in collaboration with Target: I have been using this planner since my freshman year of college (so this is now my third year using it), and I will never ever go back to anything else.

Unfortunately, the exact planner that I use can only be found at Target because it’s a special edition that they make for the store each year.

What I love about it so much is that it it gives you an entire page for each day, and you get a to-do list PLUS a schedule, too! I like writing out what classes I have at what time, otherwise I’m afraid I might forget about one. This also allows me to put in my work schedule, club meetings, professor’s office hours that I want to attend, study sessions, anything!

But on the to-do list side, I can write down what assignments I have due for each class. It has truly been life-changing to have a planner like this for school.

File Folder/Organizer: This is essential to me for staying organized at school. I typically carry one folder with me to my classes to hold any papers I get that day, as well as any assignments I need to hand in. Then, I separate those papers into my file folder when I get home! This way, each class is separated and I can easily find what I’m looking for when it comes to studying for midterms or finals. I highly recommend getting one!

For Personal/Blogging Life:

Lightspeed Planner Greatness Edition: This planner was sent to me last year (and you can check out my in-depth review here), and I planned on using it right when I got it. However, I was using a few too many other planners at the time already, so I just left this one untouched. Then, when I was cleaning out my drawers a few weeks ago, I found it again and knew I wanted to start using it.

It’s pretty similar in terms of features to my school planner, but what’s nice about it is it’s undated! That means if one month I decide I don’t want to use it, I can pick it back up the next month with no wasted pages!

In this one, you get a page for each day, too. At the top, you can list out your top 3 priorities, as well as the time you want to do them (or get them done by). Then, you get a to do list, and if you want, you can order this by time. There’s also a section for notes, which I love (because I use it to write shopping lists, meal plans, and other things). At the bottom, you can even rate your day from a scale of 1-10!

The reason I realized I wanted to switch over to this from my bullet journal is because it’s basically the same layout I was using in my bullet journal, only now I don’t have to do any extra work!

This planner is no longer being sold, at least from what I’ve found. I guess the company is no longer in business. However, one planner that I think is very similar to this one (and that I plan on buying for 2021), is the passion planner! So if you are looking for something similar to what I’m using, I recommend checking out their daily undated planner! Or, if you want a weekly layout version, they have options for that as well!

Notion: Finally, the last “item” I use to stay organized is the app Notion! You can get this for your laptop or as an app on your phone (or both, like I use). It’s basically an all-in-one planning, note-taking, to-do list making program, and it is PHENOMENAL.

There are tons of YouTube videos out there that go in-depth on all of the features of this program, so I definitely recommend checking those out. They will do a much better job of explaining it than I will. I really like the template that Thomas Frank created, so I recommend checking it out and possibly adapting it to fit your needs, like I did!

In short, I have one workspace on there that I separated into a few separate folders- life, school, blog, and internship. From there, I have created separate pages for each of these—and you can basically do whatever you want in here!

For my ‘blog’ category, I created a page where I have a calendar with all of my posts. I also have a page that’s just for post ideas. In my ‘life’ section, I have grocery lists, my 5 year plan, and my workout routine!

Basically, Notion is my go-to place to store all of my thoughts in an organized way. I really, really love it!

That is it for how I stay organized during the school year! I will admit, I used to be someone who had, like, seven planners at once. Now, I think simple is better. This is what works for me, at least!

I would love to know any ways that you like to stay organized, whether it’s for school, blogging, your career, or just daily life! Tell me about your systems in the comments :)

How to Prepare for a New Semester & My Note-taking System!

A new semester can seem really intimidating and daunting. You are starting new classes with professors you may not be familiar with, you have a whole new schedule, and your assignments are different and probably more challenging than ever before.

Preparing yourself ahead of time can make the entire experience so much easier, and it definitely helps to set you off on the right foot!

I thought today I would share with you all how I prepare for a new semester, as I get ready for my junior year of college!

Also, this can apply to any age, but the tips may just have to be reworked a bit to suit your needs!

*Another note- obviously this semester is a bit different for most of us, as we are in the middle of a pandemic, but the way I prepare (whether it be for online or on campus classes) is the same!

Step 1: Buy your stationery and books

The first thing that I do to prepare is get all of the supplies I need! I feel like once I have all of my school supplies, I’m officially in the back to school season, and I can prepare myself mentally.

First and foremost, this includes a planner for me (basically the most important supply). I will have a more in-depth post about my planning system going up soon, but having a planner is integral to my organization for school. In addition, you want to get any notebooks, textbooks, pencils/pens, erasers, etc. that you need.

I like getting this all ahead of time because then I feel like the most options are available. I know a lot of people recommend waiting before buying your books in case your professor tells you that you don’t actually need it(which is a valid tip). However, I found that if I waited too long, I could not find used editions of the books I needed because they were already sold out. Most places that I buy used books from allow me to return them for a certain period of time, so I’m not worried about getting books I don’t need. Obviously, this is up to you and what you decide you want to do with buying your books! If you buy them as e-books, for example, you can wait on that!

