6 Easy Ways to Be More Productive

6 Easy Ways to Be More Productive

When I was in college, procrastinating could have been my full time job. While I got everything done on time I always dreaded sitting down for hours on end trying to get my reading done, homework or lengthy papers finished. I never had a set routine either. While my class times never changed my work and volunteer schedule was always up in the air.

Today I’m a big fan of routines. I think as a pseudo-adult it’s helpful because less things slip through the cracks and I can manage my time better in order to have ‘me’ time.

So here are six tips that have helped me become better organized and more productive these last few months ever since I started working full-time.

  1. Make Your Bed Every Morning 

When I was a kid making my bed was a no-go unless I was forced to because someone was visiting. Back then my idea of making my bed or cleaning my room was throwing everything in the closet. I just never saw the point when I was going to go back to sleep that night anyway.

It might sound dramatic but making my bed has been life changing. I wake up at 5AM every Monday to Friday and I’ll be honest it sucks getting up that early. I’m used to it now but there are some mornings where I literally want to roll out of bed and then right back into it. So I started making my bed.

If you have trouble waking up, you’re always hitting the snooze button, or you get ready and then crawl back under the covers, make your bed. Once it’s made you won’t want to mess it up. It’ll also be your first accomplishment of the day just five minutes after you have woken up, which will boost your mood and confidence so you can conquer the rest of the day.

2. Clean For Ten Minutes a Day 

Cleaning is not my forte. I take no enjoyment from scrubbing the toilet bowl or washing the dishes. When I’m getting ready in the morning my room ends up looking like a mini tornado hit it. I will do my makeup and my hair and then leave everything out because I’m in a rush.

In order to contain my mess I clean ten minutes a day.

Try focusing on a different section of your house or room each day so things don’t start piling up. I might spend ten minutes on Monday washing all of the dishes and then come back around to them on Wednesday. On Tuesday I might do a quick sweep of the floor and dust on Thursday.

If you focus on one task each day for ten minutes you’ll have a cleaner home and by the weekend when you do your deep clean it won’t take as long because you’ve already put things where they need to be or done that first quick pass sweeping and dusting so you can mop instead.

3. Wake-up Earlier 

If you’re not a morning person this might take some getting used too. Waking up just ten minutes earlier each day could completely transform your day. Are you always rushing to get to work because you wake-up too late or you’re always hitting the snooze button?

Challenge yourself to wake-up five minutes earlier. If your phone is your alarm clock put it on the other side of the room so you have to force your body up and out of bed to turn it off. Once you get used to five minutes try ten until you reach thirty minutes.

An extra thirty minutes each morning can mean you have time to nourish your body with breakfast if you always skip it, you can get your ten minutes of cleaning in or get a recap of the news so you know what’s going on in the world.

I personally get up at 5AM even though I could sleep for fifteen minutes more and still make my workout class. Those extra fifteen minutes allow me to go through a quick morning routine, stretch, make my bed and mentally prepare myself to workout.

4. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode 

We all spend way too much time on social media. How many times have you been on your lunch break or sitting at home and you get sucked in the mini computer that is your phone? I’m totally guilty of this. I have an urge to check my phone all the time.

How many times have you been at work or school and you head to the restroom and someone is on their phone? You might hear it drop to the floor, listen in on their conversation or hear the music that is coming out of the small but loud speaker.

For one hour each day try turning your phone off or putting it on airplane mode. So when you’re studying for a big test or doing homework, turn it off for an hour to focus and then reward yourself with ten minutes of phone time. Or if you’re at work put it to the side and you might be able to get through your tasks quicker.

I find the moment I look at my phone I start to lose focus on whatever it is I should be doing. So I put my phone to the side, screen down, and tell myself I won’t check my messages or anything online until I have completed this task or that task, thereby making me work a little quicker and harder so I can then enjoy myself.

5. Plan Out Your Day 

Buy a cheap planner but actually use it to plan out your entire day.

