Intellizone | Personal Development
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Personal Development

While university or college can prepare you intellectually, it may not always prepare you on a personal level for what the future may hold.  Read these interesting articles and invest in your personal development.    

Did you hear that?

Have you ever been in a meeting or presentation but you don’t seem to be benefiting from it? Have you ever felt like you hear people talking but you’re not actually listening to their conversation?

So how do you listen…I mean really listen?  Here are a few tips to make sure that you actively listen and get the most out of meetings and conversations.

  • Pay attention

Focus on the speaker.  Look at them and maintain eye contact.  Imagine that what you’re about to hear could be life-changing for you.  Put distracting thoughts out of your mind.  Make sure your cell phone is off.  Sit near the front if it’s a bigger group.  Don’t be drawn into distracting side-conversations with people around you.


  • Show interest

Let the speaker feel appreciated by showing your interest. Look at them, nod occasionally to show that you have heard the speaker and take notes – which serve as a useful reference later.


  • Be emotionally involved

Feel free to laugh aloud if something is funny, show a surprising/shocked face if something is very unusual or even cry if it’s a very touching story.  Your honest emotions encourage the presenter and make the experience richer for everyone.

  • Ask questions

Make sure that you leave the meeting well-informed and with more knowledge. Gather as much information as you can. During questions and answers time, ask questions that will help you gain the level of understanding you need, to help you become an expert and excel in that certain topic discussed in the future.

Speak to me

The thought of public speaking keeps most people awake at night! But it doesn’t have to be like that.

To really nail your presentation, you just need to be fully prepared, both physically and emotionally.

So what do you need to do?

Get your thoughts organized and don’t allow doubt or fear to creep into your head.

Remember, you are in control of the presentation and can stage it any way you want to in order to succeed.

Know your subject well.

‘Experts’ feel confident and don’t fumble around looking for words and ideas.  In this moment … you’re the expert.

Practice and prepare.

Standing in front of the mirror and watching yourself present is a good idea. Examine your hand gestures and facial expressions – do they improve your presentation.  Record yourself and listen to the recording.  This will check if your breathing is fine and if you’re speaking at the right speed.

Get someone else to check your presentation

A ‘fresh pair of eyes’ certainly helps to confirm if the information is presented in a logical and interesting way.

Support your words with good visual aids like presentations slides, video clips and music.

Be smart with your money

Student years are some of the best years of your life.  It’s a time to become more independent, to meet new people and make more decisions on your own.

An important challenge is to make good decisions and to be smart with your money.


Put a monthly budget in place.  Make sure you split your money carefully between accommodation, food, travel, entertainment, cellphone & internet usage, clothing etc.  Oh…and stick to the budget!

Now, other practical ideas:

  • Buy or rent used textbooks
  • Sell last semester’s books to other students
  • Don’t make impulse purchases
  • Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry (or you’ll buy lots of the unnecessary items)
  • Limit the number of times you eat out monthly
  • Cut out vices – smoking and binge drinking are terrible for youand
  • Walk, use public transportation or ride a bike instead of driving a car
  • Share accommodation so you can split rent and electricity costs
  • Consider more basic cellphone packages that include unlimited SMS with free incoming calls
  • Shop where they offer student discounts

Source & edited: Liz Brink Jan 16, 2015 Student Life, Student Resource Centre.

Make it happen

Ever heard the words ‘make it happen’ from a teacher, lecturer, coach or boss?  These words make you the person responsible for implementing an idea, solving a problem or organizing an event.

Oh yes, it felt good to get that instruction!        Oh no, what do I do now?

Here is a basic guideline to follow:

Step 1: Set clear direction

Start with the end-point in mind and write down the ideal outcome.

Step 2: Prepare a plan of action

Ask: How? Who? When? Where? and as you answer the questions you will start to formulate the plan.

Step 3: Write the plan down

You will need to draw strength during tough times.  Reading the written plan not only reminds you of the route you’re taking but can serve to encourage others too.

Step 4: Stick to your plan

…unless it becomes clear that the plan isn’t working.  Then go back to step 2 and ask other people with the necessary experience to relook at the plan with you.  Implement the changes that come from the new thinking.

Step 5: Communicate

Let everyone impacted by your efforts – from team members to clients – know what’s going on.  Updates keep people informed and help them plan their lives accordingly.

Step 6: Evaluate

Focus on results and don’t be scared to evaluate how well the project is going.  Of course, celebrate the high points and achievements with everyone who helped along the way.

A balancing act

Varsity life is fun and exciting especially for first year students. It’s all hip and happening but at the same time its academically challenging.

Often you’re having so much fun, attending every party and function that the tests and assignments sneak up on you.  Being unprepared can cause serious stress.

