It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

At least, for some people it is. (Remember those commercials?) Back-to-school season is a mixed bag of emotions- for students, parents and teachers alike. It also doesn’t help that coincides with the arrival of fall, which officially marks the end of summer fun.

I used to love back-to-school time, not only because I was a stationery nerd, but it always somehow felt like a fresh start. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in school now but the feeling has never really left me, this idea that fall can also be a season of change and opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m already starting to dread the end of summer (and I don’t even go to school, man). But let’s take this time to look at the positive side of going back-to-school and use it as a tool to meet your goals, break bad habits, or even boost yourself self-esteem. Maybe you just want to learn how to survive school. Here are some of the ways I think I can help:

Get Organized:

Pick the perfect planner to manage your tasks.

Use this if you want to manage your whole life.

Work Smarter:

3 rules for a successful study routine.

Never hand in late assignments again.

Take control of your lists.

Manage overwhelming tasks.

Quick and dirty tips to help your productivity all around.

Improve Your Time Management:

Stop being late to class. But if you are running late, read this.

How to play catch up.

When you’re definitely not a morning person.

Squeeze more reading into your routine.

Understand and Conquer Procrastination:

Ways to make procrastination work for you.

The whys behind your procrastination habit.

The procrastination solution (or at least, some of them).

Take Care of Yourself:

We know you’re busy, but you gotta make your health a priority.

Ways to take care of your brain.

Reasons why you need to sleep (as if you needed them, right?)

Burnout is real. Don’t let it happen to you.

Find your motivation to get your groove back.

Get Through Your Day:

For when you’re having a breakdown.

For when you’re barely functional.

For when you’re struggling with your mental health.

We all have blips. Me too. We’ll get through it together.

Do you have any solutions or advice for students going back to school? Maybe you can offer the perspective of a parent or a teacher. Leave a comment below and share with the class, or email me at I may include your tips in a future post!




3 Rules for a Successful Study Routine

I was kind of an over-achiever in high school. Yearbook committee, school newspaper, concert choir, art club- I did it all while taking advanced English, and studying all of the languages my school had on offer (much to the chagrin of my guidance counselor). Oh, did I mention that half of my electives were in French? (Canada is bilingual, so English-speaking students required to study French until a certain grade and have the option of enrolling in an immersive language program.) My GPA was pretty high. And the worst part was, I wasn’t even trying.

Is this you?

See, I was just always kind of good at school. Making top of the class was easy for me so imagine the shock that I got when I went to university and realized that everyone there was at the top of their class, too. Suddenly, I didn’t seem so smart anymore. It really did a number on my self-esteem.

I don’t want this happening to you.

My problem was that I never learned how to study. I wasn’t sure how to organize my workflow, and I couldn’t identify any issues I had with the material until it was too late, and I’d end falling behind.

If this is your problem too, here’s my best piece of advice: your school probably offers workshops on a variety of things that help you do well in school. Take them all. Glean what you can. There is no one magic formula for studying that works for everyone, so try everything until you figure out a strategy that’s best for you.

I narrowed down some of what I learned until I had it crystallized into three rules for successful studying:

Study like it’s your job. Treat your school day like a 9-5 workday and find time in between classes to catch up on assignments, reading, or studying.

Assess the type of learner you are. Do you respond well to tactile things like flash cards, or copying something out? Do you need to draw a chart to connect ideas, or colour-code your notes for memorization? Maybe you do best when you explain a concept to someone else, or make up a song in order to remember terms for a test. Knowing how your brain works will help you select more useful and productive ways of studying instead of just trying to adopt a method just because someone says it’s the “right” way or the “best” way. There’s no such thing.

Assess your personality type. This can provide the framework for when, where and how often you study, as well as who you should choose as study partner. (Or maybe you don’t do well with them at all!) Are you easily distracted and find it hard to sit still? Study in short bursts. Are you a morning person? Wake up early to find time to review notes before class. Easily distracted? Then high thee to a library, and sequester yourself in a dark corner with your phone on airplane mode.

