MY TOP PRODUCTIVITY TECHNIQUES FOR STUDENTS

The New Year is approaching and I really wanted to sit down and churn out some of the ways in which I’ve been making it by in school. There are loads of free tools that students can use in order to produce great work and content, whether it is for your degree or outside of it. Here are some tips and tools that I’ve used since I started pursuing post-secondary education.

1.     Quizlet

Guys. Ditch the note cards. They cost money to produce, they’re tedious to make and they require that you organize something physically amongst all your other school supplies. I highly recommend this website called Quizlet where you can make virtual notecards. You can make it in different languages (if it’s a language course), you can review, play games to memorize the notecards and eventually test yourself.

All the ways in which you can use Quizlet. 

All the ways in which you can use Quizlet. 

An example of how you insert term and definition. 

An example of how you insert term and definition. 

This HANDS DOWN got me through Microeconomics my first semester of graduate school. Make an account and you can make sets of cards, opting to make it private or share them with others. It’s also so relieving to be able to refer to them for your final exam, rather than find all the physical note cards you could have made and go through those one by one. Quizlet is incredible and it’s free.

2.     Wake up EARLY—around 4:30AM.

Some of y’all are going to look at the screen crazy but I guarantee you this is the best time to be productive. There is no one awake. You can focus exclusively on yourself after a good night’s rest-- there is no one to distract you, you can make yourself breakfast, meditate, and get to work. My best work and studying has been done at this hour. I tend to sleep at 10:00PM-11:00PM and wake up around 4:30AM, especially around exams, or when I’m writing papers. There’s something rejuvenating about waking up in the morning when the world is completely dead. I just need a fresh cup of coffee and I know I need to churn stuff out before my day officially starts. There is so much evidence that people who wake up earlier are able to be more productive. 

3.     Use a calendar system that works for you.

There are two calendars that I use—Google calendar and my agenda. Google calendar is vastly underrated. Did you know you can sync your events to your phone, and set alarms for those events? This can be reminders for appointments, a study session, a coffee date, etc. You can also set the reminders from 2 minutes in advance to weeks in advance (and you can set multiple reminders for the same event). It all syncs with your phone. You can color code everything based on the course or the specification—in my case it’s work, personal and each of my individual classes. If you have a meeting with people, you can invite them to the event so they can verify that they’re coming and it will sync onto their calendars as well. GOOGLE CALENDAR IS LIFE.

Color coded categories on Google Calendar. 

Color coded categories on Google Calendar. 

One of the most successful and charming people I know introduced me to this method four years ago, and I haven’t looked back. I also have a written agenda, but that agenda is more for personal notes, documentation of my goals, how much water I drink every day, my to-do list breakdown, etc. There is also this wonderful application called Wunderlist, which lets you jot down reminders, notes, errands, etc. under categories that you make. These also have an alert feature that allows you to specify deadlines, and you can attach files!

Categories and associated tasks on Wunderlist. 

Categories and associated tasks on Wunderlist. 

Additional features of Wunderlist. 

Additional features of Wunderlist. 

4.     Make yourself a good, clean space.

I really do think your environment impacts the work or content that you produce. Thus, my study space has everything I need—a stapler, white out, hole puncher, a ton of pens and pencils, sticky notes, etc. All I needed was a decent dollar store haul. I also have plants around my study space and a bright ass lamp. I swear, just surrounding yourself with all the tools you need restrains you from making excuses!

 

5.     Study Music.

I have a Spotify playlist I go to when I study. It’s all instrumental music that I don’t know very well (I’m envious of y’all who can listen to bops and study). This has gotten very far when I’m in loud spaces and need to concentrate or when I just want some casual background music. Here it is if you want to check it out. There is research that shows that music with lyrics are harder to study with, but I really do think people have their own study techniques.

