Best Foods to Have During Exam Season

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Focus on study can become all-consuming at exam time and nutrition might sometimes fall behind in the list of priorities. However, a healthy diet plays a vital role in achieving peak academic performance. So, here we present best foods to feed you brain during exam times which keep you in-track and help you prepare effectively.

An overall healthy diet is most important for keeping your body and brain nourished and ready to take on difficult tasks, research shows that certain foods may be especially important for brain health and promoting mental performance.

So the idea is to optimize healthy food intake through eating a range of foods from the five food groups:

  1. Vegetables and legumes/beans
  2. Fruit
  3. Grain (cereal foods) mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal varieties
  4. Lean meat and meat alternatives
  5. Milk, curd, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)

These healthy meals and snacks suggested below are packed with nutrients that support brain function, provide a slow and sustained release of glucose and are rich in resistant starch which supports your gut microbiome and gut-brain axis.

A common mistake many make during this crucial period is to eat poorly and unhealthily. Junk food, lots of chocolate, energy drinks and crisps are often eaten in place of normal meals to “keep energy levels up”. However, this is not only harmful to your long-term health, but can also negatively affect your exam performance.

The best way to feed your brain is to eat a wide range of foods from all food groups. However, when you’re hitting the books, it can be a little tricky to put it into practice. So, we’ve come up with some easy meal-swaps to give you the best diet for studying that will get your brain humming in no time. Eating well-rounded meals most of the time will help you study better, and lead to better results, both in the short-term and the long-term. While many of the brain foods we’ve talked about have immediate results (like caffeine), the best results are the ones that show up over time, such as the slowing down of age-related cognitive decline, and the decreased likelihood of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Small Steps, Substantial Results

If you have ever studied finance, you would surely embrace the power of compounding. How money if compounded over several years can turn into an attractive sum. But, have you ever thought this rule of compounding is applicable not in finance but personal life as well? I read a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. The principle of atomic habit will give a different perspective of doing things. Atomic means small, Habit means something which is inculcated in your daily routine that you cannot live your day without doing them. Some of the basic habits inoculated in everyone are like brushing the teeth, taking bath, sleeping on time. Similar to these, we can incorporate new habits in ourselves which will show amplified benefits after multiple years, just like how compounding works. This can be anything like reading the newspaper daily, practicing guitar for 10 minutes, doing a workout for 30 minutes. Anything small, but remarkable.

Why 1% matters

  • If we get 1% better each day, we will get 37 times better by the end
  • The habits don’t show results quickly. Therefore we give up because we don’t see any results coming but you need to understand the 8th wonder of the world. According to Albert Einstein, compounding is the eighth wonder of the world. 
  • Atomic Habits + Consistency = Life Changed

Screw Goals and Focus on System

Another idea the book highlights is focusing on the system and forget the goals. A similar idea has been put by Jeff Haden in his book The Motivation Myth. This is a very contrasting view as from childhood, we have been asked to focus solely on goals. However, the major driver of success is not the goal but something else. Before we find out that, let’s see what are the major problems with the goals.

  1. Winners and Losers have the same Goals. So it can’t be the goals that differentiate the people.
  2. Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.
  3. Goal restricts our happiness. We tend to think that we will be happy only once we reach the goal and thus agreeing to compromise with the present journey.
  4. Goals are at odds of long term success

So, if not goals, what is it that we should be focusing on. It’s the daily system or framework of the path towards the goal. In simple words, instead of focusing on output, focus on inputs. What will be the output is not in our control, but we surely can give our best by focusing only on inputs. The things we have in our hands. So, find a goal, research about the journey, then fall in love with the journey, forgetting about the goal and results. The purpose of setting goals is to win the game, the purpose of the system is to continue playing the game. If we focus on playing, the score just takes care of itself.

How to build Atomic Habits

Here are two of few tips given by James clear.

  1. Cue -> Make it obvious. Design your environment in such a way that you have fewer steps between you and your good behaviors and more steps between you and your bad behaviors.
  2. Craving -> Make it attractive. Do something which makes you enjoy that work.

Conclusion

So this was a reflection of one of the ideas of the best-selling book, “Atomic Habits”. If you have some time to invest, you should definitely read this book once. It will give a new perspective of getting things done and living life happily.

Life secrets of being productive

We all are kind of stressed during this pandemic lockdown, so guess we all are struggling a lot to being productive in our work, business, or whatever it is. 

Firstly, to be productive you should stop procrastinating all your work. Procrastination is your biggest enemy ever to achieve all your accomplishments.

