How waking up at 5 am has made me into a more productive human

I always hear “there aren’t enough hours in a day” from the people around me. We all have the same 24 hours, and as the saying goes, we can choose what happens.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not perfect at waking up at 5 am but I do try to wake up between 5 am and 6 am. I am not the type to wake up at 5 am and go do a workout although I know the crazy amount of benefits.

I did want to share with you how waking up early has made me feel more productive, more in-tune with myself, and how it’s impacted my day-to-day. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now and yes, I’ve had days, where I’ve slept in until 7 am and others where I have laid in bed until 8. I’m a human, I’m working on it.

I was inspired by this video from Casey Niestat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-Cvl3_CH2A. In the video, Casey brings up a good point. Between the hours of 4 am and 7 am most people are sleeping which means social media feeds are inactive, emails are from the day before, and the energy around you is pretty relaxed. Which is so true!!

Everyone is different, this works for me. I am an early bird, not a night owl. I’ve always kind of been this way. Even as a kid, I would wake up with my dad at like 7 am while most kids slept in until 10 am. I am someone who needs their sleep. I HAVE to get my 7-9 hours in every night otherwise, I feel extremely tired, I can’t focus, my energy is off, and I generally feel more anxious/depressed when I don’t get enough sleep.

What I’ve noticed that within the times of 5 am – 7 am, I have an extra 2 hours for myself.  Not only that, I just have an extra 2 hours to do whatever I want. I don’t check emails until around 8 am. That’s a personal rule of mine. I am trying to practice good work/life habits before work and life get REAL crazy. I feel like it’s important to build these habits while you are in college or your early 20s so you aren’t spending your energy trying to figure out what works for you when you’re starting a real 9-5 or whatever.

Since I work 2 jobs (remote and in-person) and am an online student, I try to be as routine as possible. This helps me stay disciplined and that’s something I am really trying to work on. 

Here’s what my day usually looks like (give or take meetings, how I am feeling, etc)

5 am – 7 am – Wake up “Me” Time.
I lay in my bed for like 30 minutes before I actually get up and go to the bathroom or do anything. I try not to be on my phone because I read somewhere that it’s really bad for you to wake up with your phone next to you. Also, that is a lot of extraness for that time of day. Instead, I will go on my headspace app and do a 15-minute meditation. Before I could only do 5 mins but now I am up to 15 of intentional, present meditation. I’ll put on some music or pray. Spending some quality time with myself before a busy day always makes me feel balanced and more confident throughout my day. My head is clear so I can fill it up with all the chaos the day will bring.

I like this time of day because the world is really quiet. You don’t have the noise of social media or anything like that. Everyone is asleep so you can get yourself organized earlier in the day so you aren’t scrambling a few hours before you have a meeting or class. This also encourages you to sleep earlier which is so good for your brain and overall health. I always feel productive when I wake up earlier to spend some time with myself or my plants. I’ll do laundry, clean my space, or sage it.

I like to make my environment as cozy and clear as possible since I work from home. My room and space is minimal but functional. I may do a post of how I set up my room with a list of where I got everything (let me know if you like that kind of stuff). I bought this new LED light for my room and I am SO obsessed with it. I put it on my Instagram stories and got a ton of questions about it. Best late-night purchase LOL. It changes colors automatically or can go from dim to bright. I love it in the morning because it’s a colorful way to wake up. I will light a candle or sage and try to be very present in those early hours. I love me a good wood wick candle because it sounds like a campfire and when it rains outside, it’s a perfect combo of cozy. There is something magical about it. I love this time because it’s just for me and it makes me feel like I am taking care of myself. I also do my extensive skincare routine in the morning too. 

7 am – 9 am
I make my coffee/detox drink, open my emails, go over my to-do list(s), and make breakfast. This is a pretty boring time of my day because I am still waking up. The coffee helps for sure. I don’t typically shower in the mornings but if I do, I do my whole skincare routine in the morning if I didn’t do it earlier.

