Student using ruler to plan out their productive study schedule.

5 Unproductive Things Students Do During Exams (That Don’t Involve Netflix)

By: Neya Abdi | @neyaabdi

Ah exam season. That time of year when students everywhere teach themselves a semester’s worth of material in two weeks. It’s a testament to laziness and resourcefulness all at the same time. But there are a few especially unproductive activities students participate in while studying for exams that don’t get them anywhere. This exam season, take a good look at some of the behaviours listed below, consider the solutions, and then cut them out!

1. Obsessively Calculating What Mark You Need To Pass

It makes sense to do this – once! If you had a less than admirable semester, and you are relying on the final to turn things around it makes sense to crunch the numbers quickly to figure out if it’s even worth showing up to the exam. But once you’ve received that confirmation, ditch the calculator. (Unless you’re studying for calculus or something.)

Solution: Why do students spend so much of their study time calculating their possible marks? It’s because when they do it the first time, they calculate the best possible scenario. For example a student may think, If I get 100% on the exam, I can get an 80% in the course. While it’s great to set your sights high, it can be counter-productive this late in the game. Once the sheer magnitude of the work you have to catch up on sinks in you will keep minimizing your expectations by intervals and turning to your calculator to see how low you can go.

Cut to the chase. If you’re in a tight marks situation like this, calculate the MINIMUM mark you need in order to pass the course and then forget the number crunching entirely. Dedicate the rest of your energy to studying. You’ve already got an idea of how much work you need to put in to pass and hopefully will study enough that you earn a higher grade than that.

2. Doing Something Else While a Textbook is Open and Convincing Yourself That That’s Studying

Since we’re on the topic of exams, here’s a quick test for you.

Which of the following is an effective way to study?

a) Texting your friends that you can’t come out to study and then texting them throughout the evening about how much you have to study (with a textbook nearby)

b) Refreshing Facebook every fifteen minutes to check how many people liked your status about how you’re just gonna drop out and open a dog petting shop (with your lecture slides minimized)

c) Meeting up with a classmate at Starbucks to make study notes, post a picture on Instagram, and then decide it’s too noisy in there and postpone

d) None of the above

Answer: d) None of the above

Ditch the picture-perfect notions of studying and do not fall into the trap of thinking you’re studying just because you didn’t go out.

Solution: If you know that you will spend twelve hours at home to study on Saturday only to focus for ten minutes each hour, then be realistic. Work rewards into your study routine, and enjoy ten minutes of scrolling through Instagram guilt-free. Even if it’s mindless, it’s scheduled in and is not eating into your study time.

3. Studying With Friends Before Obtaining a Basic Understanding of the Material

Students forming a study group.
Study groups can be useful, but be careful that they don’t become an excuse to socialize with open textbooks. (Image via Pexels)

Studying with classmates is a fantastic way to discuss the material so that it is learned instead of memorized. But studying in a group can be a disaster, especially with friends. It won’t feel like a disaster at first, because you’re having so much fun. But once it’s 9pm, and you’re all tired the panic will start to set in when you think of how little you’ve absorbed for your 8am exam.

Solution: Do not assign a disproportionate amount of your study prep to a meet-up. Familiarize yourself with readings and concepts beforehand. That way, you won’t feel the temptation to get distracted during the group study session. You’ll be eager to discuss what you’ve learned and have an intelligent conversation about the material.

Bonus solution: If you really want a study session where you actually learn the material as a group – for bio or history majors that are memorizing a lot of dates or Latin names – assign chapters and come up with an activity. It could be as simple as each person coming up with 20 questions for a specific topic. As a result, each individual becomes familiar with one area and the rest can quickly learn through a quiz bowl style study session.

4. Waiting Until You Feel Like Studying

Here’s the thing: you’re never gonna feel like studying. Studying sucks. Reading’s fantastic; absorbing materials on a deadline is a pain in the ass. If you don’t feel like studying, buying nicer supplies or toting your laptop to Starbucks won’t make you feel any more disciplined. Simply recognize that it’s gonna be hard work and remember the goals that put you on this path of academia in the first place.

