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Steps to shake off the winter blues toward healthier habits

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Blog Post, Events | Comments Off on Steps to shake off the winter blues toward healthier habits

Steps to shake off the winter blues toward healthier habits

By Melody Kang, 2nd-year Life Sciences student It’s still cold outside, you miss your family, you just had a fight with your friend, and academics are piling up just like the pile of laundry you haven’t done in three weeks. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the winter blues are a real phase for many, especially students who have numerous things on their plate, all of which could increase stress levels. This can have a negative impact on your school work by reducing concentration, motivation, and energy. However, fortunately, this blog post will be the first step to lifting your spirits, getting back on track, towards a successful semester. Step One. Look Back. Why are you feeling stressed? Perhaps you’ve been sleeping later than usual. Maybe you haven’t been eating as healthy as you used to. Have you been procrastinating projects and essays that are now all due on the same day? Recognize these bad habits as they are, and admit to yourself that this is where things can change. Step Two. Make a Change. If procrastination is your devil, here is a detailed weekly schedule with specific steps you can start to improve your time management. If you’ve been sleeping later than usual, try cutting electronics right before bed. The blue light radiating from your phone or computer screen will lengthen the time your brain needs to produce melatonin, which is what tells our body it is time to sleep. In other words, it takes longer to switch from alertness to relaxation. If you regularly drink that large americano with an extra shot in the late afternoon, consider switching to decaf or tea. If you’ve been feeling more down than usual, rethink your diet. When you’re in line at the cafeteria, consider leafy greens high in folic acid, such as spinach or broccoli, over that grilled cheese sandwich. Neglecting important nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin B has been linked to depression, tiredness, and insomnia. If you’ve had enough motivation to go to the library but catch yourself being constantly distracted – follow the 50-10 rule. Study, do your readings, review course material for 50 minutes, but then take a well-deserved 10 minute break. Your brain isn’t meant to be in high focus for hours – no matter how much you want it to be. The 50-10 rule will help you combat the lack of concentration. Another way to increase focus is to get unplugged while you study! Constant messages on your phone or Facebook notifications disrupt your concentration even if you do not reply to them. Step Three. Reward yourself. After that change is made, it’s important to recognize the changes you’ve made, and to give yourself credit. Habit is a hard thing to shake off, and the fact that you have is an incredible thing. Now go and conquer! Photo courtesy of Carlos Andres Reyes under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Where am I getting off track?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on Where am I getting off track?

Where am I getting off track?

By Bryn Berry, 4th-year Commerce student   For some tips and resources based on your result, read on! Managing distractions Many students find that one major challenge they face is the ability to recognize and control distractions. Distractions come in many forms – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a few obvious examples, but your roommate, housemate or even your cat are also potentially very distracting. The reason distractions are so important is because they kill your productivity. Even if you have the best intentions and some fantastic strategies for how to approach your schoolwork, distractions have the potential to derail you. Here are a few of our favourite distraction-related tips: Distraction pad. The concept of a distraction pad is simple: it is a piece of paper or a notebook where you can record all those pesky thoughts or to-dos that pop in to your head at the most inconvenient of times. Often, when we try to focus, our brain reminds us of that thing we have to do that it is trying so desperately not to forget, and that thing takes up space in our brains. Write it down so you can have a clear mind, knowing you won’t forget. Study space. Are you doing your work in an effective study space? If you know your housemates are a particular source of distraction for you, for example, then studying in your kitchen is not advisable. Consider quieter locations on campus. Note that for some people, the library environment may actually be more distracting because you end up looking around at what others are doing. Actively take note of how often and why you are getting distracted and look for a space that fits your needs. Phone out of sight (or on airplane mode). This is one of the simplest ways to minimize distractions. Some people put their phones in a different room, in a drawer, or on airplane mode. Feel free to retrieve it for your ten-minute break after fifty minutes of studying, but other than that, it needn’t be next to you while you study. For more tips and resources on managing distractions, visit Improving Your Concentration. Time management As a student, you’re likely very, very busy. This is absolutely normal, but it can be highly stressful when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Time management is the practice of allocating your time effectively to the activities that matter most. Usually, it involves predicting where you will need to spend your time and making a plan to follow. If you’re struggling with time management, consider the following tips: Weekly schedule. Making a weekly schedule may seem like a daunting task, but it is really quite simple and valuable. Use our template or a similar set up in Excel or your favourite calendar app. Start by inputting your fixed commitments, like class and varsity team practices. Next, add time for your health, as this should not be negotiable! Third, estimate the number of hours you will need for homework for each class and find time in your schedule for this. (Hint: for arts students, we usually say that you’ll need 2 hours of homework time for every 1 hour of class you have.) Lastly, build in time for fun and any spillover tasks you don’t...

