back to school

New Year… New You?

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HELLO 2017 HOW MAY I HELP YOU (MYSELF)?!  With an entire year ahead of you, it's the perfect time to dust off those ambitions and bring them to centre stage. An opportunity to start fresh, a new year means new goals, new habits, and...well, a new you! However, even though you may be super into achieving your goals, it not necessarily an easy feat – how often do we write down New Year’s resolutions and simply NOT stick to them? To help you achieve your goals and make 2017 the best year yet, this week’s TMG blog post is all about the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting model. Let's DO THIS. S – Specific 

When setting your goals, be specific. The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. To make a goal specific, try and answer the following questions: who, what, when, where and why? To give you a better idea of what we mean, an example of a vague goal is: improve my performance in school. A specific goal is: increase my mark in each course by 5%.

M – Measurable

To create a measurable goal, establish exactly what you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. By doing this, you're breaking your goal into measurable elements which can actually be quantified. Like, you can actually TELL if you've accomplished them. To help figure out whether or not your goal is measurable, ask yourself: how will I know when my goal is accomplished? If you actually have an answer, it's measurable:)

A – Attainable

Do you have the resources to make this goal attainable? Do you have enough time, money or talent to make this goal part of your reality? Ask yourself whether or not you’re setting the bar just a bit too high – what’s realistic for you? So in terms of school, saying "I'm going to do 10 hours of math a day," while ADMIRABLE, is totally unrealistic...since you probably want to eat. And sleep. And like, have a life.

R – Relevant

Before proceeding, it is important to ask yourself whether or not this goal is important to you – do you really care about running a marathon? If your goal is not something that you truly and deeply care about, the chances of you achieving it are much less. Pick a goal that’s important to you, that way you are more likely to stick with it!

T – Timely

The year is long and there is a ton of time within it to achieve your goals. However, if you don't set deadlines for your goals, there more likely you are to NOT achieve them. No matter how small, deadlines give you something to work towards by helping you to keep up your momentum. Break down your goals into small chunks and actually put deadlines IN a physical calendar so that you can see them approaching! If your goal is to raise your mark by 10%, set a deadline for the first 5%, and another for the remaining 5%. That way you won't feel like you have to do EVERYTHING at once!

Most importantly, try and stay positive when working towards your goals. A strong-willed and positive outlook will get you much further than you can even imagine. And remember - most people are capable of WAY more than they give themselves credit for. How are YOU going to blow your OWN mind this year?

How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!

We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We’ve ALL procrastinated at one time or another. But that was then and this is NOW. Now is the time to change, to put the past in the past. Today you can start establishing new and healthy study habits that maximize productivity and decrease procrastination. Sounds impossible, right? Think again! With these five quick and easy tips to beat your old habits, you will be establishing effective routines in no time! Feeling like there’s absolutely NO WAY you can master the information that is about to come your way? Well, that’s because you’re not meant to “master” it all! What we’re asking you to do is read over these tips and try your BEST to implement only SOME of them. At the very least TRY to put some of the tips into place because you want to SUCCEED in school during what can be THE busiest time of the year. So, without any further introduction, presenting to you on this week’s blog: How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!

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  1. Make a schedule

A sure way to help you combat your procrastination habits is to make yourself a study schedule. When making yourself a schedule, be specific! Commit to working in an environment that you know is effective for you (more on this later) and write down the set amount of time that you will be studying for each subject. By writing down a schedule with set instructions on WHERE to study, WHEN to study, and WHAT to study for, studying becomes hard to avoid!

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  1. Hide all electronic distractions

Just do it. I know we’re all addicted to our phones, computers and the social media that comes with these devices BUT the sure fire way to be effective and get work done is to POWER DOWN. Commit to putting your devices away and out of sight for JUST 30 MINUTES! Crazy, right?! TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. If you turn your phone off and put it out of plain sight, you will be able to get SO much more work done! Just TRY it!

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  1. Make studying fun!

Hate the quiet in the library? Go to a buzzing coffee shop! Hate studying alone? Make a study group! Studying doesn’t always have to consist of you sitting alone in a library. No! Studying can be fun times spent with friends outside of school. Need someone to quiz your for your upcoming test? Make a game using flash cards to help you prepare. Studying doesn’t need to be as dry as your textbook. Get creative, have fun – studying CAN be good times.  

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  1. Know yourself

OK, I know I just told you to have fun while studying and I sincerely mean it. But come on, we can’t have SO much fun that NO work gets done. It’s important to strike a BALANCE when working so that you are PRODUCTIVE. This is where “knowing yourself” really comes into play. If you don’t study well with friends, don’t do it. Instead, make plans to meet up with your friends after you’re done studying alone. Can’t focus when there’s too much background noise? Find a quiet environment that allows you to pay attention to what you’re working on. Don’t know what works for you yet? Don’t worry. Figuring out what kinds of studying techniques are right for you takes time, be PATIENT!

