Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

I’ve moaned about it enough, so you’ll all know by know that despite having graduated last summer I’m still studying. I’ve chosen a career path which pretty much needs a professional qualification, so for the foreseeable future I’ll be entering an exam hall every six months.

 photo Productive Procrastination_zps0ad7ut5z.jpgNot only does this mean I’m an absolute delight to live with (sorry W!) I’ve also become quite the expert in productive procrastination. A.K.A getting shit done whilst avoiding the mountain of studying sitting there on my desk. Here’s just a few of my favourite ways to procrastinate, whilst being productive about it.

“Organise” Your Notes

I doubt it’s only me that simply can’t revise without neat notes, organised folders and a fully-stocked stationery drawer?! This year I spent far longer than necessary printing labels for my notes and making sure they were perfectly lined up when sticking them on…

Clean

NGL, my flat is never cleaner when I’m approaching exams. The phrase ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ springs to mind, though in reality I’m not quite sure that scrubbing at an already sparkling oven is an excuse to put off revision!
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Batch-Cook

This is generally something I do right when I realise I need to knuckle down and do some work. Having a freezer full of easy to reheat meals makes me feel so much calmer going into the exam period, as I don’t need to think about having healthy dinners to cook. My tomato-free bolognese is perfect for this, but I also love freezing stews and casseroles. Anything I can just reheat and throw together with veggies or a salad!

Walk The Dog

Yep, the dog I don’t even have! When I still lived at home, even when I went home during university Easter holidays, I found walking the dog one of the best ways to procrastinate. It got me out of the house and away from my desk, blew away the cobwebs and generally just cleared my mind. If only I could find a dog to walk now!
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Pamper Session

Sometimes you’ve just got to improve your mood. I hit a rock-solid brick wall about five days before my exam, right before the Easter Bank Holiday gave me 4 solid days of revision. After a few tears and choice words I took an hour or two off. I filed my nails down, shaved my legs and did a triple mask facial. Midway through one of the face masks I had a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment – and cracked the discounted dividend model for valuing equity investments!

The ‘Motivating’ Spotify Playlist

This is double the procrastination for me, as I don’t generally listen to music. However it’s definitely something I’ve spent far too long doing – in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve spent longer perfecting the playlist than I have actually listening to it. I either go for silence (or as close as it gets living under the Heathrow flightpath!) or pop Heart FM.
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Bake

I’ve already mentioned that baking bread is my number-one procrastination method, although I remain firm in my stance that this is mainly because it goes a good way to reliving my writing-induced RSI. That said, I also love to snack on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g whilst studying, so baking means I generally keep things a little healthier. Homemade hobnobs have *got* to be better than shop-bought ones right?!

What do you do to ‘procrastinate productively’?

Lifestyle: Quotes for Keeping You Motivated

Today is the day I sit my first proper professional exam. Well, the first half of it anyway. Two three hour papers over two days – so the torture isn’t over until tomorrow evening! Then it’s a break for a few weeks before a practical one in May, then straight back into studying ready for September’s exam – all before the results of this one are released! They weren’t joking when they said the first few years of my career would be intense…

 photo Motivational Quotes 4_zpsucybvoxz.jpgWhen I finish my first exam later, I know I’ll have to come back home and hit my notes again ready for tomorrow. I know that it won’t be very long before I need to start prepping for my practical exam. I know that studying will start all over again very quickly. And for that I’m going to need some serious motivation. It’s not easy studying on top of full-time work (I’ve got a post coming soon – once exams are over and I’ve had time to write it!) so I keep a list of quotes on hand for when I need a good kick up the arse.

I’ve got these typed up on my phone, handwritten in my diary and there’s a few on post-it notes doted around my flat, work desk and study notes. They’re surprisingly uplifting when you randomly happen across one!

The first few quotes have been taken from Becca Rose (there’s loads of great motivational quotes on her post here).

“Inhale confidence. Exhale doubt.”

“Set some goals. Stay quiet about them. Smash the shit out of them. Clap for your own damn self.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

“Small progress is still progress.”

“Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal.”

“Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.”

“If you get tired; learn to rest, not to quit.”

“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”

 photo Motivational Quotes 7_zpsjzsxpxbr.jpgThe rest of the quotes I’ve picked up from Pinterest and Instagram over the last few months. Where I found them with a source, I’ve added it in – as well as adding in any I could easily find. If you know where the rest of them are from, feel free to share!

