Friday, September 22, 2006
If you’re a student attending classes, you have probably experienced many moments when it was hard to make yourself settle down and study, even when an important exam was coming up.
If you’re like most students, you put off studying until the very last minute. The night before the exam, you’ll stay up all night cramming, getting little or no sleep. In the morning, you’ll drag yourself out of bed, psych yourself up with lots of coffee and some cigarettes, and go into the exam feeling exhausted, drained and jittery all at the same time. You’ll find it hard to focus or think, and you’ll be cursing yourself for not starting to study sooner.
And not surprisingly, unless you’re blessed with natural brilliance, or you happen to know the subject matter extremely well, you’ll probably do terribly on the test.
If this is your typical method of studying, you already know it doesn’t work. Every time you go through this ritual, you tell yourself that you’re going to smarten up the next time you face a big exam. Next time you’ll start to study weeks in advance, you say. But instead, you keep repeating this crazy pattern. Why does this keep happening? And what should you be doing instead if you want to get better marks?
A big problem for most people, especially those who are young students, is that life gets in the way. If you’re a student, you probably have a part time job, and like most young people, you also want to have a social life.
Studying can seem very boring compared to all the exciting temptations just outside your door. Or the games on your computer. Even watching old reruns of Sesame Street can seem more interesting than the biology text your teacher is expecting you to master!
One reason we often don’t start studying until the last possible minute is that we have misjudged how long it will actually take us to absorb and understand the material. If your mid-term is still six weeks away, that might seem like plenty of time left before you need to get around to studying. You might find however, that the subject matter is a lot harder to understand than you thought it would be, and all of a sudden there’s no time left to ask someone to explain it to you.
Another reason we often put off starting to study is that we are too overwhelmed with how big the project actually seems to be. Somehow we convince ourselves that putting off a tough study project can be the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by it.
When we are faced with a study project that seems exceptionally difficult and overwhelming, it can be to maintain a high level of interest and motivation for the duration of the learning process.
If you have been guilty of all these bad study habits, it’s not too late to learn some other habits that will work better for you.
First, remind yourself why you want to do better in your studies. Maybe you need a good mark to get into a good college. Maybe you want a chance at a career that will pay you well. Always keep your end goal in mind.
You can put little cards up around your room with inspirational messages, and attractive photographs that will remind you why you want to do well in school.
If you feel very overwhelmed, you can improve your motivation and your performance by breaking up the project into smaller sections, or “chunks”. Each time you accomplish one little bit successfully, give yourself a meaningful reward.
If you have a deadline looming, decide how much of the project you need to tackle at one time.
Let’s say you have six weeks to master the content of a difficult biology text. Looking through the book you realize that if you study one chapter each night, you can get through the book in 28 days, leaving two weeks in which you can again review the material.
With this knowledge you can pace yourself. You know what your assignment is. You know how much you need to read every night. Concentrate on the immediate task at hand. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the entire book at one time. Next, work out a system of rewards for yourself. Give yourself a series of small rewards each time you master one chapter, and a larger reward for completing the entire book.
For rewards to work they must be immediate, and personally meaningful to you. There is no point in rewarding yourself with a new fishing rod if you hate fishing.
Rewards don’t need to be material objects if there is something else that would really motivate and inspire you. How about attending a special concert, or taking a special trip? You decide. Get creative and think of something that will spur you to take action.
It’s very important that the reward take place soon after the work has been accomplished. This creates a sense of positive reinforcement. Give yourself a small reward every time you finish a small part of the job, and a bigger reward when the project is completed. If there is too long a gap between the activity and the reward, it will not have the effect of reinforcing the desired activity.
Besides motivating yourself with a series of external rewards, learn to motivate yourself internally. Tell yourself you’re a good learner. Tell yourself you enjoy learning. Tell yourself you enjoy giving your brain a good work out. Congratulate yourself for your efforts. Tell yourself you love acquiring new knowledge, and let yourself feel a joy in learning. Be proud of yourself for the work you do to gain more knowledge.
