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!

My new role as Program Director and why STEM is important for girls.

Hey guys! Coming at you with a new blog post. This one hits near and dear to my heart. For the past month, I have been working with INTech Camps for Girls. A technology camp for middle school and high school girls in Charlotte, North Carolina. An organization like INTech is exactly what Charlotte needs to grow the existing technology talent brewing in this city.

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Ever since I moved, I made it a personal goal of mine to get involved with the existing women in tech community. Through technology and social media I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible and inspiring women who I aspire to be like. One of those people is my fearless leader, Khalia Braswell, the Founder of INTech. Her story is so inspiring to me and I honestly fangirled so hard when I got the opportunity. She brought me on to launch the high school program to offer a new wave of scholars the opportunity to gain more experience in technology.

Because of organizations like INTech, my technology journey started. Had I not had people that kind of looked liked me and were empowered by STEM, I might have picked another career path. I am so thankful my passion for problem solving and storytelling persisted because I can’t imagine being in any other industry.  There is no reason why more girls at a young age, especially in middle school and high school, shouldn’t have access to technology tools to get them immersed in this creative, digital world. Girls in technology offer unique solutions to the problems today. By including minorities and marginalized communities in the conversation, you empower different ways to think about the world we live in.  These different perspectives can yield diverse solutions. Growing up I never really saw Persian or minority women in STEM.  We need more girls who code. We need this next generation of engineers to feel like they can be themselves and there isn’t one path to be successful. To have a platform where I can express my extroverted, colorful personality in the technology field is my way of showing people that tech isn’t one color nor one gender. It’s colorful and vibrant and creative.

To be honest, this is a new role for me and is completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve never really had a position of authority but seeing how Khalia and her peers move and interact helps my confidence because I see someone actually does this and loves it. The non-profit sector is a challenge but it can be very rewarding too. Being in this position over the past month has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t think was possible and when the work becomes grueling I remind myself of the impact we hope to make.

I am excited for what the future holds. Hearing the girls say “I want to go into technology” or “I want to go into web design” makes me so happy because this is the future being formed. TKBRANDING-03 (1)

How much time do we spend on our devices? 👩🏽‍💻⏰

I love human data and human behavior. Every single day we make thousands of small choices that can affect so many things in our day-to-day lives. How much sleep we get, how much water we are drinking, whether or not we use a turn signal, checking our phones, which apps we use, why we use them. All of that fascinates me. In my different roles that I’m in and have been a part of, this has been a common theme. I love figuring out why we are the way we are and how the things we do can impact us. I have been itching to write this post for a long time but didn’t know how to measure it. I run little experiments or logs on myself to see what I’m doing, why am I doing it, and what I can do better. I’m analyzing my own data because I want to find better ways to live my life and I think we should all be more aware of ourselves and technology can capture that and SHOW US. The excitement is oozing from my pores, that might be coffee but ANYWAYS.

I am a freelance data and creative consultant, a content creator, an online student, and a program coordinator, and a millennial who is very addicted to my devices. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty bad but I am empowered to do better. I can’t go a day without checking my phone, my feeds, my million task lists, or my email. I spend a lot of time on my phone for work but also for pleasure. I was listening to a podcast titled, Attention Please, over the summer because my addiction to my phone got way out of hand. I’d catch myself being on my phone during dinners or hanging out with my friends because I was obsessed and it was starting to really affect those around me so I wanted to do better for myself and for those relationships. These devices offer us instant gratification and they are designed that way for a reason. App designers intentionally create apps to be more addicting. The more time you spend on these tools, the more money they make and the more information companies get about you. It’s in their best interest to keep you engaged. I think that’s why algorithms are built the way they are. From a business perspective, it makes sense but the consumers are the ones in danger because we have so many young kids and people being addicted to these devices at an early age. I’ve always believed that technology usage is a choice but honestly, tech companies don’t make it easier not to choose it since social media and content platforms are such a staple in our culture.

Being immersed in the technology world, this is so fascinating to me. Even if you’re not a techie, be aware these things are happening for a reason. I was also reading this book called Everybody Lies, which I think everyone should read techie or not. Oh my god, I LOVE THIS BOOK. Please read it, just trust me. This book basically reveals the truth behind assumptions we make on human behavior. The author, Seth Stephens, uses Google search data to prove that. What’s super interesting about is that people will lie on surveys, but when you’re alone and are only keying into a blank field, you’re very honest and that honesty reveals so much about our behaviors. I won’t spoil his findings but honestly, this book and that podcast and also my own experience inspired me to write this. Plus, I’m a total data nerd so this is up my ally.

Apple recently launched a new update that had the feature ScreenTime which monitors how much time you spend on your phone. This is what I used to track all of this data. I think this feature is a long time coming  ☕ but it’s here now! What’s great is that this feature also allows you to set restrictions for yourself or your family. I think that’s great for parents who want to limit their child’s screen time but also good for anyone else who may not have enough willpower 🙋🏽‍♀️

The Experiment 👩🏽‍💻

I enabled the ScreenTime feature on my iPhone (where I spend 75% of my technology usage, if not more). I didn’t set any parameters or anything on myself. This is over a weeks time because the feature on the iPhone doesn’t have a monthly usage tracker (rude).  My week is Sunday – Saturday which is what Apple says what a week is.

I just wanted to know: How much time do I spend on my device? What do I spend the most time doing? Am I using my phone mostly for work? and the last question, how can I do better?

** These numbers or stats have not been manipulated in anyway shape or form. This is merely to know more about myself and how I can stop using my phone more and just to gain more insight into my own experience.