“The Way Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing.” -Walt Disney

“Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much Of Today.” -Will Rogers

“You Learn More From Failure Than From Success. Don’t Let It Stop You. Failure Builds Character.”

“Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right.”- Henry Ford

“You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal Or To Dream A New Dream.”- C.S. Lewis

“Don’t stop when you’re tired. STOP when you are DONE.”

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

“Good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them.”

“If life was not meant to be a puzzle it would have come with an instruction manual.”

 photo Motivational Quotes 1_zpsbfoa71h9.jpgI also picked up a Motivational Desk calendar for W last year, just as a little stocking filler from Santa, but I’ve kind-of adopted it. It’s been so nice to have something motivating displayed in the flat – it’s one of the first things I see when I come home and I find it spurs me on to do just that little bit more after a long day.

How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you have any quotes to share?

University: Coping with Exam Stress

Now it’s March, all of a sudden exams seem an awful lot closer than they did this time last week. Things are getting serious, and as it’s final year there’s no fixing any mistakes made. I’m one of those people who gets hugely stressed around exam time, I pretty much live off adrenaline – and get ill 30 minutes after my last exam ends (true story).

 photo Revision Stress_zpsri2cebsk.jpgWhen PasTest offered to send over their top tips for beat exam stress, I was intrigued as to what they’d come up with. Turns out there’s some good advice here!

The trials and tribulations of everyday life can get to anyone, but when you factor in revising for your exams it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you’re finding yourself getting increasingly stressed about your upcoming exams, try these tips for handling exam stress:

Look After Yourself

Stress manifests itself in various ways – from feeling anxious to random outbursts of anger – and when the pressure is on it helps to remember a few bits of advice to ensure your head remains in the game.

  • Look after yourself and maintain a decent work/life balance
  • Make sure you have a balanced diet
  • Exercise can be a great way of switching off from the pressures of revision and allows you to blow off steam. If you’re not a gym-bunny then a head-clearing walk will suffice
  • Socialise with friends who aren’t on the same course as you – hanging out with other students can sometimes cause more panic as you’re guaranteed to end up talking about revision
  • Don’t overdo the socialising as you don’t want to lose a day of precious revision to a hangover!

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Last Minute Revision

If we were all ideal students, there would be no such thing as last minute revision and everyone would be prepared well in advance. So if you’re a last minute reviser, how do you handle the stress and dread? Your first answer might be ‘CAFFEINE!’ but if you overdo this it can have the knock-on effect of making you even more anxious and reduce your productivity as a result. Far better to choose other last minute cram-revision methods…

PasTest offer a variety of revision aids each suited to how well you personally respond to learning – there are vLectures, paper lectures, past exam papers, and even podcasts that you can listen to to help you. Perfect for cramming.

Give A Past Paper A Go

Whether you’re an auditory learner or a visual learner, the proof is in the pudding which is why having a go at a past exam paper is great idea – this can provide a real morale boost when you’re stressing over whether you’ve revised enough or on the flipside can point you towards what you need to revise some more about.

Don’t Turn Up Late!

Though you might be stressing and panicking about the exam, this feeling will be nothing in comparison to how you feel if you’re running late for it. Not only is showing up late embarrassing but getting yourself in a fluster before even sitting down will have a massive impact on how well you perform during the day. Plan your arrival thoroughly and make sure to check the traffic before setting off for any accidents that might cause delay.

If you find your stress level is above what you’ve normally experienced, remember there are options available – whether you visit your student support service or GP or just have a quiet chat with friends and family they can provide help and assistance.

 photo Exam Stress_zpsxlvngalo.pngI’m a big advocate of looking after yourself, particularly around exam season. I also have a rule of a ‘treat’ meal, preferably something vegetarian (I had food poisoning the night before a GCSE exam once, so eating meat is something which stresses me out around exam times) the evening prior to an exam. The best tip for me here is to definitely try past papers – it gets you both learning the material and familiar with the exam layout and style of question. Kills multiple birds with one stone I guess!

*Sponsored post in associated with PasTest, however all opinions are my own as always!

Do you suffer from exam stress? How do you tend to deal with it?

