Instantly Become More Productive

Forcing yourself to be productive is a tricky business for most. Sometimes our brains just don’t want to cooperate! Since you probably don’t want to end up spending St. Patrick’s Day catching up on homework, here are six strategies to reclaim focus right now and get stuff done today.


Use the 5 minute rule – Stick a note on your laptop or desk that says “5 minute rule.” If it takes 5 minutes or less to accomplish a task, always just do it right away! Pretty simple stuff, but you’d be surprised how much less you will procrastinate.

Don’t underestimate the power of coffee and some fruit, like a banana and some strawberries. Caffeine will definitely help you focus and regain some ambition, in addition to being a rich source of antioxidants. Consuming fruit or a light starch with coffee helps to keep you from becoming edgy or over caffeinated. Don’t like coffee? Make it a Macchiato, Chai tea, or herbal alternatives to coffee like Yerba Mate.

Play new or unfamiliar music to trick your brain’s cycle of productivity. Listening to ambient strains of music can double or triple the amount of time you can focus before needing a break. According to music technology service Focus@will, “Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 20 or 30 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break,” but listening to new or unfamiliar music can help break this cycle by “subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that is always on the lookout for danger, food, or shiny things.” These distractions can be overcome by listening to music at low volume, slightly louder than ambient noise.

Take a 20 minute nap, it’s like hitting the restart button on your brain. The ideal nap time is between 1:00 and 3:00 PM in the afternoon, according to Lifehacker.com, and should be 15-20 minutes long.

Get out of your room and go work in the library, coffee shop, or a quiet cafeteria. Surprisingly, the bustle of a public place can actually help you focus. According to the Wallstreet Journal, research suggests, “small doses of distraction—including hard-to-read fonts—prompt the mind to work at a more abstract level, which is also a more creative level.” Take into account some coffee shops are louder and more crowded than others. If you still prefer to stay in and study, you can synthesize ambient noise by turning on the TV the volume low or opening the windows.

Look at Pictures of Baby Animals. It’s scientific fact that looking at infant animals can awaken paternal instincts, making you more alert and observant. I recommend kittens, but bunnies, pandas, seals, otters, chicks, ducklings, or puppies will also do.

When and where are you most productive? Let us know in the comments or tweet @bncollege #beingproductive. Stay Focused my Friends!

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Dish it: Eggs McMuggin’

If you have 3 minutes in the morning, plus a mug and a microwave, you can whip up this easy egg dish and skip the breakfast lines in the dining hall. Hungry Girl has a variety of egg in a mug recipes but we like the McMuggin’ special. It’s pretty low-fat and is a good source of protein, so it’s the perfect breakfast for those spring-getting-ready-for-bikini-season mornings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute (or egg whites)
  • One wedge The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 oz. (about 3 slices) lean ham, chopped
  • One-half slice bread
  • 1 tbsp. shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

Directions:
Toast bread and slice into little squares (think crouton size). Spray a large microwave-safe mug lightly with nonstick spray. Add bread cubes, egg substitute, cheese wedge pieces, and ham, and stir. Microwave for about a minute. Stir gently, and then top with shredded cheese. Microwave for another 30 – 45 seconds. Enjoy! For more easy recipes, check out our Pinterest :)

Photo and recipe courtesy of Hungry Girl.com
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Monday Motivation

-Thomas Edison

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A Handy Chart: The Shelf Life of Food

I sometimes wonder whether things are truly OK to eat after they’ve been left out on the counter or in the back of my freezer for 6 months. Here’s the deal on how long you can leave stuff out, when leftovers need to go, and what “expiration date” or “best by” really translate to. Seriously important stuff! No one wants to get sick right before Spring Break (yuck!). See the full (downloadable) list here.