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Five ways to stop school from controlling your wellbeing

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on Five ways to stop school from controlling your wellbeing

Five ways to stop school from controlling your wellbeing

By Shannon Hogan, 2nd-year History/French student It’s almost halfway through the semester (yikes!), and you still have a pile of readings, at least another 15 hours of class this week, and countless reports and midterms to write in the next 7 weeks…and that’s all before going to your club meetings, working, maintaining your social life, and fulfilling basic biological needs. Cha Gheill, am I right?! It’s okay to feel like you can’t handle it all. Almost every undergraduate student has had a moment (or twelve) where they feel like their academic workload is impossible, but you CAN get through it––and very successfully, too. Here are some strategies to get you started, organized by common stressors: If you need focus, eliminate distractions: Try sitting close to the front of lectures and keeping your tech OFF and AWAY whenever you’re studying…you can Snap back after class! If you absolutely need to work on your laptop, install an app like SelfControl (for Mac) or SelfRestraint (for PC) that will block you from certain websites (*coughs* FACEBOOK) for a designated amount of time. If you feel like you have no time, plan ahead: Realistically map out the rest of the semester using the term-end calendar. This tool will give you an at-a-glance view of your remaining work and allow you to designate times to get it done in your more immediate calendar (i.e. daily or weekly). If you have an end-heavy semester, make use of your reading week: Use a 9-5 workday to plough through readings, and designate any time you would normally be in class to writing assignments. If you need motivation, find it externally: Start a study group(…chat) with motivated students in your courses. Clarify course content and assignments, prep for midterms together, and share missing lecture notes. If the cons are outweighing the pros, keep your eyes on the prize: Think about how your studies will help you reach your short- and long-term goals to remind yourself that your hard work is WORTH IT. If the thought of changing your current habits is daunting, incorporate new tactics slowly, adding smaller ones over the course of a couple lectures and bigger ones over the course of a few weeks. If that doesn’t work for you, buddy up with another student who also wants to improve their habits so that you’re accountable to one another. If all else fails, remember to take things day by day and talk your stress out (thanks in advance for listening, Mom) to keep things in perspective. School can get the best of all of us sometimes, but you WILL get through it! For more information on time management, motivation, and stress control, visit our online resources. Hard drive photo courtesy of Dennis Wong under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Simple ways to improve your memory

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on Simple ways to improve your memory

Simple ways to improve your memory

By Sunny Zheng, 2nd-year Life Sciences student While studying, do you ever feel like there is just way too much to remember? Are you forgetting things you just learned? Want to give up and throw it all away? I’ve certainly felt like this before. It is very overwhelming when professors bombard you with lists of equations, vocabulary, or numbers and expect you to remember it all. Memorization takes a lot of effort, so this year I’ve started using new strategies to help make the process easier. Here are some methods that I have found very effective, and I’ll include the cool science behind it all. Review regularly One of the best ways to drill material into your brain would be to review regularly. The Curve of Forgetting is a graph showing how well we retain the information we learn. The second day after a lecture, if you do not look at your notes again, you will forget 50-80% of the material. If you wait 30 days to pick up the lesson again, you will only retain 2-3% of what you have learned. However, if you review for just 10 minutes within 24 hours of the lecture, you will be able to refresh your memory and raise that curve up to 100% again! By increasing the number of times you are exposed to the material, your brain starts to realize that this information is important and will hold onto it for safe keeping. Setting aside some time each weekend to review is a great strategy for knowledge retention. I tried this last semester and it really helped me become better prepared for exams! Photo credits: Counselling Services at University of Waterloo (https://uwaterloo.ca/counselling-services/curve-forgetting) From short to long Learning is all about transferring information from your short term memory to your long term memory. There are three ways to do this: acoustically, visually, and semantically. I like to use all three methods when studying. First, I try to understand and think about the meaning of the material. This helps with semantic encoding. Experiments have shown that subjects who think about the definitions of a list of words remember them better compared to subjects who only think about the sounds/appearances of those words. However, thinking about those sounds and appearances (acoustic and visual encoding) would help with the learning process too. Thus, for extra reinforcement of class material, I like to read notes out loud and make mind maps. If you like learning visually, but mind maps aren’t your thing, try some of our other graphic organizers. Cheats for cramming Sometimes, you are just tight on time and need some quick ways to remember what you learned. For those situations, you could try these following “cheats” that I like to use. Record your voice reading out the material and replay it before bedtime until you fall asleep. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you remember will be whatever was on the recording. Use a Pegging System. This involves taking new information and connecting it to information you are familiar with. Write what you have to memorize onto sticky notes and stick them on things you’ll often use (e.g. fridge, bathroom mirror, wall above the toilet paper…etc.). Every time you use those things, read over the sticky note to review....

