Little Things are Big Things

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. 

~ Arthur Conan DoyleThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4)

When we talk about being successful we like to talk about our big goals and our dreams. Things like publishing a book, getting that promotion or making a certain amount of money. This type of thinking is not bad in and of itself, but it often makes us feel like the small things we do are worthless.

This is simply not true.

The little things are equally, if not more, important than the big things.

If we do not do the little things correctly our whole project will likely fall apart. For example, if you’re writing a book, taking time to edit every chapter may seem like a chore. It may even feel like a waste of time. It’s not really helping you make money and it might even be pushing back your release date.

In the long run, however, having a well-edited book will help you be more successful. If your book is full of errors, you will lose trust with you readers and they will likely not purchase the next book that you write. As an author, the trust of your readers is one of your greatest assets, if you lose their trust it will be hard to get it back.

The little things, like editing a book, are often boring and tiresome. They can even seem pointless. But in the end game, they may be the difference between your project being a success or a failure.

Let’s look at another example.

I’m an avid fan of hip hop music. I even occasionally make beats on my laptop.

If you were to sit down and talk to any popular music producer like Mike Dean or Noah “40” Shebib, they would likely stress how important the little things are when producing music. Music producers take great pride in their craft and pay great attention to the littlest of details.

If you only listen to music on iPhone headphones you may not have experienced this as much as the rest of us. Try listening to music on a good pair of studio headphones. There’s so much more to a musical piece than what you might be hearing.

Producers spend so much time perfecting every bass line and making sure the timing of every snare is on point. We should do the same for our respective crafts.

Everything you do that has to do with your craft should be taken seriously. You should never look at part of a project as just some simple or menial task. Every little thing is important. The little things are the big things.

Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of carelessness. Do not get to the point where you are treating your work like a chore. Everything you do is important to your success.

Strive for excellence in all things that you do even some aspects seem pointless. Take your work seriously, even the parts of it that annoy you or stress you out. Care about your craft, care about every detail.

Do your best work, even if you’re not making an abundance of money or getting notoriety. Have the humility and awareness to treat your work as more important than your reputation. Do the things that will go unnoticed with the same care as the things you do on stage. Only then will your work flourish.

Care about the little things. Care about the nuisances. Care about details.

Because, in the end, little things are big things.

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4 Ways to Defeat Procrastination

Procrastination is a huge problem in the workplace as well as the college environment. We all know that procrastination is bad, but most of us don’t take the necessary steps to combat it in our everyday lives.

Here are a few changes you can implement that will help you defeat procrastination and get your things done:

1. Prioritize Your Health

A few days ago I woke up with a massive headache. I felt terrible. Because of my headache, I stayed in bed till lunchtime and hardly got any work done that day. After reflecting on my day I realized that I had not slept well and had barely been drinking any water the day before.

Your health has a huge influence on your productivity. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy or cognitive power to focus and get your work done. For this reason, prioritizing your health is super important when wanting to defeat procrastination.

The easiest excuse to make is to say “I’m tired,” or “I don’t feel up to it.” But if you take good care of yourself you can eliminate this excuse. If you get a good night’s sleep, eat right, and exercise you won’t feel tired and won’t be able to use that as an excuse not get things done.

A few habits you can implement to increase your energy levels include:

  • Taking more breaks
  • Sleeping more and sleeping better
  • Exercising daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes

For more information about how health influences productivity and performance in the workplace, check out this article on Business News Daily’s website.

2. Eliminate Distractions

We often run to social media and other websites when trying to feed our procrastination habit. These types of distractions will kill your productivity and send you down rabbit holes of links that will never end. Soon enough you will look at your clock and your whole entire day will be gone for good.

There are several tools you can use to defeat these electronic distractions and in turn increase your productivity.

For example, if your smartphone is a huge distraction for you, consider purchasing Forest. Forest is an app in which you plant a tree and watch it grow. The catch is that you can’t leave the app or your tree will die, and you will not earn any coins.