Is there any difference between ordinary people and extraordinary people?

The thing is extraordinary people do all the work, same as ordinary people but with consistency and discipline.  You have to decide whether procrastination is more significant than all your dreams and goals and works. Aim it high. Stop squandering all your time and scrounge towards being productive.

Instead of hard work, do the right work. Writing is not an art, but the way you present and allures your audience to read with emotions is an art. In this world of copycats, exposing all your own style with uniqueness may be hilarious for one and ridiculous for another. Live your life with purpose. Live and achieve all your everyday goals, that this might be the last day of your life so that you will not regret your dreams.

Once you started working, do your work stress-free by being passionate and also satisfied. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter you are an early bird or night owl. But ample peace while waking up to the day as well as relaxation and satisfaction while going to sleep.

When you have a pocket full of money, but not ample peace in your mind, it doesn’t worth it of being productive in your life. Real freedom is enjoying in your real-time. If you are procrastinating all your works it leads to stress, at the time, a lazy man cannot enjoy his money but a productive man can enjoy all his necessities. Enjoy the work you do. Align all your tasks and make them correlated to do for a long time. It is also better to take a break once a week and enjoy it because you work all the rest of the days.

God puts humans in this world with lots of hurdles to know well and behave in certain circumstances and we believe different people behave in different ways according to their attitude towards it. Be consistent in your work, have faith, and celebrate all your accomplishments. No one is going to congratulate you. People can join and you don’t need to satisfy the crowd, but with what actually makes you feel good with gratitude and satisfaction.

Once you are productive, you will start to stop all the scrounge useless things.  So always turn all your inspiring stories or person in life into motivation and convert them to practice and reality in your life to achieve your destination.  You get more advice and lessons when you read failure stories, to get success in your life. Don’t expect the results, it might be either winning or losing, both happen. Experience and explore it more, without procrastinating. Go through and grow through your atmosphere to become productive, with every result of the work you do in your life.

This is the #1 reason that is stopping you from putting your best efforts into studying

“Effort is the Key to Unlocking Our Potential.”
Our efforts can be hampered because of Distractions.

Distractions

Distractions can really hamper the ability to study properly.

There can be various reasons why someone is distracted. Finding the root cause is an important step because then we can come up with a solution for it. Some of the factors which can lead to distraction are:

• Music – Loud Music which is meant to distract your mind should definitely be avoided while studying as it can really affect your concentration.

• Phone/Tabs – These gadgets are the biggest problems in today’s era and are the root cause of distraction for most of us. It destroys your productivity and takes you’re your attention towards studying.

• Thoughts – Most of us are deeply focused on our thoughts instead of actually studying. Even if you’re reading your textbook, a thought can easily zone you out of studying.

• No motivation – Finding motivation in today’s fast-paced competitive world is extremely difficult.

• Friends – Your company you surround yourself with can make you or break you. Some friends exist to just distract you from your dreams.

• Games – Games can get overwhelming and can be extremely addictive.

• Movies and TV – In today’s era of OTT platforms, it has become a trend to binge-watch all the episodes of series in a go. Movies too are easily accessible.

Tips to Avoid Distractions:

• Brain Training
Training the brain can make a significant difference in avoiding distractions. The ABC technique has helped the majority of people and it has been proved to avoid distractions.
A – Awareness – Recognize your distraction.
B – Breathe deeply – Slow down, and think about what can be done to avoid the distractions.
C – Choose – The distraction can be dealt with in this step – either by being responsive to it or completely avoiding it.

• Meditation – Meditating can help to clear your thoughts, which in turn can help to be less distracted.

• Turn off loud music – it might be fun, but it can really distract your focus. Instead, use your headphones to switch on some calming study music which will increase your focus and cut down any external noise.

• Get organized with a to-do list.

• Switch off your phone, if that is not possible then use apps which block you from accessing distractive applications, use silent mode/DND, do not keep many tabs open. Switch off any other gadget distracting you.

• Break the overwhelming ocean of syllabus to study into small parts which can be easily achieved.

• Study in a clean, suitable area. Organize your space well. Do not study where you sleep – studying in your bed can lead to distracting yourself – to avoid that – avoid studying where you sleep.

• Don’t overburden yourself – focus on one task at a time as multitasking can do more harm than good.

• Reward yourself when you do not get distracted.

• Have a routine and schedule your distractions.

• Communicate that you are getting distracted – to the people who are distracting you.

