University Life

My Heritage Hero: Alan Turing

Alan Turing is one of the world’s most important historic figures as well one of The University’s greatest icons.  As a pioneering mathematician, computer scientist and theoretical biologist, he is one of the most accomplished scientists of all time and his work has affected everyone alive today.  Alan Turing truly represents the Manchester spirit and history with its’ commitment to great example of scientific excellence.

Cracking the Enigma Code

bletchley-park

Turing’s most famous work was carried out during World War II in Bletchley Park, the home of Britain’s efforts to break German codes encrypted using Enigma machines.  To reveal the messages in the codes, Turing led a team of cryptanalysts to develop a codebreaking machine.  This became renowned as the world’s first computer and heralded Turing as the parent of Computer Science.  Most historians agree that his inventions shortened the war by at least two years and saved over 14 million lives, making him one of the 20th Century’s biggest heroes.

A little known fact about Turing is that as well as being a mathematical mastermind, he was also a high-level athlete, and occasionally ran 64 km from Bletchley to London.

After the war, Turing moved to London where he continued to expand his research into computers and produced a paper detailing the first designs of a stored-program computer.

Creator of Artificial Intelligence

Alan_Turing_Olympic_Torch

Turing came to the Victoria University of Manchester in 1948 where he was appointed Reader in the School of Mathematics, and soon became Deputy Director of its Computing Machine Laboratory.  During his time in Manchester, he produced the Manchester Mark 1 – the first stored-program computer ever made.

Whilst in Manchester, Turing conducted some of the first mathematical investigations into Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), which describes a man-made machine that can perceive its environment, learn, and be able to problem solve.  Turing’s theory of computation states that a machine capable of switching between simple symbols, such as the binary ‘0’ and ‘1’, could simulate any mathematical deduction or process of formal reasoning.  This theory, in addition to other discoveries in cybernetics and neurology, led researchers to hypothesise about creating an electronic brain based on binary code.

AI raises many questions about thought, how we define intelligence, and the differences between human and digital consciousness.  To address these Turing created the Turing test, where a machine can be said to be intelligent and “think” if a human in conversation with it couldn’t tell if it was human or not.

Over half a century later, A.I. is still a subject of much debate and controversy, but the Turing test continues to be a significant factor in these discussions.

Today, A.I. has hundreds of applications, such as in image recognition, search engines like Google, and even electronic gaming.  A.I. technology is advancing all the time and will have a far greater presence in our lives in the future, as it has the potential to be used in self-driving cars, medical diagnosis, finance, and more.

Persecuted for his sexuality

Just before Christmas in 1951, Turing was walking down Oxford Road when he met Arnold Murray outside what is now the Dancehouse Theatre.  They later entered into a relationship together, which was then revealed by the police whilst investigating a burglary into Turing’s house.  Homosexuality was outlawed at the time and both Turing and Murray were charged with “gross indecency”.

Murray was given a conditional discharge; however, Turing was forced to choose between prison or hormonal treatment to reduce his libido.  He chose the hormonal treatment, which left him impotent and deformed his body, in what is commonly referred to as “chemical castration”.

In addition to this humiliation, he was banned from entering the US, had his security clearance removed, and was forbidden to continue his work for the British signals intelligence agency (GCHQ).

Suicide

Turing’s housekeeper found him dead on 8 June 1954, after he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning.  A half-eaten apple was found beside his bed where he died, leading many to speculate that this was how he ingested the final dose.

Official pardon

In 2012, an online petition for the Government pardon of Alan Turing’s conviction gained over 37,000 signatures.  John Leech, MP for Withington, campaigned for years to pass the bill through Parliament and eventually the Queen pronounced Turing’s pardon in 2014.

Legacy

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Following criticism that it was unjust to pardon just Turing out of the thousands of others who were punished under the same laws for their sexualities, a bill was passed on 31 January 2017 that pardoned all people similarly convicted.  This part of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 is known informally as the ‘Alan Turing Law’.

Tributes to Alan Turing can be found across the world.  A statue of Turing holding an apple is situated in Sackville Park in between the University of Manchester’s Sackville Street Building and Canal Street.   This commemorates Turing as ‘Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice’, at it reads on the plaque.  In 2007, the University of Manchester’s Alan Turing Building was completed as a new home for the School of Mathematics and parts of the School of Physics and Astronomy, where world-leading research continues seven decades after Turing started his work there.

turing building

To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, 2012 was designated as the Alan Turing Year with celebrations and tributes across the world.  Manchester City Council worked with the LGBT Foundation to launch the Alan Turing Memorial Award, acknowledges contributors in the fight against homophobia in Manchester.

