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One Of Us Is Lying

‘The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars’ screamed a blurb. That got my attention. One of Us is Lying is a young adult, mystery novel published in 2017. If you have read it, you would know that it reflects traces of clichés at high school, young adult tropes, and the most popular yet conflicting show on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why.

It’s a regular Monday at Bayview High when five students (a couple unexpected ones) get detention. The Brainiac, Bronwyn suggests that it is a conspiracy because she would never break the rules. Addy, the homecoming Princess neither agrees or disagrees. Cooper Clay, homecoming King, and Good Boy Supreme find Bronwyn’s theory believable. Nate, the drug dealer/kid on probation/bad boy turned badder doesn’t care. Simon, the outcast and creator of ‘About That’, an app that shares gossip about Bayview High is enjoying the tension and the drama.

An innocent detention, carefree bantering turns wrong as Mr. Avery, the teacher steps out of class. Simon dies in the detention room in front of his classmates in what seems like an accident. The kids are shocked, numbed, and the center of the attention. A careful investigation reveals that on Tuesday, Simon had planned to drop juicy, real yet revealing secrets about the other 4 students in the detention room. Jokingly called ‘The Murder Club’, the name begins to stick as the students unravel their lives and how they each had a motive to want Simon dead. Can Bronwyn grit her teeth and get into Yale like her father wanted? Or will Simon’s death darken her future prospects? Does Nate turn into the proverbial bad kid turned murderer? Can Addy step out of Jake’s shadow and confess her secrets? Does Cooper become the baseball star he deserves to be?

Simon’s death (like Hannah’s suicide in 13 Reasons Why) opens up a Pandora’s box to a school that is blissfully ignorant, parents who seem to either care too much or not care enough, and kids who seem to be taking bullying as an art. Was Simon bullied or did he aggrandize himself and create an imaginary world? Does Maeve, Bronwyn’s sister have the answers the kids may need to solve this mystery? The police have ready pasties in the name of four kids who have a lot to lose and a total lack of interest in actually catching the murderer. McManus’s strength is her narrative, the slow weaving of threads and secrets which build up a suspense worth reading for.

One of Us is a light read, though one that can trigger uncomfortable memories for those bullied or victimized at school. The fear, the urgency, and the microscopic view teens have where the minutest problem seems like the end of the world is nicely reflected in the book. Bronwyn is predictable if not relatable, Nate too, and their relationship or friendship has what we would call a very high school feel which makes it interesting yet tiring at times. The ending feels slightly too wrapped but it’s happy so there’s that. Addy is the biggest surprise of all and one that I truly cheered for. A character arc that shows growth and development with substance.

One of Us has a sequel, One of Us is Next, a book about Bronwyn’s sister, Maeve who was a strong supporting character in the first book. If it’s anything like the first book, it will be fast paced, intriguing, and a good read generally if you like young adult and mystery.

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How To Increase Blog Traffic Part 1

Do you constantly check your blog/website stats and wonder when the numbers will go up?

Are you feeling annoyed that your stats are low, despite creating meaningful content, and consistently posting?

Sadly, it happens more than often. People with quality content and consistent posting seem to lack the numbers. It’s not a matter of ‘why’, rather its a matter of ‘how’.

In this 2 part blog post, I shall be offering simple and easy to apply tips to increase your blog traffic.

Of course for many content creators, the goal should be specific, targeted traffic that will convert into leads and sales. Increasing your blog or website traffic while helpful may not necessarily turn into something effective. It’s great that you want more readers, but once you get them, what is your goal? Do you want them to read your blog? Do you want them to buy your courses, your products, or subscribe to your paid newsletters?

Select a specific, single goal at a time and work towards it. That would give you better results instead of generic approaches like ‘I want 500 followers.’

Below, I list certain approaches that can increase your blog traffic by 200% if followed and applied efficiently.

