January Newsletter – The Nerdy Nanny Returns…

…or at least, is in the process of returning.

You read that right folks.  For the last two years TNN Productions has been essentially on hold.  First due to the global pandemic, and then as Eve scurried off to grad school to become an even BIGGER Nerd.  

But as both are winding to a close (one likely sooner than the other) The Nerdy Nanny is making a comeback!  

There will be a lot of incredible projects in the works over the next year including STEM/STEAM content, healthy learning habits for all ages, and possibly live events (if it is safe to so do).

So, whether you are new to us or have been waiting for The Nerdy Nanny to rejoin the world, we would just like to say-

Watch This Space.


Facebook


Instagram


YouTube

 – Upcoming Projects –

Website OverHaul

TheNerdyNanny.com is currently under construction to accomodate new needs and our expanding platform.  You can expect to see new educational resources, supplemental materials, and interactive features coming your way over the next several months as we continue to grow and reach new  readers across the globe.

#SCICOMM

TheNerdyNanny is currently studying for a Masters Degree in Experimental and Medical Bioscience at Linköping University in Sweden.
You can find more information on Eves field of study and ongoing research in Trained Immunity here in our monthly newsletters and at TheNerdyNanny.com

The Nerdy Nanny
Author, Educator, Researcher

The Nerdy Nanny will return in 2023

Hey everyone! I know this will come as a disappointment to many who have been with us from the very beginning but I just want to say how much I value each and every one of you who has been there and supported us from day 1. I can’t imagine getting this far without you.

For those who are new or just found us, don’t worry, we will be back and better than ever… just need to take a little time away.


Why is TNN going on hiatus?

The strain of running TNN while going to Grad School has been weighing on me for a while now. The time demands of my academic responsibilities mean that I just don’t have the time to create the type of high-quality content that I want to present. And as much as I love what we are creating here at The Nerdy Nanny, Grad school HAS to come first. If you have seen any of my YouTube videos, then you will know just how much this opportunity means to me. Science has always been my first love, and being able to work in the field in an active research capacity has always been a dream for me.

As much as I wish it were possible to do absolutely everything all at once, my physical and mental health (along with my test scores) seem to disagree. So I am putting my own motto of #healthyboundaries to the ultimate test, and putting The Nerdy Nanny to bed, for a little while at least.


This is not farewell. I fully expect to be dreaming up new projects and ideas over the next year or so. But by relieving myself of the pressure that comes with needing to see these ideas through to completion, I will be able to devote the time and mental energy towards my studies while exploring new creative ideas and avenues in my free time.

You can still find all 6 of my published books for sale on Amazon and plenty of family activities and academic resources right here at The Nerdy Nanny.com. But, until 2022 at least, there will be no new content.


Until we meet again –

Do Good

Setting Systems and SMART Goals to Help 2021 Start on the Right Foot

A #Reclaiming2020 Thread

For so many of us, the end of 2020 can’t come soon enough. The allure of a new year and the proverbial blank slate is something that has incredible psychological power.

Well now we’ve got 30 days left and, though the last few months have given me hope for a brighter future, my own personal future is still a bit of a hot mess.

While the allure of January 1st as a clean start is tempting, I know from personal experience that starting a brand new routine or adopting new habits is a process of trial, error, success and failure, highs, and lows. Starting on a new blank routine from day zero anticipating perfection and success is a recipe for disappointment. Logically, you wouldn’t sign up to run a 10k on January 1st without participating in some kind of training regimen beforehand. So why do we consistently operate on the idea that we can successfully launch ourselves into a brand new routine or lifestyle with zero preperation?

There are 30 days left in 2020, and I intend to use them as my ‘training period’ for 2021. Trying new routines, new habits, training for a fresh start at the beginning of the new year.

So, with 2020 coming to a close, I’m setting SMART goals to try new habits and routines leading into the New Year.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals are something I first learned about in business school, but have recently been used by self improvement and study guru’s to help people create more effective and targeted methods of reaching their goals.

Full Function Rehab | SMART Goal Setting Vaughan
For more on how to create SMART Goals, click HERE

The underlying idea of SMART goals is to find a way to make us accountable. ‘I want to find a job’ or ‘I want to write a book’ or even ‘I want to get an A in Genetics’ are all wonderful goals, but because they are so vague they can often be difficult to track, and therefore difficult to stick with. You can find more on how to create effective SMART goals HERE, but the general idea is in the name; make your coals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Kaizen – The Art of Continuous Improvement

Something else that I have found makes a vast difference for me ties in with the Japanese Concept of Kaizen – or the art of continuous improvement.

Kaizen de-emphasizes perfection, which can be a leading cause of stress and a major contributing factor to giving up or abandoning our goals altogether, and instead focuses on improvement. The idea is not necessarily to get it right the first time around, but instead to do just a little bit better than last time.

In that thread, I focus less on my relation to an ultimate and ever-changing goal, and more on my engagement and performance in the day to day process of it all.

Otherwise called a ‘System’.

Atomic Habits – Systems not Goals

If you have not yet heard of Atomic Habits by James Clear, I really must ask what rock you have been living under. Even if you do not have the time to read the book in full, there are plenty of taking aways and summaries that can be of tremendous insight. But for our purposes, we are going to be focusing on the delineation between goals and systems.

If your goal is to be able to deadlift 200 lbs by the summer, and you spend every day pushing yourself closer to that goal, you may ignore warning signs from your body in favor of adding on just a few more pounds. But if you end up injuring yourself in the process, you could be setting your goal back by months if not years. By shifting focus from your proximity with the end goal to continual growth and consistently showing up, this changes the pressure we put on ourselves and makes our goals, ultimately, more achievable.

