Moving Barns

In exactly 2 weeks I will have an MBA in general management. In exactly 2 weeks, I will leave the town I’ve called my home for 5 years and relocate to a city I’ve never lived in and be pushed entirely out of my comfort zone.

On top of that, Raven isn’t coming with me. Well, she’s going up to the new area eventually, but I just haven’t found a place for her yet. I’m hesitant to move her to a barn without seeing it first and talking to the people that board there for a very important reason. Most barns will grossly fall short of your expectations.

I wish this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately many establishments have major cracks in their business. Sometimes the footing isn’t right, the barns have old wood that look on the verge of falling apart, the hay is bad, there’s no pasture space, the list can go on. So, while I go on this journey, I thought it is important to remind myself (and whoever is on the same quest for a perfect barn) of what to look for in your new horse’s home.

  1. Price of board and services. This is a perfect time to dust off the ol’ computer and do some research of the area. When I lived in Sonoma County, it was unheard of to have board under $600, but SLO has board priced around $400. This drastic difference can severely limit your options, especially if you don’t want to pay more than a couple hundred. It’s important to get some number on cost of living and average board rates in the area.
  2. Types of horse housing. It’s also important to know the options you have to board your horse. For instance, some only include pasture boarding, but my mare would most likely kill every other horse if she had to be in a pasture. Knowing the housing situation will also help you determine what you can afford.
  3. Quality of feed. This is probably one of the most important things. Bad quality hay means an angry colon which leads to a colicky horse. No one wants a sick horse, so make sure the food is good. If you still want to board somewhere that has bad hay, be willing to haul in your own.
  4. Additional services. When I had my horse at the first barn I rode at, blanketing and turnouts were included. I moved, and everything changed. Most barns don’t include services like that in the normal rate. Figure this out in order to know what services you need and how much you’ll be paying.
  5. Training policy. Some barns don’t allow outside trainers to come work with you. That means you’ll have to trailer your horse to your coach’s facility.

This is a working list and is definitely not exhaustive. I try to be open to looking at barns, especially when I don’t know the area and if the website looks outdated. It’s important to remember to communicate with people, too. Talking to the barn manager, talking to the trainer onsite, and talking to the boarders will really help you get a feel for the barn. Also, remember that you can say no and if you make the mistake of barding somewhere that you end up not liking, you can leave at any time. While the horse business is more like a community, it can be difficult to leave. However, remember that these facilities are businesses and there will be no hard feelings. Just do what’s best for your horse!

 

Happy searching! Remember to take things one stride at a time!

View More: http://asiacrosonphotography.pass.us/kaitlynandravenandmila

Advertisements

Update in My Life

Hi, guys…

 

So, the past couple of weeks have been a doozy for me. Every since April 1st my life has went from 0 to 60. I found out Raven was lame and has to be retired, I am graduating my MBA program soon, I am relocating to an area that I’ve never lived in, and soon I have to figure out the next career step to take in my life.

Needless to say, my life is a bit hectic right now. I’m in the middle of midterms and I have to take my MBA certification test next week. As much as I want to keep this blog up and running with a new post at least once a week, I am losing the time and motivation. I feel really bad because I love writing on this blog. It’s a bit of a passion for me and lately, I’ve been slacking.

As much as I don’t want to slack on something I love doing, sometimes life is incredibly unfair. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why everyone always said cherish the time you have as a teenager. Now, I get it. Being an adult means way too much responsibility all of the damn time. And it’s hard. I literally have no clue what kind of job to get, what I’m qualified for, what I like doing…honestly the list goes on. It’s really stressing me out and all I can think of is the easy lifestyle I had as a 16 year old.

But it’s also important to remember to take things one stride at a time (literally why I named the blog One Stride). I have such a hard time over-analyzing the little details that I forget about the big picture. I forget to live in the present and remember that life is great. It’s all in the positive mindset and focusing on one thing at a time. And I hope it’ll soon get easier like everyone talks about.

So I’m going to take things one stride at a time, and hopefully you will too!

