How to Tackle Test Anxiety

By: Sai Igiede, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Hey guys, it’s your local well-being leader, Sai, and today I want to talk about anxiety, specifically when it comes to exams. 

As a health science major, I know what it feels like to have exams and quizzes every week to the point where it becomes overwhelming with how much material you have to retain for each class. I am going to do my best to help you ease that pre and post-test anxiety by providing you with much-needed advice. 

Pre-Test Anxiety

Do your best to study with a healthy mindset. Studying is hard and everyone must learn to study in their own way. Studying with a positive attitude can have many benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. A prime example of this is when I first started studying chemistry, I let other people’s perceptions of the class alter my performance. “The class is insanely hard” or “You’re not going to pass” were things I heard from people often. I then started to internalize what they were saying and began to have a more negative outlook on chemistry, which truly reflected in my work. I began to dread the idea of the class and it wasn’t until I stopped listening to people’s opinions on the class and started to be more open-minded that my test scores began to improve. 

Mid-Test Anxiety 

Often what follows pre-test anxiety is mid-test anxiety. Not everyone experiences this, but those who do understand how difficult it is to break out of it, especially if you feel underprepared for an exam. Here are the steps that often help me get out of this funk:

  1. Go Slower than you need to. What some people do, myself included, is go slower during tests. This not only helps you focus on yourself and not the people around you but also helps you prevent small errors in your work. 
  2. Double-check answers BUT don’t overcheck them. This often adds to the pre-existing anxiety you may be experiencing.
  3. Give yourself positive encouragement throughout the exam. I just started doing this and it has helped me a bunch. I am someone who often has a lot of self-doubt during tests, so being able to push myself but also recognizing what I am doing is hard helps me center myself 

Post-Test Anxiety 

This type of anxiety often happens when you turn in your exam. As previously stated, this doesn’t happen to everyone but if it does, it is not a good feeling. The constant correcting of your answers in your head or the anxiety of waiting for your exam score to be returned is hard to overcome. Here are some things I do to not fall into this trap:

  1. Treat yourself after your exam to relieve anxiety.
  2. Debrief with the professor either before or after the score is released to see if your mistakes could have been prevented (if any were made).
  3. Tell yourself positive affirmations that will help ease your anxiety.
  4. Distract yourself with something that brings you joy, whether that playing video games or taking walks
  5. If the stress is starting to worsen, talk to someone who can give you positive feedback and can give you advice (a prime example is our Well-Being Leaders!). 

Test anxiety is hard for everyone, whether you go through all three of these stages or only one. All of these suggestions may not work for you and that is fine! We all work and operate differently, so what may work for one person may not work for someone else. As long as you are trying your best to be a better version of your current self, that is all that matters, and I applaud you for that! 

Until next time, 

Sai

3 Daily Wins

By: Mia Andrade, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Want to be a winner? I know just the thing! As college students, our days become busier and busier, but it is important to prioritize yourself and your well-being in order to perform your best in all you do. With that being said, there are many benefits to having a holistic approach to maintaining your well-being. Here are three daily wins to help you take care of yourself:

1.) A Physical Win: Having physical exercise is key to maintaining your well-being. Some key examples of a physical win are walking, running, lifting, or joining an intramural or club sport on campus. UMass Lowell’s recreational facilities are great resources to achieve this physical win. Taking a walk to class rather than the shuttle is another great example, as you can get some fresh air and maybe listen to some music on the way. Prioritizing time to care for your body is just as important as taking care of your mind so that you can perform your best all around. Resources to achieve a physical win include:

2.) A Mental Win: Sometimes we need a break from schoolwork to shift our attention to our mental health. Some key examples for a mental win involve reading, writing, creating, learning, or whatever you put your mind to! Stimulating your brain in different ways is essential to your well-being. Explore new things, learn what you love to do, and stay curious! 

3.) A Spiritual Win: Keep yourself grounded. A spiritual win is key to seeking harmony and balance for yourself. Some key examples are praying, meditating, studying, and focusing on self-growth! It’s important to take a step back and reflect. Whether that’s studying in the library or using the serenity center to pray or nap, there are many options available! There are a variety of resources on campus that may help you seek a spiritual win as well 

As Well-being leaders, we are here to support you in all areas of wellness. Never hesitate to reach out and get the support you need by booking an appointment with any of us. 

Book an appointment here: https://www.uml.edu/wellbeing/well-being-leaders.aspx

Be a complete winner!

