5 Productivity Hacks You Should Do

Last Summer, I was taking two online classes and working 18 hours a week.

“This Summer is a little busy, but I’m keeping up.” I thought to myself.

Now, I’m laughing at that. I’m so much busier this Summer even though I’m taking any classes. Instead, I’m working on my blog, getting my ducks in a row since I graduate next year, keeping up with the demands of my club, and trying to hang out with my family as much as possible. Not to mention, I’m trying to stay informed about current events. Last year was easy mode.

My saving grace: I’m more aware of how to be more productive.

Honestly, I’m not that great at being productive, but I’m improving and doing more than I ever thought I could. Here are some of the best productivity methods I came across:

The Pomodoro Technique

This technique has been gaining a ton of traction in the last few years. Basically, you work for a set amount of time, then take a break. With this method, you use a timer to determine how long you work before you take a break. An example would be working for 50 minutes then taking a 5-minute break.

I really like The Pomodoro Technique, but it does not work well with my personality. The way I get around this is taking on a certain task and stop working with a get too distracted. Afterward, I walk for a while and return back to my work space. My head is clearer, and I take a break when it feels right.

To-do lists

Who doesn’t like a good old to-do list? It states your priorities for the day and helps keep you focused. Also, crossing out a task after you complete it feels so good! That being said, to-do lists can kill your productivity if you have too many tasks for the day. Finding the right balance has always been a struggle for me.

I’ll never forget the great advice my former club president told us. “At the end of each night, you should cross out what you haven’t done as well. That way, you will keep from dragging into your tasks for the next day.” I love that piece of advice because it’s to put unfinished tasks for the next day. The worst part is that the unfinished tasks from yesterday might not be important, yet these tasks distract you the next day

The Get Efficient Prioritization Matrix

This matrix was created by Amber McCue from Niceops.com. A good chunk of the battle to become more productive is sorting out your priorities. According to her article about The Get Efficient Prioritization Matrix, It helps you figure out the following:

* What should you outsource
* What should you keep doing
* What should you systematize

The matrix does this by evaluating how long a task takes you and whether you hate or love doing it. From there, you can see the recommendation to either outsource it, keep doing it, or systematize it.

I’m in love with this matrix because it’s so different than a lot of the productivity methods I’ve come across. I especially love how it brings outsourcing and systematization to the table. Doing more outsourcing and systematization allows you to be more productive.

Focus on your most important task

We are surrounded by distractions around us, it’s easy to not move forward on the task at hand. Jumping from task to task makes it seem like we’re being productive, but that’s a lie. Sometimes, going the “slow” way by focusing on the top task you need to do today helps you go faster.

Even though I know having only one set task for the day will make me more productive, I like thinking that I’m going to get multiple things in one day. It drives me. If that’s you too, you can still use a modified version of focusing on your “one” thing. I set 2-5 tasks for the day, and once I finish a few of them, I can add another task to the list. This keeps from creating an enormous to-do list while forcing me to focus on the task at hand.

Go with the flow

How many times have we’ve been in the mood to accomplish our tasks, yet found an excuse to not do it? Writing every day tends to be the task I neglect the most. I would get in a mood to write something, but I would just focus on another task on my to-do list. Sometimes, we’re the middle of a task when the mood to do something else important hits us. Go for it!

If you can shift to doing that task when you’re in the mood to do it, you’ll get more done and not feel like it was a burden. Maybe, you can’t stop to do the task. For example, you might be in the middle of hanging out with friends, when you feel the urge to work on a personal project. For that, I advise knowing what triggers you to get in that mood and duplicate the triggers as best as you can.

Conclusion

We’re bombarded with ways to be more productive, but we have to find the ones that work best for us. The best part about knowing different productivity methods is that we can modify the methods to fit our personality and lifestyle.

 

 

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Why You Should Vote in Local Elections

Out of all the things you can do to impact your life and those around you, voting is high on the list. Okay, so maybe your vote has no power when you vote against your state’s main candidate in the presidential elections. Even so, on the local level, your vote does have power and won’t be buried by your state.

Not to mention, it keeps you up to date on what’s going on where you live. Yet, a lot of people don’t take advantage of this. They wait until the presidential election to be heard. With all the benefits that come with voting locally, it’s time for us to buck the trend.

1. You have more power

First off, on the local level, you don’t have to worry about the electoral college. Second, politicians have fewer people they are trying to make happy. If they see a group of dedicated voters that care about a certain cause that cause will get more attention.

2. You become more informed about what’s going on in your community

When you start researching local politicians, you learn more about different issues or ballot initiatives. Politicians tend to have a few issues that they focus on the most. With that, hopefully, comes information on what they’ve done in the past and what they plan to do in the future.

