ADULTING 101: Get organised!

Get organised!

Do all the perfect pictures on Instagram make you jealous? Does the new trend of bullet journaling make you realise what a hot mess you are? Do the words ‘productivity’ and ‘waking up early’ give you nightmares? If you answered YES to all three of these questions, all I can say is, same… Also, you can join me on this mission to become more organised and productive.

As much as we all hate waking up early in the morning, it is actually proven that it makes you more productive. To be honest, when I have an appointment or a meeting quite early in the morning, I just have an irresistible urge to get things done afterwards; I might as well, I’m up. Of course, no one expects you to become a morning person overnight. The best way to get into the habit is, firstly, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (or at least Monday to Friday), and secondly, to prevent shock, move your alarm 15 minutes earlier every night. Except for increased productivity, there are multiple other benefits to waking up early:

  • You get extra time before everyone else gets up when it’s quiet and you get this nice sense of ‘time to myself’
  • The first hour of the day sets the tone for the whole day, you get to ‘wake up slow’ and not rush
  • Sunrise and the crisp morning air, need I say more?
  • You get more done in the morning = a head start before everyone
  • You can brag about it

Personally, I am one of the people who, simply, can’t get out of bed but what I’ve noticed lately is that just having the alarm on vibrate instead of the classic shock tone, actually wakes me up more gently, if that makes sense. On the topic of waking up,

  • Get an alarm clock app for your phone which gives you maths or logical tasks, before it actually stops ringing
  • Put your phone/alarm as far away from your bed as possible, then you HAVE to get up
  • Have a glass of water ASAP, it gets your digestive system working and wakes you up better than coffee
  • Don’t overthink getting out of bed, just do it
  • Always eat breakfast, it starts up your metabolism
  • If you wake up a reasonable amount of time before your alarm goes off, just get up. It’s your body’s internal clock saying one sleep cycle has ended
  • You’re better off reading or writing before bed rather than looking at your phone or laptop. If you are watching something though, get an app to reduce the blue light produced, the light activates the production of melatonin, making you more awake

Now that you’re up and ready to get cracking with everything you have to get done, you should summarise what it actually is that you have to do. Being at uni and having to ‘adult’ can and will get quite overwhelming, so what I, personally, like to do is write it all down, check all the deadlines and see what needs to be done first.  To-Do lists are generally the most efficient way to organise your priorities, but simply writing down To-Do: Clean room isn’t really going to help you. The better way to approach this is breaking the task down, e.g. To-Do: wipe desk, make bed etc.

Having a list of tasks, it’s now time to get them done!

  • Don’t study/work in bed! That’s supposed to be your relax zone and later on, you won’t be able to relax.
  • Study somewhere where there are fewer distractions, e.g. the library, a café. Generally, that’s where most people do their work, the atmosphere there is more concentrated and you’d feel guilty just cracking open Youtube or Netflix; so that pushes you to work.
  • Turn off all your notifications, so that nothing distracts you. Again, there’s an app for that, for example, Forest, you plant a tree and it grows for a certain amount of time. If you use your phone during that time, the tree dies.
  • Some people like to listen to music whilst studying, the best way for the music to not be distracting is if there are no lyrics. There are loads of playlists on Spotify, generally, piano, classical or ambient music does the job.
  • Have enough water handy so that you don’t have to get up all the time.
  • Do the worst and/or hardest task first

Hopefully, you’ve done everything that needed to be done by now. Generally, having a clean and tidy surroundings helps to decrease your distractions as well, so tidy that desk and put everything you don’t need away.

Something that could motivate you is pretty stationary. Honestly, just walking into WHSmith or Paperchase immediately makes me want to plan out every second of my day.

Image source: paperchase.co.uk

Whenever you feel really unproductive; you’ve been lying on your bed, staring at the ceiling and you can’t get up, just roll out on the floor, do a couple of sit-ups or squats, just something to get your heart rate up, that should make you feel more active. Also, try doing a tiny task, make your bed, open your window to air the room out, email your lecturer, that should get you started. And don’t think about it too much, overthinking only causes harm. Now that’s some life advice right there.

Speaking of life advice, a couple of good habits you should take up to start being more productive and organised,

  • Get some sunlight and fresh air
  • Surround yourself with inspirational people and avoid the toxic ones (this relates to who you follow on social media as well)
  • Organise your priorities. What do you want to do and where do you want to be this time next year? What’s your current goal? Would you rather spend two days binge watching Netflix or spend two days reading a book in a language you’re trying to learn?
  • Have a set routine, e.g. clean your room every Sunday, wash all your dishes before going to bed etc.
  • Make some time for yourself, relax

And one useful tip at the end: the power nap. Trying to nap in the afternoon can be a tricky task. You want to nap for twenty minutes, but suddenly it’s two hours and you have no idea what century it is and what planet you’re on. There’s a solution for that. Make a strong coffee and let it cool down to a drinkable temperature. Drink it all at once, set an alarm for 15 – 20 minutes on and nap. When you wake up twenty minutes later, that’s when the caffeine actually kicks in, et voilá – zero grogginess.

Author: Gabi Kaufmanova

ADULTING 101: How to save money

One requirement of being a grown-up is having the ability to feed yourself and not spend all your money just on food. We’ve all been there though, eating stale bread whilst crying when seeing our bank balance. Believe it or not, there’s a way to prevent that from happening again, just take a look at these few tips on how to put an end to the massive overdraft at the end of each month.