My 30 Day End of 2020 Goals

My general goals for 2020 focus more on routine and continuous improvement. They also happen to fall into the four general categories of self-improvement that most of our New Years goals tend to fall into, but perhaps that will make them easier to relate to or use to draw on for examples when making your own goals.

My 2020 – 2021 Goals

My general goals are blocked under four categories but are free to change from day to day. The ultimate takeaway is my ‘participation’ in that given area.

Physical Goals

I want to be more physically active and just generally take better care of myself. Sitting in front of a desk for hours on end is not generally a good thing for either my spine or general level of fitness. It would also be good if I ate less like a gremlin and more like a hippie, but I’ll settle for somewhere in the middle.

Intellectual Goals

I want to learn something new every day. And yes, I’m in grad school, so learning is kind of par for the course. But diving through pages of notes often feels less connected to learning than mastering a singular concept. So even if I’ve been studying ‘phenotypic heritability’ for hours, I’ll only be counting it if I have an ‘Ah-ha!’ or ‘Eureka!’ type moment while doing so, or if I have that moment in a completely different subject.

Creative Goals

The same general principle holds true for creative enterprises. As a children’s author, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories, characters, impact, engaging readers… but that doesn’t result in a finished product. So much my collecting of ‘Ah-ha’ moments above, I want to be able to wield tangible results in my hands for it to be able to count. Whether that is words written, pages drafted, characters sketched, or even scarves knitted… I will be focusing on things that yield tangible results in real time.

Spiritual

Being in Sweden, so far from most of my family, in the middle of lockdown, the short days and long nights are easy to let get to you. It is so much simpler to turn to merge dragons than it is to turn on mentally. But that is neither healthy nor sustainable. I want to do things that feed my soul. I want to reconnect with friends and family (even if it is digitally). I want to consume media that helps me grow. and I want to take the time to check in with myself on a regular basis, rather than just keep on pushing forward.

Trackable SMART Goals Example

The four categories above, while representative of most of what I want to do, are hardly specific. So for a better idea of what those goals will look like in the real world, here are a few of the micro goals I will be setting myself.

Drink Water

And oldy but a goody, and yet I still never do it. I will be attempting to drink 2 liters of water, each and every day, of 2020 and beyond.

Read in Swedish

This is really a 2 for 1 so I should want to do it even more but, again, it often gets pushed to the wayside. I’ve picked up two children’s chapter books in Swedish from the second hand shop and intend to read 5 pages (one sided) before bed at least 4 times a week (70%).

Stay off Social Media

I feel bad leaving this for last as this goal will actually affect those reading my articles here at TNN. I walk more about the why’s behind this on my YouTube channel HERE, but suffice to say I have a busy month coming my way in December. And, as such, for the rest of 2020… this will be the last you see of me. I will be staying off Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and, yes, even TNN.com for the remainder of this year.


At the end of my free trial run for 2021 (also known as December 2020) I will create SMARTER Goals moving forward. SmartER because I will Evaluate (E) and Review (R) the steps I have taken, the systems I have tried, and see what really works for me and what doesn’t and adjust. Hopefully, I’ll be back and writing away with a clearer head and more time to focus on what is important, but I am trying not to enter into this trial run with any preconceptions. This is an experiment after all, and as any student at the school of Bill Nye will tell you, bias = bad science.

So, until next time, here’s hoping to a better and brighter future in 2021.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

An International Thanksgiving

Hello all! For those who are new here, three months ago I moved halfway across the world in the middle of a Pandemic in order to start Grad School in Sweden. And while it has certainly been an adventure, one of the most interesting things that I had not even really expected was in how different the holiday celebrations would be here in Sweden versus in my home state of Florida.

So – what does Thanksgiving look like in Sweden?

… a Thursday. It looks like a thursday.

In case you were unaware, Thanksgiving is a specifically American Holiday. As in – no other countries celebrate it (with the exception of Canada, but that’s a different story). There are a variety of fall and harvest festival celebrations taking place all around the world this time of year, but Thanksgiving as a construct, involving Turkey, football and naive childhood plays involving pilgrims and native populations, was a holiday that was born in the USA.

To be honest, Thanksgiving has almost completely snuck up on me. It is now two days until turkey time before I even realized the holiday was right around the corner.

In a perfect world, I would invite my friends and family over to my dad’s house and host a full-blown traditional American Thanksgiving complete with 12 hours of cooking, a whole roast turkey, and enough carbs to sink the Titanic. And while I would love to go all out celebrating an American holiday in the middle of rural Sweden… your girls got homework and a research project underway and absolutely no time to be dealing with all that.

Also, Swedes don’t actually sell the whole turkey? At least not that I’ve been able to find. Or really turkey in almost any form other than sliced deli meat.

So if I’m skipping the epic feast, then what Thanksgiving traditions will I be keeping up?

Spending Time with Family

While studying in Sweden I’m living with my dad so he’s gonna see me whether he likes it or not. If I get done with my work early enough though we may stream a movie together later, usually Die Hard is a fairly standard holiday staple in my house, although I wouldn’t say no to a few episodes of Hanna, so just some warm and cozy over the top violence and explosions… that’s normal, right?

Cooking and Eating Together

Well… does microwave leftovers count as cooking? Normally by the time I get home from Linkoping after an hour-long bus ride and biking uphill, it’s pretty late, but we’ll usually sit together and chat, and often times he’ll have something kept warm on the stove for me.

