The first two episodes of the long-awaited X-Files revival aired this past Sunday and Monday night, to mixed reviews but high ratings. I watched both episodes with my parents at their place (mostly because Joe and I don’t have cable). We even had a bowl of sunflower seeds to snack on – Mulder’s treat of choice. Now that we’ve all seen one third of the mini-series, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts on the new episodes, and the show as a whole. Spoilers ahoy!

FOX is in on the conspiracy…

Some people like football. Okay, a lot of people like football. But FOX, if you’re going to bring back a show and make us all get really hyped for it, must you make us wait through 25 minutes of post-game commentary (and ads)? Really? You can’t keep the truth from us!! (My condolences to those who PVR’ed the premiere and therefore missed half of it.)

Intro & Theme Music

It’s back!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Joe and I were re-watching the original X-Files series as an introduction and a ramp-up to the 2016 version. One of the minor changes, yet biggest disappointments, in the later seasons was the switch from the original intro sequence to an “updated” version.

While the original was kitschy and very 90’s, it had charm, and it really embodied the feel of the series. The updated intro felt like it was trying too hard to be modern. At the time, David Duchovny had also begun backing away from The X-Files (in favour of Californication, as I understand it), so there were a lot of frustrating changes coming all at once.

Anyway, the new series brought back the original intro – complete with 90’s hair and everything! It definitely enhanced my nostalgic geeking-out experience.

Mulder and Scully’s Relationship.

Nailed it. Their interactions felt so much more authentic than in 2008’s I Want to Believe. Scully seems much more outspoken and quick with snappy comments these days, but I think that’s a welcome character development. I was a little concerned about character credibility when Mulder started falling for Joel McHale’s crazy theories. I’m relieved that he seems to be coming to his senses and regaining some of his humour.


As soon as Sveta was introduced, my first thought was, “Where’s Gibson Praise?!” If you don’t recall, Gibson Praise was the child chess prodigy in Seasons 5/6/9 – with alien DNA, who could read minds. Sound familiar? Perhaps they’ll actually revive the character. Jeff Gulka, who played Gibson, has not denied any involvement in the revival…

Hey, wait a minute! I just went over to Jeff Gulka’s Twitter so I could add a link here to one of his tweets I read on Sunday night. Someone had asked him whether he was involved, and he said something along the lines of “Time will tell…” But the tweet is gone!!! WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?!

Conspiracy of Men

I’ve seen a lot of people griping about this online – that it’s a cop out, that it’s just the Illuminati all over again, that it’s too far-fetched, that it’s not true to The X-Files.

Let’s think back to the finale of Season 4, when Mulder becomes convinced (via Kritschgau) that the whole alien conspiracy is just a government/military cover-up, etc. And it takes him a trip to Antarctica a season later to rid himself of these doubts and want to believe again.

My guess? It’s happening again – and it will take us until the mini-series finale for everyone to finally be on the same page about the reality of an alien conspiracy. (Wow, I sound nuts. I know it’s a TV show. I promise.)

Mytharc Monster of the Week

Back when the series was still on the air, everyone knew that there were two types of episodes of The X-Files: Monster of the Week and Mythology (Mytharc). It was usually pretty clear. Monster of the Week episodes had, well, a monster – or someone with paranormal abilities, or a supernatural scenario of some kind. Mytharc episodes were those that forwarded the overarching plot, they were usually double episodes/premieres/finales, and you’d get all of the big names as guest stars (Cigarette Smoking Man, Krycek, the Alien Bounty Hunter, etc.).

My favourite thing about Monday’s episode was its ability to be both: it forwarded the plot, while incorporating some of those Monster of the Week qualities that viewers would look forward to when they needed a break from the heavy mythology. Given that there are only 6 episodes to cover an entirely new Mytharc, I imagine that Episodes 3-5 will also be hybrids (haha, get it?) like this. And I’m very much looking forward to it.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty positive about the revival. I’m still hesitant about the direction of the plot, but I’m looking forward to next week’s episode! (How weird is it to actually have to wait for a new episode of a TV show, now that we all have Netflix?)

