My 2020 Book Buying Ban

Bleurgh, I’ve been avoiding putting this down in writing because then it means I have to do it.

Look, here’s the thing. There are probably about 100 books in my flat that I haven’t read. At least 70 of them are mine, and I’m sure my housemates collectively have more that I want to read, plus I keep picking up great books from the library and the book-swap box/bookshelf at my local tube station and work, plus people lend them to me.

The fact is, I don’t need to buy any more books. I don’t. Not right now. Not while I’m so busy that I’m probably going to read less this year; not while there are so many books here for me to read.

So, here it is: a book buying ban.

A couple of rules:

  1. I can still borrow books from the library or friends, pick them up as part of a book swap or accept them as gifts (because this is a buying ban, not a book ban)
  2. E-books or audiobooks don’t count, because they’re not cluttering up my house and also I don’t really buy them (because even though they definitely count as reading, this is a ban of physical books, also I accidentally bought one the other day because I absolutely HAD to finish a series and forgot I wasn’t buying books)
  3. I’m still allowed to buy them as gifts for others (because otherwise I’m not sure what I’m going to get people for their birthdays or Christmas. Everyone will end up with a candle.)

Well. There we go. I’ve said it. Committed to it. Now I just need to try and remember that this is a thing I’m doing. Good luck me.

7 adaptations to watch in 2020

There’s not going to be much preamble here: these are all books that have been turned into films or TV series and I want to watch them all, desperately. They’re not all from 2020, a couple of them came out at the end of 2019 but I’ve not had time to watch them yet.

Ohhh Little Women, I can’t wait to see it. I loved the book when I was younger and I loved the 1994 version of the film and so I’m incredibly excited to watch what seems like it’s going to be a masterpiece. The casting itself seems amazing.

Yes, okay, I know this one has been out for a while, but I’ve not had a chance to watch it yet. I want to do it justice and watch it properly as this is also supposed to be a cracking adaptation. I loved Northern Lights as a kid, but was never that fussed about the next two, however I did re-listen to them all on audiobook a few years ago, and was actually kind of blown away by how good they were. So yes, high hopes for this.

To tell the truth, I didn’t even know this was coming out until it did, and I wasn’t planning on watching it, but my housemates all watched it while I was on holiday and said it was great so fuck it, it’s only 3 episodes, I’ll try it.

I also wasn’t that bothered about this, until I heard that people were cross that Scrooge drops the f-bomb in it, and I saw a historian that I like talking about how the story has become quite glossed over and made into this positive parable which isn’t actually what the book is like. So I might watch it soon, and then maybe next Christmas, actually read the book.

The first time I read this I must have been about 10 or 11 and I could not put it down. I have a very clearly memory of reading it by torchlight under the covers because I just had to know what was going to happen. I actually re-read this last year and it was just as good. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with it, and I actually have a lot of faith in this adaptation.

Watching the TV and the trailer comes on

Boyfriend (who famously doesn’t read much): Is that about the magician? I thought David Copperfield was a magician

Me (avid reader, literature graduate): Erm…it’s a Dickens book, but might be about the magician.

Wrong! It’s about David Copperfield’s journey to becoming a writer (?? I think? Based on quickly glancing at a summary a few seconds ago) ANYWAY, I want to watch this because it looks like it’ll be funny and I read somewhere that Dev Patel is fantastic in it, and I’m a big fan of his.

Now, I’ve not read this, but I plan to before I see the TV show they’re making of it. I did just read Conversations with Friends, which I adored, and my housemates all prefer CWF to Normal People but still keen to watch. Although I’m sure I saw that it was like, 12 episodes long which confuses me slightly as it’s not that long but hey ho. Maybe there’s a really dense storyline or something.

So that’s what I’m planning on watching this year!* What are you looking forward to? Have you watched any of the above and what did you think of them? Let’s chat below!

*not sure when I’ll have the time to, like, but I’m going to try

New Year’s Resolutions 2020

Well, it’s been a while. Life got quite full on and I didn’t really have time/the inclination to write on here and had also slipped into my usual 2 month in blog freak out about what this is for and what I want to write. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, so to kick this all back off, here’s my 2020 New Years Resolutions.

I know lots of people don’t like them, but I do. I like to set myself goals and forget all about them, I do it quite frequently.

This year I’m taking a new approach though, and setting myself some long-term goals to achieve this year, and then each month, I’ll break it down into more of a to-do list to get towards them. This has worked well for me at work in the last few months so hoping it will help here too!

I have 7 resolutions on here, which I’ll run through in a sec, but first, I just need to spell out that this blog is not going to be on here. Got that? This is for FUN remember. I’m also not setting myself a reading target for the first time in ages because I just want reading to be something fun and easy with everything else I have planned in!

Other things I’m not setting as goals this year include spending time with boyfriend, family and friends and doing lots of fun things in London because I’m good at planning those in anyway.

Lose weight is always on my resolutions list but this time I really mean it. This I think will be the first year where it’s not just driven my not liking my squishy stomach. I’m more concerned about my insides. The goal number of lbs might change but it’s a good start point. It’ll be good for my brain and my body and it will also be ideal to fit into my clothes nicely again because I can’t really afford to buy a whole new wardrobe, which neatly takes me to resolution #2….

This time last year I owed my sister about a grand which I’ve paid back. I have been much better with my money this year, but I have my Christmas holiday to pay off, a small credit card debt and an overdraft I want to stop being in. I still live pay cheque to pay cheque and to be honest, it’s totally unnecessary stress, if I can sort myself out. (There’s no reason for me not to, I earn a decent salary and only have the usual outgoings; rent, travel etc.)

I’ve started well, getting a distinction on my first piece of assessed work, and I want to keep this up. It’s not totally about the grades I get (though that is important to me) but also keeping up with my reading, writing and researching subjects I find interesting and engaging with my seminars.

My boyfriend loves running/is lowkey obsessed with it and this whole last year we’ve been together everyone has been telling me I’ll be running marathons next and I’ve been telling people FUCK OFF NO I WON’T YOU DON’T KNOW ME but now I’ve signed up to do a 10k. I have until mid-September so lots of time to train but I do need to get cracking as soon as because I am literally starting from the couch. I’m not arsed about an amazing time but I don’t want to disgrace myself or feel like I’m dying – I suppose my main aim when I say “smash it” is really just to enjoy it.

I have a detailed plan and I like it, I just haven’t written it. I want it to stay very much as a hobby for this year, but I’d really like to have a first draft by the end of 2020, even if it’s shit.

I wanted to do this in 2019 but somehow the year just went and I’m currently still only sporting the one tat. Also money-wise it’s not been ideal because I’ve spent all my money on other stuff. But this year I’m definitely getting at least one, if not two.

My personal email inboxes are a nightmare, full of unread emails from places I don’t care about. I keep getting offers from restaurants in Leicester – I haven’t lived there for two years. So an ongoing project will be to go through and delete the thousands of emails there AND get on top of unsubscribing from everything because it’s been doing my head in for about five years.

So there’s my New Years resolutions! Let me know/link to yours below or let me know how much you hate the idea of them etc etc below.

25 ways to procrastinate

Oi, you. Yes, you, the one reading this instead of doing your work. I know exactly what you’re doing, because I’ve done it a billion times before. This is not my first rodeo.

I normally try to share tips to help you with studying, but sometimes you just need to take a break. And so to help you with that, here’s 25 (mostly) productive ways procrastinate.

  1. Clean. It’s a classic procrastination move, and for a reason. Plus, makes you feel better.
  2. Clear out your drawers of all the crap in there. Get distracted and spend too long on it and get bored. Put everything back.
  3. Twitter. Looking for study buddies, obviously.
  4. Watch YouTube videos about productivity and organisation.
  5. Create a colour coded timetable.
  6. Create a pinterest board of study tips.
  7. Practice new hairstyles to keep your hair out of your eyes when doing all that studying.
  8. Wander around the library and try to find the most boring-sounding book you can, and be glad that’s not your reading.
  9. Create a study playlist of songs that you’ll just end up dancing to.
  10. Bake/cook/prepare study snacks. Eat as soon as ready, standing up at the counter.
  11. Sort out all of your pens and other stationery.
  12. Nap.
  13. Take a shower. Preferably a maintenance shower that requires washing and conditioning your hair, shaving, exfoliating etc. Clean body = clean mind.
  14. Clear your phone of apps you don’t use and photos you don’t want. Clear phone = clear mind.
  15. Get some fresh air.
  16. Plan in lots of great things to do once term is over.
  17. Find motivational quotes and memes and save them. Bonus points for writing them on post-it notes and decorating your study area with them.
  18. Catch up on your correspondence (i.e. reply to messages and delete your crappy emails)
  19. Replan your wardrobe to reflect your internal student mindset and create that student aesthetic.
  20. Write an incredibly detailed and unrealistic to-do list.
  21. Quietly shuffle through your papers and silently panic.
  22. Meditate.
  23. Rejig your study space.
  24. Search for new apps to help with time management and organisation.
  25. Start a study blog and tell others how to avoid procrastination.

Quarterly Goals October – December 2019

As IF we are in the last quarter of the year. This year has gone so fast and yet at the same time feels so long.

I know lots of people who do this method of goal setting, I first saw it on Jenna Moreci’s YouTube channel and have wanted to do it for a while. I’ve got as far as making the lists but haven’t then paid any attention to it after but this time I think I’m going to do it.

I’ll be following Jenna’s method of having a bunch of varying goals and if I achieve half of them or more I can say yay, and if I don’t, I have to announce here, on the internet, where no one cares.

1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, twice a week

2. Read 3 non-course related books

3. Lose a stone

4. Blog for StudySundays and my university journey

5. Hand in assignments and know they’re the best I can do

6. Develop strategy and plan for new project at work

7. Wrap up last project and set it up for handover in January at work

8. Create weekly budgets and stick to them

9. Save up and pay for Christmas holiday

10. Do all Christmas shopping by end of November

11. Do all reading and prep before each seminar by the day before

12. Set up help to buy ISA

13. Set up book swap shelf at work

14. Clear out clothes

15. Buy a sensible, warm, but nice winter coat

I think that’s enough to get started with! It’s going to be a really busy few months, and I’m really determined to enjoy it, because the busyness is all connected to good things. I’ll check back in at the start of 2020 (gulp) to see how I did!

What are your goals for this quarter? Let me know in the comments below!

I had my first seminar!

I had my first lecture and seminar on Monday!

I’d been a bit worried beforehand, about getting all the reading done and what on Earth we were going to talk about in the seminar and would I be able to keep up? But it all went really well actually, and I didn’t need to worry because I am Hermione Granger and I had totally over-prepared for it all.

There were two readings for the lectures. I had read them, made notes, highlighted, the full works – they were barely referenced! I could have possibly just read them through and got just as much from the (by the way super interesting and helpful) lecture.

Same for the seminar really, but I was glad I’d done it. The tutor asked if anyone had managed to do the reading and me and one other person had, out of 7, and then I got asked to summarise it. Eek. Couldn’t super remember the overarching argument but managed to say something of use, and then it was like my brain flipped a little switch and suddenly I could remember things and was making connections to what the tutor was saying and the reading.

I definitely spoke to most. Yet to decide if this is a good thing or not. Before I started I was telling T about all the annoying types of people you come across in seminars and I am definitely the most annoying in the class so far, as Ms Keen Bean.

However, I also don’t really care because I love history and I am paying £9000 to be here.

I was tired before I went in, as I’d been at work all day but was absolutely buzzing when I got out. I could have gone for longer. And to top it all off, when I got home T had made pie for dinner which was just perfect.

So ready for the rest of term!

Six tips for acing a presentation

Presentations are hard. They’re time-consuming to write and often scary to present back to class.

I’ve done a lot of presentations in school, university and at work and although I’m no expert, I am a good public speaker now. It’s taken me a while to get this point, but it’s such a great skill to have. I actually quite enjoy public speaking, but even if you don’t, here’s seven of my tips so that you can at least get through the presentation without freaking out.

Choose a good topic

This isn’t always possible, especially in the work place, but if you can, always choose something that interests you. It will make the preparation a much nicer process if it’s something you actually care about, and it will show when you present back to the class. You’ll already be more compelling to the people listening if they can tell that you actually give a shit.

Ideas first, slides second

Write down what you want to talk about before making your slides. There’s no point creating twenty beautiful slides before realising that those twenty slides only cover about six sentences of your talk. Get to grips with your content first and make it look sexy after.

Keep your slides simple: Part I

This is an obvious one – you don’t want your audience to zone out whilst staring at a wall of text. However, personally, I always try to put a bit more on than just one photo. That way, when you first switch to that slide, your audience will be taking in what’s in front of them, and taking their eyes off your face, even just for twenty seconds or so.

Keep your slides simple: Part II

When I was at high school and we had to present back to class, there was always one person who would pick that effect that puts up the words one letter at a time. Don’t do that, ever.

When presenting, the slideshow behind you is important, don’t get me wrong. But what’s more important is what you’re saying. Avoid fancy effects that break concentration, and don’t put too many slides in either. You want your slides to silently back up what you’re saying, not take over.

Learn what you’re talking about

Become familiar with your content. I try to become really comfortable with what I’m talking about, so that if I lose my place in my notes, I can still talk without waffling. It also just means that I don’t stand up and stare at a group of people and feel like an imposter.

Bullet point everything

I very rarely write a presentation out in full. I find it overwhelming to look down at a piece of paper covered in writing, and end up just reading it out, which as I’m sure you’ve heard before, doesn’t tend to lead to a great presentations.

My bullet points are relatively detailed, but they aren’t full sentences, so when I speak, I speak in a much more natural way. It lets me look up at my audience rather than staring at the (probably shaking) piece of paper. And, biggest of all for me, if I lose my place I don’t end up flustered and saying ‘um….hang on, where was I?’ in the middle of my killer point.

Put your notes in a notebook

I actually stole this one from comedian Sarah Millican. Don’t take a piece of paper up with you – I’m a confident public speaker but even my hands start shaking randomly when in front of a group of people. It’s probably adreneline or something. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. What I can confirm is that if you have a hard-backed notebook or – as I did recently – a clipboard*, it doesn’t shake and make that horrible whispery noise that paper does, that gives you away.

*Clipboards also have the bonus feature of making you look official AF

So that’s all I have for you today, I hope it helped! Even the most experienced public speakers get nervous before presentations, but hopefully these tips will help you ace yours.