One of the things I did do in these past months was cleaning up our garage. Ok, the project is still in need of a few finishing touches, but it’s not important right now. Wink.
I needed to free space for the new, and “begone, the rest!”. But organizing your stuff is never as simple as that. What was waiting for me in the cellar were boxes and boxes of all highschool papers and textbooks I’ve ever been in possesion of, and heaps of other memory souvenirs from a decade ago. I had to let go and stop being such a hoarder!
Some of those papers I did keep though. History, sociology and imaginative writing essays to show off to my child… He’s now only 10 months old, but he will grow to appreciate a good example of well-posed arguments of my top graded essays, right? I did keep only the ones with the good grades, after all 😉 Then there was a psychology paper I wrote, which makes sense to come back to again. The task was to write an advice to people with academic anxieties and time scheduling problems. However bossy and preaching my teenage self was, it never hurts to come back to the basics. Before life began to have too many facets to have perfect control of, before kilometre long to-dos…Imagine a teen who is just trying her best to achieve a good grade. And god forbid any plagiarism was involved. But I do remember I was writing sincerely.
Are the following applicable to mommyhood? Professional life? Only with a huge dose of creativity can one adapt these.
Problem 1. “I can never remember all the stuff I’m supposed to know.”
Answer: Try to understand the things you are trying to learn. Concentrate, but do not try to avoid different other thoughts, not related with the subject, from coming into your mind. Your head is always working for you, so try to make use of the drifting thought, when you’re trying to remember something. Your imagination and creativity will help you; try to make associations and use mnemonics.
I think it is also important to write things down, summarize the text. You can also write something down more than once. Repetition is a very giid thing for memorizing stuff. I am also convinced that even a design of material you are trying to memorize is also important; your summary should always be well-organised. Underline topics and main points. Use numbers to make things in order. Think about what you are writing. But if you think that it is really impossible to concentrate and memorize something at that moment, leave it to a better day.”
Nowadays I tend to think that “a drifting thought” is not as tangible that you can mentally grab it and make it work for you. Teenage me was on to something about repetition there…Here we are.
Problem 2. “I get stressed out with exams. I just freeze”
Answer: “First thing for you to remember is that stress is a natural hormonal process in your organism, which can be absolutely controlled by your mind. So when exams do really stress you out and affect your life rhythm badly, remember that it is all yourself who invented this stress. Hence get a total control over it (you are much more stronger). Since stress is something to do with your body, take care of it. Watch your diet, reduce intake of stimulants such as tea, coffee, sugary drinks and cigarettes. Eat regularly, but do not eat in a hurry. Get enough sleep (7-8 hours is recommended). Do regular exercise (such as walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, etc.), because it burns up nervous energy produced when stressed.
And do not freeze! Exams are not as important as your future life-exams and your health.”
Problem 3. “Whenever I try to read I find my mind drifting off in other directions.”
Answer: I think your mind wouldn’t drift off in other directions if the reading material is interesting. Think about relation between you and the subject, how could it affect you and how might this subject be important specially for you. I suggest yiu personalise what you read. When your mind is drifting off, catch yourself and try pretending being a teacher or instructor. Ask yourself a detailed question of what you have just read. And when you yourself won’t manage to give an answer, estimate your work honestly. Self motivating sometimes can be very helpful. Although sometimes it is not necessary to go further into details, and maybe those are exactly not interesting for you. You usually meet those in a non-fiction book. So as you come across some information that does not meet your needs, just skim over it. Also you should turn off all other factors that might prevent you from reading (turn off radio, close the window or get rid of that annoying fly).”
I skimmed over that little piece of work. Poor fly.
Problem 4. “I always seem to miss deadlines”
Answer: “You should really work on your time managing, because for many instructors the deadlines of your works affect your grades a lot. Think about what actually prevents you from completing something on time. It is not good to postpone your studies to the closest day of a deadline. That will always affect your work badly. Are you going to work all night to write your history essay? Do no ever do that (talking from experience), your brains can simply stop functioning two hours later than the time you usually go to sleep.
I think it is right that students should do their assignments right on the day of instructions. For example, if your biology assignment is for the next week, try to do it now, and I am sure it will turn out to be better than that one you have done at 5 am last week. Think, you will still remember the things you learnt during the lessons and it won’t be necessary to make a long revision then. Finally, you won’t be late!
If your problem is memorizing deadlines, just make a use of a year book and make notes there. Check your to-do list every week, but not the day just before the deadline.”
Problem 5. “My essays never turn out to be right”.
Answer: “To write an effective essay, do not forget about these things:
– IDENTIFYING ARGUMENTS
– REFERING TO THE TITLE
– ESSAY ARRANGEMENT (title, introduction, middle part, conclusion)
Research is the first thing you do before writing an essay. Do not simply read a general knowledge pnthe subject, but go into details, and read as more as you can about it. If you are writing about a book or anothing not scientific topic, you would be better off using your own intellect. While writing a history essay, you have to bring facts to the paper, do not take it emotionally and use your analytical and critical thinking. It is also really useful to go deeper into details, but not writing bits of information in chaotic order.
Essay’s arrangement is also essential. Pay great attention to the outset and the conclusion part. As usual, while skimming through many papers of work on a similar subject, a reader’s mind can just drift off into other directions, but that reader will always pay big attention to your intoduction and final part. Try to make those memorable.
As I mentioned before, it is important to use analytical and critical thinking. Try to explain things (identify arguments), do not simply write ‘naked facts’. While writing you should always have the topic of the essay written in bold letters on a separate sheet in front of you. It will help you to answer the exact question (without omission), your work must always refer to the subject.”
Problem 6. “Public speaking makes me nervous”.
Answer: “If you are informed about talking or presenting something in front of an audience few days before, you are in a lucky situation and you can manage to make the speech without any nervous moments of worrying. First of all, you should make a good preparation for your appearance in public. I think it would be better to write things down. Do not simply make a plan, because if you can’t cope with your nerves, your memory would be blocked and you wouldn’t remember some parts of your speech, what would be a more embarassing situation. Make a supportive work, because it is always better to read instead of not saying a word.
If you think that you know material very well and you already made a suoportive summary, but you still thin that it is public atmosphere that makes you nervous, try this advice. Several days before your appearance start to imagine yourself staying in front of the audience that expects to hear a great speech. Go into details and think what on earth in this situation making you so nervous. Maybe you don’t want to see some people there? I heard from some people that they would make a great speech in front of a big audience rather than in front of their relatives or other people close to them. Maybe it is wxactly what can destroy your speech? So try to avoid it, ask them not to come for this reason. So, when imagining the situation that makes you worry, think about something pleasant. For example, imagine yourself laying on a beach alone or with your friend, taking in sun light, relaxing and drinking coctails…Then suddenly come back to the presentation hall or classroom you are going to make a speech in and think a little bit about that. Then again look at the image of the beautiful scene of calm sea and your sunny beach. Quickly come back to your speech again. Practise it when you have free time, and you will see it’s worth it!”
Ah, so simple and naive! So black and white and with no shade of cyan or magenta… But maybe we do overcomplicate things once we turn into adults, huh?