3 genius ways to increase your studying motivation

5 min read

If you are getting bored in online college classes here are 3 ways to make studying more interesting and enjoyable!

1. Study in Different Environments

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When you get bored studying at your desk try different places to study.

Find inspiration in nature.

Hop in your car and drive to a place with beautiful scenery to study.

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2. Take a walk or exercise

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Exercise helps you to clear your mind.

When writing an essay or tackling a different learning concept, take time away from it. Then, come back to it after working out.

You might see an incredible new perspective.

Even walking outside and coming back really helps to focus the mind.

3. Make studying fun

Here are simple ways to make studying more fun and interactive during online class:

  • Have a schedule
  • take frequent breaks
  • have an accountability partner
  • have online study buddies
  • ask questions regularly in your professor’s conference period
  • have fun school supplies
  • get a planner
  • write down small tasks and check them off when you complete them
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Writing Emails in College

5 min read

How to write a email to your professor in an online class?

Being respectful, kind, and compassionate towards your professor when in an online environment is essential to your success in the class. (Talk about online etiquette!)

Even when they do not treat you with the same respect, doing so demonstrates maturity and a strong character.

Here is the simplest way to write emails to your professor when in an online course:

1. Dear Mr, Ms, Mrs, Dr, ________,

Start with the correct title of the professor.

It may earn you some extra points with the teacher.

2. Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening

Include the time of day.

When you see your friends you greet them with a “hello” or “hi”.

In a professional email, you can say “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “good evening”.

3. Body of email

Concision, concision. Keep your sentences short and easy to understand.

Proofread the email 2-3 times in order to correct your spelling and grammar.

4. End with a thank you and a greeting

The last sentence should be a “thank you” of some sort. You may say “I appreciate your help” or “thank you for your time” or simply “thank you”.

Your trademark greeting should be your own.

Some teachers of mine have ended with “have fun” or “best” signed by their name.


The easy-as-cake way to write emails to your professor!:

1. Dear Mr, Ms, Mrs, Dr, ________,

2. Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening

3. Body of email (be concise, proofread 2-3 times, check for grammar and spelling, and be respectful even if they aren’t!)

4. End with a thank you and a greeting

The Back to the Basics series encompasses a simpler way of living for college students under the current pandemic. This series focuses on creating guides for success in online independent learning. It additionally caters to mental and physical health through exploring various mediums of food, art, literature, and writing.

Motivation Monday: Mastering your Daily Agenda

How can you stay motivated during online school?

Crafting your own daily routine can increase your productivity and decrease stress. A plan for the day helps you visualize your goals and keep track of the fun things you want to do.

Here are four steps to organize your agenda for the day.

1. Decide your priorities

First, think of the most important classes to you. These are the classes you want to spend time on the most.

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Next, think of family responsibilities. For example, think of essential chores like cleaning your room, cooking, or babysitting your younger siblings.

Don’t forget to make time for the people you love most.

Schedule down time with your family. Eat dinner together or play board games with your siblings in replacement of social media.

Take time to chat with your friends and make sure they are doing fine because online classes can be especially hard for some.


Put in quiet time to listen to music, read a book, or work on your creative hobbies like painting, playing the guitar, or writing.

Schedule a workout for 20 minutes three times a week and get 9 hours of sleep.

2. Pick a time

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Write or create a spreadsheet of 30 or 45 minute time blocks of your schedule.

The 45 minute time block is a method of time blocking in which you dedicate 45 minutes to accomplish a task then take a 15 minute break after.

The 30 minute time block is for shorter goals. For example, you can break up a larger chapter reading into part one and two. This way you can divide larger tasks into more manageable chunks.

The 30 minute method can help you in writing. You can begin a draft for 30 minutes, take a walk or do something else and work on it again after. This method helps decrease writing fatigue.

3. Write it out

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Write out your schedule or print them using a spreadsheet.

On top of a schedule, I have a daily task list to check off if I met my goals. You can write your daily task list on a notepad or a planner.

4. Stick to it!

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Make sure to commit to your daily to-dos and always keep in mind your semester and long term goals. By focusing on long term goals you have a purpose and motivation to stick to your daily goals.

For example, if you want a 4.0 GPA by the end of the semester, you need to commit yourself to doing the class’ daily readings and assignments.

The last thing to remember is to enjoy the present and not worry about the future. Set yourself up for success today and don’t worry about tomorrow.