How to Create SMART Goals

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

I learned about this activity in my psychology class, and I thought I’d share! It is super relevant and can be useful to college students like us who often find themselves juggling different responsibilities. This activity revolves around assessing and improving our life balance across different dimensions of wellness: spiritual, physical, financial, intellectual, emotional, social, environmental, and spiritual. We were told to envision the different dimensions of wellness on a wheel and how a wheel would run smoothy only if it’s well-balanced.

For this activity, you want to focus on one specific area (dimension of wellness) and craft a SMART goal related to that specific area. A SMART goal has 5 essential components”

S stands for specific

  • You want to start by setting a clear, concise, well-defined goal
  • Define specific actions you will take towards achieving that goal
    • What is something you can do towards that area?
      • For example, I wanted to target my financial wellbeing
      • For my specific action, I chose to spend less money on superficial (materialistic) items

M stands for measurable

  • You want the make sure the goal is measurable
  • What metric or dimension of the behavior will you collect data on?
    • For my financial example, I planned on recording the number of times I swiped my credit card on nonessential expenses like clothing or coffee

A stands for attainable

  • You want your goal to be realistic and align with your current behavior  
  • Questions to ask yourself are what is my current baseline or level of engaging in that behavior? What should your goal be based on your baseline?
    • I currently spend money on coffee four times a week. I aim to reduce it to two times a week. I shop every two weeks; I can aim to cut it down to once a month.

R stands for relevant

  • You want your goal to relate to your larger life objectives  
  • Does this behavior you’re addressing contribute to achieving your overall wellness in that specific dimension?
    • For me, spending less will improve my financial health by enabling me to save money for future investments and more significant expenses

T stands for time-bound

  • Put a time frame for completing the action
  • How long will you maintain this goal for?
  • Maybe if you are introducing a new behavior to your routine, consider starting with a shorter frame time before committing to a longer one
    •  I want to follow my spending reduction plan for a month

By following the SMART goal framework, you’ll not only gain clarity on what you want to achieve but also increase your chances of success in college. This activity will help you take deliberate steps towards enhancing different dimensions of your well-being, ultimately leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

References:

Li, Anita. “Measuring behavior.” 6 0ct. 2023, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Lecture.

Time Management Tips & Strategies

By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Time management refers to the utilization of time in an efficient and productive manner, often resulting in better outcomes related to academics, work, interpersonal relationships, and even health. While it is easy to get side-tracked or procrastinate upcoming tasks and assignments, improving your time management skills can be highly beneficial in your daily life. Below are some tips and strategies that may help you manage your time better, and in turn help you lead a more stress-free and productive life, especially during the school year.


1) Creating a calendar: This allows you to remember dates of important events or appointments you must attend to. By visualizing these on a calendar (whether it is online or physical print), you can create a better sense of what your schedule looks like on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Additionally, you can have a better understanding of which days you tend to have more free time and which you can dedicate towards any hobbies or relaxing activities.


2) Using an academic planner: Academic planners, similar to a calendar, are a great tool for organizing your school-related tasks specifically. Here, you can write down upcoming homework assignments and exam dates, which can help keep track of what you need to get done for each one of your courses. It can also help you determine the best time for you to complete your assignments and study for your exams, instead of cramming it all in one day.


3) Prioritization: In instances where you feel as though you do not have enough time to complete required tasks, or to submit assignments before their deadline, it is important to learn how to evaluate your priorities. Working on tasks or assignments that require little time and effort first can help to relieve the overall burden and workload, and will allow you to dedicate your ultimate focus on any bigger tasks you need to complete. However, if you do not think you can fit everything into your schedule, it may be best to push aside these simpler tasks and focus on bigger priorities that hold more weight or value.


4) Making time for self-care activities: While it is important to be able to manage your time effectively in order to complete work or school related tasks, it is just as important to make time for yourself throughout each day or week. Make sure you are engaging in activities for yourself, and making your health and well-being a priority in the midst of all of your workload and responsibilities. This may look like hanging out with friends or family, reading a book, playing a sport/going to the gym, watching your favorite TV show or taking a nap.


5) Reaching out: Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you feel that you are not able to manage your time as effectively or efficiently as you would like, or if you find yourself feeling under pressure as a result of this. Time management is not an easy skill, and it takes practice to learn what works best for you! Remember, there is always someone willing to help and support you when times get tough, including myself! Feel free to set up an appointment with me using my Calendy link: https://calendly.com/fajr_zahid/30min. I am more than happy to assist you in improving your time management skills, or any other aspect of your health & well-being that you would like to discuss!

