Increasing my productivity

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Hello and welcome back to now Natalie! It is now officially spring and I could not be more excited. The weather is gorgeous and I just want to spend all my time outside enjoying the sun. The problem with this is…I still have a ton of things I need to get done. I have to focus my energy somehow. So, here are my top five tips for increasing my productivity.

  1. Wake up early. I am not a morning person by any degree. In fact, my morning face is so terrible that people ask me if I’m angry. My response is always the same. “I’m not angry, this is my morning face.” Recently, however, I have been waking up at 5am to start off my day and I cannot explain to you how much of a difference this has made. Spending alone time before the world is awake is absolutely amazing. My routine is typically, make coffee and toast, brush my teeth, spend time doing Bible reading, and work on a couple of projects while listening to a podcast. Find a routine that works for you and I promise once you get into the swing of things waking up this early will be a breeze for you. Waking up early has definitely helped me get a lot more work done than I usually do. Try it for at least seven days. You’ll notice the difference.
  2. Have a clean space to get work done. There is nothing more annoying than trying to get work done when your desk and surrounding area is a mess. I don’t know about you, but if I try to get work done when my work space is in chaos nothing good comes out of it. So before you sit down to work on that paper or finish that project you waited til the last minute to complete, clean up your space. Throw out those empty water bottles, wipe down those surfaces, turn on some wordless music, and get busy.
  3. Do your projects in a whole. Cleaning out your closet, washing the dishes, clearing your inbox…these are all things I despise. It helps me to just set a time and get it done. No breaks in between just full on, head first, completely determined to get this annoying task out of the way. Once its done, you can feel accomplished and also not have to worry about this for a little while. So go do something you enjoy.
  4. Plan a break after you finish a task. While I’m working on getting things done, I find that I get distracted very easily. By planning out  a certain fun thing for me to do after I finish a project, I encourage myself to just get the work done so I can move on to something I enjoy.
  5. TURN YOUR PHONE OFF. This goes without saying, but the biggest distraction when I am trying to get work done is my phone. Why have I been scrolling through animal conservation videos for twenty minutes? Also, may I just say, those Snapchat filters are addicting. When I am really trying to be productive, I’ll turn my phone on Do Not Disturb and put it in my drawer until I’m done with whatever I’m supposed to be doing.

I hope this list was helpful to you all! I’m curious as to how you increase your productivity. I’d love to know so feel free to comment below. That’s it for now. Happy Spring! Go get active today and don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

 

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Women’s Day…Month…Year

So, yesterday was international women’s day, as most of you know; but what few people seem to know is that the entire month of March is dedicated to women. Throughout centuries, women have constantly proved their intelligence and resilience. Why is it that in 2018 we are still fighting for equal rights? Although women have progressed tremendously even since the 1950’s, we still have so much more work to do. I am a feminist, but I think that word is the most overused and misunderstood word of the century. Let me explain.

The Webster definition of feminist is super long so I won’t quote it, but basically it states that a feminist is any one who believes in the social equality of men and women. It does not mean that women hate men and are trying to take their place in the world. Believe it or not I’ve heard someone say that was the definition of feminism…so ya. I truly believe that feminism means something different to everyone, and it’s important that we respect each others definitions. To me, feminism is fighting for social equality and replacing the stereotypical gender roles such as women belong in the kitchen and men should be mowing the lawn. Here’s the thing though, I hate mowing the lawn and I would much rather be in the kitchen making food; but this doesn’t mean that I am subjecting gender roles, I’m simply doing what I enjoy.

In the end, feminism to me simply means allowing both men and women to simply do what they enjoy regardless of whether or not their actions are subjected to a specific gender. So, as women’s month continues, I encourage all of you, male and female, to stand up for equality and mutual respect.

How do you celebrate women’s month? Tell me in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a minute to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

 

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Do I really have time for mindfulness in college?

I think we can all agree that life is busy…and if you’re a college student,like me, busy is the understatement of the year. In addition to college I also have a full time job and a part time job. Yup I’m permanently exhausted, but I always make it a priority to practice mindfulness. You’re probably wondering how I have time to add one more thing into my schedule, but being mindful doesn’t mean taking an hour to meditate or even ten minutes. Here are my top three ways I practice mindfulness when I’m pressed for time.

