5 Tips To Stay Motivated During Syllabus Week — and My Personal Back To School Playlist

uic.jpgUIC’s Brutalist architecture might be unique in Chicago, but it doesn’t mean it’s attractive. University Hall looks like a giant air conditioner.

Hey, how’s it going? Matt Cuartero here.

I just wanted to take a quick moment to welcome you to my blog here at UIC Radio: M4 – Matt’s Monday Morning Mailbox (although I do not always release on Mondays exclusively). I answer viewer’s submitted questions, and I also like to write about the military, music, video games, and track and field. I also do reporting on school events from time to time. If you’re returning to UIC, welcome back to another great year; thank you for joining me again. If you’re a first year student here, I welcome you too. I hope you’ll find Chicago an exciting city to be in.

With a new year comes new classes, responsibilities, and opportunities. It also comes with what I like to call “Warm Up Season”. I don’t know about you guys, but the first few weeks of school are always my laziest. I don’t know; until I realize that classes are getting serious (usually I am notified by this with a bad grade) I take a long time to get into action and really buckle down on studying. I wanted to provide you with a plan of attack of my own to hit the ground running and get the jump on the semester before it gets a jump on you. Some say the most important part of the semester is the very beginning and I would agree with that.

Continue reading “5 Tips To Stay Motivated During Syllabus Week — and My Personal Back To School Playlist”

Maximizing Productivity

On a consistent basis, I feel that I actively try to seek out ways, or new bits of information, to improve my current self. Since I am a student, with a goal of graduating with a Neuroscience degree and a Professional Writing minor, most of my efforts often center on ways to improve academically, or ways to make the life of a student a little smoother.

A commonality that most UIC students share is commuting. Whether it be from the suburbs or the most North-side neighborhood of Chicago, it can be (and often is) a grueling and tiresome, not to mention time consuming, activity. But commuting and course work isn’t the only thing that we do. A great majority of us have jobs and home responsibilities, organizations that we’re a part of, and not to mention all the other resume-building activities on our mind.



Too often sleep is cut short, meals are skipped or on-the-go, and working out gets eliminated from the daily schedule somewhere along week 10 of the semester. And if you’re anything like me, you often become a bundle of stress around this time, and eventually your health begins to waver. There simply isn’t enough time for everything.

Instead of accepting defeat, I’m interested in how I can do things differently to fall back into rhythm. Although, I already feel that I try to maximize my productivity by doing things like studying on the train, or listening to recorded lectures as I walk to campus from Union Station, there are definitely things I can do to improve my work ethic. Recently I happened upon a Forbes article that listed ways in which “ultra-productive” people managed their day. Although, I typically cringe at anything with a title in close proximity to “15 ways how to…”, I felt that some items on this list could possibly be helpful to combat a ticking clock.

These are some of the few that I’ve picked out to try for myself, complete with my understanding of each:

  1. Focusing on minutes, not hours – squeezing in study time even if you’ve only got 15 minutes before your next class
  2. Using a notebook – carrying around a notebook to write down any floating thoughts that might be bogging you down, a helpful way to clear your mind (because honestly, being stressed takes up a lot of time)
  3. Processing email only a few times a day – productive people schedule time to look at their email, as opposed to checking it consistently throughout the day
  4. Touching things once – if you’re looking at your emails, respond right away instead of leaving the task for a later time
  5. Practicing a consistent morning routine – shower, yoga, smoothie, hug mom
  6. Saying “no” to almost everything – “If something isn’t a hell, YEAH! Then it’s a “no!” – James Alutcher

Check out the full list at the link above to generate some more creative ways you could fool yourself into a 25 hour day. Happy studying and rocking at life!