I might try and make something this weekend if I can actually find a darn turkey. But more than likely it will end up being a low carb version of a chicken pot pie or shepherds pie (swap out the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower) because my dad is currently on the LCHF diet and… as a consequence of living together, so am I. If you haven’t heard of LCHF, imagine the love child of Atkins and keto, but a little less restrictive.

Remembering What I’m Thankful For

This is one tradition I will definitely be keeping.

This time last year I had a new nephew in the world, was struggling to balance two jobs with publishing my kids’ books and going back to school for about the millionth time. I was just barely considering even applying for grad school. I never in a million years could have imagined any of the struggles that would be thrown our way in 2020, but then again I don’t think anyone could have. To have gotten through most of 2020 with my health, my sanity, and my family is a blessing that I can’t ever be grateful enough for. To be in Sweden, studying in a field I am truly passionate about, with an opportunity to make a lasting positive impact in the world… this is something that I will never not be thankful for.


Wherever and however you celebrate, despite it’s less than gracious beginnings, the idea of Thanksgiving as a modern American holiday is something I can really get behind. It can be hard to slow down and recognize how far we’ve come and everything that we have in a world that is perpetually pushing us ever forward and constantly encouraging us to do more.

So take a moment, look to the people you are able to spend this holiday with, remember those you can’t, and appreciate everything that can… preferably while also enjoying some turkey-related foodstuffs and American football.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Healthy Study Habits for Students

A #Reclaiming2020 Thread

School can be a lot for students under the best of circumstances, and this is equally as true for grad students as it is for kindergartners

Burnout, Screen Fatigue, and Other Anxieties

Mental health, establishing healthy study habits, and knowing how to find an appropriate balance is something we put a lot of focus on her at TNN.

Our students, especially in the US educational system, can oftentimes be put under extreme amounts of stress, and are very rarely given the tools to know how to deal with it. Even more so now during the age of COVID as classrooms shift into bedrooms and the lines between ‘study’ and ‘sleep’ become blurry at best.

Identifying the early stages of burnout (difficulty concentrating, poor sleep quality, irritability, eye strain, and more) is crucial to help curb it’s effects.

Knowing When to Walk Away

Burnout is something that is more often associated with high paying executive positions or even online content creators. But it is a common experience in all walks of life. Any time you expend more effort than you receive value from, you a prone to burnout. That could mean working at something for an hour and not making as much progress as you would have liked, or it could mean studying for months without feeling like there is no return.

To recognize if you are approaching or at risk of burnout, here are a few resources that can help.

The Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout from Psychology Today

Burnout Self Test from Mind Tools

Burnout Prevention and Treatment from Help Guide

Productive Procrastination

Procrastinating one activity by performing another is a trick as old as time. It’s why students who have a dreaded assignment suddenly find themselves with one thousand and one other little mindless things to do.

And while procrastinating something at all costs can easily develop into self-sabotage, there is a way to use that procrastination instinct for good.

If you are staring blankly at your screen, don’t know where to start, or just otherwise fighting tooth and nail to focused … stop fighting. Frustration and anxiety make focusing on a new subject even harder and that natural resistance you feel towards getting into a project can sometimes (not always) be your bodies way of telling you that you need a break.

So instead put on a ten-minute video, podcast, or music playlist, and use find a healthy use for that procrastination energy. Like;

By giving yourself an intentional ‘break’ that is still productive, you can start to create healthy habits around work-life balance and recognizing when you need to step away.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

As we mentioned before, with so many students performing some or all of their academic duties from home, the lines between ‘school’ and ‘no school’ can get kind of blurry. As anyone who has ever tried to work from home before can confirm, that is a sure fire recipe for burnout.

Creating physical or mental space where you can flick on and off in work/study mode is key to setting healthy boundaries, achieving a balanced lifestyle, and long term success. We all know the age old adage of the unhappy employee or executive who keeps bringing their work home with them. But what happens when the work starts at home with you as well?

There are a few ways to help deal with this but none quite so effective as creating a physically separate space for study time. Setting your desk against a wall or window so that you are less distracted by other stuff in your room, working in a separate office space, or working at the dining room table, assuming you have a supportive household, are all valid options.

It can also help to set time restrictions. Parents can enforce this by breaking up study time with schedule meal times, but also by putting a time limit on school stuff. If school work HAS to be done by 8pm, then it leaves students time to unwind and helps create that space. It also helps to include regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day. I find that I can rarely focus for more than 3 hours at a time, so I plan walks, kickboxing, or meal prep time around those gaps accordingly.

Limit Screen Time

By now we all know how bad starring into our screens for hours on end can be bad not just for your eyesight, but also for your circadian rhythm, your general physical well being, and even our mental health. This is even more true for younger kids whose brains are still developing.

In a classroom setting, teachers of younger students will routinely break up longer periods of sitting with short periods of movement. This same concept can be easily applied to screen time as well, serving a dual function here as screen time is typically relatively stationary.

Schedule regular intermissions to get up, walk away from the screen, maybe get a snack or go to the bathroom or even take a little walk (this is easier to enforce if you have pets). Do anything and everything that is not related to a screen (computer, cell phone, TV) for at least ten minutes in order to allow your eyes to rest and give you a break.

Print notes or use physical study guides when possible. Take notes on paper instead of in a tablet. Zoom your classes by connecting the computer to a TV screen or larger monitor but further away. And, whenever possible, choose options that are physical rather than digital. We will never be able to completely walk away from our screens, they are too valuable a resource. So limiting their influence where we can is a big help.


