How to Have a Productive and Fun Summer

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It’s finally summer. And since you know that you only have so many summer vacations left, you’re prioritizing relaxing and reconnecting with friends and family! It’s time to fit in everything that you couldn’t during the school year when you were too busy to even sleep. Now, everything is a little slower paced.

Except, soon enough it’ll be August, and none of your goals will be accomplished. This isn’t to say that you don’t have anything to fill your time now. You probably have a summer job or internship and are visiting old friends. But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of achieving some long-procrastinated goals. The truth is that you can have both, with some careful planning. Summer is the perfect time to have your cake and eat it too. You can read those books you were supposed to in high school (and now realize weren’t just a waste of time), travel somewhere new (so you’ll have something interesting to say to your new roommate), or lose that freshman fifteen (or sophomore 20, we don’t judge).

Write Down Your Goals!

It might seem useless, but writing down your goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. Writing them down not only shows more commitment than simply envisioning it, but it also ensures that your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). While it’s easy to think things like, “I should read more this summer,” or “I should work out more during the summer, since I don’t have to get up early,” it’s a lot harder to come up with actionable goals. When you’re writing goals down, you’re forced to confront the fact that your goals aren’t very SMART. Instead, you’re more likely to write down something like, “I will read three novels this summer” or “I will work out five days a week for an hour.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will let you know see whether or not you’re overburdening yourself. If you have a goal list 10 pages long for the summer, this might not be a summer vacation, and that’s a priority too!

Plan Trips Ahead of Time

You’ve only got a couple more weeks until the end of summer, but you’re scheduled to work some extra shifts. That’s okay you’ll make some moolah right before the start of the semester — no problem, right? Until your friends call you about an impromptu camping trip, and you’re stuck between scrambling to get your shifts covered or missing out on one last hoorah with your friends.

It’s a crappy situation and one that too many ill-prepared college kids find themselves in. It’s even worse if you’re only in town for the summer because then the pressure is really on to both make money and spend as much time with friends as possible. It’s much easier if you plan out your trips in advance. Obviously, this can’t be a reality in all circumstances, but you should do with as many summer trips as possible.

Also, planning ahead for trips will let you account for your goals! Everyone accounts for work schedule changes, but keep in mind whatever schedule you have built around your goals as well. Of course, it’s not impossible to stay fit while traveling, and learning a language while traveling can be ideal! However, there might be some goals that you have that are more difficult to do, like making money to pay for tuition. Plans you have for those sort of goals might need to be accelerated when you consider travel plans.

Pad Your Resume

If you don’t have a job or internship, there are other valuable ways to gain experience. You can volunteer for various organizations, write for online magazines, or do online classes. The experience you’re looking for will depend on your niche, but this summer doesn’t have to be completely useless. You can use it to get ahead.

With this step in particular, though, make sure that this is an experience you will enjoy. Summer should be at least somewhat relaxing, and no one wants to start fall semester already burnt out. It’s important to pad your resume with experience, but it’s also important to take a moment to enjoy yourself.

Summer shouldn’t be a productivity wasteland, but deciding how productive you want to be is up to you. Some people see this as a great time to get ahead. Others just need to take a month and reset. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting absolutely nothing done. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing, but accomplishments and experiences will make your summer, not Netflix binging. Focus on the end goals, and you’ll have your best summer yet.

How to Hit the Ground Running in January

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Let’s just start off with: you’re right.  You do deserve a break.  Well, you will, depending on whether you’ve finished your finals yet or not.  You might have believed that you were all caught up, but then you found out that your physics final is graded on a curve, so now you’re freaking out… Or maybe you knew these couple weeks would suck all along.  Either way, this is a particularly stressful period.

Unfortunately, you’re probably responding to that stress in a not-so-healthy way.  The cycle of staying up late and struggling to get out of bed for class, let alone the gym, has a way of perpetuating itself all the way until Holiday Break.  And while exercise is a great way to relieve stress and work off those study break snacks, let’s be honest: you’ve probably skipped a couple days at the gym.  Which isn’t so bad, but when coupled with the fact that lack of sleep makes you eat more and the upcoming holidays, December can be tough on your fitness goals.  It’s okay, you’ll pick it up again next semester, right?

That’s certainly possible, but you don’t want to a part of the New Year’s Resolution crowd that works out intermittently for a month and then are never seen at the rec center again.  It can be all too easy to put off starting a fitness regimen or to let it fall by the wayside.  So, while yes, you do deserve a break, you should also be prepared to start a new routine come next semester and stick to it.