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  1. Be kind to yourself

Being patient with yourself brings me to my final piece of advice. At TMG we believe it’s most important to be KIND to yourself. It’s really easy to beat yourself up over your schoolwork. Thoughts and feelings about not doing enough and needing to do more are likely to pass through your brain. Rather than thinking about what you NEED to do and what you HAVEN’T done, think about how much you have already checked off your to do list. Studying and creating effective study habits take time, but trust me, they will come and so will the marks!

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Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Keep Your Math Anxiety Under Control

It’s that time of the year again. Classes have started to pick up, the first tests have already happened, and you may or may not be freaking out over your work and/or test results. Instead of worrying yourself silly over your future work and test results, let’s focus on building the skills that you need to keep calm and carry on in math class. stressedstudentgirl

  1. Stay on top of your work

As difficult as it may be to write down the information given in class, understand it, and do your homework, staying on top of all the assigned work can and will help you “ace” your math class. This way, once that test comes around, you won’t be freaking out over what information you didn’t cover—instead, you will be in the know. To help you take down as much course information as possible in an efficient and effective manner, check out our blog post on “The Note Taking #KeysToSuccess”.

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  1. Learn breathing techniques

When you get into a test and just don’t know what’s going on, take a few, repeated, big “belly breaths” to help ease your anxiety. There are many different types of effective breathing techniques developed but it’s important to find the one that works best for you. A popular breathing technique is called “box breathing” and involves visualizing a box as you breathe in and out, using your diaphragm, for four counts of four. To learn more about this technique and many others, check out one of our fave how-to articles thanks to Livestrong!

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  1. Ask questions

A key to succeeding in math class (and any class for that matter), is to ask questions when you require clarification on certain concepts. This can be an intimidating experience but chances are other classmates of yours have similar if not the same questions. Think of yourself as doing everyone a favour–especially since asking questions can oftentimes lead the teacher to give out hints regarding what kind of material is going to be on the next evaluation.

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  1. Be aware of negative self-talk

More often than not we can speak extremely negatively towards ourselves without even noticing. We all have the tendency to give ourselves small put-downs every now and again. If constantly repeated, these put downs can become automatic thoughts and part of our subjective reality. The best defence against this type of negative, self-sabotaging thinking, is to catch yourself saying these negative thoughts to yourself. Once you take note of your thoughts you will realize that you are not “completely doomed to fail” your next math test and are, in fact, “fairly well prepared”.

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  1. Slow and steady wins the race

A sure way to ease your anxiety around test taking is to slow down and take your time when reading through a test. The more you rush through a test, the higher the chances that you will miss an important piece of information and make a careless mistake. When taking one’s time to read instructions, it is often helpful to highlight or underline key terms in the questions in order to signal important information. For example, highlighting the words “show all your work” will ensure that you do, in fact, show all your work - ALL the time!

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In short, if you follow these small and simple techniques to combat your work and subsequent anxiety around test-taking, you should not only be more prepared for your upcoming evaluation but more at ease throughout this process. Test taking time can be THE time to show off everything you know! Don't let anxiety get in the way of boasting those brains!

The Note Taking #KeysToSuccess

One major #KeytoSuccess in school and beyond is taking effective notes. Sounds like a simple task, right? Wrong. Oftentimes our teachers and professors speak too quickly, making it a challenge to take down everything they’re saying. Other times they provide us with information that is actually unnecessary for the purpose of succeeding in the course but we write it down anyway. So, how do we strike the perfect balance between writing down everything and writing down nothing at all? This blog post will let you know how to beat this common pitfall and help you learn much more about effective note taking! Here’s to crushing school with TMG (again)!

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  1. The Beginning Stages

Every note is the opportunity for a new, beautiful beginning. Each page is the chance to perfect your skills while simultaneously making the page dazzle with new information. Step one to taking effective notes is to start off every note on a new page with the date and page number. Keeping track of your notes via the date will help you know the chronological order of course content so that when it comes time for that test you know exactly where to look for the material.

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2. Highlight, highlight, highlight

The best thing to highlight first on your page is the title of your note. Doing so signals to you what the subject of the note is and helps you to begin to organize the other information on the page. By writing down and highlighting the title of your note you will get a sense of what information you should and should not include on the rest of your page, you will begin to ask yourself: is this information relevant to the subject’s title? Pro tip: don’t think that the only thing you should highlight is the title—key terms, relevant problems and quotations are also fair game.

