Tips to studying effectively

With lots of facts to memorise and absorb, there are times when studying seems more like a chore.

Studying may appear effortless for some students, but for others the struggle is real. As you find your concentration depleting, so does your enthusiasm for learning.

However, the ability to study is something that you can train yourself to be better at. Luckily, there are creative ways to help you study and excel.

For effective studying, here are some simple and practical tips that you can apply into your usual study methods.

Create colourful diagrams

If you have a set of fancy stationery, colourful post-it notes and highlighters, now is the best time to use them as visual aids that can be helpful when revising. Also, you are more likely to use them to create your own notes and diagrams.

Producing creative drawings such as diagrams and mind maps to illustrate what you have learned not only makes revision fun, but also helps you to memorize notes better.

In addition, these drawings can motivate you to create more notes in the future for effective learning.

Choose a good place to study

One of the keys to effective studying is choosing the right place and time, and this may differ for each student.

Sometimes, a change of scenery can help in regaining your enthusiasm for studying, whether it is the local library, a coffee shop or the park.

And while some students learn better when they study somewhere more private and quiet, others concentrate better with background noise as their company.

However, if being outside is not possible, do consider studying elsewhere in your house.

Take regular breaks

Studies have found that taking a break to relax and unwind is essential for achieving productivity and a positive outlook on the future, as well as improving one’s concentration.

This may also apply for young working adults who are working long hours in front of a computer or university students who are pulling all-nighters to study.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, September 29, 2018.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Overcoming peer pressure

If you’re currently studying in a college or university, there may be times where you find yourself doing something you won’t normally do, in order to fit into a social circle. This experience is commonly described as peer pressure.

Peer pressure is a form of influence coming from your peers that leads you to conform to their standards by changing your behaviour, attitude, or values.

It can be direct (you’re told to do something by your friends), indirect (you notice most of your friends doing certain activities that you will less likely do) or self-motivated (you put pressure on yourself to be part of a group of friends).

Experiencing peer pressure can happen at any time in our lives, but we are more vulnerable to it during our college years.

This is especially true when we’re surrounded by peers from many different backgrounds, and we’re more likely to try new activities as part of the process of understanding our relationship with others and ourselves as individuals.

To handle peer pressure well and navigate through college life better, here are some tips that could help.

Know when to say “no”

Whenever you feel pressured by someone telling you to do something you’d rather not do, say “no” politely and reasonably, even if the person tries to persuade you by saying things like, “Everyone’s doing it” or “You’re no fun.”

Responding in that manner consistently allows you to stand your ground and boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Differentiate between good and bad

Not all forms of peer pressure are negative.

Positive peer pressure helps you confront your insecurities and improve yourself as a person, be it staying healthy, volunteering, or being good to others.

Giving in to positive peer pressure excessively, however, can be detrimental to your wellbeing, so it’s important to do it in moderation.

Choose your friends wisely

Anyone who forces you to do something you dislike is not a true friend, so pick peers from your classes or college activities who hold similar interests, beliefs, or values and allow you to be yourself.

It’s worth noting that you and your friends don’t need to have the same opinion on everything; this enables you to learn different perspectives other than your own.

Be yourself

Always remember that the decision to act (or not to act) upon peer pressure is your choice and responsibility, so always think things through before making the decision and reflect on how your actions will eventually define you.

Also remember that whatever it is that you want to be, don’t do it just for the sake of pleasing others.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2DqHWMo

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

When the career path chooses you

For some of you fresh graduates, there is a high chance that you may not be able to land a job that’s related to what you studied in college or university.

It’s actually not uncommon to have a fulfilling career that you didn’t plan for when you were completing your diploma or degree, so don’t stress out if your first job is not what you envisioned.

While some may be lucky enough to land a job that fits perfectly within their field of expertise, others may end up getting hired for a role that is completely different from their expectations.

If you fall into the latter category, here are some of our thoughts on the matter.

Accept the change

First of all, be grateful for the job opportunity offered to you and realise that your employers acknowledge your capabilities enough to trust you to fill a position that is not related to your field of study.

You may not realise it at first, but if you give it your best shot, you may find that the job could suit you better than you imagined.

And even if your field of study is different from the job scope at hand, always remember that having good work ethics, being creative and innovative, and able to be a team player will always be appreciated in any work environment.

Willing to work your way up

As you may have a lot to learn in an industry that you are not familiar with, upon joining you will have to start from the lower rungs of the organisation.

