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The Power of Hope

in Articles/Productivity by

All of humanity is based upon the notions of what could be, focusing on the future rather than the present. Rarely is anyone truly, wholly satisfied with the life they are living, preferring to think of the time to come as a golden place where their wishes can be fulfilled. This method of thinking, of hoping, is the pinnacle of human nature and is an intrinsic part of society. All revolutionary ideas begin with a farfetched dream, grown from the hope for a better world someday, somewhere. In short, it is a powerful ideal capable of altering history, yet is humble enough to make a difference in anyone’s life.

The most common way people use hope is to generate lists of traits to develop or events that need to happen in order to create a better future for them. It can be as simple as, “I hope it will not rain today,” or as heavy as, “I hope my dream university accepts me.” All of these are fragments and puzzle pieces that can come together to form a bigger picture of someone’s life. Each segment is a key to unlock a brighter world, one where everyone is joyful and everything is just as it should be. Although most people understand not all hopes come to fruition, the wishes still define a person’s individuality and can reveal their inner thought processes and priorities.

Another way hope affects human lives is by alleviating the pain of uncertainty. They stem from a serious reason that sometimes touch on the theme of life and death. For example, when a loved one is ill, people hope for their health and relief of suffering as a way to provide strength to both the patient and themselves. It inspires action with its gravity, and provokes the yearning to fight and survive tough periods of time. In short, this type of hope allows people to keep their chin up and remain calm during crisis situations.

So far, the powers of hope described apply only to certain individuals or a small group of people. However, society as a whole requires the possibility of improvement to continue to function and evolve. Most inventions are the results of wishes for improvement, spawned through mass-demand and necessity. Additionally, in a deeper and more complex way, cultural norms are also products of hopeful thinking turned into action by certain revolutionaries.

As illustrated, hope is a powerful mechanism acting on scales great and small, benefiting the lives of individuals and the global community. Wherever and whenever it exists, it works to generate changes of attitude, inspire strength, and moves the human race forwards towards improvement. The influence and capabilities of hope may be intangible, but they indisputably play a vital role in charting the course of the human race, shining in the back of the mind like a star guiding the way.

Countless possibilities of social media in education

in Education/Productivity by

My final year students have each set up blogs where they regularly record their thoughts about the material we cover. I also use Blogger to record occasional research updates that might be of interest to readers of my textbook, and with a view to incorporating these into a future edition.” David Hardman, psychologist at London Metropolitan University, UK

In the present day, everyone on the globe is connected through the internet, specifically through social media. From talking to friends across the globe to bringing news to tapping fingers the moment they are confirmed, the highly complex interconnected web is rich with information and opportunities. However, it is often taken for granted, used to watch cat videos and people’s dancing fails instead of expanding minds and providing the base for independent research and development. Social media has the potential to be an educational tool, used for good instead of for procrastinating. By rebranding its purpose, students everywhere can reap the benefits of a global education.

One fairly new feature of social media is the ability to make video calls from any computer with a camera. This, when implemented in the classroom, translates into having the opportunity to invite engaging experts to give interactive lectures without the costs associated with travel. Similarly, students can now hold face-to-face consultations with their professors from anywhere, which can be a huge bonus for learners who love to travel, or have circumstances preventing them from being present in class. This way, unlike a recorded message or an email, the learning experienced becomes personalized and engaging.

Additionally, networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can help students practice interpersonal communication skills necessary for building a life after school. By offering free workshops on topics such as how to send brief, professional messages and how to clean up their web presence in order to show themselves in the best light, Facebook can easily be turned into a bottomless hole of misery into a tool for guiding people towards their dream career. Similarly, social media sites known for a special feature, such as the beautiful graphics seen on Tumblr, can offer crash courses in the basics of their unique field. This quick, but efficient teaching strategy will equip learners with employable skills.

Obviously, the most valued part of social media is its ability to replace face-to-face communication to a certain degree. Its ability for someone to reply to a message that will be instantaneously seen by someone on the other side of the world make it perfect for use in large lecture halls, where it is easy for one voice to get lost among hundreds. By setting up a group chat or forum, students and teachers can interact in live-time, by posting questions, starting debates related to the subject, and questioning the content’s validity. Teachers can address issues as they arise, focusing on areas students have the most trouble with.