What did you think of the two-part premiere?

Why I Studied Physics

When people find out I studied Physics at university, the first question I usually get is something along the lines of “…Why?!”

(The question is usually preceded by a statement like “Wow, I was terrible at physics in high school,” at which I just smile and commiserate.)

Up until about third year, I used to give a canned answer – something about transferable skills, problem solving, mysteries of the universe… Blah, blah, blah. For a while, I think I may have actually believed it. But now that I’m neither studying nor pursuing a career in Physics, it begs the question: honestly, why did I do it?

Reason #1: Physics was my best subject in high school.

With no clue what I wanted to do with my life at seventeen, I looked to my report card for guidance. And actually, my top mark was a tie. My choices were Physics or English. Which brings me to my next point…

Reason #2: It looks good.

I’d spent 13 years in school trying to get top marks and excel academically, and I wasn’t about to stop there! I felt that saying that I’d majored in Physics would look good to relatives, peers, and potential employers. This was especially in comparison to English, which was my other best option at the time. I’d grown up hearing that Arts degrees wouldn’t get me as far in life, so I wasn’t about to take the chance.

If I were to spin this reason in a more positive way, I’d say it was more about the transferable skills from taking on a difficult set of courses. But that wouldn’t be true. When I was choosing a major in Grade 12, it was all about whether I would look smart, not about if I would actually be smart.

Reason #3: Interest?

I’ve had a mild interest in Astronomy since I was a kid, fueled mostly by my dad’s interest in the subject. Contact was my favourite movie, and I even got my own telescope! (Well, okay, I got it for free. But that’s a topic for another time.) I figured if I immersed myself in the subject, I would become more passionate about it. Turns out that wasn’t quite the case, because most of my interest boiled down to Reason #2: it looked good for me, the self-professed Queen of the Nerds, to be into Astronomy. I still do have that mild interest, but not enough interest to keep me coming back day in and day out.

In examining the reasons I chose my major, it’s no surprise I didn’t end up going on to an MSc, PhD, and/or career. I’m not ruling those things out forever, mind you. And I don’t regret studying physics, because it did help me gain those skills, meet new people, and get a better idea of who I am. For now, though, I’m still on the hunt for my real passions.

How did you pick your major? Is it still the love of your academic life?

Grammar errors plague us all.

(Yes, the title of this post is a joke.)

I may have mentioned that I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. I’m not as much of a stickler on this blog as I am when writing more formally. Still, I think it’s very important to communicate clearly, and that means knowing the rules of the English language and playing by them.

Unfortunately, English is one of those languages in which not everything is cut and dried. Sometimes, my grammatical opinions don’t align with everyone else’s… and sometimes it can get me into a heated debate or two. These are some of my controversial grammar beliefs. See if you agree!

Double Spaces after a Period

This needs to stop. Please. I’ve had many discussions with my mother about this one, and I am standing my ground.

I’m told that anyone who learned typing on a typewriter learned this way. You see it in legal documents and other official writing as well. But really, everyone, it’s 2016. Automatic kerning allows computers to perfectly space letters in standard fonts depending on the context. Not only are these extra spaces unnecessary now that no one is using a typewriter, but they’re also just plain wrong. In my opinion, anyway.


Here’s an example of when I break my own rules. My rules for ellipses are as follows:

  1. In the middle of a sentence, use three periods to form the ellipsis.
  2. At the end of the sentence, use four (three for the ellipsis, and one to end the sentence as a period). This is the one I break, because it looks silly – but I know that’s the right way to do it. Most of the time, I’ll just avoid using ellipses at the end of sentences, or I’ll end the sentence with a different form of punctuation. For example, see the header of this section!
  3. If the ellipsis could be replaced with a comma, include a space after it before moving on to the next word. If it could only be replaced with a space, then don’t add a space. For example:
    No space: And I…will always love you…
    With a space: Near… Far… Wherever you are…

Of course, you can use ellipses to shorten quotations and the like. That’s more of an academic exercise than I want to discuss here.

