Tag Archives: life advice

How to start life planning

What is Life Planning?  

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash 

To me, life planning is using a planner to organize all aspects of your life, from academic to social to fitness and more! Anything can be tracked in a planner. I got my first life planner my freshman year of high school and have been life planning every day since. As someone who is always busy, and joins way too many extracurriculars, I have found life planning to be a way to calm the chaos in my life and keep track of everything.  

Different Types of Planners

There are many different types of planners to choose from. My favorite planner brand is Erin Condren. Her stationary company is based here in Austin, Texas, and her store is located at The Domain. I love Erin Condren planners for their beautiful covers and their simple, yet colorful layouts on the inside. The planners are also customizable, so you can change colors, add your name, initials, pictures or whatever you’d like! A basic Erin Condren planner goes for about $60, but every year on Black Friday they have a flash sale where all planners are 50% off! Another popular brand is The Happy Planner. Their planners are similar to Erin Condren but are easier to find, as they can be ordered online or bought at Walmart. But really any planner can work for life planning as long as it fits your needs!

There are many things to think about before purchasing your life planner, especially since it’s something you’ll be writing in for an entire year. Spiral or no spiral? As a leftie, a spiral can get really annoying sometimes. How do you want your planner’s layout to be — Daily? Weekly? Monthly? These are all things to consider. My favorite layout is a weekly vertical layout, where each day of the week is divided into 3 sections. I like to think of the sections as morning, afternoon and night.  

Pens, Stickers, Accessories and More!

I like to use planning as a creative outlet by using a variety of different pen colors, handwriting styles, stickers, highlighting and doodles. What I like most about using a physical planner instead of a digital one, is that paper gives you the freedom to write and design whatever you want all over it. My favorite pens for planning are the Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens. These work well with my Erin Condren planner because the paper is thick, like an index card, so I get consistent lines when I use them. For thinner paper, I would recommend ink pens. I like Paper Mate InkJoy pens because of their vibrant colors.

When planning, having different-colored pens is important so you can color code. At the start of each semester, I match each of my classes to a color, and write down all things pertaining to that class in its assigned color. Not only does color coding make your planner look pretty, but it’s proven to make you recall things faster as well.

According to Kwik Learning, “When we color code things we need to remember, it makes it easier for our brain to associate with it. Our brain reads and interprets colors faster than text. Multiple studies have shown that our brain will recognize a shade of color to an assigned task faster than text alone. This means we have a better chance of remembering an appointment if we color code that information.”  

Besides color coding, I like using stickers to add an extra flair to fun events in my planner, or make important events look more eye-catching. For example, I’ll add a little cake sticker to birthdays in my planner or add a sticker that says “important” on a test date. Even though I am in love with Erin Condren’s brand, I think The Happy Planner actually has better stickers, and they are cheaper too. I like to buy The Happy Planner sticker packs that contain over a thousand stickers. My favorite pack is the Essential Planning pack, which includes stickers like “remember to water your plants!” stickers, birthday stickers, bill reminder stickers and habit tracking stickers.  

Lastly, I would say a planning essential is to have some sort of bookmark to keep track of what week you are on. Nothing is more annoying than flipping through your planner trying to find what page you were last on. Personally, I like bookmarks that attach to the spiral in your planner so they don’t fall out.  

So, Why Should I Plan?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash 

I like to think of planning as something more than just keeping track of things you have to do. It’s relaxing, rewarding, calming — it’s what I believe has gotten me to where I am today. When you have everything you need to do written down, you can avoid that feeling of; “Am I missing something?” I like to use my planner as sort of a guide. I can see what I have coming up for however many weeks I am able to plan ahead. 

My favorite time to plan is at night or right before I go to bed. At night, I tend to scramble in my head and worry about all the things I have to do the next day, and the next day, and the day after that, and next week, and next month, and next year and… it gets to be a lot. Especially when I am trying to fall asleep. Planning at night gives me a way to dump all of those due dates and to-do lists out of my head, and when I’m done, I feel so at peace, totally free of that feeling that I am going to forget something.  

