Saturday, 22 April 2017

How I prepare for the perfect study day

I know a lot of you are new to the studyblr community, which is absolutely exciting! It’s great to see so many new people joining and the community growing every day. When you first get started it’s hard to break of habits and remembering and learning how to make productive studying a daily habit can be a challenge. One of the easiest ways to form a habit is to make a positive association with the action.

This is why addictions to things like sugar, nicotine and fat are so easy to create. These types of chemicals form a positive rush in the brain that makes us feel good. Humans are motivated to maximize rewards and minimize consequences, so they’ll repeat behaviors that bring rewards. That means you must associate studying with a reward.

At first glance you may think that there is an automatic association with studying and rewards, however this reward can be delayed. Additionally, you have no control over that reward. While you may study hard and work hard a lot of your results are down to the performance on the day or the correct interpretation of a question. That leaves a lot of wriggle room for disappointment – as sad as that may be. What that means it that you need to provide yourself with a little reward system that will allow you to build a positive reward system surrounding your study.

Additionally, we need to minimize the exhaustion that studying brings. When you first start out your studying, begin with a habit of three hours of ‘active’ study daily. You’d be surprised just how exhaustive it first is when you begin to do this daily. Once you’ve achieved this for a week you can consider doing more than three hours, but before that limit yourself to this amount of time.

Some parameters of studying that you need to consider when reading this article;

-        Study does not refer to completion of assignments

-        Study may include homework

-        Study should not be passive

-        You know your body and mind best and this article is to be taken as a guide not a rule book

My full study day routine

I begin the night before by;

Ø  Preparing a list of the subjects I need to study
Ø  Marking the textbook chapters involved

I also pack my bag the night before so that I can grab it and go.

Backpack Checklist
1.      Stationary
·        Highlighters
·        Pens
·        Pencil
·        Ruler
·        Eraser
2.      Sticky notes
3.      Water bottle
4.      Laptop and phone charger
5.      Planner
6.      Notebooks
7.      Study guides
8.      Printables

I also like to prep a little lunch box for me to take. This is because going out to buy lunch can get expensive and if you have food allergies like me it can be very time consuming. Additionally, if you’re a bit of a grouchy riser it might be an idea to prep some tea or coffee on your bench. Just put out the coffee jar or tea bags next to your mug so that you can sleepily pull yourself together.
I like to pin up my list on my door or pinboard so that I see it first thing in the morning. This helps me to remember why I have to get up and get dressed. It is also a visual reminder of how busy you are – and stops you wasting time in the morning!

Now set your alarm for six o’clock and let’s go!

When I wake up in the morning I make sure to treat myself well. I’m not a very happy morning person, so it’s important that I get my coffee first thing! However, to make sure we have a healthy start I like to mix some apple cider vinegar in some water and have a few gulps before I start on my coffee.

I get really dry skin during the day, especially when I’m working in the library and the air conditioner dries out your skin. While keeping hydrated is a good way to prevent any discomfort that may come from this issue, it is also a good idea to use a facial cream.

At the moment, my favorite at the moment is ottergenics daydream facial cream, it’s very easy to get on Amazon. I don’t usually stick to one brand, but I’ve really fallen in love with this cream, especially because I suffer from bad dry skin. It’s a little different to normal face creams because you get to control just how watery it is. This is because it comes in a concentrated form with 0% water which you then can mix with water to make it spreadable.  I like to mix it with lotion or foundation instead of water because I prefer that texture better.

It makes a beautiful smelling cream that helps me not to feel dried out and I get to spend the rest of the day with beautifully soft skin that doesn’t leave me feeling tired and drained. And after eight hours with my face in a law textbook – that’s pretty impressive! Better yet the product is entirely natural and isn't filled with chemicals. It's a cream that's highly versatile that I'd recommend anyone incorporates into their daily routine.

Then I try and pull my hair out of my face because no one likes to deal with hair in your eyes when you’re struggling through a textbook or a theory.

I’d recommend going on pintrest to find some sweet library outfits you can wear to go studying. I find that the usual sweatpants and shirt can get pretty monotonous. It’s always a good plan to have a few different comfortable outfits that you can wear which you really feel comfortable and pretty in.