PLAN YOUR CONTENT

For bloggers, content still remains king. The first trick is to pick a topic people are talking about or are interested in. For example, the first US Presidential debate took place a few weeks ago between President Trump and Joe Biden. After visiting Google Trends, I realized that people were searching actively for it all over the world. How could I use that to my benefit?

I wrote a blog post titled, 3 Things Creators Can Learn From the US Presidential Debate and the traffic did increase! I connected a trending, relevant topic to something that I am experienced in. You can also increase your reach and improve traffic by using tools such as Google Trends, SEMrush where you may be able to gauge how much traffic certain keywords can bring in. These tools are necessary for businesses and blogs to work effectively in 2020.

Remember, your topic needs to match the keywords and vice versa. You can’t use certain topics or trending keywords as clickbait. It will cause a loss of trust and annoy your regular readers. Pick and plan content that fits your goals and strategy in the long run.

HEADLINE MATTERS

Nearly 80% of people don’t even read a blog post is the headline is poor or ineffective.

The wrong headline can make the best-written blog go ignored. Your headline is your hook, your gateway to the material, and the promise that your blog will deliver. A good headline needs to have certain characteristics-

  • Answer a Question- Is this something your audience will be interested in? Does it meet a specific need of theirs?
  • Meet a Goal- Your headline is an indicator that you will be able to assist the audience, the readers to meet a goal, find a solution, and reach a decision. If it fails to do that, then your headline can feel like a lie or clickbait to your readers.
  • Be Specific- If your post is about doing the Keto diet, then your headline has to refer to that or use your keyword. A generic or poorly worded headline can cause readers to shut the blog before even reading a word.

You can use tools such as Blog Title Generator to create headlines and titles that attract readers and boost traffic.

STAY UPDATED

As a blogger or content creator, you have to stay updated and aware of trends, ideas, and news. Monitoring trends and analyzing news will give you sufficient information to work with and create attractive content. What is the latest in your industry?

Suppose you are a fitness blogger, then using a new diet or fad and posting your view or opinion on it can definitely attract viewers and readers from all corners of the world.

LINK TO OTHER BLOGS/WEBSITES

Connecting your material to other links or blogs out there can improve your audience reach, prove your facts, and provide credibility. When you link to other blogs or websites, you are offering a chance for viewers from that blog to learn about you and direct your audience to another source as well.

Linking to websites like Amazon also offers a chance to be found organically and feature in prominent searches if you word your links effectively.

REUSE CONTENT

Many bloggers think they have to write something new all the time. That’s not true. You can do so much with your existing content bank.

Audiences prefer different mediums of learning or engagement. If your content is mostly written, creating a video or gallery can ensure you reach a new audience, one that is more visual. Infographics, slideshows also increase the possibility of attracting newer audiences and improving traffic to your blog. You can even make a podcast of your existing posts or interview a fellow blogger and publish it to attract people who prefer audio links.

The sky is the limit if you want to repurpose your content.

In the next part, I will discuss other techniques to improve traffic to your blog. The art is super simple and effective if applied smartly.

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Burn After Writing

Lately, I have been asking myself how can I manage to not fall in a pit of despair? While also trying to be productive. But after some google searching, I found out that I am not alone! Hoorah for collective miseries!

Like for every other thing in my life, I turned to a book for some solace. Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones is the complete opposite of a reflection journal or productivity diary that one expects. It was refreshing, light-hearted, and different to say the least.

Initially published in 2014, this book was aimed as an experiment, a means of trying to take you and your attention away from social media. The purpose of this book was to be brutally and completely honest with yourself. What do you truly feel? There are prompts, blank pages, and exercises to explore you and your innermost thoughts.

The goal of the book is to see who you are when nobody is watching. And as the title says, once you have filled the book with secrets and fears, Burn the book after writing.

Who should get this book?

Get this book if you really want to test your limits, understand your fears, and learn what motivates you. *This book is not a replacement or supplementary to any actual help or support that you may need.

The idea here is to unleash a part of you that you restrain or hide due to socially conditioned norms. And do you like it? The simplicity of this journal is in its singular goal and aim. It doesn’t deter from that nor does it fill the book up with inane quotes or sentiments.