(Side note: I went on pinterest to find one of my favorite quotes and I found this post that goes into more detail about what I’m talking about here. Funny how that happened!)

 

Taking a New Direction

Over the weekend, I received horrible news.

Raven needs to be retired from show jumping.

I knew this was coming. My horse has a significant pigeon toe (her hooves are turned in) and I’ve always known her performance days were numbered. She was always on-again, off-again lame. If I had a penny for every show we had to miss because she was lame, I might be significantly less broke than I am now.

Even with my knowledge of her poor hoof conformation, I am still mad about the situation. I’m mad that NO ONE ever warned me that this would happen. People occasionally mentioned that her imperfections might be a bump in the road, but no one ever told me that her hooves would create such heartbreak to retire my beloved mare at age 12.

While I needn’t blame anyone for my mistakes, I can certainly look to the horsemen and women in my life for never initiating a conversation. I know I should be bigger than this, but because no one spoke up, I have to decide what to do with my horse for the next 15 years because no one wanted to let me know it might be bad to have her as a competitor. Honestly, someone should have said that poor structural conformation will lead to injuries and she should not be a performance horse.

Her conformation sucks, I know. What sucks even more, though, is that she may never fully heal. This breaks my heart even more because she LOVES to work. Her ears are always pricked forward while jumping and she gets excited when I start tacking her up for a ride. It absolutely breaks my heart that she never gets to jump another course in her life.

I just received the rehabilitation plan for Rae, and while there is some home she will get better and we can do some fun stuff, there is a huge chance this injury will be recurring. Basically, her feet are tearing her away from her favorite thing to do.

So, folks, know your horse conformation before you take a risk and purchase a horse. Or, if you don’t know, ask someone experienced. Conformation is a big deal with horses, especially performance horses. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask me. While I may seem like the wrong person to go to because I made this silly mistake, keep in mind I got Raven when I was 13. I’ve had multiple physiology and conformation courses since then and I’ve competitively judged numerous halter classes. So don’t be afraid to ask! I can do a series about conformation, too, if that would help.

And don’t forget to take things one stride at a time! Especially when everything around you feels like it’s changing.

It’s Simple.

Whenever I have a lesson, it always goes the same. I start by warming up. Raven always feels good, with some room for improvement, but that’s what a lesson is for, right? We start warming up over jumps and it’s easy to see that we only jump once a week. We’re slow to remember everything we have to do to have a good jump. My mind starts telling me to pay attention to my leg, then my seat, then my upper body, but I also need to keep Rae straight to the jump otherwise her shoulder pops out…the list goes on. Soon, I get frazzled by everything I need to do and then I just become a mindless rider because my brain is too preoccupied with what I need to do instead of what I’m actually doing.

But this probably happens for 10 minutes, and then my trainer comes to the rescue. She always says the simplest things to get me back on track. If my shoulder start slumping forward, she simply tells me to focus on my lower leg. I don’t understand how it works, but soon my whole body is doing what I want it to do as soon as I just focus on my leg. Then, she’ll mention the outside rein and voila! Raven is straight and perfect over every jump. My lesson ends perfectly with things I need to work on before next week.

I swear, this happens every time I have a lesson. And my trainer isn’t telling me things I don’t know, she’s just reminding me of things to do that I temporarily forget. But this is what I want to talk about today: simplicity.

Simplicity while riding is a life-saver. I get so bogged down trying to remember to keep my body a certain way and to keep contact like this and to make sure my toes are pointed forward at all times and to basically be a perfect rider. I have honestly struggled with this for as long as I can remember.

But recently, I’m trying something new. Each ride, I focus on only one thing and try to work only on that. Or if I’m struggling with the right lead change, or Raven’s shoulder is popping out, or I can’t get my left leg yield, I simply exhale and start from scratch. Honestly, this has helped tremendously. Focusing on one aid at a time can significantly improve your ride. This is because both you and your horse will be more relaxed, and you will become a more effective rider.