Ok guys I love my coffee. I know it’s not the absolute best thing for me, but hey we’re students and it’s better than mountain dew. Back to topic! A quick way I practice mindfulness is by drinking coffee. Taking just a few moments to quiet my mind and focus on a few things that I’m grateful for sets the tone for the rest of my day. Plus I’m drinking coffee so I’m immediately in a great mood.

The next way I get mindful is by taking deep breaths. School is stressful guys, we all know this. So, take a minute breath in deep through your nose and let it go through your mouth. I normally do this a few times before I start feeling relaxed.

I saved the best for last with this one. The last way I practice mindfulness is by performing a body scan right before I go to sleep. I enjoy listening to podcasts that guide you through a body scan instead of trying to do it myself. One app that has a body scan podcast is called Calm. I am in love with this app. It also has night noises so go give it a try!

That’s it for today guys! I hope this was a help for you all! If you’re in college, good luck guys it’s nearing exam time! See you all next week and don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

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It’s time for a reset

We all have good days, we all have bad days, and we all just have days. Those days when nothing terrible happens, but nothing great happens either. I find myself having “just days” quite a lot. With my busy schedule, I’m just happy I didn’t have a bad day. Honestly, I get really happy when I just have days, but a week of just days is sure to put me in a mood. Doing the same thing day in and day out gets so redundant. I need a factory reset There are several different ways I like to shake up my week, but here are a few of my favorites.

I love nature…OK, I love nature when there are no bugs involved, but for the most part I really love being outdoors. Taking a walk is one way I shake up my “eh” days. Connecting with nature has been proven to boost your mood. It has even been said that if you really want to channel earth’s energy, then it’s even better to walk barefoot. If you’re like me though, you can opt out and keep those shoes on!

Another way I love to change it up is by having my own flash back Friday or throwback Thursday or whatever day if the week it is. I love looking back at old pictures and remembering the positive things. I can’t be sad when I’m flipping through pictures of my family and friends. Give it a try sometime! You’ll feel better immediately.

Just remember we all get in those moods and sometimes we just need a jolt of positive to get us back in track. How do you get out of a funk? I’d love to know so comment below. Have an awesome week guys and don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW!

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What happened when I stopped practicing mindfulness for a week

Hello and welcome back! Is it just me or has February been a crazy month? Just me? Oh, ok. These two weeks have been so busy for me that I began to feel as if I were no longer in control of my own life. Every day was the same. Wake up, go to work, go to class, study, sleep, repeat. I started to wonder why I was feeling exhausted and moody all the time, but then I realized something. I hadn’t made a conscious decision for a week! Every day, I just did what had to be done instead of actually putting thought into what I was doing. I had stopped practicing mindfulness!!! All of a sudden things made total sense. Of course, I was feeling drained and out of control.

Once I had identified the problem, I sat down and started to figure out what I could do to take back control of my life. The first thing I did was sit down and take a look at my goals list. If you don’t have a goals list, I strongly recommend that you make one. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and it’s great to be able to check in on your progress periodically. I realized that I had put some of my goals on the back burner, but I had accomplished more than I thought I had. I heard someone say recently not to be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it…so I did, and you should too. If you’ve reached a goal, then by all means, clap for yourself and get back on that hustle! The realization that I was better off than I thought I was gave me that boost I needed to whip me back into shape and remind me why I started this journey.

I also made an extra effort to be very mindful that day. I took a walk outside, lit a candle, listened to my favorite music, and took an extra long shower; but what helped me the most was journaling. I absolutely love journaling. It gives me a chance to clear my mind and sort out my emotions. I basically reset my mind and way of thinking. The next day, I felt so refreshed. Moral of the story: don’t get too caught up in the day to day tasks that you forget to take time for yourself.