University: Staying Healthy Whilst Revising

It’s all too easy to let your health take the backseat when you are sidetracked with revision. Trust me, I’ve been there and done exactly that – to the point of giving myself RSI so badly I couldn’t hold a pen three days before my second year exams. Bad idea…

 photo f4a7e3fe-c616-4e58-a3f6-1396798e8923_zpsjxsxb4xo.jpgHere’s a few tips to to keep yourself ticking over whilst revising, after all if you aren’t feeling your best you’ll never perform to your full potential!

Eat Well and Often

It’s easy to me to say (cooking is my favourite form of procrastination!) but making sure you eat well during the exam period is key to sucess. It doesn’t have to take long, my favourite meals are stir frys and salads, but a good meal will keep your concentrating and improve your mood. Revision snacks are also important – I recommend flapjacks!
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Vary Activities

This is where I went wrong. Doing maths means reading is difficult, so I relied on taking notes and practising questions – completely over-working my hand. If I could have second year again my notes would all be complete, leaving me time to read through and just focus on exam questions.

 photo a832ef1d-3fd8-4451-aabb-bdac53b8d788_zpsnqxmeahe.jpgOptical Express are promoting their top tips for the exam period, and here’s some words from Senior Optometrist Mesha Tanna;

Ensure Your Work Station is Comfortable

“It may sound obvious but it’s best to sit at a proper desk so that you are not crouched,” advises Mesha.” Your screen should be a little below eye level and at least half a metre away. It is also important to have suitable lighting to reduce glare.”
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Rest Regularly

“Students who focus intensely on screens and text books for a significant period of time are at risk of pseudomyopia – a temporary form of short-sightedness which causes blurry distance vision and can last for several days,” says Mesha. To prevent the condition, caused by spasm of the ciliary muscle in the eye, Mesha recommends the 20-20-20 rule; looking away every 20 minutes at something at least 20ft away for at 20 seconds.
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Be Aware of Harmful Light

“Exposure to the blue light emitted by computer screens and other digital devices including smartphones and tablets can damage the retinal cells and is linked to a greater risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness,” says Mesha. She recommends regular breaks and trying specialist glasses, such as Neva Max Blue UV, stocked by Optical Express, that filter the harmful component in blue light. Mesha also warns that viewing digital devices before bedtime can upset your sleeping pattern and take you longer to fall asleep as the melatonin hormone, which prompts tiredness, is reduced.

Blink Frequently

Mesha says: “People blink less frequently when using computers so stick a Post-it to your screen to remind yourself if need be. If your eyes feel dry and gritty lubricating eye drops can provide relief and if you’re working from home consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. If you naturally suffer from dry eyes, it is worth consulting an optician as an underlying condition may be to blame.”

Use Correct Eyewear If Necessary

“Long-sighted people may be able to see adequately close up if the strength of the prescription is low and not require prescribed glasses but they may require a small prescription to undertake close work for long periods,” says Mesha. “Contact lens wearers should also bear in mind that some lenses have a time limit to the number of hours they can work. If you plan to study into the evening and there is a chance you could become too tired and forgetful to remove your lenses, consider switching to contact lenses with increased oxygen permeability for the duration of the exam season.”
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Have an Eye Test

“If you experience headaches, discomfort or are in any way worried about your eyesight consult an optician,” Mesha advises. “It is recommended that most people have an eye test every two years but recent research suggests that about 40% of young people are not going for regular eye tests.”

Post sponsored by Optical Express who sent over the eye-health tips and a voucher for me to use against their products. All opinions are my own.

I’ve also found that using Optrex eyedrops* mid-way through a study period really helps – I get quite itchy eyes so this refreshes them and makes me feel way more focussed! What are you top tips for staying healthy during the exam period?

University: A New Study Mentality

Weirdly, I’m really looking forward to getting back to university and studying in September. I’ve loved my year out, loved my placement, really don’t want to leave. But I’ve missed studying and learning (just as well, with a load of professional exams to do after graduation!).

 photo f4a7e3fe-c616-4e58-a3f6-1396798e8923_zpsjxsxb4xo.jpgOne of the biggest bonuses I’ve found with a placement year is that you gain a whole new perspective on yourself and how you work best. Previously I would have said I worked best in the evenings, but I now know that mornings are when I am most productive. I’ve realised I work better when I have lots to do. I need to write tasks down and tick them off (including remembering to buy milk on my way home). All these things are contributing to me being keen to getting back to university. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learnt into practise, because I know I can improve my study skills and boost my grade up. First class honours, here we come!