There is still a lot of the school year left, and much of the world is still in a constant state of change. As we adapt to different circumstances and try to build good habits, it is important to be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies, and take steps to protect our mental and emotional health, particularly as students. Building good study habits and setting healthy boundaries is just a small part of that, but it is a part that we can all work on a little bit every day.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Free Resources for Students

I have been in Grad School for a grand total of about three months now, studying Experimental and Medical Bioscience here in Sweden. And if I said that the road to get here was a smooth one it would be a bald-faced lie.

I struggled as a student for many years in a lot of different areas. Mastering difficult concepts, general memorization and repetition, buckling down and concentrating for hours on end, trying to puzzle together new pieces of information- these are the woes of the modern student and they are things that do not come naturally to everyone.

But, thankfully, there are resources out there that help.

My Top Resources in Grad School

These are the programs, apps, extensions and websites that are queued up on my computer – right now. To say they are getting me through grad school is an understatement. These are things that I rely on and use, without fail, almost every single day.

Grammarly

This free program and plugin that you can either install to work automatically on your computer and programs of choice. Depending on your settings it automatically catches and corrects (you can turn the auto-correction feature off if you prefer) simple spelling and grammatical mistakes with much greater efficiency than the spellchecker on your computer.

But Grammarly also points out run on sentences, conflicting verb tenses, and a bunch of other things that your spellchecker doesn’t. For those of us writing a lot of long tedious papers, checking manually is a nightmare and it can be difficult to catch your own mistakes. Enter – Grammarly.

YouTube

In the beginning of my Masters program, I had a serious problem visualizing the microscopic interactions that I needed to understand in order to do well. Everything from Antibody – Antigen reactions to Flow Cytommetry. I was falling further and further behind because I just COULD NOT picture these tiny reactions.

Thankfully, other people, much smarter and more skilled in animation than I, can. Also thankfully, those people made YouTube videos about these concepts that I have been hoarding like a starved squirrel gathering nuts. If you want to get some idea of just what I’m studying you can take a look at that carefully cultivated hoard of videos HERE. YouTube is the second most powerful search engine in the world (behind Google), and as such, is an amazing resource for students.

OpenStax

OpenStax is an open source academic resource providing textbooks and reference material at zero cost. While this won’t replace your mandatory reading list anytime soon, when you get into upper level courses it is often up to you to seek, cultivate, and gather reference materials in your subject.

Plus, sometimes you just need to have something explained to you in a slightly different way for it to click. I have Biology and Chemistry textbooks stored on my computer for reference materials, but I flip through others depending on the area of interest pretty regularly as well.

OneNote

If you have Microsoft suite, you have probably seen that little purple square logo at the bottom of your screen before. OneNote is a comprehensive digital note-taking platform that offers you the convenience of organizing your note-taking into subjects, tabs, subcategories, and even separate notebooks. Plus, while you are connected to the internet at least, one-note backs up automatically.

I use One Note exclusively for my notes because I have too many different subcategories and cross-referenced material for it to make any kind of sense in a single categorie. I need those little tabbies darn it!

I call this one free because OneNote comes with most Microsoft packages and if you already needed to buy it for access to word or powerpoint, then it’s there. If you don’t have Microsoft suite there is a free alternative called Evernote which works about the same way, though I find it a little less visually appealing (personal preference). And if you prefer a Google system … don’t even bother with Keep – it’s just a series of post-it notes that are impossible to keep track of if you have more than 4 things going on at once.

$ Rosetta Stone $

Okay, this one I use everyday… but not exactly for school work. I’ve been trying to learn Swedish for AGES and, as I am currently living here, it seems now is as good a time as any. The modules are of varying length so I can do a couple of quickies or set aside time for a longer one depending on what unit is up next, and it used spaced repetition to revisit previously material based on a measurement of my performance and how long it’s been since I last logged in.

This is the one resource I am listing that is not completely free. There is a free trial version but with reduced capacity. If you are currently using or have ever looked into or used a free language learning app but quickly passed through the free version only to find the stuff you really needed to learn is hidden behind a paywall, I’d recommend giving Rosetta Stone a try.

Either way the trial is free and, if you were already looking at making a purchase, it’s definitely worth a shot.


Popular Study Aides for High School

Khan Academy

I have used this in the past as math is, unfortunately, not an area I excel in. Khan has full units for individual subjects from basic counting and shapes all the way up to statistics and calculus. It works in practice questions and active modules in between concept explanations, which is something that I find extremely useful, especially for subjects that require application.

Quizlet

Quizlet was unfortunately not around (or at least not popular) when I was younger, but the girls I tutored used quizlet constantly. It’s a free resource to make online flashcards, that you can cluster, repeat and set aside as you master the material. Really great for any subject that includes a lot of memorization (vocab), particularly if you apply spaced repetition. – alternatives include Tiny Cards & Study Stacks

Audio Books and Podcasts

As much as I wish it were true, not everyone loves to read. As an author, that is almost physically painful for me as a love of the written word is something I cherished as a kid. But as a tutor, part of my job is acknowledging that not everyone’s brain works the same way. And some people prefer to get their books in audio form. If you have a long reading list, a passive commute or some other chunk of time in which reading a book may not work but listening through headphones is totally possible, then supplementing or even replacing some of your reading material with audio might be a good call for you.

Apps & Extensions to help you Focus while Studying

For me, as with many students, staying on task is a challenge. Particularly when the work is piling up or when it is crunch time and you want to do just about anything but study. Though knowing yourself and developing healthy study habits are ultimately the best recourse, here are a few things that can help cut through the noise.

