Category Archives: 5 Simple Steps

The Recipe for Student Success – Ingredient One : Real Passion


“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen for you, to you and because of you.” T. Alan Armstrong

There’s no denying that going to college can get pretty expensive, not only in money but also in time. Firstly, there is the initial debt that comes from paying for tuition and accommodation, and then there’s the time we lose having to work to pay it back. Going to university is a huge sacrifice, the question is, is it worth it?

The answer, I think, is yes, if you possess what is one of the most important ingredients in student success – Real Passion, with capitals.

Real Passion is magical. It creates motivation, determination and perseverance. It gets you up in the morning, it energizes your day and it pushes you to the best of your ability.

In an ideal world, everyone would love the subject they’re studying. There may or may not be other reasons for choosing it, but the main reason is that they want to learn. Now, this may seem obvious but up until now, I’ve met too many people that have forgotten the reason why they came to university. They spend too many nights out, they skip lectures and cram in all the work in at the last minute. They’ve forgotten their purpose, which is very sad, especially when I see it happening to my friends, the people that I have really come to care about. Of course, I myself am not perfect, and every now and again I have a lazy night in when I don’t do a shred of work but eventually, I find my way back on track by finding my Real Passion.

What is Real Passion? This can be answered by asking what Unreal Passion is. Unreal Passion is lust,  it’s based on fickle things like beauty or money and it eventually burns out. If you’re doing a subject because of salaries and titles, your happiness won’t last. Real Passion means putting genuine love into everything you do, even if people tell you it’s stupid and it doesn’t pay well. It may not always be practical but as they say,

Do what you love and the money will follow.

Passion has many meanings, but the most crucial part of any kind of passion is desire. It may not be very ‘Zen’ of me to say it, but this kind of ‘desire’ is different. Here, it is the desire to quench an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a desire to do the best that we can and a desire to be happy.

I know it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, sometimes academic life is tough, and full of rough patches. But that’s ok, as long as deep down inside the passion is still there, then you can keep going. If you’re having trouble finding it, try:

1. Meditation and reflection. Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives that we leave things that are important but not urgent at the back of our minds. Quiet meditation, even for a few minutes, can help us find the reasons why we chose to be here in the first place and let them generate the passion that we lost from the stress of everyday life.

2. Reading. The essays, articles, posts, books and other works of the great experts can be really inspiring. They create goals that you can aim for, maybe even one day surpass. I can guarantee that those people didn’t get there without a dash of Real Passion.

3. Visualisation. Connecting the previous two suggestions, visualisation is a powerful tool. If you can visualise yourself in your dream job, you’re a quarter of the way there already, because you know where you’re going. You can figure out how to get there later. If you had no boundaries and no fears, where would you be in ten years time?

4. Going home. If it’s possible, going home for a little while (perhaps for one weekend) can really help make you realise how far you’ve come since you left. I went home for the first time in months after leaving for college and I was surprised at how both the same and different everything seemed. Not much had physically changed, my home still smelt like home and even my old room was just as I left it, but I was changed. I had come so far in so little time, I was so amazed, I didn’t want to stop. When I got back I was completely motivated to keep moving forwards.

5. Focus. Sometimes we lose our passion for something because we spread what passion we have over too many commitments. We want to try out new things, make lot’s of friends, fit more things to do into our lives. Most of the time this a good thing, we should make the most out of the opportunities that we get in college, but every now and again being spread to thinly can make us forget where our real passion lies. Bringing it back to what we love best and focussing on that can help recreate the passion we once held for it.

All being said, it is important to distinguish between temporarily forgotten passion and passion that has died. When it is time to move on, it’s time to move on, and letting go of attachments to once-have’s and what-could-have-been’s can be just as important. Nevertheless, it all boils down to how greatly you need to have passion, how influential it can be and how crucial an ingredient it is in The Recipe for Student Success.

Do you think that Real Passion is important? What else do you think is vital in The Recipe for Student Success? I’d love to hear your opinions, comment below!