The books is gaining popularity six years later due to the fragile nature of the world currently and an introspection on all our parts to what the future holds. This is definitely recommended for anybody who feels better after writing their thoughts down.

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3 Things Creators can learn from the US Presidential Debate

US Election year is here and it’s just one of the many, many bizarre and chaotic things happening in 2020. The first presidential debate took place recently between President Trump and Joe Biden. What a holy mess it was!

Politics and socio-cultural implications aside, there are so many things writers, entrepreneurs, and creators can learn from the US Presidential debate. The countdown to one of the biggest political elections in the world allows a fair, open platform for both candidates to air their views and opinions. It is a great initiative for the audiences and voters to understand their candidates better and gain an insight into their workings.

What are the 3 key takeaways creators can take from the US Presidential Debate between President Trump and Joe Biden?

Know Your Audience-

President Trump has been known for vitriol, baseless allegations, and a hate-filled rhetoric that can annoy voters. He made the mistake of underestimating them in the debate and continued to rant about China, ‘they cheat’, without clarifying who ‘they’ are, and about antifa.

As a creator, you have to know your audience. Are they understanding your message? Or are they irritated by it? A poll conducted post the debate by CBS indicated that 69% of watchers were ANNOYED by the debate. Both Biden and Trump dismissed the audience and engaged in whataboutery.

If you are a creator, blogger, or entrepreneur, remember to engage your audiences and be authentic. How you share your message sometimes is more important than the message being shared.

Know What You Are Talking About-

“It’s hard to get a word in with this clown,” Biden said. “Excuse me, I mean, this President.”

Joe Biden

President Trump constantly interrupted Biden, leading him to become frustrated and use personal remarks. The debate moderator and audience believed that the interruptions were proving destructive to the fabric of the debate. So, what can we learn from here?

No reader or audience wants to follow somebody who creates opinions and facts out of thin air. President Trump continued to rant baseless theories about voting fraud, despite overwhelming evidence that there is no ongoing voter or election fraud. This caused audiences to feel distrust and confusion about their candidate.

BACK YOUR FACTS UP. If you have a blog about fitness, convince your audiences you know what you are talking about. You are qualified to talk about fitness because you have a degree, education, experience, certification, or knowledge gained extensively through personal interactions. Your readers and audiences are more inclined to believe in you if you support yourself and have conviction.

Know Your Opponent-

Entrepreneurs should be aware of their industry, have knowledge of their rivals, and capitalize on their weaknesses to build their community.

A series of reports were published over the last week alleging that Trump has paid as little as $750 in taxes, which caused rising anger among voters and an economy suffering under the global pandemic. Capitalizing on this, Biden released his 2019 tax returns in a bid to showcase his commitment to the candidacy and the American people. This gesture allowed him to gain momentum over Trump and challenge his rival on a weakness.

Understand your industry and your closest rivals. What are they failing to do? Can you do it? Can you fill a gap being ignored by certain bloggers? Can you offer something substantial to your readers which your peers can’t provide?

Planning each move of yours is essential as it will be the blueprint your success depends on.

These are the 3 key takeaways you should note while continuing to follow the US Presidential elections.

(Headline Image Source- Deadline/AP)

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The 5 Best Productivity Apps of 2020

In a previous post, I discussed how productivity or social expectation of it has been severely affected in 2020. It can be impossible to get to work when things have not turned out the way you imagined them to be.

So when I needed to reassess my work and productivity levels, I decided to do the most millennial and basic thing you can ever imagine. I downloaded some productivity apps that pushed me and definitely helped me to plan my day better and get more out of it.

Here’s a quick list of the best productivity apps of 2020 and why you should get them.

Evernote- A very popular and efficient app, Evernote is great for organizing notes, planning your day or schedule, and listing tasks. You can add photos, draw sketches, record audio, and work on PDFs. It also allows you to sync your notes across various devices. Many students use it for taking notes in classes or lectures. I personally find it handy during meetings or workshops to note links, names or scribble down ideas for my research.