  • Make shopping lists. It may seem a bit unnecessary but if you think about it, it’s really smart! Before going grocery shopping look through your kitchen cupboards, fridge and the freezer and write down stuff you need to buy. When you get to the shops, stick to your shopping list and you won’t impulse-buy. Also, a golden rule, NEVER go food shopping when hungry! It’ll just make you buy stuff you crave at the moment.
  • When making plans for grocery shopping plan your meals ahead of time so that you buy all the ingredients required and nothing else. I’m referring to all those vegetables and cheese gone off.
  • Get your regular customer card. All the times you’ve heard stuff like “have you got your (blank)card?” from the check-out lady could’ve come in handy. It might seem like another useless piece of plastic in your wallet but if you’re a regular somewhere all the points add up and eventually you get discounts and/or vouchers. Plus it doesn’t cost you anything, you just sign up online or in the store.
  • Shop the supermarket’s own-brand stuff. It’s a rule that own-branded food is a fraction of the price of normal branded food and usually serves the same purpose, although always check the ingredients first though and shop smart!
    • Difference between Ambrosia custard and TEV custard – TEV is just water and milk
    • Difference between Heinz spaghetti hoops and TEV spaghetti hoops – Heinz uses actual tomatoes, TEV just tomato puree
  • Ask yourself “do I really need that?”. The number of times rethinking my purchases has saved me a couple of £££ is too high.
  • Check supermarkets’ websites or even download their apps. Although you might not necessarily be ordering groceries online, you have an overview of all the offers they have at the moment, therefore you can plan your shopping in advance. Also, you can compare what stuff is on offer elsewhere so you can shop different things in different stores (if they’re all close to you)
  • Now, designer brands might not be employing cheap workforce, but if you’re on a budget you can’t really buy £200 jumpers, can you? If you overlook the ethical issues and stigmas associated with Primark, H&M etc. they make some very wearable clothes for reasonable prices!
  • Earn some extra money by selling stuff that’s just taking place in your closet, that you don’t need anymore. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
  • Nights out can be quite expensive especially when all your friends are out and when drunk you is so eager to buy everyone a couple of rounds of drinks (hey, we’ve all been there). The cheapest thing to do is to not drink at all and stay in bed, but let’s not be naive, shall we? Many of you have probably already discovered this style of a night out but I thought I’d still include it here. Pre-drinks. Not only it’s a great way of socialising, it’s actually a really smart way to drink. You buy yourself a bottle in Tesco’s (preferably half price) and it’s still cheaper than a couple of shots of the same drink in a club. Just don’t get too drunk otherwise you won’t even get into the desired club/pub/bar. Also, keep an eye out for cheaper entries for students, so don’t forget your student ID!
  • Instead of getting the bus to uni every time why not wake up earlier and walk or cycle? You can get some cheap second-hand bikes online and some cities even do free memberships for their university students on nextbike.co.uk. Yes, those are the bikes that you can rent all around your city; just check their website for further information.
  • If you’re a smoker, STOP! On average one cigarette now costs approximately 40p and depending on how many a day you smoke it all adds up. And if you simply can’t live without your cigarettes the cheaper option here is to buy tobacco, filters and papers and roll your own.
  • Do you have a gym membership? Yes? And how many times have you been there in the past month and be honest! If the answer is less than four times then you’re just wasting your dear money. We can all imagine the situation when you’re thinking whether or not to buy it and you decide it is worth it in hope that it will motivate you, but guess what, it doesn’t. Just be true to yourself, are you actually going to go there? If you’re not sure, spend a while working out on your own at home or start running and when you start craving more, look for a one-time gym entrance. When you start working out regularly then it’s worth getting a membership.
  • Get the most out of your student status. So many shops, restaurants, tourist attractions and transport companies offer student discounts nowadays, so always ask, just in case.
  • Check your phone plan; are you actually using all that you’re paying for? If not, change it or change to pay-as-you-go.
  • Check all your subscriptions – Spotify, Netflix, Graze etc. Are you actually using all of them and are you getting benefits from it? I know it’s probably useless to ask about Netflix and Spotify but what about the rest? Do you know what you’re paying for?
  • This leads to another point – get internet banking and/or your bank’s phone app. You can check your bank balance and all your transactions anywhere you are; just make sure that your connection is secure.
  • Make packed lunches. It may seem like a lot of effort but when you buy yourself a BLT sandwich for £2 every day with some other stuff like a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar it’s quite expensive when thinking long-term. Plus making a pasta salad or an avocado toast isn’t that complicated and it’s delicious as well!
  • Re-think whether you need a TV license. If you don’t mind watching your favourite TV shows or the news after they’ve aired on TV, you don’t need to pay that £145.50/year. Plus if you’re watching Netflix all the time, it’s really not worth it. The only rule you have to keep is that you watch the programme after it’s aired.
  • Re-use your bottles. Stop buying bottled water and instead keep one or two bottles, which you fill up from the tap. That is if you live somewhere where tap water is safe to drink, maybe re-think this option if you’re touring Africa.
  • Get your own reusable shopping bags. Not only they look better, they can also often carry more weight than the 5p plastic bags that tear quite easily.

Useful websites:

www.mysupermarket.co.uk – a summary of all the deals that are happening in the shops, you can also compare the prices amongst other supermarkets

www.lovefoodhatewaste.com – tips on how to reduce food wastage

Author: Gabi Kaufmanova