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Image Credit : Xapa

5 Steps to Minimalist Web Surfing

It’s hard to live without the internet if you’re a student. Amongst many things, you probably need it for checking email, receiving updates from societies, arranging meetings with course-mates, keeping in touch with old friends, Skyping your family, getting in touch with your professors, checking out the library catalogue and of course, for research (maybe I should have put that one first).

If you’re planning on living a more minimalist lifestyle, consider letting that attitude flow into your web experience. Here’s how.

1. Firefox Add-ons. Perhaps it is a little paradoxical to claim that adding things on can help you become more minimal but if you use Gmail and Firefox, you will love an add-on called Greasemonkey which allows you to run scripts within Firefox. All you have to do is install it so that you can run little scripts such as HelvetiMail, which gets rid of all the words and boxes that just clutter up your inbox, as well as pasting a very minimal white theme on top. Here is the final result:

2. Adblocker. This is also a Firefox add-on but it is available in Chrome (known as Adthwart) and it so important that it gets its own step. Adblockers get rid of all the flashy ads that can clutter up web pages. As much as I want to support the sites that I use, I would never click on the ads anyway. I mostly ignore them, but I can’t resist how clean and simple pages look without ads.

3. Google Reader – If you read a lot of blogs, a great way to get them all in one place is to use Google Reader with the Greasemonkey script, Helvetireader. As minimal as Google interfaces tend to be, the Helveti guys make it even more simple. Also, having all of your RSS feeds go into one place saves time and makes keeping up with blog posts easier and more streamlined.

4. Time tracking. These last two steps might help if you want to minimalise the number of hours you surf the interweb. If you count them, you may be more inclined to reduce them. Extensions such as Meetimer or Time Tracker can help you see how much time you are spending and there are even tools that you can use to block particular websites after you have spent a pre-allocated amount of time on them.

5. Cut social networking. For me, social networking takes up a very large proportion of my web activity, and it is probably the most wasteful as well. Reducing the number of hours I spend on sites like Facebook and Twitter definitely counts towards a minimalist experience.

Other little things I like to do include keeping my inbox empty (see screenshot), cutting down the number of blogs I follow to a few high quality ones and if I’m really desperate, disconnecting once in a while.

A Student’s Guide to a Minimalist Diet in 5 Steps

what is a minimalist’s diet?

True to the minimalist mind-set, a MD (Minimalist Diet) is about reducing food down to what is essential. Although I refer to it as a diet here, in this case I mean diet in the case of ‘a way of eating’ or a long-term lifestyle, not a fad diet that claims you can lose several pounds in 30 days.

When it comes to diets, the important thing is to find a balance and to keep trying new things until you find what is best for you. Our bodies are all different in a thousand subtle ways; we all react to food a little differently. I am not a nutritionist, so please don’t take this as medical advice. I have also taken into account my current lifestyle, I am a student, with very little money to spend, so some of the steps have come out of necessity rather than choice.

For me, an ideal model for a MD is the traditional Japanese diet. Japanese cuisine is well known for the little cooking that is applied to the food. A lot of food is eaten raw or lightly vinegared, such as Sashimi, or otherwise just steamed or boiled. As for flavouring, the Japanese tend to season lightly, or use simple dipping sauces such as soy sauce. This doesn’t mean the food is bland and tasteless, it simply means that food is eaten the way it is, as close as possible to how it occurs in nature.

My take on a good MD is cutting down on too many foods that are processed and cooked for long periods of time. A lot of people cut out meat as well, and although a vegetarian or even vegan diet is definitely very ‘minimal’, you don’t have to abandon meat if you don’t want to.

what are the benefits?

Some of the advantages of a Minimalist Diet are that:

You spend less money. You’re on a student budget, which, unless you’re very lucky, isn’t much. Processed food tend to cost more because the manufacturer needs to make a profit over all of the ingredients and chemicals they used to make it. Buying carrots and chopping them up yourself makes a much cheaper side dish than oven chips which the food company had to grow, chop, flavour, process, package, market, distribute and store whilst making money to stay in business.

