Don’t worry, be app-y

I often find that I have the need to be on the grid to be able to keep up with the fast paced student lifestyle. Getting a smartphone was a complete game-changer because it allowed me to be productive while on the go. Over the last few years, I’ve grown attached to a few applications, which make my life as a student SO. MUCH. EASIER.

Some of these do use Internet, so they might not be as accessible for an authentic “on-the-go” experience. But they’ve still been really useful to have because I can complete some of the tasks I need to do, without actually having to physically be at a computer!

So without further ado, here are some of my favourite student-friendly smartphone apps:

1) TTC Bus Map (And other related TTC Apps)

Screenshot of phone screen showing map with red indicator of 510 Spadina streetcar

For commuters who take buses or streetcars on the TTC, this app is a godsend. It has a real time map of where all the buses or streetcars on any given route are located. This app specifically is for iOS devices, but there are dozen of other TTC apps with similar functions that are available for both Android and iOS.

2) Adobe Reader

Phone screenshot of Adobe Reader App "add note" function. Note reads "I can add notes!"I love this app for those days when I forget to print out my lecture slides and I’m too lazy to bring my computer to school. If you go to your phone browser and open .pdf files with the app, then you can highlight, add text, underline, draw and even add notes to the file!

3) Google Drive

Phone screenshot of Google Drive App "add to my drive" page.

I only recently found out about the Google Drive app but it’s been so helpful, especially for some of the student groups I’ve been involved in! It’s great to be able to pull up files while on the go, and if you download the corresponding Google Docs/Sheets apps, then you can even edit files!

4) Any Calendar App

Phone screenshot of iOS calendar app. Reminder reading "Library time"

My calendar app of choice is the default one that’s on my phone and it is my number one organizational tool. My entire schedule is at my fingertips so I’m constantly aware of deadlines. I once thought it was a Wednesday (it was Thursday) and I didn’t finish my Thursday blog post, so yeah, calendars are my best friend.

5) Urbanspoon

Phone screenshot of Urbanspoon App homepage. It shows options for search, reserve table and hottest in Toronto.

You had to have known this was coming. I love food, and having Urbanspoon lets me look for different varieties of food at different price ranges in whatever area of the city I happen to be in. GOD BLESS.

Maybe one day, humanity is doomed because technology will turn on us and the robot uprising will wipe us out completely. But until that day, I will still trust my smartphone to be a fairly reliable companion in my life.  So remember all: be app-y.

Cycles of Change

November has arrived and fall is in full swing.  For me, everything seems to have changed all at once. Over the weekend after my latest midterm, I got back into my housekeeping and admin routine. Though my tasks were fairly straightforward, things just seemed different. It’s hard to describe.

Looking up at the main Victoria College building, towards the dark green coverings on the scaffolding. The building seems to be undergoing some lengthy renovations

Everything needs change every now and then (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I felt new energy starting to lift me into the new month. Even little things were ready for change like my decision to clear out some of the year-old sticky-note reminders I had left myself about lists of CDs to buy (yes I still buy CDs) and miscellaneous ideas for cheesecake baking.

Two shelves full of CD cases, with everything from Jeff Beck to Van Halen, in alphabetical order of course.

I think I’ve listened to these ones about 1000 times each… (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Rarely does the shift into a new month or season feel so abrupt in university as the days and weeks often blend together amidst the midterm madness. I’ve been trying to figure out where this new energy is coming from or more importantly where it’s leading me. After reflecting on the semester so far, I quickly realized that this rejuvenating feeling is definitely no accident. I’m simply completing a cycle, and launching into the next one.

I think it’s important to recognize the cycles we experience in life. For most U of T students, I think the cycle may look like this: Wake up, eat, studystudytstudystudy, sleep, repeat. Hmmmm. That doesn’t seem very healthy does it? Read my earlier posts about balancing and time management if you want to break this cycle.

Cycles are larger in scope than we realize. I’m not sure what’s all in the cycles of university life but I can tell you that to complete your cycle, you really need some social time. September and October have been very social for me and I think the positivity of nurturing relationships with friends has really contributed to the momentum I’m feeling.