• Take a break if necessary. However, stop procrastinating. “Do the work. Everyone wants to be successful, but nobody wants to do the work.”

• Sometimes things are not in your control – accept it.

Conclusion

Distractions can be intimidating but they can be fully avoided using certain methods.
Stop making excuses, have a healthy lifestyle, do not take stress, organize and clean your room, have discipline, make yourself accountable, and set a goal as these factors can help diminish distractions completely – you will definitely avoid distractions if you follow these as well.
Distractions can make you happy in the short term, but for long-term success, you need to study and work hard to achieve those big goals.

Productivity Obsession

We are living in a fast-paced world where everyone is always trying to do more. We are constantly bombarded with articles and self-help tips on how to manage time well and be more productive. The ability to get a large number of things done in the least amount of time is considered a quality that one should aspire to. This obsession with productivity, the repulsion to doing things slowly, or “wasting” time, and the perpetual need to prove oneself by what one achieves is a byproduct of the Capitalistic culture and attitude that we have imbibed. The worth of an individual is closely associated with how much she is able to contribute to society in tangible ways and the efficiency with which she does it. We often say that a person is not what they do but looking at how perceptions in society function currently, we are forced to reconsider if we really mean what we say.

One of the major factors that pervade this accomplishment-oriented culture is the idea of being productive. Productivity is supposed to be the ability to do more in less time, being focused on our goals, and always achieving what we set out to do. While these are good things in themselves, an obsession with being productive is detrimental to mental health and the quality of our lives as well. Many of the tips that we follow might end up being counterproductive as well. There are various myths about productivity that we hear and see around us; some of them in articles and blogs, others in books or videos. Again, while a few of these tips might work out, they do not generally function to make our lives better. In fact, many of us find that our inability to keep up with these advices make our days more stressful.

bored formal man watching laptop at desk
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A common myth is that we are only being productive when we are doing certain kinds of things. Here’s an example: It is considered more productive to learn a new language or skill than it is to spend our time reading a novel. Being focused on productivity makes us feel like there are always “more” productive things we can do, when in fact the things we are doing can be considered good and productive things themselves. We tend to grade our activities and give those which do not fulfill certain criteria, such as new knowledge or public appeal, as lesser productive. We forget that rest and leisure is often much more needed for our well-being than stressing over learning something new. Another myth is that we can look at successful people and copy their habits to be productive. Some say that we should read one book a day because someone famous did so, or that we should wake up at a specific time. While this might be good habits in themselves, we are not to discount the individual personalities and circumstances of people. it is not just habits but a collection of events that made someone who they are, and many of these things are outside our control. This often leads to comparison which almost never brings contentment.

Another important point to note is that being productive should not mean continuously being occupied with a specific kind of activity since that would just lead to burnouts and even repulsion after some time. People who tend to take regular breaks, spend time with themselves, and even “waste” time by doing nothing or engaging in seemingly irrelevant activities, are able to direct their energies better when involved in their actual work. It is not a better use of time but a better use of energy that lets them accomplish what is to be accomplished. Obsession with productivity is also closely linked to a culture that is becoming increasingly self-focused to the point of being egotistical. It can lead to us being so focused on getting things done that quality is sacrificed for quality, in order to have the feeling of having done more in lesser time than having done fewer things but of better quality. We must always keep in mind that taking rest itself is sometimes more “productive” in the long run than indulging in and spending our energies on anything that comes our way.

8 habits on how one can be more productive

We all know some or the other person who is a do-er, always getting things done. They know how to do their tasks effectively and on time. The one who manages to finish 2 hours task in just 30 minutes. You could even describe them as robots because no one can work the way they do.

Ever realized what makes them so different? How come they are so productive? Well, one can’t be that in one night, it will require building certain habits.

