March 17, 2016

Never Start with a Blank Page: Hacks for Students who Love Procrastinating

Information overload. You have it. With your phone as your ever-present sidekick, you’re off at classes, working on assignments and trying to have a life outside of school. That’s a lot of stuff to juggle and sometimes prioritizing your tasks is so overwhelming you end up procrastinating or blowing deadlines altogether. Not good!

What’s happening is that you’re so bombarded with info and stuff to do from every direction that you’re totally out of bandwidth. The good news is that you don’t have to feel so overwhelmed. You can be crazy productive, and that phone in your pocket is going to be a key part of the solution.

Take notes. Lots of notes!

Everyone knows how taking notes can help us stay organized and on top of our to-do lists. It’s impossible to keep everything in our heads, but when we record things down it gives thoughts, tasks and information a place to land, freeing up headspace and allowing us to focus on what we need to do in the current moment. It’s a lot easier to retain information when our brains aren’t busy trying to keep 9 billion things going at the same time.

What many people don’t know is that using actual pen and paper is a big secret to this whole deal. The physical act of writing automatically helps us remember things better by activating different areas of our brains. Recording things the old fashioned way seems, well, “old fashioned,” but it absolutely works.

Plan when and where to work

So you’ve wisely decided that lists are your new BFF. You’re making a list of everything, and even breaking them down into where and when you’re going to tackle a task. By planning things out in advance, you’ll get way more done in less time because you’re organized and focused. You just have to make sure you follow your plan and set realistic goals.

For example, instead of saying “At 2:00pm at the library, write 1,000 word essay on the mating habits of giant squid,” plan to do only a small chunk of that essay by breaking it up into 250 word sessions four times. It’s more manageable, less daunting, and you’ll be coming back to your essay with a fresh mind every time. That sounds way better than trying to bang it all out in one sitting, right? You’re pretty much guaranteed to crush it this way. Spreading out the load depends on planning!

Keep class notes organized

Remember what we said earlier about how writing things out longhand helps your memory? Not only will it help you remember your assignments and ideas, but you’ll recall more of what was said in class as well. 

Here’s where your phone comes in handy if you use it in conjunction with your Bamboo Spark. All of these class notes and organizational “to do” lists can be transferred from your notepad to your phone with the push of a single button. You can convert them to plain text with a Wacom Cloud account, store them in Dropbox, add them to OneNote, email them, whatever you need to do. Suddenly having your longhand notes with you is really convenient since you don’t have to lug around a big clunky spiral-bound notebook to review them! When you catch a few moments waiting for your friends to show up at the cafe, just whip out your phone and get your study on.

Never start with a blank page

So with your easy and handy access to your notes you’ve aced your tests. Well done! But the semester isn’t over yet. Next up: the dreaded term paper.

Starting a paper with an empty word doc staring at you is tough. To get the ideas flowing, try sketchnoting. Not only is it fun to use visual thinking to help generate ideas and sort out problems, but it’s the perfect way to prepare for writing since it’s a very deliberate act.

Use your class notes or reading notes to your advantage. Go back through the notes you took on your Bamboo Spark, search for the ones you need, then with your Wacom Cloud account, convert your handwritten notes to plain text. Copy and paste them into word and/or OneNote, delete all of the things you don’t need, and you’re left with the foundation of your paper. Now all you need to do is fill in the blanks. Pro tip: when you copy and paste quotes or facts from websites in OneNote, the source URL is included in your notes.

When you’re using a ballpoint pen and putting it to real paper, you have to think a lot more about what you’re sketching out. This ink is permanent! So your brain is working on a different level and is more engaged than it would be if you were just pushing buttons on your laptop keyboard. Your thoughts will be more developed and fleshed out, and when it does come time to bang the keys your actual writing will go faster and be more cohesive as a result. Boom!


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Bamboo Spark

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Bamboo Spark Take notes. Make ideas. From paper, to cloud, to life. The Bamboo Spark is a smart folio with a smart ballpoint pen, and a spot for your favourite paper. Write by hand. Press a button and save your handwritten notes to the Bamboo Spark app for light editing. Use the Wacom Cloud for archiving, sharing and access anywhere. Capture handwritten notes on any paper and with a push of a button your handwritten content is saved in the...

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