For Thanksgiving, a friend was very kind and invited me to Mississauga to have lunch with their family and friends. What a grand feast! And I have to add that it’s well worth it to hop on the Go Train and get out of downtown if you’re stuck down there like I am. I made sure to soak in some refreshing new sights and spent some time exploring some of the peaceful neighbourhoods in Port Credit too. Good for the mind.

Halloween was also a brilliant final piece to finish off October. Me and a big group of friends all dressed up and headed to the Hart House of Horrors Halloween event.  Rest assured, we were terrifying.  Let’s just say that every Halloween from now on, U of T students will remember the fear that overtook them when the lord of the night, Count Zachula, first appeared from the shadows…

A selfie of me nad my terrifying fake vampire fangs.

Count Zachula strikes! With a selfie… (Photo by Zachary Biech)

The Debate Room in Hart House, only lit with a faint red glow, with many strange clown creatures lurking in the shadows

Some of the rooms in Hart House were turned into a freaky carnival, complete with the clown monsters (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A large clown mannequin, with a particularly snarly smile

This is my friend Fred, we met at the Hart House of Horrors. When I asked him to show me around, all he did was shrug and glare at me with murderous intent… (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A small archaic looking switchbox sitting next to a monstrous fellow in a straight-jacket and hooked to a starnge machine, with a sign that reads "Pull Switch...If You Dare"

One of my friends dared to flip the switch. We thought the mannequin in the chair would do something, but instead the switch-box flipped open and a monstrous Jack-In-The-Box began cackling at us maniacally (Photo by Zachary Biech)

First Nations House is a great place to stop by every week if you need a little socializing. Every face is friendly and every conversation is worth every moment. Just sayin’…

What do you do to socialize? When’s the last time you finished a cycle and entered into something entirely new?

Me staring aimlessly into the background (wearing my fangs and cape),in front of a photobooth backdrop

Count Zachula, blissfully unaware that the photobooth machine was still taking pictures (Original Photo by Snapshot Photobooth)

When the Time is Right

I need to catch my breath! Just when I think life will slow down, I realize how wrong I am. If it’s not tests, essays or readings, it’s meetings, volunteering, events and the list goes on. In a perfect world, we would always get everything done. Wishful thinking, right?

Looking straight upwards through the yellow leaves of a large tree in Queen's Park, towards the blue sky above

We can sometimes have many things hanging over our head, and we aren’t sure exactly when they’ll fall on us (Photo by Zachary Biech)

University can be hectic though. We’ve already discussed balance, maintaining health, mental rest and the like. Sometimes however, this means things don’t go exactly according to plan.

Brown and golden maple leaves lying on the lively green grass of Queen's Park

All of a sudden our schedule can fall to pieces like so many leaves (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Looking East over the red and yellow trees of St. George Street  towards some of U of T's largest and craziest buildings all stacked on top of each other

“Campusopolis” really is a bustling place, it’s no wonder things can get so hectic (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I attended the You Beyond New student leadership conference on October 24th which ran from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. but I had to maneuver around classes as well. Despite having to run around campus like a hummingbird on Red Bull, it was worthwhile. I had meaningful conversations, learned about managing groups and even found insight on my future studies.

http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/studentlife/leadership/

Yeah, I had to pull out all the stops to make that crazy day work. But so what? It still went great. I actually like when things go awry and the plan goes out the window; that’s when things get a little more exciting, don’t you think?

My name tag from the You Beyond New conference

(Photo by Zachary Biech)

It can be daunting to wade beyond the shallows of your schedule into murkier waters where you can’t see the bottom. Don’t worry; I want you to know that it’s alright if things don’t go as planned.

Peering through crimson red maple canopies up at Soldier's Tower

Something just felt so right about this view, though it was only by chance I looked up at that moment (Zachary Biech)

At First Nations House, I attended a Lunch and Learn session with Learning Strategist Bonnie Maracle about Indigenous perspectives on time management. At U of T, time is money, time is a tool and time is short. Sounds a bit rigid, right?

Looking North up St. George, with a very dark sky looming above in the distance

Sometimes there is a darkening sky before us, yet we have no time to prepare for the storm. These even happened while I was taking pictures! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Luckily, we can apply a different perspective. We don’t use or spend time; we only live in it. What you do is the real key. We can schedule all we want, but we can’t control everything. When the time is right, things work out. When the time isn’t right, we just have to accept it. Sometimes all we can do is roll with it. Go with the flow. Make it up on the fly.