Forest- Do you have the attention span of a goldfish? Do you find it really easy to get distracted on your phone? Forest is the perfect app for you. The app costs $1.99 but it is really effective at reducing distractions and encouraging you to work. So, you plant a seed when you are ready to get to work and then set a timer. If you exit the app before your time is up or use your phone, the tree dies. If you stick to your task and stay focused, the tree grows. They have also partnered with Trees of the Future to plant actual trees for their members so you are helping the planet and helping yourself!

Freedom- Instagram is the biggest distraction for me. I find I can spend hours browsing that site and other social media platforms. So, I needed something more powerful than the Screen limit settings of an iPhone. Freedom blocks distracting and time-consuming websites and platforms so you can retain focus. You can personalize the sites that you want to block or customize a list of platforms or even block the entire access to the Internet till you finish your work.

Serene- A macOS application, Serene is custom-designed for freelancers, students, and professionals who need help getting organized and improving their focus. For $49 a year, you can access a unique approach that is guaranteed to build your productivity and boost your organizational skills. Serene lets you set a SINGLE goal for each day and then break it down into several tasks. The purpose of this is to direct your focus towards that particular goal and not let yourself distracted by other items or tasks that divert your attention from your goal of the day. You can work in timed sessions and take a short break in between for each one. It has amazing features like-

  • Website blocker
  • Phone silencer
  • Focus music
  • Session timer
  • Distraction free sessions
  • Day planner
  • To do lists

Todoist-Todoist is a task management tool that simplifies your complicated or complex to-do lists. It streamlines your tasks, sets deadlines, and manages your projects by breaking it down in smaller goals and items. The measurement and report feature is amazing to assess your growth or performance and understand your weaknesses. It is also sleek and a cross-platform software that makes it very easy to use and adapt in your daily working life. You can get the free version or the premium versions available for $3 and $5 a month.

What do you do to stay organized and focused? Are there any apps you would recommend? Do leave a suggestion or comment below.

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Books To Read in 2020

2020 is forcing us to be alone, isolated with our thoughts and that is terrifying enough. So while we tried baking bread, Tiger King, and everything except not crumbling under pressure, books saved us. Saved me at least. Reading has become such a sweet comfort in the past few months that I want nothing except to finish my work, wrap chores, and get back to the book I am reading. That comfort is addictive.

2020 is far from over though, so I thought why not do a good old round up of the best books to read in 2020. This list is quite broad, I have included a little bit of everything so you can have your pick.