Be sure to join me in HSS 107 on October 3rd from 12-1pm for a Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Time Management Workshop!


Resources:
https://summer.harvard.edu/blog/8-time-management-tips-for-students/

Keep Calm, Finals Are Coming: Tips for Staying Stress-Free

By: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader

As finals week draws near, it’s natural for college students to feel overwhelmed by the pressure to perform well. While it’s essential to study and prepare for exams, it’s equally important to keep your stress levels in check. This blog will share some tips to help you manage stress and find balance during the last stretch of the semester. Remember, you’ve made it this far; you can conquer finals week too!

Plan & Break Down Material: Start by creating a study schedule that outlines your study sessions, breaks, and other commitments. Prioritize tasks based on deadlines and difficulty levels to maintain focus. Break down your study material into smaller, digestible chunks, focusing on understanding key concepts and making connections between topics. This approach will make your workload feel less daunting and help you track your progress effectively.

Seek Support & Collaborate: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from professors, tutors, or classmates and if you’re struggling with specific concepts. Forming a study group can be an effective way to share knowledge, clarify doubts, and provide mutual support during finals week. Collaborative learning not only reduces stress but also helps to reinforce your understanding of the material.

Maintain a Healthy Routine: Take care of your physical and mental well-being by eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep each night. Exercise regularly to help you stay focused and alert. Establishing a healthy routine will keep you energized and prepared for the challenges of finals week.

Take Breaks & Practice Mindfulness: Schedule short breaks during your study sessions to prevent burnout. Engage in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as listening to music, reading a book, or taking a walk. Practice mindfulness exercises, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation, to help you stay calm and focused during stressful times. Even just a few minutes of practice can make a significant difference in your stress levels.

Focus on the Process & Keep Perspective: Concentrate on the effort you’re putting into your studies and trust that you’re doing your best, rather than worrying about your final grades. Focusing on the process will help alleviate anxiety and lead to better outcomes. Remember, finals are just one aspect of your college experience and setbacks can be valuable learning opportunities. Keep things in perspective and use any challenges as motivation for growth and improvement.

While finals can be stressful, they don’t have to define your entire college experience. By implementing these tips, you’ll be better equipped to manage stress and stay focused during the most challenging times. Remember, it’s essential to find balance, stay organized, and maintain a positive attitude. Good luck and may the force of calm be with you!

https://study.com/blog/how-to-manage-your-stress-during-finals.html

Profile Of Neal Klein 

By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

Neal Klein smiling sitting in a rocking chair with a window behind him.

As a young college student, Neal Klein was confused about what to do. He had failed two classes and knew his major was not for him. Looking at his transcript, Klein noticed he had one B, which was in psychology. At that point, Klein began his journey in that field. 

Holistic psychology is what Neal Klein researches, teaches, and lives. He describes it as “life philosophy.” Holistic psychology focuses on different areas of a person and how they are interconnected. For example, a holistic counselor will examine their clients’ spiritual, environmental, psychological, and physical characteristics. Also, Klein has authored two books centered around holistic psychology. Recently Klein has been trying to reach new audiences with his YouTube channel Trance- Ending Times, with over 200 subscribers. 

What drew him into psychology was his deep curiosity to understand human behavior. However, he was rejected from six different graduate schools before he decided to take a break. He decided to take a gap year and work as a freelance photographer. 

Boston University graduate school accepted him. Part of his graduate program was working as an assistant teacher, where he found his calling to be a professor. He became an assistant professor of holistic psychology at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a professor, Klein focused on counseling, holistic health, and cross-cultural psychology. He would later work as a full-time professor and have his own private counseling practice for over 30 years.

While working as a professor, Klein has formed great bonds with his students. David Roos, a graduate of Lesley University and Klein’s former student, credited Klein for being the most impactful professor he has had. Roos said, “Klein is a professor who truly cares about building relationships with students, and it comes through in how he speaks with them and not at them.” Roos said Klein often tells his students to call him Neal instead of Dr. Klein, creating a comfortable and open class environment. 

Cacky Mellor was just a senior in high school when she met Klein during orientation day at Lesley University while he was presenting the holistic psychology program. He left a great impression on Mellor and became her mentor, so much so that she said that Klein inspired her work now as a professor at Lesley University and as the person she is today. 

