What’s in my bag: University Addition 

If you’ve come from my Instagram (@diaryofaphysicist) you may have seen my post of everything I carry in my bag to university, so I thought I would go into a bit more detail about the items. I also want to share with you my methods of reducing the amount you carry so have you a light and effective load in your bag.

The Bag 

Being a student, saving money is very important. So I got my uni bag second hand from depop for £15, it’s real leather so will last me throughout my time at university and it’s black which is not only practical but goes with most outfits as well. 

The Laptop 

My laptop of choice is the 13″ MacBook Air 2016 addition. I love it. The MacBook itself is extremely light so perfect to carry around all day, fits into my bag well and does not scratch easily. The MacBook functions with fluidity and simplicity, I have everything I need in one place and doubles well as a work and recreational laptop. It is expensive, however I have used mine everyday since I bought it so can definitely say it’s worth the initial price.

The Planner 

If you follow me on instagram, you will know that I love moleskine! My planner is the 17/18 weekly academic planner and I used it everyday. Moleskine is by far my favourite brand for notebooks and planners as the paper quality is amazing and their ability to show little wear and tear is perfect for someone like me who throws them into their bag as they rush out the door.

The Cases

To hold all my stationary I use a felt case from Amazon. It’s the perfect size for me and it’s slots in the gaps due to being rectangular. The thick felt is durable so last a very long time without showing signs of damage and can be easily dried if it gets wet. I purchased a set of 3 of these cases for only £6.99 on Amazon so if you are interested please contact me via my Instagram page! 

How to simplify your bag 

I used to carry all my notebooks, all my textbooks, all my tech and everything else with me everyday. I thought I was doing the right thing, until I started getting back pain because I was carrying so much stuff. As I’ve got older I’ve started to get more and more into minimalism and simplifying my life. So instead of brining my textsbooks, during the day I work off online lecture notes. In lectures I print of the PowerPoints and annotate them which saves me having to carry a large note book with me. I leave all my books at home for studying in the evening. I have a small pencil case with the basic stationary and another case for my laptop and phone chargers (this helps to keep them safe). All my other stationary I keep at home as well as I only use them when making my detailed notes. For my makeup I have a simple, thin makeup bag that only carries the basic items. For food I take a space efficient bento box and use a lightweight rubber bottle for my water. This is much lighter than a glass or metal container and is better for myself and the environment then using a plastic bottle. 

Other ways to reduce the amount you carry. 

Take everything out of your bag and place it all in order of importance. Once you’ve done that put everything near the bottom away and only pack the things you really need. You may need to do this a few times, but it has helped me cut down on the amount of things I carry in my bag! 

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have please leave a comment below or message me on my Instagram @diaryofaphysicist. Thank you for reading! 

Lottie x 

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Time Management for students: Part 3 

Part 3: Work-Life Balance 

This phrase is thrown about all the time, online, in books, by fellow students and lecturers. “You have got to find the right work-life balance”. But what is a work-life balance? And why does everyone keep going on about it? 

According to google dictionary, work life balance is defined as the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.

But why is this so important? The truth is that it is beneficial to your mental and physical health. When you can balance the amount of stress in your life with the things that relax you, then it makes it easy on both your mind and body to cope with the hard times. 

So how do you go about finding a good work-life balance? The key is to plan around the times you are working/ studying. Using the planner method I suggested in part 1 of this series, start off by picking 1-3 hobbies and try and do an hour of each every week. Make sure you write the slot into your planner. This could be anything from recreational reading, yoga, baking, etc. Make these things a hobby and soon they’ll become part of your routine. 

Now you need to add in the social side. It is so important not to neglect social time, and I don’t mean time on social media! Go out for coffee with your friends, take a parent out for lunch, go on date night with your siginifiacnt other! What ever it is, do something regularly and it will definitely pay off! 

The point is to get yourself into a position where you can get the work you want done in time, without sacrificing time to relax! There are going to be days where you may have to work longer, so make sure you have days where you can have fun too. 

Sometimes, say you have a deadline the following week and you are behind, you are going to have to sacrifice some free time in order to get the job done. This is what I would call a necessary sacrifice because you would be more stressed in the long run if you didn’t finish in time for the deadline. However if the stress is a long term stress that is making you life unhappy, that’s when finding a work life balance is necessary. 