  1. The Cruel Prince(Folk of the Air Series)– Easily the best fantasy book I have read in a long long time, Holly Black is a master craftsman, writing a strong, dark, and surreal story that spans three books and lives in the magnificent Faerie Court. You can read my review here to know more about the book.
  2. The Vanishing Half- Debuting at Number One at the New York Times bestseller list, The Vanishing Half starts off as a story of race and American history but turns into a saga of generations, relationships, and the lasting effects of split-second decisions. The Vignes Twin Sisters shock the small town in the Deep South by running away and returning with mysterious secrets. Can the sisters manage to live their lives free of consequences? Is there a fear lurking around forever? The book unravels various threads wonderfully. The author Brit Benett has sold the book rights to HBO for a limited series.
  3. Death in Her Hands- A slow, mysterious whodunnit, Death in Her Hands is about an elderly widow who finds a mysterious note written in the woods. The note talks about a dead body, Magda but there is no dead body. Ottessa Mosfegh builds a tale of suspense, black comedy, and horror as the protagonist starts an investigation of her own and creates a list of suspects for the crime. Is the note a prank, a welcome to the new member of the community? Or is there something sinister as her suspicions get confirmed once her investigation begins. Death in Her Hands is an absolute pleasure to read and consume.
  4. Girl, Woman, Other- Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Evaristo’s 8th novel follows the lives of 12 women in the United Kingdom, all black, all busy building their own narratives. The novel is quick, very fast-paced with introductions and changes in the story, yet richly focused on details and little things that make the characters seem raw and real. Grace is a Victorian orphan, hyper-focused on an African father she may never meet, Amma is fierce and independent, Morgan (formerly Megan) is changing the way activist influencers are known. Strong written women of color in Britain that is likable yet never changing,
  5. The Book of Longings- ‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus’ begins the new novel by Sue Monk Kidd. A controversial topic and effort by Kidd to introduce readers to the sacred feminine and understand the role of women in an era where they were delegated to the background. Ana is a gifted historian, archivist, and scribe who is also the sister of Judas. Talk about a complicated family tree. Jesus remains absent for most of the book and when he is introduced, it is with constant reminders that he was a tool for more violent and aggressive reformers and an overbearing society. Kidd’s latest effort is definitely worth a read for its period drama, details, and the possibility of a feminist historian being the wife of Jesus.
  6. Pizza Girl- Written by Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl is a light, fun read about an 18-year-old Korean-American pizza delivery girl. She is pregnant, confused, and walking through her life, feeling suffocated by her mother and boyfriend. It is humorous, witty, and engaging.
  7. The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes- The prequel to the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins latest effort takes us to the 10th Hunger Games where Coriolanus Snow is a teen and a mentor to District 12. Staying true to its origins, Collins adds new details, fleshes out important characters, and builds a really strong background to her original characters. We get to see Snow turning into the powerful megalomaniac that he eventually becomes.
  8. Untamed- This part fiction, part memoir has become hugely popular due to Adele’s recommendation. I thought it flawed and limited due to the superficiality of Glennon Doyle’s issues and relationships. But it is worth a read if you like self-help, memoirs, and want a glimpse into a complicated white woman’s life and character. You can read a complete review here.
  9. My Dark Vanessa- A highly controversial book, My Dark Vanessa is about Vanessa, an awkward 15-year-old at a boarding school, and her affair with the 42-year-old English teacher Jacob Strane. Kate Elizabeth Russell’s debut novel was fraught with controversy even before it got published as companies were undergoing the #MeToo movement. Russell thought it was important to share such stories to understand their underlying impact on women and their lives. Vanessa is now 32 and a hotel receptionist by day and at night has sex with random, strange men, not focusing to build any relationships or meanings. Vanessa is also not the ‘good victim’, years later she remains in touch with Strane, even believing there’s was a relationship rather than an affair. The book was difficult to read as a woman, to see Strane not defined completely as a villain, but it was illuminating, to say the least.
  10. Mexican Gothic- The horror, the suspense, the isolation of a beautiful mansion is so achingly created in this novel by Silvia Moreno Garcia. Noemi, a gorgeous debutante is forced to face harsh realities and examine her relationships when her cousin claims that her husband is trying to murder her. The house acts as a character, its beauty hiding dark secrets that Noemi may be the one to uncover. A must must-read for horror readers and readers who enjoy suspense and murder mysteries.
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Creative Writing Prompts for Kids

With schools shutting down and kids being homeschooled this year, many parents are struggling to keep their kids occupied and entertained.

Parents who work full-time are finding it a challenge to channel their kid’s energy and creativity effectively. A lot of the activities that kids used to do previously such as art, swimming, dancing, language etc. have been limited to the virtual world now. So when a friend asked me to give some creative writing exercises for her kid, I thought that’s such a great idea. Creative Writing is a skill you can teach your kid at any age and in any language. It fosters a sense of creativity, out of the box thinking, and imagination. It also lets kids be.

I coach kids from time to time on their grammar skills and communication so it is heartening to teach them creative writing basics and ideas that they can use to become storytellers in their own right.

These Creative Writing prompts were written for kids aged 7-12 so feel free to download them and use for your kid or students. Just a suggestion, after the completion of the exercise, don’t use words like ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ unless its a spelling or grammatical error. All stories are worth sharing and worth being written.

