5 Tips For Proofreading

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A majority of our time in college is spent writing. We write essays, responses, critiques, and many other forms of writing throughout a given semester. With all of this writing, sometimes an important step can be left out: proofreading. So in the spirit of National Proofreading Day (March 8th), here are some tips for proofreading.

 

  1. Take A Break: After you have finished writing a draft of a paper, take a break. Leave the assignment, and if possible, give yourself around 24 hours to think about the topic you’re writing about. This method is most helpful for longer papers but requires you to get started early. If you have spent hours writing, you will lose some objectivity while looking over the paper. You will be too familiar with it and this will make finding mistakes more difficult. So get started early and allow yourself time to think about the paper before returning to proofread it.

  2. Read It Out Loud: Another great way of finding mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Sometimes when typing, we think something sounds correct in our heads. However, many times when we read our writing out loud we can see where an argument or sentence doesn’t make sense. This is a great way to see if your sentences are run-ons, if you repeat yourself too much, and if the paragraph or page flows well.

  3. Pay Attention To Wordiness: We all have word counts we need to meet with every paper, but many times better writing is concise writing. Sentences with too many words can be difficult to read, and you can lose your audience’s attention. Instead of adding extra words to try to finish the paper, take the time and energy to carefully choose your words. This will make your paper stronger and can lead to a better grade.

  4. Write Actively: Verbs drive language. When proofreading, look for how many times you use a “to be” verb, such as “is,” “are,” and “were.” These passive verbs make sentences weaker and can bring down an entire paper. Try to reorder the sentence so that you can remove the linking passive verbs and insert stronger, more powerful ones. To check, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard and then search for those words. It may shock you to see how many times you use passive voice.

  5. Ask Someone Else To Read Your Paper: One of the best ways to proofread is to allow someone else to do it for you! Finding other students in a specific class and exchanging papers can be a great way to find mistakes in each other’s writing and make new friends! Have you ever lost something, spent minutes looking for it, and then someone else comes in the room and finds it almost immediately? As frustrating as that can be, writing is the same way. Sometimes one glance from someone who is not familiar with the writing can be all you need to improve your paper.

 

Writing is a challenge and after completing a difficult assignment, proofreading may seem like a useless check. However, if you dedicate yourself to editing and rereading your paper, you will see an improvement in your writing, and perhaps also in your grades.

*written by Brennan Kress

 

5 Steps To Study Abroad

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So you want to study abroad? You’ve fantasized about traveling to far off places, experiencing the culture, speaking a new language, and tasting foreign cuisine. However, despite the concept of living abroad making you starry-eyed, you may not know the best way to start planning such a trip. I recently returned from a six-month study abroad in Tokyo, and I am going to explain the steps I took to get there.

Step One: Deciding Where to Go

For some people, deciding where they want to travel is a no-brainer. For me, I had been interested in Japan for about as long as I could remember, so it had been my travel goal from the start. For some, the decision is not so easy. It can be daunting to pick one place out of the entire world to choose. To help you pick, making a list of your interests and expectations can weed out some options. Love soccer? Check out places in Europe or South America where the sport is popular. Noodles are your favorite food? Italy or a country in Asia might be your best bet. Even your dislikes can help you choose a place. Afraid of tsunamis? Avoid beachfront locations. Don’t want to learn a new language? Go somewhere that you already know the preferred tongue. After you’ve compiled your list, then you can work on the next step.

Step Two: Finding an Academic Program

If you’re lucky, your school will have a program available in the country you want to visit. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If you don’t want academic credit, you don’t have to worry about finding American accredited programs, but you may also have difficulty finding scholarships. If you need academic credits, find programs that are either accredited or have connections to an American institution that can transfer those credits for you. You’ll want to contact that particular institution at this point and ask if they allow students at other institutions to concurrently enroll. This is what I did when I studied in Tokyo. I attended an international language school called KCP International but had my course credits transferred through Western Washington University. It may cost an extra fee to do this, but it shouldn’t cost a fortune, and it will open up the opportunity for a variety of academic scholarships.

Feel free to communicate with your study abroad advisor during this process. They are a wealth of information about a number of options you can choose regarding the international study. Once you’ve chosen an institution, bring it up to your advisor so that they can clear it.