Hitting the library

Once you’re dressed and feeling suitably luxurious you’ll be in the right mood to study. I made sure to highlight to you that you need to make sure you’re in the right headspace because if you try to study when you’re not feeling good your productivity will drop. I can guarantee then any study you do will go in one ear – out the other-  and you’ll give up on maintaining this habit.
If you’re not sure what to actually /do/ while you’re studying look at these top five study activities to get an idea for how to structure your day.

However, the real challenge will be keeping yourself motivated and productive. It’s not a simple matter of sticking your head in a book and keep going until your brain shuts down. You need to make sure that every second is used wisely. There are several ways that you can do this but I think that the best method is using a visual tracker.

To create one of these, use the articles above to plan out the tasks that need to be done. Then list them along a piece of gridded paper. It doesn’t matter what order they are in you can jump around as you need. Using the boxes that you’ve drawn as a guide write in a step by step guide for what you need to do to finish that task;

Now throughout your day, every 25 minutes you need to stop and color in just how far along you are in completing that task.

You can use a pencil to show yourself just how much you need to get done to be at an appropriate stage by the end of the day.

This is best coupled with a time indicator scale which gives you a brief overview of how you plan to spend your time. Although it should be left a little flexible – and don’t forget to schedule yourself in some 5 minute breaks every 25 minutes.

Once you’re done – STOP!
Once you start to get into the habit of studying you can struggle to stop. It’s very important that you exercise self-discipline both ways. You need to firm with yourself when you need to begin studying, and when you’re ready to stop studying, put your books away and allow your brain to rest. A well-rested brain absorbs far more than a strung out one! And don’t forget the recommended amount of sleep a night is 8 hours and 8 and a half for teenagers. 

Note Ottergenics; I received this product in exchange for review from Giveaway Service website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Australian Court Series ; R V Adams

This case is interesting as it is a case taking place in 2017 for a murder in 1983. Unlike some criminal acts murder has no statute of limitation – or expiry date, after which the prosecution can no longer prosecute. The maximum penalty for murder, all around Australia, is Life imprisonment, so that is the penalty that many heinous crimes are given. However, as this is a murder from 1983, the court had to apply the law from the time. This was that the imprisonment for life was a mandatory sentence. At [4] Justice Button acknowledge that ‘the maximum penalty as it existed in 1983…speaks for itself with regard to the gravity with which the unlawful taking of the life of a fellow human being…was and is assessed by parliament and the community that it represents.’

The case facts, as recounted, are that in 1983 the offender offered the deceased a lift home. The deceased was drunk and had believed the false representations of the man that he was a police officer. He then drove her a short distance away, and possibly during intercourse – the facts are not agreed upon – he crushed her windpipe, killing the deceased. Her body was then stored in the boot and the offender took steps to clean the evidence. There was evidence adduced at trial that the offender had a history of strangling sexual partners who refused his advances.

This case is interesting as the judge was not required to determine guilt but relative seriousness of the offence. There were two opposing facts of the case that made this determination difficult the first was that the case was more serious because the offender had invaded the woman’s sexual autonomy and the murder took place during an act that was obviously dangerous to human life given her own level of intoxication.

The second fact that goes in favor of the offender is that the murder was unintended. There is a general acceptance that premeditated, assessed and planned murder is of greater seriousness than a murder occurring in the spur of the moment.

That being said at [16] the judge determined that while I appreciate the force of what defence counsel has said about the breadth of the concept of felony murder, this offence against a young woman in the prime of her life, simply for the sexual gratification of the offender, cannot be assessed as anything other than extremely grave.’

When sentencing the judge took into account the following;

-        Plead not guilty, resulting in no utilitarian discount
-        No mitigating factors
-        Has not shown remorse
-        Has not accepted responsibility
-        Previous rapes of similar description
-        His age is now 64
-        He has not been convicted of anything since 1974

Around the world legal courts have also become live to the issue that the considerable delays between getting arraigned, trial and sentence amount to some degree in delay of justice. In Canada it was determined that that a four year delay would be sufficient to constitute a delay of justice. However, this has not yet been determined in Australia.; R v Jordan.  