Most of the exercises rely on ‘favorites‘, I use that to connect positively to students and children. Let them feel free to create as they want, the goal is to encourage them to be artistic and creative. If they don’t have pets or access to television, films, then you can alter those exercises to be ‘A conversation with a bird/cheetah/animal’ or ‘Rewrite your favorite song or poem‘. Kids are very intuitive and they pick up on nuances most of us aren’t even aware of.

Do drop in a comment or suggestion if you are an educator, parent, or guardian. Hope you find these prompts helpful!

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The Cruel Prince

Certain writers have that flair for creating rich, layered worlds with characters that are so much more than clichés or tropes. Holly Black is one such writer who can compel you, bring fantasy to life, and make you feel connected to characters, even the antagonists. The Cruel Prince is a young adult fantasy novel published in January 2018. Book 1 of The Folk of the Air Series, it is about Faeries, Seelie, and Unseelie Courts, the cruelty of these impossibly beautiful creatures, and the despair of mortality. It is about fey, the old ones who manipulate and plot and humiliate humans for fun, they thrive in creating misery and playing tricks, there is always somebody with an agenda and it is a miracle if you just survive.

The Cruel Prince begins with the murder of two humans, parents of Vivi, Jude, and Taryn. Vivi, the eldest is the half-blood daughter of fey father Madoc and a mortal mother. Her mother faked her death and fled to the mortal world to keep Vivi safe. Madoc finds her and kills the mother and the human man she marries. He takes Vivi and her human twin sisters Jude and Taryn, as they are his responsibility now. Jude and Taryn grow up as mortals in a Faerie world, living with the Gentry, but still not a part of them. Madoc is one of the most feared generals in the High Court of Faerie, he is also extremely powerful and rich. Jude can never forget he killed her parents but she craves to become powerful, to not be reminded of her mortality. Taryn on the other hand is desperate for validation and assimilation. She tries to blend in, to follow the rules, and hope a Faerie marries her. Half-faerie Vivi has no plans of forgetting that her father killed her mother. She rebels, every day, in every way she can. She makes the life of Oriana, Madoc’s new wife complicated and revels in it.

Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

Jude Duarte

The Cruel Prince is written from Jude Duarte’s POV, who constantly looks for ways to become powerful and immortal. Her regular humiliation at the hands of the youngest Prince Cardan is a motivation for her to become a Knight, to become a part of the Court so she can best them. Black spins a web so intricate you realize that its not about young girl falling in love with a beautiful Faerie Prince. Jude thinks she knows what power is, what it would mean if the roles were reversed, but she is completely out of her depth. Her vulnerability, her eagerness for achieving that power, her stubbornness and her single minded goal puts her in dangerous positions but it also makes her real.

This is dark, brutal fantasy story telling with complicated characters that have complex back stories and motivations which drive them. I like the book for its honesty, its metaphors for oppression, and its acceptance of all characters, even the subjugated Taryn who just wants to be loved and accepted.

Definitely recommend it for fantasy readers in search of a new series that isn’t too overwhelming or tiring.

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Aaron Sorkin on Writing

Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin is known for his prolific work, nuanced characters, and story telling that forms an impressive narrative. He has some really helpful tips and ideas for writing.

Somebody wants something; something’s standing in their way of getting it. It all boils down to intention and obstacles.

Aaron Sorkin

It is the core of writing and story telling. What does your character want? What does your character need?

The rules of drama are very much separate from the likes of the properties of life. The properties of people and properties of character have almost nothing to do with each other.

Aaron Sorkin

Your characters can based on real people but they are not real.

Your characters don’t have to succeed in their goal. They can fail.

Aaron Sorkin

The journey could be your story, it could be what your character goes through and how they use it to grow. Not all stories have happy endings.

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The Best Ways To Improve Productivity

Have you been feeling as if you are stuck in a rut? It’s like you are a wheel in mud and the slippery slope is dragging you down. You feel annoyed, irritated, and embrace the spiral of guilt for not being productive. But you are not alone! It’s 2020 and more than half of the world is struggling to stay afloat and functioning.

