Time Management/Study & HW Strategy: The Tomato Method

With readings days fast approaching and finals week close behind, we are all struggling at the end of the semester to find motivation for this last push before the summer break. Ugh, why can’t it be here already? If you’re like me right now, who is so close to feeling burned out, finding the patience and determination to stay focused on small or large tasks seem daunting and unrealistic. One method that I have heard and used as a great strategy for those with short attention spans or low drive would include The Pomodoro Technique, also more simply and commonly known as The Tomato Method.

This time management technique was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. It’s super easy to implement and can increase productivity when doing tasks. Look at it this way: it’s like you have to run miles and miles to get to your destination, but with the Tomato Method, you accomplish this by doing many sprints with short breaks in between. That way you don’t just procrastinate and give up at the beginning of the line. There are tasks when we can just fly through them, but others times, its just such a drag. In a way, this technique is a lot like chunking your time and task. Check out this short 2 minute video that explains how to get started. Here is a quick summary on how to it all works: tumblr_nnjxvcPVbz1senxz2o1_1280

If you want to use some other websites or other apps on your tech besides a simple time keeper, here’s a list from LifeHacker.com that might be useful as well:

  • Marinara Timer (Web) is a webapp we’ve highlighted before that you can keep open in a pinned tab. You can select your timer alerts so you know when to take a break, or reconfigure the work times and break times to suit you. It’s remarkably flexible, and you don’t have to install anything.
  • Tomighty (Win/Mac/Linux) is a cross-platform desktop Pomodoro timer that you can fire and forget, following the traditional Pomodoro rules, or use to customize your own work and break periods.
  • Pomodorable (OS X) is a combination Pomodoro timer and to-do app. It offers more visual cues when your tasks are complete and what you have coming up next, and it integrates nicely with OS X’s Reminders app. Plus, you can estimate how many pomodoros you’ll need to complete a task, and then track your progress.
  • Simple Pomodoro (Android) is a free, open-source timer with a minimal aesthetic. Tap to start the timer and get to work, and take your breaks when your phone’s alarm goes off. You can’t do a lot of tweaking to the work and break periods, but you get notifications when to take your breaks and when to go back to work, and you can go back over your day to see how many Pomodoros you’ve accomplished over the day. It even integrates with Google Tasks.
  • Focus Timer (iOS) used to be calledPomodoroPro , and is a pretty feature-rich timer for iPhone and iPad. You can customize work and break durations, review your work history to see how your focus is improving, easily see how much time is left in your work session, and the app even offers a star-based rating system to keep you motivated. You can even customize the sounds, and hear the clock ticking when you lock your phone so you stay on task.

Say “bye bye procrastination!” with this technique. Try it out! Or come into Weingarten to try it out with a Learning Instructor.

Staff Writer: Victoria Singh Gill

Pre-finals week planning = The calm before the storm

The final weekend in November was a long one that left us all feeling a bit more relaxed, but, for many of us, our stress returned the minute December 1st arrived. The last day of classes and Reading Days are right around the corner, which is hard to believe since many of you still have midterms to think about. With only three weeks left in the semester, now is a great time to create a plan to get everything done!

Here’s what you can do to make the most of your pre-finals time:study-hacks-for-reading-days-fall-2016

  1. Attend our Reading Days Study Hacks workshop

Wednesday, December 7, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

ARCH 110

Thursday, December 8, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Weingarten Center Lounge

Register here: goo.gl/3mEMzQ

Staff members from the Weingarten Center will walk you through how to create a realistic study schedule, analyze your professors’ expectations and study actively during Reading Days.

  1. Make an appointment with a Learning Instructor

If you want more personalized study tips, stop by or call us at (215)573-9235 to make a 50-minute appointment with a Learning Instructor. It’s never too late to come see us! Many of our appointments at this time of the semester focus on planning ahead and preparing for finals week. Making an appointment also helps you get things done earlier. If you have a presentation to do, we can be a practice audience. We can help you brainstorm for an upcoming final paper, days or weeks, in advance or connect you to other resources that may also be able to assist you in the final days of the semester.