It is healthier. Most food companies, and restaurants, don’t care about your health. They care about money. So, they make their food products tasty and convenient because that is what will encourage you to buy them again. But at what cost? The tastiest foods are packed full of sugars and fats. And the most ‘convenient’ foods are sprayed full of chemicals so that they can be stored longer and cooked in less time. Cutting out processed foods means you’ll be filling your body with natural foods, so there are fewer ‘sugar rushes’ or ‘oily breakouts’, which leaves you in a much happier mood and better able to focus and concentrate.

Moreover, I was in the supermarket one day and I noticed that a burger costs £1, whereas a bag of salad was about £1.50. The question occurred to me: What is in that burger that makes it cost less than a bag of leaves to make? A bag of leaves!?

It’s better for the environment. Eating foods that don’t come with copious amounts of packaging saves from adding to landfill. Plus, eating fresh food means it probably spent less time travelling, which saves enormous amounts of oil and carbon dioxide emissions. If you cut down on meat, you will be ‘saving food’, since raising livestock costs more plant material than the energy and nutrition you would get from eating the plants themselves. There is already a global food shortage problem, and although realistically you won’t make much of a difference by yourself, at least you would know you are doing you best not to make it worse.

how to get started

Here are a few steps you can take towards a Minimalist Diet:

1. Make your own. Takeaways are extremely expensive compared to the cost of making a meal for yourself. You don’t have to make a profit over the effort you put into making your own dinner. Of course, there is a need for one every now and again, but if you make meals in bulk then all you have to do is heat up a portion for the next night. One of the biggest money-saving things you can do is making your own sandwiches for lunch. A quick price comparison shows how much you can save, the average cost of a sandwich is £2.00, if you buy 4-5 a week that comes to almost £10. But a supermarket loaf of bread is only about £0.60 and even adding the cost of most fillings like tomatoes, cheese, salads and butter that will last you more than one loaf still makes bringing your own much cheaper.

2. Cut out junk. If you know you eat a lot of chips, biscuits, crisps, cakes, pastries and drink a lot of fizzy drinks, you don’t have get rid of it all straight away, otherwise the chances are you won’t last very long and you’ll be tempted to switch back. Instead, you can just cut down little by little, and substitute foods at the same time (see below) to make up for it. This step can be difficult, and I know it is easier said than done but it is one of the quickest to implement and the results can be very rewarding.

3. Substitute. Replace the junk you left out with healthier snacks. If you can cut out fries as a side part of you main dish, replace it with vegetables. Perhaps replace your morning cup of coffee with green tea instead.  Try stirring honey into your tea instead of sugar. If you really feel like something sweet, try a handful of grapes, they’re packed full of the fruit sugar fructose. Instead of taking a bag of crisps for lunch, switch it for an apple. Get creative!

4. Think simple. If you’re not very good at cooking, or can’t afford to buy much (I mean, we are students), why not just make something simple? Buy simple ingredients. When cooking, instead of going for complicated recipes, why not try methods like steaming and boiling? These procedures are fairly easy and usually don’t take very long either. One of my favourite tricks is steaming practically any vegetable, or even fish in a sieve over boiling water with a lid on top, what is more simple/frugal/MacGyver than that?

5. Eat less. Now, I’m not suggesting you go anorexic here. But if you are overweight, it may be worth calculating a rough estimate of how much you eat in terms of calories and seeing if you’re over your Recommended Daily Allowance. If there’s one thing that remains consistent between all diets, even those dreaded fad diets, it is that in order to lose weight, you should replace junky carbohydrate heavy foods with simple, protein rich foods. Consuming minimally can help you slim down, reduce landfill, save money and improve your overall well-being.

Please remember that all of these tips are just suggestions. There isn’t an ‘Official Minimalist Diet’ rulebook that states you should not eat meat, or that you must eat less than you do now and so on. These steps are a result of combining some of the things I have learnt as a result of having an interest in health, nutrition and of course minimalism. I do realise that some of these points apply to a healthier diet in general, but I guess that is what a MD really breaks down to. This is an approach to food that I have found to work for me, I hope it will help others but of course anyone can change it around as they like.

What does a ‘Minimalist Diet’ mean to you? Do you have any ideas about how to be more minimal when it comes to food?

