When we think about specialized fields of work, our minds often go first to places like laboratories, vast engineering initiatives, hospitals, or somewhere thereabout. But at RahRah, we spend most of our week working with highly specialized workers who rarely touch calculus, code, or chemistry. Student Affairs professionals often pursue multiple degrees to gain the skills needed to interface with some of the most complicated systems known to planet earth: undergraduates.
Our main efforts have gone toward developing tools to make student affairs workers’ lives easier and more streamlined. In that regard, we’ve learned a lot about how they do what they do.
But every education stakeholder knows that learning is a two-way street. We’re taking the opportunity with this post to share a few of our favorite life hacks that we use on a weekly, if not daily basis.
Shortcuts and Automations
This one is unfortunately just for the 48.3% of the U.S. that uses an Apple mobile device. Shortcuts first appeared on iOS 12. It allows users a series of no-code programming options to set up some basic functions using multiple apps.
We use it to make payments when we place certain orders, trigger office-wide alerts when things like dangerous weather occur, and a few other functions here and there. But the sky is really the limit with these combinations.
The latest update, known as Automations, has further capabilities, like location awareness. You can program it to play a dedicated song once you leave the office, send a pre-written message if you’re running late for a meeting, or even find restaurants or cafes halfway between you and the friend you’re meeting for lunch.
IFTTT (If This Then That)
There’s good news for the other 51% or so of American mobile users (we see you Blackberry holdouts). A similar device-agnostic service has existed since 2011. IFTTT (If This Then That) began as a web application that lets users come up with their own set of commands, which the company calls ‘applets.’ The company created a mobile version in 2015, and it is currently in its fourth generation.
This web and mobile app was developed by Mozilla all the way back in 2007. It essentially allows users to bookmark articles and compiles them in one space to read later. Over the course of our day, we constantly see interesting and tantalizing articles that make us want to drop everything and spend twenty minutes going through it with our full attention. When we can’t or won’t give in to these urges, we have Pocket to save them for later.
Who doesn’t love a good list? We turn to Todoist for everything task management. Users can make lists for individuals and groups, and it’s oh-so-satisfying when you check off any item.
The rules governing grammar, spelling, and syntax were written by no single person, are constantly changing, and generally don’t follow hard and fast rules. And yet, researchers have shown that just about everyone will judge you to some degree if your writing contains a typo or a mistake. Yes, this is the nightmare situation that everyone on earth faces every time they sit down to send an email.
We put our fears to rest with Grammarly. The web and mobile service uses AI bots to track what you write, point out mistakes, and send suggestions. It can integrate with many email clients and social media as well. Whether you’re getting in touch with a lone undergrad, your entire office, or the student body at large, Grammarly will keep your ‘yours’ and ‘theres’ in line.
These are our five top life hacks. To be honest, we’re not sure where our student life system RahRah would be without them.