Possessive Apostrophes for Words Ending in “S”

This was a subject of contention in my First Year Physics class. We spent a number of weeks studying the Laws that a scientist named Gauss developed. But how do you properly title these laws? Here’s an example that shows the proper way to use possessive apostrophes:

The class’ focus was Gauss’s Laws.

That’s right, folks. Unlike your regular nouns, proper nouns require an “S” after the apostrophe every time. That includes proper nouns that end in “S”. The confirmation for this came from my Physics professor’s wife, who happens to teach English. (I got really riled up about it in class, haha.) Now, not everyone agrees with this rule and you won’t see it adopted everywhere; that’s why it’s controversial. Nevertheless, this is the method I believe is the most correct.

Also, I want to take the opportunity to point out that apostrophes should not be used to pluralize nouns. This includes proper nouns. So if you’re one of those families with a name sign outside your house or cottage, it should say “The Smiths”, not “The Smith’s”, for example. If it doesn’t, go outside and fix it. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Awesome.

Oxford Commas

I love me some Oxford Commas. (How’s that for perfect grammar? Just kidding!) If you’re writing a list of individual items, they should all be separated by commas to avoid confusion. Let’s use everyone’s favourite example.

Grammar: Oxford Commas

Obviously, these sentences have two different meanings. If you’re trying to achieve the meaning of the first sentence, though, you need that comma!

There you have it: a list of grammar guidelines that you may passionately support, vehemently detest, or definitely ignore regardless.

Either way, what are your thoughts on my “rules”? What grammar rules are you proud to follow?

Email Etiquette Part 2

In the few days since my last email pet peeves post, I’ve been even more aware of common trends popping up in my inbox that irk me. Not only that, but once my coworkers found out about the post, they shared some of their own pet peeves. And since my last list wasn’t anywhere near all-encompassing, I thought I might extend the list with some of the pet peeves we all agreed on – and even encountered this week, to our chagrin.

Not replying to the latest email in a chain

It’s pretty common to have a single email conversation go on for many days or weeks on the same topic, so it makes sense to keep everything together in the same thread. The problem occurs when you’ve got more than two people on the chain and things get a bit confusing.

Some email clients will display the entire chain of emails as a single item, so you just need to scroll up or down to see the rest of the chain. In others (such as the version of Outlook I use), there’s a little notification at the top telling you that the email you’re reading isn’t the most recent one in the conversation. So here’s my question: why do some people insist on responding to emails out of order? You end up with multiple conversations, all with the same subject line and same topic, but all talking about slightly different things. Talk about a nightmare.

No contact info in your signature

Many people have a professional signature for their work email accounts. Some only use them when starting an email chain (or responding for the first time in a chain), while others will sign their emails with a signature every time. Obviously, not everyone feels comfortable putting their office or cell numbers on every one of their emails in the form of a signature tagline, which is totally fine. My issue is when someone tells you in an email to call them – and they don’t have their phone number written anywhere in the chain. If the phone is your preferred method of contact, make sure your number is easily accessible. It’s just the right thing to do.

Thank you emails (?)

Now, to be clear, this pet peeve is only about a specific type of Thank You emails. I’m totally fine with closing the loop on a conversation and expressing your appreciation, or confirming that you received an email by thanking the sender. But if the “thank you” is unnecessary (e.g. the email was sent days ago, it was low priority, and it’s no longer on the sender’s radar) and will only further clutter their inbox, don’t bother with a one-line email. If you’d like, you can thank them next time you correspond.

Poor grammar & spelling

As a grammar nerd, this is one of my pet peeves in general. I’m a lot more lenient when it comes to emails than other forms of writing. Just don’t obscure the meaning of the email. For example, if you’re asking a question, write a full sentence, and don’t forget the question mark.