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How to deal with midterms when you least expect them

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on How to deal with midterms when you least expect them

How to deal with midterms when you least expect them

By Sophie Lachapelle, 2nd-year Health Studies student “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe If anyone knew about preparation, it was Arthur Ashe. The Virginia-born athlete began playing tennis in 1950, when he was seven years old. After hours of training and winning many minor competitions, Arthur went on to win three Grand Slam titles and earned the number one male tennis ranking in the world in 1975. Okay, I know that it’s only Week 4 in the semester, and you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you about Arthur Ashe. Well, here it is: midterms will be here before you know it. Like Arthur Ashe said, the more you prepare for midterms (or anything for that matter!), the less stress and anxiety you will feel. Let’s get started! First, try a bit of review. Look back on the notes you have taken so far – if you were to see that physics equation on a midterm would you be able to solve it? What about that biological process? Do you know the sequence of steps to get to the end result? Test yourself to see what you know and on what topics you need clarification. Next, ask your professors and TAs to explain the concepts with which you’re having trouble. They are there to help your studies, not hinder them! Once you’ve identified what topics you need to focus more of your time on, you can form a study plan! The weekly schedule and term calendar templates are a great place to start. If you start planning early, you can break up your studying into smaller chunks over the course of many days. The repetitive review of information, combined with memory consolidation during sleep, will result in far better recollection during a midterm then cramming the night before. I know that it is hard to balance regular course work on top of studying for midterms and though I do not recommend planning to cram for anything, here are some tips just in case. If you are finding it difficult to squeeze studying into your already incredibly full schedule, use the time in between classes to review your economics notes; review your English readings for the week on Sunday night; quickly go over today’s tricky anatomy lesson before bed; read your art history cue cards on the bus; listen to recordings of your politics notes on your way to class. The possibilities are endless! Remember, Arthur Ashe didn’t win his three Grand Slam titles in his first three tennis matches. Great athletic skill is not obtained overnight, and neither are desirable midterm grades. Be confident in the work you have dedicated to preparing for your classes, and good luck with your midterm evaluations! If you would like more information on this topic, or any others, you can find it under the Online Resources tab! Photo from SportsUp365.      ...

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Staying afloat in a sea of readings

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on Staying afloat in a sea of readings

Staying afloat in a sea of readings

By Nicky Christensen, 4th year con ed student It’s week three and for some of us that means we are already three weeks behind in our readings. Or maybe you have tried to keep up but have found that it is all just too much. One of the biggest obstacles I have faced is keeping up with readings, especially when taking seminar style classes. Without a strategy, the hundreds of pages of readings a week can seem like an impossible task. So if you realize you wasted too much time watching Netflix and aren’t able to do all the assigned readings or if you feel overwhelmed in general, these tips might be for you! Start early The best way to avoid miserably doing all your reading the night before your class is to plan early! Sit down and take a look at your schedule for the week. Pick out times for the week that you can do the readings in. Go through your courses and plan time specifically for each class and each reading. Chart these plans into your agenda or weekly schedule. Read faster Training yourself to read at a faster rate is possible. Though I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to finish a book as fast as The Flash, there are ways to make your readings a bit less time consuming. Make sure you are in the right environment, with good lighting and seating, and prevent any distractions by telling your housemates that you’re working or by turning off your cellphone and laptop. Use all of your focus when you are reading. Though it’s tempting, don’t look at your phone or open Facebook on your computer until you are ready to fully take a break. Ideally, you should try working for 50 minutes and breaking for 10 until you finish the task. When you are in a productive environment, you can increase your reading speed further by using a pacer. This is an object like a pen or your finger to guide your eye along with the words. Your eye will remain fixed on where you are in the text, allowing you to process the words more efficiently. You can also try using your peripheral vision to read several words at a time, rather than word-by-word. If you tend to mouth words as you read, you might consider stopping that habit, too, since it can slow you down! Take smart notes When you are taking notes on long readings, make sure you don’t write down everything. Take only the important information from the text. Always consider what you think the professor wants you to get out of the reading. Try to make notes that will help you later. Think about what you will use later in the course and write that down. Your notes on a reading should place it within the broader scale of your course material. Dividing up note taking for readings with a trustworthy friend in the course can also help to save you time. We recommend an active reading strategy known as SQ4R that can help you with this method. Effective skimming Sometimes there is just too much to read to effectively look at all the material. When you skim you should extract what is important from the work, without having to read...

