LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

EducationSkills

As much as we hate to admit it sometimes, we can’t all be Superman or Superwoman. Finding the time to get daily necessities done, as well as doing things just for pure enjoyment and relaxation, can be difficult. Here are some ways I multitask with my busy college schedule!

1. Work Out Between Loads of Laundry

Believe it or not, having to do your laundry can actually be a useful way to manage your time. Instead of being that one person who leaves their load in the washing machine for hours on end until you’re finally out of class, set a timer for each load that you do. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in a 30-45 minute load. Personally, it’s usually a toss-up between napping and working out, but I usually like to try to get a little exercise into my day which can be difficult when piles of homework are calling your name. Try splitting up your workout to give you plenty of time to get a few sets done and take a breather. I try to split my workout into sections and do legs during one load and abs during another!

2. Brew Your Coffee While You Get Ready

The simplest trick is the book is over-looked way too often! I can’t survive my 8:30 AM class without a hot cup of coffee, but it can be difficult to find time when you’re rushing to get there because you wanted to sleep late. Instead, make your coffee first and go about your daily routine. This will also give your coffee some time to cool off so it isn’t boiling when you go to take a sip!

3. Call Your Family While Walking To Class

That 15 minute walk across campus can really make a difference. It can be difficult to find the time to keep your family up to date on your life while being away at school, but a quick catch up here and there while walking to class can easily make your day and their day and fit into both of your schedules. It also makes the walk there a little less lonely!

4. Your Cell Phone’s Speaker Is Your New Best Friend

Whenever I’m in my dorm room eating takeout, cleaning, or doing homework, I’ll try to call or FaceTime a friend to catch up! It’s the easiest thing to do and is multitasking at its finest. Plus, if you don’t understand something on your homework you can ask away!

5. Review Notes While Catching Up On Your Favorite TV Show

We all dread that night of studying before the next-morning-quiz. To make it a little more bearable, try binge-watching that show you’ve been meaning to catch up on and review your notes at the same time. During breaks you can quiz yourself on what you just went over!

Image: Startup Stock Photos

HealthSkills

It’s 3 a.m. on a Saturday and we’re pulling an all-nighter and studying for our test on Tuesday and preparing for that big event and planning our next organization meeting and fixing our resume for Monday’s interview and… we’re forgetting to take a breath because we’re on our fourth cup of coffee in the last two hours. Sound familiar? It’s a lot to handle during adolescence and adulthood, when life is already throwing so many new changes and obstacles our way.

It’s a mad rush to pad our resumes, make the cut for dean’s list, or secure the best job, and while ambition is so important in these years, rest is, too. Not the kind of rest that involves lying on the couch in front of the TV, one hand in a chip bag and one hand surfing Facebook on our phone. I’m talking about the kind of rest that allows us to rejuvenate and care for ourselves.

In college, I only gave myself the potato chip kind of rest, on the very rare occasions that I actually even “rested.” I worked my butt off and tried, to no end, to be perfect and the best at a lot of things that looked amazing on my resume but didn’t even make me that happy. In fact, they brought me anxiety. Not stress; stress is normal and can be healthy. Anxiety is not, and neither is perfection. I was lost, and I refused to slow down to ask myself where this lost feeling was coming from, and if it was even real.

That strategy didn’t work. Halfway through my senior year, I became burnt out and depressed to the point that I wanted to throw everything away and hide under the covers for the entire semester. Coming from a school known for its overcommitted students, I was not the only person I knew who felt this way. I was tired of trying to please everyone but myself. I finally began asking myself what was up, which led me down a life-changing path where I made the changes that now allow me to enjoy the things I commit myself to.

You see, ignoring feelings of intense pressure or anxiety, and pushing ourselves to unrealistic limits can lead us to burn out. In order to avoid it, we can do a few things:

1. We must stop and listen.

This means that, when we feel an emotion we don’t like, we don’t push it away and run from it. No amount of ignoring will keep us from feeling what we feel. When we learn to respect our emotions and ask what is causing them, we can really get somewhere. It is this kind of questioning that slowly brings us closer to ourselves and allows us to make important discoveries and necessary changes in our priorities and relationships.

2. We must be ok with what we are feeling.

We have to stop judging ourselves. One of the greatest contributors to adolescent and young adult stress and confusion is the need to be perfect. The thing that can be so difficult to realize is that when we fail, when we’re angry, when we react poorly, and when we screw up, we’re being humans, and we need to try to be ok with that. Otherwise, we will be unable to let go of our fear of failure, preventing us from genuinely, passionately devoting ourselves to what we love.

3. We need to take naps.

Why do they only happen in pre-K? We all need them. A short 15 minute power nap can really do wonders for our bodies, which sometimes need a chance to unwind, regroup, and chill. And getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, if we can swing it, is key.

4. We need to discover what it is that we love, and make time to do it.

This can be a process, so don’t freak out if you don’t have a clue what it is. Taking a few minutes, even just once a week, to try out something new or deepen an existing hobby is a good first step. It may be trial and error, but soon we realize we can actually make time for these little moments.