Comic Sans

Just don’t.

That’s all for now! Do you have any to add to this list?

Check out Part 1 of this post here!

ipsy Glam Bag

It’s almost the middle of the month, which means, for me at least, that it’s…ipsy Glam Bag time! I just received mine in the mail. It’s honestly one of the highlights of my monthly routine, especially when I haven’t peeked online to see what others received and spoiled the surprise.

For those of you who haven’t heard of ipsy’s Glam Bags, it’s a monthly subscription service in which you receive around 5 makeup (or skincare or haircare) products, usually in tester size, in a cute little bag. The products are personalized based on your responses to a questionnaire you take during sign-up.

ipsy Glam Bag

Here’s this month’s bag, keeping with the theme “All Eyes on You”. Cute, huh?

It’s important to mention here that I know basically nothing about makeup. I actually spent two of my years at university wearing no makeup at all (except on special occasions, i.e. when my mother insisted). So while I was in the process of moving out and starting a career, I realized that I had no idea what makeup I was supposed to buy for myself. The aisles of Shoppers Drug Mart were overwhelming. How was I supposed to know what any of these products were for, let alone what palette I needed to choose?

I stumbled across ipsy and my makeup-illiterate prayers were answered. I was able to select things like “completely uncomfortable with makeup” and “basic products only” on my questionnaire. All I had to do was input my eye colour and complexion, and they did all the work for me.

For example, let’s examine what I got in my ipsy Glam Bag this month.

Ipsy Glam Bag

This month’s Glam Bag contents!

Promise Organic Ultra Moisturizing Argan Creme Facial Lotion with Olive Oil

My impression: Awesome! Lotion for my face! That’s great because my face is super dry in the winter. Also, it’s a cute little bottle and it smells pretty good, too.

City Color Eyeshadow Trio

My impression: I like these colours, but I really don’t know how eyeshadow trios work. I found some tutorial videos on Youtube but this palette is a limited edition just for ipsy, so unfortunately, no one has done a tutorial on this specific set of shades. I guess I’ll have to wait for more people to receive their Glam Bags and upload some videos!

Skone Smudger Brush

My impression: I assumed this was for smudging eyeshadow/eyeliner, but I Googled it just in case. I was right, and I also found out that this brush costs $15 USD retail. That’s nuts! The entire Glam Bag was only $10 USD! (Hey Canadians: I paid $21.29 CAD this month, all in – that’s sadly higher than previous months because of how the dollar is faring right now.) Anyway, it seems pretty versatile?

Mr. Write (Now) Jac Eyeliner Pencil from The Balm

My impression: My sister tells me that The Balm is a big deal. I wouldn’t know. This eyeliner is cool and metallic… But I’m terrible with eyeliner so I’ll likely use it sparingly.

Skyn Glacial Cleansing Cloths

My impression: So you rub the cloths together and they foam up so you can “gently sweep” them across your face. Honestly, I don’t really understand these. Do you use them in place of washing your face with soap? In addition? I hear a lot about “skincare routines” but I really don’t have the time or energy to come up with one of those.

From what I understand, these Glam Bags are also great for people who are good with makeup, and want access to testers of expensive products before making a commitment. There are also discounts on ipsy’s shopping site for products that appeared in their Glam Bags, which makes sense. For me, though, I probably won’t even make it through the testers in the first place!

Until next month, ipsy!

Email Etiquette Pet Peeves

Hi friends! I’m on a train right now, heading from Kingston to Toronto after a work event. Because I’ve been out of the office, I’ve been checking, sorting, and replying to a number of emails. It’s got me thinking about some of the little things that are so common in emails that drive me a little bit nuts. Maybe you do some of these things when you email, or maybe you’ve noticed others doing them too!

Answering an email with a brand new one

I’m talking about not using the “Reply” button when replying. I’m not sure how this happens. I suppose if you had recorded the question elsewhere (like on a sticky note) and didn’t bother looking for the original message, this could happen… But on the receiving end, it can cause some confusion, especially if it’s not clear exactly what you’re responding to.

