MonthMay 2016

What 1 Year of Blogging Has Taught Me

This week marks the 1 year anniversary for this blog! For 52 consecutive weeks I have posted every Friday without fail. I’ve covered topics from books I’ve read, to life at University and my thoughts on business.

Some posts have been very successful, with lots of shares, reads and interaction, others not so much… but I’ve still carried on posting. Throughout the year a lot of people have had the same question – why?

I don’t make money from this blog, I haven’t secured a job through it, in honesty the potential external rewards of a blog haven’t really shown up for me. Yet the year has been extremely rewarding. So why do I blog? And what have I learnt?

I’ve learnt how to summarise faster!

On more than one occasion I’ve had to finish the post in a bit of a rush. However I’ve always wanted the quality to be respectable. It used to take days of planning and research for me to write a post. Now, if I know what I want to talk about, it will take 20 minutes.

I’ve noticed the benefits of this in my University work. Finishing coursework with ten minutes to spare, writing the conclusion quickly. Then when receiving the feedback I see a comment “very well written conclusion!” I put this completely down to the summarisation of points I carry out every week in these posts!

Our thoughts are very contradictory

Until you actually understand what your thoughts, beliefs and morals are and then compare them across situations, you won’t quite realise how often you can contradict yourself!

“Always do what you want to do, at the end of the day enjoyment is a priority” is probably a belief I hold true for a number of situations, but then when I write a post about revision it suddenly becomes obvious that I clearly don’t think the initial statement is relevant or even helpful in many other situations.

That self-awareness is so important to understanding how you wish to present yourself and act in different situations.

People don’t ‘hate’, they just don’t care

Before starting my blog I was worried about what people might think, what they would think of me for it. Does it make me sound big headed? Am I talking complete rubbish in my posts? Will people make comments or remarks about it when I see them?

The truth is, most people don’t care enough to form a negative opinion. Most people might read one or two, quite like them but not read another. Never have I had a negative opinion expressed at me for them. Of course, people don’t always agree with the content, but I don’t expect them to.

It has surprised me how many positive comments I have had from people. Often at unexpected times – “oh, by the way, I really liked your blog this week!” Just knowing that someone has taken the time to hear my opinion really makes it worthwhile!

 

Since starting I have spoken to a number of people wanting to start something similar. I say the same thing “start now and plan later.” The hardest thing is the commitment and motivation to stick at it. If you wait until you have a perfect plan, you’ll never start, if you jump straight in you’d better start getting your content ready otherwise you’ll be missing your deadlines straight away!

Using Sport to Help with Revision

Today marks the end of my 3rd exam in this summer period. But with another 5 to come over the next two weeks I’m far from finished.

The build-up and then sudden speed of exams can be tricky to handle it. It feels like you spend an age waiting for the first and preparing for it, and before you know it you’ve finished your last one without a clue for how well you’ve done.

It can be tough mentally; cramming in all the lecture slides, less sleep and general adrenaline and/or stress of the actual exam. It’s no surprise that those who control their head better, do better.

So what can be done to help? Try sport.

You spend a great deal of time sitting at the computer or with your head in a book when revising for exams. You can’t revise effectively for excessively long periods, so take regular breaks to stay productive. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, reducing stress and helping you to get good night’s sleep

Some research actually suggests that 20 minutes of exercise right before an exam will help you perform better.

brain

You’ve studied hard, had a good night’s sleep, eaten a good breakfast, and now you’re ready for your big test. You might consider walking to the exam—20 minutes of activity, walking, running, or other exercise, has been shown to boost test scores.

Researchers started with children around 9 and 10, and tested children who got some exercise—usually aerobic exercise like walking, running, or playing—before a test, and compared their scores with children who didn’t get any exercise at all. They found that the children who were active scored better on the tests, all other things being equal.

The research showed that “fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply. Since both groups of children had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, body mass index and other variables, the researchers concluded that being fit had enlarged that portion of their brains.”

Similar research has been conducted with teenagers and young adults, results of which can be seen here.

What’s clear is that there are benefits. If may take up some precious revision time, but it is worth it.

So the next time you had enough of past papers, put down your pen and do something active!

What to do after University!

A little different this week… no written post from me. Instead I want to share the below video in the hope that anyone who would have read this post, watches this video instead!

The Importance of Sport at University

It’s safe to say that most, if not all, Universities encourage and promote sport as a route to improving student well-being, health and social life whilst at University. Yet, at the same time sport can sometimes be overlooked as a vital aspect when developing a University. It can often be seen as a “this or that” scenario for Universities – do they want to be known as a sporting or academic University?

Why am I raising this topic now? Well I’ve come to the end of my time as captain of Lancaster Universities Men’s First Badminton Team. This past year has seen one of the largest changes for sport in the University’s history. The introduction of the ‘Sport Lancaster’ brand, the requirement for consistent memberships and commitments from team members and an increase in funding for focus sports. These changes were met by uncertainty and dislike from many – for me it was music to my ears!

University sport should be taken seriously, with a competitive nature and a desire to win. If you only want to play for fun, join the society. But please don’t get me wrong, being part of the badminton team has brought about some of my best and most enjoyable moments from my time at University, however that is a result of having the right people with the right attitude to sport.

I could ramble about how vital sport is at University for both students and the institution, so instead I’ll give talk about 3 key reasons – they might not be the 3 most important overall, but they are the three that are most applicable to me and other people I know at the moment.

1 – It’s an escape like no other

When your days are full of lectures and/or revision each day feels the same, the weekends merge into the weeks and before you know it the term is ending. The ‘bubble’ created at University makes it extremely easy to lose track of time. It doesn’t take long before you can’t concentrate, before you feel stressed about exams or you feel like you’ve lost your social life.

Sport is one of the best ways to break this up. An hour or two of team training gets you in a new environment, with different people and a different mind-set. It is crazy how good sport can be for ‘refreshing’ your mind. Whether you want to take out anger, relax or just do something you enjoy.

It can also help you keep track of time. If you know when your trainings are or when it’s your match day, you stay aware to what’s going on.

2 – It’s competitive

Let’s face it, University is a competition. Whether you’re competing against others for the highest grade, or against yourself to get the best result you can, you need to work to your best to ensure you perform at your best in exams.

It’s not easy to approach work with this competitive nature. However it parallels closely to the competitive nature of sport. Competing in sport builds up your attitude to train to your maximum, to rest well, eat properly and perform to your best. This is no different from working for your degree; you need to sleep properly, you need to eat right and you need to put the work in before the ‘big day’.

Sport will build this attitude in students and so if a University wants more ambitious and hardworking students, this is one way to promote it.

3 – Revision is boring!

I love sport a lot more than I like revision. If University was focused on revision and lectures only, I’d leave instantly. I don’t get excited to open up lecture slides or read a paper. Granted at times it is extremely interesting and I enjoy my subjects as a whole, however the individual parts are usually more painful than fun.

Sport makes it bearable – simple as that!

 

There are many students that will have similar views to these above, and many other points. Many students understand the value and importance of sport for them. Many people base their University choice on sport, and so if a University overlooks its importance, or puts it on the back seat, it will lose out on a lot of interest from prospective students and I also believe it will hold back a number of current students from reaching their full potential.

 

 

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