Momentum

A google chrome extension that provides a clean, minimalist start page that tells you the time, the weather, allows for the plugin of different various features and focuses on your primary goal with a little built-in to-do list pop up feature in the corner. It seems like such a small thing, but opening up your computer to a clean slate rather than a messy notifications board or something like google or Facebook where it is so easy to get off track.

Crackbook & Parental Controls

Crack book is another extension that allows you the option of blocking problem websites after a fixed amount of use. For example, I have mine set so that I can click over to Facebook or Instagram for up to 20 minutes between noon and 8pm (my predetermined study hours). After that if I try to click over I will be met with a gray screen and an increasing time delay. This means that if I really do need to use Facebook for something I still have access, but I have to wait for increasingly long amounts of time, so I better make it worth it.

Forest App

This one that my friends use constantly. At $1.99 it’s not free, but there are free alternatives available. This is just the one that is most popular in my immediate circle. Essentially you start a timer within the app and it blocks out the use of your phone completely during that time. At the end you are rewarded with a cute little tree figure and, after enough ‘sprints’ your tree levels up into new cute characters and, better yet, the forest app actually helps sponsor the planting of trees in real life.


These are just a few of the resources I rely on, there are literally hundreds more out there. The trick is to find one that works for you and for your learning style and that you won’t get distracted by in and of itself.

If you have any resources that you love and rely on, please comment them below either here on TNN or on our Facebook page!


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Outlining Made Simple

As we dive further and further into the school year, and I dive further and further into my first year of grad school, it feels like a good time to review one of the best study methods in the known universe –

Outlining.

Yeah, I know, not super complicated, and yet somehow so many of us seem to have pushed this simple technique aside. I feel like, for many students, this is simply because schools no longer teach how to outline, they simply expect you to know how to do it.

But creating effective and easy to understand outlines that you can use as reference material and study sheets is not something that comes naturally to most people.

So how do you do it then?

Start with Notes

Going straight from text or a lecture to an outline is like trying to create an airplane from a fan – you are missing a couple of key components there. The landing wheels, the wings, and, just as importantly, the fuselage or ‘body’ or the plane that keeps you safe and connected to this contraption as it flies through the air. Trying to make an outline straight from your textbook will not help you to understand the material better. It can give you a skeleton to work off of, but it will not improve your comprehension of retention.

Start by taking notes on the subject that you need to study. These can be as rough or as neat as you need them to be. I use something called the ‘3 Pass’ method whenever I take notes, which I went over briefly in the video below but we’ll go into more detail another time.

In order to create an effective outline, you need to know what the important areas of focus are, which means you need to already be at least somewhat familiar with the material. So start with notes, then move on to creating your outline from there.

The Big Three

Whenever you are note taking and then subsequently creating an outline, there are three main areas that you need to focus on.

Concepts

I am starting with concepts not because it is simple, but because it is difficult. But many of the things worth doing are.

Concepts can be simple or abstract but they are common in almost every subject. In science it may be an important concept that cellular division is a cyclical process. In math the Order of Operations is undoubtedly an important concept. In history class, the ways in which economics impact voting patterns are important concepts to understand.

Sometimes these concepts will have clear cut names and be readily explained. Often times however they may be woven throughout a chapter or a lesson touching many different subjects and be more difficult to pull together into a concrete thought. This is where taking the notes before hand helps the most. It is easier to recognize patterns when you write something several times than it is to see them when you reread something several times.

Names / Dates

Perhaps the most simple of the big 3, names and dates, along with other information that requires route memorization, is still important. Especially if it is something that you personally tend to forget or glance over.

I, for example, have a terrible head for dates. Years tend to blur together for me. But names I can recall at the drop of the hat (of people in books, not people in real life… I still mix up my nephews sometimes). The general rule of thumb is that if a name or date is referenced three or more times, or if it used a section or even chapter title, it is probably worth remembering.

Vocabulary

These are usually the easiest to pick out from a text book but can be more difficult to remember during a lecture. Just like with the rest of your outline, you should be reviewing these terms first so that you know which ones are actually important or need to be reviewed. If one chapter has twenty three vocabulary terms, that isn’t an outline anymore – it is a dictionary.

Unlike the rest of this material, however, I don’t really recommend including vocabulary terms in your main notes. Use them, obviously, when needed, and even highlight them or write them in a different color. But vocab terms are just so much easier to go through as flashcards rather than on a reference sheet. As you make your notes make sure to create vocab flashcards to go along with them and as you review. When you get to your outlining stage include the terms that are critical, you still have trouble with or are just used multiple times. This saves you rewriting 23 vocab terms when you only needed to know 8.

Write in Code

This is something which, if you are sharing your notes or outlines in a group, will frustrate your classmates to no end. It is also ABSOLUTELY something that you should do.

Your notes or outlines or study ques do not need to make sense to anybody else but you. They don’t even necessarily have to make sense to you, as long as the association is there.

Let’s say you once looked at a picture of George Washinton and thought his hair looked like sheep’s wool and need to remember the name of Bunker Hill for a test. If the first thing that pops into your head is a cartoon sheep sitting on a bunk bed… draw a cartoon sheep sitting on a bunk bed.

No, I’m not kidding.

What triggers your memory and what helps you may or may not make sense, but that isn’t the point. The point is that it helps YOU create an association in your brain. So while your classmates may not appreciate your deeply artistic cartoon sheep, if it means you get that question right on a test then that is really all that matters.


Creating an effective outline is one of the single best things you can do to help you prepare for material over the long run. And get this… it isn’t even so you have the sheet to review, that’s almost ancillary. The most imporant part of creating an outline is… creating the outline.

