Hello UofT! My name is Charles, and I’m the student blogger for the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (or the “CTSI”, to save a mouthful). That means I’ll be mostly blogging about things that relate to my experiences with student-faculty engagement, both inside and outside the classroom. But we can talk more about that later. Let’s start with a proper introduction. This is me:
Some things about me: I am a nerd about many things. Thankfully, I’ve managed to “focus” my nerdery down to degree interests in philosophy, psychology, and bioethics. This is my fifth and final year here at UofT, and it’s starting off a little different than the rest: this is the first year where I’ve taken the summer off from studies. By the end of my fourth year, I had spent nearly forty-five consecutive months in school. I deserved a break, and I enjoyed it. But summer’s gone, and now I must deal with something entirely new: learning how to get back into the swing of things.
Whether from summer vacation or from life events, I think everyone faces a moment where they’ve fallen out of step and need help to get back to their studious peak. But, how do we go about doing that?
Others will tell you it’s all about time management. About getting time to sleep and time to relax. It’s about visiting your professor’s office hours, and getting help at the math aid centres or the many writing clinics. And absolutely those are things that you should be doing. But, maybe you want to try something a little… different.
In the past few years, I’ve collected a few weird “brain hacks” to help me stay productive and get the most out of my studies. These aren’t just habits I picked off the street: they’re supported by science. I’ll even link to some articles; that way, if anyone asks why you’re biting the pen they just loaned you, you can confidently say: “Science told me to“. (Just don’t blame me). Here are some of the “hacks” I use:
Go Green. Get yourself a cactus or another easy plant: keeping a plant near your workspace can boost your creativity and your health. Can’t afford a plant? Buy a green pen! The colour green in general might help you relax and be more creative. Hanging around abstract art also works.
Bite, Pull, and Cross. Have trouble paying attention in class? Tug on your desk. It tricks your brain into thinking you’re engaged, and helps you relax and pay attention! If that doesn’t work, try crossing your arms. Still stuck? Try sticking the end (not the tip!) of your pen in your mouth to make you feel relaxed and happier.
Lay down. While studies show sleep frequently helps with problem solving, those of you too lazy to even sleep might like to know that just physically lying down can help boost your problem solving skills.
Study with Strangers. If you’re having trouble breaking through a tough problem, try bringing somebody new into the mix. Studies suggest that switching up members of a group makes the whole group more creative.
Just Get Started. Finally, if you’re a procrastinator like me, it may help to know that just getting started a little bit on that assignment (even for one minute!) can help with your motivation to complete it. Science.
Have any tips of your own? Share them with everyone in the comments below. I know I could use the help!