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A healthy study space makes or breaks (literally) your study patterns. Read further for some sound advice.
I've decided to hijack an infographic made for office-space and designing a healthy one and apply it to a healthy study environment. I think it is really useful...
There are a few other tips that I would like to add to this awesome graphic that I have picked up that will help you in your long hours at the desk studying.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. This is especially to reduce eye strain when you are using the computer a lot for your studying. Essentially, every 20 minutes, get up, walk 20 feet away from your desk for 20 seconds. Simple, huh?
- Use the right chair. Make sure it has the right cushion, adjustable back support, adjustable seat height, adjustable head-rest, lumbar support and the ability to swivel around. The Herman Miller Aeron line is considered to be the best chairs to use.
- Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury by protecting your wrists using gel mouse-pads and split keyboards.
- Use the Grundtal cutlery caddy from IKEA to optimize your pen and highlighter storage space.
- Recognize warning signs of back trouble. Any pain that shoots down your arms or legs that is burning or tingling in nature is a warning sign. If the pain stays for long periods of time, that's another warning sign, so is if the pain is relieved by changing chairs or positions.
- Attend Pilates classes run by qualified Physiotherapists. Or consult with a biokineticist who can help you strengthen your core muscles and teach correct postures.
I hope these have all been helpful. Feel free to share any of your own ideas below.
Big decisions. During our lives we all have to make them. I want to discuss some very important principles to consider when you have to make those big decisions. I will start with some background information.
On Wednesday I took a very big step in a different direction in my life. I handed in my resignation here at my work at Hillcrest Medicross. Now, don't get me wrong - I really do like my colleagues. They are excellent doctors who have very good ethics and put their patients before money. I get on very well with all of the nursing staff, who are also of an excellent quality, and the administrative staff I have also had extremely good working relationships with over the years. However, a change in direction was essential. I'm the kind of doctor that gives my all emotionally, and so after seeing twenty-five to thirty-five patients a day, I've got nothing left for anyone else. My family life, social life, personal spiritual life, and church life have all been suffering as a result. I realized, with some prompting from my wife, that if I carried on in the same path I was going, my job was going to kill me......literally. So after a lot of prayer, thought, discussion and more prayer, I made a plan and made the decision and have started the ball rolling. I will be assisting a few different surgeons regularly in theater, which I really enjoy, and it pays well. I will also still be consulting as a Family Doctor, but only now it will be part-time, and it will be with a good friend of mine, Dr Wynand Stroh, at his practice, where I will have a lot more flexibility. Here are those important principles...
1. Do not make a big decision when you are burnt out
This is really important. If you make a big decision when you are tired and burnt out or nearly burnt out, almost always you will live to regret that decision. In medicine, when we are treating a patient for any psychiatric condition, we tell them not to make any important decisions for at least two months. My decision was about two months in the taking . And I took leave from the Easter weekend to the following weekend inclusive. During that time Sue was brilliant. She tried as much as possible to take the kids off my hands and give me as much "me-time" as possible. As my leave progressed, the decision became clearer and clearer, rather than me saying "Thank goodness I didn't rush into that decision". Don't make big decisions when you are burnt out and tired.
2. Find some Devil's Advocates
During this process, I confided in a few trusted individuals. These people played Devil's advocates. They challenged my thinking in all areas they could. And I had to make sure that my reasoning was sound, and that I had thought of all eventualities. It takes courage to ask people to do this, but if you really want to make sure your decision is the right one, get some Devil's Advocates.
3. Always remember what is truly important in life
Throughout this whole process, I kept on asking myself "What is truly important?" It is essential to keep the First Things the First Things. For me, the following are the most important things. These may be different for you, but they are important for me.
- Personal spiritual growth. I need to be able to devote more time and energy in growing in my walk with God.
- Quality time with my wife.
- Quality time with my children and extended family.
- Re-establishing friendships, and growing these, as well as developing new ones. Note how I worded that - the past few years have seen my friendships slide, and I need to devote time to nurture those again.
- More time in my growth as a Quarryman (a man being nurtured to be a leader in our church).
- Deliver quality care to my patients.
- Grow my Amway business rapidly over the next three years.
- Complete the books that I am writing at the moment.
So, that is my list of Frist Things. What is your list of First Things?
4. Get the financials right
Always, always, ALWAYS check the financials! I ran the numbers repeatedly and had had my estimates checked by another doctor who agreed with my estimates. You really don't want to be caught suddenly short by a large sum of money every month with no way of paying it!
