current faves | june 2017

Hello! This is a post detailing some of the things that I’m loving, doing and enjoying as of now. Some of these are things that I’ve recently picked up; others are things that I’ve been enjoying for a while. In order to prevent this post from going on endlessly, I will name only 5 things per category. Please, enjoy!

youtubers

As a lifestyle blogger, I read and watch a lot of online content creators too. Below are some of the ones I watch most consistently (though it was hard to choose just 5):

  • krist & yu: Krist creates lifestyle & travel videos, and her personality is very bubbly and relatable in all of them. This is actually her second channel (her main is called krist soup); both are different in their content, but personally I enjoy the more personal and motivational content of this one.
  • Anna Akana: Anna’s this badass comedian who also creates (very pro) advice & lifestyle videos. I love how each one of her videos leaves me with an open-ended question, usually based on things that we may encounter in our day-to-day lives. Her videos are scripted, filmed and edited with the help of other people, but unlike some channels, I feel that her content stays true to her personality.
  • Conan Gray: Conan creates artsy, creative and lifestyle videos, and his aesthetic is very retro and cute af. I love how his content can appeal to an audience of any gender,
  • Jordan Clark: Jordan’s my fave new youtuber so far. Her DIY’s, lifestyle and travel videos are just so soothing and aesthetically pleasing to watch. Her DIY’s are really good, creative and not too hard to recreate, which makes them all the more appealing.
  • Thomas Frank: Thomas’ videos are very study and motivation-related, and his content is always very helpful and enjoyable to watch. His videos are also backed up by a detailed blog post, with steps on how to follow his advice.

things

These are some of the things that I’ve been using this year. I’ve had all of these items for at least a few months now, so I’ve had plenty of time to ‘get to know’ these items in detail:

  • Hobonichi Cousin Planner: I love how this planner has monthly, weekly AND daily planning. The layout is very visual, which allows me to plan neatly ahead of time. I also use it daily as a journal, and for anything I fancy, as it has enough space to allow me to explore my journalistic desires.
  • Kindle Voyage (& marble cover): this is my bible. I use it everyday, and I treasure it very much. It’s the size of my hand, and it’s very lightweight and convenient to carry around!!
  • Game of Thrones Leather-Cloth Boxed Set: yes, I only bought this set because it’s beautiful. I’ve read the first 2 books on my kindle, because the words here are TINY. I propped this set up on my bookshelf as soon as I got it, and I look at it everyday. It’s beautiful.
  • Olympus PEN E-PL7: this is the (only) camera that I have to film and take pictures. I use a pastel-ish filter for all my photos as well as most of my videos. It’s not the best camera out there, but it’s small, very pretty, easy to handle, and it does the job for me. It’s also pretty much a fashion accessory itself.
  • Fuzzy slippers that mop the floor: these slippers allow me to be lazy and clean at the same time. I wear these when it’s cold (so, during winter), and allows me to (kind of) clean my floor when I walk from place to place.

ios apps

I don’t have many apps on my phone due to limited storage (though I’m getting a new phone soon), but this has allowed me to use my apps efficiently. These are the ones that I mainly use to maintain my productivity, and the great thing is that all of them are free:

  • Reminders: This helps me keep track of my daily tasks and events. I create different lists, including “morning”, “afternoon”, “night” and “bored?” to remind myself what to do or what I could  be doing during the designated time. I personally think that it’s a great way to take advantage of this free app.
  • Notes: This is for anything I want to remember and keep on my phone, ranging from book quotes, things I aspire to be, blog post ideas, and packing lists. It’s the Microsoft Word of my phone.
  • Goodreads: THIS. Is where I keep my very own virtual bookshelf. I can track books I’m currently reading, want to read, and have read. I can also create bookshelves to separate books by genres and types, and basically keep an orderly record of all my books.
  • Quizlet: I hate studying vocab, but Quizlet makes it much more fun and bearable. Besides being able to create online flashcards, you can also play games and take tests to review your memory.
  • Clue: this is a life SAVIOR for all you girls and women out there. You can keep track of your period AND other details such as emotions, discomforts, feelings, etc. The more detail you give to this app, the more information it will give to you regarding your body. I think it’s amazing to get all this for free.

books & quotes

Books are the best tool for self-education that you’ll ever have. During my gap year, books were my source of comfort, solace, entertainment, and learning. I read fiction when I felt the need to escape to a different world; I read self-help when I was losing touch with whom I was; I read psychology to deepen my intrinsic interest for this field; I read any other book to deepen my understanding in such field. The following are 5 books that I’ve just read or am currently reading, and a quote to give you some insight into each book:

“You care too much about what other people think. But you know what? Because you are so desperate to win the approval of others, you’ll never get rid of their criticisms, no matter how hard you try.”