For information to sink into your brain and be accessible to you, you need to review it several times, and your brain needs to sleep properly for the memories to be encoded in your neurons. You need to reduce your mental stress. Your brain needs good nutrition and it needs to be in a peaceful, confident state. Drugs and alcohol don’t help the process of learning.
Write out what you are learning in your own words, and find a learning buddy. Practice explaining to someone else what you have learned. This will increase the likelihood that your brain will remember it.
If you start to cram the night before, you are putting your brain at a big disadvantage.
You’re increasing your physical and mental stress, and you’re not giving yourself time to review the material several times. By cutting back on your sleep, you’re not giving your brain a chance to put the information you’ve been studying into the hard drive storage of your brain.
By starting your studies early, and reviewing what you’ve learned, you have a much better chance of remembering and understanding what you need to know when you face a big exam.
Rosemary oil aids concentration and clears the mind. When you are studying burn this oil in the room to help you make the most from the session. If you can't burn the oil, then either put a few drops on a tissue and regularly smell it, or hold the bottle under your nose for a few seconds at a time to get the same effect.
- Rosemary oil should not be used under any circumstances if you are pregnant!
at 11:33 AM
Sunday, September 17, 2006
at 11:04 AM
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The saying 'No man is an island' is an undeniable truth. We need the support and cooperation of other people to help us in reaching our goals. Successful people know that one of the most important abilities to possess is the ability to persuade and influence others. Here are some hot tips to do this effectively.
1. Enter Their World
Try to put yourself in the other's shoes and understand the situation from their point of view. Set aside your personal interests and concentrate on them.
Ask yourself if you are them, what would you do? What would be your opinion? Then take the appropriate action that would be beneficial to them.
2. Mirror Their Body Language
People feel comfortable with those who are like them. Copy the person you are trying to create a connection with.
Observe how they act, how they speak, and how they think. If they rub their forehead while they think, act like them. If they speak at a clear and slow pace, try to do the same thing. This is called mirroring.
In due time, the people you're mirroring will subconsciously feel more comfortable with you. It's as if they see themselves in you.
Proceed with caution, however. Do not let them be aware that you are copying them. They might interpret it as mockery and you'll just get into trouble.
3. Be Cheerful and Nice
Did your mother tell you to be nice to people? She was right. People like others who brighten up their day. Make a sincere compliment to raise their spirits. Little things like these go a long way to breaking the ice and setting the relationship off to a good start.
4. Be Sincere and Trustworthy
Make them feel that whenever they need help or just someone to look up to, you'll always be there to lend a hand. People tend to be more receptive to those they trust.
If you have a boss or client you are trying to please, overdeliver and exceed their expectations. Soon, they will notice your efforts and will be more than glad to grant your request.
5. Provide Them With Compelling Evidence
Explain to them how your ideas or suggestions could be the most effective techniques to implement. Show them undeniable proof that you have the best product by way of testimonials, before and after scenarios, and detailed comparisons against your competitors. Just make sure that all your claims are true and verifiable. Always maintain a good reputation.
6. Show Them What's In It For Them
This is the most important thing to remember when persuading anyone. People are self-centered. They always put their own well-being before others. No matter how close you are to becoming like them or how overwhelming your evidence is, if it does not satisfy the "What's In It For Me?" test, your persuasion efforts will not produce satisfactory results.
If you can prove that your proposal will provide more advantageous benefits to them than to you, they are more likely to accept it.
7. Genuinely Care For Them
Focus more on their interests, desires, needs, and expectations, so you can satisfy their craving for attention, and establish mutual trust and respect. It also shows that you really care about them and that will make them more likely to trust you and want to work with you.
at 12:42 PM
Friday, September 01, 2006
It is September 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance--click the button) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter.
"We live in a squat. We don’t know squat. We don’t have squat. We don’t do squat. We don’t give a squat. People say we’re not worth squat."
Taylor Field has worked since 1986 in the inner city of New York where he is pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries. He holds a M.Div. from Princeton and Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his previous books is the award-winning Mercy Streets. Field and his family live in New York, New York.