The act of reviewing, condensing, and re-framing all of that information is an active learning process that is so much more effective than simply flipping through pages and hoping you’ll remember it for the test.

Whatever works for your, as long as your outline helps you to digest and break down the subjects into manageable chunks that make sense to you, you’re doing well.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Alternative Halloween Ideas for 2020

2020 has been a weird year, and while in some places life has returned to close to normal but in other areas that is not even close to being the case.

As such, some families find themselves on the search for an alternative way to enjoy this, the spookiest night of the year.

Zoom Costume Contest

If going out is not an option at all, whether due to risk factors, local restrictions, or mandatory curfews, for teens and young adults looking to celebrate with friends and bigger groups than with mom and dad, going digital might be a good option.

My biggest lament every year has always been that the costumes that I dream of wearing and the climate that I live in are not exactly compatible. Elaborate zombie make up has a way of sweating off, multiple layers of clothing or bulky outfits quickly become unreasonable when stalking miles of suburban road in search of candy. But from the safety of your own laptop, you can be as creative and elaborate as your imagination can take you.

Set up a zoom, google chat, skype or Facebook group. Get friends and family in on it and plan on spending a good hour or so showing off whatever spooky sensations you can come up with.

Trick or Treat

If you are able to trick or treat there are absolutely ways to make that happen with relative safety. Organized ‘Trunk or Treats’ and locally put together events are still happening in some places and are particularly useful for families with younger children as they are generally well light, better supervised, and family-friendly (check your specific event for age recommendations).

If you are going door to door, there are plenty of easy ways to incorporate masks and or gloves into a costume, although you will need to stress for younger kids not to rub their eyes or their faces while wearing the gloves (but that’s just a good health habit to get into anyway). The biggest problem will be getting kids to hold off on enjoying their sugary haul. If you have any concerns at all about possible infection it is probably a good idea to set the candy aside for at least a day (possibly two) somewhere removed from other food. This lessens direct exposure and lowers the potential risk of transmission.

If that is the plan, be clear with the kiddos upfront. No one wants to have their candy taken away with no warning as soon as they get home. Think about offering some at-home treats instead and have things ready to go as soon as you get back.

Spooky Snacks

Whether celebrating from home, putting a pause on diving into the Trick or Treat haul or just in the mood for a little something spooky, Halloween snacks and tasty treats can make anything into a party. Try out some of the recipies below, or get inspired and create your own.

Check out this list of super easy and delicious snacks for the kiddos from The Spruce Eats. Or for healthier alternatives, try these three suggestions from Hello Fresh. Whatever you do, remember to just have fun with it! Cooking with the kids is not about the end result, but the time you spend together. And if their crescent roll ghost creations und up a little bit wonky who can tell!

Spooky Movie Marathon

For this, you’re definitely going to want to have a few trays of those snacks listed above.

As a homebody, I’m partial to this form of celebration for all events, but especially for families with children of different ages. Start off early by prepping spooky snacks and just generally having fun. Watch an age-appropriate movie for the youngest viewer first. We have a full list right HERE. Take a break to get your youngest viewers settled into bed, and then rejoin with another. Depending on the age of your kids, you can get progressively creepier and more adult as the night goes on. And, because halloween is on a Saturday this year, there is absolutely no reason why the fun can’t go all night long.


However you choose to celebrate this year, do what is right for you and your family. 2020 is a trying year, and some traditions are going to have to be put aside. But that doesn’t mean new traditions can’t take their place.

Be Safe. Be Sensible. Be Spooky.

Goodbye Pomodoro Method- 1:2:1 Study Simply Hack

If you have ever happened to google the terms ‘study’, ‘productivity’, or ‘efficient’ at all in the last several years you may have come across the term ‘Pomodoro Method’. Named after the Italian word for Tomato, this 25 minutes on five minutes off study and productivity technique derives from the use of a tomato-shaped timer and is hailed as the ultimate productivity and focusing technique. The darling of app developers, study groups, StudyTube icons, and more, the Pomodoro technique is supposed to improve focus, concentration, and efficiency and make studying and work so much easier…

Except for when it doesn’t.

While the Pomodoro technique and modified Pomodoro methods are favored by CEOs and Productivity gurus’, education professionals have long since warned that this system has some pretty serious flaws when it comes to developing long term study habits, particularly when pushed to the strictest interpretation of 25 minutes on / 5 minutes off intervals. Certain types of study simply require more immersive time spent in order to be truly productive. But before we look at all the things the Pomodoro technique got wrong, lets look at a few good starting points.

What Pomodoro got Right

Clear Your Work Space

While not necessarily included in the original iteration of the Pomodoro method, creating a clean and functional work space has been a key part of this system since it’s adoption by social media. But what does that actually mean?

Wherever you are going to do your work, whether that is at a desk or a family dining room table, a coffee shop, or a park, clear the immediate surface of everything that you don’t need immediately accessible to do your work. To avoid getting distracted by cleaning, just set everything aside in an empty bin or laundry basket and resolve to go through it later. (Just make sure that old coffee mug is ACTUALLY empty before you do so).

Remove Distractions

Beyond having a clean and functional work surface, it’s also important to remove anything and everything that you might possibly be tempted or distracted by. This could be as simple as putting your phone on vibrate. Or it could mean putting your phone on charge in the next room so that you have to actually walk past your spouse or roommates or family members to retrieve it.

Use headphones to play either lo-fi or ambient music soundtracks. There are entire playlists on YouTube dedicated to white noise, focus, and studying. The next time you’re bored flip through a few and save them for when you need them. Or use noise-canceling headphones so you hear nothing at all.