Top City Centre Study Spaces

As exam dates and coursework deadlines approach you’ll probably find yourself spending more and more time at a desk studying.  This could be in the library, at home or in the Learning Commons; however it’s also a good idea to escape campus now and again and treat yourself to a change of scenery.

Learning in different environments can improve our abilities to retain and recall information, and spending time in a variety of locations can help refresh our weary minds.  Manchester city centre has an amazing selection of study spaces, including cosy cafes, trendy bars and historic libraries, so why not explore and give some a try?

Here are 5 of my favourite city centre study spaces:

  1. North Tea Power

36 Tib Street, Manchester M4 1LA

One of Northern Quarter’s most highly acclaimed coffee shops, NTP is a favourite haunt of young-professionals and students.  With award-winning espresso, a great deli and a chic, relaxed atmosphere, this space is great for enjoying the classic Northern Quarter culture whilst making the most of their speedy Wi-Fi, plentiful power sockets and cosy corners to work in.  The large workbenches are a great place to mingle with other coffee lovers and get motivated by those around you.  If you’re hooked by their delicious teas and coffees you can by the beans in bulk too.

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  1. Central Library

St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD

As well as being one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, the beautiful Central Library is positioned in the heart of the city, next door to the Manchester Town Hall.  Here, you can browse the UK’s second largest public book collection, have a quiet study session beneath the Pantheon-like dome of the Great Hall, and make use of their extensive archives.  There are miles and miles of book shelves both above and below ground, and also  a huge selection of fiction which you might struggle to find in your typical academic library.

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  1. Fig and Sparrow

20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA

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F&S is a cute coffee shop tucked away on Northern Quarter’s Oldham Street, and offers artisan coffee, loose-leaf tea and a big selection of tasty treats, as well as selling teapots, candles and other trinkets.  F&S can feel quite intimate due to its small size, but it’s also well-lit and airy, and its large tables which you can share with others, give the place a nice warm community vibe which I find very motivating.

  1. John Rylands Library

150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EHpic4

John Ryland’s in one of the University’s finest cultural assets and is also one of Manchester’s architectural highlights.  Built in the late 19th century, you can marvel at the Neo-Gothic building style whilst being nestled amongst dark wood bookshelves, red carpets and ancient texts.  The main reading room is a beautiful space illuminated with stained glass windows and old-fashioned lamps, and captures a quiet tranquillity that’s a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Deansgate Road outside.

In this cathedral-like atmosphere it’s easy to imagine that you’re centuries in the past, however the omnipresent UoM Wi-Fi and aroma of espresso in the entrance hall make the most out of old and new.

During your study breaks, explore the Harry Potter-esque halls and check out the exhibitions spread about the library, which often cover art, literature, linguistics and history.  My top tip is to come here in the week – tourists flock here on the weekends!

  1. Last, but not least: Foundation Coffee House

Sevendale House, Lever St, Manchester M1 1JB

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FCH is my favourite study spot.  Its minimalistic décor, spacious layout and big windows provide plenty of natural light and lots of space to spread out your notes. Its chilled-out music also really helps getting my brain into study mode.

FCH also offer a wonderful range of coffees, cakes, smoothies, sandwiches and breakfasts, with vegan and gluten-free options  – I’m a big fan of their brownies.  FCH combines the airy lightness of an art gallery with cosy coffee shop sounds and aromas, producing a fantastic study space which you can enjoy with all your senses.

Top 5 coffee shops & tea houses

Caffeine is many students’ antidote to mid-term assignments, late night studying and dissertation writing. And while coffee plays a big role in work efficiency, so does the space that you study in. So why not combine the two?

Manchester has a great number of independent coffee shops and tea houses, which provide the perfect environment to study in. Here are the top 5 coffee shops and tea houses for you to check out.

  1. Ziferblatzifeblat

A unique spot where you pay for the time you spend there and you can have all the tea, coffee and cakes you can eat! The café aims to provide a relaxing and motivating space for customers. There are areas for group study sessions or smaller tables if you want to study on your own. I find that it’s a great place to concentrate and study.  I find it a great place to manage my time and not procrastinate.

23 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW

  1. Earth Café

A great place for vegans and vegetarians! Earth café serves 100% vegan and gluten free food, the only dairy is in hot drinks as an alternative to soya. They also serve freshly made veggie meals every day, if you want to grab a bite too. I usually go for a juice or smoothie with a piece of chocolate cake.