I hope you all enjoyed today’s post! I’ve really enjoyed the feedback I get from you guys! If you have tips of how you reset after a busy week leave a comment! I want to hear from you all and I’m always looking for new ways to practice mindfulness! As always, don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

Using Mindfulness during Difficult Circumstances

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Hello and welcome back. First off, let me apologize for being unable to post last week. Sometimes, life gets in the way, but I learned so many valuable lessons this past weekend. In fact, I learned so many valuable lessons that I decided to completely change the theme for February. Instead of talking about beauty, this month I will show you different techniques that I have personally used when facing difficult circumstances.

Last year, when I first began researching mindfulness, I came across an article that really change my way of looking at difficult situations. During the last few months when I was dealing with a personal difficulty, I used this strategy and it helped significantly. This method that I used can be called the R.A.I.N. method. It’s an acronym…surprise surprise. OK, so I’ll run you through the accelerated version.

R stands for recognize. Of all the steps, this one has helped me the most. Whenever a situation arises, it’s so important to recognize how you are feeling at that moment. I’ve heard all my life that if you’re angry just to get over it, but the truth is anger or sadness is a human emotion and there is no way of avoiding it. However, it is important not to just sit in your anger. Don’t leave yet. I know this is deep but bear with me.

A stands for allow. Basically, this step is just allowing life to be exactly as it is. Don’t try to sugar coat it or ignore it. I’m definitely the type of person who would much rather ignore a problem than face it head on. (I’m working on it though, I swear). By allowing life to be as it is you are coming to the realization that, yes, a difficult situation has happened and the healing process or the time it takes to work through this is going to take a lot of patience. So please!!! Be patient! I promise whatever you’re going through isn’t going to remain for the rest of eternity. You will be able to move on from this.

I stands for investigate. If you are dealing with a problem that is not strictly the happenings of life then begin working on a way to figure out this problem. If, however, the situation is something you have absolutely no control over (I feel you it’ll be OK) then begin figuring out a way to work your way through this time. If this means reaching out to family members or friends, or even a counselor or mentor. Just talk to someone and get a game plan going on how you can win this battle…because trust me you can!

Finally, the N. Stands for natural awareness. Simply letting yourself be aware of the situations without letting it affect you deeply. Don’t let this situation change who you are. This circumstance DOES NOT define you! You define yourself. Your character, the love you show to others, and the way your spirit connects with others defines you.

No matter what you are going through, keep your head up. Life is beautiful if you take the time to look around and notice. Don’t forget to be mindful this week and please utilize the R.A.I.N. method and let it help you along your journey. Also, if you need it, please please please do not be afraid or ashamed to reach out for help. Above all don’t forget to take the time to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

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I’ve crashed and burned on my resolutions already!

 

All right guys, four weeks ago we gave ourselves some goals for the new year. If, like me, you’ve somewhat fallen off of the bandwagon don’t worry. It happens. Don’t be afraid to change your goals into something a little bit more attainable. One goal that I have failed MISERABLY at is working towards producing zero waste. Once I realized that I had made my goal way too broad, I decided to start with one step at a time. Instead of producing zero waste right away, I changed my goal to not buying plastic one use water bottles and taking my own reusable bags to the grocery store. I also decided simply to be more mindful as to what plastic I am using on a daily basis and finding ways to reduce this intake. I’m still working toward zero waste, but in a much more reasonable way.

If you have that one resolution (or two…I won’t judge) that you just haven’t been able to achieve take a moment to think about how you can work towards that as a final goal. I admit when I realized how terrible I was at actually keeping my resolution, I was somewhat disappointed. Don’t completely trash your goals! Work from the bottom and make your way to the top. You can reach any goal you set your mind too!

Well, it’s the last Friday of January and with that comes the close of the mindfulness portion of now Natalie. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this journey with you all and I plan to continue to learn even more about mindfulness. (I’ll probably mention mindfulness in the future so don’t be too sad.) Through this process I have learned to connect even more to what is happening around me and it has truly changed my outlook on life. In case you forgot, the world is a beautiful place and you can do your part to make it even more so. Help a stranger today, send a friend a text reminding them how amazing they are, comment on that Instagram post and let that person know they SLAY!!! Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the last weekend in January and get ready to embrace the new month!