One of the things Mellor enjoyed most was class discussion. She said, “In class, he always wanted students to take what they learned and apply those tools to their lives.” Mellor noted that Klein wanted to see what impassioned his students. He wanted to embolden them with tools of holistic psychology rather than lecturing in class concerning what he believed.

Klein incorporates experiential learning into the courses he instructs. He described one assignment where students teach concepts from his self-authored textbook,  Me, Myself and Mindfulness, to their friends and family. This assignment aims to take the ideas the students learn inside the classroom and helps them share the knowledge with other people.   

Besides his work as a holistic psychology professor, Klein is also well-known for teaching West Coast Swing dance courses. The course is offered to Lesley University students of any major to take. Many of Klein’s students who were not psychology majors met Klein through his swing dance class. Klein acknowledges that the course structure is unique because it has a wide range of different materials incorporated together. These elements include physiology, anatomy, and mindfulness studies. The course size ranges from 30-40 students. In 2011 Klein also co-founded a swing dance group called The Dancing Fools, which occurs every Wednesday night and averages 125 students per night. 

“On the surface,” Klein’s former student David Roos said, “West Coast Swing dance seems easy, but the dance is filled with spins and  fun movements. It is a high-intensity dance, and people often ‘sweat bullets’ after finishing it.” Nevertheless, Klein often outdoes the 20-year-olds at dance venues despite his age. 

When Klein is asked what he enjoyed the most about swing dancing, he says it is the beauty of two strangers dancing together for the first time. Neal said, “Not a single word is often said, just them using their senses of sound, touch, and sight.” He compared seeing people light up while dancing to being the equivalent of magic and that no words compared to witnessing it firsthand. 

Klein even does this with his hobby, his YouTube channel. He believes society needs to feel a sense of connection. His videos have a wide range of topics from “how to pick the right therapy and right therapist”. Klein saw his students feeling alone and isolated and thoughts his videos could be a great sense of bonding among his students. He also shared that his favorite videos are his newer ones and that he is always working on and refining his videos. Klein refuses to delete any of his older videos because he wants his students to see his journey through his educational struggles, which was not easy. 

As for what the future holds, Klein sees himself continuing his work of meeting with his dance students and working as an Assistant Professor. Klein said that the capacity of how much he does might change, but everything he does, he believes, is within his “alignment.” 

Public Speaking 

By: Fahad Alden, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

 “Public speaking is America’s biggest fear right after getting lit on fire.” My professor Shallon told me this, and it amazes me. Being set on fire seems undesirable, painful, and plain scary, just to think about it. But to many people, public speaking brings out those same dreaded emotions. However, public speaking is vital, whether in the classroom setting for presentations or being asked to speak at your best friend’s wedding. So how do we overcome our fears?

I spoke to two experts to see if I could get pointers from them about how to master the art of public speaking. Wayne Braverman is currently the managing editor of Bedford Citizen and hosts the Bedford TV program called “Celebrate Life.” He has also won a distinguished toastmaster award and has taught a public speaking course for Education Unlimited. Mellissa Allen is a theater professor at UMass Lowell and a high school theater teacher in Haverhill. 

The first step would be drill practice. Practice, practice, practice this sentiment is often echoed by coaches and teachers when an individual is trying to learn a new task. Whether the mission is basketball, learning French, or learning how to drive, those learning journeys tend to have narrow paths, but when it comes to practicing public speaking, there seems less of a protocol of how to go about it. 

What do our experts believe is the best philosophy regarding public speaking?

Mellisa Allen recommends reciting lines while doing tasks, as it will become ingrained as a memory. She suggests doing kinetic movements while practicing, such as walking your dog, playing catch, or going for a morning stroll. 

Both Allen and Braverman recommended changing your location when practicing a speech. Braverman suggests practicing at places such as parking lots, graveyards, and parks because these areas tend to be secluded. You can rehearse the movement aspect of speech, which is crucial to making your speech more natural and captivating to the audience. Secondly, these places tend to be good places to rehearse because you can practice eye contact, which is an integral part of public speaking. It is vital to look at the audience when you speak, which can be unsettling, so practicing looking at cars or other items can be great practice. 

Allen also recommends that her students take notes and analyze theater performances, remarking, “As an actor, I am always interested in what someone else brings to the table. Watching these performances can often spark ideas and questions that can help you.”