16-20 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ

  1. Nexus art café@NexusArtCafe

Nexus art café is a creative community space which promotes emerging creative artists. It is a calm and homely café, which is great when you need somewhere comfortable to write those essays! An exclusively alcohol free venue; the menu includes drinks, sandwiches and soup of the day, there’s something for everyone to pick from when you need refuelling. The café also regularly holds gigs and exhibitions, so do visit of that interests you!

2 Dale St, Manchester M1 1JW

  1. The Anchor Coffee Housepic4

Just a 10 minute walk from the University! The Anchor coffee house is a great space to focus in and grab something from their range of coffees, bagels and snacks at the same time. Registered as a charity, money earned by the coffee house goes towards a greater cause, so when you grab a drink you’re doing your bit for the community too!

508 Moss Ln E, Manchester M14 4PA

  1. Fig + Sparrowpic5

Half coffee shop, half lifestyle store; Fig + Sparrow serve a range of teas and coffees, with a small breakfast, lunch and cake menu. A perfect little stress-free place, where the staff are incredibly welcoming. I find it a great place to relax and study at the same time. It’s also a great place to have group study sessions. They also have a store, which you can check out when you visit the café!

20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA

So, there you have it, my top 5 independent coffee shops and teahouses! All of the places listed are just a bus ride away from the University and are easy to find as well. Go check out the spaces and grab a hot drink, a snack and a book! Where’s your favourite spot? Got any suggestions? Please leave a comment!

Tasnim x

The experience of a lifetime with Study Aboard

When the applications for study abroad opened in the autumn of my second year, I was at a loss about what to do.  One of the main reasons I chose to study at Manchester was its amazing study abroad opportunities and strong global links.  From past experiences, I knew that I loved international travel and I understood the many reasons why study abroad would be fantastic and hugely advantageous to me.

For a while, I couldn’t decide whether to apply, especially because I was loving life in Manchester and the thought of leaving that behind was heart-breaking.  I’d amassed lots of wonderful friends, was involved in some amazing student societies and part-time jobs, and was having the best time of my life.  To turn my back on all this seemed crazy –could I ever have it this good again?

After much torment, I finally concluded ‘just do it!’ and applied.  It’s wasn’t like Manchester was going to disappear anytime soon, and I knew that good friends would always be there for me, no matter how far away and no matter how long I wouldn’t see them for (I’m getting all soppy and sentimental now ❤ ).  My top study abroad destination was the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, as it ticked all my boxes: excellent University, amazing outdoors activities like skiing, canoeing and hiking, and a beautiful modern city surrounded by beaches and mountains.

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Me snowshoeing with new Canadian friend Cora in the Rockies

A few months later I was stood in the Atrium of University Place squinting at the list of student numbers who had been approved for study abroad.  I stood there for about a minute glancing between the list and my student card with my student number on it.  After about the tenth check all doubt had been stripped away and the mental meltdown commenced – I WAS GOING TO CANADA!!!

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Beware of bears!  Hiking with Canadian friend Nicole (now one of my best friends)

I arrived in Vancouver late at night in early September, and promptly fell asleep after travelling 7312 km.  I woke up at 5am (1pm UK time) and went for a stroll around the city centre.  Within an hour, I had observed sunrise over Coal Harbour, strolled through soaring pines in Stanley Park, watched seaplanes land, breakfasted on coffee and bagels, and dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean.  I’d never fallen in love with a place so instantaneously in my life.

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Vancouver sunset

When term began two days later I put far less effort into attending the UBC welcome events than I did in Manchester.  Having already done welcome week once before, I knew that partying with a load of strangers wasn’t the best way of making new friends. Instead, I took my time and got involved with a couple of the student societies and got to know my course-mates.  Within a couple of months, I’d met dozens of great people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, had many good friends and had comfortably settled in to UBC.

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Some friends at the Richmond Night Market

Over my 10 months living in Vancouver, I’d been lectured by world-leading academics, made amazing friends for life, and picked up my high school French by talking to French-Canadians.  I’d learnt to ski, sea kayak and ice climb, and had been on adventures across western Canada and the USA.  In short, it was the most incredible year of my life, and I feel silly for having so many doubts before I applied!

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Learning to ice climb

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Eating oysters with my canoe buddies – caught by us on the beach!

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One of my buddies on one of our canoe trips

In addition to having loads of fun, I’d developed my problem-solving skills and confidence by integrating into a new country, become far better at networking and getting to know new people, felt more competent as an independent individual, and also learnt lots about myself and many life lessons.