 photo 1c0efb13-aaf2-469b-ae6e-0c36504b3671_zpsaxidodgg.jpg“How to be a Knowledge Ninja”* teaches better study techniques, keeping you better focused and able to achieve your best. I’ve always been sceptical about these books, but I really enjoyed this one. I especially liked the section on General Study – it looked at day-to-day learning, lectures and ‘homework’ rather than just revision. The book focusses more on learning throughout the year as opposed to revision – it’s definitely going to be utilised come September, and I’m tempted to order the original “How to be a Productivity Ninja” too.

 photo 282b43e9-89fc-47bd-9f38-637303544520_zpsmyqsxahn.jpg“Lazy Student’s Guide to Revision”* is definitely focussed on the revision side! This is one I really recommend for A-Level students, or even those doing GCSE’s (it’ll be passed over to my sister in a week or so!) as it is pretty basic, teaching simple elements of revision. It looks at identifying your ideal revision technique and how to utilise this best. Simple, but effective – perhaps one if you are studying a different subject or exam style for the first time!

 photo 2015-03-29 17.52.56_zpsw9ke4eu8.jpgThe downside to my placement year? I’ve developed even more of a reliance on the good old cup of tea. Though I have got myself a teapot to restrict visits to the kettle, and taught myself to like non-caffeine alternatives!

How do you revise best? Do you have exams this year or, like me, are you able to spend time enjoying the nice weather? I have to admit it’s been nice to sit in the sun not squinting at equations!

University: Beating Procrastination

Ah, procrastination! The skill of virtually all students, though I’ve discovered this year that it doesn’t stop upon graduation. Even in work there is a task I will put off until the last moment possible. It’s like folding laundry. I love clean towels, bedding, etc. But having to fold it once it’s nicely dried is the worst chore. I’ve hoovered, dusted, washed makeup brushes and sorted my wardrobe this afternoon. The laundry is still on my bed waiting to be folded…

 photo 752aab2f-38b8-48ec-b1a4-4ea766f2f691_zpsa76d96f2.jpgI found this infographic on how to beat procrastination and thought it gave some really useful tips. Sure, it hasn’t helped with the washing-folding-problem, but that task at work is far less of a problem now.

15 Ways To Beat Procrastination

15 Ways To Beat Procrastination [Infographic] by the team at Essay.Expert

My own top tip for beating procrastination? Have a variety of tasks! I can’t sit and do the same thing day after day after day. When I’m studying I like to spend an hour or two reading, then note taking. After midday I’m all about past questions. Then right before the end of my day I’ll summarise what I’ve done. I also like to have a variety of resources. The internet is all very well and good, but if I’m researching on the internet, there’s a huge chance my Bloglovin feed will accidentally open. I love books (bigger and heavier = better!), and one of my favourite places to physically buy books is Blackwell Books stores on university campuses. Why? Because they often have exactly the book I want, but pre-owned and therefore cheaper. Variety is definitely the key for myself to beat procrastination, if I know I have different things to do I’ll crack on and get started!

How do you beat procrastination? What tasks do you avoid?

Student Summer: What to Take to University #4

I really hope these posts have been useful to you! I know I’d have loved blog posts like this when I started university, but for some reason I only really started reading blogs well after starting this one. Strange I know! Today I’m going to witter on about stationery to take to university. So grab a pen and paper (aha!) and we’ll begin…

 photo 2014-09-11174233_zpse91a20d3.jpgPaper and pens. I have to say this is quite important to me. I’m a leftie so a decent pen is a must or I will smudge everything to an illegible smear. It’s happened before, even with biro. Pilot Frixion erasable pens are my weapons of choice, being able to rub out makes my lecture notes so much neater too. I’m also not a huge fan of colour until I revise, so I stick to black. But it’s up to you. I also like doing rough work in pencil, so I always have a handful of those on the go. As for paper I go for Ryman’s giant refill pads, bought on 3 for 2 with student discount they are the best value I’ve found, and the quality is high enough so you don’t get that dreadful scratchy sound when you writ.