Always keep in mind that you have a lot to learn and also need to gather as much experience as possible to be more competent at your job.

It may take a few years, but if you have the determination and are willing to work hard, your efforts will not go unnoticed by your supervisors.

Leverage on transferable skills

As mentioned above, in any industry you join, if you have good work ethics and can be a team player, you would have an upper hand in most organisations.

Apart from those attributes, in order to make you stand out in an industry that is unrelated to your field of study, you should focus on your transferable skills.

These could include leadership skills, written and verbal communication skills, organisational and time management skills, and also research and analytical skills.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QwRNmh

Photo by Marc Mueller from Pexels.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Have a break

It used to be said that those who worked for long hours without any intermission were considered hardworking and productive, but that’s not really the case.

More scientific studies have shown that taking regular breaks from work can help us improve and maintain our focus, motivation, creativity, and overall productivity.

Some of them also revealed that how we take our time out matters too; and while a nap is one of the best ways to spend during our breaks, it isn’t the only one.

Thus, to avoid getting distracted and bored or experience burnout from your work, here are some other methods to consider for taking effective breaks.

Plan your break

To reap the benefits of having a work-break balance, you need to decide how often you should have them.

Some studies suggest having a ‘25/5-minute plan’ (25 minutes of working and a five-minute break, and then a longer break after four cycles), others a ‘50/10-minute plan’, or even a ‘52/17-minute plan’.

Whichever plan you find suits you the most, following it enables you to have greater focus at work, so long as you are disciplined and committed to having time for yourself.

Keep up with your reading

Reading allows you to gain more knowledge and reduce stress, among many other benefits.

Therefore, during your break, read stories that inspire you, articles that you’ve wanted to read, or even something unrelated to your work.

Magazines, books, or newspapers can do you good too, because they let you give your eyes a rest from looking at screens on your computer or mobile devices for too long.

Have a snack

Junk food like crackers or sweets might give you the immediate kick you need to work, but they won’t last long and won’t help flatter your waistline.

Instead, munch on small portions of healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dark chocolate. They not only help restore your energy and boost your brainpower, but also keep you healthier for the long haul.

Move around

Assuming that your work involves a lot of sitting or staying in one position, doing light exercises during your break allows blood and oxygen to flow in your body continuously and tight muscles to loosen.

Be it basic stretches, walks in or outside your office, or some calisthenics, these movements also help lower the likelihood of having physical aches and pains as you grow older and, most important, make you feel good.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QiUWX0

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Keep reading

It’s no secret that we Malaysians don’t read a lot of books despite our nation having a high literacy rate. The habit of reading is beneficial for us in so many ways; however most still find it a struggle to read. So, here are some practical tips for you to nurture your reading habit.

Try reading a few pages a day

It’s impossible to turn into a voracious reader in just one day, so it’s important to set a goal to cultivate your interest. To start off with, pick up a book that might pique your interest and try reading 10 pages a day. Then, slowly increase to 20 pages. Before you know it, you’ll have finished reading the whole book and moved on to a new one.

Build your own collection

Sometimes, a good library can motivate us to read more so instead of going to a public library, you can actually start your own at home.

Don’t limit yourself to just buying new books; second-hand books are just as good and they’re a lot more budget-friendly too.

Carry a book everywhere

You might find this tip to be extremely helpful to cultivate your reading habit. By carrying a book around, you get to read while waiting for the bus, a doctor’s appointment, or a friend who is late for a lunch appointment.

Apart from that, reading is far healthier than scrolling on your smartphone all the time.

Make time to read

Related to the previous point, reading can be done anywhere so long as you carry a book with you. This allows us to make more time to read rather than letting our busy schedules stop us from reading.

For instance, reading before going to bed is said to help improve sleep and reduce stress. However, it is recommended that you read something light instead of heavier topics.

Watch movies based on book adaptations

Watching movies might seem like an unlikely tip to cultivate reading habits, however there’s a good reason why you should consider watching the movie version first – it’s because the movie adaption will never be as good as the book or novel.

Even if you disagree with that last point, it won’t hurt to pick up the book and read it for yourself.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2Q0KZwW

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Imagine…

What do soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking have in common? They all require you to have a strong imagination.

The term ‘imagination’ tends to be associated with childhood development, but it isn’t limited to only children re-enacting their fantasies or favourite fairy tales through pretend play.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines imagination as “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

This is applicable when we try to imagine a physical sensation, feeling, emotion, smell or taste; when we visualise based upon a story we read or heard; or when we picture a product or service that can positively benefit people in the future.