I like getting my emails out of the way and try to communicate to people ASAP. I am the worst texter known to man and I try to respond to emails within 24 hours. I’m just super lazy, it’s nothing personal. I will mentally respond but won’t actually respond until I realize “oh crap, I need to get this info out”. I am trying to be better, I swear LOL. I know most people are asleep by then but I like to get it out of the way since I don’t really respond to emails or texts later in the evening.

9 am – 3 pm
This is when most of my work gets done. I schedule meetings during this time and do the hard/tedious work. I learned that this is my productivity hours. I block in school time too. M/W/F/Sunday I try to work on school work about a couple of hours within those days. Then the rest of the week/time is devoted to keeping up with my clients or working on INTech tasks. I know this is when most people respond to emails or even start checking.

The rest of the day is either work or leisure time. It’s pretty boring to be honest so I won’t go into detail about that.

It takes a lot of discipline to wake up early. When the alarm goes off I am so tempted to snooze it but making the decision to wake up will lead to other productive choices throughout the day. If you can choose to fight sleep and wake up early, you can choose to do anything positive throughout your day.  You also feel like you got the most out of your day and you can fit in other things that you want to do whether it be to do laundry, reorganize your calendar, calling your mom, whatever it is. You overall feel better about what you have done throughout your day. It also creates better habits like sleeping early or staying organized. I’ve felt less anxious and more in-tune because I allocate 2 hours of my day to just focus on me. I also have given myself more time to wake up so when I enter meetings or I start my day, my body has had time to adjust. I feel less tired throughout my day.

I hope you all try this out. Let me know how you feel about it!

Intern Help Guide Week 7: Interning FAQs ❓

A couple of weeks ago, I asked on my social media (@tkhoub + @isanyonereallylistening) what burning questions people had about internships. I wanted to take the time to answer them in this intern help guide week 7 that I think would benefit you guys through into your internship.

I am a few weeks off on this series because my internship has been super demanding, I’ve been moving, and just a lot has been happening in my personal life. Also, I did a complete rebranding. A post on that is coming very shortly.

If you are new to this series on my blog, hello and welcome. I curated this intern help guide to help anyone going through an internship right now. This is made by an intern for other interns. I have interned in the fin-tech, start-up, and corporate space for the past few years.

Below you will find some of my previous posts about my internship experience. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Intern Help Guide Week 6: Networking 

Intern Help Guide Week 5 👩🏽‍💻 Soft Skills They Don’t Tell You About

Intern Help Guide Week 4 🤷🏽‍♀️ Is a “work-life balance” achievable?

Intern Help Guide Week 2-3 ⚡️ Things Get Easier

“When should people start looking and applying to internships?”

I’m not a recruiter or hiring manager so every company looks different. Most companies like to start their hiring process EARLY, like, August early. I typically start looking for 10-15 companies I am interested in learning more about a week into my school semester. I have applied to companies who don’t start looking to hire interns until January. But a good time frame to start is August-October. Decisions usually get sent out before or during the holidays. Look for internships based on the role, not the company itself. There are amazing companies out there that may not be the right fit for you. You want to consider the role, the company’s culture/mission, the location, compensation. Have an idea of a role then look at different companies that provide that. It may be the big names or it may not be. Don’t limit yourself because it’s all about getting that real-world experience.

“What is the best way to stand out in an internship?”

Come into your internship ready to learn and grow. Showing genuine interest in your team and work will really help you stand out. Being curious to learn new things, meet new people, and networking with other people in the company shows your passion for the work that you’re doing. Not every aspect of the role is going to be fun. That’s true with anything. You won’t like every class but it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for 10-12 weeks. Make a lasting impression. Be present, be adaptable, and be teachable. Also, don’t forget to be yourself. You are in a professional environment but you can still be an individual. You come to the table with a fresh set of eyes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re lost.

“What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an intern?”

I think one of the things I have been struggling with is feeling like I have to know it all. I don’t want to look dumb or incapable of doing something but there is a lot of new stuff that I know nothing about. There are some expectations your managers have but they do not expect you to know everything right off the bat. Knowing that you will make mistakes and are there to learn has really helped me ground myself. Be open to learning new things. I faced an imposter syndrome too. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here and that someone else who is smarter or goes to an Ivy league school deserves this more than I do. I had to take a second to identify what I can add. But remember, you are there for a reason. There’s a reason they picked you and be appreciative of every learning moment you get to experience.  You deserve to be in this role and you are doing great.