“knowing we have access to wonderful things undermines our happiness by reducing our tendency to appreciate life’s small joys.”

“Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work, wheareas economics represents how it actually does work.”

“You can be male and domestic. You can have a career and be domestic. You can enjoy keeping house. No one is too superior or intelligent to care for hearth and home.”

“One of the main benefits of reading stories is that you gain exposure to large amounts of natural Italian. This kind of reading for pleasure is commonly known as extensive reading. This is very different from how you might read Italian in a textbook. Your textbook contains short dialogues, which you read in detail with the aim of understanding every word. This is known as intensive reading.”

songs

My favorite songs change so fast that by the time I publish this post, the top 5 songs that I’m listening to would have already changed. That’s why I make monthly playlists on Spotify to keep track of my favorite songs per month. The following are songs that I was listening to nonstop at some point in the near past, and I hope you like them too!


What are some of your current faves?

-Michelle

moving away for the first time

It feels weird, when I say it, “I’m moving 7,200+ miles away from home“. I always knew this was going to happen when I went away for college, and even though I’ve had an extra year out of school to prepare for this moment, it still feels weird.

The people that I’m leaving behind are my parents and a few close friends. These goodbyes will be hard, because they’re the people that I’ve grown used to spending most of my time with; to depart from them and only be able to talk to them virtually is something that will be hard to get used to. I’m also saying goodbye to several amazing teachers from school and elsewhere. Though I’m already used to seeing them less frequently – some more than others – they have each left an impression on me that I’ll carry with me wherever I go, whatever I do.

And then, there’s home.

I’m saying goodbye to the country that raised me. To the roads that I’ve roamed countless of times, the places and parks that I’ve visited for years, the vibe that I’ve gotten used to. I haven’t always been very fond of my country, but I have grown very comfortable and used to this lifestyle. Leaving this place and the comforts of my cozy home, and starting the next stage of my life somewhere anew will be nothing short of daunting. Even having spent most of my gap year on my own and working on myself, I’m hit with a pang of nostalgia whenever I think about all that I’m leaving behind. I don’t even know how I’ll say goodbye to my room, knowing that I’ll probably never sleep on my bed for more than a few weeks a year from now on

Missing home and fearing the future; longing for the past and holding back the future. I have always been like this. A sentimental girl, always finding things to long and feel sad about. A cautious girl, never really crossing the line in fear of what the other side may hold in store.

But coupled with this fear also comes the knowledge that I am indeed ready for this change. I know now that I can and will adapt to any situation that I’m presented with. The change may be everything but comfortable initially, but I trust that my choices and decisions will take me down the path that I’m destined for.  I will welcome any change with open arms, and accept whatever form of discomfort or struggle that I will most certainly meet. No matter how rough the journey, it will all work out at the end.

Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

(Quote by Elif Shafak, from ‘The Forty Rules of Love‘)

-Michelle

I ran 10k for the first time and I liked it

I am not a runner, and have never run 10 kilometers consecutively before signing up for this 10k race. My body had always given in after 5, 6 or at most around 8 kilometers. But then something interesting happened on the day of this event.

If you’ve ever run a few kilometers/miles long, you would know that the first part of the run can oftentimes be the hardest. Your body is just warming up, your feet are getting used to the speed, and your heart is still adjusting to the new pace. For me, those first few hundred steps are always unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

On the day of the race, I was not feeling my best self. My legs were a little sore from the previous day’s workout, and my stomach was jittery with nerves. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the race was gruesome; I was counting the kilometers as I passed each marker and thinking to myself, “I won’t be able to make it” over and over again. Having my dad run alongside me – motivating me each step of the way – was very helpful as always, but it couldn’t ease the discomfort that had already taken over my body.

My iPod decided to go dead nearly halfway through the race – something that has never happened before. I gave up trying to revive it after a while, and this surprisingly made my run more… bearable. I had prepared a pumping music playlist specially for this day, but I realized that I was actually better off without it.