As a distinctively human ability, imagination lets us discover new ideas, images or sensations beyond the limitation of reality through a combination of our experiences and knowledge.

It is especially relevant to creativity and innovation, in which imagination of the artistic or scientific kind is put into action through creativity and turns into an innovation.

Simply put, without imagination, we may not be able to enjoy our favourite films, literature and any other art forms, or experience the likes of mobile devices, the Internet or technological advancements that have made life easier for us.

If you’re running a business, having a strong imagination is essential to ensure long-term success as it also helps in creating a vision for your company.

Imagination also allows business owners to generate ideas for daily operations, come up with multiple solutions to a business problem, and even foresee potential new ventures that can be incorporated into their business strategy.

Most importantly, while we may become more rational as we get older, we can enhance our professional and personal growth through continuous development of our imagination.

The advantages are endless; for one, being imaginative lets us improve skills that we use in school, at work or our daily life, be it the aforementioned problem-solving and critical thinking or emotional intelligence and communication.

Our power of imagination also enriches ourselves as individuals, as it boosts our perceptiveness, self-esteem, self-confidence and overall mental health by providing us a more positive outlook in life.

Fundamentally, imagination reminds us of our passion and purpose in life amidst our daily routine and responsibilities.

And when we don’t restrain ourselves and make the effort to turn it into reality, imagination allows us to envision a future that would challenge current limitations and norms, subsequently creating positive change within ourselves and the society at large.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stressing on emotional stress

These days, if you’re a student, life can feel more emotionally draining than ever, especially as we hear more and more reported cases of mental illness and depression among youths, which could all begin from being emotionally stressed.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health revealed a worsening state of mental health problems among students in the country; from just one in 10 individuals in 2011, to one in five in 2016.

Emotional stress among youths can be triggered by various factors, the most common one being stress over poor academic performance.

It is not something that we should take lightly so here are a few of our thoughts on this subject:

Get help and counselling

As a student in college or university, if you’re experiencing emotional stress there are various support systems available to you, including counselling services, which are offered at most campuses.

Therefore, if you are having difficulty dealing with emotional stress, it’s important to seek assistance from a counsellor as soon as possible.

However, the first and most important step to take is to realise that you need help and not suffer in silence.

Seek emotional support

Some of us are now so used to spending time with our smartphones rather than interacting with family members and friends.

The influence and pressure from social media can also be overwhelming, thus leading to stress and depression.

When going through emotional turmoil, it is best to not be alone as spending time with loved ones and people we trust is the best way to overcome emotional stress.

Change your lifestyle

Research done has suggested that regular exercise is an effective way of lessening the effects of emotional stress.

There is also research that shows the psychological and physical benefits of exercise, which can also help ease anxiety.

Exercise often helps reduce emotional stress by releasing endorphins, natural chemicals in the brain that give you a sense of pleasure and also distract you from anxiety.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Ensuring your resume reaches more people

(Above) Job recruitment sites, like Sarawak Jobs, are great avenues to submit your resume online.

Thanks to the Internet, you have more ways now to make sure your resume reaches more potential employers.

In fact, applying for jobs online has become commonplace, with more and more people accessing the Internet through their computers or mobile devices for this purpose.

For employers on the other hand, going online is a faster and more cost-effective solution to find potential employees.

As jobseekers, so long as you’ve done the necessary employment and industry research and produced an outstanding resume, putting your resume up on the Internet will help to improve your chances of getting more job interviews.

Indirectly, your ability to utilise online tools to upload and update your resume could also suggest to your future employer that you’re naturally a digital native.

Job recruitment sites

There are quite a number of job recruitment websites in Malaysia, such as JobStreet, myStarjobs and Monster, as well as Sarawak Jobs.

There are also recruitment sites that focus on specific needs, for instance StartUp Jobs – for those who wish to work for start-up companies; and WOBB – for those who want to work in a company culture of their choice.

These sites not only enable you to submit your resume, but also let you browse through various job openings based on your preferred industry or specialisation.

For greater visibility, it is advisable to post your resume in several job sites, and fill in the information required by the sites to make it easier for potential employers to find your resume.

Your target employer

If you have a particular employer in mind, search for vacancies that it has listed in its website or on job sites.

Make sure you know exactly how to submit your job application, customise your resume to suit the position you’re applying for, and abide by the resume submission guidelines.

