Things I’m Grateful for

In honor of Thanksgiving, I am writing a list of things I am grateful for at this moment. I am starting to realize the importance of acknowledging what you are grateful for. I am also starting to realize that I don’t do so very often.

At this very moment, I am thankful for:

  • technology
  • blogs
  • not having to wear shower shoes at home
  • being able to jump out of bed without breaking a leg
  • socks
  • being able to read any book I want without going to the library
  • productivity
  • TED talks
  • pumpkin pie

I also feel obligated to add these:

  • my family
  • shelter
  • clothes
  • having the opportunity to get a high-level education

I’m going to try to think of three things I am thankful for every night before I sleep. We’ll see how that goes.

What are you thankful for?


Creative Outlets

I think that everyone needs a creative outlet. Even if you don’t think you have time to do something creative, you would benefit tremendously from having something tangible that you have created. Creative outlets can present themselves in many forms, including not only the artsy things, but also things like fashion and story-telling. Most people have some sort of art they create even if they do not realize it. For example, I’ve always doodled on my class notes in grade school, but I didn’t realize that this was my creative outlet until I started to deliberately sit down and doodle with a purpose in college.

I have had multiple creative outlets throughout the years. And I am looking to grow this list. I sometimes feel a sort of pressure to create something new building inside my brain. I have found that this need to innovate has only increased as I’ve become older and especially since I have become more productive. When I first decided to not let myself do schoolwork after 5 pm everyday, I got bored. I finished my work before dinner, and all I could think to do after dinner was watch Netflix until bedtime. I realized that I needed to give myself personal projects to act as extracurricular activities.

My current creativity outlets include: doodling, lettering, and blogging. I hope to expand this list to include calligraphy, YouTube, and art-journaling.

I have also gone through a plethora of creativity outlets in the past. The earliest one I can remember is, obviously, coloring. I also remember cartooning and having drawing competitions with my siblings. In middle school, I went through a makeup-obsessed phase. I didn’t wear that much makeup, but I would watch multiple beauty gurus on YouTube and go through magazines and match my makeup to every beauty product recommended. I quickly transitioned to fashion. I had subscriptions to six different fashion magazines (most of which are still sitting in my closet), and I actively created outfits on Polyvore. After this stage, I began to DIY and craft things all the time. I still love making useful things, such as room decorations. At some point in time, I wrote short poems every day, but those were immediately deleted from my computer. I’m pretty sure I made a bunch of jewelry in elementary school.

It is also incredibly important to have creativity inlets. So go watch some Netflix or YouTube videos, read a book, or listen to music. And create something.

What are your creativity outlets?

Video Share: Double Your Productivity Double Your Life by seanTHiNKs

So I just found the seanTHiNKs YouTube channel a couple days ago. I immediately noticed something similar to many other YouTubers *cough*Hank Green*cough*. Sean just does so much. He implements all of his interests into his daily life, and consequently, pursues his varied goals daily. It has always been a goal of mine to be able to work towards all of my goals and pursue all of my interests simultaneously. This video reminded me that becoming a productive person will allow me, not only to get my necessary work done efficiently, but also to work toward my extracurricular goals. Everyday has enough time for everything I want to do. I need to stop letting the days slip by without attempting to achieve my short-term goals.

Make today count towards each and every one of your goals because life is just a series of today’s. And someday, there will be no more tomorrow’s to push your goal-oriented tasks to.

My Productivity Toolbox

I have now been a college kid for approximately two months. I am very proud to announce that up to this point, I have been exponentially more productive during college than I was in high school. Productivity is really, really important in college (really). Especially if you go to a crazy hard school like I do. Of course, everyone has their perfect productivity equation, but, so far, my personal success with productivity has come through the use of these tools:

1. iPad mini
An iPad mini is the best investment I have made for school. It has increased productivity in class through note taking apps, walking between classes through decreased backpack weight, and even procrastinating through awesome brain function and creativity enhancing apps (aka Netflix).I also use my iPhone for awesome apps. I like apps.

2. blank paper+colorful pens
I use blank copy paper and colorful pens to outline my textbook reading and attempt to sketchnote. There are two reasons I don’t use my iPad for this: 1. iPad is currently being used to read the textbook being outlined, and 2. it is easier to view an entire physical page than an iPad screen.

3. Index Cards
Honestly, I don’t use index cards as study tools like most people do (I ain’t basic). I use my index cards to doodle and write lists. Most of you are probably like “Doodling is procrastinating not being productive, Yusra.” Those of you who are saying this are wrong. Just kidding. Doodling can be a waste of time, but doodling with a purpose is a habit I have picked up that has helped me to get things done. Doodling has many benefits including, but not limited to: acting as a creativity outlet, sketchnotes(!), and stress relief. Also, index card doodles can be used as non-wall-damaging dorm decorations (HOLLA).