For most professionals, on the days they struggle with being productive, they can put in some effort and clock out. For creators or artists, the lack of creativity, debilitating attack on productivity can impact the content you create or art you produce. I have seen a noticeable difference in my work this year and its because even getting out of bed is a challenge on most days. This feeling is resonated by artists, entrepreneurs, and creators across the world. So how does one tackle this? How can you improve productivity?

Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that I don’t subscribe to the societal notions of ‘productivity’. Productivity doesn’t mean getting up at 7 am, working out, having a good breakfast, working for 8-9 hours, having a good dinner, and then heading to sleep. It means creating a supportive environment for your art and content to be created and nourished. Productivity can have different meanings for different people. If your definition of productivity is the one I mentioned above, that’s okay. You choose what sustains you.

Whatever your definition of productivity is, I have found there are certain ways to improve it.

The first thing to do if you feel you aren’t being productive enough or unable to create to your best is to take a step back. Getting some distance between you and your work can give you clarity and help you reassign your focus if needed. During this time, you can analyze if your productivity is actually being affected by answering a few questions:

  • Why do you think you aren’t productive?
  • What does being productive mean to you?
  • Are you putting excess pressure on yourself and your work?
  • Can you ask a colleague or a friend to give you advice if they think your work has been affected?

Sometimes having an outsider’s opinion can open our eyes to the fact that we have been placing extreme pressure on ourselves to match up to the high standards placed by society. Fast workers who can do the job in 4 hours feel they are not as ‘productive’ enough than then ones who work for 8 hours. It just means that you are better at time management.

You constantly need to redefine productivity and its impact on your life. Being ‘busy‘ or ‘overwhelmed‘ with work is usually seen as a symbol of success or being good at your job. It’s not necessarily true. While it’s good to stay busy, working 80 hours a week or working on weekends can affect your work-life balance and leave no time for you to recuperate and sustain your creativity.

When one struggles with creating content or art, they can feel negative, drained, and fatigued. It was a constant lose-lose situation for me because I was barely able to focus or even stay still. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix and eat mindlessly. But sadly, life doesn’t work that way if you need your job to pay the bills. Then I did this exercise which I started as a joke. After seeing the results, I am a true believer. It will sound silly and it may not be your cup of tea so skip it if you feel like.

I was facing negative feelings and overwhelming sadness and irritation in my life. The days I woke up ‘deciding to be positive’ turned to be absolute crap within the first few hours. So how the hell does one stay upbeat or positive or even sane? That’s when it hit me. You can’t really do it unless you have something to be positive about. It was a matter of changing your perception. I created a ‘Gratitude Diary’ where I noted down things I felt lucky to have or see or possess. It was so trivial that I didn’t even notice the difference until a week or so. In any bad situation, I wasn’t going down in a spiral of hopelessness. Instead, I was thinking how lucky I am that it could have been worse. It wasn’t a complete overhaul or magic. I still have a long way to go but this was an excellent start and something I plan on continuing forever.

Thank God for Netflix

You can also try bullet journaling to improve your productivity or boost creativity. Writing down ideas, thoughts, and emotions let me vent without it clouding my mind and distracting me. I could create freely and definitely saw an improvement in my productivity. In case you don’t know bullet journaling, there are some blogs and resources you can check out.

It is powerful, targeted, and channels your emotions so you feel clear headed and focused. There are so many ways you can use a bullet journal or a diary to improve your productivity. My journal is a mash of my feelings, ideas, and whether I feel creative or not. Below is another sample page I use to scribble thoughts.

It can be anything you want it to be. You can save this image to use or make your own based on this. For example, I noted down the cups of coffee I was consuming because I wanted to watch my caffeine intake. It can be similar for you or you could write ‘Worked out‘ ‘Ate sugar‘ or any other habit you want to monitor or inculcate.

There you have it, some specific ways that can improve your productivity and boost your creativity. Have you tried them? What do you do when faced with a writer’s block? Do leave a comment or suggestion below.