I can provide a list of examples for this. One while ago, my horse was not listening to my half halts after a jump. Whenever I needed to get her back to her collected canter, she would just ignore me for about a second too long and then our next jump would be ugly. It was so frustrating! Finally, my trainer told me to engage my core and keep my upper body back. It worked phenomenally. Not only was my horse more responsive to my half halts, but our canter was more balanced. Or last week, my horse WAS NOT listening to my leg. She wanted to go, by all means she was basically galloping, but she just wanted to go her own speed. Then, I just repositioned my leg so my toes were straighter and my heels weren’t in her side, and there was a 100% difference. These little changes ended up making a huge impact on our ride.

Let’s also look at what happens when you don’t focus on one thing. (I have a lot of examples for this, too.) We’ve all had those rides where, for the life of you, nothing is going right. Just everything you do leads to more frustration and your horse isn’t listening, and you’re just sitting there like omg Raven, just get your life together. Well, most of the time, it’s completely my fault. I’m usually leaning forward, with my spurs dug into her (accidentally!), and somehow gripping with my knees. At this point, I usually realize what’s going on and try to fix all of it at the same time. But then I’m so focused on these three things, I don’t realize that my horse is going down the side of the arena as crooked as can be and that’s why we’re not getting our extension. If I would have just changed my leg, then worried about everything else later, it’s simpler to catch your faults early on.

Raven also suffers if I try to change everything because I’m preoccupied with things I need to work on and stressed out that we’re not doing anything right. If I just focus and simplify, I can relax. Not only will she relax because I am, but she will be relaxed because there isn’t an abrupt change.

Simplicity doesn’t just affect your riding style; it can also affect your tack. I had this friend at the barn a while back that would constantly change her bit. These would be drastic changes, too, like a hackamore to a snaffle, to an elevator, to a myler. Her poor horse had no consistency and their riding immediately suffered. Her horse would throw her, toss his head, just about anything tracing back to the complexity of her tack. It was terrible to see, mostly because it was easy to tell how frustrated the both of them were! Finally, when she came to her senses, the horse calmed down.

I’ve done this, too. Raven used to flat out drag me around the cross country course. We quick jumped from a snaffle to a Pelham within a month after I got her. Around the same time, we also had a problem with her opening her mouth, so we obviously thought a flash would help. Fast forward a couple of years, and the Pelham works wonders! She’s also not opening her mouth, but she’s having a hard time relaxing while I’m riding. We could never figure it out, until I had an epiphany and decided to take the flash off. She was suddenly a different horse.

homecominghawaiieapuna 052

We tried a snaffle for our first jumper show and it did. not. work.pictures1 307

So, we moved to the Pelham. (You can see that we had the flash in both cases, so we made it a simple transition.)

This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for about half of horses. Having a running martingale with a flash and a 3-ring with spurs might not be the best choice for your horse. Sometimes, a simple bridle, a bit, and one pair of reins is all they need.

So, just try to take a deep breath, simplify your aids, and don’t worry about being perfect. Your horse will be thankful that you try to improve and will also be more relaxed that you make tiny improvements. Simplicity also comes from focusing and relaxing. If you feel overwhelmed, half of the time you probably feel that your ride is becoming to complex. Rides are simple, just take things one stride at a time.

Joshua Tree

It’s been one year since I explored this lovely national park. Boy, do I miss it! I’ve also been in a bit of a hiking slump (I think it’s probably the winter weather?), so I thought I would share some pictures of this trip to inspire me, and inspire you to get out and explore!

First off, we went during my spring break vacation. This turned out okay, but it was so crowded that we almost didn’t find a campsite! Next time I go, I’m definitely booking a campsite or staying in backcountry. IMG_1803

Once we found a campsite, we immediately started exploring! I fell in love with the desert landscape. It was weird to me at first, just because I love the forest, but the desert is beautiful in its own way. My favorite part was the sharp contrast of the deep blue sky with the tan rocks. Pictures do not do it justice!

IMG_1827

We were so excited to be done with the six hour drive and hike all around. We could not get over the beautiful views and all of the rocks! This is truly a beautiful park.

