How to Get Your Brain in Shape for School

With fall classes looming, this is the time to get your body and brain ready for school. If you do a few miles a day on your bike now, your stronger thighs will thank you in six weeks when the fall winds kick in. As for your brain, has 10 great ways to gear up for the new session. Here are the top five:

5. Perfect Your Note-Taking Techniques

Now that you’ve sped up your reading, it’s time to brush up on some of those must-have productivity skills. In school, it all comes down to note taking. You may have worked out a perfect system over the past few years, or your notes may have slowly gotten more convoluted, disorganized, or (in worst cases) non-existent. Check out our back to basics guide on how to take effective notes before the school year starts and be ready for any lecture.

4. Create a To-Do List That Actually Works

Is your to-do list a collection of scribbled notes on Post-Its, notebooks, and three different smartphone apps? Start with a clean slate this semester and make your to-do list doable. Pick the right medium and stick with it, make your tasks simple but actionable, and make sure you actually get stuff done every day. If you follow one method and stick to it, it matters less what that method is—if you deviate too often, no method will be useful to you.

3. Kick Distractions to the Curb

When you’re trying to study, anything can be a distraction—from your friends playing foosball down the hall to Facebook beckoning you to waste time. If you struggle with distractions when you work, it’s time to take some more drastic measures. Audit your time and see where you’re wasting it, and tackle the problem at the source. Friends constantly bugging you? Put on some big headphones and tell them not to distract you. Facebook calling your name? Block time-wasting web sites during study hours. I’ve also found that it helps to program my day with breaks in them—that way, those breaks (and the studying) become habit over time. 

2. Save Money on Textbooks

Student discounts may not help you a ton when it comes to textbooks—one of the more expensive supplies—but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves for those too. Whether you’re buying new, used, or renting textbooks for the semester, check out our complete guide to saving money on textbooks for some handy tricks. You might also want to check out the five best online stores for cheap textbooks, too.

1. Gather Up the Best Free Software for Students

Your productivity is all about you, but sometimes the right tools can make things a lot easier—especially if you don’t have to spend time finding them. So, as you prepare all your physical necessities, be sure to check out our Lifehacker Pack for students—we’ve got one for WindowsOS XAndroid, and iOS. Inside you’ll find our favorite apps for taking notes, managing your to-dos, doing research, and more.

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