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3. Rewrite Your Notes

The best way to retain information is to re-write your notes (preferably by hand), after class. Rewriting your notes in your own words is also a plus–you are synthesizing the information given to you by someone else and translating it in a way that allows YOU to BEST understand it. This strategy to note taking also helps to prepare you for any future evaluations because you will have already studied for an upcoming test while perfecting the scribbles that you may have written down in class.

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4. Create Your Own Code

Teachers and professors can often speak quickly and provide you with too much information to write down. Creating your own short forms will help you take notes in a faster, shorter and condensed manner that will not compromise the note’s quality. You can even have some FUN while making your own shorthand by creating a language that is unique to you—stars, arrows, abbreviations and more are all elements of solid short form creation.

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5. Don’t Stress!

Just because the teacher or professor is talking, doesn’t mean that you have to be writing. Rather than copying down all information given, taking note of definitions, facts, enumerated lists, charts and information repeated or written on the chalkboard can be considered useful. Don’t get too hung up over your note-taking abilities—effective note taking is a skill that, like anything, will develop over time. For now, focus on following TMG’s tips to help get you started taking effective notes.

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Back to School Like a BOSS: Five Ways to ACE Your Classes This School Year

Is this hot weather hypnotizing you into thinking that it’s still summer vacay? You might still be wishing that school wasn’t happening, but here at TMG we’re no longer in denial; we’re ready to completely crush the school year and we want you to join us! So, how exactly will you succeed in making school a breeze? Follow the tips below to help you get organized and ready to rake in the A’s!

we-can-do-it-rosie-the-riveter-wallpaper-2-ab1. Highlight Your Life.

  • Highlighters come in so many fun, pretty colours that not only help you decorate your potentially boring black and white notes but also help to signal what information is relevant to your studying. After highlighting your notes, it’s always easier to come back to your pages with fresh eyes and remember what the important information was. Hint: it’s the stuff that’s brightly coloured!

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2. Divide and Conquer.

  • This tip comes in two very important parts– listen carefully!
  • Part one to “dividing and conquering” your school work is to make sure that you have a separate binder for every subject. Dividing your subjects into separate binders will enable you to find the information you need when you need it. Yes, your Math notes will actually be in your Math binder – shocking!
  • Part two of this task is to divide your newly created subject binders into sub-categories. Grab some nicely coloured dividers and section off your binder into categories like “Homework”, “Tests and Assignments”, and “Notes”. Again, you’ll be able to find the information you’re looking for exactly in the exact place that you left it!

165161_med3. Schedule Yourself.

  • Agendas are THE best. In fact, they’re SO great that I almost always never leave my house without one– who knows when I’ll have to schedule something in? A TMG tip to using an agenda effectively is to write down when you have every evaluation on the date itself and in the monthly calendar key. By writing down when you have tests and assignments due not once, but TWICE you are sure to not walk into a classroom without knowing what’s going on.

julia-kostreva-daily-weekly-planner-notebooks-insides-2-monthly-view4. The Case for the Pencil Case.

  • More often than not do I see students who are pencil-less because the one pencil that they’ve hid at the bottom of their backpack is now missing. A sure way to avoid having nothing to write with in class is to have all your fun and fancy pens, pencils, and highlighters in one handy-dandy compartment called…a pencil case! Now you won’t have to beg the person sitting next to you to “borrow” one of their pens– you’ll have your own!

51f741632478e25dd652ad26c2fbe67f5. Electronic Organization.

  • A new school year calls for new electronic folders on the desktop of your computer. Like I do with my binders and dividers, I create a giant folder with many mini subject folders within. I do this electronically for the same reason why I do it manually– to avoid searching through my computer to find what I’m looking for! Seriously, the act of organizing has such a huge impact on our educational state of being! A cluttered book bag or desktop basically means a cluttered mind – and no one wants that!

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Back to School - The IT List

If you tuned into our last blog post, you’ll have seen that we provided you with style inspo courtesy of our fave fictional characters. So this week, we thought we’d bring things back to IRL and give you some must-have Back-to-School items you can actually get your hands on. il_570xn-1073516593_4vhm

Backpack Pins

Want to give your backpack or pencil case a little boost? Add some decorative pins! There are literally endless options of cute pins on Etsy.com (just search “Backpack Pins”) but we love these ones with one of our fave slogans “You Do You”! If you’re feeling a little craftier, you could also buy badges and sew them onto your backpacks.

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Fun Laptop Cases

For all our students who carry laptops from class to class, we LOVE these laptop cases from zazzle.com . They’ve got you covered for every personality, from wacky animal memes, to more simple and sweet designs. If you're into something a little simpler, Herschel sells less embellished cases in variety of colours. Find one that suits you, and keep your laptop safe and stylish!