As one can see, when implemented appropriately within the classroom, social media can be a useful tool for engaging students, personalizing content, and simply ensuring everyone receives the education they want and deserve at their own pace. Although commonly used as an outlet for mindless entertainment, a few improvements can easily turn a mindless activity into a thought provoking one, at almost no cost. By utilizing video chat features, adapting to the high regard society holds social media in, and addressing student concerns live in the classroom, the time sucking monster can be tamed into any learner’s best friend.

It’s you, not productivity apps, who can make you productive

in Productivity by

IF you enjoy buying productivity apps for your smart phone, with a mind to getting more done in less time, you should know that automated tools of this nature aren’t the only ways to boost efficiency. Usually, your mindset will be the key to whether you become more productive or continue to produce at your current rate! Since your attitude plays such an important role in how much you produce, you shouldn’t need to rely on apps or other automated tools at all, although these applications may be fun to use. Here are some tips for creating the right mindset for success!

1. Prioritize: We have so many things to do during our days. As you know, every day has 24 hours. Out of these 24 hours, we typically spend 6-8 hours sleeping, 2-3 hours eating, drinking coffee/tea, exercising, et cetera! This leaves us with 8 to 10 hours in which to work! So it is very important to take a look at your to-do list and then prioritize tasks. To get things done in an efficient manner, implement a system whereby you label tasks as critical, urgent, important and “need to do”.

Getting the most important tasks out of the way will reduce your stress levels and give you a boost of welcome confidence!

2. Keep Your Thoughts Positive: Our minds process seventy thousand thoughts per day! Thinking is great, but thinking about negative things will tend to bring more chaos into your life. For example, if you have bad thoughts about an old friend, ex-partner, or boss, learn to nip them in the bud, as they really do you no good. They are like poison in your system and they hold you back from happiness and progress. You are not harming enemies by thinking badly of them – you are only hurting yourself!

To cite another example, if you are worrying about how to pay a bill or you are worrying about a mortgage application which you filled out at the bank, any negative thoughts that you have are not going to have a positive impact on the situation’s end result. In this sense, they are wasted energy which hinders productivity. The best strategy is to think of every life issue that you are facing and then work actively towards a viable solution for each struggle. Instead of laying in the bed and worrying about things, get organized and deal with problems. If you can’t find a solution, talk to an expert or do some research online. You’ll probably find that there is a way out of the darkness – it’s all about facing problems head-on and believing that you have the power to solve them!

3. Take notes: Keeping short notes of everything which you need to get done will be a good way to stay organized. Keep your notes short and to the point. You may consider using on-line cloud-based services, so that you are able to check your notes via any electronic device. We all lead busy lives and we tend to forget many important things which are related to meeting times, project details, family, friends and appointments. Therefore, keeping concise records of important things will definitely make your life a lot easier. You’ll find that these notes reduce pressure on your mind, as it won’t need to remember so much. By transferring important thoughts to paper or an electronic notepad, you’ll de-stress and avoid forgetting what you really need to keep tabs on!

4. Unplug at Bedtime: When you go to sleep at night, create an electronics “blackout zone”. This means turning off your phone, computer, tablets, TVs, music systems (music should be ok, if you do manage to access deep sleep by listening to tunes!). If possible, disconnect your Wi-Fi and other invisible signals which are close to your bed. In today’s digital world, electronics devices play important roles in almost every aspect of our lives – however, they also create many health and wellness hazards, such as repetitive task syndrome, a pre-occupied mind and information overload – so, it is very important to unplug when you need rest. Unplugging is the best way to re-charge your batteries by accessing deep and healing sleep!

5. Conquer Social Media Addiction: We all love the Internet and social media. After all, it’s great to share your world with followers and friends, by posting photos, thoughts, collections and other important data. However, social media is highly addictive and it can really get in the way of productivity. If you are checking your Facebook app every 5 minutes on your smart phone, then you are a social media addict and you need to set limits in order to get more important work done during the day. To enhance productivity, create a social media schedule, by checking your profiles and feeds morning, noon, and evening. You’ll find that you miss very little and that you’re better able to focus on work.