Talk with your family and let them know that you really need to focus now. Set up a signal for times when you’re working so that they can (hopefully) respect your privacy and let you get some work done undisturbed.

Create a Prioritized Focus List

The Pomodoro method starts by creating an itemized focus list, usually organized by priority. It is detailed, it is task-oriented, and it is meant to keep you on task by preventing you from flipping through your agenda or to-do list in between each session to consider what you should tackle next.

Each item should be a specific task. So if your main priority is studying for a History test, one task could be ‘Outline Chapter Nine’ or ‘Review Vocabulary Terms’. Simple, specific, and task-oriented. That is what we are aiming for with these lists.


Other aspects of the Pomodoro technique can help psychologically, even if they aren’t actually that conducive to big changes in your ability to focus.

Reduce Decision Strain

Often times students, younger students in particular, will get stuck trying to figure out what they should be doing next. Going through your agenda and creating an organized list at the start not only prevents you from forgetting assignments (hopefully) but also limits the number of decisions you need to make in between assignments.

Decision strain is something that psychologists like to refer to when a person is just so mentally tapped they can’t make a decision one way or another. It’s also part of why mourning routines can be so helpful. Removing the number of decisions that need to be made at the moment can help improve flow, increase your momentum, and keep you going.

Time Blocking vs. Project Blocking

So often when we were kids we were told to start on an assignment and just keep going until it’s done. But, as it turns out, this is not the most efficient way to do things. Often times students can get stuck in a rut and develop mental blocks for a certain subject. They put in increasing effort for less and less reward. The recognized version of this in the working world is well known – it’s called Burnout.

Organizing your study time into time blocks rather than by project helps to prevent this. Especially with studying which, as we mentioned when talking about creating a focused project list, you are never really done with.

One of the key parts of this system is learning to trust the clock. What I mean by that is that you are able to eliminate all other factors, all other distractions, and you no longer have to worry about what else you have to do because the clock will tell you when it is time to move on. This may sound silly to some adults but it is a powerful focus technique when it comes to studying and has a definite positive impact on most students.

Removing Start Barriers

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just sitting down to get started. Having a regular study routine or habit can help with this over the long term. By having an itemized list of what you need to do and trusting the timer knowing that you won’t need to be working on this forever, this can help many students to jump that first and highest of hurdles and just get started.

So far it sounds like I’m agreeing with the Pomodoro technique overall. And there’s a reason for that.

It’s a good system.

Where Pomodoro Gets it Wrong

Where it falls apart for myself, educators, and many students, particularly younger students, is in the timings and the strict interpretation of the Pomodoro system.

Ideal Focus Times

Some tasks simply require more time than others. Sticking to a strict 25-minute time slot per task is a great way to jar students out of a reading assignment, or frustrated those who are stuck on a project and making no progress. By interpreting Pomodoro time slots in their strictest sense you are overlooking the original intentions of the system; to prioritize work, maximize focus, and reduce barriers.

Brain Training

One of the biggest advantages of using something like Pomodoro to train your brain to use time blocks instead of completed tasks. This is a huge resource because, as many students will note, you are never really done studying. So focusing on completing a task that can never be completed is a really great way to set yourself up for aggravation and burnout.

But if your tasks are inherently incompatible with 25 or 20-minute sessions, the repeated early finishing of tasks or the regular requirement for more time to make any real progress can actually have an adverse effect. Part of Pomodoro is learning to trust the clock, keeping your head down and focused because the timer will let you know when it is time to switch gears.

Neuroplasticity

Do you remember going to school and having a teacher assign a warm-up exercise or problem at the beginning of class? Something short but that needed your focus and attention? There was a reason for that.

Studies have repeatedly shown that short mental exercises can vastly improve your ability to focus and concentrate over longer periods of time. Likewise, as class drags on, teachers will often switch gears again for the last few minutes of class, usually to give homework assignments, but also to review other material.

This constant switching is a training technique for improving neuroplasticity. True neuroplasticity is a biological process which your 7th grade math teacher has absolutely no influence over. The the idea of neruoplasticity from an education standpoint relies on the idea of being able to switch from topic to topic very quickly without any loss in focus on processing speed and is often crucial in developing critical thinking skills.

1:2:1 The Magic Ratio

When I first started using this system, I called it 20/40. And that is because those are the timings that worked best for me. I would alternate twenty and forty-minute chunks of time dedicated to different subjects with only short breaks for bathroom, snacks, coffee and stretching in between. I would usually get through about three of these, a 20, a 40 and a 20 again, before I needed a longer break.

But with the girls I tutor, twenty minutes was just way too long when they were younger. The homework had begun piling up and anxiety was playing a serious roll in this as well, so we would pull out an assignment, sit down, and work for ten minutes to see how far we got. Spoiler alert – it was usually pretty far. We’d take a break for a quick snack and then start a longer one, this time twenty minutes. Then another break and a final ten.

Often times I would need to repeat this process, so we’d start a round of homework, 10/20/10, before dinner and follow up with another after dinner if needed. This is also the system I use when studying for advanced subjects like Organic Chemistry. I’ll do a round of 20/40/20 with short breaks earlier in the afternoon, and follow up with another round in the evening so I have plenty of time to relax in between.

Switching back and forth between subjects prevented them, and me, from getting burned out by diminishing returns. It also gave us the opportunity to both start and end on a high note by getting some out of the way early and wrapping up last minute things quickly. After a while, the anxiety that surrounded homework started to fade and switching subjects after a set amount of time just became the normal practice for both me and them.

