Productivity Report: The Mara Dyer trilogy

The Mara Dyer trilogy is a fantastic YA series by Michelle Hodkin. This trilogy includes: The Unbecoming of Mara DyerThe Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution of Mara Dyer. Usually, I can predict what is going to happen in most books, especially those of YA genres. But I was genuinely surprised by many of the plot points throughout this entire series. Which is definitely a good thing.

So most of the main characters in this trilogy really know how to get things done. They have to deal with mental illness and hallucinations and mistrust, and they still take care of themselves relatively well. But I think the title of the most productive character goes to Daniel Dyer, Mara’s older brother. He is the perfect student, the perfect  son, the perfect brother, and he plays instruments. Granted, his main goal during much of the story is to get into college. And he does not have to deal with aforementioned mental illness and unknown powers, but he takes care of those who do. One could argue that Noah Shaw has to deal with those problems and still has a perfect GPA and reads libraries of books and plays an instrument. But he has an unfair advantage because of his perfect memory.

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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?

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?