One of the great big cannons sitting next to the UTSU building

This big old cannon rolls with it when it blasts away, hence the wheels (Photo by Zachary Biech)

For example, I stayed overtime at the Lunch and Learn and showed up a bit late for a tutorial. I would’ve loved to have made it when class started, but the time wasn’t right. I was busy having valuable discussions and connecting with peers! Though the original plan went the way of the Dodo, I learned about this important life strategy, enjoyed new friends, and was thus reenergized by the time I made it to class. See??? When things don’t go according to plan, it doesn’t mean it didn’t go the way it was meant to…

http://www.fnh.utoronto.ca/Current-Students/Academic-Support.htm

(Monday – Friday 9:00am to 5:00 pm Learning Strategist Bonnie Maracle is available to see students)

(Thursdays 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Elder Andrew Wesley is available to see students)

(Mondays & Fridays 12:00pm to 5:00 pm Traditional Teacher Lee Maracle is available to see students)

Red, orange, and green vines climbing up the wall of a Victoria College residence

If it’s good, it’ll grow when the time is right (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Remember, it’s alright if things don’t always go as planned. When something doesn’t work out, it wasn’t the right time. We can’t control everything, and sometimes we just have to roll with it. Though it may not happen when you expect, things eventually go how they’re supposed to when the time is right.

The real fun begins when we discover what’s really meant to be

A canopy of vines completely covering the wall of a Victoria College building, but with one odd patch of the vines coloured green instead of orange like the rest of the canopy

When something good grows, it might not look exactly like you’d expect! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Total Test Result Turmoil – or how the Academic Success Center can save your neck

It’s that blessed time of year again – mid-terms. Or, for our friends in engineering or music, the time of year when students in every other Faculty get a small and terrifying glimpse into every week of their term, mid or otherwise.

In the whirl of essays, labs and tests, it is inevitable that one – or several – will not go as planned and you’ll get a mark back that is much lower than you ever thought you’d receive.

Take heart, young grasshopper, life will go on!

Take heart, young grasshopper, life will go on! Source: Aleksey Gnilenkov (CC BY 2.0).

It is important to ask yourself though, and answer honestly, “what happened?”

Obsessing over every question on a test, or inwardly ranting about how you “should have known that, dammit!” is not a good use of your time or brain power, but asking yourself “In future, how could I handle that better?” is certainly not.

This is not meant to shame you if you didn’t do well, but there are ways to handle the fallout which will better ensure success next time round.

Consider the following questions:

  1. What is your mark, actually? If you failed a test, that’s different; but if you got a “bad” mark in your terms, where does that leave you? I came out of high school with the impression that an 84 was a disappointment. If you got a 75 and you’ve never seen marks that low, recognize that standards in university are different. Some may compare themselves to the class average, but I prefer rather to discuss my concerns directly with an instructor or teaching assistant. Perhaps they’re just tough markers. Maybe I didn’t understand the type of answer they were looking for. Maybe (and this is unlikely but possible) they misgraded it and speaking to them would get that rectified.
  2. How did you study? Consider making a trip to the Academic Success Center (ASC) if information isn’t sinking in, or you’re having trouble with motivation, memory or concentration. You can make One-on-one appointments with a learning strategist, but they have fantastic handouts and articles to help you with everything from motivation to time management while you wait for your appointment.
  3. If you didn’t understand the material at all, where can you fill in the gaps? Your Teaching Assistant and instructor are the first resources to try, but there is always University of Toronto Peer Tutoring, your College’s or faculty’s writing center (a directory is here), or YouTube.
  4. What stopped you from “getting it” in the first place? No one will be perfect in every subject, but if you can pinpoint the fact you find lectures hard to follow or don’t understand the problem sets or readings you’ve been given, that will help to isolate your particular challenges. Again, the academic Success Center is a great resource here.
  5. Was it an issue of running out of time during the test? Were you incredibly anxious and forgot things? Consider talking to someone at the ASC for support in managing your test-taking challenges.