I write out a list of things I need to do each day even my shower. Yeah, it’s not like I’m going to forget to shower (well…sometimes I do) but crossing off each task gives me a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small.

I like to put the most important things at the top of my list with a star next to them to signify these are things I have to complete. The middle of my list contains things I should complete. Finally, the rest of my list is what I would like to complete but it’s not the end of the world if I wait until tomorrow.

6. Dedicate an Hour to Yourself 

Remember when I said to turn your phone off for an hour a day? You can always dedicate that hour to yourself. This could mean you spend the entire hour reading a book before bed, watching an hour of TV or going for a run before the sun sets.

It’s perfectly okay to be selfish. We give so much of ourselves to others we tend to forget about us. We put our mind, body and souls on the back burner to please our bosses, significant others, family, friends and children. While you still need to be mindful of your responsibilities you also shouldn’t wear yourself thin because stress and overworking yourself will weaken your immune system and make you sick.

Take some time for yourself and open a bottle of wine, paint your nails or get your hair done. Don’t let anyone bother for you the entire hour.

Remember the only way to be successful and productive is to take care of yourself first.

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5 Phrases I Am Eliminating From My Life

5 Phrases I Am Eliminating From My Life

Being insecure is completely normal. We all have those days where we tend to like ourselves a little less than the day before. For me, liking myself is rare. I feel like I am forever swimming in a black hole of insecurity.

I’ve come to the realization that my negativity and my insecurities are holding me back not only in my personal life but my professional life as well. It’s hard to say yes to new opportunities or be open to new ideas when you always feel less than.

I’ve spent too many years giving the naysayers, the judgmental assholes, and bullies all of my power. This year I’m finally taking it back by eliminating five negative phrases that frequently come out of my mouth:

1. “I AM SO FAT!”

Notice the exclamation point because it is extremely important. I say this with a lot of animation as if I was a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. I say it so frequently my friends don’t even respond anymore with,”No, you’re not.” They tell me I look fine or to shut-up. I am finally taking their advice and shutting up.

I’ve been calling myself fat for years because guys called me fat for years. I was the designated ugly fat friend in high school. My best friend was beautiful, skinny and popular. I was always in her shadow. I vividly remember walking out of school with her one day and this obnoxious guy asking her out and then going, “Well, what about your fat friend then!” She laughed it off but it stuck with me.

She laughed it off when her friends saw photos of us when we were in the fourth grade and they called me an Oompa Loompa next to her. I was all smiles and chubby cheeks in the photo. I felt like crying when I saw it.

Once I started dating my insecurities over my body multiplied. My first boyfriend, his father called me fat, he said should put me to work outside mowing the lawn to lose some weight. I cried hysterically, alone in my car, when I found that out. It doesn’t help that every guy I’ve ever dated has called me fat, whether they were serious or not it doesn’t matter, what matters is that it hurt every single time.

The funny thing is when I look back at pictures I can’t believe I ever thought of myself as fat. I graduated high school at a whopping 100 lbs. thanks to overexercising and overanalyzing every single bite of food that went into my mouth.

I grew lax over the years with my workouts and my eating habits (because pizza is so good) but as the pounds crept on the words, “I’m fat,” took a hold on my life and has really put a damper on my attitude.

I met my friends boyfriend for the first time last month and right off the bat the words came out as I was eating a cheeseburger. He said he could tell I was “so insecure” and didn’t understand why when I was “good looking” but I had a serious “negative attitude” and that wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

Believe me when I say I was pissed off because this person I didn’t know was analyzing me and what made it worse was he was 100% right.

So no more, that’s it, throw a piece of bread at my head if I ever utter the words again.

2. “YOU THINK MY HAIR LOOKS RIDICULOUS NOW? YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT NATURAL.”

God does not make mistakes. He created the rivers, the mountains, and every natural wonder we Instagram when we go away on vacation. He also created you and me.