Dealing with Difficult People

When I first came to university, I strove really hard to be a positive and friendly person. Everyone does,  because that’s how to make friends, which is especially important since you are going to be spending a lot of time with some of the people you meet, at least a year, perhaps even more.

My immediate social response to almost everyone was automatically positive, because I wanted to be friends with everyone I met. But after a while, I began to discover new things about people that weren’t so positive. I found certain people to complain too much, or to be unreliable, arrogant or untrustworthy.

So what do you do when the honeymoon is over and you’re stuck with people that irk you?

You realise you can’t change them. I know, it’s not a fix, but it’s the truth. People aren’t going to change just because you disapprove.

If you really can’t take it, just drift away. You may find that people are much more tolerable in small doses. If you continue to have negative feelings, they may get a bad vibe off of you, which means that they come to think of you as you do of them. In that case, move away completely, it may not be the easiest task, but it’s better than allowing conflict to bottle up.

Another approach is to lead by example. Not that people will necessarily begin to copy you, but if you act like the kind of people you would love to be surrounded by, eventually you will attract those kind of people.

I heard once that you are the sum of your five closest friends. It’s up to you to decide what you add up to.

5 Ways to Get Rich for Free

by Jessica Dang
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A lot of people hate talking about money. One of the most annoying things I hear is that “there are more important things in life than money”, and while I agree to some extent, it should be more like, “there are more important things in life once I have enough money”, because the kind of people who say the former tend to be those who can’t sleep at night worrying about the bills, dread Monday mornings, are working 40+ hour weeks, can’t afford to do the things they really want to do, or don’t have enough time to spend with their friends and family.

Accumulating money for the sake of it isn’t the point. Money is a tool, like a boarding pass, it is your ticket to where and who you want to be. With it, you can get away from the long office hours with the boss you hate, the debt collectors or the mortgage hanging over your head and towards a life of freedom and fulfillment.

It’s not difficult either. There is a very simple formula. The money you have is the difference between what you earn and what you spend. That’s it. So logically, there are three main ways to get rich:

1. Spend less. Want fewer things, and you’ll end up spending less. Care less about what other people think and stop trying to keep up with the neighbours and you’ll end up spending less. Have some discipline and care more about your future self and you’ll end up spending less. You don’t need to live a monk-like existence, but everyone has something they can cut. It’s a matter of thinking before you spend and prioritising what’s really important to you over what only seems important to you right now.

2. Save more. First, and most importantly, make sure you have a rainy day fund that will pay for all of your essential expenses for at least 3-6 months in the event that you lose your job, or can’t work temporarily. Unfortunately, too many people live pay check to pay check, unprepared for things like illness, or a downturn in the economy, or any number of things that are outside of their control. You should also prioritise paying off the most expensive debt(s) that you may have, starting with the ones that charge the most interest, leaving the least expensive debt until last. You might consider not paying very low interest debt off yet if a potential investment yields more than the interest charged, but more on that below.

3. Earn more. Another way to get more money is to simply earn more. Ask for a raise, take on another job, or start something on the side. Don’t fall for lifestyle inflation, which is when you spend more because you’re earning more. Although the occasional treat is fine, too much normally results in very little net difference in savings. That’s how you get people on £60k salaries relying on each paycheck to cover their inflated bills.

Now, once you’ve saved your emergency fund and have accumulated a little extra, what do you do with it? Money isn’t made for collecting, you need to put it to work…

4. Switch your earned income to passive income. Most people think that the only way to make money is to earn it by doing some sort of office or labour job. This is simply not true. There are plenty of people who continue to make money even after they stopped work. Like the singer who earns royalties for a song she made years ago, the writer whose book continues to sell, or the business owner who leaves the day-to-day running to a manager. These kind of people put in an initial amount of work that took some time, effort, skills, and knowledge, but were rewarded with a passive income long after they stopped working. They had the freedom and income to do what they liked, move onto other projects, or to do nothing at all. You can switch your earned income (the money you make by working) to passive income (the money you make by not working) over time, by investing (see below), or starting a side business or income generating hobby. Eventually, you might be able to reduce or stop working, but even if you don’t get rid of your earned income source, at least your passive income can provide an extra layer or security, or luxury, that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