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Download Worthy: Pocket

We’ve all been there… the awkward moment when you say to your friend, “I saw the most hilarious thing online yesterday! Hold on, I’ll show you!” You search for what feel like forever for the video of Grumpy Cat doing the Harlem Shake, at which point it’s really not as funny anymore. Pocket, an iOS and Android app,  allows you to save online articles, videos, and more to any device to which you download the app. Not only is it available for iPhone, Android, and iPad, but also Safari and Chrome, making it easier to have your own media library anywhere you are. My favorite things about this app are it’s usefulness as a replacement to Chrome and Safari’s “bookmark this page” and the ability to tag saved items.

The app for Google Chrome and Safari has a Pocket button, similar to the Pinterest “Pin It” button, making it easy to save a webpage and in nano-seconds. It also prompts you to add tags to make it even easier to find the page in your Pocket Queue later. The smartphone app allows you to Pocket via the Mail Link to this Page option, from which you send the link to Pocket (the app prompts you to save this to your contacts when you install it), and the link goes right to your List. As the New York Times aptly called it, it is “DVR for the web.” Nifty, huh?

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Dish It: Cake in a Mug

Do you find yourself dreaming about homemade cakes? Are you drooling over the thought of your mother’s baking? #Collegeproblems! This sweet recipe for microwaveable cake mugs, submitted by Sydnesaurus to CollegeFed, is guaranteed to make all your cake mug dreams come true. Yes, I said cake mugs. Minimum effort + a microwave = #collegesolutions.

Image via CollegeFed

What You’ll Need:

  • Cake Mix – Any flavor your heart desires!
  • Other Ingredients – Check the box: Do you need eggs and canola oil?
  • Frosting
  • Sprinkles

What You’ll Do:

Pour the mix into mugs, filling it about 1/3. Try not to go over that or it may overflow!

Microwave each mug for about 3 minutes. Let it cool for 2 min. Then frost, add sprinkles, go nuts! Don’t forget to send Instagram pictures of your awesome cake mug creations to us when you’re done @bncollege #cakemug!

If you liked this recipe let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to bring you some more like this one!

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29 Ways To Stay Creative

Did you know that daydreaming can help spark creativity and enhance problem solving skills? Here’s 29 other ways to stay creative!

Image via Islam Abudaoud on Behance
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A little wisdom…

Need I say more? What have you done lately that’s great? Feel free to brag about it in the comments!

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Phenomenal Summer Jobs and Where to Find Them

Not all summer jobs are created equal! Singing for tips at the local ice cream shop may be an easy way to put money in your pocket this summer, but if you want to delve into a new experience or just do something different, you may want to check out some of your more exotic options. It’s still early in the game, but many internship programs expect their applications to be completed by March. Get an early start by taking a study break to research some of these awesome opportunities:


Under the Sun or on the Beach
Love being the outdoors, up in the mountains, and playing in the sand? There are job boards out there, like Cool Works, which connect you with employers in amazing locations. The site offers jobs at U.S. National Parks, resorts, ranches and elsewhere.

Employers everywhere from Alaska to Maine are looking for seasonal staff. Many offer free or very inexpensive housing. In addition, many of these jobs offer perks:  free golf passes, fitness classes, and horseback riding lessons could be just another part of the package. Add in working with other students from all over the country, making new friends, and make some cash? Deal!

Poolside Positions
Many hotel and resort operations offer have programs where they hire teens and college students for their busy summer season and will pay for lodging, meals, and even travel expenses. These positions are not generally high-paying, but can be great customer service experience. Also you will have all the perks of a luxury resort in your free time!

Some of these resorts look to hire front desk representatives with some experience in customer service, so if you’ve held a retail or restaurant job part time you may be qualified. Some resorts have a preference for multilingual speakers, but many will hire English speakers who can pick up a few words in the host country’s language.  Season Workers is a good place to start your search or at least get some ideas. They’ve got great options to narrow down your search to find the perfect position!

College is the time to experiment, try new things, and get a feel for the world. It’s the time to realize what type of places you may want to work and live, what kind of real-world skills you possess, and what type of skills you… don’t. What are your plans for this summer and where will you end up?

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Monday Morning Motivation

Strive to do well in all things, but don’t get discouraged if certain subjects do not come easily to you. This week take some time to figure out what your strengths are and build on them!

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