As you can see, small lifestyle changes will add up to big productivity gains. A little bit of change in your life will promote a simpler, healthier and more productive mindset. It is great to learn about – and use – new innovations and technology. However, you should make sure that they improve your life, rather than making you inefficient.

Let life be musical

in Music/Productivity by

Multiple studies have shown that playing a musical instrument slows down brain aging and leads to higher performance in work and school. Music combines creative expression with motor skills, making it the perfect hobby. So what’s stopping you from learning a new instrument to fill in your spare time and keep your brain active? All it takes is picking and buying an instrument, finding a qualified instructor, and taking the time to practice and hone your new skill.

First, you must select the instrument you want to learn. Consider the types of music you listen to and the instruments you enjoy the sound of. Do not take heed of what the ‘popular’ instruments are or what the people around you play. Music is highly personal. Once you have decided what you want to play, it’s time to go out and purchase it. If you know you will only be playing for a short time, you can also rent the instrument. No matter what, make sure you pick a reliable provider and purchase an instrument of good quality. Don’t hesitate to ask the professionals at the store for advice.

Next, it’s time to find a teacher. Online sites like Craigslist, newspapers, and ads are all good places to find a qualified instructor. Even better, ask your friends for recommendations. Also, make sure you compare the prices, and the level of experience each teacher has. Remember that the higher the level you are at, the higher the cost of a lesson. Make sure the instructor you choose is experienced, and has a good reputation. If you choose to go the cheapest route, you may find yourself taking low quality lessons that waste your time.

Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, so take time out of your day to play your instrument. You won’t advance very fast if lessons are the only time you take to play. Depending on your level, you should take at least half an hour out of every day to practice. If you reach an advanced level, the time you spend will greatly increase, so be sure you can keep up with the commitment. During your session, play the repertoire as well as the technical requirements like the scales. A wide variety of pieces to play will prevent boredom.

No matter what you choose to do with the skills you gain, there is no doubt you will cherish the musical memories you make for life.

Sleeping Restfully

in Articles/Productivity by

There’s no doubt we all enjoy sleeping and acknowledge that being well-rested is very important, but with all of the deadlines at work, your personal projects, and family time, it can be hard to get the proper amount of shuteye you need. However, rest is very important, and not having the time to take a nine hour session doesn’t mean you can’t take out seven or six, or as many as you can. The following tips will help you make the most of your sleeping time, ensuring you get quality, not just quantity.

When you’re still slaving away at the presentation due tomorrow at one in the morning, you know there’s no chance you’ll be able to get in the recommended hours of sleep before you eight o’clock commute. However, this doesn’t mean sleeping is out of the question. Simply take out a timer and set yourself up for a twenty minute power nap. This nap will carry you a while longer, giving you a boost of energy without keeping you up when you finally finish the project at three in the morning.

Having trouble falling asleep? You’re not alone. Insomnia is common, but can be prevented. First of all, cut back on caffeine. Ideally, never consume any caffeine after lunch, and do not exceed more than two or three cups of coffee a day. Another way to fall asleep quickly is to read before bed. Don’t use your phone or computer, as the light suppresses the hormones that bring about rest. Even better: read your school textbooks or any other informational book; sleepiness guaranteed.

Exercise also tires you out, making sleep more deep and restful. Even if you do not usually have insomnia, regular physical activity will provide benefits. Walk or bike when and where you can, play a competitive tournament with friends, or join the gym. However, do not exercise two hours before bed since adrenaline from activity can keep you up. Yoga, however, is the exception. Ending your day with a long stretch and calm, slow movements can also prepare you for bed.

Even on your busiest days, you should try to fit sleeping into your schedule. Otherwise, if you consistently do not get your recommended hours, you could be at risk for many health problems like heart disease; and under eye bags are never attractive. If you have insomnia, try to pinpoint the cause of your condition and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. However, if you still cannot sleep no matter what you do, consider seeing a doctor who will prescribe you medications to take. You’ll feel much better once a good night’s rest no longer eludes you.

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