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The balancing act: 5 ways to stay on track

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The balancing act: 5 ways to stay on track

The balancing act: 5 ways to stay on track

By Kaija Kaarid, 2nd-year Life Sciences student Just two weeks back from winter break and things are definitely in full swing! With school and extracurricular activities keeping me busy, it feels like I don’t have time for fun or exercise (and I’m trying not to break my new year’s resolutions!). I have midterms starting in week four, a life-guarding competition at the end of the month and so much else on my plate. How am I going to balance everything in my life so that I can stay happy and healthy? Can you relate? Feeling overwhelmed too? Here are 5 tips to help us stay on track! 1. Make yourself a weekly schedule! Before using this tool, I always felt like I was running out of time. The weekly schedule accounts for all of the hours in your week and shows you just how much time you really have. You can use this to plan out all of the aspects of your life. I put my classes and commitments in first, followed by schoolwork, workouts and social time! 2. Try out the 9-5 rule. Treat weekdays like work days! If it works with your schedule, get into a regular routine of starting work at 9am and working until 5pm. That way you can schedule workouts and social time for after 5pm and not feel guilty about it. You will know that you’ve done your work for the day. 3. Everything in moderation. Don’t overwork yourself. I absolutely love volunteering and doing extracurricular activities but be careful not to take on too much. Adjust your workload if you need to. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with breaks and rewards either. A good way to keep track of this is by using the 50:10 rule (50 minutes of work followed by a 10 minute break) or the 9-5 rule as mentioned above. Also, try turning off your electronics while working, it can be easy to fall down the digital rabbit hole! 4. Seek help if you need it. If you begin to feel overwhelmed and overworked, talk to your support system. University can be a lot to handle and we all get stressed. When I’m stressed, talking to my friends and family really helps me get through it. They’re always encouraging and level-headed (even when I’m not). Also, Queen’s has so many resources available to us, don’t hesitate to seek them out. 5. Stay positive! Start your days with a positive attitude and try to make the best of each day. When things don’t go as planned, I find that putting things into perspective and being grateful for what has gone well really helps to keep me on track. Practicing positive self-talk (being encouraging to yourself either aloud or mentally) can help combat stress as well! I know that there’s lots to do and life can get busy but using these tips can help you balance it all! Good luck! For other strategies and resources check out Learning Strategies Online Resources. Photo courtesy of Procsilas Moscas under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Lessons learned: How looking back can help you get ahead

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on Lessons learned: How looking back can help you get ahead

Lessons learned: How looking back can help you get ahead

By Parker Nann, 2nd-year Commerce student I love winter break. My birthday occurs over winter break, I get to see my family and friends from home over winter break, and I can relax in peaceful bliss knowing that school is safely four and a half thousand kilometers away (I live in Vancouver). So when I walked out of my last exam of 2015 I was ready for anything that was specifically NOT exam related. I chose to sleep a lot, eat a lot, and exercise far too little in proportion to my caloric intake. I mean, it’s the holidays. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend our entire semester on winter break? I would enroll at that university. However, our beloved campus looks a little snowier, feels a little colder, and seems a little more… 2016-ish? , and we can no longer deny that we are all in for another challenging semester. While on break, I managed to NOT think about school and NOT think about exams quite successfully. Whatever mistakes, regrets, or ‘wish I had done’ moments from my fall term were left behind, forgotten in a trail of turkey gravy and eggnog. While this ‘forget the past focus on the future’ mentality prevents us from getting bogged down in past mistakes, and is therefore useful for busy times of the year, reflection is crucially important for learning and improvement. That’s why I suggest using the first two weeks of classes (generally the quieter times of the semester) to look back on the previous term to identify some habits, tricks, and strategies that you think were helpful or harmful to your studies in 2015. In no way am I suggesting for you to relive the anxiety of exams (that’s really quite mean), but I do suggest that you take the time, while you still have it, to thoroughly examine your experiences from last term and commit to keeping or changing some things for 2016. You can call these ‘After New Year’s- New Year’s Resolutions’. Anything, including diet, sleep, exercise, favourite study spots, your biggest procrastination vices, and so on are fair game for you to reflect upon as these all contribute towards your academic success in their own ways. Here’s an example of what I came up with. During fall semester, I had trouble getting work started. Once I was actually in the flow of things, I could stay concentrated for a while, but a mix of YouTube videos, distracting thoughts, and Facebook messages prevented me from ever getting started in the first place. Now that I am looking back on my semester, I can see a pattern of me sitting in my room with my laptop open, and my phone within reach whenever I had trouble getting work started. I had not noticed this recurring pattern before, as I never had the time to properly reflect on my habits during the term. However, this reflection leads me to my ‘After New Year’s- New Year’s Resolution #1’: Whenever I need to get things done, I will put my phone on silent, and in a drawer across the room so that it takes effort to retrieve it. I will turn off the WiFi on my laptop or keep a pad of paper beside my desk to write down...