There are so many areas to explore in this park. One thing to point out is that is extremely accommodating to all levels of outdoorsy folks — there’s something for everyone! We were surprised to see day trippers in fashionable footwear instead of hiking boots; but then we would see tons of rock climbers and backpackers.

And then it didn’t even matter if you wanted to hike, camp, climb, or just sit around. The views were still incredible.

IMG_1843IMG_1430IMG_1874

Hopefully that got you inspired to go outside!!

From our week camping out in the desert, I wanted to give some helpful hints. Honestly, we barely researched before going and we still made it out alive. So it’s fine if you want to do your own thing because you will still survive, but there’s some things I wish I knew about desert camping.

Joshua Tree had different weather than I was expecting. Because we went in spring, it wasn’t 90 degrees everyday, but it still go up to about 75 or 80. At night, though, it got cold and windy! I definitely didn’t bring enough layers for some nights and ended up freezing. Also, because we went during spring break, we weren’t able to get firewood because it sold out! So I would recommend bringing firewood before you get to the nearest town because there’s a chance it will be sold out.

Now, onto what I learned from this trip.

First off, a no-brainer, but water is your literal friend. Joshua Tree recommends 2 gallons of water per person per day that you’re there. Do not discount this. We probably chugged about 2 gallons of water a day with all of the activities we were doing. Even though it was spring time and not incredibly hot, it was still warm enough. Water is your friend!

IMG_1931

Second, choose a pair of shoes you feel comfortable enough in. We were averaging about 12 miles a day. If I was walking in just athletic shoes, my feet would have been covered in blisters. My hiking boots saved my feet. One thing I didn’t do, and wish I did, is buy a couple of pairs of hiking socks. By the end of the day, my feet were always tired. My friend’s feet, who had hiking socks, did not have the same reaction. Hiking socks sometimes seem overrated, but trust me, they are not. After this trip, I bought a pair of socks, and I will never go back.

Third, leave room for playing on the rocks! For some reason, whenever I see rocks I just want to climb them. Joshua Tree is known for world class rock climbing for a reason. It was honestly so much fun to just see how far I could get up before actually needing gear. No matter how old you are, just climb the damn rocks. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Plus you get amazing views!

IMG_1969

Lastly, go with people you love. The desert has no cell reception, no wifi, and you’re at least 8 miles away from civilization. If you don’t like the people you’re with, you will not be able to escape them. So go with people that you love to talk to and that share similar interests as you.

I went with my best friend from my hometown that I rarely see. So this trip was perfect for catching up. We hiked the whole time, explored everything that we could, and ate like 12 cookies a day. It was the best week.

So, if you have time to go to Joshua Tree, don’t hesitate. Just go!

IMG_1558

Why I Ride

I don’t ride my horse to be perfect at something. I ride because it’s who I am.

I was 6 years old when I decided that horses must be in my life. I had my mom, my dad, my teachers (basically a lot of people) tell me that I couldn’t do it or that I couldn’t afford it or that I wouldn’t have time for it. I had a lot of people tell me no, so why did I say, actually yes?

Honestly, I don’t really have an answer. Riding horses was always a no-brainer for me. I might not be the best at it, I might not have the money or time to quickly move up in show competitions, but I still persevere. I keep it in my life because the feeling of sitting on a horse is the most liberating feeling. You have control over a 1200 lb. animal with the ability to go anywhere and do anything.

I can also say that horses teach lots. There’s so much you learn about communication, responsibility, perseverance, discipline, and love that you can’t really learn from another sport, animal, or person. My horse taught me so much about interpersonal skills and the importance of humility. She also taught me that I need to be for her every single day, just like she is for me. She taught me that I need to take care of her, just like she takes care of me. We have created a team, and that is probably one of the best feelings ever.

So why do I ride?

I ride because it’s who I am. I feel free, I feel alive, I feel like myself.

