How to actually get work done: tips from a master procrastinator

I’m a huge procrastinator. I love to procrastinate. I’m procrastinating writing this article right now, in fact. Here are some tips I use to make myself have more Willpower (Haha, because my name is Will).

Eat before, not during.

For me, eating is a full time activity. I can’t forego the pleasure of my meal deal just so I can half-heartedly write an essay plan at the same time. If you’re eating, you shouldn’t be working. Eating is fun and triggers the reward centres in your brain or whatever. Save it for the break. Speaking of which…

Don’t work for too long in one go. Cup of tea breaks are very important.

You should probably aim for around half an hour before having a ten minute break to go and get a cup of tea or coffee or budget energy drink (if the situation is really that dire) so you don’t get overwhelmed or frazzled. Obviously if you’re really getting into it, you should ride the wave until it crashes. But don’t stress yourself out. That’ll just make you want to work less next time.

Use the day! You will never get anything done at night.

You should wake up early! Easier said than done, I know, but if you get into the habit of going to the library by, like, 10am on your off days, you can stay till 4pm and have done six hours of work! That’s a full day! You can go home after that and just watch Narcos or whatever until someone texts you about going to the SU bar. Next thing you know you’re belting out Shania at Milk It and you don’t even feel guilty because you did a full day’s work. Lovely.

Stick on some ambient noise instead of playing bangers.

The temptation when you’re working is to make it way more palatable by loading up the Teen 00s Party playlist on Spotify and getting lost in S Club. But before you know it, it’s midnight and you’ve accidentally transcribed the lyrics to Reach For The Stars into your essay on Nietzsche. My advice is to stay away from the fun stuff, and reach for some ambient tunes. My personal favourite is Rain Sounds For Babies on Apple Music.

Literally, just put your phone down.

The most basic one, but the hardest to do! We’re millennials (I think?) so obviously we find it impossible to put our phones down. This may be to do with our shortening attention spans, but is definitely to do with the fact we have supercomputers in our pockets capable of reaching the entire world at the push of a button. However, since your phone contains all of your interests in one neat package, it’s literally the worst thing to have in your hand when you’re working. So, turn it entirely off and bury it at the bottom of your bag! If it’s all the way off, the effort to switch it back on will be too great to bother with. You’ll be surprised at how much you get done.

How To Adult Successfully

So it’s 2018, you think you’re going to make big changes this year because ‘new year, new me!’ You vow to wake up on time for your lectures, not spend all your loan the day it comes in and work hard. Except…it’s now February, and you’ve fallen back into your old habits: you’re back to snoozing your alarm, your bank account is already worryingly low and somehow you’re behind on lectures even though it’s only been a month.

It’s okay if that happens, it’s really hard to actually change behaviours. I’ve been trying to get up earlier this term rather than my normal 11am because I’m so busy, but it’s really hard because I have to self-motivate myself. However, if you find that you’re stressing about things as I always do, there are ways to actually look like you’re a successful adult, even if you probably don’t feel like one yet.

 

  1. Buy a planner/calendar

This is so useful to have on you! A small little diary that you can pick up from a stationary shop or a supermarket for less than £5 and you can write down all the things you need to do and attend. I’m not a forgetful person, but having a visual reminder of something that I need to do is really helpful for me just to remind myself to do something. A calendar is also a really nice visual thing to hang in your room where you can write everything down for the month if you don’t want to carry round a planner.

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  1. Sticky notes

As you can see, there’s a bit of a theme going here; I really like organisation! It gives off the appearance that I actually have my life together. I’ve written about sticky notes before, but they’ve helped me so much just because it’s just another visual way to remind me that I need to do stuff. I try to write a to-do list in the morning and then I aim to tick it all by the end of the day. It’s really satisfying to see all of your jobs ticked off for the day.

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  1. Budget

The dreaded word right? Your parents are always telling you to be sensible with your money but how can you do that when you need to buy food, alcohol and books? It all adds up, and a lot of people can get a bit overwhelmed. You just need to sit down by yourself or with a friend and go through your recent bank statements to see what the majority of your money is going on. Invest in an app that tracks your spending so you can see where your money is going – they have loads now and they’re really helpful –  and allocate a certain amount of money each week to particular things like shopping, alcohol and emergency things etc. You might find by the end of the month you have spare money which is always a bonus.