With midterms coming up and as the semester starts to get busier, planning can be a tool for you to stay on top of your work and manage your stress!  

My Method of Planning

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash  

Step 1: The first thing I do when planning each week is put down my base schedule. What I mean by this is putting down your weekly schedule of things that are consistent and are not going to change, like my class schedule. 

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 2: Once I’ve done that, I have a basic outline for my week, and I start to add in due dates, events and stickers.

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 3: I like to write a little overview of my week on the left side to-do list, listing things by priority of what I need to get done first. If there is something going on for the entire week, I like to write it above the dates at the top of the page, making the words span across the page. 

 Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 4: From there, I use the empty spaces to get an idea of when I am free throughout the week. The empty spaces leave me room to plan things that come up on short notice, so I will write them in the day before or day of, like a trip to the gym!

Photo by Morgan Severson

VOILA! You are all done planning and ready to conquer your week ahead!

Featured Image by Alyssa Lindblom

10 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Online to In-person

We’ve all spent the last year glued to our screens, whether it’s trying to decipher what our professor is saying or scrolling through Tik Tok. In the midst of all the Zoom meetings, Discord chats, and Slack messages we have forgotten how to thrive in an in-person learning setting. So, here are ten tips on how to thrive during the transition from online to in-person learning, interaction, and life.

1. You need to calm down

After more than a year of spending time stuck at home with Tiktok being our only form of social interaction, it can be tempting to just say yes to every social invitation that comes our way. But, no matter what you do you cannot make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020, and acknowledging that is important. The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and that includes social interaction. It’s okay to want to stay in on a Friday night and binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” you don’t need to force yourself to go out in the fear that you will regret it if there is another Lockdown. Understanding that we cannot make all our decisions based on the fear that the past will repeat itself will only benefit us in our post-pandemic life. 

2. Develop a routine

A big part of the anxiety that accompanies our transition back to in-person classes is ambiguity. Being able to have routines— even for the smallest parts of our lives— can help immensely. Whether it’s having a three-step morning routine that involves making your bed, putting on clothes, and making yourself look presentable for class, or an elaborate make-up routine, having one part of the day remain constant will help structure the rest of your day.

3. Get an alarm clock

It can be tempting to use your phone as an alarm but it’s also the reason you’re late every day. Not only is the alarm on your phone designed so that the snooze button is more prominent than the off one, but it also enables you to scroll through social media first thing in the morning. Having an actual alarm clock not only prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, but it also means you’re going to hit snooze a lot less. If you’re like me and are paranoid about not waking up on time, keeping the clock at the farthest end of the room will ensure that you wake up. 

4. Engage with your classes

Zoom university has made it easy to not engage with material during class and going back in-person seems especially daunting when you can’t whip out your phone and scroll through social media when your professor goes on a long and boring tangent. However, identifying aspects of each class that you enjoy, whether it’s the friends you have made in that class or your genuine interest in the subject, will make you dread it a lot less.

5. Treat yourself

Whether it’s getting Boba with friends, watching a movie, or gorging on a pint of ice-cream(I am definitely not speaking from personal experience), find a way to reward yourself at the end of the week. The treat doesn’t need to be expensive— it could even be dancing to Taylor Swift music in your room. These treats act as a reminder for what a great job you’re doing and also motivate you to get through the week.

6. Stay safe

We are still in the midst of a pandemic and following COVID guidelines are crucial for keeping yourself and your fellow Longhorns safe. Make sure you download the Protect Texas app and fill out your symptom survey daily as well as get tested weekly. Wearing a mask in classes may seem strange, but it’s the only thing stopping us from going back online.

7. Plan, plan and then plan some more

Now that we are in-person, having a daily planner is essential. Not only does planning your day the night before gives you peace of mind, but it also means you won’t accidentally forget a class or a meeting. Having a monthly planner as well will help you keep track of your assignment due dates. Google Calendar and Outlook are great online planners, but nothing beats pen and paper. 

