Some of you have requested a video about starting the new school year with minimalism in mind (hope you don’t mind a blog post instead) and I think that’s incredible because when I was in school, I was just trying to fit in and be like everyone else. It’s really admirable that so many of you are interested in simplifying early on.
When I think of minimalism for students, I think about saving time so you can spend more of it, not just studying (that too), but also doing what you enjoy: spending time with friends, doing an after school sport or activity you love. Your school years will go by very fast. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you’ll look back and be like, where did those years go?!
Alright, let’s jump in. Before the year starts, I really recommend getting yourself prepared at home, whether you are living at your parent’s house in your childhood bedroom, moving into a dorm, or getting your first apartment. I know some of you are living at home, and your parents are not into minimalism. Maybe it’s a sibling you share a bedroom with, or a roommate who isn’t too keen on the idea. It’s not easy and can be frustrating having to work around someone else’s clutter, but only worry about your stuff. We can’t force anyone to declutter or donate their things. You never know, maybe they’ll be inspired by watching what a positive effect it has on your life.
Think about where you will be doing the majority of studying and homework: a desk, your bed, the library, a coffee shop, maybe at school somewhere? If you have control over that space (your bedroom, for example), give it a good declutter. Is there anything you no longer want or use? Are you able to donate unwanted items to a charity shop? It prevents your space from getting out of hand at the beginning of the year. I also find working in a clean, decluttered space helps me to concentrate a lot more. At the end of each day, give your space a quick tidy. Put things back where they belong. It’ll help make your early morning a little more bearable.
Keeping along the same lines, it’s really good to go through your clothes. I had a school uniform growing up, and I loved it, because I never had to spend time worrying about what to wear. If you don’t have a uniform, you can create your own by having a capsule wardrobe, where everything mixes and goes together. A quick overview:
A capsule wardrobe is basically a smaller amount of clothing, where most pieces can be mixed around to create different outfits with less pieces. The goal of a capsule wardrobe is to find clothes that you absolutely love,that makes you feel comfortable and confident. This saves time in the morning, it solves the problem of having “nothing to wear,” and you’ll be wearing clothes that make you feel your best.
Something else I think about when starting the new school year is supplies. Shopping for new notebooks and pens was always so exciting growing up. I know that some schools, or some classes, may require certain materials. Back in the day, I had to have a separate, specific notebook for each class. I also had to write only in black ink for most classes. Definitely be mindful of what’s required.
If you have a little bit more freedom with your school supplies, know what works best for you. Are you able to write all your notes in one notebook, or do you prefer to have one for multiple subjects? Can you do with just a couple, really good pens? Do you really need that? Could you do with out this? You get the gist.
Something that always helped me in school was an agenda, as we called it, or some type of planner. This where I kept track of all my assignments and extra school activities. If your school allows you to go digital for this and you want to go that route, that’s awesome. Just find a way to keep organized with your homework and upcoming projects. It’s especially important for big projects where you have to plan out working on something a little each day. You don’t want to stay up all night trying to finish something before it’s due the next morning… not that I would know anything about that.
I made the mistake of always carrying everything I could fit in my backpack and purse, but the more I pursued minimalism, the more I realized the benefits of only having the necessities. You’re not being weighed down by stuff, literally… textbooks are heavy enough as it is. Try to keep it as light as possible.
If I was going back to school tomorrow, I would only bring my necessary school supplies (books, notebooks, laptop, chargers, one highlighter, two pens, and anything required), my wallet, phone, keys, water bottle, lip balm, tissues, and a few snacks.
As for peer pressure type stuff, this is something I struggled with. I wanted people to like me, so I always tried to buy what everyone else had and wear what was popular, always trying to keep up. But learn from my mistakes, don’t feel like you have to have what everyone else has. The people I remember most from high school were the ones who weren’t afraid to be different and didn’t try to be like everyone else to fit in. If you don’t want to buy a designer purse, don’t. Oh, the years of buying Coach purses just to fit in, sigh. It’s not worth it. You don’t have to get drunk to have fun. Stand up for the kid getting picked on. Respect your teachers and they will respect you, even if the other students do the opposite.
- Practice time management. This will help you for the rest of your life. Give yourself some extra time to get to class. I always heard the phrase, “if you are on time, you’re late.” I always tried to give myself a 10 minute buffer, sometimes more, in case of traffic or something else unforeseeable that could make me late.
- If you have a ton of homework to do, start with the most important assignment first. I always find it helpful to complete an assignment before moving on to the next one. This might not work for everyone, but when I jumped around from assignment to assignment, I was often left with a bunch of half-finished projects.
- If you have trouble remembering info for a test or how to solve a math problem, I love using mnemonic devices to help remember. A mnemonic device is basically a strategy to help you remember something. A few examples could be, putting the information in a song or rhyme format, creating a visual imagery in your mind, acronyms… stuff like that. It really works. Flash cards are my best friend when it comes to studying, too. Really efficient!
- Read directions. I once studied really hard for a timed test. Upon reading the directions, it stated something like: “Write only your name on the test, hand it in, and leave.” I was looking around at everyone plugging away at the questions, but got up, passed in the test, and left. It pays to pay attention. 😉
I hope that this gave you a few ideas on how to incooporate minimalism as a student. If you have any thoughts or other tips I missed, please leave them in the comments. Have an incredible school year! Be yourself, be confident in who you are and never apologize for it. Study hard and learn as much as you can, but also take time to enjoy the journey along the way.