Episode 1: Study Tips and the Litter Problem

I rant, therefore I am
— Dennis Miller

Podcast Version

Dialling it up!

Coming from a mouth or on the ground, when people realize me, they can only frown. What am I? If you guessed trash, that is the answer to the riddle!

I'll share with you a recurring incident that happens when I go to Skule. (S-K-U-L-E). Unfortunately, as a commuter to UofT, I never get the chance to wake up 30 minutes before class and still make it on time. Instead I arrive 30 minutes before. Not wanting to look like a keener, I usually go to the lab to check FB, Twitter, hockey highlights and so on. 4/5 when I enter the lab, I'm greeted with the familiar site of a pop can on the lab tables, and that's when it's a good day. I think the worst was entering and finding a half eaten Popeyes meal pulling an all-nighter. Disgusting!!

Now, as an engineering student, and a potential candidate for the worlds most impatient man, I understand how hectic life gets. Whether its rushing to submit a lab report, or running to catch the last bus, Cleaning up the area you worked in is the last thing on your mind. Apart from these 'extreme' cases, is leaving your garbage behind excusable? We all want an easy time, but Put yourself in the janitors shoes, by leaving your garbage behind, are you making their lives any easier?! Just like how you enter a luxurious restaurant and expect it to be clean we should expect to enter the cathedral of education, a university, and expect the same thing. 

But it's just not finding lying soda cans in the lab, it's also seeing newspapers and coffee cups on public transport. Remember, we fund our buses, streetcars, and subways. Would you be pleased if you entered your home and found your medium double double cup on the floor? Is it going to kill you to keep hold of your cup just a bit longer until you find s bin?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that want Toronto to be the best city in the world.  But how can we profess such a vision when we cannot take care of it, groom it, and clean it, just like we’d treat it like jewel. 

So the next time you want throw your piece of gum, or your soda can remember, there is one place where you can actually do so. A lot of people seem to forget it exists, but it's there, always accepting your litterations. Yes, it's our good friend, the garbage can. 

How hard can it be?

A new semester is upon us. For some, this means returning to greet our old nemesis, studying! But I mean, how hard can it be?

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.
— Thomas Edison

 So, how does one achieve real work? One of the things that helps is planning before, and during the Skule year.

As soon as my course syllabi, yes that is the plural of syllabus, are out, I always open the document with my agenda beside me. Being a UofT Engineering Student, I'm a bit biased, so I use the Skule Planner. What I do is write down the due dates of assignments and the dates of midterms on both the monthly overview, and on the weekly. I like to do this in red, because red means danger, stay alert….beware.

During the Skule year, specifically, every Sunday night, I sit down with an Excel Spreadsheet open. The first column, has hourly increments starting from 9 AM until I sleep, which is usually 11 PM. The first row has the days from Monday to Sunday.

I then fill out the schedule with the lectures and tutorials I plan to attend for that week. As I'm someone who best understands by being in lecture, I usually go to all of them. I also add time for lunch, and dinner, which are the 2 most important parts of my day. Another thing I usually do is keep one night of the week a no-study-time. For me this is usually Friday night. After all these essentials comes the hard bit, what do I do with the rest of the time left? How much time do I study for each subject?

 Something I do is split the courses into high, medium, and low difficulty. If a course is high difficulty, I like to give it a study time of 4 hours during the weekdays and 4 hours during the weekend. A course that is medium takes 3 hours during the weekdays and 3 during the weekend.  And as you would have guessed, a low difficulty takes 2 hours during the weekdays and 2 during the weekend. Each day, I like to study 2 subjects, one I enjoy, and one I don’t. I’m a huge believer in practice makes perfect, therefore, I prefer to do practice problems than read.

 I also recommend having a few ‘blank’ hours. These usually don’t stay ‘blank’ for long as they get filled up with team meetings, or extra time to do a problem set. One important thing to realize is you can, no let me rephrase that, you HAVE to be flexible with your schedule. If you have a midterm on a specific week, invest more time in studying for that subject. Once you have your weekly schedule, write down the subjects you are studying on each day in your planner. I do this in pencil, because pencil markings are temporary, erasable…adjustable.

To be honest, when I first started making a weekly timetable, the hardest part was acting on what I scheduled. They say the bridge between goals and accomplishment is discipline, the more self-controlled you are, the greater the likelihood your bridge will stand sturdy.

When I started, I only accomplished 20% of what I intended. Slowly, I made progress. Don’t expect yourself to follow your schedule 100%. Life is unexpected, there will always be that assignment that takes longer than it should, but don’t let it beat you down. Also, never have the same routine for 2 weeks. Mix it up. Do something new. Study somewhere different. We all have friends, ask one to randomly check if you are in line with your schedule during the year.

Most importantly, these tips I have suggested are from my past experiences. What works for me might not work for you, after all we’re human, and each one of us has their special way of achieving success. But if there is one thing we all need is confidence. So studying, how hard can it be?