The app plays on a reward system that is meant to give you a positive incentive when trying to stay away from your device. After using the app for about a year, it has proven extremely useful when trying to minimize distractions during my work time.

Forest is available for iOS, Andriod, and Windows phone along with the web browsers Firefox and Google Chrome.

Another helpful way to remove distractions is to block distracting websites from your laptop. For this, I use an app called StayFocusd which allows you to completely block any sites that you find distracting.

I use this app for sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. At times, it may even be helpful to block all sites that are not relevant to the project you are currently working on. StayFocusd has helped me stay disciplined when surfing the web, and I’m sure it can do the same for you.

A third major distraction is our own thoughts. We can be sitting down ready to work with our phone in the other room and all social media sites blocked on our computer and still get nothing done. This often happens because our minds are not in the right place.

To have better control over your thoughts, try keeping a notebook next to you while you work. Whenever you have a distracting thought, write it down. This helps you get it out of your brain so that you can put your focus back onto the task at hand.

Another way you can have more discipline in this area is to practice meditation. Meditating has been proven to increase your mind’s ability to focus. It also helps you limit distracting thoughts by keeping your focus in the present.

3. Drop Your Excuses

Very often the best solution to stop procrastinating is to just sit down and do the thing. This actually happened with writing this blog post. I had a ton of things on my plate but I knew this article needed to be written, so I forced myself to sit down and write it.

I had been making so many excuses not to write:

“I don’t feel like it”

“I have too many other things to do”

“I’ll get it done later”

It was only when I dropped these excuses that I finally started to get something done.

When trying to get your tasks done, excuses won’t help you one bit. They will only cause to stall even longer. When you find yourself making excuses, simply drop them and remind yourself how important the work you are doing really is.

4. Forgive Yourself When You Mess Up

There are days that I wish I could get back. The days that I spent a majority of my time on Youtube watching gaming videos or listening to podcasts where people argue endlessly about politics. On these days I am often plagued by guilt and question how I could waste so much precious time.

On those type of days, it is important that we forgive ourselves. We simply cannot get that time back. It is important that we learn to make the most of the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Now is all we have, so we should make the most of it.

There you have it, a few of my best tips for defeating procrastination!

Have any other helpful tips? Let us know about them in the comments!

My Social Media Hiatus & the Importance of Being Present

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Last Friday I did something I thought I’d never do. I deleted all social media apps from my iPhone. At first, I was scared that I’d miss out on something. Our generation hates not knowing what’s going on. But I didn’t miss out. I actually enjoyed life a lot more without the interruption of social media.

I originally made the decision to quit social media for a week because I was extremely behind on school work. I had multiple large assignments due that week, some of which I hadn’t even started.

When I get stressed out I procrastinate. This particular day I was avoiding work by listening to Thomas Frank’s College Info Geek podcast. On the podcast, Thomas was interviewing Cal Newport, a published author and college professor. Newport was discussing how he balances being a professor, author, and consistent blogger.

Newport shared that he has never had a social media account, which to most of us sounds crazy. Even without marketing himself on social media he was able to build a large audience for his blog and his book.

Listening to the interview inspired me to do a little experiment: I would delete all social media applications from my iPhone and see if my productivity and happiness were influenced by it. The short answer is yes. I was extremely more productive and was able to enjoy life more without social media.

(check out the full interview with Cal Newport here)

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After deleting social media I started to realize how much of a distraction it really is. I found myself picking up my phone only to realize that I had nothing to run to. I was forced to live in the present moment. To focus on what was happening in my life at that very second.

Living in the present is one of the most important things to learn if you want to live a happy and productive life. When we learn to live in the present moment we stop feeling bad about the past or worrying about the future. We learn to enjoy life just as it is and make the most of today.

Social media often takes our focus away from what we should be doing (school work, spending time with other human beings, etc.). It is probably the biggest distraction from reality in our current world.

