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4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

The Presidential Election is all over the media these days.

During this campaign season, there are MANY ways you can increase your knowledge – or help your children learn something new. You could sit down and watch a debate, turn on a news channel and see highlights of the candidates’ speeches around the country, or you could even just watch those wonderful commercials that are always so positive. Or, you could take it upon yourself to actually focus on learning something useful!

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As a teacher, I am an avid believer that we never stop learning – or at least we shouldn’t. Learning new things helps us to be better informed and more knowledgeable on subjects that really matter in our world, as well as allowing us to make connections to things from the past. What better inspiration for learning than our upcoming Presidential election? And who knows, maybe you will even be a more prepared and more knowledgeable voter to boot?!

What can you learn? Well, let’s just stick with four main core subjects in school: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Math.

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For starters: Read! 

There are several autobiographies on the current candidates out there that are really good reads! Of course, an autobiography is written by the person about himself or herself, so it will be written with “voice,” a term your children are used to hearing in school. We encourage them to write with “voice” so that when others read it they have a sense of who you are. These books are great examples of just that. These books were written from the perspective of wanting you to understand why they are where they are in life.

  1. An American Son: A Memoir published in 2012 about Marco Rubio. The first half of the book is his life story, including how his family migrated to the United States from Cuba – this is an amazing journey to read about!
  2. Trump: The Art of the Deal was originally published in 1987 by Trump himself. This book is part memoir and part advice. This book should be on the shelf of anyone who wants to learn about big business.
  3. Living History published in 2003 and about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course she has since published several other books, but this is the only one that focuses on her life.
  4. Outsider in the White House published just last year is Bernie Sanders’ story. This is a different type of biography and is really only about his political life, but still gives good understanding about his views and how he got those views.
  5. My Life by Dr. Ben Carson is basically the updated version of Gifted Hands. Dr. Carson’s story is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories you will ever read. Yes, the American Dream is still alive and well!

Next, what about writing?

Can you actually practice good writing during election time? Yes! There will be upcoming debates that will be invite people to write in questions through online sources. Take this opportunity to teach your child how to ask a good question. A question that is thoughtful, provocative, and well-ordered. Why not have them submit a question? Who knows… it could be chosen!

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Social Studies…

This one is easy… and very important!

Our candidates must answer questions about foreign policy, homeland security, and diplomacy as well as questions about working with Congress on issues like immigration. Take this opportunity to freshen up your knowledge about the global economy, who our allies are, and even things you might not really remember well from Government class.

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Use this election time as a teaching time to really show your children where places are on a map, globally, as well as our own map of the United States. Maps usually are not that exciting to children, but when they learn where places are and how things going on there affect us here, all of a sudden the map becomes a tool for learning.

Math. Yes, Math!

During our election season the Electoral College is referenced often. Understanding it takes a bit of research. Looking at maps where you see the numbers of votes needed from “swing states” in addition to those that the candidate will likely “get” is worth looking at and explaining to your children. Many adults do not really understand the whole Electoral College, but there are a number of resources online to help you learn – and this is a good, practical application of statistics.  Adding up the votes on the night of the election is really something you can watch on any major new channel and is quite exciting. Yes, math can be exciting (or upsetting… depending on how you end up voting), especially when it affects the next four years of our life!

So, get out there and have fun learning during election season. Then, get out there and vote!

Featured photo credit: Wally Goebtz via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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