Step Three: Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy

This is the part that will wear you out if you’re not careful. Between your school, the U.S. Government, and the government of the country you are visiting, you will have plenty of paperwork and requirements you will have to figure out. I cannot stress enough that you need to GET STARTED EARLY! It took me around two full years between initially talking with my study abroad advisor to actually departing for Japan.

Depending on your stay, your steps will be different. Is your country on good terms with the United States? What kind of travel insurance is the ideal one for you? Will you be flying or using some other mode of transportation? Will you have to apply for and receive an international visa? Where is the nearest consulate for your destination country? Can you bring prescription medications and, if so, how much? Will you live in dorm housing, a homestay, or will you have to arrange housing for yourself? Will you need to research and request for disability accessible amenities? Do you have to make down payments on anything for your trip? When is the best time to book travel tickets? All these and many more are questions you are going to have to figure out during the prep stage.

Use government web resources, your university staff, and your international contact to address unexpected questions. You may need to get a physical or vaccines depending on the country or program you attend, so be sure to get that done well before your trip. If this step is done well, it can save you a lot of headache down the road.

 

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Step Four: Raise Money

While you shouldn’t wait to start building your savings, you’ll probably need to apply to a program first in order to apply for some scholarships. As boring and annoying as applications can be, it can make or break your finances. I was able to receive several thousand dollars in funds from outside organizations and federal and university scholarships. Your advisor can probably recommend some scholarships for you, but a quick internet search can provide country, language, or field-specific scholarships to apply for.

Keep good track of what you’ve applied for and received, as well as application and disbursement deadlines. For many scholarships, you’ll probably need a transcript as well as letters of recommendation. I recommend getting these one time and then saving the copies to send off to however many scholarships you apply for. Many scholarships have other requirements such as writing papers after the study abroad, completing service projects, or even working for a specific entity for a specified amount of time, so please read the fine print of whatever you want to apply for. For extra liquid funds, some students get help from family members, start crowdfunding campaigns, or work to build up savings. Between my savings from two summers and winters of interning and delivery driving, as well as a generous gift from my grandparents, I had enough cash to pay for my program fees and live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities on earth while only taking out a small safety net loan. As long as you’re willing to set realistic expectations and work hard, you likely won’t have too much difficulty getting the funds you need.

Step Five: Getting Ready To Go

You’ve gotten your passport and visa, you bought your plane tickets months ago, you’ve made mental lists of everything you want to see and eat once you arrive, and you’ve even been studying your target language with renewed vigor. Now you just have to make sure your affairs are in order.

If you have a long layover before you reach your target country, I highly recommend getting a hotel room near the airport. I made the mistake of booking a sixteen-hour layover in Shanghai Pudong Airport after my fifteen-hour long-haul flight betting that the in-airport hotel would have a room available. Upon fumbling my way through Chinese customs and immigration, I hoisted my luggage on a cart and made the incredibly long trek to the hotel only to find that they were completely booked. None of the seats in the airport recline, so I was reduced to lying on the floor of the very cold international terminal, using my jacket as a blanket and maneuvering my travel pillow into a very uncomfortable headrest. All and all it was miserable, and the few hours of sleep I did get left me sore, stiff, and cranky just in time for my flight to Narita Airport.

Also, don’t forget to go to your preferred local bank and request currency for your target country as well as any countries you stop at in between. You don’t want a delayed flight to make you choose between the unfortunate airport exchange rate or starving to death in terminal C. Always remember to weigh your baggage in both pounds and kilograms before you leave and to pack only what you need. Don’t be like me and pay an extra hundred dollars on overweight charges because of a pair of ice skates I only used once.

Make sure to read up on your airline carry-on policy and to pack your carry-on bag in such a way that you can easily access its contents. You’ll also want to check the country safety rating provided by the state department for your target country and all countries you’ll stop in. The rating for China went down just a few days before I was going to leave the country. This allowed me to decide against my plans to visit the city during my layover. Look up the country’s emergency numbers before you leave and research sim card options online. I purchased a data-only sim card for my time in Japan and it was a more cost-effective tool than buying a sim card with data and a cell plan. Ultimately you’ll have to choose which option best fits your location and budget. Once all your incidentals are in order you are ready to go! However, no matter how prepared you think you are, life will still find a way to bring in odd, confusing complications to your trip. Just remember to remain flexible, and that this will probably become a funny story in a month or two.

Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best of luck and happy travels. Studying abroad can provide a rich experience that you can learn so many things you’ll never find in a book. I know I enjoyed my experience more than words can say. If you found this useful, don’t forget to share this post and check out what else we have on the Union University Library Blog.

Bon Voyage!

 

*written by Ruth Duncan

Tips For Incoming Freshmen (From A Sophomore)!

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Brennan Kress reflects on his freshman year so that he can pass on some tips to new freshmen!

When I came to Union University in the fall of 2018, I can say that I felt a little out of my element. I struggled in certain areas of academic and social life. But now as a sophomore I look back, and with the benefit of better vision, I can see where I went wrong and what I could have done better. So, here are a few tips for freshmen as you start your journey at Union University.

 

  1. Don’t Be Intimidated By A PhD: Every professor at Union University cares for your academic career. They are also all well-versed in their area of study. As a freshman, I was impressed and sometimes intimidated with the vast knowledge that my professors held. Many times the feeling of inferiority on a knowledge level made me feel disconnected from my professors. Instead, I should have used their knowledge and gotten to know them better. So get to know your professors, and don’t let their wealth of knowledge intimidate you!
  2. Be Free To Change Your Mind: Many times I found myself in conversation doubling down on ideas I had little knowledge to support. I reverted back to what I had always been taught and failed many times to ask the right questions. College is, at a very basic level, about learning. You will be presented with ideas you have never heard before on topics you didn’t know existed. So, first, be open to new ideas even if they sound strange, bizarre, or at the outset, heretical. Take time to form your opinion and then once you have, feel free to change your mind! We are all learning and growing in multiple facets at college so don’t expect to think the same at the end of the year as you do now. And if somehow you do, I would argue you didn’t learn like you should!
  3. Take A Sabbath: One of the hardest parts about college is finding good time to rest. Many people struggle from a common inability to rest well. Some of us rest too much, sleeping in and missing classes, and some of us rest too little, staying up late grinding away on projects and homework. Thankfully, we all have a very Biblical mandate to rest, and one of the best ways to rest is to take a Sabbath. Every weekend my freshman year of college I chose either Saturday or Sunday (depending on which day made sense) and I would do no school work on that day. I would not study, read, or do any homework. Surprisingly, this practice actually made me a better student as I would prepare better in the days leading up to my rest. I would take that Sabbath as a day to sleep in, hang out with friends, and occasionally play a few video games. And the best part was that my grades never suffered. I have told countless people about my Sabbath and many thought it would be impossible to get all the work done and take a Sabbath. I don’t say this to brag, but I still managed a 4.0. All that to say, taking a Sabbath is doable and shows faith and trust in God. Pick a weekend day and take the day off! You won’t fall behind. In fact, it will keep you ahead!
  4. Be Willing To Sacrifice The Good For The Great: College is filled with many amazing opportunities for growth and learning. There are endless clubs and organizations on campus and one of the greatest challenges can be finding out what you feel most inclined to do. This can lead some people to try to do everything. A good skill to learn, especially as a freshman, is the ability to say “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to others. Don’t fill your plate to the brim. Find the things which you consider to be most valuable and pursue those.

 

Tell A Story Day (April 27th)

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“Tell A Story Day” is upon us. The purpose of this fun holiday is to offer a special day to read and tell stories of all kinds. Libraries across the country will have unique readings to children and famous authors will gather to share ideas. It is a day to remember one of the oldest practices humanity still continues to today. So, if you’re interested in ever writing a story, or just making your friends laugh, here are some tips on how to tell an effective story. (These tips apply to both written and spoken stories.)