  1. Stop by our extended walk-in hoursextended-walk-ins

In addition to regular appointments, we are offering extended walk-in hours through December 22. These appointments are 25 minutes long and are usually best for a specific question. In addition to hours offered at the Weingarten Center, there are also hours at the ARCH and Grad Student Center.

  1. Create a master calendar with due dates

While all of your assignment due dates and exam dates are on Canvas or your course syllabi, it is best to put everything in one place so you can have a clear picture of what to expect before the end of the semester. With all of the social events happening in the next few weeks, it is important to put those in as well to create a more realistic schedule for studying. Stop by our office to pick up a December calendar or fill one out with a Learning Instructor!

Staff writer: Cassie Lo

Finals Feature: Super-Secret Study Spots

Looking for a new place to study for your final exams or write those final papers? Never fear – I’m here to help you find a location for success!

Biddle Law Library

3501 Sansom St.

Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. through May 5, 8 a.m.-7:45 p.m. daily through May 10th

Noise level: Low

Perks: Quiet outdoor space with tables and chairs where you can enjoy the warm weather

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If you’re trying to avoid the hustle and bustle of Van Pelt during finals week, you should definitely check out the Biddle Law Library. The Law Library is beautiful, well-lit and extremely quiet. The library itself has two levels, with the main level serving as a more public and collaborative space. Head upstairs for more isolated study time at individual tables and carrels. If the weather is nice, make sure to visit the outside tables and chairs that are a perfect change of scenery from the stacks of books inside.

The Law Library also has an extensive collection of over one million primary and secondary sources. Its archival collection houses personal papers from famous lawyers and judges. This library is an excellent research site for Law students, but also for undergraduate students who are studying Political Science, PPE or History.

The Biddle Law Library is a great destination for Quakers who crave a quiet study atmosphere. If you’re unable to make it over there before the end of the semester, it is certainly a place to check out when you get back to campus in August!

Staff Writer: Cassie Lo

How to Create a Finals Week Study Plan

Want to keep your sanity during finals week? So you have 5 classes this semester with at least 3 final exams and 2 final projects or papers. Need to accomplish them all in 7 days? No problem. There’s a process for you can use to deal with this situation that seems to always sneak up on us every semester.   Here’s a suggested step by step process:

  1. Rank Your classes

Rank your classes according to which one is sooner, which one is more important for your major, and/or which one is harder and needs most of your attention.

2. Break Down the tasks needed to study for each class

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This varies for everyone’s needs and for the subjects being tested. For example, some people need to carve out time to skim their class notes, class lecture slides and then need more time to actually practice their knowledge on old midterms or practice problem sets. Make sure you allocate your time wisely, 30/70 is what we recommend: 30% review and 70% practice.

3. Realistically Assign time for each task for each class

Now that you’ve figured out what you need to do for which class, it is now time to figure out the answer to each task: “for how long?” Some people read slower and may need an hour or two just to skim a chapter or notes, others may require less. The recommendation here is to caution against assigning more than 3 hours per task.

4. Plug in all studying tasks in a hourly schedule

So at this point, you got the which subject, what tasks, for how long, and now you need to know when. Try Google Calendar, iCalendar, or for an old school paper schedule template, you can download from our website here. Tip: avoid burn out by being realistic vs. overly ambitious in scheduling. Make sure to switch up the subjects so you don’t overload and keep breaks and meals in the schedule as well! Make you time as visual as possible.

If you would like more support on how to do this, come into Weingarten and a learning instructor would be happy to help!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

Free Campus Coffee & Teas

Baby it’s cold outside…” so come into the Graduate Student Center for forever free coffee!

When you need a nice and warm place to study for finals or space to concentrate so you can finally get that homework/project done, GSC is swell. Observe the festive decorations and toasty REAL fire. No, my friends, it is not a mirage. IMG_0735

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How can you partake in the free coffee you ask? Easy! Just bring your own cup or travel mug and fill away to your heart’s content!