Most importantly, find the fun in seemingly boring tasks.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. Decide your priorities – family, school, personal
  2. Pick a time – time blocking 30 or 45 minutes for a task
  3. Write it out – write goals and to-do lists in a planner or print it out.
  4. Stick to it – commit yourself everyday to your goals and have fun!

Tuna Burger

6 Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna in olive oil (12oz with oil, 9oz tuna)*
  • 2 eggs (option: egg white)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (to coat pan)

Makes 8 patties


1. Heat skillet on medium heat. Coat pan with olive oil. In a large bowl, mix tuna in oil with eggs, almond flour, salt, and pepper. **

2. Use an ice cream scooper to place round batches of tuna mixture onto hot skillet. Flatten round batches with flat spatula.***

3. Cook on each side for 4-5 minutes or until outside is golden brown. Serve with salad or as a burger.

*12oz (340g) with oil, 9oz tuna (255g)

**optional ingredients: chili pepper, minced greens (spinach or celery), minced onion.

***optional: refrigerate patties for 20-30 minutes to cook easier without breaking.

You Will Never Believe the Biggest Factor to Bruce Lee’s Success

5 min read

Case study: Bruce Lee

Take a look at the most famous and my favorite martial artist, Bruce Lee.

Bruce completely and monumentally revolutionized Martial Arts in a way no one would ever have thought possible.

He earned a spot on Time magazine’s Time 100: The Most Important People of the 20th Century under Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century. source: Bruce Lee Official Website

Bruce had been inaugurated into countless Hall of Fames and won incredible awards for his hard work including achieving the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Man of the Year and Martial Artist of the Year and was even honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. source: Bruce Lee Official Website

Bruce even made time for humanitarian causes such appearing on the Hong Kong TVB Operation Relief telethon for typhoon victims. source: Bruce Lee Official Website

How did Bruce Lee become so successful?

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He read books.

Behind the trophies, the awards, the amazing titles, and the successful film icon is a spirit with a thirst for knowledge.

Bruce Lee read books quietly in the afternoons and even in the evenings. source: The Art of Manliness: The Libraries of Famous Men: Bruce Lee

His bookshelf contains 2,500 books. Bruce loved to read philosophy, American self help books, and of course a lot of martial arts topics like fencing, boxing, etc. source: The Art of Manliness: The Libraries of Famous Men: Bruce Lee

He read so much material and was “actively engaged [in his reading] and [continuously] wrestled with new ideas” he was able to create a philosophy and practice of martial arts, Jeet Kun Do.

How did Bruce Lee read?

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When he read, Bruce Lee would write a ton of notes, annotate, and carefully underlined sentences (sometimes with a ruler!) and write his favorite passages and quotes into a notebook. Source: The Art of Manliness: The Libraries of Famous Men: Bruce Lee

Even before martial arts he was already “frequenting bookstores” and even wanted to open a used bookstore. source: The Art of Manliness: The Libraries of Famous Men: Bruce Lee

Bruce’s Have Read List

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Western Philosophy: 

  • Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas $39 Books A Million
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
  • Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
  • The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung
  • On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
  • The Works of Bertrand Russell
  • The Works of Plato 
  • Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian 
  • Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (and other Campbell titles)
  • Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza
  • Maxims and Reflections by Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Eastern Philosophy:

  • The Works of Jiddu Krishnamurti (whom Polly notes was “one of his more important influences”)
  • Tao-Te-Ching by Lao-Tzu
  • The Way of Chuang-Tzu
  • The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi 
  • The Works of Alan Watts
  • The Analects of Confucius
  • Art of War by Sun-Tzu 
  • Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (and many other Hesse titles) 
  • Buddhism by Christmas Humphreys (and dozens of other Buddhism-related titles)
  • The Chinese Classics compiled by James Legge (all 5 volumes)
  • Living Zen by Robert Linssen (and many other Zen-related titles)

Martial Arts/Fencing/Boxing:

  • On Fencing by Aldo Nadi (plus at least 60(!) other books on fencing and fencing theory)
  • Aikido: The Art of Self-Defense by Ko„ichi Tohei
  • Advanced Karate by Mas Oyama (and many other Oyama titles)
  • A Beginner’s Book of Gymnastics by Barry Johnson
  • Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey 
  • Book of Boxing and Bodybuilding by Rocky Marciano
  • How to Box by Joe Louis
  • US Army Boxing Manual
  • Efficiency of Human Movement by Marion Ruth Broer
  • Physiology of Exercise by Laurence Morehouse
  • Wing Chun by James Lee
  • Acupuncture: The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing by Felix Mann
  • Esquire’s The Art of Keeping Fit 
  • Combat Training of the Individual Soldier by the US Army 
  • Modern Bodybuilding by Oscar Heidenstam

American Self-Help:

  • The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (and many other Peale titles)
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • Dynamic Thinking by Melvin Powers
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  • The Success System That Never Fails by Clement Stone
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie $6.95 Books A Million
  • How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger


  • Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • Playboy’s Party Jokes & More Playboy’s Party Jokes 
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (one of the few novels) 
  • The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis 
  • The Story of Civilization by Will Durant (all 11 volumes!) 
  • The Viking Book of Aphorisms
  • The Works of Shakespeare

source: The Art of Manliness: The Libraries of Famous Men: Bruce Lee

Who is your inspiration?

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The Most Outstanding Students’ Secret Weapon? Books.

5 min read

Why do successful people read books?

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Bruce Lee, arguably the greatest Marital Artist of the century. Whose success and mastery of his craft has won him countless awards, titles, and Hall of Fames.

Bruce owned about 2,500 books. Philosophy, American self help, and Martial Arts were his top three biggest genres.

How can books help you in college?

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In a study entitled, Beyond Books: The Extended Academic Benefits of Library Use for First-Year College Students researchers investigated whether “first-year college students’ use of academic libraries” affected four academic outcomes: academic engagement, engagement in scholarly activities, academic skills development, and grade point average.

Here are 3 of their conclusions:

  • Students who used academic sources, journals, and references (collection loans, e-books, and inter-library loans, and web-based services, database, journal, and library website logins) had the most positive and
    significant relationships with academic outcomes
  • Enrollment in library courses was positively associated with grade point averages.
  • This study supports the ongoing importance of students’ use of academic libraries and the critical roles that libraries play in students’ academic development, engagement, skills, and achievement.

Biggest Benefits of storytelling

1. Mental Health

Books for stress relief?

Researchers including one from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, studied stress levels of students in demanding health science programs and concluded that “30 minutes” of reading “lowered blood pressureheart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humor did.”

Sources: Healthline and Research Gate

Books for depression and anxiety?

Anyone who has minor symptoms of Major depression can use Bibliotherapy (book therapy) to improve symptoms. Source: Good Therapy

Bibliotherapy can have positive effects on children and adolescents with anxiety and depression. Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health

A study conducted by the Research Agency concluded that reading “increased self-esteem and reduced anxiety and stress” Source: Independent

2. Be a better human

Reading stories can increase empathy, character, and understanding

According to the South African College of Applied Psychology, storytelling can improve feelings of “connectedness and fellowship.”

Reading fiction can help us understand and empathize with the viewpoints of other people.

If books connect and not divide us, how would issues such as racism and discrimination change if we all picked up a book and learned about each others’ cultures and perspectives?

Wrestling with poetry may even foster creativeness.

According to Professor Philip Davis, Director of the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at the University of Liverpool, through reading poetry people can better “adapt thoughts and behaviors” to novel circumstances. Source: South African College of Applied Psychology

People are also better led to look for different ways to fix problems rather than using a standard solution. Source: South African College of Applied Psychology

Confidence to express yourself

Reading great books allows you to see into the minds of master writers.

You unveil the greatest of writing. You see their methodology, how they describe things, and a peek into their inner world.

Great literary masterpieces are models to imitate for expressing your own writing.

Practical tips on reading

Schedule a designated reading time.

Reading is a lifestyle.

Read in the morning, afternoon, and in those small moments in between.

Read in the morning, before bedtime, and during breaks.

But, make sure you read daily.

Why you should read daily?

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The famous reading 20 mins a day study

It’s been drilled in my minds as a student that reading 20 mins per day can significantly increase “vocabulary for fluency and comprehension”. Source: Phoenix Academy

Students who scored 90% better than their peers on reading tests, read for more than 20 minutes a day – exposing them to 1.8 million words a year. Source: Phoenix Academy

see Britannica’s 12 Novels Considered the “Greatest Book Ever Written”

Art of Manliness’ 100 Books Every Man Should Read includes 1984, Plato, Roosevelt, Wealth of Nations, and Brave New World

Genius Note-taking Strategies You Need Right Now

5 min read

5 Genius Ways to Take Notes

  1. organize your notes efficiently
  2. increase active recall of information
  3. Have fun doing it

Lesson #1 Textbook Notes

Textbook notes have a different approach compared to the lecture or powerpoint notes.

