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Rein in your Emotions

Emotions are useful in many types of situations, working better than logic to get you where you want to go. However, sometimes, you just cannot afford to give your feelings the run of the place and completely disregard logic. Relying too much on emotions can make you temperamental, seem unprofessional, and be hard to cooperate and reason with; so how can you quash down your feelings when necessary? By assessing the situation, responding instead of reacting, and taking responsibility for your actions, you can be calm, professional, and collected.

When something happens, whether positive or negative, you should evaluate what is going on before you do anything. Consider what has gotten you to this point objectively and what you steps you need to take to resolve or move forward from this present moment. Get rid of any biases or excuses. Instead, take on the role of a bystander. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind and calm down. If you choose to, do a few simple math problems in your head, as that activates the logic part of your brain and push invasive emotions to the back of your mind.

Next, after knowing the situation, respond to it whether than react. Reacting means to act without thinking, much like how you angrily reacted when you caught your younger sibling in your room when you were a child. Responding means you make a move only after careful consideration. Think of your life as a chessboard. What piece should you move to get to where you want to be? How would you move that piece? This way of thinking puts you in an outsider’s position, where you can carefully consider how you should respond to the situation without the burden of emotions, which can ruin a cool-headed approach.

Finally, you must take responsibility for all that you have done, the good and the bad. Instinct will tell you to run away, make excuses, and push the blame towards someone else, but logic dictates that the correct thing to do would be to fully embrace the role you have taken in this situation. Whether you were an instigator, an observer, or a victim, you must clearly address what position you were in when this event occurred. Your coworkers and boss will appreciate you more for your honesty and professional ways of acting; they might even overlook your mistakes if they were minor.

This is not to say emotions are burdensome or useless, but that they have a specific role that should only be played when the time and place is right. When you are with your friends or family, feel free to let yourself run wild. At work however, it’s best to tightly rein yourself in and not give your emotions too much credit. When you are in a professional environment, you must act appropriately, making decisions with your mind rather than your heart. When you do this, you are more likely to make good choices, and advance your career.

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Train your Brain

Train your Brain

Your mind is a powerful and important organ of your body, dictating your life. Without it, you would hold no consciousness and be nothing more than an empty shell. In your prime, your brain is sharp, focussed and clear. However, as you age, the mind dims, causing you to have short term memory loss, and find it hard to concentrate. Obviously, you want to slow and eventually stop the damage, but how do you do it? Thankfully, the process to recovering your clarity of mind is not at all difficult…

Make yourself learn something new every day. Whether it is how to get from your house to the new shop that just opened or taking a lesson in astrophysics, every bit counts. Keep your brain active, and open to absorbing new information. Each lesson you learn imprints on the brain, carving out new thought patterns and keeps it curious. The more you learn, the denser and more complicated your mind is wired, which means it can come up with more solutions to problems in less time.

In addition to active learning, embrace challenges in the field you are familiar with to introduce new ways of thinking and to expand on your knowledge. If your boss is asking you to begin a large project, don’t shy away from it. Instead, tackle it head on and don’t back down from complications. The harder you work to resolve issues, the better your mind will be for thinking on your feet and quickly adjusting to new situations. If your work place does not offer enough challenges, go seek out some on your own. Run a marathon (strengthens body and mind), or try your hand at programming apps.

We live in a high tech world where newspaper puzzles are near obsolete (but are still fun!). Instead, there are a wide variety of applications and programs that improve your mental abilities through daily training games that usually take no more than a few minutes. Play on the bus, in the waiting room, or on your lunch break; flexibility is one of the best things about using this option to strengthen your mind. In addition, some apps are free, and most offer a free trial, so you get to try all of the benefits at no cost to you.

Even if you are at your peak, some brain training exercises can’t go wrong. They’re fun, and raise you up to be a lifelong learner that embraces challenges and fosters curiosity. You don’t even have to set up a time to improve you mental capabilities. Most of these ideas can be incorporated into everything you do, everywhere you go. No more excuses! It’s time to get your brain on track.

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Pull an All-Nighter

Pull an All-Nighter

As much as we hate it, it’s sometimes unavoidable to work late into the night. Whether it’s an exam that you’re cramming for, or a project that has been left to the last minute, concentration and focus always seem to evade us. In addition, the caffeinated rush from the five cups of coffee you just drank probably isn’t helping neither. No matter how much you detest being a night owl, it’s still important to know how to work efficiently at the wee hours, which is why you should read the tips below.

First of all, ditch the caffeine – all of it. No coffee, energy drinks, soda, chocolate, or processed food of any kind. Instead, get some fruit (apples are proven to have as much of a boost as a cup of coffee due to its natural sugars) or a granola bar, and drink lots of water. No matter what, stay away from high sodium or high fat foods, which can make you sleepier. If you really need a boost, get up and physically move your body. Do squats, jog in place, or even go for a late night run (on the treadmill, preferably). The exercise moves blood to your brain, making studying easier in addition to providing a burst of energy.

