#9 The Importance of Making Time for Yourself

As a student, I find myself constantly working on something whether it be for a class, TEA literary magazine, taking care of chores, or even my blog. I haven’t been posting frequently because I have been taking time for myself. I have realized that this is so incredibly important for my mental and even physical health.

Here in America, we basically worship those who take on handfuls of projects or tasks at one time. Multitasking is a skill that one must master very early on in order to be considered successful or hardworking. I have lived by this very notion since high school. This mindset was required of me in order to stay competitive. However, since coming to college, I have realized that life is so much more than the tasks and projects we take on.

I have taken time to breathe, to decompress, and to collect my thoughts. In doing so, I have found that I wake up happier, more relaxed, and ready to take on my tasks for the day.

In order to be more productive, you have to refuel yourself every now and then. I do this by adding time for pleasurable hobbies: reading, sketching, and every now and then, teaching myself to code. Finding a balance for yourself is key to success. If you can spare just 20 minutes a day to dedicate to self-care and relaxation, you will be much better off.

Unfortunately, it took me an entire semester to realize that this was such an important factor in maintaining both my mental spirit and productivity levels. However, I will be tackling my next semester with this newfound mindset.

I guess the main takeaway would be to not be afraid of having a day to yourself. We are all entitled to some sense of relaxation at the end of a stressful day or week. Once the machine is well-oiled, you can go back to chugging along, feeling much better.

#8 Adopting Sustainable Practices: Week 1

For my fall semester, I decided that I wanted to add a class on sustainability. I ended up adding a course called: Facets of Sustainability. I was particularly interested in this class because of the adjective that was chosen to accompany this practice. Within the first week, we were taught to embrace the idea of interconnectedness and how to approach it by thinking in systems. This prepared us for the coming weeks when we were to work as a team to become more sustainable.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ⟼ John Muir

We were split into groups and were tasked with implementing sustainable practices into our daily routine. At first, I was not sure what I would be changing in my daily routine. But I quickly found that the project was not necessarily about adopting new practices, but modifying current ones. In order to keep one another accountable for our goals: eating less meat, consuming less plastic, and driving less, we created a spreadsheet.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 9.42.34 PMSo how are we approaching this?

We have been measuring our consumption levels on a scale from “none” to “high.” In order to be more accurate, we created scales that correlated with the size or number of our usage. So far, I have seen an improvement in my meat consumption. I have also been more mindful of taking public transport when available and suitable to my schedule.

For me, this project has been incredibly inspiring. For our “social impact” portion of the project, we decided to create an Instagram page which would be geared toward local students and local citizens. This is what has enriched me the most because I know that we are reaching a broader audience outside of our group of five. This project has already taught me so much about keeping oneself accountable and focused on a goal. I also feel good about this project because it has pushed me to live more sustainably. I have accumulated less trash just by purchasing products with less wrapping or packaging. When we throw something away, there is no “away,” which is really important to keep in mind as we do our daily shopping.

Here are some practices that I have adopted:

  1. Leave the house with a full reusable water bottle. Ditch those plastic ones!
  2. Bring your own coffee cup to Starbucks and they will give you a discount. (Extra plus: I have found that they fill my 27 oz cup up to the top when I paid for a discounted 20 oz beverage).
  3. Bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store.
  4. Bring your own reusable produce bags to the store. The plastic bags are unnecessary. The “living” phase of a plastic bag is much…much shorter than its “dying” phase.
  5. Read up on what can be recycled in your community. Not all places are the same. For example, Starbucks cups cannot be recycled by Gainesville.
  6. Take public transportation when it is convenient. Sustainability is not about perfection, but about mitigating our personal footprints.
  7. Eat less meat. Cows are the cutest.
  8. Read articles from sources that are focused on sustainable practices. I really like Eco Warrior Princess and The Good Trade.
  9. Avoid palm oil.
  10. Compost.
  11. Have discussions with your friends about sustainable practices. If they do not take steps to reduce their footprint, listen why.

What ways do you live sustainably? What are some practices that you have adopted? If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

#7 From the Outside In

The last year of high school is dominated by the thoughts surrounding where a student is going to get “in” for college. However, being a recent high school graduate, I have found that getting into college is more about where you go outside of it.

Beginning in July of this year, I began working with the Amol Jethwani for Florida House campaign. This was my first “extracurricular” experience in college. Here, I was able to bond with an incredible group of people who were united by a common goal: getting our candidate elected. Once this ended, I discovered what I have valued the most from my college experience. College is not only about achieving the honor of making the Dean’s List but about the experiences you have as a result, and in conjunction with your academics.

I have found that your inner college life and success is determined, in part, by your outside college experiences.

Once school began, I began working with UF’s literary magazine, TEA. Working with TEA was a bit different than working with the Amol Jethwani campaign, and not in a bad way. The goals and tasks of both groups were incredibly different but shared one thing in common: the importance of the group as a whole. Both of these groups have pushed me to grow and learn early on in the college experience.