What Do You Want to Improve?

The best workouts will involve your entire body, including flexibility, coordination, and strength.  By practicing a variety of skills, you’ll lower your risk of injury and maximize performance.  However, you can still focus on something specific that you’d like to improve.  If you don’t like your arms, can’t touch your toes, or would like to lose some weight after the holidays, you should cater to your fitness goals.  Just don’t neglect every other muscle group.

Write it Down!

It’s no secret anymore that writing down goals makes achieving them more likely.  It might feel stupid or childish, but it really does work.  Even if you’re self-conscious, you can write them down in a private place– just make sure that it’s somewhere you see frequently (a planner, a note taped in your closet, in your phone, etc.) That way, it will remind you of your goal and solidify your commitment.

Additionally, writing down your goals will force you to be specific.  You might think, “I want to gain muscle,” but when you start writing it down you realize that there are a lot of specifics to consider.  By when?  How much?  Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach your goal in time?  And, most importantly, is your goal realistic and healthy?

Account for Real Life

Realize that you’re not going to be perfect.  There’s going to be friends’ birthdays, emergency assignments, and other things that you can’t control.  You might miss a couple of workouts.  The important thing is that you don’t let that derail you overall.  You can also minimize the impact of these distractions by planning ahead.

  • Know the exact routine that you’re going to do at the gym so you don’t waste time in between machines.

  • If you have an early morning class, set out your clothes and backpack the night before, so you can minimize excuses to miss your morning workout.

  • Plan out your meals so that you can hold yourself accountable for your nutrition goals.  No more easy hamburgers in the dining hall when you’re rushing between classes or meetings, because you planned ahead!

  • Encourage your friends to join you.  That way,  you don’t have to choose between socializing and working out!

There’s going to be obstacles blocking every goal.  That’s why you haven’t completed it yet!  But with some careful planning and motivation, your New Year’s resolution can become an All-Year resolution.  For now, focus on your finals, enjoy the holidays, and come back next semester ready to achieve.

 

A Procrastinator’s Guide to Getting It Done

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Whether or not we like to admit it, we’ve all been there- our planners are full with assignments, papers and exams, and we just can’t seem to get started with any of it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a heavy workload; the good news is, there are ways to combat your tendencies to procrastinate! Take note of the tips below, and you’ll be on your way to getting it done!

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1.) Keep an organized planner

I don’t know where I’d be without my planner. I write down all my assignments, along with reminders of due dates, meetings, exams, etc. The truth is, I would forget most of that stuff without this trusted, reliable strategy!  Maintaining a well organized planner will let you stay on top of your workload and schedule at home and on the go, relieving your mind from the burden of remembering. Also, explore using a separate wall calendar to schedule your next study session, and to further ensure you’re always caught up. Constant reminders of your ever-changing to-do list will lessen your chances of falling down the black hole of procrastination.  Imagine what you could do with all that extra brain power!

2.) Set a designated study time

Throughout the week, I do my homework after dinner every night. Establishing a routine is a crucial step for me in staying on top of my workload! While everyone works differently and relies on different methods, procrastination is at a much higher risk if you decide to wing it. Making some sort of plan for getting work done in relation to your daily schedule is a big step towards resisting procrastination habits!

3.) Find a study spot

Along the same lines as setting a designated time to study, setting a designated place is just as helpful in establishing and sticking to a routine! By finding a good study spot (which should be as free of noise and crowds as possible!) and studying there routinely, you will be far more productive in this place that you associate with working.

 

What are some of your favorite strategies for staying on top of your workload and avoiding procrastination?

Good luck, and let’s start kicking that procrastination to the curb!

 

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6 Reasons Why You Need to Use a Planner

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Having a planner is a must for every college student. There are tons of important dates and events to remember, and frankly, you might end up lost without one. But many planners are now going digital, leaving some to questioned why you should keep an old school paper planner at your side. Here are 6 reasons the old “analog” planners are still useful in the digital age.

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  1. Reduce Your Stress

Ever feel like you won’t find the time to get everything done? Take out your planner and take a deep breath. Writing down your agenda can be a great stress reliever, allowing you to see exactly what needs to be done and when. Plus, you won’t feel like you’re missing anything in the process. Staying organized in itself can keep you feeling on top of your game, even when you’re bogged down with a million things to do.