This would signal to your target employer that you are able to take the initiative, organise your information and follow directions.

Your own resume website

Creating a resume website is especially suitable if you have a portfolio – including work or project examples, testimonials and other work-related materials – to demonstrate your specialisation in a particular field.

With an effective resume website, you have the creative control to show your “personal brand” through your website design while still maintaining professionalism.

It can also be a quicker way to attract potential employers or clients as they can find you through a simple Google search.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, August 11, 2018.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

How a fear of failing will affect you

The pressure to succeed in school is a real struggle for a lot of students.

These days, for some of them, they’re continuously pressured to achieve good grades and are told that failure is not an option.

The pressure, whether from their parents or peers, is a constant reminder for them that only good grades will assure a better life in the future.

If left to persist, this fear – caused by the stigma surrounding failure – could actually affect students’ ability to learn.

According to a study by Bilkent University in Turkey, the fear of failing at school can influence a student’s motivation and have a negative impact on learning.

The study, which was conducted on 606 secondary school students and 435 university students, found that those who developed a fear of failure at an early age were more likely to adopt goals such as mastering the material presented in a class or to avoid doing worse than other students to validate their ego, rather than for their own personal interest and development.

Because of this, the students’ interest in learning was destroyed and they were less likely to adopt effective learning strategies and, worse still, they were more likely to cheat.

Apart from students’ attitude towards learning, the fear of failing can also affect students physiologically and emotionally.

As grades are emphasised more than self-growth and development, students with a fear of failing will definitely face the consequences, such as negative thinking, intense worrying, and replaying in their minds the problematic incidents that occurred in previous classes.

In addition, they may also experience fatigue and low energy, are emotionally drained, dissatisfied with their life, and experience chronic anxiety, hopelessness and depression.

The fear of failing also prevents students from reaching their fullest potential.

When deciding on goals to pursue, they may tend to focus more on preventing losses rather than achieving gains.

Socially, this may make them afraid of trying new things or gaining new experiences, as they’re afraid that these might make them fail even more.

It’s not easy to erase this fear of failure but if you’re a student it’s important for you to look at failure as a learning experience and a temporary setback, rather than as an irreversible stumbling block to your future success.

The key is to keep striving to achieve your goals and never give up on your dreams.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2KtViWD

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Thoughts on critical thinking

In nearly every aspect of our lives, critical thinking is important especially now that we are being bombarded with an abundance of information every day.

‘Critical thinking’ as a term has been debated since the days of the ancient Greek philosophers. It can be described in many ways.

In the 1995 publication ‘Critical Thinking’, author Barry K Beyer defined it as making reasoned judgments.

Such judgements involve thinking rationally, reflectively, and independently; effective critical thinkers examine an issue by taking into account every possible option while withholding personal biases before coming to an evidence-based conclusion.

They also question knowledge or information that they have obtained, tolerate ambiguity, consider short- and long-term implications, and are willing to accept new valid ideas, subsequently changing their perceptions.

In that sense, being critical doesn’t necessarily mean offering a negative opinion and doesn’t only focus on important matters; instead, it involves having a greater holistic understanding of things.

Achieving such in-depth understanding requires soft skills that will sound rather familiar to you, such as observation, being analytical, communication, problem-solving, open-mindedness, and creativity.

Its close connection with these skills and its relevance to various modes of thinking – scientific, economic, moral, societal, etc – makes critical thinking a necessity in almost every profession and industry.

Regardless of your specialisation or field, if you’re looking for a job, having critical thinking skills makes you a valuable candidate for potential employers.

After all, critical thinking is listed as one of the most sought-after skills in the World Economic Forum report ‘The Future of Jobs’.

With the global economy now driven by technology and information, it helps to be able to think critically, as well as to be digitally and data literate, in order to adapt effectively to the rapid changes.

The use of critical thinking isn’t limited to the workplace.

If you’re a student, critical thinking is essential to succeed.

This is especially so when learning and applying the right resources and information, and presenting your arguments and ideas with different viewpoints.

Still, it’s worth noting that developing your ability to think critically takes time and practice, for there will be times when you’ll experience emotional outbursts when confronted with initially worrying scenarios.

Therefore, it’s a lifelong effort to be a critical thinker.

Not only does it allow you to face real-world situations more reasonably, and communicate better with yourself and others, the ability to think critically will make us active learners instead of a passive recipient as well.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2v1R0AI

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather