Work

Does your desk look like a scattered bomb site? Then it's time to start immediate evacuations and bring on the spring cleaning. Start out by clearing off any unnecessary paper, old takeaway coffee cups and stationery you no longer use. If there are forms or documents that you must keep, make sure to file them away. The last thing you need is to toss away that very important contract you have worked months to land! But, we know that bulky files can weigh you down even more, so rather opt for a neat flip folder from Waltons. These nifty concertina files come in an array of colours and can be carried almost anywhere without hassle.

Did you know that your keyboard is one of the dirtiest surfaces, crawling with germs, leftover crumbs and dead skin? Make it a priority this spring to dust off your keyboard, mouse pad and any other PC gadgets. Is your screen looking a little grimy too? Get your hands on some non-alcoholic wipes or screen cleaner spray from Incredible Connection or takealot.com.

Lastly, have you thought about how many unnecessary apps, files and widgets your computer has stored over the last year? Take some time to declutter your laptop or desktop this spring season. Opening up a clean and tidy Windows page at 8am on a Monday morning can do wonders for mental clarity!

Spring Cleaning

Home

Now for the big guns - your house. While it may seem overwhelming at first, taking things slowly can bring great results. Pick one room to start with. It doesn't need to be the dirtiest or most overcrowded. We think the bathroom is a good place to begin. Clear out cupboards, drawers and cabinets of old medication, shampoo bottles and creams. Always check the expiry dates on these items, as some may still be usable. Give your towels and bath mats a good scrubbing too. Or, invest in a couple of new bathroom accessories from @Home stores. We love their Fringe Jacquard Bath Sheets. You better hurry if you want to wrap yourself up in a luxurious 100% cotton towel after your next bath.

Once you have the bathroom in top-tip condition, move on to the bedroom. We often store most of our junk in our bedrooms. This not only creates a cramped living space, but can even affect your sleep. The key to good shut eye is good ventilation, quiet and a space solely dedicated to sleeping. Clear your bedroom of any work related items, as these can hinder your brain from shutting off at night. Also eliminate any blue light emitting devices such as TVs, laptops and even your cell phone. We know, you like to scroll through Twitter before bed or catch up on your favourite series, but it's doing more harm than good. The last few months of the year can be a real drag, so it's vital to get as much good sleep as possible.

Spring cleaning

Next item on the agenda - the cupboards! Donate old clothes to a local community centre or host a jumble sale to make extra cash. The rule is, if you haven't worn it in a year, toss it out. You will feel much lighter waking up to a minimalist closet every morning, trust us. Plus, this is the perfect excuse to go out on a spring shopping spree to find a great new outfit.

Online

Our last spring cleaning hack is for all you social media addicts. How many times have you mindlessly followed an account or friended someone you haven't spoken to in person for years? Culling your contacts every once in awhile is a must. It allows you to keep in touch with only the people who inspire, motivate and genuinely care about your well-being. It can also prevent thoughtless scrolling through social media when you are bored. So get to it.

Happy Spring Cleaning everyone! 

Understand The Load Shedding Stages

Let's be honest, when we hear them announce that we'll be going through load shedding stage 4, most of us are not too sure what that even means. So, to help you better understand the stages, we've listed them here. If you know what they mean, great! Just skip this and carry on with the rest of your load shedding prep below.

Four schedules have been formed, based on the level of risk and to ensure that load shedding shared and done in a fair manner:

Download A Load Shedding App

There are a handful of load shedding apps out there, but what we have noticed that not many of them are accurate. So far, the one that seems to be hitting the nail right on the head regarding load shedding schedules is Load Shedding Notifier. It's rather simple - just download it (Google Play), add and set various zones that will be affecting you (home, work, other family households, etc) and you're ready to be notified. There's also the Eskom Se Push app if you're looking to use and compare multiple schedule sources. Another great way to keep on top of the load shedding schedule is joining community Facebook pages if your suburb has one.

load shedding

Fully Charge All Devices 

Since you have downloaded a load shedding app, you'll now know when to expect your next black out. With this is mind, make sure that you fully charge all of your devices - laptops, tablets, phones, Kindles, everything that can be charged - before the set times of your zone load shedding. That way, you don't need to worry about flat batteries and being bored while you wait for the hours of darkness to pass.

load shedding

Homeowners, Consider Buying A Generator

Own your own property? Don't live in an apartment or flat? Then why not consider investing in a generator? Yes, they're noisy. Yes, they'll cost a some moola to run (most use petrol). And yes, they do cost a pretty penny (easily between R2 000 - R10 000 depending on size, wattage and fuel tank capacity) BUT at least you won't be sitting in the dark and you'll have a power source than can be used for many years to come. Most home and hardware outlets will stock generators, so make sure you head to Builders, Game, Leroy Merlin and Takealot. Don't forget to pick up a few extension leads and adapters to "share the love". Another source of power that's more environmentally friendly than the generators is solar power. This seems to be becoming more popular in recent times.

Tip: Keep a few Jerry Cans filled with "liquid gold" stored in the garage. Generators can guzzle through litres of petrol depending on how much power you use, so be sure to have some extra on standby.

load shedding

Stock Up On Lighting Alternatives

If you cannot get a generator or simply just don't want to spend a small fortune, there's always the old-fashioned candles, flashlights and lanterns. Just don't forget to get matches, a lighter or batteries while you're at it or else this option is just not going to work! Candles, flashlights, batteries and lighters/matches can be bought practically anywhere - Checkers, Spar, Game, Shoprite, Pick n Pay - but as for the lanterns and light adapters, you can find them at any outdoor or hardware outlets. Also, it wouldn't hurt to install a few solar outdoor lights to light up your garden a little bit (just as an added safety measure).

load shedding

Replace Electrical Appliances With Gas

There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to get dinner on the table due to load shedding. No power, no microwave, no stove, no kettle, nothing. But there is an alternative - gas stoves. Just like a generator, this option doesn't come cheap, but it's a good investment. A little too expensive? Then why not buy a portable stove top that you can connect to the generator? Again, check out Builders, Game, Leroy Merlin and Takealot for those stove tops. Have neither? Not to worry! You can always grab some charcoal, fire up the braai and tuck into some braaivleis. Or even make a potjie. Also important: if you get a gas stove, don't forget to get a stove top kettle, that's a lifesaver!

load shedding

Power Banks Are Lifesavers

Since we are in the day and age where we use our cell phones for absolutely everything - alarm clocks, contacting people, checking load shedding schedules, ordering takeout, entertainment purposes, GPS, the flashlight function, etc - it's essential that its battery life lasts. To ensure it does, get your hands on a power bank, charge it and have it on standby. Also, the more you have, the better! Visit Incredible Connection, Takealot, Game, and The Gadget Shop to check out their selection of these lifesavers.

load shedding

Stay Connected

Just because the power is out, doesn't mean you cannot stream, surf the web or continue with your assignment or presentation that's due tomorrow! Use a portable modem or 3G dongle to keep connected to the internet during bouts of load shedding. Most mobile networks and internet providers offer these nifty gadgets, so make sure you contact them or visit your nearest store to get yours ASAP. See, owning a dongle isn't that bad!

load shedding

A Pantry Full Of Snacks

Before everything else on this list, make sure that you jam-pack your pantry with lots and lots of snacks! That way, you won't starve yourself due to not having electricity to cook up some dinner on the stove or in the microwave. It's not the healthiest of meals, we know, but it's a delicious way to pass the time.

load shedding

Just Sleep Through It!