Thanks to my insecurities I have questioned time and time again, “Why God, why?” when it comes to my hair. The phrase above might seem long winded but I have several variations, which include:

“My hair looks like shit.”

“UH. MY HAIR LOOKS RIDICULOUS.”

“It’s raining? My hair! I’m like the Wicked Witch, except I frizz in the rain.”

After years of bleaching, aggressively brushing, and straightening it on the highest degree possible my hair isn’t what it used to be. I was born with curly dark brown hair. It was never an issue when I was younger. I loved wearing it down with butterfly clips or little twists. I thought I was the coolest with the twists.

But then I moved away and I was the only Puerto Rican girl lost in a sea of porcelain skin and pin-straight hair. When you are the new girl, the shy girl, the quiet girl, there is nothing worse than sticking out like a sore thumb, which I did.

My insecurities over my body and my features started in the fourth grade when I moved from Queens to Staten Island. When no one else looks like you, you start to question if you are an alien (or at least I did).

When hair straighteners became a thing during middle school I gravitated towards that hair tool. I could have shiny and straight hair just like everyone else? Sign me up! I straightened out my curls every single day. Not one strand on my hair was safe from my beloved hot tool.

I’m 25 years old and I still can’t wear my hair naturally and until recently I didn’t realize how sad that sounds. Am I so insecure that I can’t take one day to be natural?

The answer is a resounding yes.

It’s 2018, and I’ve gone two weeks without straightening my hair. The longest I’ve ever gone since…well…ever. What inspires me more than anything to embrace my natural curls is my five-year-old niece who has beautiful curly hair and wants to wear it straight. I can tell her ‘no’ but not without being a hypocrite when she says she just wants to have straight hair like me.

I don’t want her to grow up thinking her curly hair is bad like I did. God didn’t make a mistake when he made me, which means he definitely didn’t make a mistake when he made her. So the negativity and the insecurity about my hair has to come to an end.

3. “I’M DYING ALONE.” 

#dyingalone #singlefailingtomingle #foreveralone

Full disclosure: I haven’t gone on a date in over two years. Mainly due to a bad break-up but also due to the fact I am afraid of trying to meet someone new. Dating in the age of social media is scary and I seriously thought I would never have to do it. I was convinced the last person I dated was the love of my life, the one. Now, I’m making dating profiles and swiping left and right and it is exhausting. It’s also super intimidating for someone who is insecure about their looks when that’s what the basis of dating apps is all about.

Instead of putting in the effort to actually meet someone I complain about not meeting anyone, which therefore means I will die alone. It is a vicious cycle. One my co-workers, friends and boss are all tired hearing me complain about. “I’m dying alone” is the equivalent to “I’m fat.” It’s just negative word vomit that doesn’t need to be repeated. If I keep putting it out there in the universe I will end up alone.

Are you listening, Universe? It’s me, Alyssa. I’m trying to be more positive. Please reward my attempts.

4. “THANKS FOR NOT FIRING ME.” 

Or the variation: “I’m probably going to be fired.”

I probably am going to be fired if I keep annoying my boss with, “Thanks for not firing me.” Although it has become somewhat of a running joke after the seven months I’ve been at my job.

This has more to do with my lack of self confidence than my job performance. My boss is a wonderful woman who praises me all the time. She lets me know regularly when I am doing a good job (which I can assure you makes me uncomfortable) and when I am doing a poor job (which I can assure you makes me uncomfortable).

I have to work on saying, “Thank you.” Instead of a self-deprecating response. The cheapest jokes are the ones you make about yourself. I’ve made a mockery of myself for too long.

5. “I CAN’T DO THAT!”

My go-to with anything in life. I can’t do that job. I can’t go on that vacation. I can’t…blah-blah-blah. I sound like a broken record. What I really mean by ‘can’t’ is ‘won’t.’ I won’t do that because I am too afraid. I have let fear run my life for too long.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I’m not looking to write the next great novel. I just always wanted to get my voice out there, which is the main reason I started blogging. I would like to write for a website, doesn’t have to be a big well-known one either, but every single time I start to write an e-mail pitching an idea to a website the black hole of insecurity gets bigger.