Running is usually such a lonesome activity, and I usually rely on music as my companion. But having thousands of people running behind, beside and in front of me was the best companion of that day. Yes, I could hear people’s steps akin to the sound of fat raindrops – incessant, notorious and all around me. Occasionally, we would pass by someone gasping heavily for air, and at several points we were in par with a guy whose keys jingled exasperatingly in his pocket.

But that didn’t matter. We were, after all, in this together. The people in front of me were the ones showing me the way; those beside me kept me company and urged me along; the ones behind showed me how far I had come, pushing me to keep on going. This was enough motivation to keep me going, regardless of how slow my pace was.

But something curious then happened after hitting the 5k mark: I started gaining momentum. It was as if my body had rejuvenated itself, and I found myself running more vigorously than before. My breathing came under control, my steps became wider, and I felt stronger. Like I said before – I am not a regular runner, so I don’t know what exactly happened at that moment. Basic research on the internet tells me that I might have experienced what is called a runner’s high – a rush of endorphin. It was a great feeling that spread all over my body physically and emotionally, enabling me to get a glimpse of why long-distance runners do what they do.

The feeling of power and control over your own body. The sense of accomplishment even before you finish the task. The genuine pleasure that comes from inside you while you’re still running, your mind free from any burden. You hardly get these feelings of triumph while doing other (healthy) activities.

I have never experienced this in any cardio exercise before, because I have never challenged myself to such extent. I am curious to see whether my runner’s high will continue to kick in the next time that I run the same distance, or how it will change as I (hopefully) run longer distances. As for other sports, it’ll be interesting to see if this ‘high’ happens too!

-Michelle

how to recover from a burnout

BURNOUT: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

We are all familiar with this. That moment when… anything and everything seems to be too much all at once. When you just want to shut the world down, and make everything stop. When you’re no longer stressed, but on the verge of falling apart. When you lose that drive and sense of motivation that you used to have.

I have experienced my definition of high stress, social anxiety, and demotivation for short periods at a time. I don’t think I’ve actually experienced burnout to the point of being unable to go back to work, unless it was due to some external reason. However, I do have a few methods, that I have used myself, to help you recover from any form of short-term burnout (if you experience a heavy, long-term burnout, please consult a professional):

1. Schedule time for yourself.

Turn off the notifications in your phone, stop checking social media, and let the emails go. One cannot truly relax if one is constantly being interrupted by things as distracting as Facebook, Instagram, and emails. You live in the now, in the present moment, not in the pictures that random people post on Facebook, nor the chaos in the news nowadays.

Acknowledge it, value it, live it.

2. Do something creative

Whenever I delve into something fun, like practicing brush lettering, taking pictures, or even just journaling, it feels therapeutic. I put on some soothing music, and it becomes me and my art. It allows me to recharge creatively and lose myself in the beauty of it for a while.

Simply choose something that you consider fun, creative, simple and relaxing. For me, it usually has to do with some form of pen and/or paper. I love journaling, planning, brush lettering, doodling and painting in a coloring book. It’s easy and soothing, and it gets me going.

3. Get out.

This one never fails me. Whenever I feel stuck, stressed, and even on the verge of a breakdown, I force myself to go out if I can muster the energy to do so. I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood surrounded by parks, and that’s where I go. Not somewhere crowded with people talking; just nature, people walking with their doors, and cars passing by.

Nature, besides it being there to allow us to live, is the best natural form of therapy. It will allow you to breathe in the fresh, fresh air. Let you slow down for a bit, and enjoy your view as it is. Get you up and walking, without going anywhere in particular.

4. Get active.

Following #3, once you’re outside – take it to the next step! You could start by walking or jogging, or skating, or biking, or taking your pet for an afternoon together. Make it an event. Get your body moving and your blood pumping. You will have to focus on your task at hand and, consequently, get your mind off your work. Your body will also automatically release endorphins, which will inevitably relieve you of the stress you were experiencing, and make you feel much, much better overall.

You can get active by going out for a simple activity like the ones named before – walking, jogging, biking, etc. or by signing up for a class that you’ll have to go a few times a week. I do both, so I get my dose of endorphins pretty much everyday – whether I feel like it or not – and always end the day feeling sore, but refreshed.