Time for some spring cleaning…of bad habits

It’s that time of year again. The weather is better, horses can stretch their legs, you aren’t in the mud all the time. It’s also when your horse’s energy is sky high and their ground manners could probably use a good brushing up. I wrote a post similar to this (here’s the link), but let’s review the basics so your horse isn’t constantly dragging you to the nearest grassy patch.

Just like riding, horses benefit from assertive handlers. There is no need to be aggressive or try to “man-handle” them, but just emulate Beyonce’s confidence and you’ll be good. A horse with superb ground manners also respects their handler. Along with being assertive, create a give and take relationship. Allowing your horse rewards for their good behavior only leads to better things, so feel free to let up on the pressure, give them a cookie, or give them a pat whenever you think they are listening to you!

Now that you’re as confident as Queen Bey, let’s choose a method of training. While I cannot say enough things about Clinton Anderson’s Method, some horses will do better with other training. Versions you can use include other methods of natural horsemanship or just the good ol’ fashioned stud chain and whip. You can even mix and match these training forms; you don’t need to choose just one! Whatever you choose, allow room for some trial and error, because your horse might suddenly decide she doesn’t like it anymore when you use a carrot stick.

Practicing these methods can sometimes be the worst. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost as impatient for results as a dog waiting for a treat. But this is actually one of the most important parts. Consistency with your training is key. If you don’t practice, you won’t have a responsive horse. This means that you need to take your horse for a walk every single day and you need to make them back up every single time they don’t stop when you stop.

Ok so now we that we have the boring stuff out of the way, time to get into the actual training. No matter the method you choose, the fundamentals behind ground manners stems down to having a responsive horse. Doing different exercises with them using different tools will achieve this result. The bottom line is to keep your horse mentally and physically engaged, aka listening to you, so that they won’t feel like they can do your own thing.

  1. Start with the simplest exercise. When you’re walking your horse, stop and make them halt. The key here is they must stop with you. Don’t let them stop ahead, don’t let them stop when they feel like, don’t let them stop and whip around to eat grass, and especially don’t let them stop with their hindquarters facing you. If they don’t halt at or behind your shoulder, make them back up until they are in the desired location. This implies that they must work when you tell them, and work until they get to the place they are supposed to be in. As soon as they respond and do what they’re asked, give them rest, to signify they did a good job.
  2. Another exercise to do on ground is similar to the first: having them back up. Just making your horse back a few steps when you tell them to shows that you are assertive enough to tell them what you want. This is also a good tool if you feel like they aren’t listening to you. The trick to making this an effective tool relies on you keeping your feet planted, so that you don’t walk with them to back up. This is a serious learning curve, and might involve you breaking this rule to initially teach them to back, but it’s so freakin’ effective. By you planting your feet, and making them back, you’re telling them that you have the only control in this relationship.
  3. A good thing to teach them is your personal space. If they are too close to you, you can get in serious danger if they get scared of something. Make sure they keep about a 2 foot space away from you. You don’t want them giving you flat tires every 5 feet, anyway!

And of course, ask your trainer, read up on methods, or ask me for more information! There’s tons more exercises you can do to improve your ground manners, and your relationship with your horse.

 

 

IMG_0196
Now Raven can even ground tie!

 

Remember to just take everything one stride at a time and you’re golden 🙂

 

Interested in 3-Day Eventing?

 

 

Oh my, where to start. This sport has so much to talk about!

Eventing is not for the faint of heart. While eventing is ridiculously fun, it is also takes a ton of discipline and learning. I miss it, and after you’re done reading this post, you’ll understand why everyone is addicted to it as I am.

3 day eventing incorporates 3 phases – dressage, show jumping, and cross country – over a course of 3 days with at least one phase each day. During the show, you are mentally and physically tested, and it’s the most rewarding experience. One of the best parts of eventing is that all equestrians can do it. The energy and people behind eventing is  very inclusive. This is what makes the sport truly enjoyable, the feeling that everyone is connected and spirited about the same thing.

Before I get all kumbaya on you, I wanted to briefly explain each phase.