“I did an internship. Now what?”

To be completely honest this is what I think about a lot. Take time to reflect on the entire experience. What did you learn from this? How did you grow? What did it teach you? and thinking about how you can apply it back to your role as a student or in your next job? You learn about what you like and don’t like about role as you go through the entire experience. Figure out if you see yourself working in that company or a similar role. Apply that awareness when looking at next internships or opportunities. After your internship, maintain contact with some of the people that really stuck out to you. Connect with them on LinkedIn so you know where they’re going and they can see you too

“How do I remain productive when things get boring?” 

Like I said above, you won’t always love what you do. But take every opportunity (yes, even the boring ones) as a chance to learn something. You’re there for a limited time so tough it out. If you consistently aren’t given work you are excited about, have a conversation with your manager of some of the expectations you had going into the internship and some of the areas you want to explore. I’ve been given work where I had to pull data from jumbled up files. It was super tedious, boring, and frustrating but it’s apart of the job. With any role or task, there will be things you won’t enjoy. You’re an intern so you’ll be given “intern” work. People will send you stuff that seems boring or useless but do the work the best way you know how to. If you already have a lot on your plate be honest and say something like “Thank you for considering me for this task, however, I am working on x, y, and z and I need to finish this first”. Learning how to manage your time effectively will help balance your work.

I hope you found this interesting. I will be going on Instagram Live very soon to talk more about these questions and answer any others that you may have.

Self-Care Sunday: If I had a daughter.

No. I am NOT pregnant and do not have any future plans of having one but I do look forward to being a mom one day in the far, far future. I may not know a lot in the past two decades I’ve been on this earth but I like to think that I am pretty self-aware for who I am right now. 

I honestly can’t wait to be a mom one day. I mean, of course, I can wait but I look forward to bringing a life into this world that is half me and half the person I am meant to be with. Whether she finds this when she’s old enough to read so maybe another 15 years from now, I hope the lessons still stick the same. As I get older, I know that the things I have learned will change but I think for right now, I am in a place to write this.

Our current world has given us every reason to become bitter, hopeless, and misguided. You can’t trust our president or the news or your neighbor even. My mom always tells me to do everything in my life with kindness and to always make the right choices. She’d drop me off at school and say “Okay, make good choices”. Good is a really subjective term but I think good means kind. So, make kind choices. Make America Kind Again. No matter what age I’m in or what chapter of my life I’m going through I hope I never let this world make me bitter. If I had a daughter I would teach her the same principle: don’t let the world make you unkind. I’ve seen some of the hardest things happen to my mom and she’s always reminded kind and strong. When I go through something as easy as it is to be mean and bitter, I choose to practice kindness. Some people don’t deserve it and it’s taken a lot of me to bite my tongue and I am not perfect. I have been unkind to people but it does no good. It adds no value and it doesn’t change things. Kill them with kindness but don’t let them take anything from you. Some people may not be kind but you can’t give them the satisfaction of them breaking you. We have choices in how we let what others do affect us. 

I can’t wait to see my daughter be strong and resilient but soft and kind when she chooses to be. I want her to know that in 3, 6, 12 months your life could look so different than it is now. 3 months ago if you told me I’d be living in Charlotte I’d laugh at you because I was starving myself and I wasn’t in the place to even imagine progress. 3 months later, here I am. 3 months from now, I can be in a different space in other aspects of my life. I look back to 6 months ago and I was cheated on. I never thought that I could be who I am, have this platform, or be around the people I am. My path is unconventional. I am not the traditional college student. I think that’s my power. I would tell her to do what she is called to do. If you feel like in your heart you are being called to do something bigger than yourself and the people around you, lean into it. Listen to it. Open your heart and try to really listen to what God is trying to say. It’s easy to fall into the path that is already done but everyone has a unique journey to get from point A to point B. If her path is unconventional, I hope I can be supportive in the way that my support system has been for me. I want to nurture her creativity in such a way where she feels empowered to do the hard work that she is being called to do. We can’t force people down this one path if it’ll make them unhappy. I’d rather have my daughter or son chase their happiness and what makes them feel alive than to live a life that is safe. Maybe this worldview will change. But I don’t think we should impose an idea of a plan that works for us onto others if it may not apply.