 

6.     Get a mini whiteboard.

One day I went to Walmart and bought this mini whiteboard, and I found myself more excited to do math problems and economics problems because of it. I think it’s a matter of having the space to do the work and to be able to feel like a teacher teaching yourself the work. It's a really great tool to change the pace of learning. Various colors on a different forum of learning can also trigger memory of how to do a problem set that you otherwise may forget. When it’s not being used to do word problems, it can be used to write out a to-do list, or goals, or just some motivational shit you want to look at.

I really hope this list helps you find some things that work for you. I know school is incredibly stressful, and I hope that these resources will ease some of the stresses and anxieties that come with school. 

 

 

POEM #3

my belly nurtures onions and turmeric and

cradles steeped tea

i wonder if i drown in it because

my mother lashes at my tamil

and my father at me

 

steakhouses with 150 seats

tamils grill pieces of meat

worth more than their bones

the canadian dream embroiled in meat

more than me

gold dust leaves tamil chains

because we can't eat our money

we must let it dangle from our necks

just as our sweat does

 

and we leave looking at ambilmama

in hopes that these craters are not what our children have to see

maybe that's why we go home to whiskey

and let it swarm our bellies to sleep. 

LOVE

love

is replaying events and fast forwarding to moments that we'll have together

is grazing each others hands and intertwining legs whenever we can

is finding comfort in eyes, and arms, and a smile

is ruining you with my makeup because your shoulders hold my chin and your face my kisses

is sharing anything and everything with you first

is finally understanding love songs, and clasping lyrics to your tongue because they mean something to you. 90s r&b suddenly becomes a part of me again

is drunk kisses on the ttc

is sticking onto words like honey that dribbles from your mouth and i just want to lick you off

is trying to memorize your cuticles and how your hands look next to mine

is the subtle pulls at your facial hair that i notice with intention

is when i unfurl my clasp to you to only make it tighter, to expel of my weakness, and garner strength

is when you capture my every emotion and make photo album of film photos with me

i love you, always

 

A REVIEW OF THE FILM LION

*Spoilers ahead*

“Do you have any idea what it’s like, how every day my real brother screams my name?”

Yesterday me and my boyfriend went to see the film Lion starring Dev Patel. Here's the trailer:

It's really telling how brown folks who want to encourage and support brown folks are readily willing to invest. Nivake and I killed 2 hours of time and chose to watch this movie, which was hardly being played in any theaters. And we did this because there were brown people on screen. It made sense to want to see people like us-- brown, raised in an English country, etc. That honestly was the extent of the similarities between Dev's character, Saroo, and us. We chose to watch the movie in Brampton, an area in the Greater Toronto Area called "Brown Town." This is uncomfortable and incredibly reductive of the conglomeration of brown folks for multiple reasons, but that's another story. Here's a link to an article that expresses my concerns really well, if you want to read on it. So I started counting the heads of the people coming in, and realized that the audience of the movie was elderly and white. 

What? These were the audiences that watched Blind Side and The Help and thought that white people weren't so bad. They basked in the feel good effect that catered to white people who "weren't racist". And then I watched the trailers-- one of the movies featured was produced by the same people who made Blind Side and Life of Pi. The end of the same trailer played a song by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Okay, sis. I knew it. I was in a elderly white liberal haven. 

The movie started and honestly the first 45 minutes were amazing because it was exclusively set in India and showed how a child named Saroo was separated from his family. Him and his family were incredibly impoverished, and he became a street child, who learned the antics of surviving in India. He encountered multiple people until he reached an orphanage-- two being a man and woman who seemed to want to sell him into child prostitution. It was repulsive that these were the images of India that this audience was consuming. The beautiful nature and landscapes juxtaposed with evil, impoverished, and helpless subjects. 

Eventually Saroo gets adopted by an Australian couple, the mother and wife, Sue, being played by Nicole Kidman. I was all up in my feelings the entire movie when I saw that he was given to a family that owned a TV and food stored in a refrigerator, but it was predominantly because I was mourning for the mother back in India. She never had a chance to have the joy of children. No one cared that she didn't have the chance either. It's as though brown, impoverished women are not due children. 