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Climbing in Squamish near Vancouver

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Mountaineering in the Valhallas with Nicole

When I returned to Manchester my old friendships were as strong as they ever were and I settled back in immediately, feeling invigorated from my year away and ready to enjoy Manchester again with a refreshed mind.  My boosted confidence helped me discover a love of meeting new people, and now have more friends and connections than ever.

Of course, some less lucky people have less of a good time as I had initially, and often settling into life in a new place takes different times for different people, but most universities have support services, lots of student activities and events to help you make friends and make the most of your year away.  Also, the Manchester Go Abroad office will always be there for you if you have any problems or would like advice.

My study abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve come back with bags of wonderful memories, great friendships and new skills.  My year away has truly improved me as person, and I couldn’t recommend study abroad any more.

So what are you waiting for? Apply and have the adventure of a lifetime!

Reflections of a final year Master’s student

Many of you who are about to enter their third year, will be faced with the decision whether to do a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s.  There are many factors which will influence your decision and many questions you should ask yourself, such as am I interested in research?  Do I want to study for three or four years?  What do I have to gain from a Master’s?  Is an extra year worth the extra money?  Do I want to prolong the work-hard-play-hard student life of balancing exams and assignments with a busy social life and extracurricular activities?  Or do I want a proper salary and be able to buy avocados and fancy coffee without a shred of guilt?

These are all important questions that should be addressed.  I’m a fourth year Physics student doing a Master’s year, and by no means an expert on whether or not a Master’s is the right choice for you, but perhaps by explaining what my Master’s is like, what I’ve gained from my Master’s and why I chose to do it, it will help you make a more informed decision on whether or not this is the right path for you.

When I first applied to The University of Manchester as spotty 17 year old, I knew very little about what I wanted in terms of my career.  I didn’t even know that I liked Physics that much, but my A-level science grades were good, I knew that Physics degrees were very well respected and gave you a broad skillset, and at the time Brian Cox was making Physics cool with his BBC documentaries full of pretty computer-generated spiral galaxies.

So I applied for an MPhys Physics degree, without really even knowing what an MPhys was and whether it was a good idea, but I knew that it was easier to transfer from the 4 year MPhys to the 3 year BSc, so it seemed sensible.

Fast forward four years later and I’m now sat in the library of the Physics building (pretty much my second home), in the midst of my MPhys research, reflecting on my choice.  The biggest and brightest thing that comes to mind is that the past few years being a student have been the best of my life.  I’ve made the most out of the huge amount of amazing opportunities available to students in this city, such as the awesome student societies, charities, cultural activities and nights out.  I’ve met many marvellous people and have made fantastic friends for life.  I studied abroad in Canada, got a job blogging for the University, learnt loads of new skills, and had a great time along the way.

However, don’t think that time was fun only.  It addition to experiencing the most fun years of my life, my Master’s years have also been the most stressful, sometimes demanding 12 hour work days to stay on top of multiple deadlines, long spells sat in a lonely lab, and evenings spent pulling my hair out over a tricky assignment.  But despite all this, I feel that the huge amount I’ve gained from studying my degree and being a student at UoM has made the blood, sweat and tears all worth it.

Currently I spend two days a week on research, on top of four courses.  My MPhys in Biological Physics investigates how graphene affects bacteria, which contributes to other research efforts aiming to produce new antibacterial materials and ways to kill bacteria.  Most of my time is spent taking data in the lab and analysing this on a computer to try and draw meaningful conclusions.  I regularly talk to world-leaders in this field, have weekly meetings with my supervisor, and even had a terrifying assessment by Sir Novoselov (the graphene Nobel Prize winner guy!).

Despite the cool sounding name of my research (well, cool in my opinion) and amazing opportunities I have to pursue a career in Biological Physics, I’ve learnt that at this stage in my life research isn’t for me, as my passion does not lie in spending long hours alone taking measurements and trying to get various programs to work.  I’ve also started to reconsider my relationship with academia and other ways I could be using my degree, like science communication, enterprise or teaching.  Many of my contemporaries are now considering PhD’s, but 3 or 4 years is a long time for me to commit to something that I’ve learnt that my heart isn’t fully in.

