As a university student with a lot of other commitments I have to schedule my time a lot. In order to help schedule my time, I use a to-do list. I used to spend waste so much time writing my to do list’s out, every week, sometimes every day. This wasn’t working as I was procrastinating by making a beautifully organised list, then relaxing as a treat to myself. Instead I decided to get shit done and made a change where I actually complete my to-do lists. This is how I do it:

What Do You Need To Do?

I use the SplenDO app on my Samsung. Now, this makes it a lot less of a procrastination to actually write out a to-do list, which I used to do multiples times. Does anyone else always seem to lose their list? Anyway, with the app, I add every task when I get it. So if I get asked to do something in my internship, I immediately put it onto my to-do list. This works great because I can pull it up anytime and see what I’m supposed to be working on.

Prioritise

You really need to think about what is the most important thing that absolutely needs to be done. That’s always going to be your first priority. Make sure you always mark down which tasks need to be done first and which tasks maybe aren’t as important so can be done last. So for example, my University assignments take priority over everything on my list. Whereas I can leave my blog for a couple of weeks if and as needed.

Create Deadlines

One of the main things is to write a deadline for every single thing you need to-do. Even if it’s something that doesn’t have a particular deadline, make yourself a realistic deadline. This goes hand-in-hand with prioritising, set a later deadline for a lower priority task. I always feel a sense of ‘pressure’ when I’m nearing one of my pre-set deadlines, which makes me work harder to get it done. On my app, it also makes the item red if its skipped the deadline, so it’s a constant reminder that I needed to get that done and I’m behind my optimised schedule.

Making Time To Do Tasks

Now I use the app, I can start working on a lot of my tasks in my spare time between lectures. But, this doesn’t mean I just wing it. I use my Google Calendar app, and I set myself times to do the work. If I know I have Monday Afternoon free to get to work, I will set aside that time and dont make other plans over it. Being strict with yourself is important. If you have to make plans over it, then always (I mean always) choose another time that week to do it. If you start getting behind on your deadlines, you’ll start to feel really demotivated and your list will go unfinished.

 

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So it’s that time of year again where cramming information into your brain seems impossible. The looming dread of exams has already stressed me out and I have not motivation to study. So instead I decided to write blog posts and share some study tips for those who are productive.

A quiet room

Stop distractions by putting yourself in a quiet room. No friends or family to chat and gossip to. No music to sing and dance along to. Keep yourself focused solely on studying. I personally can only study in my room and without music.

 Hydrate

Make sure you drink lots of water. This is kind of an everyday tip as well, but especially important when trying to focus. Keeping yourself hydrated will keep you awake and your brain will thank you. Spending all day studying without drinking will make you feel drowsy and possibly cause a headache.

A bit of colour

When writing notes, diagrams, etc. using colours is always a good way to study. It helps you to remember more as well as making your notes look less boring to reread. I normally use a blue, black, red and green pen and use highlighters as well.

Snacks

If you’re anything like me, you cant be productive when you’re hungry. I always need some sort of snack as an incentive. If I read X amount of pages I get this much chocolate or something similar. Healthy, brain fueling snacks are good of course, but I also always go for sugary and sweet.

Taking breaks

After about half an hour, I get cranky and I need something to take my mind off being stressy about studying. So whether it’s having a stretch, grabbing a coffee, or calling your mum for a quick chat, remember to take a break so your head doesn’t turn into sludge.

Hiding social media

One of my favourite (or should I say needed?) study tips is to hide your phone. So I normally just put it on silent and turn it over so I cant see the screen when it lights up. You could also put it across the room or in a different room to stop the temptation to scroll yourself into procrastination hell.

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Desolate begins with a foreword, warning about elements of a sensitive nature. As this is classed as YA, this was definitely needed. Desolate is not for younger readers due to graphic violence and abuse. I researched a bit before reading, learning that Desolate is a prequel for the Arotas Trilogy. This is an in depth backstory of Roseline, only slightly alluded to in the trilogy.

After a massacre at her wedding, and being left alone in the world, Roseline Dragomir has to find the will to survive. With a murderous husband, and evil brother-in-law and a castle full of demons, Roseline begins to give up on her life. But being immortal has it’s downsides until a mysterious stranger offers his help. With him on her side, will she survive the upcoming hunt?

Desolate (Immortal Rose Trilogy, #1)

Reading from Roseline’s point of view allows you to understand her as a character. What she’s thinking. How she’s feeling. What happens when she loses control. Roseline is definitely one of the smarter protagonists I’ve read, although she let’s her despair think for her throughout the beginning. She begin’s to develop and toughen up by the end, becoming cunning and outwitting her enemies. This is what I enjoyed most about her.

Vladimir, also known as Vlad the Impaler, played the tormenting husband. With his brother, Lucien being his truly evil right-hand man. These two play perfectly off each other in both their words and actions. You also can clearly see the difference in character. Miles has created two different antagonists, without using two stereotyped villains.

The love interest wasn’t rushed or made into an instant love scenario. We see Roseline converse multiple times before she even think’s of her interest in him. Mile’s definitely thought out how to incorporate the romance plot into the overall story rather than adding it for no reason.

The main issue is that the book is quite slow in places. A lot of the middle section is a lot of violence and hatred, but Roseline just puts up with it and doesn’t do anything. Consequently, it gets quite dull but also difficult to read. It picks up as you get towards the end though. Another problem I had was imagining the fighting and wounds afflicted. All our characters seem to be immortals who can endure a lot more than humans. Therefore, the unrealistic wounds are hard to think of. As well as the actions which inflict the wounds.

