Yoga for Stress Management?

First of all, some personal news: I just got a wonderful internship at butter LONDON makeup company based here in Seattle. Super pumped about that. Also, planning a super awesome trip to Europe in the summer. Also, I think I’ll die of stress very soon.

I have finally found something to do besides homework and driving back and forth between school and home. Yoga! Gosh, it has so many wonderful benefits that I simply couldn’t not share them with you guys. If you are prone to anxiety of stress, I think this could definitely be your solution! Yoga gives you both great exercise and a way to relax your body and mind, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. After two horribly stressful midterm weeks and a few nervous breakdowns, I decided that I need to get myself together and find an activity to get involved in. Having a minimal amount of money to spare for this stuff, I looked through Groupon for yoga deals in my area. The one I found was 10 classes for $40, as compared to $99 regular price. This was definitely a steal, so I bought it almost without thinking (as always) and headed for the studio.

If you are like me and are worried that you don’t know anything, chances are that you’re not the only one. Yoga is a very accommodating activity, which means that every excercise has variations suitable for your level of skills. Of course, at my first class I tried to do every pose and failed miserably. It must have been kind of funny to the instructor, but she was super sweet and even helped me get into the poses I wanted while everyone else was doing headstands and whatnot. Anyways, I am now on class #7 and have improved immensely. Here are some poses for inspiration:

If you are a stressed student or simply want to try out a couple classes, I’d recommend starting simple. Vinyasa is a flowy type yoga, where you switch poses very gracefully (I have yet to master this skill) and breathe in a special pattern. I also went to a Meditation class, which was a whole other level of experience – I’ve never felt so peaceful in my whole life. This one I’m definitely going back to. The instructor guided me and one other student throughout the entire class, but in such way that it wasn’t distracting. In a way, mediation is supposed to help you let go of all your thoughts and worries and just focus on one thing, like your breath. If you concentrate on how you breathe, you feel like you’re slowly flowing into deep, deep trans. As much as I’d like to say that I was totally enlightened, that didn’t happen. I think I still have 30-40 years to go. If you are looking for a more work-out type yoga, you can test out Power Yoga or Bikram and Hatha. Power yoga focuses on your muscles and core, and you hold a few difficult positions for some time. Bikram or Hatha yoga are types of hot yoga. These are made for you to sweat your worries away in a 104° F room. I usually get crazy light headed, but I think it’s because I don’t drink enough water before the practice.

Anyways, that’s my experience right there. I love having an activity, especially one that helps me feel less stressed and more relaxed, besides school. with only a 15-minute drive, I enjoy a whole hour of peace and some much needed exercise three times a week. If you have such an option – try it out. Yoga classes are often offered by independent studios and fitness centers. Check Groupon for some possible deals in your area. Do you do yoga? What’s your experience? What do you do besides school? Tell us in the comments below!

Also, thank you all for sending me such wonderful messages and questions! I promise I read through all of them and try my best to answer them :c It seems like Tumblr is working much, much better than this site, so I’ll see what I can do. Maybe transferring back will be a good idea. What do you all think?

FREE Note Organizer Template and Etsy Shop

Hiya!
It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything, and the reason for that is thousands of pages of homework, reading and life happenings. As a treat, I present to you all more planner templates and some Etsy news!

Sometime in December my genius boyfriend and I came up with some simple templates for DIY organizer type things. They’re not exactly planners, but can definitely be used for mapping out day-to-day activities, checklists and even some class specific things (see below). I’ve posted the weekly homework planning sheet in monochrome colors here.

NEW: Note Template for Language Class

Download it for FREE here: Language Planner Monochromo – PDF

Language planner

My little sister (Grade 7) and I both tested it for a few days and decided that the best use of this sheet would be either as a Study Guide template for tests or perhaps as a place to organize all notes at the end of the class. I am still a strong supporter of taking lots of messy notes in class, but at the end of the day when you review everything, this sheet could be a good place to organize everything you wrote down earlier. Put in a binder and you’ll have a nice collection for review! If you are looking for some more fun/colorful versions, it’s all in the Etsy Shop!

P.S. Use the coupon code STUDYFUN  before Friday, February 26th to receive 50% discount on these organizer friends!