Finding a good balance won’t come over night, it takes hard work and effort to reach the right balance and even then you might fall of the rails for a while and have to find your way back. But that is part of life and as long as you keep striving to find a balance, your hard work will pay off. 

I hope this 3 part series has been helpful. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to message me on my Instagram blog @diaryofaphysicist. 

Lottie x 

Time Management for Students: Part 2

Part 2: Keeping up with your studies 
Before we start the academic year a lot of us have this perfect idea in our heads of all the work we are going to do and 
how we will be on top of everything all the time. Although this is a great aspiration, it rarely ever holds true throughout the whole year because most of the time life just gets in the way and there is nothing wrong with that!

But there are ways to limit the stress of studying, keep on track and cope with what life throws at you along the way. I’ve found the key is to start early. If I could give one bit of advice to other students it would be start making notes and/or revision material as early on in the year as possible. 

The method I use to get all my notes done starts with printing of the lecture notes the weekend before they happen. I have a read, do some extra reading around the subject  and then take the printed notes into class with me. As I already have the printed notes, if the lecturer adds something or says something of worth I then write it down underneath the relevant slide. This saves me time as the lecturers move so quickly! Then for each module I have a specific notebook (most likely a Muji…) which I write-up in neat all the necessary notes. I then go through these notes and pick out key information which I write onto a revision card. I then use the revision cards to refresh my memory of the topic and use the notes as an extra reference. This is quite a long-winded method, but for me it pays off. It’s all about finding something that works for you.

Another way to keep on top of your studies is to create a topic list for each module. Once you have completed a topic and written up the notes you can tick it off, then when it comes to revision you know you already have the correct notes. You can find free, excellent quality topic list printable online which saves you time, or you can make your own to fit your specific requirements.

Integrating your studies into daily life is another way to keep on top of them. What I mean by this is you find ways to mix studying with everyday activities. An example would be meeting course mates for a coffee whilst discussing topics from that days lecture or whilst travelling home get out your notes and read them (if possible). All these little things add up to help you achieve your goals. 

Even though keeping up with your studies is primarily down to you, being organised and being focused, do not do it all in solitude. Ask your lecturers for help, get them to explain things until you understand it! Ask older students, ask fellow classmates, ask anyone you think could help as you have nothing to lose. You can even dm me on instagram @diaryofaphysicist and I’ll see if I can help! If you do not ask, you will never know, so there is no harm in trying. 

More importantly, if there is something going on in your life that means you cannot study as much as you would like, go see the university advice and counselling department, they are there to help you and can give you suggestions in how to cope with an issue. It’s not your fault you cannot study, so don’t carry it on your shoulders like it is! The staff are there to help and will try there best to get you back on track with your studies when you can. 

I hope you have enjoyed part 2 of time management, it’s a bit more anecdotal but that’s because it is something I have battled with myself all through academia! The final part to this series will be on acheiveing a good work life balance, this will be posted in the coming days. 

Lottie x 

Time management for students 

Part 1: Planning 

Like many of us, one of the greatest dilemmas a student faces throughout their academic career is tackling the work-life balance. Getting all your work done, fitting in all your extra curricular’s and having time to relax and enjoy yourself.
There is a joke amongst university students that uni is like a triangle, at one end is socialising/ having fun, at another end is studying and at the other end is sleep, the downfall is you must sacrifice one as no one can achieve all three (most people sacrifice sleep, some its study…).
As amusing as it is, those who believe in the ‘triangle of sacrifice’ are wrong. You can achieve a social life, be on top of your studies and get enough sleep to make an early morning class. You just need good time management matched with some organisation.  

To make it easier for you to start on your journey to great efficiency, i have created a little step by step to help you along the way. 
Firstly you need to learn to plan. I am not saying you have to religiously plan out every second of your day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, but you need to record key events happening each week so you don’t have to keep them in your mind all the time. This ensures you are less likely to forget it happening, leaving more room in your mind for other things. A good idea would be to get a weekly planner so that you can see everything happening on one page. I would personally recommend the Moleskine weekly planner (£18.00), its durable, easy to use, light to carry and beautifully simple. Alternatively, another favourite of mine is the Muji weekly planner, effortlessly chic yet very practical. A planner is also a great place to jot down thoughts, idea, reminders, anything that you are likely to forget! 