5. Get your zzz’s.

I know, I know. There is not enough time to sleep. But there is if you make it a priority. I prioritize sleep because:

  • It allows me to perform hours of productive and concentrated work everyday; if I don’t, I end up spending twice as much time in each task and accomplishing half as much.
  • I maintain my body’s health and weight by doing so; if I don’t, I end up eating more than necessary, oftentimes caffeinated products or just food my body doesn’t need. Your body should not be dependent or coffee or any other food at all if you get your sleep.
  • I love to wake up early. I’m not an early bird, but I can wake up relatively early if I sleep at a proper time, and a consistent schedule is what allows me to be the best version of myself every day.

This is also key to prevent oversleeping, which will most likely depress you even more, as you’ll feel like you’re sleeping your life away. In order to take care of your body, maintain your health and recover from a day of work, is to sleep no more than necessary. Lie in bed for a while after waking up, but don’t fall asleep again if you’ve slept enough, or you’ll wake up more restless than before.


Lastly, forgive yourself if things don’t go your way. I cannot reiterate this enough. More often than not, your day will not go as planned. When that happens, acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself, and move on. It will all be alright at the end.

-Michelle

kindle voyage vs. fire

I recently got a new baby, the Kindle Voyage, after using my Kindle Fire for 5-6 years. As a bookworm, I love the convenience of using a Kindle. Not having to order books from Amazon and wait longingly for them to arrive from abroad, being able to carry a tablet-like thing with me at all times without anyone knowing what I was reading, and the fact that it’s always cheaper than buying a physical book completely bought me over. However, I do still own a collection of physical books so I can have the best of both worlds. If you’re a user of both forms of reading, you’ll see that they each have their own pros and cons.

In this post, I want to write a first-impressions review on the Kindle Voyage, in comparison to the Kindle Fire. Hope you find it useful!

kindle voyage PROS

  • SCREEN: Unlike the screens that we see on our laptops and tablets, this is an actual e-reader with an E ink screen (I think), which is less damaging to the eyes. This also means that the screen doesn’t give off a reflection when reading outside. This is a major factor for me, as I tend to read at night before bed, and staring at a LCD screen was neither good for my eyes nor for my sleep cycle.
  • SIZE & WEIGHT: It’s noticeably smaller and lighter than a Kindle Fire (it weighs just a bit more than the iPhone 6), which makes it so much easier to carry around and being Rory Gilmore everywhere.
  • FASHION: I definitely think the Voyage makes a better accessory than the Fire, but I may be biased. I got the marble case when I ordered the Voyage, and I love how it makes the e-book so much more stylish. It’s also very lightweight to carry around on your hand, in comparison to the Fire, which is heavier and more burdensome to do so.
  • PAGE TURNER: This one’s a pro and a con. You have PagePress pressure-sensitive sensor on both sides of the Kindle (outside the screen), which is convenient if you want to turn pages back and forth with the hand that you’re reading with. However, it’s not as pressure-sensitive as it could be – I often have to press a few times before I ‘hit’ the sensor. Most of the time, I just on the screen to turn a page, and this never fails me.
  • GOODREADS: I love that the Voyage can be connected to your Goodreads account, and automatically updates on the books that you want to read, are currently reading, and have read.

There are not that many benefits to getting a Voyage over a Fire, but the fact that the screen assimilates that of a book (instead of a laptop screen) really convinced me. There are probably more cons to buying a Voyage over a Fire – which you can read below – but, I am a heavy reader, so for me personally, the choice was clear.

kindle voyage CONS

  • PRICE: The Voyage is by no means a cheap item. And the starting price doesn’t include ‘additional costs’ that might add to the experience of the Kindle. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and buy it because I’ve used the Fire very regularly for the last several years, and getting a Voyage is a really good investment for me. However, the Fires are now much more cheaper than it was before.
  • COLOR: As you can see below,  everything on the screen is black and white. After having gotten used to the colored screen of the Fire, I have to admit that it took me a while get used to the b&w feel of the Voyage. However, it really isn’t that big of a deal, as most of the books I read rarely have colored illustrations inside the book.
  • (FEW) OTHER USAGES: The Voyage is strictly to read books. This means that, unlike the Fire, you can’t listen to music or play games like on the Fire. Personally I don’t mind at all, as I barely used the Kindle Fire for anything other than books. Though they are not physically books, I treat them just the same.
  • ADS: Ugh, this one is annoying. Book promotions/ads completely cover the lock screen (each time, it’s usually a new book being featured), and it also appears at the bottom of the Homepage. It’s very annoying, and you CAN get rid of them but with an extra cost. I chose not to pay the extra cost, which I’m okay with, but it’ just a detail that still annoys me a little.
  • TECH: The fact that the screen is different to that of a Fire means that the ‘feel’ of it is different as well. The touch is not as immediately responsive as the screens that we’re familiar with, but it’s quite good nevertheless.