Fix it by: Hitting “Reply”.

Deviating from the email chain topic

This is the opposite of the above. Obviously, you can write an email about multiple topics, but if it’s part of an ongoing chain, it’s best to keep things separate and clear. This is especially helpful for someone like me – I store all of my old emails in folders based on topic, so it gets a little complicated when chains start fitting into lots of otherwise unrelated categories.

Fit it by: Creating a New Chain about the New Topic.

Mixing up CC: and To:

Okay, I’ll admit, this is just personal preference. When I receive an email, I find it very helpful to see whether I have been CC’ed (that’s “Carbon Copied”, for you Gen Zs) or actually addressed directly. This tells me whether I should read the email for my knowledge, or if I should be looking for action items or questions to answer. (Not to mention, I’m sure some people don’t expect to reply to emails if they’re only CC’ed – so if you’re asking them a question, you might not get an answer for a while.) Keeping with this, I will actually go out of my way to modify email chains such that only the intended recipient is listed under “To:”. Anyone else is CC’ed.

Fix it by: Using “To:” for People You Directly Address, and “CC:” for Others.

So, I have to ask: am I crazy? Or do these things bug you too? Either way, keep these in mind when you send your next email!

Want more email etiquette pet peeves? Check out Part 2 here!

I’m told I have to start this post off with a disclaimer: I work at Tim Hortons head office. However, I’m also Canadian, so the fact that I happen to work there really has no influence on the fact that I’m totally addicted. Anyone who knew me before I started working at Tims 8 months ago can attest to that fact. Moving on.

I had a pretty typical Canadian childhood, which means it should come as no surprise that I was raised like this:

TIm Hortons baby

Yes, that is me, and yes, that is a Roll Up cup. Photo-finding credit goes to my mother.

In fact, legend has it that my first words were “Double Double”. Not even joking.

My tastes have evolved over the years, but my love of Tim Hortons has been unwavering. I know people can have some seriously polarizing opinions on the menu at Tims, so I’ll just say that these are my favourite products, and you’re welcome and encouraged to share your own in the comments!

10. Café Mocha with Milk

You’ve got the coffee for the buzz, the hot chocolate and whipped topping for the sugary treat, and the milk to smooth out the bitterness of the black coffee. This drink was my go-to winter semester study treat when looking at equations for hours in the library made me want to tear my hair out.

I need Tim Hortons.

Like this.

9. English Muffin Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

My university was three hours away from home, so returning to school to school was a bit of a trek. The highlight of that drive was always stopping at the ONroute in Port Hope to get a breakfast sandwich. So even though it’s just three bucks and there’s nothing particularly special about it, this breakfast sandwich always feels like a treat.

8. Sundried Tomato Asiago Bagel (RIP)

I love sundried tomatoes. And cheese. And bread. This bagel was everything I could ever dream of in a bagel. Then Tims discontinued it, and my heart was shattered into a million pieces. I can only hope that someday, the outcry of millions of Sundried Tomato Asiago Bagel lovers will warm the cold hearts of the product team so that my bagel and I can be reunited.

7. Spicy Thai Soup

This soup is seasonal, so when I heard it was coming back in November, I got really excited. It’s tasty with a kick, it has lots of variety in flavour and texture, and it really fills you up. It’s a great “comfort food” for the winter.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Gouda Soup

So I had this soup for the first time today, and I immediately decided that it was better than my previous favourite soup, the Spicy Thai. It’s got a great consistency – creamy with just a bit of hearty chunkiness – and it tastes great. Unfortunately, it’s also seasonal.

5. Chocolate Chip Muffin

You can’t go wrong with a chocolate chip muffin. I’ve actually noticed that Tim Hortons lightened up on the sugar topping on these muffins, which, in my opinion, made them better now than before. In general, this is my go-to baked good if I’m looking for a snack.

4. Strawberry Strudel

I love these strudels for three reasons: they’re tasty, they’re small, and they’re cheap. Lots of sugar without much perceived guilt. And it’s great that you get a discount if you order them with a coffee or tea!

3. Filled Sugar Cookie

This cookie just came out this winter, and oh my gosh, it’s delicious. But it’s horrible for you. It’s basically just sugar. Proceed with caution.

2. Iced Capp with Milk

This drink brings back many memories of my previous job… (More on that later.) The Iced Capp has been a staple in my summer diet for years. I almost never went into work without one. Just make sure you stir the deliciousness regularly so it doesn’t separate!

1. Small Double Double with Milk

This coffee gets me through the day. I think I honestly decided on this particular combination of modifiers because I wanted to be able to order a “Double Double” but I just don’t like cream in my coffee. I’m specifying small because even though I know the ratios are constant, I find I like the taste of a small better than any other size. It’s probably just a psychological thing. Plus, if I drink more than a small at one time, I get a little jittery… As a wise man once said, “Coffee coffee coffee.” This is my mantra.

Wow, that was harder than I thought – I don’t even have any donuts on this list! To be fair, though, my favourite donut changes so often that none of them really outrank what I’ve listed here. (Right now, it’s Chocolate Dip…though there’s also Sour Cream Glazed, and the sorely missed Blueberry Fritter and Birthday Cake Donut…)

One thing I’ve learned from working at Tim Hortons is that everyone has an opinion on it. So have at it: Do you agree with my list? What are some of your favourites at Tims?

Me, in the Sims!

Like many kids in the early 2000s, I played The Sims. Unlike many twenty-somethings in the mid 2010s, I still play The Sims. (Or maybe you play it too?) In fact, I’ve been playing it pretty much all day today. It’s taking great self-restraint to take a break from it to write this post. But I figure that I should probably try to accomplish something in my real life today, not just in my Sims’ lives, right?

I think I actually play The Sims a little differently than most people do, and maybe even from what the game was designed for. At its core, The Sims is just a good old life simulator – you create people, make their homes, get them jobs, give them hobbies, find them friends and romance, build them a family, and repeat ad nauseum. Over the years, as the game has evolved and made a ton of money, expansion packs and new features have made it decidedly more zany. We’ve now got supernatural creatures and random events, plus every mod and cheat you could ever ask for. But for some reason, even with all of these hilarious and entertaining features, I took this game and played it like the biggest keener ever.

No cheats.

No mods.

Nothing particularly supernatural.

Not much roleplaying – just going along with whatever the Sim “wants” or “wishes” in the game.

No reloading after something bad happens.

I started playing like this when I learned about the Legacy Challenge for The Sims 2, in which all cheats, most mods, and reloading are banned anyway. I found that I enjoyed playing the game “straight” a lot more than I liked any of the crazy stuff that was added to the game to make it more fun. So, then, what’s the appeal?

Playing The Sims is a way of feeling realistic accomplishment without realistic timelines.

Want to find a job? Read the newspaper and click “Take Job”. Want a promotion? Read a book for a few minutes to level up your skills and chat your boss on the phone before your next shift. Want to clean the dishes? Drag and drop them into the dishwasher and it will make them disappear. Want to write a book? Sit at the computer and type non-stop until that bar fills up. Want to get a boyfriend or girlfriend? Repeat the interactions in the Romantic category over and over until they love you. And of course, you can always speed up time. Everything happens so quickly and easily – and it’s all of the things in my life that I want, but I don’t really want to wait for or work for.

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to The Sims now. But in my heyday, especially in the summer after Grade Nine, I was playing it like a full-time job: 8 hours a day, five days a week, whenever my parents were at work and couldn’t tell my I was playing too much.

Like all of my hobbies, the enthusiasm ebbs and flows. Every so often, I’ll get really excited about The Sims again, but usually just for a few days or weeks. And now I actually have important things happening in my life to focus on – I don’t need a virtual life too. Well… maybe sometimes.

