February in Review

Pretty good things: My February consisted of lots of Tumblr and a good amount of Netflix. I’m almost done with season 5 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I only read approximately 3 books. I read Freak of Nature by Julia Crane, which I was not a huge fan of. I guess the idea of the book was promising, but the writing was just terrible, and the story was rushed. I also read An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, which was relatively enjoyable, kind of boring at times, but okay overall. I also read about half of Complications by Atul Gawande, which I’m reading for a class, and it is a fantastic book, especially for those interested in medicine to any extent. I started The Time Machine by HG Wells; I wasn’t really paying attention when I started it, so it’s been hard to get through. I also started Just One Day by Gayle Forman; it’s okay so far. I’ll see if it lives up to the hype (probably not). I’ve also been listening to more music, which is a good thing in my opinion. My current favorite artists are Hozier and Milky Chance.

Also pretty good things: Productivity-wise, I did pretty well in February. I’ve still been getting my work done by approximately 5 pm. I was also pretty social in February (for me at least). I actually met a lot of people last month. I need to find some productive hobbies. That shouldn’t be a problem though because my sister got me an early birthday present of a calligraphy set, so I am going to be spending a lot of time writing stuff on paper. Maybe I should use that as a reason to write poetry, which I’m supposed to do this year anyways. I researched a lot about MBTI again. I know so much about it by this point that I should probably write a whole separate blog about living life as an INTJ. I will probably start working on that once the current round of exams is over with.

Bad things: I didn’t journal much, which is a bad thing because a lot of things went on in February. I really need to start journaling again, at least once a week. My eating habits have also been bad. Not that I’ve been eating unhealthy food, I just haven’t been eating enough, and I forget to eat sometimes.

I think that’s pretty much it for February.

How did your February go?

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2014 Reflections

It is almost the end of 2014. That means that people have begun to set resolutions for 2015. Most people are focusing on who they want to be in the new year and what they want to change about themselves. But we should also look back at the past year to see, not only what we could do better in the coming year, but also what we accomplished and what we were great at.

These are some of the things I’ve accomplished in 2014:

  • read 30-ish books
  • watched 17-ish TV shows
  • got productive
  • maintained 9-5 study schedule
  • Dean’s list
  • graduated high school
  • started college
  • started this blog
  • learned the importance of personal projects
  • journaling daily in August and December and a couple days in between
  • rekindled interest in space and books and medicine
  • learned HTML
  • learned about MBTI
  • envisioned more goals for myself

I’ve read about 30 books. Not many I know, but I was distracted by Netflix. Speaking of, I’ve watched 17 TV shows in their entirety. Which is way excessive. But I did productive things while I watched Netflix, so I am okay with the large amount of shows that I have watched within a 9 month period of time. I should probably calculate how many hours of my life I spent on Netflix. Netflix has expanded my interests so so much. Namely, Doctor Who and Torchwood have changed my life. I also watched some movies, but I don’t really remember which ones. I should have recorded them somewhere. Most notably, I became productive. Never before, had I though that I could maintain a 9 to 5 study schedule. Oh, and I completed my first semester of college on the Dean’s list. I started journaling regularly, which I never realized was so fulfilling. I started this blog. I started to crave work. I can’t really do nothing for a day anymore. Well, I can, but I hate it. I learned that planning is a passion of mine. I also learned that I need creativity outlets, whether they be in forms of writing or forms of art. I have explored the merits and drawbacks of both digital and analog productivity. I still have not struck the perfect balance between the two, but my current methods are working for me reasonably well. I went through multiple rounds of fitness phases. I have also gone through innumerable amounts of unhealthy phases. I have rediscovered a love for space and space travel. I have started reading avidly again. I have also started to listen to podcasts and watch TED talks regularly. For me, 2014 contained many a momentous occasion: I officially became an adult; I graduated from high school; I started, and finished, my first semester of college; and I began to realize more of the things that I want to do in my life. I have begun to aspire to be one of those people that just does so much. For example, Hank Green, Tina Fey, and the various productivity bloggers that I now follow.

The year of 2014 has brought many changes to my life. My schooling has changed. My habits have changed. My interests have changed. And my mindset has changed.

I started this year as a procrastinator who had completely succumbed to senioritis. And I end this year as a relatively productive college student, who has a colossal amount of goals, for her schooling and for her life.