Whatever timings work for you may be different depending on your age, subject matter, or even the type of assignment. I do warn against going over 40 minutes, as most people’s attention span can rarely be sustained over that period of time.


Maybe 1:2:1 will solve any lingering problems you had with Pomodoro. Maybe you never had any problems with Pomodoro to begin with, which is great! If it works for you, keep going.

Finding a system that works for you can take a lifetime and will change as you grow and discover new interests. But the open conversation and growing number of resources available that are recognizing the power of systems and routines for focus are hugely helpful in finding one that works for you. So if you have a system that works, stick with it. If you are still struggling at all, I recommend checking out these guys below for some really great study and productivity routines;

Do Good.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Mini Pumpkin Pots Recipe

With the fall season well and truly upon us, and with me missing out on most of my usual Spooktacular celebrations, I thought I would bring us a little Halloween Joy with these mini pumpkin pots!

Now I call these pumpkin pots because some years ago I found 4 black oven safe ceramic dishes which, while I think were supposed to be mini dutch ovens, just looked too much like cauldrons for me not to snatch up immediately! If you do not happen to have access to tiny black cauldrons, ceramic oven safe coffee mugs in a color of you choosing also work perfectly well (bonus points for Halloween colors!) but you can also adapt this recipe to work just as well in a mini muffin tray with the addition of some store bought pie crusts.

What you will need:

  • Cooking vessels (cauldrons, coffee mugs, etc)
  • Pie crusts and cooking spray if you need it
  • A 2 lbs baking (or Pie) pumpkin (or one 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree if you cannot find a good baking pumpkin)
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • Seasoning; salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (optional extras include cumin and coriander)
  • 1 large egg

Yes, I really do recommend going out and getting your own baking pumpkin. First of all because going through the effort of starting with raw ingredients connects us more to our food, which is double important around this magical time of year, and secondly because I try to avoid canned or processed options whenever possible.

If you do intend to bring home your own pumpkin you can find out more about the different types and how to prepare them HERE. If you are not able to get your hands on an actual pumpkin, which I am unfortunately not able to do this year (Swedes don’t eat pumpkins – who knew?) you can of course use canned pumpkin puree, NOT pie filling. Pie filling is already seasoned and sweetened, puree is just pumpkin and therefor can be sweetened or spiced to your particular taste.

1 – Prep your Pumpkin

If you are using baking pumpkin, follow the directions for cutting and roasting your pumpkin pieces, unseasoned, HERE.

2 – Prep your Pumpkin Pots

Preheat your oven to 375 F (about 190 C) and prep your baking vessel of choice. If you are using mugs or baking dishes apply a little light spray. If you are using a muffin tin spray liberally and line with ready-made pie crust and set in the fridge to chill and firm up.

3 – Blend your Pumpkin Filling

Combine your pumpkin, either freshly roasted or canned puree, with about a half cup of sweetened condensed milk and blend in either a food processor, with an electric mixer or by hand using a potato masher and spoon. Once everything is smoothly incorporated we can add our spices.

4 – Seasoning Our Pumpkin Pots

You may have noticed I did not include any measurements for our spices, and that is because in my experience to get the most out of a vegetable like a pumpkin it really should be seasoned to taste. I recommend starting with a teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and an eighth of a cup of brown sugar. My family’s favorite also involve cloves, coriander, and cumin and can be almost savory by the end. But for sweeter fillings double up on the brown sugar and cinnamon.

At this point, your filling is perfectly safe to taste (it’s just roast pumpkin and condensed milk) so you can season, mix, taste, and repeat as often as is needed or until you’ve eaten all of your filling and need to start over. Remember that the flavors from your spices will reduce slightly upon baking, so it’s okay to be a little stronger than you might expect but be careful not to go over the top.

Once you have things seasoned the way you like them, go ahead and add in your large egg. No more taste testing at this point! And get ready to bake

5 – Bake your Pumpkin Pots

Fill your baking vessels (coffee mugs, cauldrons, muffin trays) up 3/4 of the way to the top with filling. This mixture will rise slightly and you definitely don’t want pumpkin overflow all over the bottom of your oven. If your oven has two wracks, I recommend placing a baking tray on the shelf below just as a precaution.

Because there is no set size container, your baking time will vary greatly depending on what you bake in. For regular sized muffin trays I recommend starting at 20 minutes though they make take up to 30. For everyone else, depending on how much larger your pumpkin pots are than a normal muffin, adjust your timing from there.

You are looking for the filling to set slightly around the outside of the container and brown, but if you jiggle the tray it should still be slightly bouncy in the center. If you can dip a spoon into the middle of your pot like it’s soup, they are not ready. Unfortunately, a skewer test will not help you much in this regard but these types of fillings are very forgiving of being slightly overbaked but not so much underbaked, so err on the side of caution and give it a few more minutes if you are not sure

6 – Enjoy your All Hallows Treat

Once you think your pots are done baking go ahead and pull them out and set aside to cool. You can refrigerate these to enjoy later (wait until room temp before putting in the fridge) or let them come down to a comfortable temperature and enjoy warm.

A dollop of whipped cream certainly wouldn’t go amiss and a little sprinkling of cinnamon sugar or nutmeg on top is always a nice treat.


I hope you guys enjoy these spooky little dishes! I know I certainly will.

One thing I have learned for sure this year, between quarantine and moving halfway around the world, is that the holidays, or any holiday really, are what you make them.

So make the most of the time you have. Start a new tradition. Revisit an old one. And, most of all –

Have a Happy Halloween!!!


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.