Also, there’s this thing known as actually hunkering down and doing it, which is probably the most obvious route to successful studying. You’d be surprised though at how many people let it fall by the wayside in favor of completing more immediate, pressing assignments or class readings. Do yourself a favor and don’t break study dates with yourself, or with your study buddies. Good intentions are great, but unfortunately they don’t usually help you pass an exam.

Best Practices for Surviving School

The other day I ran into a girl that I used to baby-sit while I was in high school. She’s a little older now so it was fun to catch up and see how she’s grown. I couldn’t believe when I heard she was finishing university this year, and her younger sister is just starting out at my old alumni. She asked me if I had any advice, so here it is. For those of you just starting out in post-secondary school, or for those of you looking to turn over a new leaf this year- I hope you find it useful. For the girls I used to look after- this one is for you.

Practice self-care. Exercise, sleep and eat healthy. These are the habits you’re most likely to let go of when you go to school so I encourage you to make them a priority. It’s not just about avoiding the Freshman 15- not taking care of your basic needs messes with your focus, your understanding and your mood. (I lost 15 lbs. instead because of all of the stress!)

Practice time management skills. Your success depends on well you can balance your classes, your job, your social life, your family, your home responsibilities, and any activities you engage in when you have free time. (By the way, if you don’t learn this quickly, you won’t have much free time.)

Practice discipline. It’s hard juggling all of those different hats you wear, especially if you’re without parental supervision for the first time. School can be fun, but you have to find a balance between work and play or you’ll find yourself suffering the consequences in your academic and/or personal life.

Practice organization. Your life will be a lot easier if you have everything you need, and you know where it all is. Be prepared. You won’t think I’m silly until the moment your pen dries up during an exam and you have to ask the proctor for one in front of 300 people.

Practice thrift. School is expensive and life can be to. It could mean a lot of trouble for you if you don’t learn how to manage your expenses quickly. This is also the time when many of you are starting to build a credit history, so it’s important to make paying bills – on time and in full – a priority.

Practice being open-minded. You’re going to meet a bunch of different people who come from different places and backgrounds and who do things, say things and think things that are different than what you’re used to. Please keep in mind that your way isn’t always the right way- it’s just all that you know because that’s where you come from. We all have things to learn from one another.

Practice kindness. When no one knows who you are or where you come from, all you have are your actions to represent yourself. Make your first impression a good one and the kindness will come back to you ten-fold during your time at school. I’m so grateful to all the friends I made that helped me through that time- they made me food when I was hungry, brought me coffees when I was tired, gave me pep talks when I was down and even loaned me a laptop when mine went on the fritz the night before a deadline. It really does pay to be nice!

Above all, I hope you keep things in perspective- school is not just about the credits, and the lectures, and the piece of paper at the end. It’s about expanding your horizons, challenging yourself and discovering your own talents and skill sets. It’s an exciting time and one I’ll certainly never forget. I wish you all the best of luck.

What’s your biggest takeaway from your time at school? Share it with the class below or let’s chat about it- you can reach me at

If you’re looking for more ways to juggle that whole work/school/life balance thing, click here to find more solutions that worked for me.

More Thoughts on Procrastination

KBB_reading_nookA little while back I wrote about some of the ways in which procrastination is a healthy device that allows us a little more insight as to how we work, why we work the way we do and some of the ways we an embrace procrastination as a natural part of the workflow process. Intrigued? Don’t wait until later to read it. (You can find it here.)

As much as I believe in the potential for procrastination as a useful tool to work smarter instead of harder, there is a fine line between embracing the practice and being overwhelmed by it. When a procrastination habit becomes harmful, it’s probably time to reconsider the reasons behind it and develop new strategies to make sure we meet our deadlines on time, while still on our terms.

There’s no scientific method to my strategy to combat procrastination, but the solutions I’ve found seem to fall into three categories.

Determining the Problem

A doctor can provide relief for certain symptoms; however, he or she cannot treat you until the root cause of the illness has been determined. In a similar fashion, until you determine why it is that you’re procrastinating on a certain task you cannot begin to find a true solution to your bad habit. You’re simply putting a band-aid over the problem. Do some real soul-searching to try and figure out why you’re doing this to yourself.