Are you still a Simmer? How do you play The Sims?

Study Tips - Three That Worked for Me

Hi friends! Guess what? This is the first winter in nine years where I haven’t had to study for any exams! I have to admit, graduating is a pretty great thing. On the other hand, I’m now starting to notice what everyone told me would be really strange about adult life: aside from the normal flow of the seasons and holidays, there isn’t as much of a cadence to everything anymore. Sure, there are slow periods and busy times in the office, but there isn’t that massive ramp-up to exams and three weeks of total stress, followed by a complete memory purge of everything I learned, because when am I ever going to need to know this stuff again? (Okay, maybe next semester…)

So now I’m seeing many of my friends on Facebook starting their new semesters with fresh minds – and any high schoolers I know are just starting to feel the pressure rise as their exams approach. And since I’m not one of them, I figured I would take a little bit of my loads of extra time from not having school to share a couple of the things that I did to study for my exams.

I should start by saying that my biggest academic downfall has always been my memory. My study methods usually revolved around making sure I understood concepts and how to arrive at the answer, rather than memorizing particular examples – because I knew from experience that I would completely blank on the exam if I tried that. Physics lends itself pretty well to that type of studying. In fact, I specifically selected courses that didn’t require much memorization, so generally no biology, history, and the like. Even if you are studying for memory-type exams, these methods could still supplement your own!

Make a List

Study List

See that page on the top right? That was my list from Third Year!

 This was always my first step when my university classes ended for the semester. I took inventory of all of my assignments, textbooks, review packages, and made a list of everything I would reasonably need to study to feel prepared for the exam.

Note that I said reasonably. I’m not sure if this is good advice or not, but I found that if I over-studied — that is, got burnt out and just studied for the sake of it — I would run out of steam for my other exams, get super stressed out, and usually start doubting and forgetting everything I had already learned. I would spread out the items over multiple days and mix up which exams I was studying for, but unless I had identifies something I really needed to add, I would stop once I reached the end of the list. This would leave time for me to relax for a bit and get enough sleep (which was a must for me during exams)!

Notes on Notes*

*Patent pending (just kidding)

This idea I didn’t discover until Second Year, but it became a staple in my study habits. I would create a consolidated set of notes based on my class notes, plus any textbook examples or assignment tidbits that felt pertinent. Not only that, but I would colour-code them!

These are actually a bad example - there isn't enough colour! Also, this topic isn't particularly indicative of the difficulty of the subject matter that made these notes necessary. But it looks like I may have thrown out ALL of my physics notes... Oops.

These are actually a bad example – there isn’t enough colour! Also, this topic isn’t particularly indicative of the difficulty of the subject matter that made these notes necessary. But it looks like I may have thrown out ALL of my physics notes… Oops.

Honestly, there wasn’t much of a reason behind the colour-coding, except maybe to make it easier to skim for equations or topics. The real reason was so that I would change pens and colours every few words. That way, I could force myself to stay engaged in my learning.

Once I had my notes on notes, I rarely needed to go back to the originals. It helped me review without missing anything, tap into kinesthetic learning skills, and save time on last-minute review.

Study with Friends — Sometimes

I hate being in a study group where people “quiz” each other. Being on the spot like that makes my memory even foggier than it would be on the exam itself. I end up just thinking, “Oh, I don’t know. Never mind. I’m going to fail.” However, I find that when you teach each other things that one of you is better at explaining than the others, it’s much more helpful and efficient. In general, it’s best if you’re doing the teaching. It gives you the opportunity to get a really great handle on the topic. But that would be a bit one-sided in a study group, so teaching each other is a good compromise.

Combine these with readings, office hours, flash cards, lots of practice… and you’re good to go!

What are your favourite study tips to make exams (just a little bit) more bearable?