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  1. You need three things to be successful: a water bottle, a plastic container and a travel mug

If you followed the last tip and looked at your expenses, you might see that you’re spending nearly £10 a week on coffees and lunches on campus (I know I was at one point) just because it’s so convenient. You can save money on water by using the water fountains on campus; if you use your plastic Tupperware you can save money on lunch by making your own, and with your travel mug you can bring tea or coffee from home. That just saved you around £5 which if you did every day, would save you £25 a week! And if you really can’t beat the coffee habit on campus, then you can still use your travel mug and get 10p off all your hot drinks orders at SU venues

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  1. Make time for yourself

I know this sounds odd, all of the above are about making yourself more organised, saving money and doing ‘adult’ things. But it’s actually really important that you also don’t burn out. University is a really stressful environment, no matter what your parents think, and if you’re constantly stressed and running about doing things it’s going to affect your health. It’s important that after a long week that you take a day to relax, try and not do any work, or at least only a minimal amount and recharge. You’ll find yourself more optimistic about the following week and be ready to give it 100%

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These are only a small number of little habits that you can do to save yourself some time and money, but also be a bit more organised and less stressed which I’ve heard is all the things adults aim for! If you’re really struggling to change some habits, there’s loads of websites out there giving helpful advice about things you can do that make your life just that little bit easier.

 

A Student’s Guide to Being Productive

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a little longer in bed every morning? The answer to this is pretty much everyone, unless you’re that rare unicorn breed of student who has never even heard of the snooze button. I am the type of person who will get out of bed at the very last possible minute. I might be making myself sound a little lazy here – and yes some days I do eat breakfast in the afternoon – but I prefer to think of myself as just saving energy and time for stuff I really want to do. Because of this, throughout my time at uni, I’ve discovered a few little shortcuts to being a more productive person whilst also still allowing myself plenty of time to eat ice cream whilst watching too many YouTube videos. So, I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks that have helped me make it through the last couple of years.

Essays

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No matter how much you love your degree, I’m sure we all have times where we’d rather not be doing that essay and be doing something much more fun instead. When I was a first year, I made the mistake of having my fun and then doing my essay the night before it was due. I have learnt from my mistakes and hopefully you can also learn from them. Now I make sure to start my research about a week or two in advance. Once I’ve done all my reading and a little plan, I can whip up an essay in a couple of hours. This might not work for you, depending on how you prefer to work, but for me it means I can get things done quickly. I’ve also learnt that Ctrl+F is my best friend when it comes to searching really long articles for key information. I also do my bibliography as I read so I no longer have the horrible feeling of completing an essay, but still having to reference. I guess the key here is to just plan slightly further in advance. Whilst doing your whole essay in one night might take less time, it definitely makes things a lot more stressful and you’re most likely sacrificing quality too!

Food

giphy I can’t lie, I am partial to a midnight Babybel

I love food. Like really love food. I will eat to procrastinate because yes I do need to a bowl of cereal an hour after eating my dinner. Whilst trying to stop myself doing this takes a bit of willpower, I do try and reward myself. After I’ve finished my reading I’ll have a snack. This gets me to do my work fairly quickly, purely because I’d rather eat delicious food than spend more time staring at a screen. I’m also not a huge fan of cooking, well more so the washing up that comes with the cooking. To minimise the amount of washing up I have to do, I tend to cook things in bulk. It’s a student cliche but pasta dishes are probably the easiest to cook and there’s so much variety. I can cook myself a bolognese that gives me four portions, eat one and then pop the others in the freezer, sorted! Plus there’s an added bonus, whilst you’re cooking your lovely meal you can make a quick sandwich for lunch for the next day. There’s no better way than getting all your food preparation out of the way at once!

Make time for yourself

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If you’re a busy person like me, you’re going to need some time to relax and just be… well…lazy. The way I try and do this is to keep weekdays for working and studying and then give myself at least a day at the weekend to just do whatever I want. It’s a great way to just forget about uni work for a bit and just enjoy myself. Sometimes I’ll go shopping or I will just have a lie in. No matter how hard you feel like you have to work, taking some time out away from that will allow you to come back with fresh eyes.

I hope you’ve managed to get a bit of advice from how I live my crazy lazy life but for now I have to go and do my washing up (sorry housemates)!

Self-Esteem Issues: My Tips

It’s 2018, readers, and everyone’s making resolutions. Your Facebook feed is full of people you forgot you went to school with posting selfies captioned #veganuary and #newyearnewme. They won’t last. This year, at midnight, I realised I wanted to change the way I saw myself. I’ve suffered from dangerously low self-esteem for probably around 11 years and until now, I had sort of settled into it. Instead of understanding that my feelings were unhealthy and incorrect, I took them as basic truths about myself and tried to manoeuvre my way through life with low self-esteem as the albatross hanging around my neck.

Obviously, when you try and cultivate healthy relationships and interests this way, you’re destined to crash and burn. It’s like building a house on an Indian burial ground: sure, when you first move in everything seems perfect, but before long, lamps start flying and a poltergeist drags you out of bed by your ankles. Instead of making my resolutions on top of my low self-esteem, this year my aim is to exorcise my mind completely and start again. Here are my ideas about how to do this, in case you want to try with me.