Are you suffering from a lack of motivation? Set goals, determine rewards and build patterns into your daily life that help you work towards the completion of your project.

Having trouble keeping focus? Shorten the blocks of time you plan to focus on a certain task. More often than not even committing to just ten minutes of performing a certain task can encourage us to focus on it longer. Still not working? Take notes on your energy levels and amount of focus throughout your day and adjust your schedule accordingly. Try saving the more difficult or complicated tasks that require the most of your attention during the times when your alertness is at its peak.

Deleting the Unnecessary

Often our schedules are overflowing with multiple commitments, social engagements and various other personal and professional activities. It’s easy to procrastinate when feeling overwhelmed or stressed so when yourself letting important things slide because of an overcrowded schedule, it may be time to decide what activities and commitments to delete. Can you get by on less shift at your part-time job? Can you get away with dropping an elective? Any commitments, whether they be personal, professional or academic should be dropped if they become toxic, harmful, unreasonably demanding, unnecessarily involved, not enjoyable, or unhelpful towards your goals. If certain tasks are getting out of hand, see how much work you are able to delegate to colleagues, co-workers and friends, even if the arrangement is only temporary. We all need breathing space.

Discipline thyself.

It’s easy to lose focus when there’s no focus to your schedule or work. Blocking off chunks of time and forcing yourself to commit that time to working on certain tasks may be the actual motivation to get things done. If work is ill-defined or poorly organized, it can be off-putting to try and follow a task through to completion, and sometimes even possible to start. Evaluating energy levels, eliminating distractions, and creating environments conducive to our own unique productivity needs are all great ways to enjoy work more, and dare I say make it easier?

If procrastination is a sickness then it’s one we all suffer from, but hopefully by gaining an understanding as to why we do it, we can gain more insight as how to prevent it but for now, hopefully we’ve found our prescription.


Have you been procrastinating on commenting on this blog? Putting it off can be bad for you and your health. Share your strategies on how you got your life back on schedule by commenting below. Still too shy? I’ll keep your thoughts a secret if you send them to be at

The Procrastination Problem

KBB_snail_on_sidewalkAaah, November. I remember back in the day when I was a student, I’d spend the majority of the month acting like a crazy person. I’d skip classes in order to study and took power naps at weird times of the day so I could get up early and start studying some more.

One particular night stands out above all others- I had two essays due the next morning, and I pulled an all-nighter trying to finish them. I will always remember this night fondly because I got both essays done on time and received a pretty good grade on both. However, this was also the night I discovered my body’s caffeine-limit- two pots of coffee and four Red Bulls in a 24-hour period left me puking in the bathroom at 6 in the morning, editing my essays in between retching.

The stuff we do for that piece of paper, right?

The thing is, I probably could have avoided that night altogether had I not procrastinated. Trust me- everyone will do this at some point in time, so you’re not alone. (Even supposedly ultra-organized people like myself.) I have never heard of anyone not procrastinating on a particularly tricky or dull assignment at some point or another, so if you have heard of someone who hasn’t procrastinated ever, this person is probably a) a robot, which means they aren’t human and it doesn’t count, or b) this person has a horrible disease in which they think they are a robot. in which case they should probably seek medical attention.

For all those out there procrastinating right now, take comfort. A professor once told me that procrastination is a good thing. She often encouraged us to embrace the urge to procrastinate rather than to fight it, as studies have often showed studying (or writing essays) in short spurts is actually more productive than hitting the books for ten hours straight at the library. Your brain is sharper and retains more information that way. If you feel the urge to procrastinate, it may be your brain’s (or your body’s) way of telling you that you aren’t mentally prepared to complete the task at hand, therefore creating a sub-par result like a bad grade, or a blog post essay that makes no sense.

Of course, procrastination isn’t always good. For example, if you have one hour until your exam starts, it’s probably not a good idea to start studying right now. The adrenaline coursing through your body is not going to allow your brain to mentally focus on the task at hand until you’re actually sitting there in the exam center, pen at the ready.