P.P.S. We also have some updates on the sidebar – please welcome Karl from Studying Smart! Karl has a study blog as well, and it’s very impressive how much he has developed it in the last few weeks. Follow him and share the love!

How to Speed Read

These last couple of weeks have been homework-free for me. As much as I’d like to think that it’s because I did it all in advance, that’s not true. I’ve been slacking off quite a lot, and the 50-page articles that need to be read are finally catching up with me. After calculating how much time I need to read through everything carefully I realized it may be physically impossible after such a long break. So I figured now is the time to learn about some speed reading techniques and share them with you guys.

Speed reading: what is it and how is it learned?

I can’t how many times I’ve tried skimming through long texts, thinking I’m a pro at speed reading and not understanding why it’s so hard for others to learn. Well, it turned out I wasn’t speed reading at all – I was just looking through words without comprehending what they said, and in the end I didn’t remember anything. I’ll tell you right off the bat that speed reading is a science, and is not easily conquered. It takes knowledge of technique and lots, lots of practice. So there are a couple components to speed reading that need to be mastered: getting rid of sub-vocalization, reading in chunks and getting the big picture. These are the simplest terms I could come up with, but there are tons of articles that talk about it in more detail (see links at the end).

How to Speed Read
1. Getting the big picture

When starting to speed read the text, it’s important to know what the text is about. Spend a couple minutes looking and thinking about the title, some headings, keywords and perhaps footnotes. This will help you get the gist of the main idea and put things together when you start to speed read the text. Jotting down some notes when you get to an important idea is something to consider as well – remembering the material after speed reading it may be incredibly difficult.

2. Chunking

This is not the same as chunking to memorize things, but the general idea is the same – group words together to get through them faster. This also helps with not vocalizing them out loud, by the way, so these two things kind of help each other. If we read word by word and try to get the meaning of each one of them, we won’t get through the text even if we tried. But chunking those words into phrases and looking at the general idea works a bit better.

3. Sub-vocalization

When we read (and as you are reading now), we tend to pronounce every word in our head. Read this now, are you hearing your mind saying these words out loud? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. The deal with sub-vocalization is that it slows us down immensely, and more often than not doesn’t even help with comprehending the material. To get started of the righteous path to speed reading, we need to get rid of that little voice.
It’s important to remember, though, that you can’t speed read through every text. Some texts, like novels and poetry, are not made to be skimmed through. I found that this technique works wonderfully with scientific article – the headings and conclusions are pretty clear to find and understand, and they are all structured pretty much the same way so I know where to look for what I need.

Here are those articles about speed reading I promised earlier:

The Truth About Speed Reading – methods, do’s and don’t’s and some more tips

Scientific Speed Reading: How to read 300% faster in 20 minutes – a great, very detailed guide with techniques and tips

What Speed Do You Read? – some help from Staples!

Speed Reading: Learning to Read More Efficiently – MindTools puts everything together in one place, I read this guide

You Can’t Speed Read Literature – another view on speed reading

Spritz – a wonderful app that breaks down articles word by word for speed reading

Accelerated Speed Reading Trainer – available for both iOS and Android, yay!

Read Quick – Speed Reading for iOS – okay, I love this one.

How do you get through long texts? What do you do to read faster? Share below!

Organizing with an Expandable Folder

A few days ago I received a question from a fellow student about organizing folders. I’ve been having that same problem for a long time now – with getting organized and keeping things in one place. So today I went out and purchased a simple expandable folder (see below) with 7 pockets. Right now I only have three classes, so that will give me a bit more freedom with filing handouts and homework to turn in.

I’m sure most of you have seen the folder I’m talking about:

Expandable Folder
So I am using two pockets for each class: one of all papers and another for homework that needs to be turned in. This system may go aloof in a little bit, but in a perfect world that’s how I would go about it. This quarter I got a small notepad for taking notes and will talk about it in the next post. So those fit perfectly into my new 7-pocket folder as well as all the other papers. Because the folder can expand to humongous widths, it gives me freedom to stuff as many materials and books in there as I wish. So I think I’ll stick with this friend for a while now :)

Expandable Folder 2

 

How do you guys organized all your homework papers and assignments? Share in the comments!