 Sometimes, the most stressful part of giving a speech is not giving the address; it is the moment before, which is why the second step is managing anxiety. Despite what many may believe, feeling nervous is quite common and, surprisingly, can sometimes be beneficial. Allen says nervousness is a sign that you are taking the opportunity to speak publicly seriously. Nervous tension takes hold of people before they take college exams, driver’s license tests, or ask someone out—all are things most people value. 

But as Allen said earlier, you can get flustered, misspeak, or sometimes just freeze when it becomes an issue. What are the best ways to combat this? First, be prepared. Practice long in advance and ensure you are where you need to be and have everything you need.

Secondly, an excellent way to ease that sense of anxiety over time is to say yes to every opportunity. Audition for the play, speak up more in class or do an oral presentation for a project. Making mistakes is inevitable, but it’s part of the growth process. 

Even if you make a blunder under the worst circumstances, learn to roll with it; Braverman said he always laughs it off and moves on from the mistake. Once, Braverman was assisting an instructor of a seminar program about childhood trauma. The instructor told the students to take a deep breath and immerse themselves in an imaginative experience of their mom entering the house. Calm, healing music was supposed to come on, but Braverman, the sound designer at the time, accidentally played the song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” The instructor made a joke instead of getting flustered and said, “Mom has a sense of humor!” The students for the seminar ended up laughing and went along with the experience. The instructor later told Braverman “to try to make a mistake each time.”  

The last step is to be willing to take some form of feedback or coaching to improve. Accepting advice is often much easier said than done, especially if the work is personal. When seeking feedback, it is best not to go to the extreme of taking on too much constructive criticism. Sometimes one can deal with too much input and lose direction in your work. 

They may end up suppressing their individuality and creativity to suit the norm. Braverman said he often knew people who would win speech competitions but not cherish their wins as their speeches changed so much to fit others’ standards. The best indicator, he said, to trust feedback given by others is to rely on your intuition. 

Another problem is if you are unable to take constructive criticism; this can be just as detrimental to having a successful speech. Having a second eye that can offer a neutral perspective is essential in determining the quality of work. That professor, friend, or boss can pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses that we may overlook. 

Learning anything and opening yourself to acquiring knowledge requires a great deal of courage. As we get older, the reward for that courageousness is that we often gain feelings of pride.

Beginner’s Guide to Compose New Year’s Resolution

By: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

2023 is just a few weeks away, and as the new year approaches, the biggest trend is to create new resolutions for the coming year. In the excitement of new beginnings, everyone often makes big goals, of which some are achievable, and others are too drastic of a transition that leads to disappointment. Some reasons that lead to failure and should be avoided are a lack of accountability, lack of a method to track the progress, and lack of planning. However, setting a goal with a plan that has been broken down along with timelines, as well as having the measures to track the progress oftentimes leads to successful outcomes.

To start, aim for the final outcome you would want to obtain at the end of the year. Write out the final goal in present tense as the first statement, as if you have already achieved that goal. Next, set a date of achievement – it can be at the end of the year, 6 months, or as you would prefer. However, oftentimes people make drastic timelines, and forget to account for the transition time. Hence, taking few extra months but having the progression as a constant increase rather than drastic change allows for the journey to be much more enjoyable, and pleasant. It also ensures that the feeling of being overwhelming is avoided because feeing overwhelming can eventually lead to burnout and lack of motivation for the journey ahead.

For the action phase of the goals, one tip is to have the big goal broken down into mini plans so that the big goal does not become too overwhelming for you to take a shot at. However, when there are realistic mini goals that are much more achievable, it is easier to continue progressing as you can see the mini achievements being accomplished. Lastly, having a tracking record of how your journey is progressing is crucial to visualize how far you have come since you started the journey. To track the progress as you go, you can either write out the mini goals in order and check them off as you progress, or you can step up the game and implement some rewards of your choice, so the journey becomes enjoyable as you collect all the rewards. You can have rewards such as $100 shopping spree, a new pair of shoes, a trip with your loved ones, or anything that will motivate you to continue working towards the goal.

As the new year approaches, everyone gets excited to create new goals and starting off the year strong. However, unplanned, and drastic goals can cause a decline in the motivation and the desire to achieve those goals when the big goals become overwhelming. In retrospect, if the goals are broken down into mini-achievable goals, are tracked, and you have a system to reward yourself for the mini achievements, it leads to the journey being much more enjoyable.

Explore the World

By: Ashley Asuncion, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

The Fall semester is close to the end! This is the time of the year to make all efforts we can as students to ensure we pass the semester to secure our future studies. Now, students start to think about their next steps in their academic journey. Perhaps I can give you a suggestion! Try exploring but think big- exploring the world. Studying abroad may be just the thing for you!