5. Seek counsel from a number of different trusted sources
The truly wise person does not lean on their own wisdom, they take counsel from a number of trusted sources. I sought counsel from older friends and spiritual leaders in the church. Don't try to sail this journey on your own without seeking counsel from a number of trusted friends who are older, wiser and more mature than you are. Now that the decision has been made, I have begun to tell my patients. Some of them are going to follow me, and those that cannot follow me due to their medical aids are either upset or supportive and understanding. The decision has been liberating, and I am so excited and exhilarated! Do you have any other major principles to add to these?
Let us have a look around the internet and see what we can find related to education or anything else interesting...
Sleep Is A Learning Experience In Itself. "...our brains look at the world for a while and then shut out new input and sort through what they have seen."
The Right Way to do Math Homework (or Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, etc…). "The reason math teachers assign homework is to give students the practice necessary for entrenching new concepts and skills in the brain."
Memorable Thatcherisms : Quotes of Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady has passed away, but this post has some great quotes of hers.
How I Became a Full-time Writer. Brilliant writer Jeff Goins tells us how he did it.
A new system for reading. A fascinating post by Roberto Estreitinho.
Former Wallaby rugby player Matt Rogers calls Facebook "Face-Less-Book". I tend to agree with him. And this infographic is part of the reason why I agree with him. Food for thought...
As technology advances at an astounding rate, we can really get into forecasting higher education and where we will be going world-wide in the next decade or so. I found the following infographic to be extremely interesting and it told a huge story - more than a full blog post would be able to. I suggest you click on the image to enlarge it in order to be able to read the writing as it is rather small currently!
I have recently started reading the book The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. It is a classic in its own right. The power of belief is something I wanted to cover briefly as I feel it is really important. I want to make a few statement first before going into the how.
- This is not just psycho-babble. Don't over-react and think that this is pie-in-the-sky psychology rubbish or simple motivational speaking stuff.
- As Christians, God has given us freedom to imagine big things and to go for it - I don't believe we should be held back by a small view of God and what He can accomplish through us.
- Thinking big isn't wishful thinking, it activates our brains and puts them to work to solve the big things we want them to "create".
On pages 20 and 21 of the book, there are three guides to developing the power of belief. I'm going to go through these now. Sometimes I will quote directly, sometimes I will paraphrase. I will also add my own commentary as we go along.
Think success, don't think failure
This is a simple case of substituting one form of thinking for another form of thinking. When you find yourself going down a rabbit warren of negative thoughts, haul yourself out by the scruff of the neck and begin to replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It's no good simply saying to yourself "I will stop thinking negatively", you have to actually replace the bad with something good. Schwartz says "Let the master thought 'I will succeed' dominate your thinking process'. When you think negative thoughts, you actually train your brain to begin constructing negative conditions that will ultimately lead to failure.
Remind yourself regularly that you better than you think you are.
You aren't superman or superwoman. And to be successful you don't need to have a superintellect "Nor is there anything mystical about success. And success isn't based on luck." Don't sell yourself short. Always realize that God has given you the strength to accomplish that which you apply yourself to. This point does not say that the strength only comes from you. I believe the strength comes from God working in you. But, by the same token, God is unwilling to help those who are unwilling to do something themselves!
If you think and expect little of yourself, then you are going to achieve little. But, if you think and expect big things of yourself, your success will be commensurate with those. "Big ideas and big plans are often easier - certainly nor more difficult - than small ideas and plans." I would like to quote Ralph J. Cordiner, chairman of the board of the General Electric Company, who said this whilst speaking at a leadership conference some years ago :
"We need from every man [and woman] who aspires to leadership - for himself and his company - a determination to undertake a personal program of self-development. Nobody is going to order a man to develop.... Whether a man lags behind or moves ahead in his specialty is a matter of his own personal application. This is something which takes time, work and sacrifice. Nobody can do it for you."
In whatever area you find yourself, if you truly want to succeed - whatever that success looks like - you need to apply yourself. You need to develop the power of belief through a personal program of hard work.
Almost every student needs or wants more money coming in, and with
this desire most would like to start some sort of extra income
producing project. The trouble is, not many of these students seem
able to fit a job into their study time schedules.
It's true that most people are busy, but extra time for some sort
of home-based extra income producing project can almost always be
found. It may mean giving up or changing a few of your favorite
pastimes--such as having a barbecue with the guys or
watching TV--but if you score big with your extra income project,
you will have that extra income that will help reduce your student debt burden.
