Archives for the month of: October, 2014

hugs!

This Saturday was Homecoming at my alma mater, Ursinus College.  It was a great time, but I wanted to share something so I remember to do it differently next year.

I saw a lot of people on Saturday.  The place was packed!  And I said hi to most people, but I found myself doing this thing where I would have a quick conversation and then say, “Well, I’m sure I’ll run into you later!” and go on my merry way.  It’s like I was assuming I was still in college and would run into them at the dining hall or class.  Part of it was a way to end the conversation, but most of me actually believed I would run into them again.  Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Advice to myself for next year: don’t do that.  Just stop and talk to people like it’s the only time you’ll see them this year.

This doesn’t apply just to homecoming.  I think this applies to every day of the year.  This year made me realize how important my friends are to me and I want to treat them as such.  I want to be able to stop and appreciate them while giving them my full attention.  There is power (and true friendship) in that.

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I recently came across this post from MSN Lifestyle about the 15 best apps for productivity. Usually when I see lists like this, I’m a bit skeptical because I’m one of those people that’s a minimalist when it comes to the apps on my phone. When I find an app I like, whether it’s for note-taking, organizing, or email, I usually stick with it. I decided to scroll through the apps and give them a chance, and I actually found that I use 3 of the 15 apps they list as most productive:

1. Evernote. I can’t stress how much I use this app. It’s great for everything–note-taking, storing PDFs, pictures, and so much more. I use it to make lists for everything from grocery shopping to apartment decorating ideas to things I want to accomplish in the next month. You can tag entries and organize them under a specific heading. I absolutely love how you can do so much in one spot.

2. Gmail. This may go without saying, but Gmail is the best email app ever. Sorry Yahoo or Verizon users, or anybody else who subscribes to any other email service. Gmail is organized and clean, and you get a ton of storage space for free. The app itself is so easy to use and works just like Gmail does on your computer (I hate downloading an app and having it not work at all like it does when you navigate on a desk or laptop). It allows you to label and organize your messages into various categories (which is great for the days when my Type A personality takes over and I just have to clear out my inbox).

3. Dropbox. Dropbox is a virtual folder you can keep on your desktop where you can drag and drop files. This app is perfect for storing files and sharing them with others with no stress or hassle. I set up a Dropbox for myself when I worked at my last job and it was a great way to keep up with the most recent version of a certain file. Sometimes documents can get lost in email and mixed up with other files, and Dropbox prevents that.

These three apps are free for Android and iOS and you can download all three to any device you have–a tablet, a laptop, your phone, anything. One of the problems I had with MSN’s list was that some of the apps cost money to download. Now, I’ll shell out some money if it means getting a great product, but there are so many free organizational and note-taking apps out there that I don’t really find it necessary to pay.

One app that I can’t rave enough about that this list didn’t have is Any.Do. This is a reminder app that saves my life every day. It’s free for Android and iOS (version 7.0 or later). You can add reminders and set the date and time you’d like to be reminded. Then, a pop-up will appear on your phone with the task you entered in and you can choose to be reminded later (15 min, one hour, three hours, or tomorrow), select done, or cancel. It also organizes your reminders into Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday. I use this app primarily to remind myself of things I need to do each day, but I can see how it could be used to make lists (there’s a note-taking portion) and complete long-term goals.

I’m always looking for recommendations for apps (especially organizational ones), so what are some of your favorites?

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You know those articles that are ever present on the internet these days, giving advice about how to be successful or what you should do if you want to think positively, etc?  The articles that have titles like, “5 things you MUST do if you want to do ____!” or “7 reasons you shouldn’t do ____ without ____!”.  I have a story about an experience I had with them.

About a year ago, I followed, subscribed, and liked every thought leader I could on social media.  I thought this would help me by inspiring me and reminding me of things I should be doing.  Instead, it backfired.

Every day that I checked my social media feeds, I saw articles, quotes, and pieces of advice from these thought leaders sprinkled throughout my friend’s posts, just like the examples above. I would try to read as many of them as I could.  But with every day that passed, I got increasingly numb to the articles, quotes, and pieces of advice.  I began to feel pressured and guilty that I wasn’t doing what the articles said I should be doing.

I don’t mean to bash these type of articles and social media practices because, heck, to some extent Marykate and I do the exact same thing!  I just want to bring to light my experience with them and how I changed that experience because it was a negative one for me personally.  Now, I keep my social media feeds clear of things that I think I “should” be reading and fill it with things that I want to read.  When I want to read the articles that used to overwhelm my social media feeds, I go search for them.

Searching for them instead of having them forced on me in my social media feeds makes a huge difference because I choose to get the information and am in the right mindset for sifting through it. For me, being selective about what kind of media I am taking in everyday really helps me take control of my daily worries and therefore, my life.

So, about two weeks ago, my budding career turned one year old. Can you believe it? I began work at this company last September–it seems like both a lifetime and only a week since I walked into this office (well, our old office. We actually moved buildings in February, but I digress). I never realized how quickly the time would pass and how many situations I’d experience in just one year’s time. I know I was feeling overwhelmed exactly a year ago at this time (just two weeks after my first day), because I was finished training and getting into the “real work.” I know that for the next month, I felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, as well as excited, elated, and confident. Something happened around January or so–I began to feel more in control and able to handle what came my way in a day. I began letting that confidence show in meetings with my supervisor and manager. Today, though I still ask for help, I feel knowledgeable and competent.

I wish the same for all of you, dear readers (whoever you all may be!). I wish you the same feelings of confidence and happiness. I also wish for you some times of stress (short times, and not very much stress!), because those are the times that, though they break you down, actually build you up in the long run. They’ll make you stronger and more resourceful. They’ll make you even more confident. All of this applies to any and all seasons of life that you may be in right now–school, work (full- or part-time), unemployment, whatever it may be. In every stage of life, there is opportunity to learn and grow. If I hadn’t experienced unemployment after graduate school, I wouldn’t know the hardship of it. I wouldn’t know what it is to struggle, and the knowing has made me prepared.

This morning, I will answer many emails, sip some coffee, and maybe eat some oatmeal. It will look like a mundane morning to anyone else, but I know that the emails I’m writing, the proofs I’m correcting, even the difficult people I deal with in one day, is bringing me closer to something. The person I want to be one day, or the career I wish to have. It’s all leading me somewhere, and I’m so thankful for it!

What about you? Do you have a story about overcoming hardship? I’d love to hear it!

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Here are some great posts to check out:
1. The Paradox of “The Adversity Paradox”
2. How Stories About Overcoming Adversity Can Inspire Your Employees
3. Millennials Work For Purpose, Not Paycheck

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