You have to take a huge chunk of extremely detailed information and be able to translate it into your study language which is a skill in itself.

Tip #1: Write the title, header, and date

Write the day and date.

For example, Tuesday, 8/11/20

This will help you to know when you took your notes so you can refer back to them when you are studying for an exam.

Next step is the big header: Unit: Chapter, Topic on the top of the page.

Under that are tiny headers or sub-headers.

Tip #2: Write in Q&A format

Writing in questions promotes independent thought and may prompt you to research by going deeper through Google or asking your professor.

Higher thought distinguishes successful students.

Writing questions and answers will help you to increase active recall of information.

When you go back and study these notes, look at the questions and test yourself.

Write your unanswered questions for your professor on a sticky note in the top right corner of your notes under the date.

That way, you can ask them the next day in class. Make sure to write the answers on the sticky note too.

Tip #3: Draw next to your notes (if not all over them)

Visuals and quick diagrams helps you to remember the topic better especially during recall on exams.

Draw stars and arrows to convey importance and compare different ideas.

Draw diagrams and pictures for science classes like Psychology, Anatomy, Biology, and Chemistry.

Tip #4: Write key details on the left margin

Write main ideas on the left side of the margin for easy reference.

Write key topics and summary points for when you get mentally drained from studying.

When you begin to flip through your notes, you will be able to see the main ideas on the left hand side of the page easily.

Tip #5 Use 1 color theme and highlight

Using a color theme makes your notes look aesthetic.

Besides a black-inked pen, choose 1 color for your theme.

You can use green for the header, sticky notes, and even the ink.


5 Genius Ways to Take Textbook Notes

Tip #1: Write the title, header, and date

Tip #2: Write in Q&A format

Tip #3: Draw next to your notes (if not all over them)

Tip #4: Write key details on the left margin

Tip #5 Use 1 color and highlight

How do you take notes?

Garden Pesto Salad

Recipe 1 box cooked whole wheat rotini basil pesto sauce 1/2 red onion diced baby spinach cherry tomatoes red bell pepper sliced Directions Cook rotini according to package directions. Drain and mix with pesto. Combine all vegetables and pesto. Serve pesto salad hot or cold. Notes Add more vegetables and pesto to the salad if … Read More

food wood spoon dry

Fancy Filipino Java Brown Rice

Recipe Servings: 4 Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 15 min Ingredients 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 cloves minced garlic 1 minced red onion 12 oz mixed vegetables 1/2 tsp salt 1- 2 1/2 cooked brown rice 1 tbsp annatto seed oil 1 tsp turmeric Directions Brown garlic and cook onions in olive … Read More

How to Level Up Your Planner Game

5 min read

The secret antidote to forgetting dates, homework, and tests is a planner.

A planner will keep you organized, efficient, and on track to your short or long term goals.

Before you start the day, sit behind your work desk, grab your morning coffee or tea, and start planning your day’s goals; events; and to-dos.

How to level up your planner game to skyrocket your productivity and grades?

1.  Write all due dates in your planner

When you receive your syllabus from your college professor, make sure to jot down all the tests, projects, and assignments so you don’t skip a major grade.

This will also see how much time you need to study and prepare everyday for that next big test or project.

2. Jot down all class details

In a blank section of your planner or a sticky note, make sure to write down your:

  1. professor’s name
  2. email and or phone #
  3. location of class
  4. time of class
  5. office hours
  6. the days of the week you have that class

This way you have a quick reference on how to contact your professor or when you can drop by to ask a quick question on that anatomy homework.

3. Grade Tracker

As Ruby from Lavish Life says, make sure to have a section in your planner comparing the grade breakdown of your class on the left side and what you actually received on the right side. At the end of the semester, you can calculate your grades to see if you met your A+ goals!