Efficient time management boils down to planning what you're
going to do, and then doing it without backtracking. Start by
making a list of the things you want to do tomorrow, each evening
before you go to bed. Schedule your trips to the store or
wherever to coincide with the other things you have to do, and
with your trips to or from work. Organize your trips to take care
of as many things as possible while you're out of the house.
take stock of the time you spend on the telephone---and eliminate
all that isn't necessary.
Whatever chores you have to do at home, set aside a specific time
to do them, and a specific amount of time to devote to them. For
instances, just one hour a day devoted to yard work would
probably make your property the envy of all your neighbors. Don't
try to do a week's work in one big flurry. Whether it's painting
your house, fixing leaky faucets, or mowing your lawn and
trimming your shrubs, do a part of it, or one particular job each
day, and you'll be amazed at your progress.
Take care of all your mail the day you receive it. Don't let
those bills and letters pile up on you. If you're unable to pay a
bill immediately, file it in a special place that's visible, and
note on the envelope the date you intend to pay it. Answer your
letters the same day you get them.
Once you start listing and planning what to do, and then carry
out your plans, you'll find plenty of "extra time" for handling
virtually any kind of home-based income producing project. People
in general may not like routines or schedules, but without some
sort of plan as to what is supposed to be done, the world would
be mired in mass confusion. Laws, ordinances and regulations are
for the purpose of guiding people. We live according to an
accepted plan or way of life, and the better we can organize
ourselves, the more productive and happy we become. These "Laws" extend to how you govern your time spent studying. We have looked at sorting out your Revision Timetable before in a series starting here.
The secret of all financially successful people is simply that
they are organized and do not waste time. Think about it. Review
your own activities, and then see if you can't find a couple of
extra hours in each day for more constructive accomplishments.
When you begin planning, and then when you really become involved
in an extra income producing endeavor, you should work it exactly
as you have organized your regular day-to-day activities---on a
time basis. Do what has to be done immediately. Don't try to get
done in a hour something that's realistically going to take a
week. Plan out on paper what you have to do--what you want to
do--and when you are going to do it. Then get right on each
project without procrastination.
Finally, and above all else, when you're organizing your time and
your business, be sure to set aside some time for relaxation. Be
sure to schedule time when you and your spouse can be together.
You must not involve yourself to an extent that you exclude other
people--particularly your loved ones--from your life.
Taking stock of the time you waste each day, and from there,
reorganizing your activities is what it's all about. It's a
matter of becoming more efficient in the use of your time. It's
really easy to do, and you will not only accomplish a lot more,
you will also find greater fulfillment in your life.
I've recently bought the book The Heart of Mentoring by David A Stoddard and Robert Tamasy, and it looks to be a real gem. Mentor-ship is a much-needed but much-neglected area of a student's life. As we well know, the weight of studies can be particularly burdensome, and to have someone who is older and wiser to mentor you can be absolutely priceless.
I wanted to briefly list the principles that David Stoddard lists in his Preface and which he expands on in the rest of his book.
- Mentoring is a journey that requires perseverance.
- Mentoring includes helping mentoring partners to determine their priorities, uncover their passions, and honestly address their pain.
- Mentoring concentrates on the needs of the one being mentored, not on the agenda of the mentor.
- Mentoring focuses on changing people from the inside out, not the outside in.
- Mentoring involves the spiritual side of the person, not just the physical, mental, and emotional aspects.
- Mentoring is one of the best ways to have significant personal impact on society, even for generations.
I am really looking forward to reading this book. My twin boys are turning four in a few months time, and over the past few months I have had the privilege of leading an in-depth Bible Study at our church, which has demanded detailed preparation and diligent study. I am in an in-between stage, but foresee that I will have opportunity in the near future to mentor younger men inside and outside the church.
I also am a very proud Amway Independent Business Owner, and am extremely privileged to receive very good training material through Network21 which was started by Jim and Nancy Dornan. The mentor-ship I receive through the Network21 program is invaluable, and has helped me hugely both in my Amway business, as well in my work as a doctor and in all areas of my life.
I would highly recommend that you seek out someone who is older, wiser than you, and with whom you get along well. Let the relationship develop naturally, and learn over time. We will re-visit this topic of mentor-ship over the next few months.
I found this fascinating infographic on mentor-ship and mentoring. Enjoy!
After a long interlude, during which I had a car accident and had severe concussion and had enforced sedated bed-rest, I'm back, and I thought I would start with a nice long Noticeboard. Let's see what I've found for us to peruse...
Follow along my SAT class for free. Excellent opportunity for students here.