Dev Patel does a convincing and beautiful job playing the role of Saroo. He's obsessed with finding his biological mother and the ways in which he shows his current relationships dissolving made it understandable as to why he received an Oscar nod. However, I was personally more impacted by the performance of a young Saroo by Sunny Pawar. He did a brilliant job being a child-- vulnerable, yet strategic with the ways he chose survival. He was incredibly adorable and it made it very devastating when I watched the film and witnessed his mistreatment. 

My ovaries hurt. 

My ovaries hurt. 

There are parts of the film that made me cringe. First, he had a white girlfriend, Lucy, who seemed too interested in South Asian culture, and who told Saroo he "had to face reality." That sounds like some shit that a white person tells a brown person when they deny the existence of racism or discrimination. This was Saroo's reality-- trying to understand his complicated identity that he could not let go. There was another part of the film when Sue said that she had a dream with a "brown skinned boy". *Cringe.* Why brown skinned? Is that why she went to India to adopt? Is society so constructed for us to believe that those in need of being adopted and those who are the most helpless are brown skinned? To the point where Sue subconsciously thought that she needed to save one? Oh, Sue.

I cried a lot (especially at the reunion of Saroo with his biological family). And I was happy with Dev and Sunny's roles. I just wish that there could be Western images and film that portrayed brown people as loving, supporting, and uplifting other brown folks. We don't need white intervention for survival. 

 

 

THE BEAUTY OF FILM PICTURES

My man and I have been taking more film pics and they really are extraordinary. I've been buying albums at the dollar store and storing 1-2 roll's worth of images in the albums. They're kind of pricey-- About 10 dollars per roll, or 15 dollars for a disposable camera, and $12.99 to get them developed (without tax). I bought my film camera from Value Village for $5. These images below were from the New Years Party that Nivake co-hosted. It was such a good time and I think the pictures really spoke to that! They are raw images that cannot be tampered with, and give a very approachable vibe. The images looked really looked vintage and captured the setting we were in incredibly well. There is something nostalgic about film pictures, and I truly don't think I can ever let this go. We started getting into it because I left 3 disposable cameras at my 23rd birthday and the pictures turned out so fantastic. I'll update this with more images from our times out, a Jazz Cartier concert, and me posted up against his luxurious '02 Honda Civic in a skirt in the freezing cold because #fashion. 

Film needs to come back, but I think the creative community is aware of that. 

POEM #1

i am quietly baptized

when you put your face into me

and grip my scars around my arms

when your hand traces wounds of the past

and eventually sinks into my pelvis

i exhale wounds

and inhale hope

where you memorize the trace of me

and i memorize your eyes

and your lips

and your heart

and i let you sit in me till the next morning

i let those flashbacks nourish me

just like flakes of cardamom nourish me

or tamil food kaddais

or the silence of the temple.

 

healing has to happen

between my heart

and between my legs, too.  

 

-mirusha

 

 

 

 

WHAT 20L6 TAUGHT ME AND WHAT I GOT FROM IT

Happy 2017, readers! Thank you for supporting my creative endeavors and finding me interesting enough to keep up. This past year has been rough and everyone acknowledges that. But I wanted to take a second to take a glance at the things that I am grateful for from 2016. And make lists. Below are some pics from my New Years with beautiful people! And a text from Nivake telling his brother "Merry valentines day!!!!!!!!!!!!$$$$$$" because he was faded from the henny. 


