End of the First Semester

Well. I did it – I got through a semester of uni. All the way to the end, no dropping out.

YAY!! This a mega achievement, and I actually feel really good about it which is a BIG DEAL. I’ll be going back and continuing with it in 2014 too, which is even more of a BIG DEAL.

There is a down side though. While I passed Organisational Behaviour very happily, I failed Accounting. So one of the things that I’ll be going back to next year is not going to be fun at all.

It’s really not a surprise, I hated the subject and I didn’t study any of the content beyond about the first 4 weeks. It is a bit of a wake up call though. If I’m going to do this whole uni thing then I need to do it properly.

So I’ll be spending this study break doing some reorganising, planning, and refreshing my study space. You may recall that last semester I did a massive study clean out, got myself a fabulous study chair, and made a (non)whiteboard for reminders. Since the end of that semester the space has become a total dumping ground again, and the desk is nowhere to be seen under all the random paperwork and Christmas decorations. I think a new year should have a fresh start though, so I’ll be getting ruthless again soon: clearing space, getting organised, and preparing to pass everything in my second semester.

What I will be doing again is putting up flash cards on the walls around my desk – that did help me remember things and prompt me. I’ll also be setting aside very specific times of the week to dedicate towards study, but this time I’ll be better at sticking to it!! I got quite slack about half way through.

Here’s what I WON’T be doing: ignoring those specific study schedule times and watching tv instead. Also, and I think this was my biggest mistake – I won’t be taking a mid-semester break. That week or so off in the middle really threw me right off and I struggled to get my motivation back afterwards last semester. This is actually good – it’s something I now know about the way that I work, so I I can make sure I don’t do it again and that I try a different approach.

In fact, what I might do is start some Accounting prep before semester even starts! I have the textbook, I know what the basic content of the semester is going to be, so I really have no reason for not being totally on top of things in 2014!

4 weeks until exams…

Well, I have somehow got through all but the final exams for both of my subjects. I’m still waiting on the results for one of my assignments, but I’m pretty sure I’ll pass that one. Now it’s time to study for final exams!

Except… I’m staring at unopened textbooks and finding all sorts of other things to do instead. I know that what I really need to do is go over the whole semester’s worth of content for Accounting and basically re-learn it all, because I only just passed my last test for that subject and the exam will cover all the modules, but it’s such an unappealing task that I can’t quite bring myself to start. I only have 4 weeks to get through it all, so I’m hoping inspiration strikes soon. I have worked out that I only need to get 33% on the exam to pass the semester though, so that’s some good news.

Organisational Behaviour on the other hand – the exam only covers the last 4 modules and I feel much more confident about the subject overall, so I’m not super worried about that one. I still need to actually learn the content though. I should start by re-borrowing the textbook from the library…

If I think about it all in a different way, then I only have 4 weeks of dedicated study and then it’s all over for the year, and that makes it seem like a far more manageable task. Maybe I just need to force myself back into study mode, whether the inspiration is there or not! Perhaps breaking it all down into smaller bits will help. We’ll see. Prepare yourselves for a super panicky post the day before the exams I think!

tired & uninspired

I have an assignment to write and I really don’t feel like doing it. It’s based on a lecture about employability skills, what they are, how useful they are, and what I can do to improve my employability skills. I am not finding it an inspiring subject. I think partly because I find that someone explaining to me what teamwork is, what communication skills and platforms are (including the comment “LinkedIn is like Facebook for grown-ups) and why it’s all useful for getting a job, ever so slightly condescending and annoying.

Also, let’s face it, I hate writing assignments. That’s possibly got something to do with the levels of procrastination and sugar consumption that I reached this afternoon (ate all the tim-tams that my husband got for his birthday). I’ve got to the point now though that I either have to do the assignment, or put away 5 loads of washing, or go to bed at 7:45pm… so I’m staring at the wall instead.

It’s not even really that I’m bored, just that I don’t want to do the things that I have to do!

I’ve been a bit slack on the study front for the last two weeks. I went to Tasmania for a mini holiday (very pretty, lots of nice wines) and, while I had promised myself that I would do assignment work on the plane, I just ended up playing games on my iPad and falling asleep on the tray-table. Oops. So now I’m a little bit behind in the reading and the recorded lectures, and I really need to catch myself up, but I also have a little trip to the opening of Sydney Fashion Week planned for this week… after which I’ll be so broke that I’ll have no choice but to stay home and study!

How do you motivate yourself to write assignments? It’s always been my biggest problem.

On a positive note, I have completed my first two quizzes for the semester, one for each subject, and while they are only worth 5% each I’m feeling fairly confident that my results will be decent. I’ll find out tomorrow!

Music for studying

Some people need absolute quiet around them, but I’ve discovered that I mostly like to listen to music while I’m studying. It has to be through headphones though rather than just on the stereo in the background, even when I’m alone. I find the same thing when I’m at work and I need to concentrate on writing a document for a period of time.

I think the fact that the music is coming through the headphones blocks out everything else around me and helps me maintain focus on whatever is in front of me without any other external distractions. It blocks out the sound of my husband playing xBox and obscure metal from the living room very well too…

The only problem with this is that it doesn’t stop me from talking to myself out loud about whatever problem I’m trying to work through. I’m quite the aural learner and it really helps me to talk myself through learning something, questioning something, or stepping myself through a process. Which is not a problem for me, it’s more of a problem for the people around me – it’s a bit disconcerting for them to suddenly hear me exclaim loudly or have a conversation with myself when I had been so quiet previously. Sometimes I sing along too, and anyone who has ever heard anyone sing along to music that no one else can hear will know how bad that can be (and I’m basically tone deaf).

