5 tips to survive and thrive at design school

8 classes, 11 projects, 7 days of deadlines, 3,000 coffees … does this sound familiar? Just reminiscing about design school gives me hives. It was stress on top of stress on top of stress. However, it was also one of the most rewarding times of my life! The projects were tons of fun, the friends were irreplaceable and the knowledge and experience was priceless! 

So how can you leave design school feeling charged and ready to take on the world?! Rather than sleep deprived and resentful?? 

These tips should help!

  1. Sleep. This is the BIGGEST contributor to a successful rewarding experience. For me, 7-8 hours was enough. For others, 5-6 will do (what?!!), and for the unfortunate few a minimum of 9 hours is needed to function at their best. Whatever your number is, once you figure it out, do your absolute best to stick with it. Make it a priority!! I understand the odd late night here and there when you have no choice, but trust me, you’ll thank me later if you follow this advice. Not only does your brain function at a higher level on a good night sleep, your mood and memory will improve immensely. All of which contribute to learning more, getting more done, being more efficient, and more productive! Those few hours extra every night will make your life easier, leave you happier and will allow you to get more done — a win win win!
  2. Frozen veggies. Nutrition is essential for feeding your brain, which in turn is key to feeding your creative juices. However, I understand that time is not always that easy to come by during the hustle and bustle of college life, so quick diners like KD and hot dogs are often the best go-to. Well, one thing I found suuuuper helpful while in the fast paced college life was frozen veggies. You can skip the preparation of fresh veggies, they take 10 mins on the stove to cook, they provide tons of nutrients and with a little S&P they are extremely tasty! So next time you go for that Mac n’ cheese, consider adding a side of steamed veggies. Your brain will thank you!
  3. One day at a time. This is the most effective motivational saying I heard while in school. It’s easy to think too far ahead about the million, crazy, huge projects that have to get done and wonder, how the hell am I ever going to get these finished?!! But rather than spending your time thinking about the end, learn to focus on “what can I do right now?” And “what can I do today?” keeping in mind that one day at a time, one task at a time, you will accomplish your greater goals. This helps to avoid those major melt down moments and as a bonus keeps you present in the moment. 
  4. Plan something fun. If motivation is something that you struggle to find from time to time, I suggest planning something fun and blocking out a certain amount of time every week for that activity. Whether it’s 20 mins every day, or one night during the week, if you have something to look forward to, it’s easier to work hard during your working times knowing that you’ll have fun later. Work hard, play hard!! A great way to balance life. 
  5. Mind over matter. Another thing I noticed while in school was the level of negativity near the end of each semester. Due to feelings of being overtired, overworked and over stressed. Something that I came to realize was that “life is truly what you make it.” So if everyday you tell yourself and everyone else that school sucks, your sick of school, your projects are way too hard, there’s too many things to do, your never going to get everything done … guess what? Chances are, that is exactly what you will find. However, if you take the glass half full approach and tell yourself everyday, “today is going to be a good day! I’m going to get so much done! I love these projects! This is actually so easy for me! How does it get any better than this?!“ that in turn will be exactly what shows up in your life! It might seem impossible to stay positive when you are surrounded by grumpy pants, but if you stick with it, you’ll find your life to be much easier and enjoyable, and those around you might change their tune as well!

So there you have it, five things that seem small, but will make a huge difference. If you have any other tips, share below! Always up for advice on how to make stressful situations, fun and easy!


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