Now, I’d just go with the organisational basics until you get started and learn what the module layout etc is going to be like. Pick up a single folder and some plastic wallets; buy more as you go. I have a system now (as an actuarial student) of one folder per module, with that upgraded to a lever-arch it the module is a thirty-credit one. My original plan of one lever arch per year is far from achievable; sometimes I fill a lever arch with a module!

 photo 2014-09-11174312_zpsbf6cbb15.jpgNext up is a diary. This is so, so, so important – you will absolutely have deadlines to write down. By all means use your phone if it works for you, but most people I know have to write it down physically. Me? I couldn’t live without my Filofax. I was bought a Pink Personal Malden for my A-Level results (over two years ago!) and I’m virtually never without it. Not only does it look pretty (and matches my satchel) it’s also so, so functional. I’ll be doing a post specifically on how I use it for university soon, if you like, but I do highly recommend a Filofax if you’re a stationery geek like me. With only the inserts to buy (or make) after the initial purchase you have a full customisable diary for a relatively decent price. Mine is always by my side or in my bag, it genuinely keeps my life on track!

Stapler, hole punch, ruler, rubber, pencil sharpener, scissors. Basics that are just handy to have around – you’ll probably need to secure coursework together at some point so a stapler is a must.

Now, a printer is something I’m unsure about. I had one in my first year, then sold it in the carpark whilst packing up as it was that one thing that didn’t quite fit. In my second year we shared one. I *think* I’ll pick up a cheap one for my final year as it’s just so much easier to have one. Printing on campus is extortionate in my opinion, and I can rarely bring myself to do it. I’ll admit though, most of my printing is saved up til I’m at home and then someone else foots the ink bill!

 photo 2014-05-09174211_zpsc2453d48.jpgBooks. No doubt you’ll have a long list of ‘recommended’ books that you ‘have’ to purchase at the ‘reasonable’ price of 10 billion pounds…sarcasm is a strong point here. I’d leave off ordering any until you get there and work out what’s in the library, and whether you actually need them. In terms of recommended books, I’ve only bought one in two years (and it was worth it), and borrowed one from the library. My tip is to google your module name and find other books on Amazon (quite often just older editions of what you need) – you’ll find similar books, and quite often you’ll get used copies for a fraction of the price. I bought loads and loads of books for second year this way, I paid around £40 for 10 books including delivery. Great for when I was recovering from my operation that summer as it gave me something to do! Even though the books can be quite old, they are normally fine though I’d avoid if you’re doing a degree with changing information..I was quite amused when one book came not with a CD, but a floppy disk…

 photo 2014-09-11174422_zps284c6e51.jpgIn terms of revision gear, I’d recommend buying it when you need it. But I use erasable highlighters, erasable colour pens (sensing a theme here?), post-it notes, record cards and lots and lots of paper.

What stationery do you use at university/college/school/work?

University: Revision Tips

 photo 2014-05-09174242_zps78c4f233.jpgProbably a little bit late in the year for this, as I’m guessing most students will be coming up to their exams (and some lucky people will have finished theirs!) but I thought I’d tell you all how I study best…I’m currently revising like a mad woman for my second year exams, so this post is rather apt!

 photo 2014-05-09174306_zpsdfc56335.jpgI will spread out my work around me, either on the floor, or on a large table (I used to have an L-shaped desk at home which was perfect, but sadly that went when my room was redecorated). I’ll work on a module at a time (usually spending a whole day on it) so I’ll have any related text-books or university material (for my Actuarial exams we are given notes from the Profession’s study support – they are amazingly useful, so make the most of any resources you have provided) out, along with my notes, print outs of questions, and enough stationery to stock WHSmiths…

 photo 2014-05-09174211_zpsc2453d48.jpgA little note on textbooks – my thrifty self likes to try and avoid buying books (or stick to related ones for 1p on Amazon) but I bought a recommended book for the first time this year and its definitely helped. If you’re struggling with a module I’d recommend it! My top top is to make notes on post-it notes rather than in the book, then you can sell it on for more at the end of the year (I got £75 Amazon credit for my A-level and first year books a few months ago!).