In this case it was discussed from [29-31] how the delay of justice proposition may apply to the offender. While he acknowledged that there was a strong between the murder and the charges, it was not by process of the law or deliberate delay of the authorities rather, and to use his honors own words, the matter is not to be equated with a case in which the charging of a person is delayed [or] he or she exercises his or her right to silence. Instead the delay in the resolution of the matter is to a large degree, attributable to the offender. [31]. It was determined that the delay should reflect to a limited degree the sentence.

Further to the determination of sentencing, it became at issue how the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment was to be treated. While it is no longer mandatory, it has come to be accepted in the court that the law does not operate retrospectively and the law that is in place at the time of the offence is that law that must apply to the offence; R v  Magnuson. However, it was hardly a year later that the law was changed. Meaning that the mood of the times when the crime was committed was not significantly different. Moreover, his honor acknowledged that it was general practice for crimes of a similar nature to serve 11 to 10 years before being released on parole. This inferenced a standard of treatment that the offender may have appealed to.

Then a similar case, not committed by the offender, R v Fleming was raised by defence as a potential sentencing guide. It accounted for an imprisonment of 21 years with a non-parole period of 16 years.
It was also accepted that the sentence must reflect the time in custody spent prior to sentencing.

Final determination factors

There was a lack of
-        Intention to kill
-        Multiple murders
-        Prior murders
-        Not a contract killing

-        Act of heinous cruelty, indignity, torture or mutilation
This are important to note that they are not present because they are standard elements in todays courts, where the ultimate sentence is imposed. It was for that reason that his honor was not satisfied that a determinate sentence would fail to reflect the gravity of what the offender has done; s61 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. [54].

In Australia, because it is the adversarial system victims aren’t often invited to the stand to explain how things have impacted them personally. That being said the courts invite victim impact statements to be submitted to the judge. This is something that the court may consider when determining the sentence that is given to an offender. They are not compulsory and only discuss how the crime has impacted the

-        Physically
-        Emotionally
-        Financially
-        Socially

His honor acknowledged that the two sisters who submitted impact statements spoke movingly of the pain that has been endured for decades as a result of the disappearance of the deceased...that pain had been made worse by not knowing precisely how she died. Many years ago, their parents went to their graves without any resolution of the mystery loss of their daughter.’

It was not made clear how exactly this added to the sentence, but it is inferenced that due to the serious impact the offender’s actions had upon the family of the deceased, his actions were deemed to be more serious than an act that had a lesser impact on the family.

Final Sentence

The offender was convicted of murder with a non-parole period of fifteen years and a parole period of 5 years, following the fifteen. This means that for fifteen years following this sentence the offender is ineligible to apply for parole. After that he is eligible to be released.

You can see that he has followed the guidance of R v Fleming and the general structure of sentences in which the non-parole period must be three quarters of the head sentence. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

3 types of handouts and how to use them effectively

How to study from a handout?

It can be pretty disconcerting when you’re given a sheet of paper in class with some information, some questions and maybe a few dot points. What should a good student do with these seemingly simple pieces of paper?

I used to diligently hold on to them in the belief that the simple possession of these pieces of paper would bestow upon me the concept that they were meant to explain.

This obviously is not entirely true. Holding onto them, while useful, doesn’t teach you anything that you didn’t already know.

To study from a handout you need to classify it into three groups.

1.    Simple concept

This handout is to cover one idea within one topic. It usually contains a few paragraphs, maybe a diagram and some summary dot points underneath.

Since this handout doesn’t cover anything particularly vital to your course, don’t be too stressed about keeping it in the handout form. The best way to get the most information from these pieces of paper is to perform the following analysis.

A.    What is the layout?

If the hand out sets out an answer or information in a way that you don’t usually it’s important to evaluate and compare your normal answer to the example answer. Sometimes you may find that the example answer will reap higher marks or allow you to answer something faster because it is more efficient and displays the information that the examiner wishes to find.

B.    Is this information in the textbook/workbook?

If your course has been assigned a textbook or workbook, you should check to see if this topic is covered in the workbook. If it isn’t, it’s important that you transfer the information to your notes so that you don’t forget about the topic. While it may not be critical, it’s fairly evident you’ll need it on the final.

If it is in in the textbook, your next step is to assess which information source is the best. Your teacher may have said ‘I don’t like the way this is set out in the textbook’ – which is more common than you think. If this or something similar as said make a note in your book not to use this information and transfer the handout to your notes. If nothing like this was said, compare the two answer and see which you understand best.

