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Monday, March 21, 2016

My Highschool Toolkit

With only 95 days left until high school graduation, I've been reflecting on the little things that have made a difference--however small--in simplifying these busy days of my life. Below, I've compiled a list of my tried-and-true supplies, essentials, and products that have helped me streamline my day-to-day life as a high schooler.

To paraphrase a certain singing nanny, these are few of my favorite thigns. 

In my backpack: 

Half-hourly planner
 Though I've never was the calendaring type, my life was irreversibly changed a year and a half ago when I bought a planner that maps out every half hour of every day of every week. I now look forward to Monday mornings because I get to plan out the upcoming week of school, work, volunteering, and homework. It also helps me keep on track with my work because I have a reserved time for every task. If you're not ready to committ to a planner, you can find printable templates online to give half-hourly planning a try. My favorite planner (I'm on my second one) is this 8 Days Journal. My favorite part about this particular version is how it isn't specified by date or year--only days of the week. That way, if I don't use write in it over a school break, I don't waste a week's worth of space.
A glimpse into the organized chaos that is my half-hourly planner

Papermate Clear Point 0.7 mm Pencils
Yeah, these are the pencils everyone 'stole' out of your desk in the sixth grade. But they're still amazing! I buy them in bulk at the beginning of the semester so I always have them when I need them. Quick tip: only bring one pencil at a time to school and leave the rest at home. After I started doing this, I found that I was losing them less frequently. Also, it keeps you from feeling obligated to loan them out to others! I keep an emergency pencil zipped away in a pocket, though, just in case!

Extra headphones (and laptop charger!)
As technology becomes more and more integrated into the classroom (at my school, students are required to bring a laptop or Chromebook everyday), I've found that always bringing a set of headphones and an extra laptop charger to be enormously helpful. I mark mine with decorative washi tape (which has so many uses, I strongly recommend it!) so that I can easily identify it as my own.

Sharpie Clear View Chisel Tip Highlighters
Hands down the best highlighters I've tried. Though it seems gimmicky, the clear tip feature really does help me see what I'm highlighting. The ink doesn't smudge and the large size makes it easy to locate in my pencil pouch.

Le Pens
These pens have become a staple item in my pencil pouch. Not only are they totally stylish, but the SUPER fine felt tip point is ideal. I find that it makes my handwriting neater, which is always a plus. I've also found them to be worth the splurge; I've forgotten to cap them occasionally, and they hadn't dried out at all!

Reinforced Binder paper
As someone who tends to over-zealously rifle through her binders, I've often faced the struggle of tearing the holes in my papers. Reinforced binder paper has reversed this phenomenon, and I've never looked back. Also, college ruled is the best. Always. This brand happens to be my favorite because it has dark lines and is not branded with the company logo, which is a pet peeve of mine.
Favorite binder paper and pen 

Pain Reliever
If you take pain relievers for headaches or other ailments, consider storing a small bottle of your favorite brand along with you to school.

Mini hairbrush
No time for hair in the morning? Mini hairbrush will save you.

A favorite pencil pouch
I really can't tell you how much I love my pencil pouch (pictured above). A unique pencil pouch is a great way to add some personality to your arsenal of generic school supplies. I think it is worth the time looking for one that will make you happy every time you use it. Pro tip: since the pouches found in office supply stores can be a bit mundane, makeup pouches actually make a great alternative. Not only will you find a much wider variety of fun designs, but a lot of them will be lined with plastic which will prevent pen leaks from ruining the fabric of your pouch. Stores like Target have some great options.

In my lunch bag:

Small bags (12'' x 9'', to be specific)
I have a small collection of these small, reusable shopping bags that have come in useful as lunch/miscellany bags all throughout high school. They're lightweight, perfectly sized, and surprisingly durable--not to mention that they are given for free at some stores (think: Lululemon and Therapy in Mountain View). Another bonus is that they are machine washable. I have two of these Harry Potter ones, which I didn't get for free but are still super awesome.

Fruit salad:
Mastering the art of the fruit salad has been invaluable for me. It's my all-time favorite lunch and it's perfect for transporting to school. With fruit salads, you can be so creative; try to make a blend of seasonal fruits that is a diverse mixture of  both flavor and color. I shared some of my favorite compilations below.
Summer blend: mango cubes + strawberries + raspberries + blueberries
Winter blend: Satsuma mandarin segments + persimmon slices + pomegranate seeds 
Tropical blend: Pineapple cubes + kiwi slices + banana slices + mango cubes 

Snapware Containers
For homemade lunches, a set of reusable Tupperware is a must. I've found the Snapware brand to be the most reliable because of it's strong seal and large variety of shapes and sizes. I've found this variation to be the optimal vessel for bringing salads and fruit salads to school.

On my desk:

Labels
Whether or not you share my passion for labeling anything and everything in sight, I do think you will find it useful to have some labeling supplies on hand for different purposes. I have two favorite methods for labeling: my P-Touch Labeling system and good old Sharpie on tape. While it is, of course, a nonessential, my label maker has turned out to be a great investment for me. I use the labels on the tabs of my binder dividers, which I find to be much cleaner and stronger that those little papers you slide into the slot. I also create labels for basically everything else I own, so that's a plus as well. But for other purposes, I love making labels with a pen and a strip of Washi tape. As noted above, Washi tape is so versatile and adorable. Using it for labels will do double duty by adding a decorative touch to your stuff.
How I use a label maker to create binder tabs. 
3 x 5 index cards
While sites like StudyBlue offers an online substitute for traditional flashcards, I prefer making them by hand so I can flip through them easily throughout the day. I cut 3x5 index cards down the middle to save paper and money.

3-Hole Puncher
For when my teachers constantly fail to 3-hole punch their handouts, this supply is quite useful. After I found one lying around my house, it was easier to keep papers from accumulating in my binder pockets.



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