Revision photo 2014-05-09174200_zpse9b3f7a5.jpgI try to keep complete neat notes throughout the year, then can spend my revision time doing exercise sheets and past exams – for maths students there is nothing better that practice! When doing questions I try to stick to a left-hand ‘column’ on the page so I can write notes down the side, including a model answer when I get things wrong. If the question involves a theorem or definition I’ll also write it in a different colour to try and reinforce the point. I’ll always try to write out questions too, as then I have a clearer idea of why I’m doing what I’m doing…

 photo 2014-05-09174218_zpsa5e264ed.jpgOne of my biggest problems is staying organised, so I use my Filofax to help me with that. I also find that I quite often head out to the library without a pencil case (sooo annoying…I had to pay £4 for a pen on campus once…), so I’d been on the lookout for a thin one to keep in the tiny pen loop in my Filofax. I was kindly sent this stunning Pink Gold Parker Pen* (£59.00, Pen Heaven) a few weeks ago, and I adore it. Its the perfect colour, and nicely weighted (not heavy, but not light like your basic biro either!), and writes amazingly smoothly. There’s no chance of this being left behind, I love it! I don’t use it for everyday notes as I love erasable ink far too much, but for just about everything else I’m using it. I’m really looking forward to using it at work next year – its so professional looking, but still feminine. Can’t you tell I’m in love with this pen?! Revision is sending me mad…

So, my top tips for revision?

  • Stay organised throughout the year, so its not a mad rush at the end to work out what you should have learnt!
  • Have a clear plan of what you want to do each day, but make sure it is achievable. Nothing worse than feeling bad because you couldn’t do the 20 past papers you wanted too…
  • Take regular breaks, and eat healthily, snacking as you go (remember to keep an eye out for the Healthy Snack post as part of my Blogger Link Up!)
  • Turn off distractions. I turn my wifi/data off on my phone (it also means I don’t need to remember to charge it every night), and have deleted social media apps from my tablet as I still use it for solutions.
  • Don’t feel bad about saying no. You need to revise, and going out shopping/partying/etc won’t help that – be proud that you are trying to do your best, and don’t be pressured into giving up your time.
  • Don’t do all-nighters. It’ll muck up your sleeping pattern, and your exams aren’t at night!

But my absolute top tip…?

 photo 2014-05-14162350_zps075d47b7.jpgDon’t give yourself repetitive strain injury (in the wrist of your writing hand) the week before your seven exams start! I’ve managed to either over-do writing (not sure how, as I definitely used to write more when I did essay-subjects for A-Levels) or damage my wrist some other way, and am now struggling to write comfortable for more than 20 minutes at a time. Lets just say I’m a little worried about a three-hour stretch… However, stock up on painkillers and tea (hey, a girl needs restoration fluid!) and invest in a wrist support. Take vitamins regularly before the exam period to keep your immune system running, and generally just take care of yourself – I’ll be sure to the next time I have exams!

Good luck to all readers who have exams, and (if you have time) – how do you revise?

Year 2 Term 2: Aims & Ideals

Today marks the beginning of the Spring term of my second year at university, so today I thought I’d go with a more studenty post – what do I want to achieve this term, and how am I going to go about achieving it?

 

First, I want to improve on last term’s results. I finished my first year with a high 1st and I definitely want to continue with that this year. I felt my first term went okay (although with much room for improvement!) – we covered a lot of completely new and more applied material than before, so I have a lot of revising to do to make sure it’s up to scratch to prevent falling behind!

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I also want to work on my study skills, or at least at not wasting time! I really struggle to work at university when I have a single hour’s break and last term those hour’s turned into a little bit of a gossip session. This term I really want to make the time a little more productive! The type of work I generally have to do isn’t really suitable for an hour’s work (short of reading over notes, I find an hour is too little for settling down and getting a really good grip on a maths problem of this level!) so instead of studying I’m thinking of making those hours into time for me to work on this blog. I even bought a mini keyboard for my tablet, which is an old one of my boyfriend’s kindly gifted to me over the holidays, which will make this a whole lot easier. Does anyone have an recommendation of blogging-related apps which could be useful?

Also in terms of study skills, I want to continue to improve on my technique when I’m actually studying. I want to share some of these tips with you guys, if its something you’d be interested in reading about?

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In terms of my cooking and diet I want to become a little more adventurous. I really enjoyed experimenting with some new ingredients when making my Chicken Massaman Curry, and I want that to continue. Following on from reader feedback (I love getting it, so please get in touch if you have a suggestion!) I want to work on more vegetarian/meat-free recipes so will be doing that!

Looking at my timetable, I’m due to be doing a lot more full days at university this term (I had a strange timetable last term – full on mornings, but finished by 1 three days a week, which was lovely as I got a decent lunch at home!) so I really need to work on making up a decent packed lunch. Currently toying between salad filled wraps, or rice/pasta combinations, but I’m sure I’ll rotate these ideas over the term!