It may be that explanation in the textbook is better than the one in the handout – other students may find the opposite, and that is why the teacher has chosen to explain two methods. Once you’ve chosen the ideal information source for you transfer it to your notes with a written example if necessary.

2.    Underlying feature

These handouts will explain something that is critical to the understanding of the entire course. Some common topics that these handouts cover are academic theories, grammar and ‘how to answer essays/questions.

To determine how to get information from these is a little more involved that with a simple concept. The process for getting the best information from these concept handouts is the following;

A.    Highlight keywords

Handouts which use words to summarize will often hold critical keywords that will assist you in answering questions. Specific jargon like; ‘marxism,’ ‘independent variable,’ or ‘market value’ if used repeatedly will be a clear indicator that they are needed in answer exam answer or essay.

B.    Assess diagram quality

Sometimes information will be summarized in a diagram. Depending on your learning preferences this may or may not assist you in understanding how the information works together. If it does help you, copy a version of this diagram into your notes. That way you’ll be able to refer to it whenever you need without having to hold onto a piece of paper.

C.    Connect key phrases to form concept paragraphs

Refer back to your highlighted keywords. When you look at the ideas that surround these keywords, you should be able to pick out smaller phrases that make up a larger idea.

For example, if you saw the keyword; ‘legislature’ you would then look at this keyword and find phrases about the legislature such as a definition. If after skimming through the paragraph you find that the rest of the writing adds to the definition then simply write the single summary phrase. Do the same until you reach the end of the handout.

Make sure to highlight your summary phrases as you go along so when you revise at a later date you can see where these summary sentences have come from and draw upon the extra information if necessary.

D.    Don’t lose the handout

Because this handout covers more information than a simple handout, it is best that you don’t throw it away. It can be useful later if you find that you need extra help to cover the necessary information on a topic.

To make sure that my files don’t get crinkled I have a special handouts folder in my bottom desk drawer where I can keep them all together.

3.    Guidance Notes.

You should be able to recognize these pretty quickly. Generally, they’re about five or more pages, and they guide you through the entirety of a topic or course. Common examples of these include your course syllabus or study notes. Other examples might be a reading guide or tutorial outlines.
These critical to your academic success and you should never ditch this beore you’ve synthesized the information they provide.

A.    Highlight keywords

Again it is important first to skim read the document and highlight any keywords that you see. It may be useful to cross reference this with your concept handouts so that you know which words might be more important than others.

B.    Highlight and summarize the first and last sentence of every paragraph

This may sound odd, but most would know that the first and last sentence contain the critical ideas of a paragraph. When you structure your paragraph, the first sentence should introduce the idea, and the last sentence should summarize and maybe explain how it links to your next idea.
This means that when you’re reading a long document like a guidance note you can use the first and last sentence to construct a succinct summary of what the entire handout explains.

Depending on the length of the notes, you could have a summary between 200-500 words.

C.    Prioritize your reading

Documents like these can be very overwhelming. So use your above summary and go straight to the paragraphs that talk about the topics you are least familiar with.

D.    Underline critical phrases and annotate

As you read underline the critical sentences that succinctly explain the idea it is trying to convey. If you’re reading a long paragraph, you may find that half of one sentence and another half of a different sentence form an exact summary phrase. It is best then to highlight these pieces and write them as one sentence in your own notes.

As you go through each paragraph, and highlight important phrases – summarize dot points in margins what the paragraph’s critical points are.

For example, if you were reading a paragraph about voting you might put dot points like

-    Commonwealth government only
-    18 and over
-    Right under constitution
-    Preferential system

That way when you’re revising this quickly, later on, you don’t have to read every word to remind yourself of the important information.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Perfect Weekend DIY; A Practical Person's Command Center

The Perfect Weekend DIY
A Clerk's Guide to Stress Free Organization

For those of you who don’t know I love pintrest. Pintrest is an online social media website (no affiliate links don’t worry!). It is a series of pictures which you can choose to ‘pin’ to a specific board that you create. Each of these pictures will lead you to a related website, like a how to instructable or a shopping website where you can but super cute outfits.