Once you have got the hang of using a weekly planner to take down all your weekly events, such a sport times, lectures, meeting friends. You can start to add in study topics. For me, I find it less stressful to assign myself to a specific time e.g. I would never write “Integration practice at 10am”. Some people may find this helpful and if so then by all means continue! But I found that put myself under too much pressure, so I resolved to say “study integration for an hour”. This means that you are not restrained, for example if something pops up in the morning when you had planned to study, you can just move your time of study later in the day and not feel guilty that you did not achieve your task at the set time. 

Now you have a solid weekly planner, you have everything you need written in. You just have to keep this up. A trick is to make it a habit. Before you go to bed spend some time planning the next day. Then once a week (I do this on a Sunday evening), plan the coming week and how you are going to tackle the study you have been assigned, the extra curricular and the fun things you want to do. 

As well as using a weekly planner, another way to help plan your day is to regulate basic activities such as eating and sleeping. What I mean by this is you create a routine that your body can work to. For example, you go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day. This helps our body get into a sleeping pattern and makes it easier for you to start the day and end the day well. Also planning when you are going to eat your meals gives you markers throughout the day to aim for and plan around. For me, I wake up at 7:00am and make sure I have eaten breakfast by 7:30am. This gives me half an hour to get ready, so that I can leave or university by 8:00am. I have dinner around 7:00pm everyday as this gives me time to go to the gym once I’m home from university. Using meal time and wake up/ bed time as markers always you to break up your day into sections, making it easier to manage time as its cut into smaller chunks. 

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of my series on time management for students.
In the next article I shall be addressing how to keep on top of your revision from the beginning of the year through to exam season. 

Lottie x 

Revision: my top revision methods 

In today’s article I’m going to address the issue of revision. We all have to do it at some point throughout are academic education, so we might as well ace it! 

I’ve complied the article into a kind of cheat sheet (more on cheat sheets below) on the top revision methods and how to make them most effective! 

Firstly I’d like to discuss my favourite method, revision cards. To me revision cards are the most productive revision method. They do not take a long time to make and are a great way of condensing you notes into the most important points.  They can be used anywhere due to their size, so if you have to take a bus journey you can pop a few in your bag. I find a great way to revise from them, is to try and learn them off by heart, read them over and over again until the information is stuck in your head. I think of the revision cards as pockets of knowledge and once I feel I know them well enough I get someone else to test me! 

This is great for learning facts and methods, however you cannot cover every piece of information you might possibly need on revision cards, this is where practice papers come in. Once you feel you have a topic down the best thing to do is test yourself on some practice questions. These can be from a past paper, your text book, or even a question your friend has made up! Not only is this a great way to prepare for the real exam and reaffirm your knowledge, but it shows you where the gaps are and what topics you need to re revise. 

For your weaker topics that need extra revision, I find mind maps a great way to get all the information I need onto one page. This means that any topics I don’t understand I can cover efficiently by jotting everything down at once. If like me, you have a photographic memory, this method is particularly good as you can memorise the whole page! 

Close to the exam, get a group of your course mates together and try and teach each other different topics. If someone doesn’t understand your first explanation, no worries! This enables you to learn how to explain the information in different ways, which benefits the both of you!  

These four methods have been tried and tested by me for the past 15 years! They don’t always work for everyone, so it’s about finding what works best for you! But they are a good place to start. 

Happy revising! 

Lottie x 

A life lesson

Fear does not make you weak.

For a long time I was fearful of so much in the world. I feared walking through a crowd of people, going on the train by myself, the opinions of others, even believing in myself. I became withdrawn from the world because I did not have the confidence to step outside and take on life.

I faced many hurdles in a short space of time, loss and grievance, problems with mental health and other illnesses, academic failure and rejection from my dream university course. It was hard to take all at once and I let it get the better of me, but then I learnt to evolve. I learnt to relax. I learnt to enjoy.

I was helped to do this by a few special people, my best friend who helped me believe in myself. My loving boyfriend who has brought out my confidence and made me see life’s possibilities and my family, especially my parents for never doubting me or stopping their belief in me.

Through the help of this very special group of people I learnt to view the world in a new light and I liked it. So I took onboard what they had all taught me and I decided it was time I take on the world with confidence.

Now I am not saying now I am oozing confidence from head to toe! But I finally have some faith in myself, in the person I am and what I can achieve. So if you ever feel scared by life just remember, fear does not make you weak. In the end, it makes you stronger.

Lottie x