Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Little things that make studying a whole lot easier... part 2

I love music, and will listen to it at every given opportunity. Is there anything better than driving along, blasting the radio and singing at the top of your lungs? Probably not.

So it's no surprise that when I'm studying  I often have headphones on. I find it helps me to block out the world and keeps me focused. However I listen to very different music when I'm studying, than I would at any other time of the day. I'm particularly partial to classical music and instrumentals of my favourite songs.

I've made a playlist on my Spotify account (which I get half price using my NUS student discount!)
It's an ever growing playlist, which you can listen to here if you so choose. It's currently at 15 songs and lasts just under an hour.

It's mostly instrumental pieces from movies, instrumentals of songs and random pieces of music I've gathered over time. 

Are you like me who can only study when listening to music to blank out all the background noise?! What do you listen to? Any recommdentations to add to my playlist? Let me know!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Little things that make studying a whole lot easier... part 1

Sometimes, studying is really difficult. Sometimes, it's really really difficult.

Let me introduce to you to Momentum which has been a godsend to me in the past few months. Momentum is an extension that can be installed onto Google Chrome browser. It basically replaces the blank tab you would usually get when opening a new tab, with this beaut of a 'dashboard'. I'm so in love with this. The picture changes... I want to say once every 24 hours but I'm not entirely sure?

There are a few things I love about Momentum.
  1. Motivational quotes - There is always a motivational quote right at the bottom of the screen. Who doesn't love a good quote to inspire them?
  2. To-do list - If you've read my previous post you'll know I'm a fan of a to-do list. I particularly like this one because my account has been accepted to the beta syncing so I can access it on any computer I log in to. This is really useful as sometimes I'll find myself with spare time to get some uni work done but will only have my work laptop with me - this means I can log into my account and see what I need to be doing! 
  3. Quick Links - Up in the top left corner is a place for you to keep all your handy links. I usually bookmark links, but this is so much easier and a lot quicker! One click and you're there, ready to learn! 
  4. Today's Focus - When you open Momentum there's a lovely personal greeting along with a line for you to write your main focus. Once you've entered this, a little tick box comes up beside it. So much satisfaction when you can tick off your main focus of the day as complete!
So, there you have it, a quick introduction to Momentum which makes me happier than I care to admit. Let me know if you decide to download it, I'd love to know what you think of it! 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

I'm a little bit distracted this weekend.

I apologise in advance, but please prepare yourself for a post that is completely unrelated to university but I just have to share anyway.

It's been a very exciting week for us at work! For the last three weeks we have been incubating some chicken eggs!! And on Monday they finally started to hatch. We came into school on Monday morning to a tiny little beak sticking out of an egg and lots and lots of noise! 

The little chick has since been named Peeps and is loving life. I've brought them home for the weekend and I just can't resist getting them. But the problem is they're quite distracting, especially when I'm trying so hard to get some work done... but hey, they won't be here for long so I'm making the most of having little chicks around! 

Right before he pooped on my work! 

The children were fascinated when I told them about Lorenz and his study on birds. I told them how he hatched some geese in an incubator and when they hatched they used to follow his green welly boots wherever they went. They thought it was even funnier when they noticed that Peeps would follow me around the classroom!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday nights are for...

Writing massive to do lists? Listening to my study playlist? Trying to organise my life?!

As I mentioned in this blog for the last assignment I submitted, a 2500 word report, I ended up pulling a very late night to get it finished and submitted.

I am very much a last minute worker. I often find myself saying "I work best under pressure" but I don't know if this is just because I'm the Queen of Procrastination so I've learnt how to work under pressure. Probably. I'm in a different situation to most university students though. Being a 'mature student' and juggling a full time degree course alongside a full time job isn't easy. So having pulled a late night (3:30am!!) I then had to be up at 7:30am for work! This was the least desirable thing. And on top of that, I also had a 6 hour day at uni to get through after working the morning. Let's just say, I was tired and grumpy and I consumed a lot of coffee that day.

In an attempt to avoid this, I am currently sat thinking about all the things I have to do for upcoming assignments so I can get started and avoid anymore late night shenanigans. Over the year I have used various to-do list methods...