3. You can leverage previous connections

Now, that you have spent some time evaluating what you want for the future and the politicians trying to get elected, you can connect with others. You can get others you know to help you to organize a rally, march, or whatever else you think will help. Also, there are probably local organizations you can team up with.

In one of my clubs, we have been able to reach out to a few local organizations that care about the environment. Some of the organizations try to help the environment by getting citizens to use their political power to vote for certain bills and politicians.

4. You can go to events to show your support without too much trouble

Since January, there have been quite a few marches going on. Where I live, there is going to be a March for Science event soon. Since this March is less than an hour away from where I live showing up to the event is a lot easier than if the event is in New York. Do a little digging into your causes. If it’s near voting time, there should be some rallies going on.

5. This will get you ready for the next step

Of all the things we can do to be a good citizen, voting is the low hanging fruit. You don’t have to attend any rallies or marches to become an informed voter. You can take simple steps to become informed. It’s important to vote, and the amount of effort compared to the results is excellent.

Final Thoughts

When you vote, you make your voice heard. Politicians pay more attention because your vote is what keeps them in office. Use this power to advocate the causes you care about!

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2 Simple Actions You Can Take to Get Informed

Ever since 7th grade, I’ve been interested in learning about how politics worked. It started with taking US Government in 7th grade. I loved listening to the lectures and reading my textbook. Even so, I always ran into one major problem – class doesn’t equal real life. In real life, there are a ton of grays and a lot of dry text to read through. Not to mention, all the sound bites floating around. Every time I thought I had my head wrapped around an issue, I would realize that I knew nothing.

That and just life, in general, kept me from getting involved. I know a lot of people in my life that don’t bother with politics because it’s too “depressing” and “time-consuming.” I’m still struggling with that, but here are 2 actions you can take if you are struggling with it too.

1. Within reason, keep politics on your mind 

When you’re constantly exposed to people who talk about politics in a relatively civil matter, you start to develop options of your own, discover bias, and entertain different viewpoints. Also, it keeps politics on your mind. For me, this website and being a member of the Student Sustainability Council at my college gets me connected to others that care about politics. Whether it’s reading about how Russia’s latest actions resemble what they did in the past with China or finding out what bills I should be keeping an eye on, I know that I will leave with a richer perspective.

Now, time for the within reason part. We all know that information overload is too real. There is international politics, local politics, and the list keeps going on. What’s helped me is focusing on local politics and issues I care about. Eventually, I want to expand my horizon, but I would rather take it slow than burnout. Since I’m only tackling a few issues, staying on top of politics become less time-consuming.

2. Do a little fact-checking

These days, we are surrounded with so much information. I have found that a good chunk of the information is incorrect or not stating key facts. That being said, if I were to fact check everything I heard and read, my family would never see me again. A better approach is to start small. You want to fact-check to become a habit. To start small, I’ve chosen to fact-check at least 1 piece of information that I normally wouldn’t fact-check. So, articles are the big one for me.

Final Thoughts

These 2 actions aren’t time-consuming and keep political overload very low. They have become a part of my daily routine, and I have become better for it!

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Why I’m Going to Stop Looking for “All of the Facts”

Making politics more a part of my life by letting self-doubt and perfectionism go!

“Sign this petition to keep social energy in Las Vegas,” a man told my sister and me.

I turned to him. Right away I knew that no matter what he said, I wouldn’t be signing the petition – at least not until I researched the issue myself. After all, my mind was telling me he was going to twist the issue to make his side look like a hero. I mean come on, how could not signing one petition get rid of the entire clean energy economy in Las Vegas.

“Can you please tell me more?” I asked.

He goes on explaining how if a new bill is passed, it would be harder for social energy companies to survive in Las Vegas. So far, so good. Until he slips that his job might be in jeopardy if the bill passes.

I thought to myself, “That is a conflict of interest thing going on. Anything he says can’t be trusted. I’m going to get all the facts and make my decision.”

My Decision

You know how you have a bunch of stuff on your to-do list, and you put other things on the back-burner until it’s too late. Well, I only spent a little bit of time researching the issue. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have enough information to make a decision. Eventually, it was too late to sign the petition. By stalling, I had made my decision unintentionally. I kept reassuring myself that it was ok.

It wasn’t. I want to be right. I want to make the best decision when it comes to politics since it affects the lives of people I care about and my own life. Lastly, I didn’t want to make a decision based on me being too scared to make a decision. I wouldn’t let analysis paralysis get in my way!

The Change

There are quite a few things I’m doing to learn more about politics and get involve, but that’s a post for another day. For now, I’m standing up to my need to overthink every issue to the point where I don’t make a decision in time. Of course, I’m going to spend time gathering the facts, but I’m going to finally admit something to myself: I’ll do my best to find the facts, but a decision will be made.

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