How to Build a Creative Portfolio Before You Land Your First Client or Job. This is a brilliant article about slowly building up your CV's cumulative value over time, not just in titles of diplomas and degrees, but in projects, experiences and "masterpieces".
Wynton Marsalis honoring Duke Wellington. Amazing bit of musical history! Enjoy!
You need to master the rules before you can reinvent them. I am definitely a non-conformist by nature. Five years of private boys-only elitist high school and medical school made me into that. But in order to be a true non-conformist, you need to understand what you are being a non-conformist to. I liked this article very much!
12 Fruits and Vegetables That Last for Months. This is REALLY useful information for students to know. Trust me! I've been there, done that and got the gastroenteritis to prove it!
Boost Your Productivity by Adjusting Your Workspace’s Lighting and Temperature. Some useful and practical advice here for students to implement.
63 Ways to Build Self-Confidence. This extensive list has some pretty good ideas on it. I'm still reading through it!
And, now to end off : the top 10 time killers, some sneaky procrastinators, and some helpful information about time wastage...
It's been a long December holiday here in South Africa, so I thought I would kick off the new year with a post on seven simple, but not easy, steps to a better you, for 2013. Are you ready? You know by now that I don't pull any punches, so I hope you are sobered up and ready for my right hook, left block, right upper cut and left foot to the groin...
I seem to have lost count on how many times I've read and heard of celebrity marriages failing left, right and centre. Not that I care (and personally I don't), it seems strange that we often see movie and TV stars as flawless people, living the fairytale life of riches and glamour. I suppose we all have to stop sticking our heads in the clouds and face reality. The same applies to the number of students who seem to have everything going for them - good looks, glamorous lifestyle, rich parents, good grades (ostensibly - until the first test when their cheating the SAT's comes to the fore).
There are many ways to lose your sense of self-esteem despite of how trivial it could get. But whatever happens, we should all try not to lose our own sense of self.
So what does it take to be a cut above the rest? Here are some of the things you can think and improve on that should be enough for a week.
1. Know your purpose
Are you wandering through life with little direction - hoping that you'll find happiness, health and prosperity? Identify your life purpose or mission statement and you will have your own unique compass that will lead you to your truth north every time.
This may seem tricky at first when you see yourself to be in a tight or even dead end. But there's always that little loophole to turn things around and you can make a big difference to yourself.
2. Know your values
What do you value most? Make a list of your top 5 values. Some examples are security, freedom, family, spiritual development, learning. As you set your goals for 2005 - check your goals against your values. If the goal doesn't align with any of your top five values - you may want to reconsider it or revise it. The number shouldn't discourage you, instead it should motivate you to do more than you can ever dreamed of.
3. Know your needs
Unmet needs can keep you from living authentically. Take care of yourself. Do you have a need to be acknowledged, to be right, to be in control, to be loved? There are so many people who lived their lives without realizing their dreams and most of them end up being stressed or even depressed for that matter. List your top four needs and get them met before it's too late!
4. Know your passions
You know who you are and what you truly enjoy in life. Obstacles like doubt and lack of enthusiasm will only hinder you, but will not derail your chance to become the person you ought to be. Express yourself and honor the people who have inspired you to become the very person you wanted to be.
5. Live from the inside out
Increase your awareness of your inner wisdom by regularly reflecting in silence. Commune with nature. Breathe deeply to quiet your distracted mind. For most of us city slickers it's hard to even find the peace and quiet we want even in our own home. In my case I often just sit in a dimly lit room and play some classical music. There's sound, yes, but music does soothe the savage beast.
6. Honor your strengths
What are your positive traits? What special talents do you have? List three - if you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help identify these. Are you imaginative, witty, good with your hands? Find ways to express your authentic self through your strengths. You can increase your self-confidence when you can share what you know to others.
7. Serve others
When you live authentically, you may find that you develop an interconnected sense of being. When you are true to who you are, living your purpose and giving of your talents to the world around you, you give back in service what you came to share with others -your spirit - your essence. The rewards for sharing your gift with those close to you is indeed rewarding, much more if it were to be the eyes of a stranger who can appreciate what you have done to them. You may never have to live in such an authentic way as to put your very life on the line to save a dying little girl. As I write this, tears form in my eyes as I think of my three young children - who says there is no compassion on the battlefield! Serve others! It will NEVER cost you this much! Catch a wake up call!
Self-improvement is indeed one type of work that is worth it. It shouldn't always be within the confines of an office building, or maybe in the four corners of your own room. The difference lies within ourselves and how much we want to change for the better.