8. Catch some ZZZs

Lack of sleep is overhyped in college. Just because Brad from your Econ class hasn’t slept since Tuesday and is feeling great doesn’t mean you should follow in his footsteps. Lack of sleep catches up on you when you least expect it and it makes you more prone to illness. With the endless stream of assignments, it can seem hard to get seven hours of sleep but remember those hours of sleep will prevent you from the embarrassment of being woken up by your professor in your eight a.m. class. 

9. Find your style

Now that pajamas are no longer the informal uniform of college students across the world, finding something to wear in the morning can seem foreign. But remember it’s also the perfect opportunity to play around with new styles and try out outfits that are cute from the shoulders down— now that you’re no longer a box on a screen.

10. You are not alone

Remember that you’re not the only one navigating this “new normal” and, yes, you will make mistakes but remember so will everyone else. We are all in this together (cue cheesy High School Musical music) and going back to in-person classes means we are moving forward away from the catastrophe that was the pandemic.

Featured image by Serena Rodriguez

Women’s Health: 10 Things the Public School System Won’t Tell You

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably experienced a lot of moments in life that angered you. You say the word “vagina” and people cringe as if you said a bad word. Anytime you show “too much” emotion, some snarky male will ask you if you’re on your period. You say you’ve lost your virginity and suddenly you’re a “sl*t” to the world while, if you lost virginity to a male, the guy is high-fiving his bros.

Well I think it’s about damn time that women’s sexuality is a part of the mainstream conversation. We have healthcare needs just as much as the next person, if not more. Unfortunately, women’s health is not talked about NEARLY enough and there are many facts that women are in the dark about.

Yes, you are late but no, you’re probably not pregnant.

via GIPHY

Contrary to what most health websites will tell you, sexual activity can throw off your hormones and affect your period. If you used protection (birth control, condoms, IUD, etc.), DON’T PANIC if your period is a day or two late. This is especially applicable after your first time having penetrative sex. Do not panic and do NOT Google it. You will go down a very dangerous rabbit hole. However, if the days keep coming and coming and you still don’t get your period, be sure to take a pregnancy test or visit your gynecologist.

YOU CAN GET PREGNANT WHILE YOU’RE ON YOUR PERIOD

I’m not entirely sure where the “can’t get pregnant on your period” rumor came from, but it is completely untrue. Yes, it is true that it is more difficult to become pregnant while menstruating but pregnancy is still possible. Sperm can live inside you for 2-5 days so, depending on your cycle, you can conceive 4-5 days later due to early ovulation. Again, it’s unlikely but use protection to be extra safe.

Queer women’s health is often left out of the conversation

The unfortunate truth about society is that queer women are often left out of the sexual health conversation. In fact, queer women are 5%-18% less likely to be screened for STIs because of a perceived “lack of risk.” This is, of course, ridiculous because STIs can be spread through contact of mucous membranes or affected skin. Women’s sexual health needs more attention and this is especially important for queer women. 

For queer women-  You can look for an LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare professional here. Planned Parenthood, the Kind Clinic, and Q Austin also offer LGBTQ services. Dental dams and finger cots are some cheap options for having safe sex.

Always pee after sexual activity

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Hopefully, you’ve heard this at least once in your life. I used to think it was an urban legend but there’s actually truth to it. Urinary tract infections are common when foreign objects, such as penises or sex toys, enter the vagina. Anything coming into the vagina can bring in bacteria so when in doubt, pee it out.

Plan B is less effective if you’re over a certain weight

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If you’ve seen Aidy Bryant’s show on Hulu, “Shrill,” you’ve seen her freak out when her taking of the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill doesn’t work and she ends up pregnant. Research shows that there is truth to this scene. Several studies have shown that Plan B is less effective for women that weigh over 165-175 pounds. The results from the studies suggest that the more you weigh, the less effective the pill is. However, even though there is evidence of this finding, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a large warning label about this risk nor is there anything regarding it on Plan B’s website. The research is ongoing but if you’re worried that Plan B won’t be as effective for you, take it anyway and have a talk with your doctor. 