This change of heart is by no means a reason for me to say that my Master’s was a mistake.  On the contrary, I’ve learnt an enormous amount about myself, my likes and dislikes, and some really cool stuff about science, and I can always return to academia in future.  I’ve also learnt that I love being surrounded by bright, enthusiastic and dynamic young people, and I love the flexibility of academia and student life in Manchester.  I’ve picked up loads of transferable skills, amazing friends, new hobbies (like blog writing and climbing), and fantastic memories, all of which I wouldn’t have gained without committing to my 4 year Master’s degree.  I now believe that my experiences, good and bad, have all been opportunities to learn and improve myself, and that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk and trying something new even if you’re not sure about the outcome.  If I’d never have taken the jump and done my MPhys, I never would have learnt these invaluable lessons.

To wrap up, for me, my Master’s has been a great choice and I have no regrets, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everybody.  It depends hugely on your personality, how you like to live your life, how you like to work, and how you feel about dizzying fluctuations in workload.  But if you have the time and energy to spend another year experiencing the student life in this fun, youthful and exciting university, why not give it a shot and carry on making the most of student life and learn more about yourself?

Exam Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again and arguably, out of the two exam seasons we undergrads have, this is the hardest one. The truth is, the festive season is over and exams are upon us leaving us with two choices: sit and wallow or get ourselves together and show these exams who’s boss.

I know it’s not always as simple as flicking a switch and becoming a revision machine.  Over my years of studying, I’ve managed to come up with some simple yet effective ways to combat the exam time blues, in a way that makes me feel studious yet relaxed, and achieve the grades I deserve.

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  1. Positive Mental Attitude

‘My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice’ – Newt Scamander

Worry can be the devil in exam time. Whilst in small doses, a little can spur us on and actually improve our drive to do well, too much and we collapse under our pressure. So be positive! I start off by picking out the negative thoughts I’m having, which currently happen to be:

  • I can’t do this, I don’t know anything.
  • Maybe I should just drop out now and buy a load of cats.

I then turn these thoughts around, choosing to focus on the positives rather than the negatives:

  • Yes you can, you’ve done loads of exams just to get to this point.
  • Buying cats is not a viable life plan even if you want it to be. Stay in school kid.
  1. Take regular breaks

It’s all well and good planning a fifteen minute break and just using it to check Facebook but try to be more mindful! Remember that there are great services on and off campus to help us make the most of these breaks. Some of my personal favourites are:

  • meditation sessions at the Main Library
  • Workshops at the Counselling Service on managing stress and finding motivation
  • The Buddhist Centre based in Manchester’s coolest district, the Northern Quarter, has daily lunchtime meditation classes and is next door to a really tasty (and cheap!) café in northern quarter.  Win, win, right?
  1. Nourish Yourself

tenor

Eating fruit and drinking water is obviously the goal, so make sure you have plenty of those to hand. I have this terrible habit of skipping meals in favour of revision but eventually my concentration wanes and my hangry, irritable side comes out. Taking time to eat a good hearty lunch is not a waste of precious revision time, but a way of improving the quality of the work you get done.

I’ve also found that cooking up something nutritious and fun is a good way to allow you to focus on something else. Try my favourite food blog Hot for Food.

  1. Get Outsidepic1

We all need a bit of fresh air and time away from our computer
screens If the sun is out (I know, funny joke) head to the park with a few friends for a stroll or if it’s a bit gross, take a trip to the supermarket to stock up on revision fuel. . Not only does it break up revision stints but it allows us to remember that the world exists outside of our busy minds.

  1. Make a Plan

Whatever your revision style, taking time to make a rough guide of what you are going to do is invaluable.

For those of us who struggle with the motivation to revise, this can also be a great way to split up revision into bitesize chunks and make the task more manageable. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once and once you start, you’ll probably realise that you know more than you originally thought.

  1. Treat. Yo. Self.

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You’re working hard. Really hard. So instead of just working your butt off or wallowing in self-pity until that end-of-exams victory night out that we all look forward to, choose to reward yourself for the work you are doing as you go along. Using realistic goals from your revision plan make sure you have something to look forward to when you complete them. It can be a coffee with a friend, buying your favourite chocolate bar or going out for a cheeky Nando’s (or a cheeky Chiquito, which is way more fun to say). By celebrating the little things, you allow yourself to appreciate all the hard work that you do every day and it makes revising all the more rewarding.

(This is my ultimate tippy top tip and I’ve found it motivates me above everything else. Try it, I promise you’ll feel better for it)

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 Remember to trust in your own abilities this exam season. You’ve already achieved so much to get to this stage. Whether this is your first year of university or your last, you have got yourself this far and whilst it might seem daunting now, in a few weeks times you’ll be able to look back and know that you gave it the best shot you could. Just remember to look after yourself and use the resources available to get the most out of this challenging time of year.

