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?

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Finals are Approaching

I only have one week of classes left. The week after that is finals week…WHAT?!?!

It seems like only last month I was brainstorming blog ideas and typing out my four year college plan over summer. Looking back at my first semester of college, I definitely have some regrets (being antisocial, not getting very involved, not exploring the city, not working out…), but I still love college immensely more than any other form of education I have experienced.
So my first round of college finals is quickly approaching, and honestly, I have no idea how I feel about them. To prepare, I’ve made a study schedule. But I don’t really know how to study, so we’ll see how that goes. During finals week, I am going to stay as relaxed as possible. I am going to workout every day (theoretically). I have been getting interested in more distracting activities (calligraphy and lettering and reading), which might be bad. I am also planning to go to the crafts center. I am going to try to blog a lot to break up the studying. I also need to start a new experiment since I’m done with 30 Days of Lists.
This was a bit of a journal-y post, but I promise I’m going to get my blogging act together soon. Peace.

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?