In this modern world of smartphones, I know a lot of people have abandoned physical planners in favour of digital calendars. Still, there’s something to be said for writing out your appointments by hand and seeing your schedule all on one page. During school, I depended heavily on having my To Do’s, classes, and meetings written down. This has carried over into my work life as well. So for me, it’s absolutely essential to have the perfect planner.

For a while, I had a very simple agenda that I would use strictly for daily To Do’s. But because I had trouble prioritizing and remembering everything, I started doing this kind of thing:

Makeshift Agenda

Every weekday would be mapped out from 6am to 11pm, and colour-coded according to course or category. I made my own printable template for my weekly calendars, and over two years, the sheet got more complex – I would add weekly goals, grocery lists, and other reminders to the sides and bottom of the page. There were three big problems with this method, though:

  1. My schedule and my agenda weren’t in the same place.
  2. I had a hard time keeping track of the single sheet of paper, and it would often get crumpled or otherwise damaged.
  3. My printer sucked, and I ended up getting streaks through my schedule.

So it was clear that I needed a change as I headed into my last semester of university. The standard agendas they handed out during frosh week weren’t going to cut it anymore. Since I was graduating, I’d need to look at the year as a whole rather than the academic year, and my To Do list was getting broader than just classes and assignments. Not only that, but I was looking for motivation in the structure of my life, and I needed a tool to help me find it.

(I should pause and mention that the planners I’m about to describe are pricey – as in, $50-$75. This is how I like to spend my money. You’ve been warned.)

When I first learned about the Passion Planner, I immediately fell in love. It was the perfect mix of goal-setting and life-planning! But unfortunately, by the time I found out about it, they were already back-ordered for 2015. They kindly provided me with printout versions of the interior – but I ran into all the same problems as my previous system. I didn’t receive my copy until February. When my planner finally arrived, I was all over it!

Weekly scheduling!

Weekly scheduling!

Monthly reflections!

Monthly reflections!

But just over a month later, my classes finished. Then I started work. Suddenly my scheduling didn’t need to be as rigid, and didn’t have nearly as many items to consider, so I barely used the planner.

Yeah, this isn’t helping me at all.

I found myself needing more of an organized To Do list, and less of an hourly schedule. Not only that, but I was finding the black and white, minimalist design of the Passion Planner to be a little demotivating for me. As you can probably guess, I’m not a washi tape and glitter kind of gal. I like planners with some colour, but I won’t be the one to decorate. (I want to point out that I would absolutely recommend the Passion Planner to students or anyone else looking to schedule a busy day and focus on their goals. It just doesn’t suit my life at the moment.)

Thus began the journey to find a motivating planner with lots of space for lists and customization, without requiring me to do too much of my own designing. I found many of the planners I came across were very much geared toward stay-at-home moms (go figure) with meal planning sections and the like, but I found one that suited all of my needs: the Erin Condren Life Planner.

The internet tells me that Erin Condren’s product is the Lexus of planners. I’d have to agree. It’s gorgeous and quite expensive, but it has all the features I was looking for:

  • Colourful and motivating interior:

    Love the quotes every month!

  • Vertical date layout with Monday to Sunday weeks (this is also customizable, but these are my preferences), with space for three categories of items plus extra To Do’s:
    Interior Weekly View
    Note: Over the past few months, I’ve switched up how I use the three daily boxes pretty regularly. Right now, it’s Work, Home, and Blog, but I’m sure that will change.
  • Some goal tracking, though not to the extent of the Passion Planner
  • Beautiful, customizable, and interchangeable covers, so I can always order a new cover if I get bored with this one:

    You can also use your own colour schemes, photos, or phrases to make a unique cover. I was a little lazy with my design but I still love it.

Another great thing about this planner is that there’s a whole suite of similar products in the shop – stickers, notebooks, laptop cases, you name it. I haven’t ordered anything else yet, but I’ve got a $10 eGift in my inbox as a bonus for my first purchase, and it’s calling my name!

What makes a planner perfect to you?