Other than the pace, and the difficulty of imagining some scenes, I enjoyed reading Desolate. I would, again, like to specify it is not for younger readers.

I received Desolate* by Amy Miles as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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As many of you will know, I spent 6 months applying for placements until I finally got one. Job hunting was extremely demotivating at times, and I was exhausted by December. But, despite this, I kept applying and going for interviews and assessment centres. Eventually, I got an amazing opportunity to work for EA as the marketing communications intern and will be starting in July.

Although I found one, I know people who didn’t even try to get one due to intense competition. I also know people who have tried but still haven’t found one. I also know some people who, like me, were lucky enough to get one. So many people just gave up as it takes so long to apply and sometimes the companies dont even respond. Here are my top tips to staying motivated when looking for a new job.

Think of the positives

Applications, interviews, assessments centres and ability tests are all things which can be practiced. As you’re applying, you’re practicing the skills needed for all of these steps, so when you do finally find the role of your dreams, you can get it. If you’re still in university, it’s vital you practice before you go out into the graduate job market, so take every opportunity as seriously as possible.

Any feedback you get from companies can also help you learn from mistakes you might have made. Maybe you were a bit too quiet in a group task? Did you get a surprise interview question? You can think of a great answer for the next time. It’s all part of your personal development and learning.

Recognise achievements

You managed to get an interview? Great, that’s fantastic. Your CV must have been good enough to get the recruiters attention. Your assessment centre group was the only group for the role? Wow, you’re one of the 8-10 people out of hundreds that was chosen to attend. You clearly have an amazing CV, it probably wasn’t anything to do with you personally as to why you didn’t get the role. Just remember that you are in fact amazing, that role might just not have been a perfect fit. Remember recruiters are trying to find someone who fits the company, role and team exactly. They’re not always based fully on your work experience.

Schedule down time

One of the main things about being exhausted when job hunting, is that you seem to be running around everywhere. I had to travel down south so many times, to the point where I’ve had to learn about the London Underground and where all the connecting stations are. When you’re rushing around everywhere, please just give yourself some time to calm down. Even if it’s just an afternoon or an evening. You dont want to be interviewed when you’re sleep deprived and cranky.

Practice and ask for advice

If you’re at university, your careers service can help you with job hunting. Whether it’s helping perfect your CV or practice interviews. They are also trained to give objective feedback, whereas friends and family may be more subjective. It’s also good to practice being interviewed by someone you dont know. Take any advice given constructively and work on making yourself even better. If you’re not at university, try asking friends and family for help, but pick someone who can be constructive.

Treat yourself

Whenever I was travelling to an interview, I would treat myself to a coffee and cake from a coffee shop. I also treated myself with chocolates, a new purse, and new earrings. It’s nice to give yourself gifts because you’ve achieved something that day. This goes back to the being positive and recognising achievements points.

 

Do you have your own ways to keep yourself motivated?

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The Mortal Instruments Series has been popular for quite a while. Especially when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I just never read them. Probably because no one gave me the books as a gift. The reason I am now reading them is because I watched the TV show on Netflix. Yes, it is slightly cheating but I wanted to find out if some of the problems I had with the show were in the books. I got my hands on the whole series, with City of Bones being the first book. I’m also reading them as a lead up to the second half of season 2 which is airing on the 5th of June!

 

Now City of Bones itself is very generic plot-wise. Bringing a ‘normal’ person into the ‘magical’ world who then has to act to save it has been done over and over again. I personally don’t think this is a bad thing. It makes the protagonist more like the reader. Consequently making the protagonist more relateable and easier to understand. This book does have a good premise. I really enjoyed the overarching storyline, although some parts do get quite annoying.

Clary is the main character and the main POV although it’s written in 3rd person. A lot of people don’t like Clary. And yes, I understand she does stupid things. But she is only 15 years old at this point. Do you remember when you were 15? Yeah you made stupid decisions. Although it’s slightly annoying, it makes it a lot easier to read when you remember her age. She also is very good at picking up Shadowhunter skills such as fighting and runes. Which is slightly unrealistic, but this does fit with the generic plot of putting someone normal into the magical world. Although she may seem overly powerful, this is the main character and she does need something about her to make it interesting.

This was Cassandra Clare’s first ever book, so it’s understandable that it’s not as well written as others. She does improve over the series. One of my issues was the bad guy didn’t seem all that menacing. The name, Valentine, just made me think of little cherubs and valentines day and cupid. So not the big bad scary man who’s out to kill people. I wish there was more actions in the book about him doing evil things, just to make him seem more scary and manipulative.

If you go into City of Bones thinking about the controversy, you wont like it. I promise you. If you read it objectively as it stands on it’s own it’s a decent YA Fantasy book. It’s by no means the most brilliant novel of the century, but it’s alright. It’s also extremely easy to read. Although there’s some slower info-dumping scenes there’s a lot of action in just one book. You can imagine the fight scenes clearly in your head. Which is one of the better points. The series a whole is actually quick to read. You get drawn into the story very easily. Which means you want to read more afterwards.

You can purchase the box set off Amazon* for £30 like what I did. Or it’s now only £15 in The Works. Yes, I am annoyed that I paid double what I could have but I’ll be okay. I promise.

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