 

1. Know Where You’re Going

Going on a trip is always fun. Most people plan out a trip by finding hotels, checking airline prices, finding tourist attractions, and planning for transportation. Rarely would you go on a trip without planning any of this, or without packing. When it comes to telling a story, planning is key. Determine the point or destination of your story. If your story does not have a point or end idea, then maybe save it, or reframe it. The worst feeling is to get to the end of your story and your audience not understand why you told it in the first place. Know where you’re going and lead your audience there- which brings me to my second point.

 

2. Lead Your Audience

Stories are about guidance. Think of yourself as a tour guide as you take your audience through the story. You know the twists and the turns. You know the places where suspense will be key, but remember that your audience does not know these things. You must bring them there. Do not give away too much at the beginning or save everything for the end. Remember how long you have to tell the story (page count or time limit) and pull the story along that time. Your words (written or spoken) are like a rope that the audience follows to the destination you have determined. As you tell your story, focus only on the details that matter along the road you are bringing them down. Do not allow them (or yourself) to become too distracted. You will lose them quickly if you don’t lead well.

 

3. Stay Focused

It is very easy (especially when talking) to begin to wander around in your storytelling. Perhaps you think of another story while telling one. Your brain has made the connection so you jump to the next thing, leaving your audience confused on where you’ve taken them. Be careful when following rabbit trails. Your audience may begin to believe that there is no destination and that you are just meandering with your words. Once they become directionless, your audience will stop caring about the story. If a tangent is important to the destination, help the audience to understand why it is important.

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4. Don’t Laugh Before the Punchline

I often find myself, usually when telling jokes I find particularly funny, laughing before I’ve delivered the punchline. The problem is, I’ve not helped my audience appreciate the joke more, I’ve only aggravated them. I’ve done so simply by knowing something they don’t. I’m the one telling the joke, I shouldn’t laugh until everyone else does. In storytelling, this can happen as well. If you show emotions out of place with the current moment in the story, you will confuse your audience. If you know something about a character the audience doesn’t, don’t make comments about it until the time when the audience understands. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t foreshadow, but only that you don’t give everything away before the proper time.

 

5. Have a Moral (but not a moral-of-the-story)

We have all heard the line “the moral of the story is…” Since you have undoubtedly heard this before, you understand it is a cliche. Try to avoid cliches as much as possible, including this one. If you tell your story well, there is no need for this tagline at the end. Your audience will have grasped the moral without realizing it. That is the point of the path you are taking them on. By the end they hardly remember every step, but they can look back and see how far they’ve come along.

 

Storytelling is an amazing practice. So take these tips and write and tell away! Take your audience along for the ride, but pay attention: you never know what a story might teach you.

 

*written by Brennan Kress

Book Review: “How To Win At College”

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How to Win at College is a quirky little book that combines humor and practical knowledge through 75 tips on how to succeed in the college setting. Each tip has a short descriptor that is typically 1-3 pages long. All of the tips in the book have been garnered from actual students, and every tip is useful.

Some tips include:

  • Don’t do all of your reading.
  • Make your bed every single day.
  • Never nap.
  • Decorate your room.
  • Make friends your #1 priority.
  • Attend political rallies.
  • “Don’t have no regrets.”

Through these tips and many, many more, this book does a phenomenal job at teaching readers how to not only succeed, but thrive while getting through college.

 

*written by Donny Turner

5 Tips For Landing An Internship

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Often times, getting your first big job out of college requires some kind of prior experience. This can be difficult to get as you have been in college the last four years dedicating your time to learning about the thing you want to do for the rest of your life. One good way to overcome this experience barrier is through getting into an internship for your desired place of work; however, internships can be extremely competitive. This time of year is when more and more people are preparing to apply for internships. Here are 5 tips to get ready for the internship that is best for you.

