Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful School Year

Bad news guys, summer is almost over! And we all know what that means. Many of you are heading back to the big S word. School. But, have no fear! I have some tips that I've learned over the years for making the year go by a little smoother. 

I have no earth shattering advice to give you, just simple "tricks" that worked well for me. The major thing I learned in school was that earning an A at the end of the semester/year is not only about studying hard. I think the image you set up of yourself in front of your teachers is also a part of the equation. I can almost say this as a fact, but if you have your doubts, I can say for a fact that it won't hurt to work on both aspects. Try it. You might like what happens as a result. 

Keeping both working hard and showing that you're working hard in mind, I give you, 10 things you can do to set yourself up for success this school year!

I hope you enjoy these tips and own your grades! Happy Tuesday!

xo Aneela

1. Be early. 
Pretty self-explanatory, get to class early. Not only will it bring you peace of mind, your teachers will notice. Some teachers chat with students who show up early which is a great time to establish rapport with them. This way, if you ever need them for a recommendation or advice, it won't seem like you're asking out of the blue. 

2. Sit toward the front of the classroom.
This is an advantage if you make it into one. It used to motivate me to not miss class because the teacher is more likely to notice if a "gunner" is missing. Also, you are more likely to be called on if you have something to say if you sit near the front of the room. And, I noticed that there were far fewer distractions for me this way. I didn't find myself sitting there wondering what kind of bagel the girl in front of me was eating.

3. Get an agenda that works for you. AND USE IT.
Find an agenda you like and actually USE it. I know there are a lot of really fancy ones out there these days, but I just use a basic one from Target and it does the job. At the beginning of every semester, I used to sit down with my syllabus for each class and fill in the deadlines for all assignments, projects, and exams into my planner. Then, I would write down all dates for extracurriculars and clubs. This is basically fool proof if you actually reference your planner regularly. I don't think I ever missed a single deadline, so I know it works!

4. Build a relationship with EACH of your teachers/professors.
Take advantage of office hours. Use email to keep in touch outside of the classroom and it doesn't have to directly be about class. If you find a relevant article about a current class topic, send it to your teacher. They usually love that and might even share it with the whole class!

5. Find a study space that works for you.
Identify a quiet place where you get your best work done. Make sure it is somewhere you can avoid distractions. During undergrad, the main floor of our library was the social area. My friends always used to hang out there and we were allowed to talk while we worked. But, if I had to do something that requires a lot of concentration (like study for an exam or write an essay) I would go to the second floor of the library. Literally no one ever went there. It was kind of grim and so quiet you could hear the buzzing of the tube lights over you, but when I studied there, I would forget that there is life outside the second floor. 

6. Make friends with like-minded people.
Now, I am not telling you to abandon your less studious friends, but you become your friends in a way. It is easier to care about your grades and make sacrifices for them if you are surrounded by others with the same values. Just saying. 

7. Participate in class.
You remember things better when you say them out loud because you actually think about what you're asking/answering rather than when you're passively listening. The classroom is no place to be passive, folks!

8. Fearlessly ask questions.
It's YOUR grade, ask YOUR questions. 

9. Use your time wisely.
Out of all the tips I have listed, this is the one I find most challenging. Procrastination is your enemy. The sooner you start your work and the more time you give yourself, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the end result. I know, easier said than done, but it is so worth it. 

10. Also, be wise about your time right before bed.
Doing a few simple tasks at night can really help prepare you for the day ahead. Lay out your outfit, pack your lunch, make sure your bag is ready to go with all of your completed homework inside. When I started doing this, I slept better, woke up more optimistic, and ultimately had a better day at school. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Get Yourself out of a Creative Rut

I thought this would be the perfect topic to write about today as I have gone through one of the most major ruts (creative and otherwise) over the past few months. I want to talk about what I have learned going through the experience and the steps I am still taking to get over it. I am using this post as a starting point for my commitment to this blog as you will see below.

I know how horrible it is to feel negative, uninspired, and downright frustrated sometimes, but I am here to tell you it is completely normal to feel like this. All we can do is wake up every morning and just show up and hopefully, eventually things start looking up. So here is how to get yourself out of a creative rut:

Board the Happy Train Everyday
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! I find that it really helps to spend some chunk of time every single day doing something that I know will make me happy. Make a list if you have to and reference it the next time you are feeling uninspired. This all depends on your personality and preferences, but some surefire things that work for me are being with my family, going for a walk outside, painting my nails, drinking coffee, and looking at art blogs. Minus the last item, none of these require technology and I like to just leave my phone somewhere and not think about anything happening online. As inspiring as the internet can be, it can also be overwhelming specifically when going through one of these moods, so I like to limit it.  I would recommend trying a little internet detox occasionally and seeing what it does for you and your creative energy.

Re-evaluate Goals & Brainstorm Ideas
So, now that we’ve gotten the positive energy going, I like to use these times to my full advantage by writing out goals and brainstorming a list of ideas for future blog posts, photo ideas, recipes, etc. This makes it much easier to follow through with creating content when I am not as inspired or positive. And with anything you plan to do regularly, it’s a good idea to have a running list of ideas to work from. For example, if my goal is to publish one post per week, it would not be very efficient for me to think of an idea, execute it, tweak it, and post it all in that week. That would take a lot of time and I probably wouldn’t be fully satisfied with the end product.

Commit Publicly
What I mean by this is, whatever primary creative goal you have, tell people about it! Own it! For example, I am committing to publishing a blog post every Tuesday starting today and I am declaring it for anyone who cares to listen. I have included it in my Instagram bio for added accountability. You can call it cheesy, but I know this will force me to think creatively and write regularly, which is something I hold very dear to my heart. I have ideas and I want to share them with the world! In addition to committing verbally, make sure your actions match your words. Get organized, hold your project sacred, and work constantly to remove any barriers that could prevent you from achieving your goals. This is something I am really focusing on now more than ever. 

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful and good luck with all of your creative and other endeavors! Happy Tuesday!

xo  Aneela