…see what I did there?
Alright, so maybe I’m easily amused by my own ‘clever’ titles, but hear me out. I have a big gift of gradvice in the form of Ms. Mentor. She’s the witty and wise alter ego of an English prof in the States and she’s written two books on the subject of advice for those (mainly women) in academia. These books are heavily influenced by her advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
I definitely recommend her to anyone in grad school. You can find short online previews of her books here and here.
What is the best advice you’ve received about academic life? What’s the best advice you have to offer?
Lately, I’ve been scouring the internet in an effort to find new ways to save money. It was spurred on by some recent number crunching for grad school and let’s just say I’d like more money than I forecast I’ll have. That’s how I came to learn more about Six Items or Less.
The basic premise is to challenge yourself to 30 days of only wearing six different items of clothing. You can read about some experiences in the New York Times and on College Fashion. I’d heard about it before and decided to look into it further. It wouldn’t hurt to spend less money on clothes while learning to appreciate my current wardrobe…right?
This is where ‘picking your battles’ comes in. As much as it sounds like a great challenge, it’s not for me. I love clothes. I love combining new outfits and having all sorts of lovely things to wear. I balance this out by limiting my monthly clothing budget, buying items on sale, and only buying items I genuinely like so I know I’ll wear them. There’s no point in taking on a financial challenge that goes against what you enjoy if you can do something different instead. So, in my case, instead of cutting out my clothing budget and a lot of my options, I’ll cut down all areas of my budget in manageable ways.
Would you take the Six Items or Less Challenge? What items would you pick? If I really had to, I would probably pick: dark blue skinny jeans, black slacks, white t-shirt, pink blouse, gray cardigan, and purple leopard-print tank top.
Image credit: ponsuwan
I love yoga. Have you tried it? If you haven’t, seriously look into it. I always come out of a yoga session with a clear head, better posture, and much less stress. The key really is to focus on your body and your breathing while letting your thoughts float away. Perfect for letting go of exam stresses!
If you’re looking into it, I highly recommending taking a beginner class. Not only will it introduce you to basic poses, but you’ll also get feedback to make sure you’ve got the proper form, which will improve your practice and make sure you don’t get hurt. Classes are likely offered on campus and at your local rec centre. There are also probably free local classes. For example, Lululemon had free “Community Karma” classes on Friday evenings when I lived in Whistler, BC. I was a big fan.
To continue your practice on the cheap, seek out books from the library and websites with free content.
Got a favourite yoga video? Or a great community class in your area?
A few months ago, my boyfriend climbed Cerro San Lorenzo (and reached the summit!) in Chile. He spent months and months training beforehand. He ran, swam, lifted weights, and generally prepared his body for the epic journey ahead. It occurred to me today that in the upcoming months before I start my M.A., I have some serious training to do.
One of the best things you can do before any major task is to train. Grad school is no exception. In the months ahead, it’s a good idea to train your mind. Get used to focusing and being productive for long periods of time. You can use your job as a training ground…maybe you’re not doing the most exciting work, but use it to get used to working hard even if you aren’t super interested. You’ll thank yourself when you’re able to get through reading endless papers or writing out a seemingly-endless proof.
As you would with sports, you also need to train your body. There are two main reasons for this: (1) you’ll be healthier and more energetic, making you able to perform better with your large workload, and (2) getting into a habit of exercise and healthy diet now will make it a routine to maintain during school.
What do you want to train for and what are you doing to train?
It may not be perfect spring weather just yet but I’m already in the mood for spring cleaning! For me, that means more than just scrubbing and dusting. Here are three places outside of the home that deserve some sprucing up.
Work: Not only is it important to clean up your work space, you should also clean up your work habits. Tidying up those habits can include improving your focus and beating procrastination. It can also mean reorganizing your work day, either with more productive breaks or more sane hours. Working at 2am? No thanks!
Social life: Get rid of dust bunnies from your closet and duds from your social circle. Time is a precious resource and there’s no need to waste it on a toxic friend. Evaluate your friends and/or social commitments and nix anything or anyone that isn’t making you feel good.
Your mind: Decluttering your mind is always important. Do a mental reboot by practising yoga or meditation. Pay attention to your thoughts and get rid of negative ones. A fresh and positive outlook can work wonders in terms of your well-being!
Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share?