Top Albums:

  1. Coloring Book | Chance the Rapper
  2. Blonde | Frank Ocean
  3. Malibu | Anderson Paak
  4. A Seat at the Table | Solange Knowles
  5. 99.9% | Kaytranada

Top Songs:

  1. Needed Me | Rihanna
  2. Self Control | Frank Ocean
  3. Lyk Dis | NxWorries feat. Anderson Paak & Knxwledge 
  4. Blkjuptr | Smino Brown
  5. Juke Jam | Chance the Rapper feat. Justin Bieber
  6. Brujas | Princess Nokia
  7. Location | Khalid
  8. All Night | Chance the Rapper feat. Knox Fortune
  9. How Does It Feel | Kamaiyah 
  10. The Season | Carry Me | Anderson Paak


Best Concerts:

  1. Daniel Caesar, Kaytranada, Anderson Paak | Toronto, Ontario | September 17
  2. Smino Brown, Mick Jenkins | Toronto, Ontario | October 18
  3. DVSN | Toronto, Ontario | December 13
  4. Mick Jenkins, Kehlani | Austin, Texas | March 16
  5. Tommy Genesis | Toronto, Ontario | July 15

Books that Changed My Year:

  1. All About Love: New Visions | bell hooks
  2. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth | Warsan Shire
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Sherman Alexie
  4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Junot Diaz
  5. Funny Boy | Shyam Selvadurai 

Here's a link to my Goodreads! 


Best Movies:

  1. Moonlight. A must see movie on a narrative that's been overlooked in its entirety. Beautiful, symbolic and gut wrenching. 
  2. Dheepan. This movie hit hard because it discussed the state of Tamil refugees in Paris. It's the first movie I've seen where this important story has been told. Please watch it and understand the pains of assimilation and survival for refugees. 
  3. The Edge of Seventeen. Relatable, quirky, and addresses mental health, something I am so invested in. 
  4. Loving. Explores the legalization of interracial relationships in America, and actually has a couple that has a black woman and white man. An important account of the forces that went into making love legal. 
  5. The Nice Guys. This movie was fun, witty, and let me see the more comedic role that Ryan Gosling can play. 

Best Personal Moments of 2016:

  1. Graduating the University of Texas at Austin and getting accepted into the University of Toronto for a Master's in Public Policy. I worked so hard to do all of that, and it really showed that the five years I put into getting a degree paid off. And it made my mom happy. 
  2. Getting a Spotify Premium account. For obvious reasons. 
  3. Being on CNN.
  4. Meeting all the lovely people I can call friends and loved ones in Toronto. They are the reason I'm alive and entering 2017 with the potential of being great. Without them, I don't know where I'd be. 
  5. Kehlani posting an image of us on her Instagram. 


Favorite TV Shows:

  1. Insecure. Issa Rae went from a YouTuber to receiving a Golden Globe nod due to her incredible, relatable performance in Insecure. You follow the life of Issa as she navigates work, relationships, lust, etc. as an incredibly normal woman trying to make the most of her world. She has a top notch cast that address racism and portray black people in a diverse way. I love this show. Also, the music is bomb. 
  2. Atlanta. Donald Glover did so well addressing complex issues like why he hates the club, white men's use of the n word when speaking to him, not having enough money for a date, etc. He also has an incredible cast and relatable characters who provide insight to the complexities of trying to make it as a creative, and the barriers they may face. I can't wait for the next season. 
  3. How to Get Away with Murder. I've been following this show since its first season, and Viola Davis nails it when it comes to portraying such a complicated character. I love that this show has an incredible cast of varying races, sexual orientations, and complications. This show continues to shock you no matter what and you must be attentive while watching it. 
  4. Stranger Things. I didn't know kids could act this well. I watched the entire first season in one sitting and couldn't get enough of the plot line while continuing to root for the kids. I am usually not a science fiction fan, but wanted to keep watching the entire time. Also, these kids are the new Harry Potter kids. I'm going to root for them no matter what. 
  5. Chewing Gum. This is underrated and hilarious! This is maybe an enhanced version of Insecure, but in London and features an incredibly awkward Tracey Gordon. For outright laugh out loud comedy, and cringe scenes because of how uncomfortable you'll feel for Tracey, please watch this. 


2016 in Pictures