  1. Build a Resume: Having a well-structured resume is crucial to applying for an internship. Keeping your information clear, concise, and to the point is extremely important. The Vocatio Center on campus is excellent at helping create the perfect resume for you.
  2. Create a Cover Letter: Creating a letter specifically to describe why you are the best person for a specific job will give you a huge competitive edge over the other candidates. This one is often underutilized. Most people I have personally talked to have never created a cover letter in their life. Again, the Vocatio Center can help you create the best possible cover letter.
  3. Do Your Research: Make sure you know a lot about the places you are applying to. Does the company seem like a place you would want to spend 40 hours a week? Do past employees enjoy the work environment? If the internship is paid, what kind of pay has this company offered in the past? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the decision that is best for you!
  4. Apply to Multiple Places: Just like for college, it is a good idea to apply for a lot of different places. There is a chance you will not get your number one choice, so it is a good idea to apply for multiple places, just to be sure.
  5. Be Fully Prepared for the Interview: Once you get asked to come in for an interview, be sure you are completely ready. Have talking points prepared for any possible question they might throw at you. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up! Being humble is good, just not always in an interview setting. Be sure to know a lot about the company, and be sure to explain how you can improve what they are doing there. Mock interviews to practice for the real thing are also offered at the Vocatio Center!

 

*written by Donny Turner

Featured eBook: “You Can Handle It: 10 Steps to Shift Stress From Problem to Possibility”

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As the semester goes on, stress will inevitably continue to increase. Classes will get more difficult, nights will get longer, and sleep will be but a distant memory. In this time, it is important to be able to manage your stress in a healthy manner. You Can Handle It by Margaret Wehrenberg gives 10 steps on how to deal with an overabundance of stress.

  1. Breathe: She first talks about how just stopping to take a few deep breaths can help in almost any stressful situation. It is a great way to get your heart rate under control and calm down.
  2. Physically Relax: Being uptight and rigid while stressed can make the issue more prevalent. It can cause headaches, make your muscles sore, and, of course, give you more stress. Learning to physically relax will help ease tension and decrease stress.
  3. Be Assertive: Often times people who deal with a lot of stress also feel like they have to help other people with their problems. It is important to remember that your problems and the things you need to work on are just as important and need to take precedence.
  4. Manage Noise: Noise can be a huge stress inducer. Getting away from constant loud noises can be a great way to combat stress. Removing yourself from a noisy environment to a more peaceful one can be very helpful.
  5. Wait: Waiting can be boring. Waiting is too often seen as a monotonous activity that must be done with no real purpose; however, look at waiting as a positive opportunity. See it as a chance to escape from from the rush and business of life.
  6. Change Your Perspective: Monotony can cause stress. Dealing with the same things day in and day out can be exhausting and stressful. Changing your perspective of the every day things you deal with as new opportunities can help reduce stress.
  7. Eat!: In stressful periods of life, remembering to eat can be a chore, but not eating can be very bad for you and cause more unnecessary stress in your life. Always remember to eat some food throughout the day, even if it’s just an apple or a granola bar.
  8. Get Active: We have all heard that working out helps relieve stress, but staying active will also help you stay in control during stressful times. Physical fitness gives you the stamina you need to deal with stressful situations. Fitness also helps release built-up tension you may be dealing with.
  9. Achieve Inner Peace: Whether through religion or otherwise, finding ways to be content with yourself is vital. If you can’t be at peace with yourself and where you are in life, stress will follow you everywhere. A great way to be peaceful is to always be in the moment of where you are right now rather than worrying about things outside of your control.
  10. Play!: Taking a break from everything going on around you is vital to maintaining a healthy level of stress. Children get recess, but adults need it as well. Laughing and having fun outside of the things causing you stress will help you relax and recuperate.

 

With these tips, hopefully your stress levels will go down! Take some time to take care of yourself this semester.

 

* written by Donny Turner

 

How to Celebrate International Frugal Fun Day in Jackson

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Did you know that the first Saturday in October has been declared International Frugal Fun Day? Well, what are you waiting for? Take a study break and go have some fun on a college student’s budget! Of course, we all have different ideas of what “fun” is. Here are a variety of suggestions from across the spectrum:

  • Goodwill shopping trip. This holiday must have been designed with the Jackson Goodwill in mind, because the store offers 50% off of everything every first Saturday. It’s the perfect day to grab some cozy sweaters for this, um, autumnal weather we’ve been having.
  • UT Gardens Jackson at the West Tennessee Ag Research Center. For fans of plants or fun recycled sculpture art, the Ag Research Center (on the way to downtown Jackson) has a botanical garden with a wide array of specimens (including carnivorous plants!), a gazebo, and, last time I checked, a huge sculpture made of flattened glass bottles. Learn about gardening and local plant life, or just bring a picnic! Visitors are welcome during the daytime.
  • Cookout. This one’s self-explanatory. In the world of fast food, Cookout is the college student’s friend. They make this abundantly clear by having pictures of Union’s campus on their wall. Seriously. Go get a lot of food for $5. Split it with a friend if you’re feeling especially frugal.
  • Spend time at an art gallery. For this one, you don’t even need to leave campus. If you’ve never stopped in to the gallery next to the wellness center in the PAC, give it a try. There’s a new exhibit by a talented illustrator. Go in, stroll around in silence. Give yourself time to be present and attentive. It might not be your idea of “fun,” but how do you know if you’ve never done it? Besides, it’s absolutely free.
  • Take a hike in the Union Woods. All you have to do is cross the street. Bring some friends, an eno, and a good book. Wait, that’s not a hike, that’s a nap. Well, we all have our own way of enjoying nature.
  • Visit Third Eye Curiosities. Go downtown to Jackson’s only record store for discount vinyl and other fun thrift finds.
  • Walk through the Farmer’s Market. Amish donuts are only $3 at the Farmer’s Market, and other homegrown foods are also pretty inexpensive. If you don’t want to buy anything, you can just walk around and enjoy seeing everyone!
  • Play frisbee at Liberty Gardens. It’s close to campus and completely free to visit. You can walk on the freshly repaved walking track or play frisbee in the large grassy area.

 

Whatever you find to do this weekend, have fun- and save some money!

 

*written by Danielle Chalker & Olivia Chin

Things Your Librarians Wish You Knew: Reading Length Website

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College has many challenges, from working long nights studying, to massive exams and essays. Everyone is looking for tools and resources to help them better use their time.

One of the many areas of difficulty is reading. Reading takes time, but sometimes it is difficult or impossible to know how long a book is going to take to read. I know from experience that I have sat down to read something, thinking it will not take very long, to then spend several hours poring over a book to try to get it read before the next class. But there is a simple and easy tool that anyone can use to help them maximize reading time. It is called “Reading Length.” The website, readinglength.com, is a helpful tool that allows one to find the approximate time it will take them to read a specific book.

It works like this: go to the website and there will be a search bar. Type in any book you can think of and click “search.” This should bring you to a screen with a lot of helpful information. To the left you should see a box with the book, the author, original publication date, page, and word count. All this can be useful in seeing about how long the book is.

Next to the word count there should be a colored dot. Green means the book’s word count has been verified and is completely accurate. Yellow means the book’s word count is an estimate based upon the length of the audio book. Red means the book’s word count is a guess based upon the page count (usually inaccurate, but normally it will overestimate, so the book has rarely as many words as is suggested by the red dot).

But the center of the page is the most important. There in bold is the time the average reader will spend reading the book! This is immensely useful when planning reading time.

For example, say you were assigned The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. According to a close estimated word count of 78,300 words, it will take the average reader 5 hours and 13 minutes to read that book (at 250 words per minute). So if you needed to read that book in a week, you could spend only an hour or so a day and have it done in that time. This way you aren’t waiting until the night before the book has to be finished and underestimate the time it will take to read it.

Reading Length knows that not all people read at the same speed, so they offer simple and short tests that determine how fast you can read the specific book, or maybe judge your reading speeds in general. The description of the book is listed below the book itself. There are two buttons that allow you to time yourself in reading the description. Then, after you get your speed, you can insert it into the bar below the time and find out approximately how long it will take you to read that book. For example, I on average read closer to 330 words per minute so The Cost of Discipleship would only take me around 4 hours to read. Also the site links to Amazon, allowing you to find where you could buy the book and discover other books like it.

The site is very helpful with planning time to read. No matter how fast or how slow you read, you can use this site to determine the time it will take you to complete the task. If you use this information you may find that you don’t have to stay up until two in the morning reading. Instead, you can plan according to the individual book, and this will allow you to be more efficient in reading.

 

*written by Brennan Kress

Fight Procrastination Day (September 6th)

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For Fight Procrastination Day this September, library student assistant Brennan Kress gives us some tips on how to manage our time and get things done!