#1. The 7 Second Rule

No, not the 7 second rule you’re thinking of. The one that says you’re only allowed to think about awkward moments for 7 seconds, and then you have to let them go. I can’t take credit for this idea, and you can find the full article on the concept here (https://jezebel.com/just-give-it-7-seconds-1795766407) , but I’ve found that this is really helping. As an anxious person, I frequently find myself in situations where I can’t think what to say and then end up talking for way too long. The OLD Will would think about that approximately every 5 minutes for the rest of his life, but I’m determined to leave that behind. It’s important to acknowledge that awkward things happen, but that they literally mean nothing unless you make them.

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#2. List the things you like about yourself.

This is a hard one for me, because for some reason my brain is wired to negate every good thing about myself or justify it by creating some evil reason for it. I’m funny? That’s because I have a pathetic need for everyone to like me, and I can’t hold a conversation. Also I’m not that funny. Idiot. This is how my brain works. So, I’m just shutting that off and keeping the first part, before the “but” kicks in. I have a Google doc which contains my list of nice things about myself, in the hope that its length will be enough to convince me that I am, in fact, a nice human being. It seems self-aggrandising and arrogant at first, but that’s the low self esteem talking! It’s good for you.

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#3. Eat well.

This doesn’t mean avocado for lunch and a small salad for dinner. You should eat in a way that makes you glad you’re eating. This also, however, doesn’t mean eating junk all day every day like me. Eating well is about eating the foods you enjoy in moderation, and maintaining a balanced relationship with food. It’s astonishing how closely linked eating is with mental health. From the January blues, to gaining your summer body, food weighs on our mind almost all of the time. My tip for myself is to eat three regular meals, made by myself, at least five days a week. No more packet of crisps at 12pm, then nothing till 6 when I have beans on toast, and then a 1am curly fry fest. If you want to control your mental health, your diet is a great place to start.

(If you’re interested in the idea of eating well, you ought to follow Ruby Tandoh on Twitter. She’s an amazing food writer and chef and her ideas about what we should eat are revolutionary.)

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#4. Wake up before midday

This one seems like it should be easier than it is. For most of my time at university, I’ve woken up bleary-eyed at 11:30 with a splitting headache,  unwilling to do anything except stare at my phone for the next hour and a half. On the rare occasions I made it to my 9am, I would concentrate on not falling asleep for the hour, then leg it home and nap for the rest of the day, forgetting anything I learned in the process. No more! I’m sick of beginning the day in such a depressing way, so I’m making the effort to actually exist in the morning. This means I set my alarm for 9 o’clock each morning (no earlier, I’m not a monster), and always being stocked up on some great cereal. Great cereal is the key to a great morning.

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#5. Take some time every day to do something you love

The most underrated self-help tip of all: if it makes you happy to do it, you should probably do it. Obviously this comes with a number of asterisks, but on the whole, you should follow what your brain wants. Watch a movie, play an instrument, go for a run, read. Even if you’re swamped with work, you can take time out to catch an episode of Friends, or listen to the new Charli XCX album (like I am).

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New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year and Happy New Term at Essex to everybody!
On this occasion I decided to join the cliché club and share with you some of my New Year’s Resolutions. Of course it doesn’t need to be the 1st of January to try to become a better person, but somehow one chapter closes and another one begins, what can be just another good reason to stop for a moment and reflect about what we do and how. I find it good to do a little self-evaluation sometimes and I really think it helps to keep on the right track. Apparently, decisions made public are more likely to be put into practice, so… Here are my resolutions for this year:

  1. First, be kind.

Always. Regardless of stressful situations, bad days, headaches, hustle and various opinions. None of these are a reason to be impatient or unpleasant. Other people are not guilty of my struggles and they should not be affected by them, no matter how hard my day has been. Also, spreading kindness will help me to recharge with good energy and bring the peace of mind, especially needed in the difficult days.

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  1. Keep the balance.

Getting a good degree and paying rent on time are important goals, but they should not mean a constant sacrifice and neglecting other vital needs. There will always be these few extra hours I could spend to improve something, but maybe my work doesn’t need to be p-e-r-f-e-c-t; maybe it’s OK when it’s just good enough. While studying, working, and striving to do things well, I developed an unhealthy feeling of guilt if my day was not as productive as it could have been. By productive I mean spent studying or doing other work. It didn’t really make me feel good in the end. This year, I will include things such as drumming, dancing, painting, spending time with friends and writing letters to precious people far away, to my productive time and will not feel guilty about being a human.

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  1. Think positively.

Do you remember the famous quote by Captain Jack Sparrow?
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem”. 

This is so important to remember. Every day we choose how we handle situations and where we direct out thoughts. We can focus on good or bad aspects; it is totally up to us. Some struggles are needed and we should just appreciate them as they come. We can hate rainy days, but what would happen if there was no rain at all?

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  1. Meditate.

This last resolution is a tool to keep the other three in my mind not only until the end of January, but also later on. I have tried different types of meditation and I found it quite challenging, but this little 2 minute practice is suitable for everyone and I think it’s really worth doing. Every morning, first thing after waking up, I sit up and think about how grateful I am to be who I am, where I am, to have such precious people in my life and to be able to shape my life in so many different forms. And then I make a decision that this day will be a good one, and that I will not let anything change it, because everything is in my head and it is me who controls it.

I think that’s the most important things for me to keep in mind at this stage and I believe that just reminding myself about it every morning will make me a happier and healthier person. I hope it inspired some of you to make your own reflections, and maybe even share them with your friends. Writing it down and letting it out definitely helped me, so thank you for that! I wish you all an amazing year!

How To Start 2018 Off Right

In 2017 I turned 21, lived in a different country, travelled to different countries and even a different continent. I met my boyfriend, made new friends and reconnected with old ones. On a sadder note, I have loved and lost people and pets in 2017, but importantly, I have grown from my experiences, become more accepting of myself, and opened my eyes to different cultures and customs. There is a reason why I am writing this and it isn’t just to brag about how amazing my 2017 was, but to look ahead and think about how I can make 2018 even better.

Me in Brooklyn, New York

2017 was a very odd year when you think about the bizarre political and current events that happened, and for many people, including myself, 2018 is a fresh start. To borrow a phrase from magazines and adverts: ‘New Year, New Me!’ Many people will use 2018 to begin new habits, or break them; to work harder, or quit their jobs or start a new hobby. Obviously, we could do all of this at any point in the year, but somehow choosing to do it on January 1st feels somehow more special, like it will help you to stick to your new resolutions.

I don’t really want to call them New Year’s Resolutions because whenever I’ve called them that, I never keep them. Instead this year I’m calling them: ‘New Habits of 2018’, because it suggests – to me, anyway – that these are things I’m going to keep doing throughout the year. They say that on average it takes 21 days to form a new habit, which means that hopefully, by January 21st, you’ve got your resolution down! When I was celebrating New Year’s Eve in 2016, I decided that my new habit for 2017 was to try being vegetarian, and on January 7th I did just that, and so far, I’m still a vegetarian, so some habits do stick.

Resolutions

These are the top ten most common New Year’s Resolutions and my new habits also fall into the list. This year my new habit, although it’s more of a goal really, would be to visit 3 new countries. When I was in Ireland, I realised that with a bit of planning around lectures and making different arrangements, you can travel over a weekend without a lot of disturbance in your real life. And the best thing about the university is that we’re so close to Stansted airport (only 40 minutes by bus) that it isn’t even that much of a hassle to get there! When I was travelling I realised how great it is to see the world, and how cheap it can be now. If you’re willing to sleep in hostels and get early flights then it’s so easy to travel! In 2017 I went to Northern Ireland, various counties in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and New York. This year I’m aiming to travel round more of Europe and to see more of Eastern Europe.

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Me visiting the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

In terms of habits for 2018, I am going to try and worry less. I am the world’s worst worrier, if there is something to be worried about, I’ve already thought about it and had about three sleepless nights. This year is going to be very hard for me because this is my last year of university before I graduate so I have my dissertation and very important exams to worry about it. But, I’m going to try my best to stop worrying as much, or at least worrying about stupid things. I’m not too sure how I’m going to do this yet, as it’s easier to become vegetarian than it is to change how your brain thinks but I’m going to try my best!

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Source: fayeosaurus: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68082654@N08/6232698920/in/photolist-auLdfd-aebyuy-CVAuZN-kwose-q1WyLs-7gT12J-pya1dX-VHGwu2-cGBtMS-7vTRkU-bDK2jn-2sZQs-ayWbpc-5XrKqR-7ANmxP-6eiGcN-8BWrUN-UvFNwo-47o5a1-68ZemK-8NPYbb-4HU6kj-padA6-21pfoY1-MV9o7K-7Gxqwz-a1hs3-87uroV-a4Pzrw-8ZG3au-4kQSjW-VwXTqx-ZjGujS-zgFTj-pjdWDR-FznKz9-87xBZ7-pKkiCK-a4PzAs-8hpgWv-4PCy8p-bcjmE-8XSDmT-XU2Abr-bbfo3R-QGVMa2-EfmZ9J-AMf9ax-NWD2N3-8HFgEg

 

Obviously, if you don’t want to change anything in 2018, you don’t have to. I actually don’t like to make a fuss on New Year’s Eve, but I like thinking about things I want to change in 2018 so I have something to look back to see what I’ve achieved. So when New Year’s Eve of 2018 rolls around, hopefully I will have a few more stamps on my passport, and I will be a happier, less stressed person.

Happy 2018 everyone!

3 ingredient dinners

Do you ever find yourself staring in horror at your bank account and wonder if someone else has access to your money? And then go through all of your expenses and realise that it was in fact, YOU, who has spent all of your student loan. The biggest chunk of your student loan probably goes towards food. I often wonder how my parents stick to a budget to feed four people every week when I can’t even stick to a budget to feed me.

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This is me in second year playing poker with a housemate, using biscuits as poker chips, because biscuits were of higher value than money in our house.

Living away from home for the first time means having to cook for yourself every single day. And sometimes that can get really boring. Often the recipes your mum gives you (in the hopes that you aren’t living off pizza and pot noodles for the whole term), or the ones you find on the internet, require you to have at least seven spices and ingredients that will just never be in a student’s kitchen cupboards. I’ve lost count of the number of recipes that I’ve found that have asked me to use oregano and cumin (pro tip: you don’t need them).

When I was on my year abroad, I lived in catered accommodation, so I knew coming back to Essex I would struggle to get used to cooking for myself 24/7. But I found a solution that would mean I would get the necessary nutrition without breaking the bank (why do all internet recipes require you to spend £20 on one meal?!), or putting in that much effort.

That solution is: 3 Ingredient Dinners

I found that most of the meals I make can be simplified into three basic ingredients, with the option to add extras if I wanted to, so here are some recipes that I use to get by at university, and save myself (and you) some money:

RECIPES:

1. Pesto Chicken Pasta:
What kind of student blog would this be if I didn’t include pasta?! This recipe takes less than 20 minutes so it’s handy if you’re in a rush.

Ingredients:
Pasta (any kind)
Pesto
Chicken (although this is optional)

Method:
1. Boil the pasta
2. Cook chicken (however you prefer it cooked)
3. Add pesto and chicken to the drained pasta. Mix.
4. Serve

Pesto Pasta

Photo credit to Lesley Chao: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vespere/5789992330/in/photolist-9PDdZY-G3GNu 8dgfhh-66ZrU2-6DtSad-4WMHha-aDdfbB-6CTfKq-25qbg-9vfq1B-59tes7-hwJdiP-UqHhX7-dvD7Za-8dHaGU-bsvSzb-aepaMq-cMSUJW-5ZGd7L-oUW5Mi-aFCRV8-YhYvrG-hVDauC-eCz62P-6oCmRP-bHv16r-gVkbPT-7PdTbE-8fspdk-mys6X1-nS6qtZ-dnkep3-Sv3deb-a53cpN-8AmyvY-8DARs3-XBfmPb-9jgaQi-axiZGR-6PmKKU-7WhXru-86x59H-5ta1TZ-9sKouR-6rrEkA-9zpzR6-aepaPS-pGSU4T-7C4UY8-6oCn7P

2. Easy Chilli Recipe:
I actually found this recipe on the internet, and they weren’t kidding, it was the easiest chilli recipe I had ever found. I like to add optional extras such as mushrooms, celery and sour cream, but the basic recipe is only three ingredients.

Ingredients:
Ground beef
Tin of kidney beans
Tin of tomatoes

Method:
1. Cook mince (I use quorn mince so timings may vary with beef)
2. Add kidney beans and tomatoes to the mince and let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes
3. Serve with rice, a baked potatoe, nachos, or by itself

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Photo credit to William Jones: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fritish/4327085531/in/photolist-7AnrLX-7bRaHa-8GHQmH-9A1r72-7Cbhgh-99955F-ajv96q-5pago8-637R78-Yi5F-22TBw-8R5vAu-8KHCU4-cXSduh-zTXLn-7LsnTs-9u5V5C-72pJWi-Au6XS-g5CSy-6B5rpj-ocdyRE-5p8T8Z-UgvcWL-bDSNXp-8zK8C2-8Q2gtN-7KvmkY-vQ6yA-5p8CqP-4WB9qo-63c6N7-92S83Z-8zNgxL-4G5fyq-2TDYqU-4gsLJ-5oM1ju-8zNgbC-4Aj3g2-g88aHV-9jzc9n-7ArbJU-8nMs8a-bzj7vF-dLqGah-qFJCz-8NbruP-3af71k-cyRrXL

3.Scalloped potatoes with spinach
This sounds really fancy but it’s really simple.

Ingredients:
Potatoe(s)
Spinach
Sauce of your choosing  (I like to use a pasta bake sauce)

Method:
1. Peel potatoes and slice into small circles. Cook the spinach as you’re doing so to save time.
2. Use a baking dish and place spinach first on the bottom, layer with potato and repeat
3. Add cheese if you want to. Cook for 15 minutes covered with foil at 180 degrees and then 15 minutes uncovered.

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Photo credit to Julia: https://www.flickr.com/photos/juliasalbum/24884462708/in/photolist-DUXnNu-rbQwvA-21fjA1c-ZXxa1G-WYogsm-4fRysw-etEi6z-8tRRdj-7q9ze6-ZH3Be6-8jQNEj-DYhDNQ-bDBsJv-515ULr-fsrQQy-7qdu4J-UxeHZ8-8RCuvs-6i1m64-T8yMu-WNwnW3-CpitJe-9i6HPz-4bYnBt-4ZytwN-7kkEVq-21jpHfP-dZgpzE-5V4SGH-7mQ1Uv-4kDKAW-7kkEWb-eaTau3-7B8iiA-dVyp7s-VAQZvn-6c1zPy-THwe6X-7jcbuj-7vNKDY-SM6FG7-aq1L8a-7igbtj-VwDjK2-Tppzop-fe7DPm-mKUNMt-7Lu3HK-c3qGL1-CpitxH

4. Noodles
This meal is very basic, but you can add loads of optional extras to add more flavour to it.

Ingredients:
Noodles
Hoisin and garlic sauce
Meat of your choice

Method:
1. Cook noodles
2. Cook the meat at the same time ( I like to use spinach)
3. Add meat and sauce to your drained noodles. Mix
4. Serve

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Photo credit to Yanli: https://www.flickr.com/photos/31542811@N00/1361598697/in/photolist-35jxRB-aBD2ph-4D64RE-eKKcoM-p4v4RY-9mUwKn-9cRhXx-7LWL3s-au1UH1-idEs7S-4d5XgT-2CsKug-8BjR4n-4DsnZM-61zwsB-4rnX6T-8C1abs-cUsmNJ-81Y7VH-SjrKbx-pPEoD8-MucXL-23Gyn-9nRRrw-gj8gU-8KXTeB-6ga3vx-8hoh2q-4dVK83-3Zpuw-a3YfG8-FgaDp-74qke7-nNNDM1-ChSwGh-cvBS6J-aV9bjD-FgaFp-5bybNP-8QCxTx-9MAACv-99xkB8-gfREvw-8WGryp-9hrqjV-dMEG1Z-bD3xH-8D87bJ-8Sr8sd-rvb7d

5. Triple decker brownies

Ingredients:
Cookie dough
Oreos
Brownie batter

Method:
1. Use a baking dish and start with the cookie dough making sure it’s spread out evenly in the dish
2. Layer with Oreos
3. Spoon the brownie batter on top, and spread it evenly.
4. Bake for 45 minutes
5. Cut into pieces

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Photo credit to Princess: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47337633@N07/5275440950/in/photolist-93b1Ns-4PadCa-7Es6AL-bSmdAr-6rRHDD-8Jfw9p-nwrruV-eetAuT-9jqHff-8W3z1V-5kCCZH-42L98A-eezkdu-eezkcG-3jCEkB-6twz7R-34Gjp-9vmHxt-KSw95-9vmHAp-uFBNu-9TdUfY-2kYZWD-art2sx-aE1SuW-6S2ZnY-gQg4uk-7eTHj9-dm7iuB-9yb22w-eezkau-amCf2w-bj1Pre-9ZFhwx-rLtXKT-4JSVnX-nydgKr-6er8uT-7k2KNf-7aeVt-d5u1uo-5rkJtb-ycB5Z-4x33Rq-47xqRH-5UeDdg-4cwv5x-9yb1Cb-7uxKPC-2be1z9

So there’s five meals and a dessert for one week and together this only cost £13.77!

Bon Appetit!

 

New Year’s Resolutions never work! So why bother?

New-years-Resolutions

 

It’s funny to think we’re coming to the end of 2017! For me this year has been an eventful and rewarding one for a lot of different reasons. My time abroad has been a massive part of that, but a lot of it is down to the goals that I set down at the start of this year…

If you’re ever in the very specific situation of being in Brisbane as a student, be aware that there are hardly any part time jobs! I spent months looking for a way to get some extra cash for my travels with limited success. Strangely enough I ended up working on several what I like to call “Rockstar jobs” whilst I was away. These were one-off jobs where companies just needed people to work for a day or so and that’s it. From supervising a cheese board in a penthouse hotel room, to giving away free frozen desserts, I found myself working at a lot of eventful (and random) places.

Proud & Punch

One of the most memorable jobs I had was working for a sales company. The company specialised in face to face sales and I was allocated to work in the car wax department, selling products on petrol garage forecourts. I only ended up being in the job for a few days but I learnt a lot during that time. One of the main things I noticed was how positive and driven everybody was. People would arrive at work early and leave way after they were supposed to. They were all desperate to succeed by learning about how they could improve the following day.

An example of this was when I was in a session of theirs about making goals for next year. I was there around mid-November time 2016 and they were already planning for 2017!

This got me thinking.

Like most other people I made New Year’s resolutions. Something we all do every year as a withering self-promise that we can pick up our act over the next year and make some changes. For me at least, these never seemed to last and most of the time they went back to being idealistic, unresolved ideas within a few weeks.

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I was encouraged by one of my colleagues to not set up any resolutions for next year but make some realistic goals that I could achieve.

Whilst I didn’t achieve many goals involving selling car wax (sorry!), I really latched onto the rest of them. As a result I achieved the majority of the other goals I set. Here are a few highlights…

To act in a theatre production

Dream A House

When I was studying abroad, my course didn’t involve much practical theatre work. So, I made sure that in 2017 I went for every show that I could.

I ended up acting in a show called “Dream a House”, which took an audience member on a journey through a dreamlike world. As a company, we made the show from scratch and it was an amazing experience.

I got to meet lots of local theatre makers and make some contacts who I’m still in contact with now! There’s constant talk of them reviving the show, but I’m not sure if I can let them seeing as I’m no longer in Australia…

To earn back the money I spent travelling

Lakeside

Okay so it turns out that living and travelling around the world does cost a lot of money (who knew?!). So much so that at some point I knew that I had to face the music and get some money in. I got a bit of work in Australia, but my big break came when I got home. I got a Frontrunners Plus placement working at the Lakeside Theatre over the summer holidays. Not only was this brilliant to get some experience, but I also worked hard and earned a big chunk of my money back.

To be more fit

run

This has always been one of those resolutions that I used to make and never tackle. It’s just always too cold in January to suddenly get up and go for a run…

So, with no running experience before, I impulsively signed up to a 5km fun run. This meant that I actually had to up my game.

I dedicated myself to 9 weeks training which was tough. I would often stalk my fan for 10 minutes when I got home to recover!

It all worked out in the end though as I ended up running the race in a respectable 26 minutes, which for a first timer I’m quite happy with! I would like to say that I’m now a keen runner but I’ve let myself go since I got back to chilly England. Perhaps this should be one of my 2018 goals?!

So on the 31st December this year I encourage you to do the following…

Forget the resolutions that you know you’ll never stick to and pick some things that you actually want to achieve in 2018. Then set them as your goals. It doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve all of them, just have something to work towards. You’ll thank yourself this time next year for it when you see what you’ve achieved!

 

A tour of the food outlets on campus

So it’s your first term at university and you still haven’t eaten a proper meal. You told yourself that you were going to eat healthily and to cook for yourself, except you forgot one thing: you can’t cook and now Dominoes is on speed dial. But really, why go through the trouble of buying and making expensive food when you can find tastier food on campus?! Lets take the scenic route through the food outlets on campus.

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Starting at Square 5, we’ve got the Lakeside Theatre Cafe and the No. 64 Bus. By day, the Lakeside Cafe provides a variety of both hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, pastries and snacks. But by night, when plays are being performed, it is transformed into a bar, serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The Bus is a life-size model of a traditional English double-decker bus that delivers common British breakfast and lunch items, such as pies, hashbrownss, sausages, and (most importantly) cheesey chips from 9am-4pm Mondays to Fridays.

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Photography credit: Print Essex sourced via http://www.printessex.org.uk/case-studies/

In Square 4, there’s Buffalo Joe’s, Fusion Grill and Blues Cafe. Buffalo Joe’s is a fast food restaurant that has chicken, beef and veggie burgers and wraps available from early in the morning till late at night all week (not to mention their AMAZING curly fries). There is indoor and outdoor seating, making it ideal to either eat in or take-away. Fusion Grill excels at creating gourmet burgers, skewers and steaks incorporating Mexican, Brazilian, American, Moroccan, Chinese and Greek cuisine, with similar opening times as Buffalo Joe’s. If you’re ever feeling like you haven’t had enough to eat during the day, Fusion will definitely fill you up. Like Lakeside Theatre Cafe, Blues also serves hot and cold drinks, and snacks. However, it is the proud owner of the largest salad bar on campus, which also includes soups and stews, and fresh carvery sandwiches.