If you want to know more, please visit The SQUAT Website!
To order Squat, click HERE.
Author interview contact is Andrea Irwin at Broadman & Holman.
All author proceeds from Squat will go to Graffiti Community Ministries, Inc., a service arm of the East Seventh Street Baptist Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Field preaches.
Back Cover Copy:
In the shadow of Wall Street’s wealth, homeless citizens with names like Squid, Saw, and Bonehead live in abandoned buildings known as "squats" where life is hand to mouth, where fear and violence fester. The light in lovable Squid’s obsessive-compulsive mind’s eye is Rachel, a loving soup kitchen missionary who tells him about faith and unfaith, hypocrisy and justice, the character of God and finding identity in Him.
But among the squats and so many other abandoned lives, will such talk be enough to make Squid believe that his life may actually amount to something?
Calmly, the girl on the sofa reached out and pulled up a flap of skin on the little boy’s thin arm. It could have been a gesture of affection. But then she pinched the skin and twisted it. Hard.
“Ouch!” He whipped his pencil in front of her face once, like a club, and then cracked it on her forehead. He pulled the pencil back, ready to strike her again, crouching against the back of the couch like a cornered weasel.
The little girl wrinkled up her round freckled face but did not cry out. She looked toward her mom, who was talking to the receptionist. The boy’s mom, seated across the room, didn’t look up. She continued to look through the pages of her magazine, snapping each page like a whip.
“You could have put my eye out!” the freckled girl hissed.
The boy rubbed the two blue marks on his arm. He looked her steadily in the eyes and growled.
His mom called him over. “Come sit by me, honey, and stop making so much noise.” She patted his hair down in the back and smiled at him. She wore lots of eyeliner and widened her eyes to make even sitting in a waiting room seem like an adventure. “You’re such a big man, now,” she had said this morning as she combed his hair and helped him put on his best shirt. She was humming “Getting to Know You” even though her voice quivered just a little. She had put a lot of extra perfume and sprays on this morning. She smelled like the women’s aisle in a drugstore.
Once the little girl’s mom finished with the receptionist and returned to the sofa, the little girl started crying with one soft, unending whine.
The boy rolled his eyes and looked for a book to bury his head in.
“What’s wrong, honey?” the mom asked as she swept her little girl up.
“That boy hit me.”
A stuffy silence reigned in the waiting room except for the sound of the bubbles in the aquarium above the magazine table. The girl’s mother glared at the boy and then at his mother. The boy picked up a children’s book with some torn pages and began studying it seriously. His mom hadn’t been listening to the girl. She was still snapping through the magazine’s pages.
Finally, she threw it down with disgust and looked at her watch again. “I’m going outside to smoke a cigarette, honey,” she said, oblivious to the stares of the mother and daughter across the room. She stood up, adjusted her dress with an efficient tug, and stepped outside the office. They gaped at her departure with their mouths open, like two goldfish.
The aquarium continued to gurgle. In the following silence, the little boy became dramatically interested in the book in front of him. It had been pawed over by a lot of children waiting in this doctor’s office, and the first few pages had been torn out. The pages that remained had rounded corners and smudges along the edges. The little boy squinted his eyes in exaggerated concentration. He preferred the smudged pictures to the astonished fish eyes of the adult across the room.
He studied a picture of a man who wore a robe down to his ankles. He had a beard and a sad look in his eyes. In front of him was a young man with no beard, lying on a stone with his hands tied. The man with a beard had a knife in his hand and had his hand raised high up as if he were going to stab the boy. Out of a cloud an angel was reaching out to grab the hand of the man. The angel hadn’t touched the man yet, but his hand was getting close. The man didn’t yet know that the angel was there.
The boy forgot about the girl and her mother. The color of the man’s robe was so deep and blue. The angel’s wings were more gold than his mother’s best bracelet. The boy on the stone had a robe that was silvery-white like clouds. The sun in the background was redder than any sun he had ever seen. It was as red as a hot dog. The little boy felt he was swimming in this world of rich colors and robes, a sleepy world tempered by the sound of the bubbles in the doctor’s aquarium. The boy put his finger above the picture book, to the right of the book, and then to the left of the book. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he whispered to himself, touching each of the three points three times.