Habits of Highly productive people

  • Always do the most important task first: No matter how difficult an important task is, always make sure to do it first. This will help in reducing your procrastination level and help you in time-management. It’s easy to spend the whole day ticking off the small tasks from your to-do lists, but it won’t help. As you might cross the deadline of the tasks that were supposed to be done urgently.
  • Be away from distractions: It is not necessary to pick every phone call. Your friends can wait but your work can’t. Make sure to cut off from social media when you are working. Turn off all the notifications if you think it can disturb you.
  • Know your work habits: Are you more capable of doing things alone? Are you more efficient in working during the night instead of the day? How much break you need in a day? Analyze it, figure things out, and do the tasks accordingly.
  • Get bored: You must have never thought in dreams that being bored can also come out as a productive habit. Being comfortable with boredom is necessary. Get more comfortable doing nothing or sit idle. This period can be helpful in thinking- can be an idea, situation, or anything. Be at ease during this time.
  • Use 80/20 rule: 80% of the results will come from 20% of the efforts. This rule is been followed by most entrepreneurs and businessmen. Highly productive people identify 20% of the most important task that they have to do in a day in increasing efficiency. Then, they look for ways to cut down the rest 80% of the task or schedule it for later, to find more time for things that make a bigger impact.
  • Break tasks into smaller pieces: Break your large to-dos into smaller ones. Set more small goals for every task. This becomes more specific, will give you the best results, and reduce your stress.
  • Work before you get inspired: There are a lot of people who come across saying they need the motivation to do the work. Highly productive people instead focus on getting the work started, no matter they are inspired or not. Taking action is what leads to motivation. Start working and the motivation will follow.
  • Don’t be a multi-tasker: When you multitask, you aren’t doing multiple tasks at once, instead, you’re switching your focus between things. Every time you switch the task, you have to refocus on others. Although multitasking is ok sometimes, try to avoid it most of the time.

 

 

Why it’s okay to not be productive right now

Pandemic or not, your self worth is not proportional to your productivity

Like me, if social media has become your only out to boredom, you may have noticed conversations about the notions of ‘productivity’ rocketing. Whether it is your twitter mate updating you with their daily baking sessions or an Instagram friend showing off the pages and pages of work that they finished, or your family groups bombarding you with motivational posts about how to spend your free time, if you have any. There’s so much pressure right now to make the most of this ‘free’ time. It’s exhausting to even try to keep up. The rhetoric around productivity is so romanticised, glamorised and even glorified. However, every time I come across a reminder to be productive, I find myself thinking whether is it really a practical thing or can being productive everyday be a damaging to oneself?

As a university student doing her under graduation, the increase of workload, since the onset of Coronavirus in India, hasn’t gone unnoticed- being given a task after task, a deadline after deadline took a toll on all students. At the start of lockdown, I had internals, I was constantly pulling all nighters revising for the tests, completing assignments and keeping up with the daily workload of the online lessons. In this sense, it felt like nothing even while being locked up in our homes. There was always something that had to be submitted, something that needed to be revised or something that I needed to start working on. I was trying, as was everyone, but oftentimes, it felt like all the efforts amounted to nothing in the end. The workload didn’t end with the end of the semester, having to take-up internships in the middle of a pandemic caused immeasurable pressure and paranoia. My work plans are disrupted by distractions, I find myself unknowingly overextending and the balance between work & free time has become invisible. Not to mention the stress is unavoidable, and I constantly find myself waking up wishing for the day to end.

Is there anything that can be done?

Last year, if someone told us that we would be trapped inside our homes in a state of quarantine due to a deadly pandemic, we would have laughed it off. So, at the time our worst and unimaginable fears are coming true, being plunged into uncertainty does not mean that we have to function effectively alongside it. And therefore, being productive is no longer as important as it was before.

It is of utmost importance to acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to use this situation to hone their skills, try new hobbies, explore new passions or build something unforgettable. In the midst of rapid unemployment, losing your loved ones, anxiety caused by separation from friends and family, isolation and loneliness, bad mental health is inevitable- and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay needing to take time off. It’s okay to listen to your body. Don’t be mad at yourself for not being able to deal with the situation as efficiently as your friend or your parent or your Instagram mutual. Getting out of the bed at a reasonable time is a task enough. Not putting off taking care of yourself and your needs is a task enough. Keeping up with your friends and checking up on them is a task enough. Spending time with your family is a task enough. Doing these tasks is no where near the perfect productive day I imagined – and it won’t be for a long while. I was meant to be getting excited about interning opportunities and travelling more and capturing more. Now when everything has gone south, the task of prioritising yourself is a rebellious act.

How can we change this mindset?

If you’re anything like me, university and work mean that I can not entirely ignore all my responsibilities in favour of self-care. Prioritising what you have to do is a good start to make sure you can do what needs to be done. Practice different methods or working. For me, sitting at my desk for more than 7 hours, staring at the laptop screen is quite overwhelming, mentally exhausting and doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Taking breaks to perhaps watch an episode from a show that I’m currently hooked to or to mindlessly scroll on twitter ensures that I feel the balance.

This unsettling environment can be taxing. Forgive yourself for making mistakes.