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Photography credit: Pinterest sourced via https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/300544975102601007/

Consequently, we arrive at Square 3, home to the Canteen, SU Bar, Frangos, Zest fresh and the Kitchen. What a mouthful! The Canteen is well-known for offering a wide assortment of English and international dishes from all around the world, each day serving something different. At a good price, you can get a main dish and two sides, as well as a full English breakfast in the morning. Moreover, there is a Curry Club and Fusion Wok in the evenings and a Sunday carvery. The Canteen has got you sorted out for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

The Student Union Bar has a Starbucks branch open in the day, serving tea, coffee and cakes. Until 10pm, the bar also sells your typical pub food, like pizzas, burgers and pasta – all at pretty reasonable prices. At night, the bar has alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages suitable for the events that occur there.

Frangos is a replica of Nandos, except it caters more to students of this university by providing more vegan and halal options. It is popular for its marinated chicken, offered plain or in burgers and wraps. One unique feature that the menu has is the refillable drinks for less than £2.

Zest fresh is a dynamic and creative cafe that, like other cafes, serves hot and cold drinks. It provides a multitude of warm sandwiches and paninis, flatbreads and bagels, and salads. There is a useful set-up in Zest known as the Orangery, that has study pods for student groups who wish to complete their assignments as they grab lunch…or if you want to grab a cake to ease the pain of revision!

For those of you who are always in a rush to get to class or work, the Kitchen provides quick service of hot drinks, warm pastries, and sandwiches. There is also a Mug Wall if you wish to decorate your own mug and leave there for others to be amazed by your artistic abilities..!

frangos

Photography credit: Hamza Kazmi sourced via https://twitter.com/essexsufrangos

Finally, Bonds is a cafe located in the Essex Business School (EBS) and serves to provide bagels and smoothies for breakfast, and hot lunchboxes and salad boxes for lunch. Personally I’d recommend their toasted pitta bread with humous, it’s delicious! Bonds is perfect for those studying in this beautifully designed building as it is quite far from central campus food outlets.

All in all, the university has quite a lot on its plate, serving well-priced and nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner items. I understand this information may take a while to digest but I hope this review was helpful – happy eating!

 

Feeling overwhelmed?

Do you know the feeling of being stressed by essays, tests, presentations, work and volunteering commitments…You’re trying to pass everything well and still want to be involved in activities that matter to you, but it’s getting a bit too much. You just want to stop the time to get good sleep, watch all episodes of Friends, and then make the world spin round again. Sounds any familiar? If so, then you’re not alone in this. But there are a few ways to deal with it.

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Define the problem.

Do you have too many responsibilities? Is there any particular lecture that is difficult or any academic skill you need to improve? Do you struggle with managing your time or planning your work? Whatever it is, it has a solution, as long as you can define the problem. Just ask yourself a question what makes you feel like this and what can be done about it. If you think you can’t solve it yourself, maybe if would be easier after talking to your friend, lecturer, course director, Student Support or Talent Development Center. There are plenty of people willing to help you, but you need to let them know that you struggle.

 

See the good side.

Sometimes, it’s the attitude that’s the problem. Maybe it’s not meant to be easy – maybe that’s the whole point. When you work out to strengthen your muscles, run faster, climb higher… It requires effort and commitment, and your body is likely to be sore. This is how you know that it’s actually working and that you are improving.

It’s important to remember why you’re here. Most likely, you want to learn about something that interests you. You probably have a goal to achieve. To achieve this goal, you have to come out of your comfort zone. It might be hard sometimes, but that’s good, because this is how we learn.

It’s only up to you what you will make out of it. You can appreciate the amazing opportunity you have to learn and improve, or you can complain about it being difficult. The choice is yours.

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Look after your body.

Sometimes we think we’re some kind of super-humans who can survive on Red Bull, frozen pizzas and 4 hours of sleep. It’s strange that we understand that cars need the right petrol and certain maintenance to run properly, but we tend to forget that it applies to our bodies too. Drinking plenty of water, eating well, and getting enough sleep is so important, especially when you need to work at full speed. If you have heard it from your mom before, it’s because it’s true! 🙂

 

Prioritize ‘’ME TIME’’.

This is so crucial for everyone’s well-being. You are busy and you have the whole list of important things to do, but these things are not more important than YOU. Do something that makes you happy every day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Dance, sing, play an instrument, draw, go for a walk, meditate… Do whatever charges you with good energy.

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Don’t be harsh on yourself.

If something didn’t go as you planned, don’t punish yourself with negative thoughts. It’s OK. It’s just a part of the learning process. Just acknowledge it and move on. How many times did you fall off your bike before you’ve mastered riding it?

I hope you don’t get overwhelmed and that you stay faaaar away from the negative bubble! Life at Uni might become hard if you take up too much work and try to make everything perfect. I think the most important is to be kind to yourself and accept that you really don’t need to be perfect. Just love yourself, think positively and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if it’s needed! I’m sending you all a virtual hug and wish you a healthy end-of-term revision!