Good luck!

How to achieve more

Glancing at the clock and wondering where the day’s gone?  Fretting over a mountain of work and imminent deadlines?  Wish you had more time for hobbies and new activities?

We’d all love to have more hours in the day or a time-turner like Hermione’s, but sadly we can’t bend the laws of nature and magic apparently isn’t real 😦 .  But there are many things we can do to improve our efficiency, make the work day more productive and ultimately achieve more.

As someone who’s juggled a social life, part-time jobs, society committee positions and a full-time degree, I’ve learnt a few tricks over the years to keep myself afloat and still get the grades I want.

Here are some of my top methods for maximising productivity and achieving as much as I can:

Buy a planner

It seems obvious, but having one place to note down the times and locations of your classes, meetings and other commitments really helps you stay on top of things and seeing opportunities to  fit in other activities.  Staying organised and managing your time well is definitely one of the best ways to make the most of your day.  A two-hour gap mid-afternoon might be the perfect time to catch up on an assignment or hit the gym, or that class-free afternoon you have every week might be a great opportunity to squeeze in some volunteering.

Not only does a planner help you maximise the amount of work you can get out of your time, but it can also help you maximise the number of social activities and fun events you go to as well!

Make a to-do list

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Another simple idea but still certainly one worth considering.  Having a list of tasks that you want to accomplish (e.g. ‘email Dr Thingybob’, ‘look up blah blah for essay’, ‘buy hummus’) and splitting them into smaller, more achievable targets, will help you stay organised and motivated throughout the day.  By keeping this close at hand, like on your phone or in your bag, you can easily check your list if you have some spare time and want to fill it with something useful.  I send loads of emails whilst stood in lifts or in the queue at a shop!

Take breaks and observe your natural patterns

birchfields park autumn

Taking regular breaks whilst working on a mentally demanding task is often the best way to fight off the fog of fatigue, keep the brain juices flowing and maintain productivity.

But don’t just spend 5 minutes surfing the web or texting your friends – getup, stretch your legs and have a change of scenery. This is a much better way of shaking off the cobwebs and refreshing your hard-working mind.  Maybe go make a cup of tea with a friend or step outside to enjoy some fresh air?

Listen to your body

On top of taking regular breaks, try planning your work according to your natural rhythm.  By that, I’m not talking about the magical New Age energy field governed by the movements of celestial bodies, but the typical change in your mental energy levels over the course of the day.  For example, I find that my brain is usually at its best in the morning making this the best time to do my most mentally demanding work, like thinking about a project, writing a well-worded essay, or learning a new concept.  By late-afternoon my mind starts getting tired, so I usually go for a run or a cycle to help re-energise and get some fresh air pumping through my lungs.  I then save the easiest tasks for the evening or just go out and do something fun.  By observing how you tend to feel over the day and planning your work accordingly, you can really help boost your efficiency and get more done!

Make your health and fitness a priority

UoM exercise

A healthy body supports a healthy mind, so devote time to looking after your body and keeping fit.  Not only does exercise invigorate your concentration, boost your productivity and help your mental well-being, but it can also be used as a refreshing break from your studies.  Aerobic exercises are particularly good as they stimulate the release of endorphins into the body – natural painkillers and mood elevators that help reduce stress and revitalise the brain.  One of my favourite breaks is to go for a run around one of Manchester’s parks – it feels wonderful to see some greenery and it provides a great excuse to blast some music or have some time to think to myself.

A good diet is also essential for a healthy brain, so support your concentration levels with lots of nutritious fruits and veggies, and remember to stay hydrated too!  Omega-3 fatty acids are also needed for optimal brain health, so treat yourself to some oily fish like salmon now and again.

Get some sleep!

The amount of good-quality sleep you have also has a huge impact on your concentration.  We’ve all heard people saying that we need 8 hours a night to be healthy, but this actually tends to range between 7 to 9 hours depending on your physiology and how mentally demanding your work is.  Ensure you get a restful night by avoiding electronic screens close to bedtime, as these stimulate the brain and can make deep sleep more difficult.  Steer clear of alcohol if you’re needing some good quality zzz’s to help you through a tricky assignment the next day.  Despite its drowsy effects, alcohol can drastically reduce the quality of your sleep meaning that you’re not rested for the next day.

So there it is – my top tips for making the most of your time and increasing your productivity.  Give them a try and achieve more!