Overall, the only con that really bothers me are the ads. The others I can bear, because I pretty much treat the Voyage as if it were a physical book. Ultimately, it really comes down to what you want from the Kindle, and choosing one over the other is just about what you prioritize more.

-Michelle

how i use my notebooks

I… like notebooks. My collection has started to grow in the last few years (though not as much as books), and I’ve used them in many ways, mostly to record memories and thoughts that come and go. Here are a few ideas that I’ve used in the past:

morning pages

Writing 3 pages of thoughts that come to your mind. Though I’ve moved this habit onto my Hobonichi Cousin planner and don’t adhere to the 3-page rule, this is something that got me started with ‘therapeutic’ morning journaling.

5-minute morning journal

Instead of buying the actual 5-minute journal, I simply wrote down the prompts and answered them on each page every morning. You can either write your answers down each day, or just answer them in your head during your meditative sessions each morning.

bullet journal

Oh, I love bullet journaling. I’ve stopped for the year as I’ve switched to a planner, but the creativity that I’ve learned from this practice is just everlasting. The cool thing about this? You only need a notebook and a pen. I kind of regret spending more money than necessary on these expensive notebooks – they are very nice, but not necessary at all. So please don’t look at my bullet journal and think that you need to get yourself an expensive notebook to make your bujo look nice. It’s about what’s inside that matters, after all. (Don’t be like me).

calligraphy & ambidexterity

This is kind of a notebook for random skills and brainstorming ideas that come to mind. At the moment, I use it to practice and track my progress on calligraphy/ brush lettering, and ambidexterity (left-hand).

memories

I have just gotten into doing travel diaries. I have decided to do them like collages: printing out my favorite pictures from the trip, spreading them out on several pages of a notebook, and adding some details, stickers and writing to these memories that I want to treasure forever.

swatches

This is a silly one, but it’s currently what I’m using this notebook for. My stationery collection grew from my last trip to Taiwan (and mini-trip to Japan), and I’ve decided to swatch some of my most used stationery here. I love the design of this notebook, and I might use this as a planner/bujo next year.

to-do lists

This is mainly for those of you who don’t like keeping a planner. This kind of notebook is small and easy to carry around – perfect for making and scribbling lists. I’m definitely a planner person, so I don’t use any other notebooks to make lists.

revision notes

I’ve used this for 2-3 years at school for final exam revision notes. I literally carried this around the house and at school during those periods, and I’m surprised that it still looks as pretty as ever. I’m definitely taking this with me to college!

notebook collection

Finally, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve got more notebooks than I need. But, just like books, I know that I’ll get to them some day. I’ll either fill them in with my rambling thoughts, future memories, or just any story yet untold.


😉

-Michelle

is sign language really a language?

For the purpose of this post, I’ll be using the American Sign Language as the topic of discussion.

ASL, PSE, and SEE.

Do you know what these stand for? Most of us are acquainted with ASL, which stands for American Sign Language. If you’re from the UK, you have the British Sign Language (BSL); I’m from Peru, so I learned the Peruvian Sign Language. Sign language does not depend on the spoken language of the country (hence they’re completely different in USA and the UK), so signed and spoken languages are not the same. That’s the first misconception that many have when assuming things about sign language.

The second thing is that sign language has its own variations, thanks to us hearing people. PSE stands for Pidgin Signed English, and it’s basically ASL vocabulary, but using the English (spoken language) word order. In other words, if PSE were a language e.g. French, you would speak French words with the English structure. While this may sound ‘correct’ to English-speaking people trying to learn the new language, the French natives would obviously find it wrong. Hence, while many hearing people may find it easier to learn PSE instead of ASL, PSE is not a correct representation of the language that the Deaf community uses.

SEE stands for Signed Exact English, which uses ASL to give the exact representation of the English language. SEE is not as common as the other 2 sign languages, as it’s much more complicated and redundant to use SEE.

The Deaf community uses ASL – the proper and correct form of signed language. However, hearing people oftentimes end up learning PSE, as it’s easier to learn the signs without having to learn the proper syntax and language structure. What’s wrong with this? Let me tell you.