4. Schedule study hours

Colleges say, “for every 1 credit hour you have to put in 2-3 study hours outside of class.” source: University of Michigan Flint

The University of Michigan Flint also recommends this:

“Rule of Thumb: 2 hours of study per 1 hour of class; if going full time (12 hours), that equals 24 hours of studying per week ” source: University of Michigan Flint

I have 17 credit hours on my schedule which means I have to study for about 34 hours per week. (17 credit hours x 2 hours of studying)

College is overwhelming.

Stay organized, aim for your daily goals, and plan your study time.


How to Level Up Your Planner Game:

1. Write all due dates in your planner

2. Jot down all class details

3. Grade Tracker.

4. Schedule study hours

How do you use your planner?

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that works for you when planning your college and personal life?

College Organization Tips You Can’t Learn From Books

+ How to organize binders

5 min read

Here are some tips on organizing and decorating your binder

How to decorate your binder?

  • add name & class
  • pick a color theme
  • design collages 
  • add calligraphy

1. Create collages

Design collages with photographs and quotes.

I chose a sophisticated black and white theme for Anatomy and Art:

photo by Bianca Soriano

2. Organize your subjects by color

It is easier for you to know which notebook is for what subject when you have different colors.

For example, I have blue for anatomy and green for art:

photo by Bianca Soriano

You can use Crayola markers like the one below or a calligraphy pen.

photo by Bianca Soriano

How to organize your binder?

1. Add tabs and dividers

  • keep quizzes, tests, or reviewers in divider pockets
  • or add tabs per unit

Keeping summarized papers of units like quizzes, tests, or reviewers in divider pockets helps you to visualize all the main ideas of your subject.

Sticking tabs helps to mark the location of a new unit on your binder.

2. Order your notes

  • syllabus
  • powerpoint/printed notes
  • handwritten lecture notes
  • order from oldest to newest

The first page in your binder is the syllabus.

It is an easy reference to your teacher’s contact info when you need help this semester. Remember to reference to the weight of tests and assignments to help you meet your academic goals.

Next is your notes.

Put powerpoint and printed notes first along with any handwritten notes you took during a lecture. That way all notes relevant to a concept is in one place.

To stay organized, keep your notes in order from oldest to newest.

Pro tip: Use sticky notes for questions you have and don’t forget to ask your professor.


pin it for later

How do you take notes?

Beautiful Reasons To Fall In Love With Flowers

+ 3 ways to preserve flowers

5 min read

My Lola (grandmother) and I prepared tropical and spirited flower bouquet assortments on all Souls Day to honor our deceased family members.

She cut thick green stems of mighty and blood red anthuriums as she carefully placed them into the wet green foam. Next to the alluring anthuriums were a different beauty: the most subtle, pure, and virtuous flower of Baby’s Breath (gypsophila) filled the space like beautiful angels.

Our preservation of memories are acts of love. Preserving flowers symbolize memories of our loved ones.

Here are the 3 best ways to preserve flowers:

1. Dry Hang Flowers

How to dry hang your flowers?

  1. Bundle about 5 stems together.
  2. Tie them with a rubber band, cotton string, or embroidery thread.
  3. Hang them from a high place that is dark yet airy to prevent discoloration from light
  4. Wait about a week to dry

After a week, you can use the preserved flowers as decoration by displaying them in glass bottles.

2. Book Press Flowers

How to book press your fauna?

  1. grab a book or sketchbook
  2. arrange flowers between pages
  3. close book and put heavy books on top
  4. Wait 1 week and don’t touch

After waiting a week, the flowers should be flat and dry ready for your next art project.

You can put book pressed flowers in collages and bullet journals or even as decoration in your room.

3. Flower Bottles and Herbariums

How to display flowers in bottles?

1. Petal bottle:

photo taken by Bianca Soriano
  1. leave petals to dry
  2. and after a few days, put them in a small bottle

You use small glass vials or any clear container.

The bottled flowers can be given away as gifts or souvenirs at parties or events.

Pro tip: add a tag or thin ribbon around the neck of the bottle.

2. Herbarium:

Herbariums are the same as flower bottles but with filled with oil.

  1. arrange a small bottle with assorted flowers and foliage
  2. Fill with herbarium oil (mineral/baby oil)
  3. Seal with cork or top

You can even put scented herbs like rosemary and lavender to use as essential oils.

These herbarium bottles can be used as gifts and decoration for your home.

Pro-tip: Use your favorite pressed flowers as decoration in your art or bullet journal.


What’s your favorite flower?