At the end of the day though, the important thing to remember is that this is but one evaluation of several. It’s as much about your self-awareness as it is your ability to recall information. It feels bad when you get a bad mark, but it does not mean that you won’t pass the course, and it certainly doesn’t mean that your grades won’t improve ever or that you’ll be unceremoniously chucked from the University of Toronto with no friends or future prospects to speak of. It is but one bump in the academic road, and the only thing to do now is to keep on truckin’.

Stay strong, U of T, we will get through this.

Holistic Living for a Busy Schedule

My head can really get spinning. With so much going on, including schoolwork, tests, classes, extracurriculars and events, things can get crazy. Stress is a part of university life especially during flip-out times like midterms. But stress is natural and if you aren’t a little stressed about your university activities, you aren’t doing it right.

Let me explain; stress in controlled, healthy amounts is actually a good thing. Going into a mental tailspin, however, is not. If you have a balanced schedule full of activities you enjoy, the stress won’t feel like stress. It will feel like energy. This energy is good and there are many strategies to access it.

Two erasers standing vertically, with pop bottle caps for helmets and paper clips for rifles

Meed Bob and Ted, some veteran study soldiers from my first year. When you are overloaded with work, you can always count on your ability to distract yourself. (photo by Zachary Biech)

I’ll give you an example. Early October has been crazy for me. I’ve never spent so much time doing so many things all at once. In my opinion, it’s a little early in the year to have two midterms and a heavily weighted essay all in October’s first week. But here’s the strange thing. I’ve been working fifteen hours a day for a month straight and yet, my brain never went into code-red meltdown mode.

First reason: My schedule is full of things I love. There. Boom. Easy.

If you fill your day with your passions, it won’t feel like such a battle.

Second: My schedule is balanced.

Your schedule can’t be too heavy on the work and too light on fun and health-oriented activities and vice versa. All work and no play blahblahblah. But how much of each part of your life is necessary and what should actually be included in your day?

First Nations House has an Elder-in-Residence whom I’ve visited a number of times. His name is Andrew Wesley and he is Omushkego Cree from Fort Albany. Elders have invaluable, immense knowledge to share. The teachings I’ve received include protocol for ceremonies which have greatly helped me. At FNH as well as the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto there is plenty of help finding whatever medicines you may need. Also, you can talk with FNH’s Learning Strategist, Bonnie Jane Maracle.

http://www.ncct.on.ca/giftshop.php

Four small medicine bags, made of yellow, red, blue, and white cloth all pointing outwards in the four directions.

These are medicines of the four directions placed in my apartment to ensure it is a safe place to be. The entire atmosphere changed instantly when I put these up. (photo by Zachary Biech)

A small dream-catcher with dark red, white, and teal beads and a multicolour cloth from a Métis sash

My special dream-catcher. The cloth is a small piece of a Métis sash, given to me by Bruce Dumont, President of the Métis Nation of British Columbia. (photo by Zachary Biech)

Elders in Toronto have also really helped me grasp the value of the medicine wheel in balancing life to maintain healthy relationships with the four parts of our beings. You can definitely explore teachings like these at university. There’s more to learn than I could ever teach.

http://www.fourdirectionsteachings.com/main.html

A small living room with tall white bookshelf cubes and TV stand, with a red coffee table and red doors in the white furniture, and with a white with blue ripples in the fabric

The original colour scheme of my apartment: balanced but needed one more colour of the four directions. Can you tell which one? (photo by Zachary Biech)

Here’s a beginner’s guide: life is a continual four-part cycle of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. Only you know what fills these areas in your life, but rest assured, they all should be respected.  Every Saturday, I spend four hours or so scheduling my week. Though massive, these schedules are balanced in the four areas and allow me to maintain physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. They’re even colour-coded. Thus, I get more done, I’m healthier in the four areas, and the stress isn’t all that stressful.

A large agenda book with one page of colour-coded daily schedules and the other filled with notes for action items

A relatively light week (photo by Zachary Biech)

A close-up view of daily schedules with colour-coded action items and symbols that only I can understand

When in doubt, colour-code EVERYTHING. My system has become so elaborate, I have a whole new symbol language in there too. (photo by Zachary Biech)

A small memo booklet open to a page with meal plans for each day of the week

An example of my personal management system: The meal plan for this week from the meals section of my memo ledger. (photo by Zachary Biech)

My strategy for balance may not be a perfect match for you, but I think the idea of balance definitely is. If you approach university life holistically, and you fill your days with projects that you love, it’ll go way smoother.

A list of personal action items (music, exercise, ceremonies, reading) and a medicine wheel drawn in my large agenda book

Balance is a big part of my schedule. (Photo by Zachary Biech)

What do you do to maintain your wellness?

pictures of home, cloths for medicines, and a mezmorizing blue lava lamp

Some tools for balance: pictures of home, cloths for medicines, and a mesmerizing lava lamp. (photo by Zachary Biech)

An Ode to the Work-Study Program

As the summer unwinds, we get closer and closer to that time of year! No, I’m not talking about course selection, or frosh week or even Ribfest (although I should be, I mean have you tried those ribs?!). As the end of the summer draws closer, it means it’s time for…WORK-STUDY POSTINGS! Do you want to have a cool, fun job, where you can pretend to ‘adult’ (whatever that means), while still getting the most out of university? Then fear not my friends, for you have come to the right place!

photo-1

Nothing quite says ‘adult’ like taking selfies at your desk during work

A quick background on the work-study program: The work-study program is offered to help students develop their professional skills through various jobs on campus. The jobs run for the majority of the term (either summer or fall/winter). To be eligible, you need to be taking a minimum of a 40% course load. The best part is that you only have to work a maximum of 12 hours per week, so you have plenty of time to study, participate in student groups, or pursue other things you love!

In my first two years here, I didn’t think I would really benefit from a work-study position, since I already had a part time job. I finally decided to apply during my summer school term. and trust me, it was no easy task, but definitely worth it. The first day the positions opened on the Career Learning Network (CLN), there were over 500 postings. Thankfully, the CLN has some pretty nifty filters that you can use to find jobs that suit you. Cover letters and tailored resumes tend to feel like the bane of my existence, so I ended up using some of the online resources from the CLN and U of T’s career centre website. Tucked away in Koffler Student Services Centre is the Career Centre, where you can even get one-on-one help with a career educator!

photo

Actual early version of my cover letter.

After polishing up my resume and cover letter, and applying to about 12 different positions, I landed a few interviews. Finally, I got an amazing research assistant position at the the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evalution (AKA my dream job as an undergraduate in health studies).

This is why I love the work-study program so much, and I regret not applying to it earlier. You get the same experience without the time commitment of a full-time job. Although some people take to balancing school, work and life really well, for me, it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish. The work-study allows you to have more time. I used my time this summer for another job, summer courses and some relaxing!

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 2.47.55 PM

#TBT to that time I relaxed a little too much

So mark your calendars, U of T! Postings go up on Monday, July 28th. Don’t miss out! If you have and questions or concerns about how to apply or how it works, let me know in the comments, or on Twitter at @Api_UofT!

Progress

From last September until now, I’ve made progress.
I acknowledged my penchant for lying around, and I made solid goals to get myself moving. I also reached these goals and am currently in the process of reaching others. I completed two registered classes. I became a lover of both the plank and pirouette. I went to the gym and tried trampoline dodgeball. I took a few walks here and there in the good ol’city of Toronto. I was up for any challenge.

I took risks.
I became less self-conscious.
I’ve made progress.

From my first post to this very lost post, I made the leap from being inactive to active. And throughout my journey over the past eight months, I’ve learned that my body can do amazing things. I can jump, run, stretch, twirl, and lift. Becoming physically active helped me ease into the idea that it’s not about how I look, or what societal convention that I can fit into. It’s about what I can do and how I can move freely and be healthy.

There were some days when I admit I did nothing. But I also found a way to pick myself back up and get moving again. There were also days when I remembered that by being active, I will actually get more things done. I would go to a Pilates class, and then be able to focus on my studies. Productivity needs to come from some sort of activity in order to get the momentum going.

 

We made it. VIA FIREBONES.TUMBLR.COM

 

Now that this blog is ending for this semester, all I can say is that we are in the homestretch. It’s exam season, and we can conquer this! With essays/assignments and tests, it’s easy to just slip back to old habits. My books might be calling me to hole myself up in my room for days end, but I refuse to give up on my hard work. After all, being physically active isn’t a temporary goal, but a lifestyle.

Here’s what I’ll be doing for the remainder of exam season to keep my lifestyle goals in check:

1) For every half hour of studying, take a 5-10 minute break and stretch.
Keep that blood circulating!

2) Hit the gym twice a week, either before or after library visits.
Exercising is now officially the best friend of studying. It’s a win-win situation for conditioning both the mind and body.

3) Try a drop-in class one a week.
Since registered classes are finished, I plan to keep myself going by heading to the Athletic Centre and trying out a drop-in class that’s new to me each week. Adding spontaneity will help with my studying, as I will be able to break away from a monotonous routine of burying my head in the books during exam season.

4) Explore a bit of Toronto!
I need to refresh myself and get out of the campus bubble. I want to take advantage of the fact that the weather is now nice enough for average human being to not turn into an icicle. Therefore, I should start walking around the city again and go on adventure mode away from the campus.

5) Take a rest, and relax.
Treat yo’self. No explanation needed.

We all start off as beginners, but as time goes by, we change. As for me, I’m always looking for something new to try out—that’s the best habit I’ve developed this year.

 

A dance of celebration. VIA GIF-DATABASE.TUMBLR.COM



I’m getting the hang of this. I can totally do this.

Are you ready exam season?

-Amanda

Tardy to the Party (and everything else, too)

Months back, I wrote on the topic of perfectionism as a personality flaw and how it would be a painstakingly annoying (although undeniably accurate) answer to give at a job interview when given the prototypical “What is your greatest weakness?” prompt. I wasn’t being entirely honest. So here I am, about to expose one of my (debatably) biggest flaws that I definitely would not share in any given job interview that I actually wanted to get hired for (although the title of this post is kind of a dead giveaway)…

I am a very tardy person.

rabbit

Literally me, to about 86% of my daily obligations. (PC: tumblr.com)

In fact, the last few times I wasn’t late for something, it either involved free food (I’m not about to let that run out on me!), or was a work-related event (a job interview, a meeting, etc). Anything else – classes, a meet-up with friends, a date (yup), a SURPRISE PARTY (#WORST) – my ETA ranges from anywhere in between five minutes to three hours. The reasons vary. The unreliability of the TTC. Pressing the snooze button one (or seven…) too many times. Getting caught up with a Skype call from home. Yes, all excuses, all valid to a certain extent, but at a certain point I had to come to the realization that mishaps and setbacks are always bound to come up, and so maybe I should just start doing/leaving for things ahead of time.

At a certain point, we gotta accept that we are not royalty/Julie Andrews and therefore this is not applicable. (PC: myfairjulie.tumblr.com)

But I do understand how desperately annoying it is to feel like your time is wasted, or the awkward moments where you feel as though you’ve been stood up or forgotten about – I’ve been on the receiving end of tardiness too. The main problem I encounter with being able to be on-time is grossly overestimating the amount of time I had before I had to be somewhere or do something (sound familiar to anyone?). I was consistently an hour and fifteen minutes late to my two-hour 9AM lectures four weeks in a row. I made my friend late for another appointment they had later in the day. I risked not being considered for a job position because I turned in my application half an hour past its hard deadline. As a student, running the habit of being late is a very easy, very dangerous trap to fall into for the future when “I was finishing off a term paper due that afternoon” is no longer a socially acceptable excuse for lateness in the workforce.

The-Notebook-Now-Its-Too-Late-GIF

What’s the worse that could happen when you’re late to something? Missing out on spending 7 whole years with the love of your life doesn’t sound too great, if I’m being entirely honest. (PC: tumblr.com)

With that (and the unsettling fear of impending unemployment) in mind, I set out to change a stubborn, long-lived habit of mine. Here are some of the goals I’ve started to set, that perhaps you’ll find useful too -