Here’s What I Found: 

I have spent 54 hours and 13 minutes this week on my device.
I have spent 12 of those hours on Youtube, 10 hours and 4 mins on Instagram, and 7 hours 33 minutes on iMessage. Let me put that into perspective. I rounded some of the figures up (iMessage to 8 hours).

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Made this in Canva(not sponsored)

I… don’t even know what to say. By the way, I didn’t look at this until today (the day I wrote this). I spend a lot of time on Youtube. I use Youtube as a way to decompress but I had no idea that’s where most of my time goes to. I watch a ton of different things (clearly). I am kind of embarrassed, to be honest. Let’s just say, this whole experience humbled me for sure. The Instagram makes sense because I do help people with their social media accounts and insights so I check on their pages several times a day. I’m surprised iMessage isn’t at least number 2 but it makes sense. But this insight gives me a lot to think about. Since I’ve been in the Bay Area, I don’t know my way around and I’ve had a lot of meetings in San Fran and also just love exploring so I thought that was interesting. Waze > Google Maps > Apple Maps (don’t @ me).

Let’s keep going… ScreenTime breaks it up into Categories which is nice.

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Again, social networking is not surprising to me AT ALL. You can drill down further into what apps they consider to be social networking. My top 3 are Instagram, Messages, and Twitter. It also shows you when you spent time on your devices the most. Mine was Friday, Monday, Tuesday. Note: I am writing this around 1 pm PST so Saturday’s data isn’t completely accurate.

Another interesting feature is the Notifications. ScreenTime shows you how many notifications you get. As you can see, I get mostly iMessages and Emails. I do get a lot of Canvas notifications. I get around 200 notifications a day. I don’t know if that’s a lot in comparison to others but it’s just interesting to me to get an actual figure. In this notification section, you can change how notifications appear on your phone which is a smart feature. Kudos to whoever designed these dashboards. Very user-friendly and informative. Huge fan. Looks a lot similar to Instagram Insights, although I wish IG was more in-depth but whatever. After seeing this, I do want to push more email messages but I respond to those mostly on my laptop. I wonder if Screentime is available on the Macs. Now, THAT would be very interesting.
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Now I have this insight. What’s next?

  • I definitely need to cut back on watching Youtube. I am going to implement the limit feature it has and I don’t like taking my laptop with me when I am trying to sleep. I usually get my laptop from my bag in the mornings to work but not at bedtime.
  • I could set a time limit on Instagram it just makes it a little dicey since clients do rely on me to check their insights and their accounts.
  • I spend 2+ Days on my phone every week which is not good so I want to reframe from that. Now that I know where most of my time is being spent, I can make adjustments accordingly.
  • I want to find more time to be away from my device and cut it off completely. The emails, Youtube videos, or texts can wait so I should spend more time away from my devices in general.

This information was actually really beneficial to me. This is another way we can all use our data to improve our lives. Behavior data is really interesting and this tiny experiment you can try on yourself. If you do, please please let me know so we can share thoughts.

Thank you all so much for listening. I had the best time writing this post, I’ve been itching to write this for a long time and I am so happy I was able to do it. If you want more data posts like this, I’d love to keep finding ways. THIS WAS SO FUN I LOVE WRITING STUFF LIKE THIS.

What does your ScreenTime look like?

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An Easy Guide to Voting in the Midterms

Hey guys….it’s been A MINUTE but what better time to come back than the midterms, right? If you are new to my content, HIIIIIII my name is Tarlon Khoubyari, everyone calls me TK. I am your cool plant mom who knows a little bit about tech and data and I love sharing my insights with you all to live the best lives you possibly can.

Let’s get into why you’re REALLY here.

I’ve felt extremely compelled to write this because I was trying to find all of this information of how to vote, where to vote, who to vote for, etc and I was getting so frustrated because there is SO much information out there but not enough of it was accessible.

I know so many people who aren’t informed in voting so they end up not voting. Getting information about voting can be really overwhelming, there is so much out there and you may not trust everything you read.

I decided to create a guide to make getting information about voting and who/what to vote for a lot easier.

No matter what party you align with, voting matters whether you believe it or not. We are approaching midterm season which can determine a lot depending on your state.

Important Dates – for NC. Every state is different if you don’t live in NC. You can find out here: https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/ 


How to Register 
Election Day: November 6, 2018
Last day to register in-person: November 3, 2018
Last day to register by-mail: October 12, 2018.

Where To Vote – put in your address and find your nearest voting location.
Sample Ballot – Check to see if you’re registered to vote and then see the ballot you’ll be voting on election day. A sample ballot will let you see what the actual ballot will look like on Election Day. You can see who is running, what they are running for, and the other ticket items on the ballot.

If you’ve moved out of the place you have registered, you may need to register. You can fill out a form and mail that in.
If you’re not living in the same place you’re registered in, you can apply for an absentee ballot. But make sure you do it in time!

DO YOUR RESEARCH. Check multiple trusted sources before you cast on election day. It doesn’t take a lot of time to stay informed. I won’t project any of my political opinions here today but make sure you’re educating yourself on policies that affect you and others. Every vote counts and every vote matters ESPECIALLY in North Carolina.

This is what is on our ballot in North Carolina –  This can change depending on where you are so put in your own address and find out what other key ticket items you’re voting on.

A lot of these sites offer overviews, they don’t tell you what these policies ACTUALLY mean. This is when you have to do a little deeper digging on the implications of these policies that were added on the ballot.

Before you get to the polls, consider the type of candidate you want to vote for. It goes beyond the party you align with. Now more than ever it’s important to get to the polls and let our voices be heard. Voting is a privilege that many of us take for granted. The “I don’t care about politics” argument isn’t an excuse anymore. Every issue will affect you in indirect and direct ways. It’s on us to take the responsibility of our futures in our hands.

 

Stay informed, stay educated, and get to the polls November 6th.

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.