Category Archives: Motivational Mondays (Original Run)

In the Moment Monday: Making the Pieces Fit

This week’s post is about putting it all together. Little steps. 

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by Jason F. Martinez

What is it about large projects and taking on too much at one time? Why do we often find ourselves in over our heads when trying to accomplish such tasks after we’ve waited too long?

Or maybe it’s just me…

In any case, if you should find yourself in the middle of one project, or possibly juggling multiple projects at one time, attacking the challenge with some sort of plan is key. Being able to prioritize and organize the components to be completed will usually create less stress both before and during the process. And this is a concept that many have to learn the hard way, as is the custom of all good lessons learned.

When sitting down with a student during a consultation, there is often a sense of overwhelming stress, possibly fall across their face, or perhaps I can hear it in their voice as we discuss the paper. The stress is due to several factors, and the one factor that probably takes precedence is the project’s scope.

Finally sitting town to work when the deadline is too close usually removes any confidence about the assignment and its outcomes. When this happens, most begin to panic. Panic won’t change anything, I can promise you that much. Instead, make note of the procrastination and begin planning for the next assignment. Write down what you did up to this current point of anxiety and procrastination and resolve to avoid those circumstance the next go round.

Documenting where you went wrong is the first step.But when you come across your next assignment, you should have a new plan of attack. Here is what I have done at various points in my academic career in order to have better control over my projects:

Step One – Scheduling

  • Make note of all due dates or milestones for the project(s). Use your student planner or calendar feature on your smart device or laptop to do this.
  • Annotate each entry with contact and resource info in case you should need to reach out to your professor (for assignment specific questions) or classmates (for coordination if a group project).
  • Compare the academic calendar against your work and social calendars (so to speak). This should ensure that you do not over extend yourself and commit to things that you cannot follow through with, or that will interfere with your process.

Step Two – Evaluating the Assignment or Project

  • Determine how much research your assignment may require. Make time to visit the research librarians at the library to get any assistance finding your sources and to determine the legitimacy of the research that you find.

Step Three – Engaging with the Research

  • Begin reading your research, making notes and annotations as you go along to keep track of your progress. Consider making a matrix for your research to document your process and have access to information for the future. Some information to include in the matrix (hand drawn or in an Excel spreadsheet) should be: author(s), title, year of publication, direct quotes, summary of chosen quotes, page or paragraph information, and maybe a URL or location of where you found it.
  • Depending on your learning preference, you can engage with the research you have gathered either by traditional means with printed copies, hand written notes, and use of colored pens or highlighters. Or, if you are a true student of the 21st century, you can use other digital tools, such as Adobe Reader or any other modules that can be found online.

And that’s it for this week. This may seem like it’s cut short, but there is much more to the process that requires more discussion.

Take note of this entry and look for ways to implement a more solid process for you to tackle larger assignments.

If you have the time, please take a look at this website, the Assignment Calculator, as it will help to break down the process of organizing a project. The Assignment Calculator will be covered in a future post.

As always, if you have any questions, please come see us at the MFD WC in the Academic Center for Excellence located in Library 101.

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In the Moment Monday -September 26, 2016 : Procrastination Station

In this week’s post, a reintroduction and testimony about dodging difficulty and productivity.

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by Jason Martinez

So, yes, the motivational column previously known as “Motivational Mondays” is back. This time the column will be known as “In the Moment Monday.” “Why the name change?” you may ask. Well, in the time that I have been away, I have learned the importance of truly living in a moment. It is a micro focus on ideas rather than the macro of general “motivation” that I previously wrote about. Yes, there will be motivational material, but instead of exploring the dark corners of only my psyche, we will explore ways to not only live in the moment, but to overcome any obstacles in a productive way.

For this first post back, let’s take a look at how procrastination can set a person back with goals, specifically when it involves someone doing something that the don’t want to do. What is a common subject of avoidance? Schoolwork. Or, even work-work. Anything that has to do with responsibility I would say is fair game to be avoided with menial, time-killing behaviors.

For me, I have a weakness for digital media, specifically in the form of Netflix and other streaming services. I’m sure that it is because there is a certain type of hypnotic quality of watching or observing passively, where our brains can voluntarily take a backseat and defer doing more work. However, that may be just a brain like mine, one that is prone to cycles of productivity and creative bursts and is not a workhorse.

I do know many who have the aforementioned workhorse brain that allows them to find activities like writing or reading after a long day of work as relaxing. For me, creativity is a rewarding but tiring endeavor. When I have a full day of consulting, I feel that my brain is firing on all cylinders for as long as possible. Sometimes not all day, depending on how many appointments I have, but there is an extended period of engagement that my brain will eventually register and feel the drain at the end of the day. But that end of the day drain is so rewarding.

But if there is a reward to that behavior, then why do I negate the benefits of the drain? I think that in my case, and maybe with others, we are so pre-programmed from years of actual media programming options that we don’t know how to live in the moment and relax. There is a constant party of voices and noise that seems to fill my head, usually filler noises, half-completed song verses, movie or television quotes, all of which can derail me at any given moment for an undetermined amount of time during the day.

I’m practicing ways to stop what I’m doing and take a few minutes to recap what has happened, what is happening, and what is planned to happen. But the emphasis is on what is happening. The other two are mere bookends that just provide context and really should not be fixated upon, lest you fall into the trap of compare and despair of your past and future. Sitting in a relatively quiet space, a living room, a library, or even the car sitting idle without the engine on can all provide good spaces to just focus on the now.

As difficult as it may be to drown out the noises of the day’s events, friends, drama, classes, work, or just anything that you allow to take up valuable real estate in your brain, rest assured that you can do it. It takes practice and repetition to at least feel a moment of relaxation and focus that is not drenched in the day’s concerns.

 

Motivational Mondays: Living for Now

 

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This week’s post is about living for the moment and staying in your lane of the present, and out of the past and future.

by Jason Martinez

I’ve spent so much of my life worrying about what I may have done wrong in the past and what I may do wrong in the future. Instead, I should have been focusing on that moment, the time when it made the most impact, moving towards a better tomorrow and creating a new destiny.

I made a Lenten promise, among the other common indulgent promises, to live in the moment, to be aware of my surroundings and not look to my past or future for guidance. I look to what I have before me, the resources that I possess, and work towards possessing those resources that I still require for my success. Success is my only goal, and it is based on my metric of success, not what others’ expectations dictate of me. And in my journey, I’ve been blessed with supportive family and friends.

Finding the best way to live for now is probably one of the most important life skills any of us can acquire. Being able to live for now and not straying into the past or future, the other lanes of your life journey, to seek pain and anxiety is  necessary navigate life into a path of success and hope. Right now, as I prepare for a major life change, I live for one moment to the next and only expect an outcome that I can control in each moment as they come. Sure, something or many things may go wrong, or they won’t and I’ll be just fine.

I have faith that I’ve prepared myself to the best of my abilities to handle whatever comes my way. And if not, I, like you, have people in our lives to help bring us back into the moment and to succeed over whatever may hinder us. When the worst presents itself it is coming out of the past to create worry about the future, and often ignores the present. You are in control of the present, so don’t let the fears and anxieties of the past taint your tomorrows.

Remind yourself that today is what you make of it, so make it for today and not for yesterday or tomorrow. Life is happening right now, and so is your happiness or contentment. Join us, won’t you?

 

 

 

Motivational Mondays: The Dawn After the Darkness

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by Jason Martinez

In this week’s post, we look beyond the difficulties and seek the possibilities.

There are times when the ground in front of us is obscured by the fog of insecurity. Each step is a step into uncertainty and fear. We look back and see what we’ve done and what has been done to us, and again, fear sets in.

For me, and perhaps you as well, this past year has been lived in a shroud of darkness and uncertainty of the future. From family medical crises to personal goals for the future, my life has been in suspended animation, to a degree. But the good news is that during that time there were periods after the tempestuous squall of emotions. Those periods of relative peace are treasured, but ultimately are moments spent preparing for the next phase of storms.

The one good thing about living through the darkness and fog of the storm is knowing afterwards that you can live through it. You’ve done what others might not have been able to do. And in effect, after all is said and done, you’ve found ways to move from despair towards hope. The hope of a new day, one that holds the promise of a better you, a more peaceful you, and a more fulfilled you.

Being able to see the dawning of a new day after a period of prolonged darkness is empowering, validating, and invigorating. There is hope waiting. Yet, for some reason, some unknown and all too human reason, when searching through the fog, bracing for the worst of the storm, we seem to forget that just on the other side of the fog of the storm is hope. It’s right there and waiting for us to just step into it. Only one step and we have hope.

Our brains have told us that we are wandering aimlessly through the storm, perhaps traversing thousands of miles, but in fact we’ve been standing in one place and spinning in the dark. And from that one position we are only one step away from hope.

Now that you know where it is, seek hope instead of the storm.

 

Motivational Mondays: The Coming Changes

 

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In this week’s post, we begin to yet again determine a plan for the coming changes.

by Jason Martinez

The title is a bit of a misnomer because we all know that there is no real way to determine whether or not change is coming at a specific time. In fact, change is constant, happening every second, but our minds have to be able to perceive the change before it can be embraced or acted upon.

But at this point in the semester, it is safe to say that some change is coming, and if not, it probably should. The changes may be against you and in a negative form. Or the changes might need to come from you, and those changes might be more positive and affirming for you. At this point, it is up to you to determine which type of change you are dealing with, but first you must acknowledge the change.

Sooner than you know, midterms will be upon you. There will be a time to understand that plans must be afoot to make the necessary changes for your future success. Even at midpoint, or midterm, it is not impossible to achieve your goals, even at their basic levels. But you must acknowledge the need for a change in your study habits. Form a group, see a tutor, attend an SI session – just do something.

It’s okay to not know exactly what to do at this point, but don’t become complacent and let opportunities sneak up on you and then miss them because you’ve run out of time. Assess your grades, your goals, and the role that you play in making those dots connect for your success.

Don’t ever be okay with mediocrity. It’s one thing to plan and execute a plan that doesn’t come to its full fruition, but you must first act. It is, however, another thing entirely to sit by complacently and play the victim of circumstances when you are entirely capable of overcoming your circumstances, however negative or untenable as they may seem, so just take the first step.