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New year, new me (?): Setting SMART goals

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Blog Post, Featured | Comments Off on New year, new me (?): Setting SMART goals

New year, new me (?): Setting SMART goals

By Sarah-Louise Ruder, 3rd-year Environmental Science and Philosophy student  I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, because honestly I find it hard to keep myself accountable for bettering myself in one way over 365 days. I’ve tried fitness goals which flop by February and vague ideas like being happier, but as the months go by and deadlines for other things creep up I seem to loose sight of them. Though I agree that the new year is a great opportunity to self-reflect, I prefer to take advantage of the new term to set some goals for myself–academic and otherwise. Learning Strategies has some guidelines for setting and accomplishing SMART goals. By making sure that our goals are SMART, not only are we more likely to meet them, but they can also be much more effective at bringing us good things! Let’s work through this. 1. Make sure that your goals are Specific. First, we need to pick the topic of the goal—let’s say academic. However, we would advise against setting goals like “doing well in school” because it is much more difficult to stay on track, and much less effective. For instance, one of my goals is to aim to maintain, or exceed, my average in each of my courses this term. Although I know this is going to take some time and energy devoted to each of my courses, setting a specific target gives me something concrete to work towards, and I‘ll have a better sense at the end of whether or not I attain it. 2. You can tell whether or not you accomplish your goals when they are Measurable. Being able to tell whether or not the goal is accomplished is an important part of goal setting! I find it easiest to set goals when I envision what I would where I would like to be, but also when I have some sort of metric for which to measure the objective. This is easiest to see with quantifiable goals, such as only spending 10$ per week on campus coffee, or limiting Netflix time on weeknights. However, we can also measure the accomplishment in other ways, such as setting a total number of gym hours you want to log over the term and working toward the goal, or measuring a particular academic accomplishment with marks. 3. The best goals are Action-oriented. Next, we need to make the distinction of goal orientation. I find this is easiest to illustrate with stress management or fitness, but it is also applicable to all aspects of our lives. Rather than saying “I want to be less stressed out this term,” align your objective with the actions which will get you there, for instance, “I am going to sleep at least 7 hours on weeknights, exercise at least twice a week, and have dinner with my housemates every Sunday” (if those are things that will make you less stresses). The key is to integrate the plan for accomplishing the goal within the goal itself. 4. Goals are much more achievable when they are Realistic. Though I would encourage you to always shoot for the moon, setting goals is much more effective when we ensure that they are realistic. I try to dream big, but plan to succeed—so I need to pick...

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Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Featured | Comments Off on Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

It’s time for a fresh start! You can make your Learning Strategies appointment(s) for the winter term using our online appointment booking system: https://queensu.mywconline.com/ To book your appointment: Click on an open (WHITE) appointment time to open the Reservation window. Select a date, timeslot, and consultant. NOTE: Available appointment timeslots are WHITE. RED indicates a timeslot is already taken, and BLACK indicates that appointments are not available during that time. A GREY timeslot indicates an appointment that has already occurred. To cancel your appointment: Appointments must be cancelled 24 hours in advance. Select your appointment time to open the reservation window. Scroll to the bottom and locate the check box labeled “Cancel this Appointment.” Click the “modify” button. Your appointment is now cancelled. Note that the system will not allow you to cancel if you fall outside of the 24 hours’ notice period. Failing to provide 24 hours’ notice will result in a $25 fine and limit your access to future appointments until the fine has been paid. WAITING LIST: To be notified of openings in the schedule, click on the small Clock Icon next to the date for which you’d like an appointment. You’ll receive automatic notifications when appointments become available. APPOINTMENTS FOR DISTANCE STUDENTS: If you are a distance student and would like to book a telephone appointment, please call our front desk at 613-533-6315. Please do not book a telephone appointment using the online booking system. If you have questions about the online booking system, please click here for answers to frequently asked questions. Need help or have additional questions? Call 613-533-6315 or visit our front desk on the ground floor of Stauffer...

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