Dressage is what I always call the building blocks of eventing. If your horse can’t respond to the simplest of commands in dressage, you will not excel in the other two phases. Here, you ride a test, depending on your level, to display the horse’s responsiveness to cues. Don’t worry about the fancy moves — worry more about suppleness, rhythm, and your geometry. The judge will score you on how accurately you do the test, but also these qualities.

Now on to stadium jumping. This was my trainer’s favorite phase, and I never understood why until now. Stadium jumping is very technical because you need all the same qualities as dressage while navigating a course. Your horse must be willing to give you their head, adjust their stride, and pick up their feet! You’re being judged on how quickly you go through the course, so purely time, but you get a better score if you don’t knock any poles or have any refusals. Your course will also have a higher quality ride if you have a responsive horse, like I mentioned, allowing you to have a faster time.

Next is my favorite, cross country. Here is where your horse’s bravery, and your’s, is tested. You are literally galloping and jumping over natural obstacles for about 10 minutes straight. If you are an adrenaline junky, this phase is for you! Anything can happen while out on this course, making it the most dangerous out of all of the phases – and the most controversial. The USEF, USEA, and other organizations are working to make this safer for horses and riders, but don’t let that interfere with your interest for this sport. If you are safe, aware, and responsible when you ride, you should love it!

All three phases make up this beautiful sport, but there is so much more to it! The eventing community is one of the nicest I have ever been a part of. This sport also exposes you to multiple disciplines, allowing you to deviate or move between different areas and try something new.

There are lots of reasons to try eventing. But the best reason of them all is that you develop one of the strongest bonds with your horse. I know Raven will have my back every time we’re on the cross country course. I know she’s going to stay collected and focused through every dressage test. And lastly, I know she’s enjoying her ride as much as I am.

If you have any questions, want to know more about the sport, or just want to talk, feel free to contact me! You can also read more about it on the USEA website, Eventing Nation, or contact some eventing trainers in your area. Now get out there and kick some butt!

image-1

What I’m Good At.

Soon I will be an MBA. I will have a masters of business administration and a graduate degree in animal science. That’s a lot  of schooling. With all of this experience, I feel pressure to be wise and to have myself figured out. I know that I don’t have to, but that’s what modern society says.

I can sit here and blame society, but honestly, I would just be avoiding myself and not taking responsibility. It’s literally my fault that I can’t figure out what to do. You know why? Because of my attitude.

I am terrible at making decisions. I am afraid of risk. I am freaking terrified of failing. I let people get into my head. I over-analyze every situation and cannot stop thinking about it. I can easily feel depressed, just as I can easily feel over-the-moon. If I don’t do well at something, I automatically think that it’s not for me; I never assume it’s because I need to persevere. I am never an A student — I can’t motivate myself to try that much. My vocabulary is subpar at best. I’m a terrible test taker. I constantly make bad decisions. I’m not as selfless as I could be. I have low self-esteem.

There’s a bunch more I can write, picking apart everything that showcases my flaws. I’ll spare the details because, let’s face it, everyone has at least some of these characteristics. Sometimes I spend so much time devoted to thinking about everything I’m bad at, that I never highlight my good qualities.

The truth is, I am a strong person. I’ve been through a lot and I’ve lived to tell the tale. I’m good at hiking. I love nature and appreciate everything the environment has to offer. I constantly try to improve myself and become more well-read. I can ride my horse well. I drive a truck and trailer like nobody’s business. I can keep relationships strong. I am awesome with animals. I can run 2 miles in 15 minutes. I’m pretty good at drinking beer. I don’t fail classes. My mom likes me. I actually read the news daily. I stay humble. I crack myself up, even if no one thinks I’m funny. I’m good at making small talk.

Not that everything about me will get me a job, or suddenly make me feel better about myself, but it’s a start. I’ve been listening to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and while this book points out a lot of other things, it also emphasizes that you cannot go somewhere, you cannot motivate yourself, unless you start somewhere.