I have to tell myself what is the worst that can happen? They reject my idea? Okay, on to the next one. Work harder, come up with something better. They love the idea? Great, you got yourself your very first byline.

I listen to the negative voice in my head too much, which I find astounding because I was able to push that voice away when I went to Greece. I ignored that voice when I decided to go to London and I shut that voice up when I decided I wanted to work in TV. So the word “can’t” is being eliminated from my vocabulary and replaced with the word “can” or something less loaded like “try.” It doesn’t hurt to try, right?

 

 

 

Best Moments of 2017

Best Moments of 2017

If you’re on instagram–and at this point who isn’t–one of the most popular things to do is post your ‘Best Nine’ photos at the beginning or end of the year.

Full disclosure: I am technologically challenged and extremely behind on the latest trends. I still don’t get what wavy eyebrows are and I mix up the whole ‘high-key’ and ‘low-key’ and what the hell does ‘shooketh’ really mean? Obviously when I made the transition to adult I lost my cool factor. I couldn’t figure out how to come up with my best nine until I did a quick Google search and found the website here.

If you haven’t already shared your best nine, you should.

Not only was I surprised by the photos that were chosen (read: was no one really impressed by my boobs?), I felt like they showed the growth I experienced in the past year.

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Here I am in my office, cheesing extra hard. 

On June 26th, I started my first full-time staff job in television. If you or anyone you know works in TV you know what a big deal those words really are. After years of feeling like a lifetime intern, going on countless of interviews where I was rejected left and right, and freelance jobs that always ended after six months. I didn’t just have a job, I also had my own office.

A year ago I sat in a cubicle and listened to this girl trying to very loudly cast a show next to me. I also worked in retail on the weekends, holidays and whenever I was randomly let go from my TV jobs. There was no sense of calm in my life. It was: work, work, work, work for a very low wage.

I take a lot of enjoyment in having an office and waving people away when I’m on the phone to signal I’m busy. Oh! And there’s nothing better than being able to lock the door when you’re eating really fragrant food.

I’m still waiting for that $3,000 an hour raise though.

I also took the trip of a lifetime. You can check out my full posts about London and Paris here:

Je Me Baladais Sur L’Avenue: 48 Hours In Paris

62442: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Afternoon Tea on a Double Decker Bus

Hop-On, Hop-Off: A Tour of London

At the time of my trip I was earning $12/hour at my retail job, having been let go from a freelance gig. I spent two years saving for my trip, since the entire journey was based around the tickets I bought in advance for the Harry Potter Play.

I can now cross-out watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night off my bucket list.

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100% WORTH THE CALORIES

This photo makes me laugh and slightly cringe at the same time. I celebrated another Valentine’s Day with my yearly heart shaped pizza.

What most people don’t know is I also celebrated the day behind the scenes with my ex-boyfriend. We were in this weird limbo of having broken up months ago, wanting to get back together and then ultimately failing.

My pizza was delicious. The company was alright but I’m a little disappointed we never did get to use the candy thong I gifted him the year before.

Shout out to my ex: you either need to return to sender or shoot me a text for one final night of fun.

…Have fun trying to figure out which one I’d prefer, thanks.

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It’s true. Blondes do have more fun.

Finally, just like Stella, I got my groove back. I felt broken after my boyfriend broke-up with me but the truth is my confidence had shattered long before he said he didn’t want to be with me anymore.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it fled but I spent the last year experimenting with my hair, playing with make-up, and tiptoeing out of my comfort zone with certain outfits.

More importantly I started to laugh again. I began to tell myself ‘ya look good’ again. I felt whole even if it was only for a few days or weeks out of the entire year.