Solution: Commit to making notes for fifteen minutes. Just fifteen. Tell yourself you can do whatever you want after fifteen minutes – go shopping, get drunk, watch a movie – and put your phone in a drawer. Guarantee you that after the first fifteen minutes are up you won’t care to get up. And if after an hour of work you start feeling restless again, make the same “I can do whatever I want in fifteen minutes” deal. This has helped me with cleaning, exercise, dull freelance assignments, and everything in between.

5. Missing Out On Sleep

Student sleeping after studying for exam.
Get some rest. Your brain and your body will thank you. (Image via Pexels)

We live in a society that admires exhaustion. How tired you are is an indication of how hard working you are and the number of coffees you throw back is a sign that you’re busy and have shit to do. But sleep is unbelievably valuable, and like many simple solutions people just don’t want to hear, it solves A LOT of problems.

Mild anxiety about all the studying you have to do? An earsplitting headache? Hell, feeling nauseous? These are all possibly exam-related symptoms that can be addressed by getting eight hours of sleep or fitting in a quick cat nap.

Solution: If you do not usually get eight hours of sleep, you’re likely the kind of person who will go all the way down to no hours of sleep during exam season. So implement a habit of getting those full eight hours at the beginning of the exam season, instead of staying up to watch TV or go out. That way it’s a habit when things really start to pick up towards the middle and the end of exam season.

Tip: If you have trouble falling asleep, try avoiding all screens (yes, that includes your phone) a half hour to an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Make some chamomile tea to get calm and drowsy, and read a book, preferably one not related to your studies.

Here’s to a healthy and productive exam season!

To keep up with the latest articles and stories on student life, like our Facebook page or follow @todiscursive on Twitter & Instagram

Featured image via Pexels

 

How to Organize Your Shit Before You Lose Your Shit

By: Neya Abdi | @neyaabdi

When I was in high school there were times I’d look at the disaster I called my room and think, “I would rather set everything on fire and be forced to start from scratch than organize this mess”.

As a procrastinating student and bookworm there were loose papers, crumpled notes, and books everywhere. In the last few years, my collection of shit has been considerably reduced – I find throwing things out therapeutic – but I still struggle with keeping an organized space.

I know exactly where all my important day-to-day items are, like my keys and debit card and my non-everyday important items like my birth certificate and my passport. But challenge me to hang my clothes up when I get home, for five days in a row, and I’d fail even with my life on the line.

Keeping a somewhat neat space is something I’ve had to work extremely hard to do. But I’ve developed five key strategies that keep me (relatively) organized. You know…so that I don’t have to turn to arson.

1. Survey the Scene of the Crime and Make a Spot for Everything

As with most valuable life lessons such as “be nice to others” and “keep your hands to yourself”, the most important cleaning lesson I learned was in kindergarten.

“Everything in its place and a place for everything.”

For instance, deeming your desk “the space for only school related items” is the simplest, but most helpful step you can take towards gaining some semblance of order in your bedroom or apartment. Do this for every spot and category of belongings. And by the way, the classification “school-related items” does not extend to your keys, hat, and wallet. Keep it tight.

In fact, if your living space has reached an almost tragic level of disarray, this can be a great way to start actively tackling your mess without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do.

Sit cross-legged in the middle of the room with chips, chocolate, or whatever semi-legal substance makes this activity easier for you and start surveying your space. Mentally decide where everything will go. This way, when you start physically cleaning, you will think less about where everything should go and put things away in a semi-automated manner.

hiryp4ri9dply

2. Clear All Your Surfaces and Start Sorting

If your entire space is a catastrophe and you simply don’t know where to start, clear every surface and put everything on the floor.

If everything is already on the floor, you can skip right to the next step which is to start making obsessive piles. Clothes, school supplies (textbooks, crumpled syllabi), clothes, toiletries. Make general piles. Don’t worry about throwing things out or hanging anything up just yet. Make sure you desk, dresser, and bed are clear.