His mom opened the door and came back in. The summer heat from outside reached in to bathe him in warmth. She shut the door with exasperation. She sat down beside him, reeking of cigarette smoke and hair spray. She adjusted his collar and gave him a nervous smile. “You’re such a big man now,” she said and patted his hair again.
The boy pointed to the man in the robe in the picture. “Mom, is that boy that man’s son?”
“I don’t know, honey.” She picked up the same magazine again and started ripping through it at lightning speed.
“What’s he doing with the knife, Mom?”
His mom gave a half smile and looked at the picture absentmindedly. “He’s protecting his boy from someone who might hurt him. Stay still, honey. Why is the doctor making us wait so long? If he doesn’t see us by twelve, we’ll have to leave. He ought to pay us for making us wait.”
The boy studied the picture again.
“That’s Abraham, stupid,” the little girl stage-whispered from across the room.
The boy looked at her and scowled. “Yeah, like you know.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and turned it upside down.
His mom backhanded a few more pages, put the magazine down, and looked him in the eyes. She beamed. “Honey, I have a surprise for you. I’ve been waiting to tell you, and I’ve been looking for the right moment. I guess no moment is really the right moment. At 12:15 today we are going to see Sammy again. He’s come back. He’ll be waiting for us at our place. Isn’t that exciting? Everything will be different. You’ll be nice to him, won’t you? Honey, don’t bite your thumbs, you’ll make them bleed again.”
The boy wouldn’t look at his mom. He stared down at the picture of the man with the knife. Then he looked up at the clock above the receptionist. The little hand was close to the twelve and the big hand was on the eight. He turned the page of the book and another page was torn out. The next page after the torn one had a picture of a man sleeping with his head on a rock. He didn’t have a beard and he looked scared. His robe was a dull gray and looked dirty, but in the background, angels were coming up and down out of the sky on a shimmering stairway.
“I want to camp out on my own like this guy does, away from everybody, away from the house,” he told his mom.
“That’s sweet, honey,” she said as she finished the magazine again and looked at her watch.
The little boy’s lips moved as he carefully scrutinized the words beneath the picture of the man camping out. His eyes got wider. He traced a word with his finger. He almost forgot where he was. “I want to be like this guy,” he whispered.
A man in a suit breezed in and talked to the receptionist. Immediately his mom sat up straighter. The man finished with the receptionist and turned around and looked for a seat. His mom widened her eyes and smiled at the man. He smiled back.
The next page of the book was also torn out. On the following page was the best picture of all. A youth was wearing a beautiful robe with many different stripes of colors. He seemed so happy and looked as though nothing bad would ever happen to him. A man with a white beard was smiling next to him in the picture. The boy stared at the colors in the book for a long time. If he focused his eyes beyond the page, the colors blurred together like rainbow ice cream. Somehow looking at it kept his stomach from hurting so badly.
“Mom, I want a coat like this one.”
His mom looked at the picture for a moment. Her tone sounded much more patient with him now that the new man was in the waiting room. “Everybody wants a coat like that, honey. You’ll get yours one day.”
The little girl stretched her freckled face up as high as she could so she could see the picture. “That’s Joseph, you toad,” she said hoarsely from across the room. “Don’t you ever go to church?”
Her mother pulled her back close to her lap and said, “Hush.”
The boy looked at the clock. The big hand was on the nine. “Mom, let’s just stay here. It’s nice and cool and our air conditioner doesn’t work at home. I like looking at the books here. I like the fish. Let’s just stay here and not go back home. It’s too hot there.”
His mom looked at her watch again. “Why are your hands so clammy, sweetie? You’re making the book wet. What’s wrong with you? Stop biting your thumb or you’ll make it bleed right before we see the doctor. Do you want to get me into even more trouble?” She smiled at the man as she got up and walked past him to the receptionist. “Could you tell me how much longer it will be until we can see the doctor? I have another urgent appointment.” She conferred with the receptionist for a few minutes in hushed tones.