  • Writing down where I need to be and what time I need to be there, and what I’ll need to be doing when I get there. I will do this on a CALENDAR, or anywhere I can get a linear sense of my tasks and responsibilities I have in real-time. I used to write things down in my Moleskine journal on the fly, and although I think it’s still a great way of staying on top of what I have to do, it doesn’t give me a very organized idea of how I should be managing my time the way a calendar does.
  • And, I will double-check to make sure I don’t have conflicts and that I’m writing down dates correctly, otherwise I could have everything off and realize all my deadlines and due dates and midterms are actually a day earlier than I originally thought (this has happened to a certain someone) (that someone was me).
  • Oversleeping happens! Sometimes our bodies just need the extra rest, especially at a time as busy and so far into the school year as March. I will make it a point to recognize my sleep patterns. For example, I know that if I sleep by 2AM, I’ll feel well-rested on five hours of sleep if I have to be up early the next morning. Anything past 3:30AM, however, and I’ll be out cold for at least eight hours before I feel physically ready to leave my bed.  I know my body well enough to plan my schedule around me feeling my optimal best when the alarm sounds off (also, I plan to set multiple alarms).
  • If I can get something done now, I’ll do it now. You never know what will come up in the future that will prevent you from doing whatever it is you think you’ll be able to do later on, at another time of convenience (now say that 4 times, really fast).
  • If I’m inevitably going to be late, for whatever emergency I run into (hey, you can’t account for everything that happens in life), at least have the consideration to tell the other person. I won’t do that thing where I say I’m just around the corner when we both know I haven’t even showered yet. The earlier I tell someone, the earlier they’ll be able to plan their own time and make arrangements. My time isn’t more valuable than theirs!

You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We all do it. DON’T DO IT. (PC: modelcity.tumblr.com)

Being late sucks. Not just for the others waiting on you, but you owe it to yourself not to feel hurried and rushed through life.

As always, U of T, until the next -
Katrina

Life Schedule Conflicts – the real deal.

This week I had planned to write about a conference I was really pumped to go to.

But when the weekend hit and I assessed the work I needed to do for the week to come, I realized that the conference (which would take up most of the day) was a no-go if I wanted to get all my work done. So sadly, I bid adieu to the conference and threw myself into the embrace of the library, its winter-worn students, their haggard postures and hot beverages.

I decided to reflect upon this moment of crisis, which I call a Life Schedule Conflict (LSC), because it’s a crisis we face over and over again throughout our time in university.

The rigorous academic schedule at UofT seems to show its cruelest face around this time of the year, particularly the weeks just before and after Reading Week. Trying to juggle a fine balance of school, relationships and healthy living is definitely an art form. In fact, these priorities often conflict with each other, and jostle for our attention and energy.

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Personal examples of LSC:
As an International student, it is not easy, trying to schedule times to Skype my family, and lately most of those efforts are prevented by my visits to the library.

Furthermore, as a soon-to-be-graduate, the relationships that sustain me span from university student to full-time working individuals, meaning that large study dates do not suffice for “social time” any more.

Even within academia itself, the layers of deadlines for different course assignments means that sometimes I have to forgo readings for classes, in order to get assignments done in others, compromising my in-class engagement, and setting myself back.

…and don’t get me started on laundry and dish piles…
oh ya. and my PT job. that too….

The point is, we are always dealing with LSCs. There are many different parts of our lives that operate at the same time and sometimes we are forced to make choices.

Over the years, I’ve learned that it is not necessarily that difficult to begin the process of facing LSCs.

First, decide on your priorities.

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What is most important at this moment?
What am I most able to do right now?
What can I change or cannot change?

Ordering the tasks we have to execute, whether it be by urgency, by manageability or by functionality means we are actively thinking about the situation. These questions offer clarity into the state of our situation, and give us a chance to sort through the growing to-do lists and file our stress into a more manageable order.

Next, figure out an action plan.

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What should I do first?
Set a deadline – try to finish each task by its given time.

I usually post-it my daily tasks, and tick them off as they are completed. This gives me encouragement when I’m tired, and prevents panic attacks when I start thinking about the work I have to do and sink into a paralysis at the overwhelming number of thoughts that surface…. …

Lastly, constantly redo the aforementioned actions.

Assess your results at the end of the day, and reshuffle your schedule the next day.
You shouldn’t feel the need to stick to a schedule or a list that you created yesterday because your body, your mind and your mood are in a different place today. Paying attention to where you are, helps you to know what you can do, and how you might go about doing it.

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Above all, there is hope!
Reading week is (almost) here!
If there ever was an occasion for #joyatUofT, this would be it.

