“For the first time. . . .”

“Trying to make it work but, man, these times are hard…
But we’re gonna start by drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Sit talking up all night,
Saying things we haven’t for a while, a while, yeah. . . .
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears, even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting
For the first time. . . .” –For the First Time, The Script

For the first time, my grandparents aren’t preparing Easter baskets for me, my sister, and my cousins this year.

For the first time, I won’t be with my family to celebrate a major holiday.

For the first time, I’ll sit in my dorm and eat Chinese food, celebrating the resurrection of Christ (and, who are we kidding, probably blog and browse Pinterest).



Who knew growing up would be so bittersweet?

“And if you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down….”

“You can trust me not to drink and not to sleep around, and if you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down ‘cuz all I really want’s to be with you— to feel like I matter too.  If I hadn’t blown it all three years ago, I might be here with you….” —Hey Jealousy, Gin Blossoms

Guess what.

I’m not perfect.  

But guess what else.

I’m trying.  

That’s all you can ask, right?

Well, in my eternal quest for self-improvement, I’ve come across some habits and tips that really have worked.  And, being the blogger that I am, I feel morally obligated to share them with you!

Personal Changes:

1) Sleep

If you know me outside of Cyberland, you know that anxiety has made me a hopeless insomniac.  Regardless, I’ve made myself more determined to be, at the very least, in bed for eight hours each night.  By getting to bed by 11:30 (super early, by college standards!), I can be up by 7:30 with little issue.  Sure, some nights are worse than others and I readjust my alarm come morning.  Either way, just putting in the effort has made a huge difference!

2)  Water

I love coffee.  I love tea, and even soda at times (Coke is one of the few things that seems to help my ever-present migraines!).  Nevertheless, I acknowledge that water is crazy important.  I keep my water bottle and filled and by my side all the time.  The one thing I’ve yet to fix is a way to get myself to drink when I feel absolutely sick of water.  Any suggestions, readers?

3)  Healthy Snacks

And meals, and drinks, and (pardon the pun) everything in between!  One of my favourite shows as a kid was Blue’s Clues, so I loved my dad’s “vintage” singing Mr. Salt, Mrs. Pepper, and Paprika as I got older.  Maybe they ingrained the mantra of loving healthy snacks into my memory?  🙂  My go-to snacks include fruits, a rice cake with peanut butter, or Harvest Snaps!  It’s gotten to the point that I almost always crave a healthy snack instead of something unhealthy (excepting vegan chocolate, of course)!

4)  Apps, Apps, Apps! 

It’s no secret that I like apps.  While I’ve certainly shortened the list a bit since this post was written (note to self:  update app post), they’re still a sort of guilty pleasure of mine.  That is, until I began using them to fight the forces of evil!

Well…. Sort of.

My favourite productivity apps, in no certain order:

  • Pinterest
    • When I need a motivating quote, Pinterest has my back.  When I’m looking for even MORE tips on how to organize or be more productive, Pinterest is on the case (maybe this post will end up on someone’s productivity board!). When I’m having a bad day, Pinterest has cute animals and self-help mantras galore to get me back on track.  Thanks, Pinterest.
  • Habitica
    • While dealing with my plethora of health problems, I let my schoolwork become unprioritized for a while .  . . if you’re wondering, that’s a terrible idea.  That’s where College Info Geek came in.  Tom has awesome posts, a podcast, and tips aplenty!  I made a point of specifically checking out his ebook, 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (while Studying Less) because, somehow, this straight-A student with a genius IQ needed all the help she could get.  Possibly the best suggestion I came away with?  Habitica.  In this RPG-esque world, you get points for achieving your real-life goals, whether they be a Habit you’re trying to form (or break!), a Daily that you’re confident you’ll complete each day, or a To Do, in traditional to-do list style. While I haven’t quite broken free of my paper to-do list, I don’t want to let my pet wolf down.
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  • Mint
    • It’s hard to be stress-free when you’re worried about your finances.  Mint takes the additional stress away by letting you make budgets, set goals, and track your spending!
  • Email of choice
    • There are mixed responses as to this, but it’s worked wonders for me.  My goal each and every day is Inbox Zero.  With so much of my businesses happening via the Internet, though, this isn’t always.  Instead, I’ll keep emails related to important todos in my inbox until I’ve finished the job at hand.  It’s perfect for reminding me— if it’s blocking me from IZ, it’s got to be done!

5)  Beachbody!  

Shameless plug for my other business.  Between the motivation from my team keeping me thinking positively (which, if you’re a regular reader here at TO&E, you know is a big deal), the meal plan keeping my healthy snack game on its toes, and the workouts motivating me to sweat it out (or shake it off?), it’s perfect.  Want to get involved?  Join me here!

6)  Think, Think, Think.  

That heading’s entirely for you, Mary. 🙂 My former roommate was absolutely brilliant, and I had the privilege of gaining access to some of her secrets.  Possibly the best?  Waking up when you need to and never again worrying about running out the door.  I still hit myself when I forget to do so!  Her method’s similar to the one outlined here.

7)  Netflix responsibly.  

Some people prefer to block out distractions entirely, but, for me, it helps to have something additional to make work less terrible— maybe multitasking isn’t the most productive way to get things done, but it lets me do so with minimal complaint!  Just like the concept of putting a certain TV show on only at the gym, I’ll let myself watch a show (right now, it’s Pretty Little Liars) only when I’m being productive.

8) Background Noise

If, for whatever reason, Netflix isn’t doing its job when it comes to productivity, I’ll switch to another favourite app:  Noizio.  This has been best so far when I’m writing— what better setting than a pseudo-rainy coffee shop from the comfort of my own bed?