I would also tell her that growing into yourself is a painful process. It’s isolating, lonely, and painful but its necessary. I am going through that right now. Being in a new city is lonely. I’ve been here two weeks and have cried most days because I am so used to having friends around me or family to visit me. I realize that the isolation and times of loneliness happen for a reason. We do need to be alone in order to really fall into our own. Not an idea or someone else’s mold, just your own. All we can ever do is be ourselves. In a new city, new place, or new circumstance we have ourselves. It takes self-awareness and being able to be real with yourself to figure out who you are. It’s so painful and it’s not easy. You can’t just sit with yourself for one day and have it all figured out. It’s adaptive. Things change but trust yourself and just don’t lie to yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself, you have no business trying to be honest with others. It’s taken some serious time for me to get to this point. Even now I struggle with it on a daily basis. I know my daughter will too but that’s the beauty in it. I’ve seen myself become stronger. I am confident when she goes through it’ll build her character because it’s helped build mine. I am not fully grown into myself and I wonder if I ever will be. I find comfort knowing that. It’s scary to put yourself out there when you have no idea who you are. But know enough about yourself to know what your strengths are and where you’re limited.

This post is really transparent. This is me being vulnerable to anyone listening because I’ve spoken to a lot of people who share the same feelings I do or at some point did, but no one is openly talking about it. Trust me, I know it’s scary. This is out of my comfort zone but I feel good about this because to anyone listening, know that the path you’re on and where you’re at in figuring out who you are is normal. No one tells you this stuff about adulthood. No one tells you how hard the “self” stuff is. Or maybe its super hard for me and I am using this post to vent. BUT THIS SHIT IS HARD YOU GUYS!!!! But it’s not impossible and we are all going to get through it. Finding your support system, trusting my own unique process, and being grounded in faith that things will get better have helped me get through the motions. It’s inspired me to keep pushing. It’s helped me become the person, partner, future mom, plant mom, girlfriend, friend, daughter, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH that I am today. I am eternally thankful for where I am at now and where I am going to be.

Self-Care Sunday

It’s Sunday and I don’t typically post BUT I had to show you guys an amazing video collaboration that I did with @girlwiththeplaybook who also happens to be the author for Motivation Monday: Finding Your Support System.

I teamed up with Kenya to remind you all how important it is to self-care, self-love, and give yourself that time to make sure you’re living your best life.

 

We can lose sight of ourselves and our goals if we don’t be intentional in how we treat ourselves. It’s one of the most important things we can do and if you don’t you’re going to drive yourself insane because you will keep pouring yourself into things and other people without investing in yourself.

Love is a set of reinforcing behaviors. You can do things every day that keep you on track. It’s important for me to have 3 objectives of things I want to accomplish. They’re not always work-related. Sometimes it’s cleaning my room, showering, meditating. I work the best in 3’s and it helps me stay focused and grounded.

I love to start my work week on Sunday’s. While most people rest on Sunday’s, I like to use the first few days of the week to really be productive and layout what I want to accomplish this week. I also spend a few hours with myself. I do things I like to do. Most of it is silent or work related but that’s okay with me.

Give yourself the permission to disconnect from people. You will be a better person once you start taking care of yourself and choose how you want to invest your personal energy.

What I’ve Learned From: Moving

To sit here and pretend like moving doesn’t put me in a complete panic would be a total lie. I’m currently sitting in my new Charlotte apartment writing this and frankly, I am freaking out. As happy and excited I am for the future the initial thoughts/moves of moving is scary. I uplifted from a place that I didn’t consider home but still had a really large impact in my life. The relationships, the people, the lessons, all of it shaped me into the woman I am today. To think I have to start this all over in a new city is somewhat terrifying. Greensboro was where some of the most painful things happened to me and I can only imagine the types of challenges I am going to face in a brand new city.