Having fun while doing enough work is a balancing act…

So what should you do to make sure you get the balance right?

  • Attend lectures – the first step in learning is being present to hear it from the expert. Use this time well and don’t daydream or spend lecture time checking your phone.
  • Make notes – the second step in learning is accurate note taking. These notes will help you cut straight to the most important information when it’s time to study.
  • Join study groups – the third step is that two heads are better than one and the support of a study group is wonderful, and social too.


  • Socialise with the right friends – surround yourself with people who have fun responsibly
  • Do a wide range of social activities – not everything needs alcohol to be fun!
  • Spend time with family – nothing recharges your personal batteries like a chill at home and good old home cooking
  • Get enough sleep
  • Do some exercise – even if it’s just walking to the canteen and back a few times each day
  • Make an effort to meet new people
  • Explore the city or town

Power of Past Exam Papers

Always the dilemma…do I practice on past exam papers or not?

One reason to test your knowledge on past exam papers is that it helps you to spot the most likely topics to be included in the exam.  This will make your revision more efficient and productive.

Other benefits associated with using past exam papers include:

  • You ‘get a feel’ for how long the exam will take;
  • Indicates typical number of questions;
  • Identifies number of choices provided;
  • Gives you an idea of the style of exam questions (short-answer, multiple choice or essays);

If you have not used past exam papers before, I hope you can now see the value in using them during revision and exam preparation.

Sourced & edited: Campus Life and Du Boulay, B. Study Skills For Dummies. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Article taken from http://www.thecareersportal.co.za/news/1150-benefits-of-studying-past-exam-papers.html

Here come the exams …

If we’re honest, very few people really enjoy examinations and most students experience anxiety while preparing for and writing exams.

Here are some ideas to help you cope with the anxiety exams can cause.

  • Begin by spending a little time organizing your work space and your material. Declutter the area you will use to study and prepare your study notes in a logical and practical way
  • Be well prepared, so start your revision in good time. Many tutors will build it into your course but you will need to make your own plans as well to make sure you have covered all the topics you think you must know.
  • Separate out the areas where you work and those where you relax. Move things that distract you into the area where you relax.
  • Think about using libraries to do some of your work.
  • Work through past exam papers to make sure you know the format of the examination.
  • Eat sensibly, get enough sleep and do mild exercise during the preparation and exam time.

How do I get out of this mess?

We all find ourselves in difficult situations from time to time. Sadly, too many of us don’t know how to deal with a difficult situation or problem and so it consumes our thoughts and negatively impact our actions.

So, how do you get out of a mess?


This seems a crazy place to start, because the mess makes you emotional and unstable.  All you really want to do is fight or run away or cry.  Unless your life is truly at risk, that’s no place to start.   If you just apply this first step and relax … you will notice the difference in your ability to find possible solutions to messy situations.


Before you act, make sure really understand what the problem is.  Then gather solid facts and evidence – like a detective would – to inform your actions.  Instead of thinking “why me?” rather think “how can I solve this?”  Apply your mind and ask people you respect and might have the necessary experience for their ideas.


Now with all the information and support you needed, focus your actions on the solution not the problem.  Keep an open mind as you go about things because you might need to adjust your plan at times.  Try to keep your emotions under control and remember, stick at it and don’t give up.

Make the connection

Study in order to connect with the popular job sectors in South Africa

Many people struggle to find work after graduating.  They end up stuck at home or being forced to accept far less fulfilling jobs just to pay the bills.  One of the reasons could be that they made poor career choices.

So, here’s an important thing to consider…which job sectors and skills are in high demand?

What do I need to study in order to put myself in line to work in growth industries?

The answer to these questions might lie in identifying the job sectors offering employment and opportunity?

Information Technology

Software Developers are the most sought after, followed by Systems & Network Administrators, Business & System Analysts and Database managers.


Accountants, and more especially Chartered Accountants, are in high demand. The South African Institute of Charted Accountants (SAICA), indicates that 22,000 qualified accountants are required in South Africa to fill the demand gap.


Both the government and the private sector have allocated large budgets to improve this sector. More franchises are increasingly being established, especially Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges due to the demand for such facilities and skills in the country.


Business tourism is on the rise with South Africa being recognised as the gateway to Africa.  Also, due to the weaker rand, we are a relatively cheap destination to host international conferences and sun-filled holidays.

Property and infrastructure management

Municipalities require help managing low-cost housing projects and offering basic services such as water and electricity supply.  There is also the ongoing demand to manage repairs and upgrades to government buildings and recreation sites in all cities and towns of South Africa.

So in the wise words of Stephen Covey, author and businessman …’Begin with the end in mind.’  If this applies to you, then decide where you would like to work and then decide what you need to study.

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