5. Invest. Apart from inheriting or winning the lottery, investing is the only way to earn money outside of conventional work. All investing can be boiled down to a return percentage with a certain amount of risk. From low risk/low yielding bonds to high risk/high returning startups, there are thousands of way to invest, and it would be outside of the scope of this blog to explain and review individual methods. However, I have found property to be a good investment (in my city/country) in various forms including buy-to-let and crowdfunding. An important thing to remember is that inflation is eating away at your savings at a rate of between 2-6% per year or more, depending on which country you live in, so if you do nothing, you are essentially losing money. Make your money work for you, in the form of immediate/short term returns, or long term capital growth. Which you choose, or how you balance these is up to your own financial situation and goals.

There is a lot more I have to say, which I will detail in a future post. I am not a financial expert, and you should always consider any financial advice carefully. However, some things are common sense, and yet there are so many people stuck in debt, living on their paychecks, or in jobs they hate because they wouldn’t be able to pay the bills if they left. Worst of all, they complain yet do nothing about it, or they resent people who do have money. As a child of immigrant parents, I was not given anything more than most kids my age. I had exactly the same opportunities that were there for anyone who could identify them to take, and I worked extremely hard for them. I’m very grateful for the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated, and I’m proud of how I was able to steer my finances to where they are now.

Finally, the more I earn, the more I’m able to give, which is one of the only reasons why I would want to earn above my means. I’m not interested in fast cars or fancy shoes, if I have more than I need, I would give it to the people who need it most, so that they could have some of the opportunities I was so lucky to have.


Image result for secrets millionaire mindEver wonder how people become millionaires and how lottery winners manage to lose it all? If there’s one book that helped me see things with a better perspective, it must be Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker which talks about our money mindsets. You can learn all you want about investing, but unless you have a rich mindset, you’re unlikely going to be able to succeed, and even if you do, you might not keep it for long. Having the right ‘money blueprint’ is the first and most important step to becoming truly rich.

You should also check out my Meditations about money from my other blog Minimalist Meditations (links below), as well as one of my favourite personal finance blogs Financial Samurai. I will have more posts in the future about


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5 Ways To Save Money Buying Books

Reading is one of the best things you can do for your mind. It expands your horizons and takes you to places you can never go. Unfortunately, books can cost a lot of money, especially university textbooks, but here are some ways you can save money.

1. Check the library. If you are only going to read it once, or use it for referencing, then the best thing to do would be to borrow it. Universities usually have an extensive collection of textbooks, especially expensive or rare ones.  If you want to buy to make notes, ask yourself “Will I ever look through these notes again? Are they going to help me improve in anyway?“. If not, then it might just be worth borrowing and then taking a few notes in a separate ‘reading notebook’ instead of the actual book.

2. Check the reviews. If you decide that you need your own copy to keep or make notes in etc. check out the reviews on Amazon, other book review sites first or maybe even ask your lecturer. It might not turn out to be what you want and could end up being a waste of money. You might even find you can eliminate some books on your reading list this way.

3. Shop around. There are so many places that you can buy books there is bound to be a difference in pricing. In general, buying online is cheaper because websites don’t have to pay as much overhead costs, however, you may be able to find things even cheaper in charity shops. Also, some universities do a trade-in scheme for higher years to sell books to lower years at a reduced price. It might be worth it to save a few bucks here and there.

4. Consider re-selling. After you’ve made use of the book, you should consider reselling it if you don’t plan to use it again. This way, you can make some of the money back that you paid for it and somebody else can obtain the book for a fairly low price. This is good for the environment and is good for decluttering your room.

5. Share. Lending books to friends and sharing books around can save all of you a ton of money. Remember to take care of borrowed books. The mutual benefits can be amazing, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve discovered because a course mate, friend or family member recommended it, and because of their kindness, I never had to spend a penny.

What are your tips for saving money on books?