Oh well. Here’s what I’m loving for a study soundtrack at the moment: TunnFM. It’s 90s music online, and it’s a great mix – takes me back to high school but in a good way! And it’s getting me through general ledgers and double entry accounting!

Introduction to Accounting

University officially started this week. I set aside time for my first study session this evening, and I started by focussing on the subject that I think I’ll struggle with the most: Accounting. I even turned down a last minute invite to a wine tasting evening, and anyone who knows me will understand that was a very difficult choice!

I have a bit of a mental block with Accounting, which can be traced back to my high school days. I thought it was a bit boring back then and I didn’t like the teacher, so halfway through grade 11 I stopped bothering and spent all my class time drawing pictures of fish. As you do. Obviously I then failed the rest of the year. Come the start of grade 12, I decide to make a fresh start and I prepare to go into class with a new attitude. I walk into the room, the teacher takes one look at me and just says ‘I don’t think so’ and without a word or even putting my bag down I walk back out of the room and straight into the deputy principal’s office, where I spent the next hour convincing him that I needed to have a recurring free period instead of switching to the drama class.

Now here I am, staring down Accounting 101 with trepidation. ACC1101 to be exact. Although, looking back at the end of my first lecture and study session, I’m thinking that maybe I’ve stressed myself out unnecessarily, but I may just wait a few more weeks before relaxing too much.

I read the required chapter of the textbook, I got the lecture and associated powerpoint presentation, and I did all the review questions. I made notes, and highlighted things, and a section of my study wall now looks like this:

accounting 101

I checked my review questions – I got 20/22 so I’m pretty happy with that! I’m also really happy that I remained focussed for the evening, and I feel like I’ve actually taken in information. Now it’s time for dinner. Bring on Thursday when I start Organisational Behaviour!


It’s only a week until university officially starts for me, so I thought I should probably finish getting myself organised. I’ve enrolled in two subjects (Accounting and Organisational Behaviour), received my study materials, and got the required textbooks, so that was a good start. I am studying online for this degree, so I really needed to make sure I had access to my student emails, the forums, and that I knew where to go to download the lectures.

Slight problem – I had forgotten my student number, username, and password, and I’d misplaced the original letter sent to me by the university explaining how to access everything. Oops!! Luckily a bit of searching for the letter was successful, and a few login attempts later I now have access to everything I need online. Phew! I also found the wall planner that the uni sent me, so I will be putting that up on the wall of my study area and marking important dates with a big red pen!

I have realised that I will need to strictly schedule myself time to focus on studies during the week otherwise I won’t get anything done… I’ll be making Tuesday evenings, Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoons my dedicated study time, and will have to make sure that I treat it like any other set arrangement – no skipping out on study just because I don’t feel like it, or because going to the movies or the pub sounds like a better option. I suspect this will be difficult for me; I’m very easily distracted.

How do you schedule your study time? Do you set aside certain times and days, or do you just do what you feel like on the go? How much time do you spend on your study each week?


make your own decorative whiteboard

I like lists. I especially like to-do lists. And I love crossing things off them! I’ve tried keeping to-do lists electronically – on phone apps, through email task functions, calendar reminders – but nothing works so well for me as grabbing a pen and actually writing something, then having it up in front of me all the time. Whiteboards are excellent for this (as are windows if you have a liquid chalk marker, I have discovered).

I was going to get myself a whiteboard for the study, but my problem was finding one that wasn’t too big, as well as the fact that they just look really corporate (and a bit ugly). So I decided to make my own! Now I’m not particularly creative, and you could take this idea and run with it to make it amazing, so bear with me while I show you the basic concept.

You will need:

A picture frame with a glass front – whatever size you want the board to be
Decorative paper or fabric to fit inside the frame
Hanging hook
Whiteboard marker (dry-erase marker)

I used a basic large square frame, and I found some patterned origami paper during the study clean-out last week, so I used that too.

I used a basic large square frame, and I found some patterned origami paper during the study clean-out last week, so I used that too.

I cut some patterns out of paper to make it a bit more interesting, before layering over the rest of the paper as a background.

I cut some patterns out of paper to make it a bit more interesting, before layering over the rest of the paper as a background.

Uncut paper squares in a different colour as the background.

Uncut paper squares in a different colour, laid face down, as the background.

Put the back of the frame on, and turn it over, and there you go!

Put the back of the frame on, and turn it over, and there you go!

Hang it on the wall, write on it, and you have yourself a custom board!

Hang it on the wall, write on it, and you have yourself a custom board!

You can use anything you like inside the frame – my original plan was to use fabric until I found the paper, but I would recommend something that’s not too busy so that you can still see the writing easily. The best thing about this is that you can match it with whatever decor you already have going, and change it whenever you want! You could also use liquid chalk markers on this, they work perfectly on glass too.

wishlist #1

Pretty sure I need this chair from IKEA instead of the broken chair from our dining suite that I’m sitting on at the moment… It’s super cute AND comfortable! (I tested it out today on a sneaky IKEA trip)



Such happy colours too – I could really make that work in my study area.