But there’s no reason you still can’t take my professor’s advice. Instead, be kinder to yourself and realize that you’re not a machine- you’re a person who needs study breaks and sleep and proper food (eating an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids does not constitute as a meal, and neither is a cup of coffee). Here are some ways I’ve found that you can turn procrastinating into something productive.

1) Make a snack. And make it something healthy, please! Instead of limiting yourself to eating at the computer, which can cause you to overeat, take five minutes and make yourself a snack that has protein to help with the sleep deprivation from which you are suffering, no doubt, and a carb that will take your body longer to process so you are energized longer, such as a piece of fruit.

2) Play around. Give yourself a few minutes to mosey on over to It’s totally addictive, it makes you think, and it helps donate grains of rice to those in need. See how many grains of rice you can stockpile before you answer too many questions wrong, post your results to Facebook, then get back to work!

3) Clean your bathroom. Or your dorm room. Or your kitchen. Or whatever. You get to burn some of those calories you’ve been retaining since you’ve been stationary for so long, and you get to do something productive. I always find I do a better cleaning job when I’m using it as a way to procrastinate. Something about the thought of churning out another homework assignment makes me realize how much I care about the cleanliness of the grout in between my bathroom tiles- of which there are many.

4) Grab a coffee. Agree to meet up a similarly swamped friend and go to the coffee shop down the street. Stand in line. Bitch about all the work you’ve had to do and how little sleep you’ve gotten. Discuss the merits of the different coffee roasts and which one is more caffeinated. Tip your barista (she’s probably in the middle of midterms too!) then walk back to the library, or wherever it is you’re studying. If you’re at home, make yourself another pot of coffee and give yourself five minutes for it to brew. Pause. Enjoy your first sip. There now. Doesn’t it taste that much better?

5) Take a walk. It’s by far the best way to procrastinate. You get exercise and you blow off any steam that’s been building after working through a frustrating calculus problem. There’s something about the fresh air that seems so invigorating, especially at this time of year. Take your hot chocolate, take a friend, take your iPod- whatever works! Allow yourself at least ten minutes and enjoy the crunch of the leaves and that last little bit of fall sunshine. Some say that exercise of any kind can get the blood flowing back to your brain, which allows you to focus and study much more effectively.

Use all of these tactics, or none- whichever works for you. After awhile, you’ll figure out what works for you, your body and your lifestyle. And if all else fails, you can always revert back to my favorite procrastination technique- the crazy, late-night dance party. Stick on some J-Lo and shake it!

Or not. After all, you could always do it later!


Need more excuses to procrastinate? Visit my books page or my baking page to see what I’ve been doing with all of the time that I’ve been wasting. Although let’s be honest with ourselves- can we really call baking a waste of time?!?

What to Do When There is No Problem


Sometimes, there is no problem.

Isn’t that weird? I think most of us spend our day-to-day looking for problems because we’re so used to them coming up. From our email search functions not working properly to that guy who cut you off on the way home from work, it seems like there’s hiccups everywhere, everyday.

So when there aren’t any problems arising in your business and everything seems to be running smoothly, it can be hard to figure out what to do. Where do you go from there?

Most people feel it’s a natural step to hire a consultant for their business when they’re experiencing problems. It’s great to get a fresh perspective on a situation in order to come up with a solution to make it work again.

What a lot of people don’t realize it that hiring a consultant can also be helpful when there isn’t a problem. A consultant may be able to give you an outsider’s perspective on where to take your business next. Some examples of this could be decision on how to expand your business, or take on a new project.

Or why not continue working on what’s already working? A consultant may be able to offer suggestions on expanding your client base, or starting a new advertising campaign, or diversifying a solid advertising base with some exciting new social media adventures.

Consultants aren’t just there for when there are problems that need fixing. After all, there isn’t always a problem to be fixed! Maybe the only problem you should be considering is, what do I do next?


Got some time on your hands? Check out my business section for more inspiration on how to improve your business, or visit my busy section on how to start your next project. Or why not try something completely different to take a break and do some baking? The possibilities of what to do next are endless!