This is a no brainer, but is still important enough to be reiterated. Turn off all distractions and you will have a much easier time studying. Your phone goes inside your bag, not beside you on the desk. To increase concentration, work in small periods only. Set a timer, and after every twenty minutes or so, get up and move around. Every hour or so, take a quick snack break and drink some water. Staying hydrated prevents eye bags that are notorious aftermaths of a long night.

After a while, when the going gets really tough, consider taking a power nap. A twenty minute nap (be sure to set a timer!) refreshes your brain and makes you ready to start working again. However, if you find you just can’t keep going anymore, go to bed. There’s no point in wasting more time only to end up with work of poor quality. In fact, if you begin working the next morning with a clear head, you may end up finishing quickly with better results.

Working late is not entirely unavoidable. If you plan out your time well and never procrastinate, you may almost never have to stay up late. Realistically, you will get much better results if you space your work out over a long period of time. However, when you do pull an all-nighter, it’s important to know how to make the most of your precious time. If you follow the tips above, you can likely get most, if not all of your work done with minimal pain. Just remember to reward yourself with sleep once you’re done.

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Embracing Mentorship

Embracing Mentorship

The greatest feeling in the world is the feeling of watching someone you are close to and grow up to be a great person under your influence. Obviously, becoming a parent will provide plenty of these emotions, but not everyone has the ability or the yearning to take care of a child all day, every day. Young adults, in particular, want to assume an authoritative role, but are not yet ready for parenthood. So how can anyone, regardless of age, become a mentor? Read on to find out.

Many organizations, like Big Sisters or Big Brothers, pair up younger children who are having difficulties socially, emotionally, or academically with a responsible, commendable older ‘sibling’. With your young charge, you go on out trips, teach them life lessons, give them advice, and help them with schoolwork. After all, you have (perhaps marginally) more life experience than them. As time goes on, your younger sibling will start to emulate your positive actions and take your words to heart, looking up to you as a role model. If you don’t want to commit long term, there are many other places out there which offer once in a while opportunities, so be sure to spend some time searching for listings in your area.

If structure and formal mentoring are not what you’re looking for, consider babysitting the kids in your neighborhood. There are plenty of parents searching for someone responsible and enthusiastic to take their children on an out trip for a day, giving them the chance to take a day off. Be friendly, approachable, and listen well to what the kids say; but be sure to impart some of your wisdom on to them as well. Try to look to them as equals instead of inferiors, and keep an open mind. You might end up making more than a few new friends (and some money too).

Most schools offer programs where you sign up to volunteer at a sister elementary school. After you sign up, you get assigned a younger buddy, and the two of you spend the day together when the schools meet up for field trips. In addition, you have the chance to write letters to them, receive crafts from them, and make a friend for life. Keep in touch even after the program ends and you can still visit each other outside of school and possibly be lifelong friends.

Even if you do not have anyone to mentor, you can still be a role model by being positive, respectful, and kind to people in general. You never know who is watching. If you keep being the best self you can be, your goodness may rub off unintentionally on to the kids (and everybody else) in the community, so set yourself up to mentor not just a few children, but your neighborhood at large.

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Back to School Shopping Demystified

Back to School Shopping Demystified

Whether you are a parent or a student, back to school time can be incredibly stressful. New clothes, new supplies, new everything…the costs can add up FAST! However, it does not have to be this way. A lot of stores offer exclusive back to school offers sometime in August, so as long as you hold tight to your common sense, flyers, and patience, you’ll be fine come September. A few simple tricks can ensure you go back with the newest supplies, coolest clothes, and cash in your pocket.

It may take a little digging, but I’m sure you’ve kept most of the leftover supplies from the past school year. If they are still in good condition (pens have ink, erasers not terribly dirty, binders not too shredded…), consider reusing them. Yes, they’re not the fad right now, but fads return; and wouldn’t you feel better toting around your slightly beaten up lucky binder than a teensy ‘stylish’ thing that doesn’t close properly? Same goes for clothes. Most of your wardrobe can be worn again this year. If you’re desperate for new clothes, you can look up instructions to deconstruct and upcycle some of your older pieces.

We all know that flyers are a pain; after all, no one likes the colourful, but worthless junk mail stuffed into their boxes. However, before you throw them out, look them over for any deals or coupons on back to school essentials. The right store can save you a lot of cash. Flyers are great for comparing prices, as well as giving you an overview of all of the items the store has in stock from the comfort of your own home. Even better, a lot of stores have price match, so if you find a lower price in a competing store’s flyer, they will lower the price for you!

Most important of all, be patient. There is a small, but significant window in mid to late August, where everything will be heavily marked down. Therefore, doing your shopping early might not be beneficial to your wallet, even though there may be better selection. However, don’t wait too long. Usually, the minute mid September rolls around, the deals are gone, or all the good merchandise is.

Back to school is a very exciting time. You see your friends again, with brand new things to show off. As exciting as shopping for it may be, keep in mind that school is primarily for learning, and isn’t a venue for bragging about your stylish designer clothes or your new binder. It’s okay if you don’t have the ‘coolest’ things. Just be comfortable with and grateful for what you do have, and you can’t go wrong.