I write this during a time where I know a lot of people are going through this too. Trust me, you’re not alone. Whether you’re moving an hour away or 100 miles away, moving is really intimidating but what’s helped me is knowing that the people in my life have done this before. My parents, for example, moved from Iran when they were in their late teens, didn’t know much English, and had to figure out a brand new culture. Also, they didn’t have social media or facetime like we do so they couldn’t talk to their parents or family as easily. I can only imagine their level of anxiety they must have felt during that.

It offered me comfort thinking about that during one of the last nights in Greensboro. I was sitting with myself, with a candle lit, and just prayed. I spoke to God about a lot of things but the common theme was: I’m doubting myself if I am doing the right thing and I need some guidance. I promise it was a lot more in depth but that’s the jist of it.

I thought about the people before me who did this and were able to build the life I have for me and my brother. I use this as fuel for the passion inside of me because I know there are going to be challenging obstacles but they will lead to a better future for myself and my future family. I feel called to do some really amazing things and I am putting that out into the universe and internet so it’s going to happen. My parents and aunts/uncles did this so why can’t I? Also, people move to new places all the time and do just fine. This is apart of being an adult. It’s different that’s why it’s scary. The newness of a situation can scare us the most. There isn’t anything actually scary about moving or settling in. What’s scary is the fact that it’s new. Knowing that makes everything less awful. Sometimes the things that are new to us can cause us the most stress. But think about it, the tasks that were new to us when we were younger are so natural to us now. Think about the time you learned to ride a bike, or jumped off a diving board, or even presented in front of a class. The more you do it the less the new stuff scares you. But again, it’s totally valid to feel scared or overwhelmed. It’s intense. So I’m here with you and I totally get it.

This week also was really hard because 8 months ago on September 3rd, 2017 my best friend Tony committed suicide. Knowing he’d be out of the military in June hurts because he and I always spoke about being together again. Tony was a brother to me so the third of the month is always especially hard. Not to mention I was moving, packing, and was all over the place. I was there the day Tony left for basic training.

Leading up the actual moving date I wasn’t as anxious or as sad as I thought I’d be. Again, in this What I’ve Learned From: April I speak openly about what this past month taught me and so far, I am learning that May is going to be a serious transition month. A lot of people around me are going through it too which is comforting. Graduation and new internships have been the common theme around me. Some of my friends can handle moving so well and I envy them but for me, it’s hard because this is whole new city with a new set of challenges. I hope to look back at this in 6 months and see that it wasn’t as bad as I think it is.

I’m really focusing my energy on the good ahead but it’s hard not to think about the people you leave behind. I was always super excited about leaving Greensboro and starting over but now that it’s actually happening. It’s new for me and new can be scary. 

I also need to remind myself that I am not on the most conventional path. I’m a junior, in a brand new city, doing classes online, working for a consulting company, working as an intern with one of the largest banks in the whole world, and I’m working on a brand. I don’t need a cookie or a sticker and I’m not saying this to brag but my path is no way conventional. Most people don’t just get up and leave in the middle of undergrad to a new city and do all of this stuff.

I’m not special but what I am doing is different. Or at least different from what has been around me. My immigrant parents always valued education. Education. Education. Education. It’s been a mantra that has been beaten into me since I was a kid. It took for me to leave and go to college to really understand that I can still graduate AND have other passion projects or jobs I am really interested in. I never want to be one of those people that work 20 years at a job they hate. Why would I? That’s such a waste. Thankfully, I love my major and the field I’m in so whatever position I do end up in post-grad will be something I thoroughly enjoy. Will my degree be the reason I get that job? God, I hope not because I feel like the piece of paper we get after 4 or 5 years of school just gives us the credibility to learn in that new job. I can write a whole post on this topic alone but I am getting a bit off topic.

I apologize in advance for the casual tone of this whole post but I’m really trying to get whoever is listening to hear that if your path is unconventional, it’s okay and if you’re freaking out like I am, it’s normal because it’s different. Again, different is different. It’s not good or bad. It just is. If you feel lonely while you’re moving, I hear you. 

Trusting myself and the choices I made makes me realize that I am doing the right thing and I have to be okay with some of the consequences that come with deciding to move too.

Happy Wednesday!