4. Styluses
Obviously, styluses go with the iPad for notetaking and sketching. If you need an explanation, I have no words for you.

5. Legal Pads
I use legal pads primarily for my homework assignments and as a scratchpad. Also, it is easy to just carry one writing pad to all your classes and organize notes by course later.

6. Portfolios/File Folders
I use portfolios for this very purpose. I have a different portfolio for each course, even though I probably won’t have enough paperwork to fill any of them. I know some people love binders, but I’ve had my hands caught in binder rings enough times to hate them. But if you just have to have your binders, they can also be used for this purpose.

7. A mini notebook/journal/moleskine+planner
For planning out my daily life, I use a combination of a planner (I just use my official school one) and a mini spiral notebook from the dollar store. At the beginning of the semester, I wrote down all of my assignments and exams in my planner. In my notebook, I write daily to-do lists and also plan out my day based on time. So pretty much, I use my planner to plan things out what day of the week I need to do specific parts of an assignment, and I use my notebook to plan exactly what time I will work on something. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a planner (aka INTJ).

My toolbox has allowed me to usually get all of my schoolwork done by dinner time, which is usually 5 or 6 pm, which means I have time to Netf-I mean develop social skills like a normal person. Of course, this combination of tools will not work for everyone, but the time at the beginning of school is the time to experiment with different paper mediums and technology and whatnot. And remember, being productive should make you feel good about yourself, or you’re doing it wrong.

P.S. I didn’t include my laptop because that’s a given.

P.P.S. I am going to do another one of these posts about my Technological Productivity Toolbox. Get excited.

What does your productivity toolbox consist of?

College Countdown: 3 Methods of Self-Evaluation

It is currently August 12, 2014. I move into my college dorm the day after tomorrow. My first day of class is Monday, August 18th. I am freaking out.

Oftentimes we become incredibly overwhelmed in times of great change. We have much to do and many potential stressors. During these moments of mental chaos, it is important to take a step back from life and center the mind. We must evaluate our mental, emotional, and physical states.

1. Good vs. Bad/Pros vs. Cons
Whenever you are frazzled because of a big change or a busy schedule, just sit down and write/type/speak all of the things causing excitement and all of the things causing worry. Letting it out allows your brain to externally process the entire situation. This allows you to better see solutions for any possible problems you are confronted with and further increase excitement for the amazing things about to happen in your life.

The Good:

  • I am almost done packing. (yay)
  • Most of my textbooks are easily findable as PDFs.
  • I have a pretty reasonable schedule for a freshman.
  • I have not spent very much money in furnishing my dorm room ($65 including a mini fridge).
  • I have been very productive in working on applications for various leadership organizations and some scholarships.
  • My calendar is already packed for the next week.

The Bad:

  • I am not completely done packing. (ugh)
  • Insomnia
  • I keep forgetting to take my allergy medicine at night.
  • This whole college thing still hasn’t completely registered.
  • I have not bought any school things I need, such as textbooks not available online, lab coat, clicker,etc.
  • I’m having innate urges to make routines and schedules, but I don’t really have the time to. (I’m a planner.)
  • I still need to buy things like various Command products.

2. Meditation
By definition, meditation is a form of reflection. Meditation allows you to focus on one tiny goal: thinking deeply, or maybe even not at all. In my experience, the meditation that helps me reduce my frazzled-ness is allowing thoughts to come randomly, but only observing them, not ruminating the problems or possible solutions. I know to most college kids meditation seems like a “hippie, tree-hugger” sort of thing to do, but it is much easier than you think, and can help increase productivity. You can even do it while walking to class.  I personally love the Breathe app (App store) and Headspace‘s 10 day program (available on App store and Google Play). The Essence app (App store) is also simple and great for beginners.

3. Make a List of Questions
This is as simple as it sounds. Just ask yourself questions. Don’t think about answering them. You can tackle them one by one later, if you so wish. Simply write/type any uncertainties you possess. This method can also work as a sort of to-do list.

  • Am I really ready for college?
  • Can I take care of myself?
  • Did I pick the right classes to take my first semester?
  • Should I get a job my freshman year?
  • How many clubs/organizations should I limit myself to?
  • What if I can’t learn how to properly study?
  • How am I going to balance my wide array of interests with schoolwork and studying?
  • Have I packed enough?
  • Have I packed too much?
  • How soon will the workload begin?
  • Am I choosing the right career path?
  • Am I ever going to achieve my goal of becoming a morning person?

I hope these methods helped decrease your overwhelmedness as the new school year approaches, bringing with it exciting/frightening changes.

How do you center yourself when your mind is being a little too chaotic?