In 2018, I’ll continue to work on trying to find out who I am but I’ll also be writing again, traveling to DC to dance with more cherry blossoms, hear the strum of the guitars in Nashville, and eat my weight in beignets. I’ll get that raise (albeit not a $3,000 one) and eat some really good pizza on Valentine’s Day (and this year I’m not sharing).

As much as things will change in 2018, I’m sure when I look at my top nine at the end of the year there will be some similarities. The same hopeful attitude will be there, along with the same cheesy smile and the same cheesy heart shaped pepperoni pizza.

New Year, Same Me

New Year, Same Me

A week before the clock strikes midnight, people start posting all over social media about their New Year’s resolution. It’s the same year after year, “New Year, New Me.”

I am all for resolutions. Having goals is a must. I’ve been writing out a list of goals for the year since I was a teenager in high school and trust me that was a long time ago. Yet for 2018 I’m looking towards achievement but not changing myself.

Why do I have to change myself? Why do you? Really look at yourself and ask:

Am I a bad person?

If you can honestly answer no then why do you have to change? Why can’t it be a new year, same you, but better? Realistically we grow everyday without telling ourselves too. Instead of making a resolution to change everything about yourself write out a list of goals you want to achieve for the entire year, just don’t knock yourself down as a bad person.

I used to always say I was going to work on my personality. I’m a little too sarcastic for most people. I’m also a little too blunt. I internalized what they were saying and convinced myself I had to change myself. News flash, five years later and I’ve never made that change because there’s nothing wrong with who I am as a person. The issue was I was taking what people said and treating it as a negative when I should have turned their words around into a positive. Blunt? Try truthful. Sarcastic? Humorous. I’ll admit everything I say is never meant to cause harm and rarely ever does but when it does I apologize.

I don’t love the word resolution. If you haven’t noticed I prefer goal because a goal is something you are striving to work towards. It’s what you want to make when you play a game, it drives the competitive part inside of you out in order to win. Your goal in life should always be to win. A resolution sounds like you’re attempting to resolve an issue but you haven’t fully committed.

This is why people fail seven months into the year. Granted it could be because they forgot about their list of resolutions, it could be because there was no concrete plan made to actively meet them or they were unattainable.

But if you call your ‘resolutions’ goals you’re less likely to quit. Last year one of my goals was to get a full time staff position in my field by June. I actively went on interviews and was rejected left and right. I cried, complained and became depressed. No matter how hard I tried I let the doubt creep in and told myself it was never going to happen. I took the bitterness and my crushed spirit and decided I would change career paths and go back to school. I would try something new. Still, no matter how dejected I felt I kept applying for jobs as I considered a new path.

On June 26th, I started my first full time staff job in my field.

I reached my goal with a few days to spare.

Now I’m not saying I reached every goal I sought to complete for the year. Did I lose 30 pounds and workout everyday of the year? No, because that wasn’t realistic.

I won’t share all of my goals for 2018 but I will share my two biggest ones:

  1. To get a raise by July
  2. To publish my book by June

Not to sound like a broken record but in order to achieve your goals you need a plan. I want a raise but that doesn’t necessarily mean I will get a raise because the ultimate decision is out of my hands. However, I will still work towards my goal by presenting an argument as to why I deserve one. In the last month I started to write down how I contribute to the company. I have been focusing on the bigger picture: How do I make them money? What is it that I do that gets project A/B/C/D to fruition and gets them paid?

My second goal is to finally publish my novel. I wrote a novel a few years ago but never did anything with it. I have had people read it and they’ve given me feedback on what could be better but ultimately they all thought it was an interesting read. For the next six months I will make the time on the weekends to revise the chapters. There is a lot of  blood, sweat and tears that go into revising a novel. On June 1st, I will finish my revisions and will publish it as an ebook.

While my goals might sound lofty I have broken them down to make them attainable. So if you find yourself for the third year in a row writing down you want to lose twenty pounds for the New Year, try something different. Break it down, say you want to lose five pounds by February, and another by March. Write out a realistic workout plan for each week and tell yourself you will do this.

What are your goals for 2018?