ASL, just like every sign language that has been founded by the Deaf community in every country, is an independent and unique language on its own. It is signed and expressed in a different way to English – thus, it is called ASL and not Signed English. ASL is a representation of the underrepresented culture of the Deaf community.

So what happens when we, the hearing people, change it so that it’s “easier” for us to learn the language? We insult the Deaf community, and we diminish the validity of their own language. It would be absolutely wrong if you do this in any other foreign language, so why do we do this with sign language?

The simple answer? Because it’s “easy”. I have done this myself, thinking that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but when I dug into this topic, I realized how wrong I was. If you have ever learned a foreign language, you would know that the syntax and grammar are what make a language its own. You don’t just learn the vocabulary and use the structure of your native language; that’s preposterous.

I don’t yet fully comprehend the moralities of learning ASL and PSE, as a lot of people and even in TV shows (like Switched at Birth) use PSE so hearing people can use simcom (simultaneous communication). This made me believe that the Deaf community is pretty flexible with our use of sign language – which is great. PSE is definitely a great stepping stone to those learning ASL, but whether we should favor it over ASL is something to consider.


All in all, if you want to learn a new language, please try to learn it well. Sign language can be daunting and different, but it’s also beautiful and (so) aesthetic in its own unique way, and it’s the first step to bridging the gap between the hearing and deaf worlds.

-Michelle

read the world | reading challenge

A few days ago, I listened to a TED talk about a woman who spent an entire year searching, seeking and reading 196 books from all 196 countries in the world. Her name is Ann Morgan, and she didn’t just read the world. She traveled across countries within her mind, got a glimpse of every culture and custom she came across with. She traveled the world through the eyes of people of different ages, nationalities, customs, and experiences. She did it with the help of many people who supported her along the way, but made the decision and took the steps herself. I want to take on this challenge as well.

I want to live inside the minds of those who have different values to me, who see the world in a completely different way than I do. As a bibliophile, I know how books have and can change a person. Though I’ve read books of different types and genres, but I have also enclosed myself within the Western-based literature. That will change now. As a wanderluster, my traveling experiences have always been intrinsically meaningful and unforgettable in their own unique ways.

By combining these two personal interests together, I shall travel the world.

How many books from how many countries have you read so far? How much do you really know about the world that you live in? Can you really call yourself a true bibliophile if you haven’t even books from most countries?

These were a few of the questions that I asked myself after listening to the TED talk. No matter how much I read and how many genres I touch, I’ll still be living in my happy little bubble if I don’t try to truly step out of my comfort zone. Read books of cultures that completely baffle me, written by authors I’ve never bothered to learn about before. It took Ann Morgan 1 year to complete the challenge, but it will take me at least a few years to choose, get hold of, and read all 196 books. And that’s alright, because the purpose is to achieve this challenge regardless of how long it takes me.

I have made a page to record my progress on this challenge – which I will start by May 2017.

-Michelle

how to procrastinate less

We are all masters at procrastination, this resistant force that prevents us from finishing our most impending tasks.

It’s frustrating, oftentimes uncontrollable and evil, but it’s not an invincible force. This is your 101 guide to battling procrastination:

start your mornings right. (productive morning routine video)

A key to reducing procrastination during the day is by starting the day right. Small things, like waking up feeling refreshed (given that you have had enough sleep), drinking water, making your bed after getting up, and changing into comfy clothes will create the productive momentum that you need to propel yourself towards a productive and successful day.

Make sure that your first morning tasks aren’t too mentally exhausting, and are rather mere healthy habits that you have cultivated over time. You want to save that mental energy for the big, important tasks later in the day!

set monthly goals, and review them whenever you feel demotivated (april goals video)

I already have a list of goals that I want to accomplish for this year, but I review them every month depending on what tasks I want to focus on. I normally keep my goals on a Word document so I can modify them whenever I want to, and for April I decided to fancy things up and made a spread on my bullet journal (which you can see on my April goals video!). It’s very helpful to have this list, as whenever I’m making my daily to-do lists, I can remind myself of what I’m working towards, and not lose sight of the big picture.

amp up your work environment

It’s your space: change it or clean it however you want to. Your work environment is usually your desk or the place(s) where you spend most time working. I love keeping my space clean and aesthetically pleasing as it allows me to get straight to work, instead of fussing over a mess that I should’ve cleaned up before.