The original
An old fashioned list on old fashioned paper. I bought a to do list from Paperchase while studying with the Open University a few years ago and it was a godsend. I would just made huge long lists, stretching over pages and pages, of the things I had to do. I liked this method for when I was just studying at home but it was just one more thing to carry around in my uni bag. So I moved on to...

Wunderlist is probably my favourite to-do app. Purely because it syncs with my phone, mac and iPad. So I can access it wherever I am, whatever device I'm using. The satisfaction I get from marking a task as done and then watching it just disappear is unreal. It's so pleasing. I also find it easier to keep track of what's left to do, as the completed tasks disappear. Whereas with a written list, you just cross them out and things can get a little messy! So this was my preferred method of writing to do lists for quite a while.

Stickies is an app that comes standard on Mac computer, but there's also a similar thing on Windows computers. It gives you a little post it note to write on, which then just floats around on your screen. I love it, especially the fact that it always stays open, even when you've shut down or restarted your laptop. I also like that you can change the colour... I personally like to match it to my desktop picture. The only downside of Stickies is that it's only available on the computer you've written them on. But nevertheless, they're pretty useful for making quick notes of things to do.

So my jobs for this weekend are to do some reading for an upcoming essay and also a poster presentation. I've got some little bits and bobs to do as well, like filling in some forms and writing about assignment feedback I've received so I'm hoping to get all of the done this weekend too so my to do list can shrink a little.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Note taking part 2

I've always loved highlighters and find them incredibly useful when making notes. I've come to discover that this is completely down to personal opinion. Some people I know write their notes in nothing but a blue biro. Not me though. No way Jose.

I am one of those people that you see with a highlighter of (almost) every colour as well as corresponding post it notes. I am a very visual person so my notes from lectures and reading are always brightly coloured.

Some people use one colour to highlight all their notes but I like to use several colours and have a colour code.
  • Orange for quotes 
  • Pink for key ideas or information 
  • Yellow for any information needed for a reference; author's names, publish dates, book titles or chapter titles 
  • Blue for definitions of terms
  • Green for key words
This is a key that works for me and the subject I study and obviously can't be applied to all subjects. Some highlighters are used less frequently than others; my most frequent are yellow, pink and green. I find it really useful to be able to quickly find pieces of information when looking at large pieces of text/writing. Particularly when I'm writing essays, I can look through for key words relevant to my assignment by only looking at the green highlighted words. Or if I am looking for a specific the theorists work I can focus on the yellow highlighting to quickly find a name. 

The only downside is that my notes can become very colourful and this is sometimes a little distracting. What are your notes like? Do you prefer to keep them plain and simple or are you a mass highlighter like me?

Monday, 9 May 2016

I've been a bit M.I.A....

Apparently, I fell down a black hole and now it's suddenly May. How this has happened I'm not quite sure?! So much has happened in the last 5 months... Full blog posts to follow.

  • I submitted my first essay of the year and was so excited to be given a distinction!! Definitely a proud moment for me. I'm always aiming for a distinction, and I'm pleased that the extra work I put into my essay paid off. Just got to do it again in two weeks time...
  • I was given a new role at work and I realised how difficult it can be to juggle my responsibilities. I found myself struggling to gain a balance between work work and uni work which left me submitting work which wasn't my best. 
  • I have chosen my optional module for next year... Which is terrifying!! We haven't even finished this year yet and here we are choosing between modules for next year. The modules I've chosen is called "international perspectives" and looks at schools curriculums all over the world. I'm pretty excited about that. 
  • And I have pulled my first ridiculously late night finishing work the night before a deadline. Oops. In my defence, I had a nasty cold (which promptly turned into even nastier sinusitis) so I was poorly which didn't help!! 
  • But ultimately, I have survived the last term and a bit and I'm still here to tell the tale. Although this definitely wouldn't have been possible without a few hundred texts to my uni chums and a handful of phone calls that began "oh my goodness what am I even doing?!"
So keep an eye out for some full blog posts about what I have been up to recently!