A New Year Tradition
It’s a tradition here at Study Hacks to greet the New Year with ambitious resolutions. In 2008 I listed five habits students should resolve to avoid, including skipping classes and studying without a plan. By 2009 I could trust that my readers were beyond such basic mistakes, so I presented instead three advanced habits students should resolve to adopt: commit to full capture, use assignment folders, and finish major assignments early.
Now that 2010 looms, I want to continue the evolution of my New Year’s advice. This year, I want to throw caution to the wind and try to convince you to transform your student lifestyle. (Though this advice is college-specific, elements of it should resonate for a variety of situations, so it’s a worth a read for anyone who is feeling overworked or under-inspired.)
Specifically, I want you to make 2010 the year that you seriously consider radical simplicity…
I first introduced the concept of Radical Simplicity in March of 2008. At its core was a simple idea: schedule (much) less than you have time to complete. A student who embraces radical simplicity has abundant free time — he rarely feels rushed to get work done, and often luxuriates by immersing himself in assignments or serious recreation.
The advantages of Radical Simplicity are numerous, and include…
- Time affluence is a like a wonder drug. It eliminates stress. It increases happiness. It helps you engage the world and increases the chances that you’ll stumble into something interesting.
- Having the ability to immerse yourself (and therefore excel) in a small number of classes and activities will make you incredibly attractive to both grad schools and potential employers. In fact, it will make you more attractive than the overworked grind who juggles a double major and ten different clubs.
- Busy students rarely accomplish interesting and meaningful things.
- If you adopt the mindset that you’re suffering now for benefits later, it’s likely that you’ll live most of your life continuing to work toward a payoff that’s always just around the corner.
- And finally, keep in mind that as a student you have few responsibilities and no boss looking over your shoulder. It’s as good a time as any to experiment with lifestyle design.
What Does Radically Simplicity Look Like?
The following are case studies of real students who embraced this philosophy:
- Alice escaped a self-described “academic hell” by dropping her econ/business double major, quitting two time-consuming extracurriculars, and adopting a light course schedule.
- Tyler turned around his life as a burnt out grind by switching to a major that interested him, cutting out all but one of his extracurricular activities, and choosing balanced course loads.
- Scott discovered that his laundry list of activities wouldn’t help him get into law school, so he decided to adopt the focused lifestyle, and soon became a stand out on his way to an impressive career.
- Amy was about to lose her scholarship and was barely sleeping when she decided to adopt fixed-schedule productivity, deep-six pseudo-work, streamline her schedule, and commit to doing a few things really well.
How Can You Introduce Radical Simplicity into Your Life?
There’s no single right answer to realize this philosophy, but any or all of the following will certainly help:
- Adopt the rule of one.
- Take an activity vacation.
- Become a proponent of adventure studying.
- Slash your course schedule to the bare minimum that still allows you to graduate in four years (use AP credits if you got ‘em), then focus on becoming an A* student.
- Use your new found free time to explore your world.
Life is short. 2010 is as good a time as any to take back control of your life.