So I am beginning by writing down everything I can work on, everything I am good at, everything I like, don’t like, want to improve on because I believe this will help me understand more about myself. I also believe that this will help me start to figure out my life and what I want from it.

Now this is only the beginning, but I think it will work. I think that eventually it will lead me in the right direction. If anyone feels something similar to how I am feeling (which is lost), I encourage you to do this, or read self improvement books, or just do something. It can inspire you, motivate you, make you feel life you have a handle on life.

And I’ll be back with an update/more horse stuff/more hiking stuff soon. Remember to just take things one stride at a time (especially when life throws you a curveball).

 

6 Ways to Enhance Productivity

 

enhancing-productivity

To-do list. The first “to-do” of productivity (sorry, I can’t help it) is to compose lists of everything that needs to be done. It’s easier for me to wrap my head around the amount of work I have to do if I write it out. These lists can include everything from what needs to be finished in a day to a ten-year plan.

To-do lists also help break big tasks into smaller components. If you had a huge project due at the end of the quarter, lists can help you establish a timeline to finish the project early and definitely help you not lose motivation.

You can also prioritize your list of things that need to get done. I have to see Raven every. single. day. So that definitely goes on my high priority task list. But buying those cute boots I see at the boutique across the street isn’t really necessary, so I can put that on a low priority. And I should probably but saving money for said boots at medium priority, too.

Plus, it’s ridiculously rewarding to cross items off of your to-do list.

Organize. I LOVE organization. My idea of a fun Sunday morning activity is cleaning out my closet and tidying up my house. Organizing your purse, your life, your house, heck, even your kitchen, can not only help you keep from procrastinating, but can also relieve anxiety about a dirty house or even just make you feel more put-together. I always sense a bit of accomplishment and motivation whenever I have a tidy living room or a clean kitchen. Then I want to organize my task list my tackling it.

Take breaks. The number one killer of motivation is burn out. If you don’t allow your body and mind to refresh every few hours, you will quickly reduce your concentration, and therefore, productivity.

The tricky thing I’ve experienced with taking breaks is rather simple. Avoid Netflix. Seriously, Netflix sucks you in and before you know it, you’ve watched 5 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and your final is in two days and you haven’t studied a lick. Instead, take ‘productive’ breaks. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a chance to relax, but it actually works!

Let’s say that you have allocated 10 hours for studying over two days, or about 5 hours a day. If you take a break every hour or so (or whenever you feel yourself slipping in concentration), take 10 minutes to go make tea, coffee, doodle in a notebook, call your mom, eat some almonds, literally anything that gets you off of social media and gives your brain a rest. You can even switch activities for an hour and go do something else on your task list. Simply taking a break from anything using critical thinking skills will benefit your work.

Establish a (healthy) morning routine. I’m sure you’ve heard this. I think everyone has heard this. But I still think it’s important to mention, because I notice that variations in my morning routine can affect my productivity. Take Saturdays for example. If I lay in bed later, checking Instagram, and not working out until later in the day, I tend to not get anything done. But during my week, I wake up every morning at the same time, walk my dog at the same time, and continue on with my morning routine of making breakfast, getting ready for school, and I cannot forget coffee.

This routine allows me to budget my time out, but also reduces my laziness. Have somewhat of a plan for the mornings allows me to create more time in my day for activities.

Eat and drink well. Eat a vegetable. Have water. Simple as that! Give your brain healthy food to feel productive, increase concentration, and feel better. No one wants to work when their body feels like shit.

Leave room for fun! While productivity can seem like your sacrificing spontaneity, I would argue just the opposite. If you write down everything you have to do in a day, you should have a rough estimate of how much time you need. So for the other spare hours you have, go do something adventurous! Hang out with friends, let your mind relax. This is where you can watch the 1o episodes of Westworld all at once because you can’t just not.

 

So there you have it. These are rules I follow to increase my productivity. I love staying organized, having task lists, staying healthy, this all leads to a better lifestyle. While changing things in your routine are hard at first, they soon become second nature, and you’ll forget what it’s like to have Instagram open all of the time.