  1. Make Efficient To-Do Lists

Your planner should come with a space to make daily or weekly to-do lists. The rest of the planner can help you build one that is prioritized by due date or importance. And having a physical space to cross off or check off as you go can feel amazing!

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  1. Record Memories

Don’t toss your planners when they become full or when the year is over. Instead, keep them for the future. You’ll love looking back and seeing all the times in college when you circled outings with friends or special dates with your true love. You’ll cringe at the notes about a lousy homework assignment or shake your head at how much you procrastinated. Either way, your planner is almost as important as a diary or blog, as it shows just how devoted you were to going after your dreams each and every day.

  1. Commit to Memory

There are many who believe that the best way to remember something important is to write it down. While typing is faster, forcing yourself to spell it out with pen and paper can turn something on in your brain. It gives you a visual that is more powerful than trying to come up with something out of the blue. If it’s a super important date or item, use highlighters to color code it or designate it with your own special code like stars, underlines, or circles.

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  1. Visualize Your Goals

You’re at college to chase your dreams, to find your path, to discover who you are… and a planner can help with all of that. By using a planner to prioritize little steps, such as attending a networking event or going to a professional conference, you can make big moves towards your goals. Use your planner like a stepping stone. Fill it up with ideas that may or may not work, and use the margins to inspire yourself with reminders or inspirational phrases.

  1. Practice Good Habits

Post-college life may seem like years away, but it’s time to start thinking about it now. Many professionals use planners to keep their lives in check as well. They are especially popular with those in business, marketing, and writing where tasks can get out of control or there are many events to attend. By coming up with your own planner style now and solidifying your shorthand and preferences, you’ll be set to take your planner action to the next level.

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9 New Year’s Eve Safety Tips

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Happy New Year! It’s time to live up the last moment of this year and ring in the next! But before you go out and watch that ball drop, be sure you know these dos and don’ts to have a safe New Year’s Eve.

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9. Plan Out Your Transportation

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to you this New Years is to not have a ride to your event. Or, even worse, after everything is done, not having a way to get home. Before you leave the house, load up your phone with the numbers of a trusted cab company or download a map of the city in case you need to catch a bus.

8. Tell Someone in Advance

Checking in with mom and dad can be a hassle, but they need to know where you were going and who you were going with if something were to happen. Don’t be too proud. Instead, share with a friend or family member your plans and another number to reach you in case of an emergency.

7. Have a Clear Plan

Don’t try to wing it on New Year’s Eve. With so many people out and about, your options are endless, which means there is no excuse on wandering the streets or dorms looking for the best party. Have a set plan of where you will be and when so you can avoid getting lost or taking a wrong turn to a bad event.

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6. Carry an Extra Charger

Your phone is a lifesaver, and it is important that on holidays like New Years that your phone is charged and ready to be used at any time. Purchase a portable charger or throw a wall or car charger in your purse. You’ll be thankful for it after you take all those awesome NYE selfies.

5. Hide Your Money Well

If you do plan on going out to a large event, beware of pickpocketers. They are so good that they can get into your shut and zipped purse without you even knowing! Instead of stashing away all your money in your wallet, tuck a few dollars or a debit card under your shirt or do what some runners do and stick some money into your shoe. They’ll never know to look there!

4. Comfort Over Fashion

Those high heels are awesome, but can you really walk in them (especially if you needed to because of an emergency)? Make your own fashion statement by saying no to uncomfortable outfits that are hard to walk or stand in. Instead, hit the shopping mall for a look that allows you to move around freely.

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3. Know Your Limits

Only you can say “no” to a situation. Before you go out, have a heart to heart with yourself and set some firm limits. That way, if you get to your end, you’ll already be resolved to saying no. And if you’re comfortable, tell your friends about them too so they know not to pressure you or ask you to do more than you’re willing to.

2. Stick to Familiar

NYE is great for a public event or hitting up a house party. But make sure you know what you’re doing before you go too out of the box. Go out with friends you trust, to places you know how to get out of, and to parties you know are safe and well-contained. If you’re feeling uneasy, find an alternative event instead.

1. Bring a Buddy

Who do you plan to smooch at NYE? Going solo on NYE is not a safe idea. Instead, take a friend that you know well and stick to their side as much as possible. If you do get lost or separated before the ball drops, have a meet up place or a couple of contact points.

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