2013-11-20 15.58.25Budgeting wise – I need to, and I need to save money! I may need to shell out for a deposit on a new rented place in a few months, and invest in some workwear so the pennies need to be saved. I managed to save a huge amount of money using a ‘piggy bank’ last term, and I’m hoping this method along with experimenting with cheaper ingredients will help my savings mount up.

And whilst I am budgeting, I’m also experimenting with my make-up and beauty regime. In the spirit of things, however, I’m trying to keep everything as low cost as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming ‘budget buys’ post as I’ve nabbed some great sale bargains (including the aforementioned workwear!)

So that’s a broad outline of what I want to achieve over the next term. Now for the important bit! What do you want to see on my blog over the next twelve weeks? All and any suggestions are welcome!

Review: Stationery Haul from Elba & Oxford Campus Notebooks

Over my summer break I was contacted by two lovely ladies who offered me a range of stationery items from Elba and Oxford. I obviously squealed with excitement, and waited patiently for the postman to arrive…which he duly did with a very large box. Here’s what was inside…

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As you can see, I have a lovely big haul there! I’m a stationery lover, but what really appeals to me about these brands is the functionality of their goods. Much as I do enjoy looking at it, I’m not one for really pretty stationary. For one I’d be too scared to use it, and quite often it is out of budget. If that is your thing though, I recommend you try out Wilkinson’s, as they always seem to have a great range.

Here’s what the lovely ladies sent me:

 

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A Campus Notebook from Oxford. As a lot of stationery-lovers will know, this is a brand well known for its thick and good quality paper. I personally have never used it – I HAVE to use narrow ruled and so I will be gifting this to my lovely housemate and blogger Libby (check out her blog here, and the amazing amount of make-up I get to borrow!). I also have an issue with spiral bound notebooks being left handed – it’s refill pads all the way for me!

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There was a couple of these in the box (one in a lovely sunny yellow, the other a vibrant red). They are nice and sturdy document holders, secure but still extremely lightweight.

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As all sides of anything inside is protected, these are slightly better than the cheap ones you can buy on the highstreet, and so I would definitely recommend these.

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Next up is one of my favourite products, or at least the one I needed immediately. This is again a pretty generic product, but with an Elba twist. Here is is the usual plastic folder with plastic pocket inserts, but the addition of an elastic closure just keeps it looking neat and professional. This will be used to hold my CV, exam certificates, and all other things I may need for an interview.

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Very similar to a previous product, this blue folder actually takes the form of a box, closed by elastic. I would definitely not recommend this for carrying around stationery, but for storing things in the home I find it useful – it currently housing my spare plastic wallets perfectly!

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Then there was a couple of again pretty generic items with a twist. First up is the black ringbinder (above, the blue one on top is from WHSmiths). As you can see, it is a good deal wider than regular ring-binders, and so it easily accommodates the extra wide dividers I love so much. A word of warning; if you wish to use dividers with plastic pockets you will need extra wide ones, or to make your own as I did last year. Comment if you want a tutorial in this!

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Next up is a lever-arch folder. Again pretty generic (not extra-wide this time!) but with a twist; the side is curved, making it easier to grab off your shelves. An interesting innovation, perhaps not something I would pay extra for (unlike the extra width), but it does seem to make things easier. Again, I will be donating this to one of my housemates for their use, as it upsets my folder colour scheme…more about that in another post!

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Next up is a prettier folder; this has become my everyday to-uni folder. I’m a little disappointed it isn’t extra wide, but it is still a little wider than regular binders. This is nice and strong, very sturdy rings (beats WHSmiths by a mile!), and the two sets of rings close independently of each other, which does take some getting used to.

 

Now, a little word about the promotions these companies are currently running (exciting stuff hey);

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First up there is the free cinema ticket, with two qualifying purchases. All you do is peel back the sticker to reveal the code, plug into a website and off you go (after a bit of waiting obviously). As the cost of two products will be less than a cinema ticket, it really will save you money!

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Finally there is the Oxford Big Project. Unfortunately entries have now closed, but you can still view and then vote (from the 15.10.13) here.

 

And that is my little review of my lovely stationery haul. Thank you so much to Elba and Oxford for sending me your items – I highly recommend these companies as the products really are of a fantastic quality, and with little twists are actually a lot more functional than items which are readily available. Check them out on Amazon!

 

If you liked this post, check out my post previously on student organisation. Any stationery loving readers out there? What brands do you recommend?