It is now September, and I have hopped on to yet another political campaign: Kayser Enneking for State Senate. Some coworkers-turned-friends gave me the opportunity to intern under them within the Kayser Enneking campaign. Inspired and excited, my internship began on Tuesday, September 18th.

The time I have spent with these different organizations has been absolutely priceless to me and far from obligatory. These experiences that I have found outside of the classroom have allowed me to open my eyes further to what is truly going on in the world.

I strongly recommend getting involved with different organizations that pull at your heartstrings or stir the fire in your belly. The world needs dedicated and passionate people in all sorts of departments and industries. I encourage that you venture beyond your dorm room, college campus, or neighborhood to see what is out there waiting for you. Not only are you providing a necessary service for your local community, but you are also providing a service to yourself. By going outside of your comfort zone, you can find who you truly are within.

What or who are you currently working with? What makes you fired up? What stirs your imagination or compassion? Leave your answers in the comment section! I am curious to see what you have to say!

xx

#5 What Makes an Effective Team “Effective?”

Notre Dame Football. Apollo 11. Apple. Google. Ford. Navy SEALS.

All of these teams are effective ones, but what makes them effective? There are so many different combinations of team makeups. Teams may be composed of extraverts, introverts, programmers, analysts, entrepreneurs, and leaders; just to name a few. But what makes these individuals successful in a team setting?

Nowadays, teamwork and group projects are the new norm. People who once sought peaceful solitude are now being brought into teams to work collaboratively. We have long known that teamwork is required when working with others. However, collaborative work has become incredibly important in the workplace, especially at Google. Google decided to conduct research in order to figure out what exactly makes successful teams so successful.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” — Aristotle

They aptly named their research, Project AristotleThe researchers decided to undertake the observation of over a hundred teams for more than a year. They found that the composition of a team does not really affect the team’s effectiveness. They observed effective teams made completely of friends and teams made of complete strangers. They could not really make any conclusions.

The researchers continued to look for patterns when they came across a common idea shared amongst psychologists and sociologists: “group norms.” These group norms would be “unwritten rules” where everyone would act accordingly. These unwritten rules seem to come about due to group dynamics and interactions. Google noticed that some teams would communicate through open and unorganized meetings while other teams would communicate in organized and regimented meetings.

The “who” part of the question was no longer important. The “how” part of the question would emerge later on in the research. How do group norms and behaviors contribute to a team’s effectiveness? The researchers eventually found that what differentiated a good team from a bad one was how the individuals treated one another within the team.

More specifically, they found that members of good teams spoke evenly in terms of time. This would allow for their collective intelligence to grow, making them more effective. The researchers also found that good teams were highly sensitive to social cues. This means that members were able to know how another member was feeling based off of their tone of voice, expressions or other nonverbal cues. These two variables actually fall under a different term: psychological safety. Good teams would feel a sense of safety when taking risks by suggesting new or contrasting ideas.

Teams with a high sense of psychological safety perform better. They feel more energized after a meeting with the team. They feel a sense of accomplishment rather than frustration. Good teams listen to one another, feel deeply, share experiences, connect, and understand.

When we think of teams like Apollo 11, Navy SEALS, and of course, the 1970s Notre Dame Football Team, we think of a machine. If the parts are oiled, they can work together to create something big. It is important that each part is maintained and looked after.

Good teams listen and good teams feel.


Resources: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?smid=pl-share

#1 My First Semester at UF

Summer term at the University of Florida consists of frat parties, girls puking on sidewalks, getting soaked on the way to class, sprained ankles, constant coffee, sweating through shirts, and of course, class.

Before going to Gainesville, I was really worried that I would absolutely hate it. Even though it is always sticky, hot, humid, and full of mosquitos, I have grown to love it. Being on campus warms my heart. I absolutely love being surrounded by so many like-minded people (maybe except for the girls puking on sidewalks).

I went into my first semester at UF not really knowing what I wanted to study or major in. I only took two classes during this term: an argumentative writing class and a wildlife issues class. Both classes were incredibly enriching and only excited me more for the Fall term when I would be taking four classes. I also finished these classes having more an idea of what I want to study during my four years here.

While I wasn’t in class or studying, I was out trying to get involved. Within the first couple of weeks, I applied to one of the school’s literary magazines to become a prose editor. I ended up getting a position within the magazine and will be joining the team this fall. I also got involved politically. I started volunteering with the Amol Jethwani campaign for the Florida House. Working with Amol and the team has been incredible. I have gone canvassing in the Florida heat and phone banking in the small campaign office.

Being here, at the University of Florida, has afforded me so many opportunities in such a short time. I cannot wait to see what the Fall semester has to offer.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below.

With love,
Darby