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Sleek Water Bottles

Who knew a water bottle could ever be sexy? You might have noticed that S’Well bottles were popping up everywhere this summer, and we can see why! These stainless steel bottles can keep your drinks both hot and cold, and come in tons of different colours and patterns. You all know how important hydration is to keep your brain sharp, so having a water bottle on hand will keep you sipping away all day.

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Academic Agenda

This one’s kind of obvious, but if you don’t already have one then definitely go out and grab it. Agendas/Planners/Calendars are SUPER useful in keeping tracks of all your projects, tests and assignments. We know the ones the schools give out can sometimes be a little drab, so maybe invest in a different one if you think it will motivate you to use it more!

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Yummy “Fall” Tea

We don’t want you going broke on Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so we think a delicious tea is the perfect alternative. Buy this box of Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice tea from Starbucks to get you excited for fall, and back into positive study habits! 

Back-to-School Style Icons

It’s that time of the year again! That’s right, Back-to-School season is upon us. What better way to ease yourself back into a school-centered mindset than with the help of a couple pop culture figures? We’ve gathered a list of our top back-to-school style icons to provide you with some serious #throwback first day of school outfit inspiration. Cher and Dionne from Clueless

dionne-cher-cluelessOK - so maybe this one is kind of a given, but we couldn’t help ourselves! The girls in Clueless are always dressed on point, and we love that they aren't afraid to dress in bright and bold styles!

The Cast of Degrassi

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If Cher’s wardrobe is a little out of your budget (which we reckon it most likely is), then look no further than our own “6ix-grown” characters of Degrassi. Since the show has run for so many seasons, you can take style inspiration that spans over three decades.

Harry Potter

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Now, we’re not saying you should show up in a full-length cape with a wand in hand on your first day back, but we DO encourage showcasing your originality and uniqueness at school. We love that Hogwarts students look super put-together with their coordinating ties and scarfs- and you can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt.

Lizzie McGuire

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Another very “throwback” character, Lizzie McGuire tackled middle school with some of our favourite outfits ever. Lizzie has a very outgoing personality, and her wardrobe choices reflected that. She’s inspired us to always look cute, fun and comfortable - no matter what sticky situation you might find yourself in!

Blair Waldorf

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For all our private school students out there, this one’s for you! The girls of Constance Billard sure knew how to take a basic uniform and make it look runway-ready. We know that different schools have different dress-codes and rules on just how far you can take the accessorizing, but if you’re in doubt you can’t go wrong with a classy hairband à-la Blair Waldorf!

Staying SHARP and SMART During Summer

Now that school is officially OUT, you can kick back and relax- well kinda. While we totally encourage taking the summer  to wind down and recharge, it's also a good idea to incorporate a couple of easy (and fun!) activities into your break. Check out this list below for a few suggestions on things you can do to stay sharp and smart during your vacay.  teen-reading_n3niw4

Read, Read, Read

John Green, (a.k.a author of The Fault in Our Stars) said “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” If you think that reading should only be done when your english class requires it, you might want to reconsider. Supplement your spare time in the summer with books that actually interest you. Reading (of any genre) has the capacity to exercise your brain and improve its function.

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Crossword Puzzles, Sudokus, Educational Apps etc.

Between smartphones and iPads, there are endless options of apps you can download that might actually help build brain cells instead of deplete them. Rather than opening up Angry Birds or Candy Crush, stock your electronics with Sudoku apps or Crossword puzzles. In need of some recommendations? Stay tuned for our next blog post!

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Make Time for Cultural Activities

Get out and explore your city! During the summer months, so many museums and galleries feature special exhibits. Browse their websites to see what’s happening, and find something that looks appealing to you. Make a point to visit one of these places on a rainy day or on a weekend. You’ll leave feeling cultured and educated!

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Watch Documentaries

Documentaries are a great way to feel both educated and entertained. With Netflix, Shomi and so many other streaming services around, there is no shortage of docs you can watch right from the comfort of your couch. If you aren’t sure what’s worth your time, check out lists of film festival favourites and award show nominees for some inspiration. We’re giving a shout out to Cosmos, at 13-part documentary series that’s out of this world...literally.

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Keep a Journal

You know that sick feeling in your stomach you get the first week back at school when your teacher asks you to write a paragraph and you can barely remember how to hold a pen?! Keeping a journal will prevent that!! Summer always feels like it’s over way too quickly, so make the most of it by documenting all the adventures you get up to. Not only is it a great way to remember your experiences, but also to reflect on, and appreciate them.