5 Ways to Just Carry Less

Sometimes the biggest stress when you’re walking around university is the amount of stuff you’re carrying. Textbooks, papers, sheets, planners, food, water, phone, wallet/purse…the list goes on. It weighs you down, sucks your energy and can damage your back in the long run if you’re not careful.

It can create stress from not being able to find something, or forgetting to take something with you because you thought it was ‘somewhere in there’.

Why not only carry the minimum amount you need with you for that one day? Here are 5 steps to help you out:

1. A thin folder. Instead of carrying all of your sheets from the whole week, or an entire pad of lined paper, just carry what you think you will need for that day – a few notes and a few pieces of paper. When are you going to use a whole pad of 150 sheets in one day? Do you really need those sheets from last week today? Each night, take out all of the things you don’t need and add anything you do. This will help you keep things filed away and it will  shave off a bit of weight off your back.

2. A smaller purse/wallet. It’s easy to fill up a purse or wallet if there’s lot’s of room. Receipts and loose change are some of the main culprits. Keep those pennies in a jar at home or only take a few around with you. Try to carry only the amount of money you will probably need that day, as well as any cards or ID. Discard receipts straight away if you know you don’t want them (eg. for food) or make sure you put them in away as soon as possible if you want to keep them for a while (eg. clothes), but don’t forget to throw those away after a while too.

3. A smaller bag. Carrying on from the previous point, downsizing your actual bag or rucksack can help you to carry less as well. It will make you question yourself when you can’t carry all of your textbooks and your laptop with you that day. Do you really need to have that book? Or can you use the library’s one? Do you have to have your laptop, or can you use the computer clusters? If you really do need to have that stuff, at least a smaller bag will mean you might be able to find things easier instead of wasting time rummaging about.

4. A smart phone. I am a big advocate of writing things down because I think it helps you remember things better. But sometimes, if you can afford it, a smartphone can store a copy of your timetable, or help you set reminders and book appointments, instead of having it all on a million bits of paper or in a thick planner. Also, if it is connected to the internet and has some basic functions, it can also replace your laptop for surfing as well as a separate voice recorder, if you use one.

5. An ebook reader. Digital books will always only weigh the amount of the ebook reader, no matter how many you carry. And you don’t have to worry about forgetting, damaging or carrying your expensive and/or heavy books. Also, because the books don’t have to be printed, distributed and stored, they usually cost a little bit less and are much greener.

Minimalism in this case isn’t about making your life harder because you won’t have all the materials you need. It’s about carrying only what is essential, because isn’t that all you need?

5 Great Habits of Successful Students

keysuccessIf you look at the kind of people who have achieved ‘success’ in their lives, presidents, Olympians, millionaires, great artists, world leaders, you will find that there are a few things they all have in common.

Now, there probably isn’t a secret ingredient to success (if you find one, let me know) but rather ‘success’ as most people see it, is a result of combining great habits that incrementally lead to a successful and fulfilling life.

I’m no expert, nor am I ‘great’, ‘successful’ or ‘perfect’, far from it. These are simply the habits that I have incorporated, or at least planning/trying to in my life because I know that I can become a better person by doing so.

1. Wake up early.
There’s a feeling you get about the peaceful silence of the early morning that you can’t feel at any other time of day. It’s the feeling that you are the only person in the world, solitary and ready to take on the world, whilst everyone else is sound asleep. When nobody else is awake, there can be no distractions, which makes it ideal for focussing. Combined with the fact that (hopefully) you had a good night’s sleep, your mind should be feeling calm and clear. Early morning is also a great time to practice some meditation.

This is a habit that requires discipline and dedication. It can be hard to wake up early after a late night out, but you don’t have to do it everyday if you don’t have to. Waking early is supposed to clear your mind, not make you feel grungy of uncomfortable. Sleeping a little earlier the night before can help too, if you really want to start waking up early, just try 20 minutes earlier, and build up from there. You won’t regret it.

2. Stay healthy. For some reason, it’s easy to forget to stay healthy, especially as a student. You have a deadline, so you stay up late, your bank balance is flashing red so you buy something ready-made and cheap, and social law dictates that drinking is a minimum requirement to be cool.

