08 3 / 2014
To kick start our newest four-part weekend blog post series, we reveal a seemingly contradictory secret behind the success of Townsend Benard, U of T student, Hart House Strength and Fitness Supervisor and Personal Trainer, and bronze medal winner in the men’s pole vault at the 2013 CIS Track and Field Championship.
It’s hard not to be intimated when you browse through the resumé of U of T student Townsend Benard. With a four-year cumulative 3.89 GPA, Townsend is:
• A University of Toronto Scholar Award recipient (2011),
• A two-time Dean’s Leadership Award recipient,
• A three-time T-Holder’s Academic Excellence Award Recipient and CIS Academic All-Canadian Honour Roll Recipient (2012), as well as
• The Co-Chair Varsity Athletics Board and Council of Athletics and Recreation.
Oh, and he’s also a five-time CIS Finalist for Pole Vault.
Townsend Benard has mastered the art of working hard with no burnout.
Surely the reason for Townsend’s success is a higher-than-average IQ, or maybe a particularly solid work ethic.
Yet when you talk with the unassuming Townsend, it dawns on you that besides sheer willpower and ironclad discipline, he has spent a great deal of time researching, adapting, and honing different strategies that even the laziest among us should have no problem adopting.
Luckily, he’s agreed to share four such strategies with us. Curious to learn about number one? Read on.
A Surprising Strategy for Maximized Performance
Whether you are a busy student juggling work and a full course load, or a part-time student finishing one last half-credit course before graduating, it’s easy to find yourself going back and forth between two less-than-ideal scenarios.
On the one hand is the scenario where you delay your schoolwork.
When that happens, you know you should study, but you don’t feel like it. Instead, you go out with friends or binge watch a popular TV show or play video games.
The worst part? None of it brings you actual relief, because deep down you know you’re avoiding something else—something that you will have to get back to sooner or later.
The second scenario happens when you do get down to business, but feel like you’re trapped doing something you’d rather not be doing.
And why should you want to? When you’ve been hitting the books until 3 am for two nights in a row—when the deadline for a paper is looming, but you’re nowhere near done, well, it’s hard to find someone who enjoys being in that situation.
Townsend’s surprising recommendation? Set some time aside… to have fun.
In Townsend’s experience, setting time aside to have fun and relax is as important as setting time aside to work, provided that time is regularly structured into the week well in advance (i.e. a re-occuring night every week) and that the time off is something that you really enjoy, not simply just time off from work.
“I used to pound through work every day and what happens is you become lazier because you never see a break coming. Now, I pick a night or two nights where I put down the books and go do what I want, but it’s structured, so I know I have this coming up. I find this makes it easier to go through three days of hard work when I know something completely relaxing is coming up,” says Townsend.
“I find a lot of students don’t structure time away from what they are doing. That’s what happened to me. As I started to take on more initiatives, I never had a set time to relax.”
The benefit of booking your time away from work is twofold. First, you enjoy laser-sharp focus while you work. Second, you enjoy your time away from your obligations… guilt-free.
So go ahead: every week, make sure you set aside an evening or two where you do something fun. It will help you work harder, and when they arrive, you will be more likely to enjoy yourself.
Now it’s your turn—what are your strategies for increasing productivity?
Click here to watch Townsend compete in the 2014 CIS Indoor Track & Field Championships.
04 3 / 2014
The deadline to apply for one of our committees is almost here. If you’re a U of T student, this is your opportunity to acquire and develop skills that will last you a lifetime.
Consider the case of Elizabeth Laushway, an economics student at U of T.
Elizabeth graduates next year and she already has 11 months under her belt as an Executive Secretary on the Hart House Chorus Committee, where she previously worked as Concert Manager.
01 3 / 2014
Do you focus on marks above everything else? Even if you don’t, chances are good you know someone who does.
After all, a high G.P.A. can get you into post-secondary programs or help you land a better job. And if you graduate with high distinction, your parents will be that much more proud to hang your diploma on top of the mantel.
The truth, however, is that marks do not represent everything you know. Prominent people in both the private sector and academia have long understood this.
Winning isn’t everything.
25 2 / 2014
Last week we told you about U of T graduate Joanna Nairn, who credits Hart House and one of our clubs for her impressive professional path. Now we are pleased to introduce another U of T student, as well some of the Hart House committees that you can apply for.
￼The benefits of joining a Hart House committee are plentiful, both from an academic and a professional point of view.
But besides these benefits, getting involved in co-curricular activities gives you a chance to have fun and make new friends.