While 2014 was a year of change, 2015 is going to be a year of maximum productivity.

What have you accomplished in 2014?

2015 New Year’s Resolution Guide

2014 is coming to a close. That means that it is time for everyone to start setting New Year’s Resolutions. Most people will only get to mid-January, February if they’re lucky. But this year, you are not going to be one of those people! 2015 is going to be a year of growth and productivity. Over the next couple of days, I am going to be teaching you how to set New Year’s Resolutions in a way that it will be easy to maintain them.

How to set new year's resolutions

What is your system for setting New Year’s Resolutions?

9 Reasons Everyone Should Read

Today is the fourth day of 12 Days of Book Lists. Yay! This list is 9 reasons that everyone should read. Even those who supposedly “don’t read”.

9. To be a better writer
It’s pretty much a fact that good readers make good writers. I can assure you that most of those who write professionally were avid readers even before they considered writing. Even for school writing assignments, those who read often write better work. Readers generally have better grammar and word choice, a stronger vocabulary, and knowledge of whether a work flows well or has effective style.

8. To expand your creativity
Obviously, when you are constantly exploring the creative genius of others, your own creativity grows in response. You can’t just read about a world created by the individual mind of an author and not imagine what kinds of worlds you would create.

7. To understand yourself
Reading lends itself well to introspection. When you get to explore the minds of characters in a book, you learn how to explore your own mind. When you see characters deal with crises, you can’t help but imagine how you would deal with those crises. By finding which characters you relate to the most, you can find which personality traits that you share with them.

6. To appreciate your life
Similarly to watching the news, reading books makes you aware that your life is not that bad compared to that of others. If you read about someone the same age as you trying to overthrow a corrupted, seemingly all-powerful government, you start to realize that you embarrassing yourself in front of your crush is really not going to ruin your life.

5. To relate to others
I, for one, have a hard time relating to others unless they have very similar personalities to me. But reading allows me to learn how to deal with those whose personalities do not necessarily mesh well with mine.

4. To create more goals for yourself
When you read of teenagers who single-handedly defeat the worst possible enemies while still going to school and continuously building their repertoire of skills, you begin to reevaluate your singular goals of getting rich and starting a family. Of course, those are not bad goals to have, but you begin to realize that you could achieve those goals and still do so much more with your life.

3. To grow the multiverse of your mind
I believe that everyone’s mind contains their own personal universe. That is, those who don’t read have minds that contain singular universes, which are the universes in which they exist. However, those who read have multiverses in their minds. Instead of just containing the home universe, a reader’s mind contains all of the universes in each of the books that he or she has read along with the one’s he or she creates through their expanded creativity, which is also a result of reading.

2. To travel to magical places
Who doesn’t want to travel to mystical lands and whole new worlds? Reading allows you to travel the Earth, as well as trillions of other worlds, from the comfort of your own home.

1. To be more productive
I am a firm believer that reading is an act of the productive. Reading undoubtedly increases productivity, if only because of the plethora of productivity and lifestyle books that exist. Reading is a stress-reliever, a relaxation method, a creativity booster, a creativity inlet, as well as many other tools essential to attaining maximum productivity. Reading and productivity also participate in a positive feedback loop. Reading increases productivity, while productivity gives you more time to read.

Why do you (or don’t you) read?

12 Books You’re Wishing For

Today is Day 1 of 12 Days of Book Lists! Yay! I have listed only productivity/lifestyle books so that this actually fits with the theme of my blog.

The 12 Books I’m wishing for this winter are (in no particular order):

12. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I am actually currently reading this, and it is awesome. I have already changed the way I think about routines and habits that I would like to implement to achieve my ideal lifestyle. I’m less wishing for this book, and more wishing to finish it.

11. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I. Love. Amy Poehler. So. Much. I only recently learned that she had written a book, and I immediately wanted to devour it with my eyes. Since I probably won’t ever be able to hang out with Amy Poehler in real life, I am going to read this book, so I can pretend to be her best friend.

10. Juggling Elephants by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig
This is a productivity book that I want to read. This blurb from Amazon describes it perfectly: “Juggling Elephants tells a simple but profound story about one man with a universal problem. Mark has too much to do, too many priorities, too much stress, and too little time.” I’m hoping that this book will teach me more productivity skills and how to balance my circus of a life.