Most of these can’t be helped, and because they are pressing and urgent, they get bumped up to the top of the priority list. Your body, on the other hand, is stays almost silent. It can’t shout or persuade or threaten, so it slowly suffers whilst you put other things first. The only way it can tell you it’s suffering is by that tiredness you feel during the day, or that headache you feel the ‘morning after’.

Your body is your tool to life. Imagine if you didn’t have one, you wouldn’t be able to speak, hear, see…you wouldn’t be able to experience the great things in life, so why not take care of it? Eat well and exercise.

3. Learn new things. Life is what you make of it, and if you just stick with the things you know, it isn’t going to be much fun. The fact that you are at university is a good step towards the right direction, but there are so many opportunities that universities offer, don’t let them pass you by. Read books, join societies and try out new things. Step out of your comfort zone. Be careful not to overwhelm your timetable, but for certain things try to think of them as part of your timetable. Expand your horizons, you get out of life what you put in.

4. Be proactive. Great people seek their own opportunities. They don’t wait for them to fall on their laps. If you want something, go and get it, it probably won’t come to you. The great presidents didn’t get their seats because they sat around at home, the great Olympians didn’t get their amazing bodies from watching it on TV and the great writers and musicians didn’t create their art from just daydreaming about it. Go out and do it, even if it is just a tiny step towards the right direction. Do something today that will move you towards your goals.

5. Be compassionate. Often we forget about the people that surround us everyday and how much they shape who we are. Even perfect strangers on the street have an impact on your life, whether you realise it or not. When people hurt you, you want to push them away, but it will only hurt you more in the long run, being alone is one of the most terrible feelings in the world. Real, true and genuine relationships are the stuff of life.
Be kind. Forgive. Smile. As Mother Teresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier”. That is what success really is.

Further Reading
I found a fantastic post about how to cultivate greatness via the Daily Mind. Many of the ideas I have are shared here.

Do you have any other ideas about what it takes to be a successful student? Share your ideas below.

5 Ways to Cut Down on Social Networking

This is a subject that particularly relevant to students. How much time does social networking suck out of your life? An hour a day? A week? You already know you should cut down, here’s how.

1. Turn off notifications.
One of the biggest disturbances to work is getting notifications via email or instant messenger. Most of these things don’t have to be dealt with straight away, so turn off instant notifications if these make you click through and waste another half hour replying and checking around.

2. Refuse invites.
If you receive an invitation for a new social network, consider refusing the invite, at least until you know how many of your friends will join it. But then again, even if a lot of them are on it, will they use it in the long term? Because if not, then what is the point of joining another site and making a new profile when the one you have now will do just fine? Pause for a moment before blindly clicking yes to invites and signing up. Also think twice about sending invites out to friends on your email contact list when you join a new social networking site. You could be roping them in into the same dilemma that you are in right now.

3. Block out time.
This can work both ways, either block out time for work, or block out time to deal with social networks if you really have to. Choose a time when your brain is least productive, such as in the late evening if you are a morning person or vice versa. Leave all of the maintaining until this time of the day. Knowing that you will have time to deal with everything later should free up your mind to do what is really important right now.

4. Delete old accounts. I wasn’t of the Friendster generation, but I know that there are still old accounts floating about on it that people haven’t checked in years. Kind of like boxes in the loft – they don’t get in the way, but they’re still there, and totally useless, so why not get rid of them? The same goes for social networks you haven’t used in a year or more. If you haven’t even checked it in that long, then maybe you won’t for another year or two, so delete it now before you get roped back into it, or someone finds something embarrassing on it from a while back.

5. Connect in the real world.
Get out of your room and hang around with your room-mates. Cook up a dinner, or call up a fellow classmate and have a chat. Do something that involves real life interaction. One of the reasons why people interact so much on social networks is because they don’t in real life. So the best cure is to, well, go out and do it in real life. Use social networking to keep in touch with old friends/family or connect with new people but not as a substitute for a real life relationship.

Do you have any handy tips to keep social networking at bay?