Female condoms: they sound interesting but are actually not as effective as they sound when it comes to preventing pregnancy.

via GIPHY

Female condoms, also known as “internal condoms,” are inserted inside the vagina before sexual activity. They are often used when people are allergic to latex (they’re made out of polyurethane or nitrile) or when couples don’t want to interrupt their foreplay for putting on a male condom. Although this nifty little birth control is nice for pre-sex, they can actually be very finicky when it comes time to actually have sex. When used correctly, 5 out of every 100 women will get pregnant as opposed to the 2 out of 100 women that get pregnant from using male condoms. I’ve also heard from several friends that these condoms are prone to slipping or breaking. Unless you have a good reason, it’s probably better to just stick with male condoms.

Be cautious of birth control deliveries

Having birth control delivered straight to your house sounds much better than having to go through the hassle of picking it up. However, if your birth control is delivered to your front door in the middle of a hot Texas day, it can alter the effectiveness of your pills. Birth control is the same as any medication: exposing it to the elements can affect how well they work. If you’re getting birth control delivered to you, be sure to you’re home to pick it up and bring it inside to more stable temperatures. Avoid exposing your pills to extreme heat and direct sunlight.

PCOS & Endometriosis are more common than you think

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects more than 200,000 women in the U.S. Endometriosis affects the same amount of women. Since there are over 400,000 combined cases, why haven’t we heard more about them? (*Cough cough* The patriarchy.)

On a serious note, if you think you are experiencing the symptoms of either of these conditions, speak to a healthcare professional immediately and seek treatment. You deserve to be helped, girl.

Common symptoms for PCOS:

Irregular/lack of periods, difficulty getting pregnant, excessive hair growth (especially on the face, chest, back or buttocks), weight gain, hair thinning/loss, consistent oily skin/acne

Common symptoms for endometriosis:

Extremely painful periods, pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, infertility, excessive bleeding, constant diarrhea/constipation while on your period

Always warm-up before penetrative sex

Foreplay is nice. We know this. However, foreplay is important for other reasons besides simply feeling good. “Warming up” before sex creates lubrication in the vagina that will help make intercourse smoother and more comfortable. Foreplay also gets your vagina in the mood along with you. The more into it you are, the more open your vagina gets. Once you’re ready, your vagina will be in a more relaxed state and ready for…a meet-up, for lack of a better term.

Vaginas are meant to smell like vaginas

Don’t be self-conscious if your flower doesn’t smell like a flower. Vaginas are meant to smell natural. Several studies have shown that pH balancing washes, such as Summer’s Eve, can be damaging to your vagina’s health. The healthy pH level of your vagina should be 3.5-4.5 so that she can prevent bad bacteria from thriving. Using washes inside your vagina can throw off this balance. However, your vulva does need to be cleaned. The best way to take care of your vagina is to use warm water to clean the vulva or sensitive skin washes/cleansing cloths if you want to moisturize/freshen up down there. Here are a few washes that are OB-GYN-approved.

Resource Center:

  • Q Austin- http://theqaustin.org/
    • Offers lots of free resources (free condoms, STI testing, etc.), offers payment plans, can give recommendations to the Kind Clinic
  • The Kind Clinic- https://kindclinic.org/
    • A sexual health clinic dedicated to the treatment and prevention of STIs including access to the HIV prevention drugs PrEP and PEP
  • Planned Parenthood- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/
    • A health care provider, educator, and advocate, they deliver sexual and reproductive health care, sex education, and information
  • UT Health Services- https://healthyhorns.utexas.edu/womenshealth.html
    • Offers multiple STI testings (cost dependent on what tests you get done and whether or not you have insurance), lots of women’s health including but not limited to routine annual wellness exams (breast exams, pap smears, STI testing, etc.) and contraceptive advice, prescriptions and admins