Or maybe you could save yourself all the time, effort and money ensuring you're set, ready and prepared for the load shedding by just sleep through it! There's no harm in getting in more sleep, is there? Before you know it, you'll be awakened by the flash of lights turning back on. Or better yet, why not just go out into the city, find a spot with power and just hang out there with a couple of friends?

load shedding

University is completely different from high school in many ways. But, it's much the same when it comes to stocking up on the essentials. Of course, textbooks, notepads, stationery and art supplies top the list of important items to stock up on for the semester. However, there are a whole range of handy accessories that can make your study life way easier. Here are our top picks for back to varsity must-haves 2020:

The Essentials

Textbooks

Finding university textbooks can prove to be a true test of patience. Nevertheless, there are a number of reputable retailers in and around the city. The most well-known textbook outlet has to be Van Schaik's. They have six stores in Johannesburg and are the official suppliers of UNISA textbooks. Alternatively, check out Book Express in Westdene. These guys have been in the business for over 14 years and are conveniently located opposite the University of Johannesburg's Kingsway Campus.

Accounting and Law students, you have a discount textbook store in Parktown dedicated solely to your learning. Established in 1998, Discount Textbooks offers students, as well as big and small auditing firms, legal firms and banks throughout the country, the very best in marked down textbooks. English literature and theatre students, don't forget to pop into your nearest Bookdealers. These specialists in out of print and rare books have a large store of fiction which is likely to appear on your setwork lists.

Most of these bookstores also have online shopping options, so you won't have to spend precious petrol or transport money on tracking them down. Alternatively, visit takealot.com to browse through their stock of academic books.

Stationery and Notebooks

Sometimes all you need to get yourself motivated for the new semester is a few quirky pens and a funky notebook. Stationery from Typo is creative, cheeky and caters to almost any taste. Their frequent two-for-one notebook sales are definitely student-budget friendly.

If you are looking for more understated, less ironically cool stationery, pop into PNA stores. Art students will be especially impressed by PNA's vast range of affordable art supplies. Their stores also now offer loyalty cards to help you earn rewards and receive discounts on your favourite varsity must-haves.

Have some money saved up to spend on yourself? Pop into Herbert Evans Art Shop to find an array of fine tipped felt pens, graphite pencils, paint and journals. You can either visit their flagship store at Rosebank Mall or take a trip to trendy Maboneng to stop by their new location on Main Street.

notebooks

The Fun Stuff

Tech 

Having your own laptop can make varsity life a whole lot easier. For student budget-friendly tech gear, check out takealot.com's Back to School sale on laptops. With no item priced over R5000, this is a bargain hunt worth taking note of. Looking for something more portable? Their online store also has a wide range of tablets and iPads perfect for note taking and reading.

In need of a printer? Pop by your nearest Incredible Connection for an awesome deal on an Epson L3110 3 In 1 Ecotank Printer. Available for only *R2699 until 26 January 2020, this definitely tops our list of back to varsity must-haves.

varsity must haves

Clothing and Sneakers 

The start of the first semester is the perfect time to freshen up your wardrobe. First year students in particular are likely to need a couple of new wardrobe staples (no more uniforms guys!). This is a period in your life to experiment with as many different clothing styles as possible. For on-trend casual wear, we recommend shopping at Cotton On stores. While they may be a little pricey, you can easily mix and match key staples like jeans and band t-shirts from their extensive range.

If you are more into online shopping, check out the Vintage Lover online store. Established in 2010, this unique brand offers both vintage inspired wear and bang on trend fashion items. They even have an entire shopping selection dedicated to scrunchies!

Alternatively, spend a day thrift hunting at one of the many second-hand stores or Wits Hospice Charity Stores around Joburg. Not only will you find great bargains for one-of-a-kind vintage items, you will be contributing to a good cause.

Backpacks and Snacks

A great backpack is essential to making your everyday tasks a lot easier. Walking around campus to classes is often exhausting. The weight of textbooks, laptops and stationery can make the walk even more strenuous. Avoid using your old school bag and visit Zando to shop their wide range of backpacks. They offer everything from sports bags to compact leather drawstring shoulder sling-overs.

Now, the campus "cool" kids may never be found carrying around dorky lunchboxes filled with healthy snacks, but we can't all be cool. So, stack up on some delicious goodies from Checkers' new health food range, Simple Truth. We love their sugar-free Mango fruit gum snack pack and assorted convenience meal bowls.

Happy learning!