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Retaking Classes

I have a confession to make: I had to retake the easiest class in my college curriculum last quarter. It was embarrassing to talk about – most people consider the class a joke. I felt terrible about my parents paying extra when I could be taking a more important class. And the worst part was explaining to other students why a Psych major has to retake a first requirement.

The truth is, I’m happy I took the class again. It raised my grade from 3.0 to a 3.8 and improved my overall Psych GPA to the point where I could safely apply and know I could be accepted. I don’t want to blame the first professor entirely…but I want to blame the first professor at least a little. As hard and I tried to study and memorize for that class, it wasn’t enough to receive my desired grade. The guy didn’t adjust the mean grade, which ended up being 2.2 on a 4.0 scale! In my opinion, this is unacceptable for a beginning Psychology class. To make things worse, there’s no way to file a complaint..

Enough rambling now, let’s talk about the do’s and don’t’s of retaking those fun fun classes!

The Don’t’s

  • When retaking any class, easy or difficult, don’t take it as a joke. It’s easy to think that you’ve learned the material before, but remember that the reason you’re retaking the class is because you didn’t learn the material well enough or correctly.
  • Don’t use your old notes and study guides. It’s possible you missed something in your studying last time, so it may not be a good idea to use the same materials.
  • Don’t miss any information. Listen carefully to the lecture and soak it all in.
  • Don’t feel bad about it. Don’t put yourself down because of a minor set back like this, don’t get distracted.

The Do’s

  • Adjust your study habits, take better notes, and use all the resources you’re provided with. Clearly something went wrong last time so changing up your strategies may be a game changer.
  • Make friends in the classes. Connections, connections, connections. Form study groups and ask for help all the time.
  • Try hard. It would be a bummer if by the end of the quarter the grade could be improved and you’d realize that you could have worked harder.
  • Do what you gotta do and everything will be okay!

Good luck in classes!

Decluttering For The New Quarter

My oh my has my desk suffered through a lot this year! I’ve been trying to come up with a nice little system to keep things in their places for a while now, and now the opportunity has come! As part of these Christmas/New Year’s gifts, my favorite person ever built me an organizer to keep all my papers, pens, sticky notes, and other office supplies. It has a very nice rustic look, which I love, and comes with a variety of pockets and dividers for all sorts of things. I’ve placed it near the corner of my desk so it wouldn’t cover anything, and am very happy with how things are looking here.

before and after

If you are looking for a nice excuse to reorganize a desk – look no more! I definitely recommend getting one of these super duper awesome organizers. They are sold in our regular office supply stores like Staples, Office Depot and Target for sure. If you’d like to get a more artistic, handmade or vintage look, here are my favorites:

Show me how you organize your desk on Twitter or Tumblr

Before our Classes Begin: A Checklist

A quick checklist to prepare for the upcoming semester.

Pens

1. Office supplies.

The most important step of all (probably not, but why can’t it be?). Go out and get yourself some cute stationery! Journals, pens, pencils, highlighters, extra paper, sticky notes, etc.

2. A planner.

IMG_8494
I don’t know about you, but a few weeks into any quarter I stop using my planner completely. I feel confident enough in my memory, despite the numerous times I’ve forgotten to turn in assignments. A new year is the best! time to go out and get a new planner. Some posts: Free printable weekly to-do templateplanners online, filofax love, chronodex planner, bullet journal.

3. Check the classes
Make sure to take a look at the class websites and read the syllabi (syllabuses? that sounds weird). Take a look at the textbooks and see if there are any assignments that need to be completed prior to the first day. See some reviews on ratemyprofessors.com, get an idea of what to expect from a class.

4. Have some note-taking options

Note Taking Methods
This is my favorite part of all. Lately I’ve been using my iPad to take notes. I must say I’m very pleased with how it turned out, although you definitely can’t do this for every class. There is no need to decide on a note-taking method right away – it would make sense to attend the first one or two classes to get the feel for the way it’s taught. However, once you do decide on a method, try to stick to it. There is nothing worse than having to figure out disorganized notes on the night before an exam.

Good luck to everyone in this coming quarter!

The stars in the spotlight this week:

Mostly Morgan
Nitty-Gritty English
By Hannah Joy
Keistuolis