Things to do Before I Turn 20

So as of this morning, I have officially been on this planet for 19 years. It’s my birthday–holla–and the weather is really nice and I’ve gotten a lot of work done and it has been a pretty good day so far (aside from an Orgo exam).

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the past year, including graduation and starting college. But the biggest changes have occurred in myself. I have become a relatively productive person with pretty good time management skills (for a college student). I have discovered new life goals, and I want to do so much more with my life. I started this blog, and I started reading even more books, and I organized  a lot of my digital lists and such.

This year, I want to do even more. I want to read a lot of books and develop this blog and get healthy and develop my social skills. I want to find my writing style and get more involved in school and a lot of other things that I can’t particularly think of right now. Hopefully, the rest of the day also goes well.

What do you think I should do before I’m 20? I need suggestions yo.

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?

December Goals

My month of December is split into two distinct periods: the stress-filled, first couple weeks, in which I must go through my first round of college finals, and the relaxing rest of the month, in which I can work on personal projects while on vacation.

My goals for the first half of December include but are not limited to:

  • getting through finals
  • not stressing out too much
  • being very productive
  • not dying

My goals for the second half of December include:

1. Reading 
I am going to read lots and lots of books because I haven’t had the chance to read as many books as I’ve wanted to lately. I don’t have a set goal yet, but I’m working on making a list of books I will read in December. My goal will probably be around 10. Last year, I read 15 books over winter break, and that break was much shorter than this year’s.

2. Watch movies
I need to catch up on some classic movies. There are quite a few movies that I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t seen. So I’m not going to. I also want to catch up on movies from 2014 that I haven’t gotten the chance to watch. There’s also probably some from 2013. Maybe 2012. I need to watch some documentaries, too. I haven’t really seen many.

3. Apply for things
I really want to be a Peer Leader (PL), or Freshman RA, next year. The application has been out, and it’s due halfway through January. I am going to use winter break to write killer answers for the essay questions and making an awesome welcome letter, which is also part of the application.

4. Finish TV shows
There are quite a few TV shows that I have started but have never finished for reasons that I don’t even know myself. Over winter break, I am going to finish the following TV shows: Sherlock (BBC), Merlin (BBC), Parks and Recreation (actually, at the rate I’m going, I’ll probably finish this before next week), Firefly (I’ve only watched the first episode.), and Lost (Again, I’ve only seen the first episode). I thought there were more, but for the last month I’ve been trying to get through shows I haven’t finished. I guess I finished more than I thought I did. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I also want to watch the River Song episodes of Doctor Who in the order of her timeline.

5. Practice coding
I started to learn HTML over summer, and I need to practice. I also need to learn some more coding languages.

6. Organize
I really need to organize some things on my laptop. Not having them organized stresses me out. I already organized my YouTube subscriptions. But I still need to organize my Spotify songs, and I need to unsubscribe from/organize some Tumblr accounts I am following, as my interests have drastically changed since I first got a Tumblr. I also need to clean out my emails; I read all of my emails, but I want to delete all of the emails that are already read. I also need to unsubscribe from some email lists. My Google Chrome bookmarks have been organized for a while, but I need to clean them out and further organize some of the folders. I might need to uninstall some programs from my laptop because I don’t use them, but I’m not sure. I never really got into Goodreads, but now I really want to try to remember all of the books I’ve read and organize them on Goodreads. I use Wunderlist to collect lists, including my To Be Read book list. It currently holds around 200 book titles. I need to organize these into subcategories, so it is easier for me to find books I am interested in reading at the time that I am looking for them.

7. Build online presence
I really want to grow this blog over break. My goal is to post daily and create lots of new post ideas. I also need to make a LinkedIn profile. I am hoping to start a YouTube channel soon, so I’m going to try to work on that over break.

8. Work out
I have been really bad at working out this since school has started. I am hoping to start working out again over break.

9. Productivity experiments
With all of these goals, I’m going to have to be very productive, even though I will be on break. I am perfectly happy with this, as I like being productive in my downtime. I plan to experiment with various productivity techniques. Some of the experiments I’ve been thinking of trying out are:

  • waking up at 5 am every day (5 am club)
  • meditating for an hour a day
  • watching two-three hours of TED talks every day
  • using exclusively digital productivity techniques for a week
  • only using to-do lists for a week (no time-blocking)
  • reading a book a day
  • doing an hour of yoga a day

I think that’ it. For now. There’ll probably be a couple more items on this list by the time my break officially starts next Friday. Goodbye, and happy finals!

What are your December goals?

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?