 

 

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Worried that your pickiness will get in the way of getting a free cup of Joe? No worries! There are a variety of coffees to choose from so even the connoisseurs can enjoy a cup.  This week there was Pumpkin, Hazelnut, Decaf and Colombian!

Lastly, if you’re not a coffee person, there are plenty of free teas to choose from! The GSC even has inexpensive and healthy snacks (not shown in picture but they do have fruits!) for you to buy if you’d like something to accompany your complimentary drinks. IMG_0736

So what are you waiting for? Check it out and get caffeinated (or not, decaf is good too)!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

White Board: a study strategy

Final examinations are here and you’ve already read books, notes, and class lectures slides. But how much did you actually retain? What other ways can you study? A great strategy to test your knowledge would be to do a white board activity. This includes having a white board or simply a blank sheet of paper, and writing at the top or the center the main ideas or topics you are to be tested on, then writing down every single piece of information or knowledge you have on the topic. Doing this activity forces you to dig deep, to come face to face with what you do know and more importantly, what you don’t know.

Here is a sample suggestion on how to chunk your studying while implementing this activity:

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Let’s say you take a week to study per subject. On the first day of said studying, you can just focus on re-reading notes, lectures, books, and skimming for main ideas. Day 2, you can take active notes on all the reviewing. Day 3 can be focused on trying out practice problems on certain topics you’re weak in and applying the knowledge you’ve learned. On Day 4 you could do the white board activity, and make notes of what you still need to learn and follow that up with Day 5 of actually filling in the gaps of knowledge by reviewing again and doing problems/questions in that needed area.

Happy Studying! Come into Weingarten for more learning or studying strategies!

Staff Writer: Victoria Gill

Notes from a long-time student: SelfControl

Wikipedia defines Self-control as “the ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands, to function in society” (original emphasis). Self-control is not always the easiest skill to (ironically) control when you’re a student. The nature of most of our academic work demands that we spend time on the internet and specifically on our computers. While the internet and our computers are useful tools they can also be the source of many, many distractions: email, facebook, youtube, twitter, buzzfeed, and powerful search engines that seem to know the answers to all of our endless curiosities.

One of the tools you can use to exercise your self-control and motivate yourself to stay on task is (again ironically) SelfControl. SelfControl is a free application for Macs that allows you to identify the sites that distract you and block them! I imagine the developers of the app thought of us, students, as they built this incredible tool. Understanding our genius and the innate nature of our compulsive need to check social media sites every few minutes, they made sure the app was robustly unhackable. That means that once you block a website there is no way to access it. You can restart your computer or even delete the SelfControl app and the app won’t budge. Of course, you can decide the length of time you want to block yourself from the sites.
How does this gem work you may ask?

It starts with a simple download at SelfControlapp.com. The site is pretty straight-forward and has a big blue button right in the center reading “Download SelfControl.” Do not be discouraged by the logo of the app, it’s not a virus.

Once you download the app, using it is easy. You will see a toggle bar that allows you control the amount of time you want the sites to be blocked. You can decide the time by sliding the toggle left or right. The time you’ve selected will be visible immediately under the bar.

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To choose the sites you would like to block, click the “Edit Blacklist” button on the right side of the app box. When you download the app you’ll find a few pre-loaded sites: facebook, twitter, Netflix, hulu etc. You can add or delete sites by using the + and – signs on the bottom left. One of the newer functions of SelfControl is a “Whitelist.” This list does the opposite of a Blacklist–it allows you to block out all of the internet except for the sites you choose to give yourself access to.

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A few notes of caution before you click start: SelfControl only works for websites so be mindful with other potential distractions like cellphones, tablets, and friends. Make sure you have everything you need from these sites before you block them. I once blocked facebook and only later realized I needed to contact group partner through it.

Ready? Click “Start”! You’ll be asked to grant the app permission by entering your computer password.
If you’re not a Mac user and wondering where this leaves you, stay tuned. Next week, we’ll talk about a program that can similarly help you control your self-control.

Staff Blogger: Erica Saldivar Garcia