The boy found an envelope in the back of the book with all the colorful pictures. It had bright green writing on it and a red border. The envelope said you could send off for more books with other stories. The boy looked up at the little girl across the room. She was yanking on her mother’s sleeve and whispering something in her ear. She was probably talking about the boy’s mom. While making sure the girl was still looking at her own mom, he carefully folded the envelope once and put it in his jean pocket.
The girl was staring insolently at him again. He wanted to do something to the book. He wanted to add a character to protect the boy from the father with the knife. He reached in his other pocket and pulled out half a red crayon. He wanted to draw a picture in the book. He wanted to put someone in there to help that angel keep that boy from getting cut, but he knew that the girl on the opposite couch would never let him get away with drawing in the book. He pulled out his stack of baseball cards as she continued to stare. He carried only Yankees. He pulled his prize Reggie Jackson card from the stack and began to place it in the book but decided against it. He pulled out a relief pitcher, Dick Tidrow. He would be a good enough guard to help the angel. Then he put the card carefully in the page where the sad man was dressed in the long robe and holding the knife. He made sure that the edge of the card was exactly parallel to the edge of the book. He knew the girl was watching him. He closed the book very slowly and with great respect. Very quietly, with just one finger, he touched three sides of the book again, three times. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he said under his breath. He put the book down gently on the table and then put both hands on his stomach and doubled over until his head touched his knees. A groan came out of him before he knew it.
The little girl sneered at him, “You’re nuts!” Her mom held her closer and made a shushing sound.
The boy looked at the clock again as his mom plopped down on the sofa with a snort. The big hand was already past the eleven. “Mom, let’s stay here. We’ve already waited a long time. Let’s stay.”
“Straighten up, sweetie. Why are you bent over? Everything is going to be fine. Soon we will see Sammy and everything will be different. It won’t be like last time. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.” She looked at her watch again then got up to talk to the receptionist. She seemed to be talking faster and faster. Finally she marched back to her son and said firmly, “We’re going now. We’ll have to come back another day. Let’s go, honey. Straighten up and stop frowning.”
She grabbed his hand, but he grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand. The arm of the sofa had padding on the top, but a metal support on the side. It was just right for grabbing. She pulled and his knuckles whitened. “Come on, sweetie, don’t be silly.” She smiled at the man and the other mother. She was petite and could not get her son to loosen his grip. He was small for an eleven-year-old, but his grasp was almost as strong as his mother’s. She reached to loosen his grip with her hand, but he simply grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand.
She smiled sweetly to the man and said, “Would you mind helping me, please?”
He hesitated, got up awkwardly, and began to loosen the grip of the other hand. The aquarium began to rumble like a volcano, and both the receptionist and the other mother stood up. The boy was stretched out like a cartoon as the mother pulled and the man pried his fingers from the sofa. In the middle of the hubbub, the little girl came up to hold his torso, as if to protect him from falling. Where her mother couldn’t see, she grabbed the sensitive skin next to his ribs and pulled and twisted at the same time as hard as she could.
In the tussle, the book with the men in robes fell to the floor and the little girl slipped on it. The baseball card slid underneath the sofa. The receptionist picked up the phone to call someone. The other mother grabbed for her daughter. The little boy squealed a high squeal; he was a desperate guinea pig grabbed by many hands.
Finally, the man got both hands loose, and his mom dragged him by the torso and opened the door. He clutched at the frame of the door but couldn’t hold on. By that time, some people in white coats came out with the receptionist and shouted as his mom dragged him out to the steaming parking lot. His mother roared back at them with a curse. He cried and whimpered for help as he got one last glimpse of the girl looking out at him from the waiting room window. She stood with her hands on her hips and her tongue sticking out.
Until he ran away from home, a number of years later, the little boy never went back to a doctor.
at 4:24 PM