It's a Student's Life

It's October. School's been in session for a few weeks, and assignments are starting to pile up. Before you and your GPA disappear under a pile of readings and assignments, find out how you can organize your life with a Hipster PDA: a pack of 3"x5" index cards that can fit into any starving student's budget.

If you escaped school years ago, read this story anyway. Maybe you can help a frantic frosh or swamped senior get back on track!

So, what do you need to keep track of your life?

Skip the campus bookstore with overpriced academic planners. Stop drooling over the latest Palms and Pocket PCs. Just grab a bunch of plain index cards, a pencil, and a rubber band (or fold-back clip), and start organizing your life.

What do you need?

Absolutely essential for the first few weeks of class. If you work in a group, pencil in your common time to make meetings easier to arrange.
Campus map and important information
A quickly-sketched map will help you find your way around campus when you're running late for a class in a different building. Write down office hours, locations, phone numbers and URLs, too.
Current assignments
Use one index card per assignment to keep track of tasks, notes, deadlines and phone numbers. Keep all current projects in your deck of index cards, and work on them daily--yes, even the ones that are due in two months. When you finish, take the project card out of your deck and tack it up on your board for a nice, warm feeling of accomplishment.
Keep spare index cards for note-taking just in case you leave your regular notebook. Make sure you transfer the information into your regular notebook to help you review. Try summarizing each class on a single index card. These summary cards are great for reviewing your lessons when you find yourself stuck in line.

What else is in your planner?

Have any student survival tips? Share them here!

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a wonderful gift idea

I've been thinking for some time what a great gift starter packs of hipster cards and/or classic planners (with calendar, to do, brainstorming, note pages etc) would be for students going off to college or back to school.

I still have fond memories of drawing and colouring in the blocks on my class time schedule each semester and feeling oh so ready for a new beginning. I suggested these as a possible template, but for the most part every school and university already has their own template. Still it is something that would be handy on a laminated card in a hipster stack.

It's funny. This post made me remember one of Doug's first gifts to me over ten years ago. It was a small planner that I put to great use while working on my first solo show. I remember him telling me how he had given a planner to another emerging artist at the time. I reminded him of his gift this morning. He had forgotten about it, and said "I guess I thought you were a bunch of disorganized artists!"


I really like the idea of

I really like the idea of having one card per project, mainly because of the idea of tacking it up on a board. I'd never thought of that and it would be a great way to look at an overview of what's been done in a larger project as well.

I'm glad I'm no longer a student mainly because of that recurring nightmare I sometimes had involving final exams...

With work it's best to just start.


Hey, I got my B. A. in 1962 and I STILL have nightmares about skipping classes, failing exams, etc. I guess I shouldn't have skipped all those classes.

The discrete card idea is practical and useful in many ways. With brief notations of ideas one per card, a writer could shift his/her perspective on the piece at hand more easily than with any existing computer software. I believe there's also a benefit from the physical, tangible presence of these "idea containers" as contrasted to the virtual nature of computerized outlining. Not that I wish to downplay the enormous usefulness of computers. But electronic technology does not represent the be-all and end-all of creativity--not by a long shot.

As novelist Nicholson Baker and many others have pointed out, the loss of library card catalogs is a step backward--perhaps over a precipice. It was possible to browse in a card catalog in a way impossible to computerized databases. As long as computers maintain their present format (a screen to see representations of data on) that kind of browsing will never be duplicated in a meaningful way.

Cards preserve this random browsing ability, and the "happy accident" free-association/serendipitous finds phenomenon that often results from true as opposed to pseudo-browsing.