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to enhance one’s college experience. It is startling how different travels as a student are compared to an average adult on the international scale. As a student, you will be provided support systems and frameworks revolving around critically engaging yourself in the host country/community. Therefore, taking the leap to become a well-rounded World Class citizen is an opportunity studying abroad can provide.

At UMass Lowell, we have a study abroad office dedicated to support and facilitate the study abroad application process and travel preparations. UML’s study abroad office has a website which describes where to start the exploration of this unique academic choice, in a “Getting Started” page. The pages entail forms to connect with a study abroad advisor, questions to consider when thinking of studying abroad, forms that would be considered like financial aid, approval forms and travel documents. The sooner a student starts their search of the right study abroad program it will facilitate more options and a pleasant experience. Between making decisions, fulfilling paperwork, receiving documents, purchasing flights, paying fees, preparing for travel, approving classes and funds, obtaining student information from host, etc.; it can take weeks to complete all the necessary ins and outs of study abroad

Needless to say, there is plenty to look forward to when making the choice to see a different part of the world. I, myself am studying abroad to the Dominican Republic in Santiago De Los Caballeros from CIEE Liberal Arts Spring Semester Program. It has been quite a process to go through but I’m glad to begin my journey in the islands for Spring 2023. The excitement to being able to enjoy in a different culture instead of focusing just on hardcore academics with responsibilities socially, financially, etc.; is my main focus. I am lucky to have UML support through each step as I create an experience to live for.   

It has been an honor to be one of your Well-being Leaders for the Fall Semester. I will see you when I return!

Time Management (The Pomodoro Technique)

by: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

I recently learned about this technique from my aunt, and it has helped me get through various tasks without feeling mentally drained. It is known as the Pomodoro Technique. There are six steps involved in this process. First, you decide on a task you need to do. Then, you set a timer for 25 minutes. Then, you work on that specific task until the timer goes off. This block of focused work time is referred to as one Pomodoro. A fun fact is that the technique is named after the Italian word for tomato as the timer that was used by the founder was shaped as a tomato. After that, you get to take a short, 5-minute break. After you repeat this four times, you can take a longer 15–30-minute break. It will allow you to stay focused without being mentally exhausted.

I do not believe in having an hourly time schedule, personally. For me, an hourly time schedule creates unwarranted stress as I am rushing to complete items in a set amount of time. I practiced this during my freshman year of college where I was asked to put a time schedule into effect. I noticed that tasks accumulated, and I was overcome by a feeling of failure if I didn’t finish something on the agenda. This hourly time schedule adversely affected my productivity as I would rush to complete things, that in the end, would be carried over to the next day, which already had projects and tasks lined up.

Instead, I like to break down a complex project into smaller tasks that are actionable. It allows me to see the progress that I’m making instead of overwhelming myself by looking at the big picture. I go into a mental funk when I look at a big task and typically don’t know where to start. For example, I wanted a research project for my thesis. Immediately, I thought of the end goal and how I need to write a thesis paper and have a presentation where I would defend my thesis, which was overwhelming.

Instead, I stopped the intrusive thoughts of how I could manage that and focused on what I could do to get there. I started by reading articles and papers to get an idea of what research question I wanted to answer. I am taking it one step (or Pomodoro) at a time, which is really helping me see some light at the end of the tunnel and reassure myself that I can do it.

In terms of the connection between smaller chunks of work and the Pomodoro technique, I can cross different tasks off my checklist if I work on a new task every 25 minutes during my “burst of energy.” Sometimes, you spend too much time on one project that you fall behind on the rest of your assignments. I use the technique to start working on another task and come back to the old one the following round of Pomodoro. That way, I can get more tasks done and not mentally exhaust myself over one assignment over a long period of time. The quality of my work is also comprised if I cram everything in one go instead of breaking it down into manageable chunks. For instance, I like to break down my lab reports into the different sections. I do the introduction, hypothesis, procedure on one day or during one Pomodoro. Then, I do the discussion, conclusion, and application another time. For my breaks, I typically would go for a walk, draw, listen to music, or do some stretches. Essentially, you would get up and move. I like having a short interval of break because I tend to get distracted on my phone and fall into a slump. Having a timed break forces me to get back to the task in anticipation for my next break! I hope this technique helps as it tremendously stopped me from falling into the rabbit role of procrastination or overworking myself over one, big task.