Happy Friday everyone! I look forward to seeing you all in February. For now go enjoy the day and don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

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“I’m still listening,” and other lines that suck

Hello and welcome back! Let me just start by saying thank you all for the wonderful feedback from last week. I really appreciate all of your support.

All right, you’ve said it. I know you have. It’s OK, we’ve all been there. Let me paint you a picture.You’re enjoying that freshly brewed chai with your friend, s/o, whatever…fill in the blank. They’re saying something about their day. Instinctively, your hand slides into your pocket and grabs the device that keeps dinging. You place your thumb onto the home button and open your messages. Quickly, you glance up, smile, and say, “I’m still listening,” as you politely STOP listening.If you haven’t done this, congratulations…you are a better human than I am.

Today, I get to tell you about the biggest way that mindfulness has helped me, and that’s in my relationships. So, this year I made a few goals and one of them was to better my relationships and build new ones. I started off by taking a step back and observing. I began looking for ways in which they could be better. What I found was that when I was with the people I loved, I wasn’t giving them the attention they deserved. I found that I was constantly scrolling through Instagram, or browsing Pinterest, anything but actually paying attention to what the people around me were saying.

Nothing annoys me more than when someone picks up their phone halfway through my story, but…I have been guilty of this on several occasions. Que mindfulness! Once I started being aware that I was, in fact, engaging  my phone and not my company, I realized how rude this actually was. I wasn’t being present, I wasn’t enjoying the moment, and I wasn’t enjoying my company as a person.  I knew that I had to fix this problem in order to better my relationships. I started putting my phone down, or at least turn it on silent when I was with my friends. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I mess up. I find myself staring at my phone, not even knowing how it ended up in my hand. What’s important is that we learn to become aware of when we are guilty of this. When I notice that I’ve given all of my attention to my phone, I turn it on silent and put it out of sight. This is just a simple way to enjoy the relaxing moment you get to share with whomever it is you’re spending time with.

Remember to be mindful this week and show the people you love that you truly do enjoy their company by putting away that pesky device and actually listening to what they have to say. Enjoy your week and don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.

 

My journey to discovering mindfulness

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Anyone who knows me knows that I pick a few things to obsess over and when I  do, telling everyone I see is a MUST. Lately I’ve become a major proponent for self love and self care. So naturally, I’m here to tell you. OK, 2017 wasn’t the most amazing year for me, but by the end of the year I started learning how to deal with all of the stress and craziness happening around me. One of the ways that I learned (and am still learning) how to cope was mindfulness. I don’t remember the first time I heard about mindfulness. Honestly, it’s become so mainstream that I would be surprised if you haven’t heard of it. Here’s the thing though, unlike those pans that say your eggs won’t stick if you don’t use cooking spray, it ACTUALLY works! I started researching mindfulness  in mid October and by December I was on my way to becoming fully immersed in this beautiful new world I had discovered. Now, I know there is a long Webster definition for mindfulness, but here is my definition instead. Mindfulness is taking time to be aware of the sights, smells, feelings, and basically everything else that is happening around you. It also means being aware of your own feelings and emotions. I started practicing mindfulness in the mornings while I drank my coffee, took a shower, listened to music, etc. I definitely noticed that my days went considerably better. Not to say that nothing went wrong, because things definitely still went wrong; but I was able to handle the situations better and have a more positive outlook on them. Of course, I don’t know everything about mindfulness. There are actually experts who can teach you tons more than I can. My favorite resource is a podcast called The Mindful Kind. If you’re interested in learning even more about mindfulness than I suggest you go give it a listen.

This is just the beginning of an amazing journey and I’m so happy and thankful that each one of you are here! I’m excited to make this year my best yet and to share it with you. My goal is for you to grow with me and let this year be your most wonderful! I’m no expert and I don’t claim to be, so I encourage you to do some research for yourself, but hopefully we can grow together and make the world a more beautiful place one step at a time!

That’s it for today! See you next week. Yes, you…and you too. Until next time don’t forget to live in the moment that is happening NOW.