 

Getting Back To Business

Last week was all about settling in to the new semester. This week, it’s all about bringing my game back. Now is the time to juggle school, extra-curriculars, and physical activity.
Being active during the holidays was admittedly easier. However, this semester with three new half courses added to my previous load, I need to start planning out when I going to exercise.

Trust me. VIA GIFS-FOR-THE-MASSES.TUMBLR.COM

During first semester, I would exercise on whim, but would still schedule in a registered class, like Pilates. Yet I’ve made a pact to crank up intensity when challenging myself. I know that organizing and planning workouts are the next step to achieving my new goals. Of course, I love being spontaneous like any other student at this university (does anyone consider 2:00AM food runs a normal way to bond with their friends now?). But when it comes to getting back on track, structure is crucial to realizing my goals. Over the past few days, I reviewed my schedule to see what exercise plan I can realistically commit to now that life is just getting busy again.

Monday
Ah, the start of the week. The overall beginning. Monday.
I only have two classes. My last one ends at 4PM. I don’t know about you, but whatever happens on the first day of the week seems to set the tone for the days that follow. So from now on, I am going to aim to make Monday a gym day, when I go to Hart House and use the elliptical and other machines and do not care about working out in front of peers and strangers. By starting the week with going to the gym, I hope that it sets a positive “you can do it!” type of attitude when trying to exercise on the other days.

Speaking of starting off with exercise, today is the first day to start on building the MoveU Passport that goes into your Co-Curricular Record! If you want to sign up, just bring your T-Card to the Athletic Centre main office, and from there you can get on going with attending free drop-in exercise classes and social activities on campus. For more information, check out the facebook event page for the program. Don’t forget to #tryitUofT.

Tuesday
Tuesdays are two-class days as well. However, I finish at 3PM Since I’ve picked up a heavy course load with dense readings, I will devote Tuesdays to one registered exercise class so that I can head on out to the library afterwards. I`ve got my eye on a Judo class-stay tuned!

Wednesday
I’m scared about Wednesdays. They are eight-hour class days this term. My last class ends at 6PM, so I still have the evening and night to myself, but I don’t want to end it by collapsing onto my bed.  Since hump days are stress-ridden days, then this shall be a day devoted to relaxation. I will unleash my stress by dancing in my room, doing yoga, or Pilates, and any stretching that will calm me down. How else will I keep up with my planking?

Thursday
Thursday is yet another two-class day. However, I plan to make this a rest day. I will recharge and not panic over whether I should go to the gym or not because Queens Park is too icy to cross through. I think it will be much needed. Of course, just because I’m not going to the gym, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be huddled up in my bed on a TV-watching marathon. I’ll nonetheless do my best to keep active during my “free” day.

Friday
Fridays are slack days! It’s the end of the week, and I’m practically free, except for one class that ends at 11:00AM. I plan to make this not only a gym day, but a day centred on walking all over campus. I don’t want to just leave my relaxation to the confines of my room and planking—I want to be able to calm down in a public setting as well while taking in the sights and exploring hidden gems around U of T. Most recently, I’ve wanted to get acquainted with Hart House. It’s more than just using it as a place for going to the gym. I’m planning to check out live shows playing at the theatre there—as inspired by fellow blogger, Stephen’s post on theatre-going.

THE WEEKEND!

 

The past. I think. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM

 

Saturday
Freedom at last? Only temporarily. Depending on my workload and what’s due the week after, I will devote my weekends to either exercising or doing homework. After all, with no academic classes, why not take advantage of drop-in classes? Last semester, I was able to do a few drop-in cycling classes that my friend taught, and I plan to do the same for this time around as well.

Sunday
As for Sunday… well that’s a different story. Even though it’s the last day of the weekend, I think it’s best to admit that Sundays are truly Mondays. The pangs of guilt for procrastinating on readings all? And then spending all day catching up? Grudgingly completing rudimental chores? Worrying about the tests and assignments due in the upcoming week? For all of that, I’m leaving Sundays as a day for spontaneity. I could make time to hang out with my friends, go shopping, read a book outside of the curriculum, discover a parkette, and more!

I mean, I’m a university student after all; I still need some rebellion from my daily schedule.

So with all this fussing over trying to be organized how I’ll fit in my exercise, I could use some helpful hints. Tell me readers, how do you squeeze in staying active!