22 2 / 2014
In today’s competitive economy, many recent graduates settle for the first job that comes their way. But are they making a mistake? In our third weekend blog series with Hart House Warden Bruce Kidd, we share tips on how to build a career that’s more deliberate than desperate.
If you’re graduating soon, you’re probably eager to get started on your professional path.
Maybe you’re concerned about looming student loan payments. Maybe you want to prove that it was worthwhile to invest all this effort and time and money into U of T.
But if you can afford to be patient—if you can take the time to develop the right strategy—you will be rewarded in the long term.
After all, great careers are more akin to a marathon than a frantic sprint. Run too fast, and you’re more likely to end up in a dead end of a job. Plan ahead, be selective, keep your goal in mind, and you will be successful.
"Many alumni end up in careers that emanate from the passions that they discovered while taking a Hart House class or participating in one of our clubs." —Prof. Bruce Kidd, Hart House Warden
18 2 / 2014
Meet Joanna Nairn. Joanna lives in Washington, D.C, where she works as a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation group at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. It is the 29th largest law firm in the world and one of the top 25 most prestigious and best law firms to work for in America.
Joanna no doubt owes some of her success to the BA in Political Science she received at the University of Toronto in 2006. And she’s likely thankful for the knowledge she acquired at Harvard Law School, where she received a J.D. in 2009.
15 2 / 2014
This weekend, we remind ourselves to be true to the voice that matters the most.
Where would you rather go: University of Toronto or Harvard?
That’s the decision a local young man faced many years ago.
And while the answer may seem obvious to many of you, it wasn’t so for this young man.
Born and raised in Toronto, he was a promising athlete who knew U of T quite well—as a high school student, he trained with the U of T Track Team and hung out at Hart House. He liked U of T.
Only you know what the best university for you is.
11 2 / 2014
On the eve of the Black History Month Opening Ceremony, we spoke with President Gertler about the role of education in fighting social and racial discrimination.
President Gertler will join students, academics and thinkers at tomorrow’s MLK Was Here event, which reflects on and explores the words and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Although you have been to Hart House many times, you are now addressing audiences as president of the University of Toronto. Can you tell us more about your connection to the House?
I can tell you that Hart House was probably the first place where I connected with the University of Toronto. I was nine or ten years old when I visited Hart House and swam in the pool and thought it was this
08 2 / 2014
For our new series of weekend posts, we’re proud to feature tips from renowned academic and former Olympian, Bruce Kidd, Warden of Hart House.
When trying to improve your life, it’s tempting to do too much, too fast.
That’s because most of us want immediate gratification. But while intense workouts and tiring study sessions have their time and place, it almost always pays to take it one step at a time. The former approach causes fatigue, so it’s not sustainable in the long run; the latter, on the other hand, is easy enough to sustain for a long time.
Hart House Warden Bruce Kidd knows all about perseverance. He didn’t just have a lone moment of glory, but managed to develop habits that have served him extremely well for an entire lifetime.
Prof. Kidd poses for a picture during of his “Walk with the Warden” sessions.
One such habit is to keep himself active (which isn’t necessarily the same as going to the gym). At Hart House, meetings with the Warden often take place outside. And once a month or so, the entire staff is formally invited to a “Walk with the Warden” session, in which participants enjoy a tour of Prof. Kidd’s favourite campus spots—weather be damned.
“When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the sole leather has passed into the fibre of your body.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
In fact, Prof. Kidd encourages walking outside every day.
“I used to run outside every single day in the winter,” says Prof. Kidd, adding that it’s how he learned to appreciate its beauty.
But besides offering you an opportunity to enjoy the seasons, walking outside (except perhaps on the harshest winter days), offers many other benefits:
- It’s energizing. (Feeling sleepy after lunch? Forgo your usual coffee for a stroll outside.)
- It improves focus, concentration and cognitive function
- It improves your health
- It’s enjoyable
- It’s sustainable
- It can be done alone or accompanied
- It requires no special gear
In an age where cars and public transit have all but eliminated walking as a means of transportation, it pays to keep in mind its life-changing benefits.
04 2 / 2014
The 2014 Hancock Lecture is just around the corner. With it comes an opportunity to learn how to get people involved in public policy using an exciting new approach: games.
If you follow us on social media, you know all about the exciting 2014 Hancock Lecture complementary events that have taken place so far (the last one, Dames Making Games, occurs this Thursday, February 6, from 6-8 pm.)
But there’s more. Exactly a week from today, the 2014 Hart House Hancock Lecture is your opportunity to hear from Vass Bednar, Policy Advisor at Queen’s Park and Action Canada Fellow, on how public policy can actually be fun.