Step 2: Create a weekly time table (schedule)

Every semester, I create a spread in my bullet journal (or on a piece of paper/your phone) with the days of the week written at the top and times going down the bottom. I write down what classes I have at what times, and add in any weekly events such as club meetings, jobs, etc. This way, I know how much free time I have, when the best days are to study, when I can hang out with friends, etc.

On this time table, I also like to block off time that is just for me. Meaning, I do not set any meetings, events, ANYTHING during that time. I use it to relax, stay at home, and catch up on anything that I want to.

Step 3: Write out all of your assignments & due dates

As soon as I get my syllabi for each class, I write out the assignments & their due dates in my planner. I know this seems tedious, but as the semester goes on and you get busier, you may forget about an assignment. If it’s already in your planner, there’s a greater chance you’ll remember about it!

Also, sometimes professors won’t remind you that an assignment is due, they just expect you to hand it in on the day of. This can be incredibly stressful, so just do it & write it all down! Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

Step 4: Figure out a time management & studying plan

This is super important in my opinion! Figuring out when and how you are going to study can really save you a lot of time once classes start. In the time table I mentioned earlier, you can block out specific days/times that you want to study, and make sure that you actually follow it each week. Or, you can create a plan for each class depending on the subject matter and how much time you want to dedicate to it each week/day. Either way, having a set plan can really make your life easier.

Also, knowing what study method works best for you (i.e. flash cards, quizzes, study groups, etc.) is important. You don’t want to find out the day before a big exam that you can’t seem to learn something because you’re trying to use flash cards when that just doesn’t work for you. It ends up being a waste of your time!

Everyone studies in different ways, so learning this early on is crucial to success!

Step 5: Relax and Refresh

Finally, the week before I go back to school, I try not to overwhelm myself with too much. Obviously there is a lot to do to prepare, especially if you are moving for college.

However, the semester itself is going to get hectic and stressful already, so don’t try to cram in too many last minute things in this final week (or at least the few days leading up to the first day).

Instead, give yourself time to relax and unwind!

Also, it’s a good idea to fix your sleeping schedule (I know, it’s easier said than done), and do some self-care.


My Note-taking System:

It took me a long time to find a college note-taking system that works for me, if I’m going to be honest. I think I wrote a post last year where I went through a really long and complicated process. It was way too much work and it was not sustainable AT ALL.

I have definitely narrowed down the process and made it much simpler for myself, and I definitely think it’s what I’m going to use for the rest of my academic life.

First off, I ditched my 5 subject notebooks. Honestly, it felt like such a waste of paper. In some classes, yes, I was taking a lot of notes and the pages were going to good use. However, in some classes, I only had to take notes maybe once or twice a month. This is what college is like in a nutshell. So the majority of that classes section was empty, and after the semester was over, I had so much leftover paper that wasn’t ever going to be used. It was so so wasteful. Plus, I usually take 6 classes a semester (and in the Spring I’m going to be taking 7), so 5 subjects just isn’t enough either.

Instead, I now use one composition book for all of my classes. Yep. Just one.

I only use this compostion book for lecture notes, by the way! Which means this is where I write my messy notes during class, while the professor is speaking (or lecturing), and I don’t worry about making the notes neat or pretty.

On the first page of the notebook, I create a key with all of my classes, and I designate one color pen/highlighter to it.

When I take notes for that class, I start on a blank page and write the class name and lesson/unit at the top. This way, I can easily flip through my notes and look for one certain color that pertains to that class. This may seem a bit chaotic, but it works really well for me.

Then, after each class, I review my notes by rewriting them. I type my notes, and I don’t use any fancy processing system- just plain and simple Word! I tried using OneNote in the past to make my notes look nice and neat, but it doesn’t really allow you to print out your notes properly, and I found myself copying and pasting all of the information to a Word document instead. So, now I just stick to Word.

When I type up my notes, I always start with the lesson number or unit name at the top, and I rewrite the professor’s ideas into my own words. I also make sure I keep the important stuff that may be on tests, and lose anything that I don’t really need to know. Basically, I just make sense of the quick, messy notes I took during class and make them more readable in a typed format- almost like I’m creating a study guide. Then, when I have a test coming up, I can print out these notes, highlight them, write on them, etc.

I try to do all of my rewriting the same day as the lecture if I can, but no more than 4 days later. Otherwise, some of the things I write down might not make sense cause I’ll forget what they mean.

That’s it for my notes! I really don’t do anything fancy as far as color coding or anything else goes, aside from separating my classes by color.

I hope this post was useful (and that it made sense) for you! If you have any questions about anything I talked about, please feel free to ask!

What are some back to school essentials for you?