(Especially your bed. If you decide you’d rather die than continue cleaning, your bed will be there to help you make the less tragic choice and take a nap in between making piles.)

After this is done, grab a garbage bag and start thinning out the piles one by one. Don’t think about the next one until you have removed the unnecessary crap from one. Tackle the entire collection of piles in circuits, starting with only removing obvious garbage before moving on to making more difficult decisions. Seeing your progress with each rotation will help you gain momentum and feel encouraged.

Once they are all in manageable groups, put them in the assigned places you decided on earlier.

pumwcqkxvzkso

3. Put Up All Your Clothes with the Hangers Backwards

Most of us are unwilling to let things go: grudges, old souvenirs…clothes we’ll never wear again. When we try to purge our closets we convince ourselves that one day we’ll need that item and decide to keep it, and so on and so forth until the entire purging exercise becomes pointless.

Maybe what you need is a little verification that you will never ever return to that “Betty White Is My Homegirl” shirt you bought six years ago. Go to that pile of clothes you made earlier and hang them all up with the hangers backwards (whatever you consider “backwards” for a hanger). Each time you wear something, when you hang it back up, turn the hanger forwards. After six months, any clothes that are still on a backwards hanger go to people who really need them.

8qwdusaf6zey0

4. Clean At Night – Especially At The Beginning

You’ve likely heard people refer to the “harsh, cold light of day”. It is a hella accurate expression. Once you leave the flattering light of your bathroom and head out into the street, you get real verification of whether you’re looking fabulous that day. Natural light can be the best light, but it’s also the most brutally honest light and it’s unforgiving of flaws. So when you’re in the first hour of tackling your mess, don’t throw open the curtains or blinds.

This may sound counterintuitive, but natural light will make your pigsty of an apartment look ten times more hopeless. Every speck of dirt, crumb, or ball of hair will be exposed. You want to be able to see those things so you can tackle them, but not until later when you’ve already cleared the larger debris. While you’re organizing everything clean at night with the lights on and then once it’s time to do a deep clean get to dusting and polishing in the day when you’ve made enough progress to stay motivated.

qddsp3zjb1ymk

5. Make Your Bed, Make Your Bed, Make Your Bed

This one’s a cliché, but only because it’s so so so so necessary.

Making your bed gives you an instant sense of accomplishment and as the focal point of your bedroom – even if it’s not in the middle – it will determine the direction of your cleaning efforts by setting a standard. And if you’re cleaning at night you get the (almost) immediate satisfaction of falling into a beautifully made bed after your day of cleaning.

beouekkaz3bg8

To keep up with the latest articles and stories on organizing your life, like our Facebook page or follow @todiscursive on Twitter & Instagram

Featured image via Pexels

5 Strategies for Spending Less at Restaurants

The weekend is here, and of course your undomesticated self will probably be going out to eat. Unless you are an Instagram foodie with a bunch of exclusive free dinners, chances are your wallet is taking a hard hit from all those entrees. You won’t completely cut restaurants out of your social life, so let’s try a few strategies for saving money while you eat out, instead.

Pre-Eat

This is simple AF. I know you know what pre-drinking is. Now it’s time to pre-eat, my child. Everybody knows that the main allure of restaurants is:

1) convenience

2) the opportunity to Instagram something other than your face so your page looks like you go places

There’s no need to prepare anything fancy. In the same way you down cheap booze in an effort to spend as little as possible when you party, stuff yourself with something simple before you head out. When you get to the restaurant, you will order just enough to avoid being kicked out of the joint.

Order Appetizers

Appetizers are the best part of the menu and they are usually the yummiest. The best part? They’re the cheapest, and a lot of the time the serving sizes are more than enough to keep you happy. Take it one step further and commit to eating solely apps as a group. If you and your friends order several appetizers and commit to splitting the bill evenly, you will wind up with more variety for a fraction of the price. Bon appetit.