5. We need to learn to say “no.”

I know that this one is tougher than it sounds. We’re taught to work and work and work, more than anyone else in the office, even if it means 10 hour days with no lunch break or accepting yet another position as president of yet another campus club. When we spread ourselves thin, we don’t allow ourselves to give our best to any one thing, and that isn’t fair to ourselves. Saying “no” when we aren’t able to take on a commitment is not bad, insulting or mean. It is responsible and smart.

Burnout is so very common among young adults, and it’s important to recognize when it may be happening to us. It can be scary and foreign to admit to it and attempt to change things, but addressing it can bring us a sense of peace, along with the energy and motivation to be our very best.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated and avoiding burnout? Let us know below or tweet to us!

Image: Mike Hoff

Health

The feeling that comes with knowing your laundry, kitchen, and bathroom are clean is something like intense joy. We often judge this cleanliness by what we smell: the smell of disinfectant. Bleach. Soap. Strangely tropical flowery fragrances that would never actually be in our apartments naturally.

What these smells actually tell us, though, is that we have replaced dirt and germs with chemicals and artificial substances. Replacing bacteria with these agents is sort of like replacing a stomachache with a headache – the unpleasantness is still there, just in a different form. We clean our little living spaces with chemicals that are unsafe to even inhale. What is up with that?

I’m not dissing our love of freshly cleaned chemical smell. I love it, too. I am saying, though, that there are some natural cleaning agents that actually get the job done better, and much more safely, than the commercial products to which we’ve become so accustomed.

Below are five natural cleaning products to replace commercial cleaners:

Task: laundry
Natural solution: soap nuts

I’m sorry, what? Soap nuts? That’s the reaction I often get to this.

Soap nuts, native to India and Nepal, are these little round berry things that grow on trees and do a fantastic cleaning job by releasing natural saponins to free dirt, oils, and stains from clothing. They are unscented and wonderful for those of us with sensitive skin and allergies. In fact, they’re used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

Not only that, but they clean incredibly well. I spilled red curry all over a new white shirt. In a moment of pure stupidity, I didn’t wash the shirt right away, leaving it to bask in all its curry-stained glory for two days. I felt defeated when I finally put it in the wash. To my surprise, it looked good as new after I took it out.

What you do is place around five soapnuts in a reusable muslin bag (which typically comes with the order) and place them in the washing machine. It’s not unsafe to put them in the dryer, but I prefer not to do that. The soap nuts can be reused for about five washes.

The best part? Soap nuts are completely non-toxic and can be composted when done, and they are pretty darn inexpensive. I love them, and order mine here, although Amazon and plenty of great retailers also carry them.

Task: dishes (in the dishwasher)
Natural solution: white vinegar

I know, I know. It sounds strange. But, if you want your dishes to actually be stain free and deep-cleaned, I’m telling you, this is how. Just put white vinegar in the dish soap slot and run the dishwasher. That’s it. They will be sparkling when they’re done, and the vinegar smell isn’t apparent when used in the dishwasher.

Task: quickly remove a stain from clothing or carpet
Natural solution: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and water

I can’t tell you if it’s ok to use on fabrics that require dry cleaning – I’m going to assume it’s not. I can tell you that last time I spilled hot sauce down my cotton shirt (I’m messy, ok?) I put water and a little dab of Dr. Bronner’s almond castile soap on a tissue and wiped away the stain. It went away completely after wiping for around 20 seconds each with three damp/soapy tissues. It probably would have been quicker had I used a washcloth, but that would have made too much sense.

Castile soap is good to have around the house, too, as it has many uses, including washing dishes in the sink, as an ingredient in natural body washes and shampoos, and to hand wash delicate fabrics.

Task: maintain shower cleanliness
Natural solution: apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle makes a great everyday shower cleaning spray. I also like to add a few drops of lavender oil to remove the vinegar smell. You can use this as a quick toilet bowl cleaner, too, by spraying and letting it sit, or using a toilet brush. Add coconut oil, too, and lemon or lime juice for an extra cleaning kick.

Task: use an all-purpose cleaner in the bathroom and/or kitchen
Natural solution: coconut oil

Coconut oil is magical and life-changing. It has hundreds of fantastic uses, and it’s incredibly gentle and safe on skin. In fact, I use it as a face wash and body moisturizer every day. Aside from its gentleness, its cleansing properties are incredible.

Dampen a rag or sponge with coconut oil – it can be in liquid or soft form – and wipe down any surface that needs cleaning. The dirt will come right off; it’s amazing to watch.

Pretty amazing, and a little strange, that we can safely and naturally wash our faces with the same product we use to clean our showers, floors and countertops.

I hope these cleaning products help you replace the dangerous, nasty chemicals currently under your kitchen and bathroom sinks! I swear by each of them and have found success using them to keep my apartment clean. They’re great for dorms, too, because we all know those little rooms can get dirty. Happy cleaning!

Do you use any natural ingredients in cleaners? Share below!

Image: Umberto Salvignan