9. How to Win at College by Cal Newport
I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s Study Hacks blog for about a year. The things I have learned from it have changed my life immensely. His blog taught me skills such as time-blocking and research-paper outlining. I could not imagine my life without implementing the productivity tips I have learned from his blog. I assume that his books will teach me even more. I want to read How to Win at College because I am in college (university for you non-Americans). And I want to win at it.

8. How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
“The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading.” Nothing much else to say.

7. Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster
In this book, Mark Forster approaches time-management in unique, innovative ways. I want to learn these ways. So I want this book.

6. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
This is Cal Newport’s newest book. It is about “why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” I want to get a head start in finding my perfect job, so that I don’t realize that I want to do something entirely different with my life once I have already gotten deep into a specific industry.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
I love Tina Fey. This book was written at a time when she was juggling an enormous amount of projects. Tina Fey lives a busy lifestyle, as many of us do. But she is able to laugh about it. I think this is a skill that we can all do well to learn.

4. Use Your Head by Tony Buzan
“How to unleash the power of your mind.” Well, I want to unleash the amazingawesome power of my mind, so…

3. Brain Rules by John Medina
“In Brain Rules, molecular biologist Dr. John Medina shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule–what scientists know for sure about how our brains work–and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.”

2. The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter
I have lots of things that I want to do, but lack the motivation to do (working out). But I know that if I can figure out what my personal motivation is based on, then I can accomplish any- and everything that I want to. I think this book will help me (fingers crossed). It is pretty high up on my reading list.

1. Getting Things Done by David Allen
I’ve researched a little bit on the infamous GTD productivity system. Honestly, it hasn’t seemed very appealing to me. I want to read this book because I want to see if it lives up to the hype. I also want to figure out what the big deal about GTD is. Maybe I’ll try it out after I read this book.

What productivity books are on your reading list?

3 Things I learned from 30 Days of Lists

For the month of November, I decided to embark an a wondrous experiment. I created a list everyday for thirty days. I unexpectedly learned quite a few things from this experiment/journey/quest:

1. Small habit changes are the most effective.
Making a small change in your daily routine is pretty easy. I have attempted to instill many habits into my daily life, however, these attempts fail, simply because the change I tried to make in my life was too large or too different from my normal day. Adding the task of making a list on a notecard to my daily itinerary was pretty easy because I could write my list for the day while I was watching Netflix in the evening. During the time that I made the lists, I was previously doodling or planning. I wasn’t drastically changing something I already did. I was just adding another element to the relaxation portion of my day.

2. Personal projects make you more productive.
I’m the type of person that does semi-productive things even during the times of day in which I am not supposed to be productive (after dinner). For me, being productive with my school work just gives me more time to produce other things. I have a huge mental list of personal projects I want to complete, but for most of them, I do not have defined goals. I knew I wanted to make lists, so that I could sort out some random thoughts. So I decided to do 30 days of lists. Having projects I’m working on that are unrelated to school gives me more of an incentive to get my necessary work done more productively in an effort to make time to do the work I want to do. I have also learned that I need to set defined, or SMART, goals for all of the personal goals I am working towards.

3.Mindless tasks=Mindful consumption
Mindless productive tasks allow me to focus more on the entertainment/knowledge/Netflix I am absorbing. TV shows and videos often do not take up all of my attention, so my mind begins to wander to occupy my remaining attention. Doing something that requires very little attention, in this case making lists, takes up the attention that watching and absorbing (usually useless) information does not take up. This prevents daydreaming or boredom or distraction. I also like doing tasks that are somewhat productive during these times so that my day feels more productive overall. For example, I usually do most of my planning while watching Netflix or a YouTube video. For some reason, podcasts take up more of my attention than video. I have no idea why, but I can’t focus on podcasts while doing productive mindless tasks. Tasks such as cleaning and chores, however, usually require very little attention as you can rely on your habits to complete them. So you probably have enough attention left over to even watch a TED talk or something else that’s useful.

Overall, I am very happy that I completed 30 Days of Lists. I know it’s not that great of a feat, but it seems like it has been a while since I’ve finished something that I started because I wanted to, not because I was obligated to.

Click here for part 1 of 30 Days of Lists.
Click here for part 2 of 30 Days of Lists.
Click here for part 3 of 30 Days of Lists.

What should my next project/experiment be?