Do Some Chicken Math

I have a friend who worked with a girl who was relatively loaded. Anytime they went out her bill was the lowest in the group. If they were moving from one location to another, it could have been 11pm and this girl would walk rather than take a cab a few blocks, drunk as she may be. But perhaps my favourite anecdote about this co-worker was her astonishment at my friend’s purchase of a plate of chicken bites.

“You’re buying those chicken bites? They are $12. You are getting 6. Do you realize you are paying $2 for each chicken bite? This little thing? No.”

To this day, I refer to breaking down the cost of anything as chicken math. Forget unequal distribution of wealth. Chicken math is how the rich stay rich, people.

Fill Out Those Damn Receipt Surveys

You’ve finished your meal, the server hands you your debit receipt (grinning or glaring depending on the tip you left), and she tells you to visit the website on the bottom to fill out a survey for 15 percent off your next appetizer. What do you do? You smile, tell her you’ll totally do it, and then THROW THAT PIECE OF PAPER IN THE GARBAGE?

Quoi?! Listen, chances are you will probably be at that restaurant again. Tuck that receipt in your wallet and commit to completing that survey. The next time you go out and cringe at your grand total, you’ll be thankful for that 15 percent discount.

Stay Home and Cook

Lol. K.

An intro to rock climbing at Boulderz

“This guy’s frustrating me. Let’s do something fun.”

“Wanna go rock climbing?” suggested my best friend and roll dog, Brianna.

And so off we went to Boulderz Climbing Centre on Dupont, a short bus ride away from St. George station. When we got there we were greeted by enthusiastic climbers scaling the walls, the smell of feet, and a upbeat girl at the front desk named Ann who promptly directed us to fill out waivers essentially saying that should we maim ourselves at Boulderz it was on us.

“Have you guys ever been rock climbing before?” she asked.

We both shook our heads. “There’s gonna be some sort of tutorial, right?” I asked nervously, staring at one of the climbers who had just dropped to the padded ground.

“Yup! I’ll give you a beginner’s lesson once I get you guys some shoes.”

I was already starting to feel clingy. Ann would be the person that ensured we didn’t die. “Can I leave my phone with you?”

Once we squeezed into our rented shoes, Ann took us over to the beginner’s section where she pointed out the coloured markers that indicated the difficulty level of each rock. Bright yellow, which marked the easiest routes, would be our guide. Brianna and I warily eyed the tiny rocks labelled to show that they were for experienced climbers. The tutorial involved a quick demonstration of how to shift our hands and feet, and a warning to look out for experienced climbers coming down over the wall.

After she sent us off to hopefully not break our necks, I realized I’d left my phone on and asked Ann if I could quickly turn it off, so it didn’t disturb the front desk. She looked at me, deadpan, and said:

“Because you get a lot of calls, huh? So popular.”

We tentatively climbed three inches at different spots of the gym threading through obvious regulars climbing up and down, side to side – every which way that we wouldn’t be able to copy anytime soon. The “rocks” were extremely challenging to hold onto, even with the bag of chalk, and we were making more calluses than progress.

On the second level we found a kids area that did wonders for our ego. Perhaps a little too much for our egos because we ambitiously went back downstairs to tackle the difficult wall that had already daunted us, realized we were still in no position to overcome those, and slinked back to the kids section. As Ann warned, a climber who had managed to scale the wall from the level below leaped over Tarzan-style to where I was standing, effectively scaring the life out of me. Later, my eleven year old brother would tell me that this is how you flirt in rock climbing.

It was fun, but we had basically paid to be intimidated by a bunch of colourful walls. We would need to do what everyone in the twenty-first century does to justify a paid experience: before leaving we needed to post something on social media. I went to get my phone from the front desk, but since Ann was busy with a customer I had to ask someone else.

“Hi,” I said to the guy behind the counter. “I’d just like to grab my phone. I left it behind the counter. If you want to check, I spoke with Ann…”

He handed me my phone. “I was here when you gave it to her. Miss. Popular, right?”

I was never gonna live it down.

Featured image from Boulderz