We all struggle with this feeling. We all know what’s it like to want to push something off until later. Every morning, when the alarm goes off, the snooze button always seems more inviting than the cold world outside of our covers. As we are working late into the night the idea that the work would be done better in the morning slowly creeps into our minds as our eyes slowly shut from exhaustion. Homework that isn’t due until next week shouldn’t be worried about or thought of, until next week.

Now, we have all been in these situations, and we have all procrastinated. But we would all admit, especially as college students, that procrastination has come back to hurt us in more ways than one. Maybe we were late to class, or forgot to complete some homework, or after pushing a project off in time, we end up cramming in days worth of work into one long sleepless night of anxiety and stress. We would all agree, that to be more productive and effective, we must all work together to beat procrastination. But this is no easy task. Procrastination has become almost a part of our culture and fighting it is not a battle for the faint of heart. So, here are a few tips on how to beat procrastination.

 

Forgive Yourself:

Have you ever sat down to start a project, checked your phone for texts, Snapchats, or emails, scrolled through Instagram, watched one to two YouTube videos, FaceTimed a friend, gotten a drink and a snack, and then finally gone back to the project? Then you realize you spent a solid thirty-minutes to an hour doing nothing and now you don’t have the motivation to start working at all. You feel that you wasted so much time that you might as well not start at all, but merely put it off until later. Instead of allowing this momentary feeling of guilt to keep you from your task, forgive yourself and keep working. You still have time! Certain studies have shown that this self-forgiveness helps to cultivate a more positive, and therefore productive, attitude. And, self-forgiveness may lead to less procrastination in the future. So be gracious to yourself and get back to the task at hand!

 

Eliminate Distractions:

We all know how easy it is to become distracted. Many times even the smallest noise can keep us from focusing in a classroom or in our dorm room. We are constantly being bombarded with questions and assignments. From teachers to friends, there is always something for us to look at or respond to. Now responding to a friend’s text or a teacher’s email is both good and necessary, but the danger can lie when we choose to do that over more urgent and pressing tasks in front of us. So, the next step is to remove distractions. Put your phone up for the time it takes to complete a task. You will be able to focus more and get more done. Then you won’t feel the guilt of not finishing your homework because you were liking sports posts on Instagram or watching an entire concert on your friends’ Snapchat stories. So, put away everything that could distract you and focus on the goal at hand. Allow time in your day for silence, so that you can study better and retain more.

 

Don’t Settle and Don’t Make Excuses:

Have you ever walked to class, knowing full well you have forgotten to do something, and on the way you try to think up an excuse? Many times these excuses fall short and we know they do, because we know in reality, we just procrastinated. So don’t make excuses! And this goes beyond excuses that you tell others. Don’t keep making excuses to yourself. “Well, I’m really tired right now, I’ll do it tomorrow.” “This is just how I am; I can’t help it.” We all have things we struggle with and procrastination is toward the top of all our lists, so let’s work together to cut the excuses and never settle. Always try to be better. Plan, eliminate distractions, forgive yourself when you don’t meet the plan, stop settling, and lastly…

 

Swallow the Big Frog First:

Let’s set the stage. You have been tasked with a Fear Factor/Survivor kind of challenge. In front of you are three plates. Each one has on it a frog. And these frogs vary greatly in size. The first in a small tree frog no bigger than the tip of your finger. The second is an average size frog small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. But lastly, on the third plate rests the African Bullfrog, one of the largest frogs in the world, which can grow to weigh almost five pounds and be eight to ten inches long. Now that’s a big frog! You have been tasked with the very unfortunate task of eating all three of these frogs. Eating any frog is gross, but eating three seems unbearable. So which would you start with? The answer is to start with the bullfrog. By conquering the largest, most uncomfortable and unpleasant task first, the other two will seem very easy by comparison. When faced with series of tasks, take down the biggest, most intimidating, and most annoying or frustrating task first. In doing so, you may find yourself easily motivated to complete the other tasks. And when the largest project is done, the others won’t seem so stressful.

 

Beating procrastination is a difficult ordeal, but through discipline and a few helpful hints, we can all beat procrastination and become more effective and productive in everyday life.

 

*post written by Brennan Kress