For busy people, pintrest is the perfect outlet. There’s no time commitment – and you always leave it with something semi-useful.

Lately I’ve been super into the DIY section of pintrest. Although I usually struggle to find time to make the adorable hand knitted crafts that I love to look at – one DIY had continually caught my interest.

The instructable is aimed towards parents of children – particularly those with multiple children. However, as a young college student I can definitely see the value in this DIY, so I altered it a little so that it can be used for any person wishing to get a better handle on what exactly is going on in their life.
The DIY I’m following today – is the ‘command center for the home. ’ Mine was a lot simpler than the ideas you’ll find on pintrest. I was going for something functional and easy to create that I could hang on the back of the door. (But this may update as they year goes on!)

To begin with figure out how exactly you want to use your command center. Some things that this little spaces are often utilized for include;

-        Organizing important documents like notices, letters, bills etc.
-        Tracking the day and events of the month
-        Leaving notices to alert others about what’s happening
-        Tracking important goal progress

I chose to use this space for

Ø Reminding myself about things I had to get done that day
Ø Tracking my study progression
Ø Tracking my goals for the week
Ø Organizing important documents
Ø Keeping the assignments I had to finish in one single folder
Ø Maintaining the events of the week

The materials I used were              
-        Command strips (like double sided tape, but they don’t rip paint when you pull them off
-        Washi tape (decorative and doesn’t destroy paint
-         Weekly planner
-        Daily list
-        A couple of paper envelopes
-        Paper decorations
-        3 plastic folders
-        Miscellaneous pens (just to draw stuff with)

In the folders I put

1.    Important notices
3.    Assignments that were due within the next two weeks

Just the calendars that I used
1.    Begin by making the arrangement that you’d like on the floor before you place anything on the door. This is because it’s much harder to move things around once the adhesive is attached to the object
2.    Once your arrangement is made begin placing on the biggest features first. It is easier to arrange the smaller details once you have put in the main features.

1.    Check the height of the calendar and ensure it is eye height and that you can comfortably write on all of the squares.
2.    Once at the appropriate height, attach two adhesive strips and press down firmly.
3.    To organize the calendar write in all the activities you have the cannot be missed ensure you have the time written next to every event
4.    Write down all the events that you would like to attend, keep the times near the activity
You should always write in the compulsory events first and then fill out noncompulsory events because this ensures that you maintain a realistic schedule that won’t lead you to burn out.
Tip; If you have a busy schedule you made be better off using grid paper and coloring in a square to block out the times that you will be away. This makes it much easier to see your free time when you’re in a hurry and can avoid double booking!

1.    To arrange a folder ensure that it is at a position that your arm can reach. The recommended heights are;
·       Shoulder height
·       Rib height
·       Hip height
Any lower or higher than this may mean that the folder is ill placed for daily use. We want to make sure that this is a ‘functional’ space, so try to make sure it’s at a height that is within easy reach.
2.    Then attach two strong command strips to the back of the folder and press down firmly.
Is that one folder too many?
3.    Place the items that you choose within your folder, making sure to remember what goes where.

Some people recommend adding labels, but it if this space will only be used by yourself it is not necessary.

Daily organizer
1.    I chose to organize my daily list by writing out the tasks that have to be done in red
2.    Then writing out the tasks that I would like to be done in black
3.    Social plans are usually written in green
4.    Due dates are written in red

Motivational quotes and other materials
And the final result!
You may choose to use quotes in your space to make it a more inviting place to look at. This is a great idea, I’d recommend choosing quotes that you personal relate too. Be mindful not to use too many as over cluttering the space can decrease its functionality.

Paper envelopes
If you’re like me you don’t just want a functional space – you want something that looks good. Sticking motivational quotes and paper decorations can help your display look good – but using different sized folders can help give it that extra little bit of ‘aesthetic.’

I used plain white envelopes to hold a few light stickers and some quick-grab note paper but feel free to pick up some patterned ones from the craft store.
I decided to keep to my gold theme and use gold washi tape (only visible in the last photo because I changed my mind a few times!)

Using the same coloured tape can be a great way to mix in vibrant colours without letting things get too hectic!

Good luck making your command spaces! Post a picture of your space on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr using the hashtag #theunderagelawyer or comment below.