After quitting social media, I became far more productive. I was able to get several large assignments done within a matter of days. Rather than halting my work every couple minutes to check Instagram, I worked constantly without distraction.

We spend much more time on social media than we realize. Time we could be spending doing other things. Time we could be spending on enjoying life, making ourselves better, and accomplishing our goals. If time is as valuable as we say it is, shouldn’t we be spending it doing something greater than scrolling through Facebook?

ScrrenAddict

Maybe you want to make a major change in your life. Or you want to start a new hobby or catch up on some work. I suggest deleting social media for just a few days.

What’s the worst that could happen? You might miss out on that meme your friend shared or that stupid cat video your aunt tagged you in. But you know what you won’t miss out on? Having actual fun and accomplishing actual task in the real world.

5 Essential Apps for College Students (and anyone else with a smartphone, computer, and internet connection)

When I started college I was unorganized and unproductive. Since then, I have discovered several helpful apps that have made me a more efficient and organized student.

These are some of the essential apps for college students (and everyone else with a smartphone, computer, and internet connection):

1. Evernote – iOS/Android/Windows/Web – cost: free

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Evernote is not your average notepad app. To begin with, it’s aesthetic design by far outshines the default iPhone notes app. Also, it’s spread across multiple platforms.

Let’s say I come up with a new idea for a blog post but don’t have my laptop with me, I can simply open up Evernote on my phone and write down my ideas and a draft for my post. Later, I can open up my laptop, log into Evernote, and the first draft of my blog will be right there. This blog post actually started as a note on Evernote.

A few more advantages of using Evernote:

  • can attach files to notes
  • can create voice recordings (mobile version only)
  • can send notes via email or other means
  • can organize notes into different notebooks based on topic

 

2. Chegg Flashcards – iOS/Andriod/Windows – cost: free

chegg

It is hard to keep track of notes and even harder to quiz yourself without the help of a partner. With Chegg Flashcards, you can make flashcards, organize them into folders, and quiz yourself on the material.

Although I have not used this app much this semester, it is a great way to study when you’re by yourself. Every college student should have it, or a similar app, in their arsenal.

 

3. Forest – iOS/Andriod/Windows – cost: $1.99

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I discovered these next two apps while watching  Thomas Frank’s videos  on Youtube. The first is an app called Forest, which helps you stop being so distracted from and your smartphone. We often procrastinate by checking Instagram or text messages.

The first is an app called Forest, which helps you stop being so distracted from and your smartphone. We often procrastinate by checking Instagram or text messages.

With Forest, you choose an amount of time that you want to stay focused on your work. Once you allowed an amount of time a tree begins to grow. For your tree to finish growing, you must remain within the Forest app. Upon your tree completing growth, you will receive coins to buy new types trees, or you can plant an actual tree in a foreign country. But if you leave your tree will die (how dare you hurt nature!).

Forest incorporates an idea known a Gamification, which we will talk about more in a second.

4. Habitica – iOS/Andriod/Web – cost: free

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Habitica has quickly become one of my favorite iPhone apps. It combines my love for RPGs with my desire to be productive.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: create an awesome video game character
Step 2: come up with some habits to build
Step 3: add some tasks to your to-do list
Step 4: earn coins by building habits and completing real-life tasks
Step 5: become the greatest and most productive hero of all time!

Habitica makes accomplishing even menial tasks enjoyable. If you’re a video game nerd like me, Habitica is your dream app.

5. Dropbox – iOS/Andriod/Windows/Web – cost: free

5 apps dropbox

I used to get so tired of carrying around a flash drive. It was extremely frustrated to get to school only to realize that I left my flash drive at home and won’t be able to work on my assignment.

Dropbox has solved my flash drive woes. Much like Evernote, Dropbox functions like a Cloud, you can access your files from any computer or smartphone by logging into your Dropbox account. If you’re a college student, or anyone else that saves files on a computer, you should definitely be using Dropbox.

Have your own favorite apps? Let me know about them in the comments!