This is such an obvious fact, but when you have a clean desk and space, your mind will most likely be clear and set to work too.

or find aesthetic inspiration elsewhere

Who doesn’t love going to a beautiful library, bookstore or coffee shop? In my video, I feature El Ateneo Grand Splendid, which I got to visit on my recent trip to Argentina. It. Was. Amazing. Of course, there are probably no breathtaking places like such everywhere, but a cozy coffee shop or bookstore is always a nice place to step into and get your head in the game.

Personally, I love visiting bookstores and libraries because it allows me to go on an adventure in a place filled with knowledge. Whatever I get distracted with, it’ll be with books. No technology, no phones – just me and the books.

make a to-do list, and break it down into mini tasks

I always write down my to-do list every morning in my planner, and note my tasks down on the Reminders app of my phone. That way, I never lose sight of my important tasks of the day.

When it comes to complicated tasks that require more planning and dissecting, I break the steps down on my planner so I have an idea of what I’ll have to do later on. This also ensures that I don’t forget some sub-tasks or details. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have a fancy planner or fixed place to jot down your tasks, especially if you’re not a heavy planner. But it’s important that you plan somewhere to get your ideas and tasks down.

schedule (and limit) your playtime

Without a proper schedule to follow during the day, you’re more prone to getting distracted with your guilty pleasures. What I do to combat this is to schedule my playtime. For instance, I give myself 30-60 minutes of watching YouTube videos after I’ve accomplished my morning routine and tasks and eaten lunch. This motivates me to get on with my morning tasks, and it has become such a great part of my schedule that I rarely fall prey of YouTube videos or distracting stuff in the mornings.

The key of scheduling your playtime is so that you schedule enough of it during the day, and don’t try to squeeze in extra playtimes when you’re supposed to be working. And, gradually, your body will understand that playtime only happens at certain times of the day.

tell others about your impending task

There are many ways you can use your friends to help you get your work done. For instance, you can put yourself in the debt of a friend (by owing them a Starbucks coffee, or boba) until you finish your most important task of the day. It’s fun, and I bet your friend will be thrilled to help you. Or, you can simply ask a friend for a study session or help with a homework. Having someone else account for your progress is always helpful – as long as you don’t rely on them to do your work. Only you can be responsible for your work and yourself.

or make a public declaration

If you’re like me, and would rather not get your friends involved, I suggest going on Twitter or some other form of social media, and make a public declaration about what you’re supposed to do during the day. Personally, I pretty much use Twitter to promote my stuff and rant about whatever I’m feeling that day. I’m not a fan of Twitter and I rarely post ‘good stuff’ on there, so it’s the perfect platform for me to just post anything.

By making a public declaration on Twitter, I get a false sense that I’m being accounted for, which in turn makes me more prone to completing my task. You should give it a try 😉

remove distractions from your field of vision

Put. It. All. Away. I guess it’s safe to assume that our biggest source of distraction for many, if not most, of us is our phones. What I do is pretty simple: put it on Airplane mode, throw it on my bed with the screen facing down, and forget about it. I usually don’t need my phone to work, except for checking off my tasks.

If you find it hard to get away from your phone, put in on Airplane mode and hide it somewhere hard to reach. Just do it, and forget about it. Check it during your playtime, or the few minutes that you switch into your next task, but not when you’re working. The more you practice this, the easier it will become to remove yourself from your distraction.

do productive procrastination

Is all procrastination bad? Not really. I particularly remember watching a TED talk by Adam Grant, who talks about procrastination as a source of creativity. I agree. When we procrastinate, we physically put off a task, but we subconsciously work on it. And when we do eventually get down to work on the task, we are most likely gonna have more and better ideas and solutions that task.

But it’s crucial to not spend too much time procrastinating, as time is fleeting and precious. What I recommend doing (if you’re feeling like procrastinating) is to procrastinate on creative things: painting mandalas, organizing your desk, practicing calligraphy, or doing any hobby of your choice. Get creative, and get excited! By gradually getting yourself more productive, you’ll eventually find it easier to get ahead with your actual task.

forgive yourself if the day doesn’t go as planned

You’re human, and you make mistakes. The sooner you embrace this idea, the easier it will be to relieve yourself of any mistake  you make along the way. I think it’s important to reflect upon what you could have done better, but not to dwell on the actual decision.

Acknowledge, let go, and move on.

-Michelle