2 Must Have Apps to Increase Your Productivity

We live in a time when everybody Like most millennials and those in generation z, I use my phone for a majority of my daily tasks. Whether it’s planning out my studying, outlining, and readings or my Instagram content, there is always something to be done on my phone. While I’m more of a paper planner and I’m trying to spend less time on my phone, there are times when my phone just makes certain things easier and thus makes me more productive. I’m currently obsessed with how much these two apps have helped me since I started law school and still trying to manage my blog/Instagram content. I figured I have to share them with my fellow millennials, generation z, and whoever else stumbles across this post.

Trello

Trello is amazing! It basically is a to-do list app with so much more! I like to use it by making a board for each to-do list I need for the week. For example, I have a board for my weekly school readings, another board for my outlining process, and whatever school related things I need to do. I also have a board where I plan out my Instagram posts, another board for my Instagram stories, polls, and questions. There are other boards I have but these are the main ones that help me out the most. What I love about Trello is that it serves as a to-do list but each task also has its one page where you can add a description, check-lists, a time that it should be done by, and more. This app has literally been a game changer for me. I can talk about it forever but download it yourself and give it try!

Tide

I’ve talked about Tide before on my post about self-care when I’m broke, but I still feel the need to sing the praises of it from the mountain top. If you’re like me, you can’t study in public places if there is too much commotion going on (and by commotion I literally just mean the typical noises you would hear in a public place), Tide is the perfect app for you! Somehow in undergrad I was able to “study” and “read” and listen to music but those days have passed me by. I love Tide because it gives me different options of what I want to listen to in order to block out other noise. If I want to pretend I’m studying on the beach I can select the ocean option. If I want to pretend it’s one of the 10 days it rains in Vegas I can select the rain option. My personal favorite is the Focus option. It’s the one I use most often when I’m studying and it really does help me focus, get in the zone, and knock out a lot of assignments/readings.

These two apps have helped me soooo much since I started school and I wish I would have had them back in undergrad. I’m certain I would have gotten way more out of my 24 hours a day back then. They both are free and I can see them being useful for students, working people, creatives, and everyone alike. Go download them now!

Do you have any apps that help you increase your productivity? I’m open for more suggestions. Leave a comment and let me know!

 

Goal Check: End of the 3nd Quarter of the Year (July-Sept)

September ended last weekend and thus the 3rd quarter of the year came to an end.  Wow, this year is flying by. This will probably be the check-in that I have accomplished the least buuut for the sake of transparency I will still be talking about the progress I’ve made towards my goals over the last 3 months. I’m hoping this will give me the reality check I need to accomplish some goals before the year is over!

 

Save $2,000 in a savings account

I actually am on track to have $1,000 in my savings account by the end of this year. While it’s not the $2,000 that I originally set out for this year, it’s still better than $0. I may save more than that if possible but I’ll have to see. I also recently paid off my credit card debt which is the reason the $2,000 savings goal may not be on the horizon.

 

Lose fat & gain muscle:

My health and fitness journey has taken quite the turn this quarter. I gained back 3 or so pounds since my Quarter 2 check-in. Most of my weight gain was in August due to adjusting to school and lack of preparation in regards to food. I also slacked on my gym hustle so gaining back a few pounds wasn’t surprising. I’m making some changes for the last 3 months to shake up my weight loss journey and hopefully hit one of my milestone goals by the end of Quarter 4. I made an appointment to see a dietician at my school and I’m the process of looking for a new trainer to push me to the next level. I’m positive I will have some great updates in regards to weight loss come December!

 

Take my blog to the next level:

Here’s a secret: I’ve already written and scheduled the next few weeks of content for my blog and this will finally start the catalyst of taking my blog to the next level. Planning ahead has made everything so much easier. I’m still working on engagement on Instagram but I have some ideas brewing away that I think will help me with that. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s to come!

 

Read one new book every month:

I read two new books this quarter. The first one was during my vacation in the DR, I read “We’re Going To Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union and I can’t recommend this book enough! I really loved the way Gabrielle Union writes and tells stories about her personal life. It was honest, intimate, and one of the best books I have read this year. The second book I read was “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog at some point in time in the future. That being said, I doubt I will have any time to read for pleasure until winter break due to being in school. It was fun while it lasted. *cries*

 

Get my driver’s license and a car:

I definitely still haven’t made any significant progress on either of these things. To be honest, I will probably have to wait until after my law school finals to have the time and energy to take either the written exam or driving test. My weeks are focused on reading for school so I doubt I’ll be able to accomplish this until late December.

 

As I mentioned earlier, this has probably been my worse quarter in regards to some of my goals, especially my fitness ones. However, I know that most things aren’t linear and sometimes we go downhill a bit before we can climb back up and do what we set out to do. I’m going to focus on killing it in law school, saving up some money, and beasting at my fitness goals for the last quarter of the year and I encourage all of you to work towards you goals as well this last 3 months of 2018!

 

What’s an area of your life you’re looking to improve before 2019? What’s one final quarter 4 goal that you have? Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it!

Goal Check: End of the 2nd Quarter of the Year (Apr-June)

The month of June end a little bit ago which means that we are now 1/2 way through the year. Just as I checked in with myself and my goals at the end of quarter one, I will be seeing where I’m at now that quarter 2 is over. Now is the perfect time to reflect on what has worked this first half of the year and what needs to change. Y’all know I’m always trying to 100 dif things so I’m just going to focus on the main goals I have.

  • Travel out of the country:

I am officially going out of the country for the first time since after my EuroTrip when I graduated high school (not including Tijuana). I’m going to the Dominican Republic for about a week later this month! I will definitely be writing about this experience once I get back and having time to settle so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that!

  • Save $2,000 in a savings account

Okay so I’m not ashamed to say I suuuuuck at saving money but that’s mostly because I spend all my money on doing hoodrat shit with friends, and having a trainer! Lmao. Once I start school I want to be more conscious on being financially literate and establishing savings account. I think for the rest of the Summer I’m going to save a little bit of each check. If you have any tips for saving money let me know!

  • Lose fat & gain muscle:

I’ve made some decent progress on this goal since my quarter 1 check-in. Honestly, all things considered with my grandmother passing away back in April, I’m proud of myself for not turning to food for comfort, which I would have done in the past. I have been killing it at the gym and follow my meal plan 80% of the time or so. I’ve only lost about 5ish lbs since April but I feel myself getting stronger and I lost some body fat %. I think I’m on track to hit my first major goal weight for the end of 2018

  • Take my blog to the next level:

My blog has NOT been a priority for me since April and I’m okay with it. I don’t have regrets about putting my blog on the back burner once my life got crazy. The gym became my outlet so all I have been doing is going to work and working out. I’m just getting back in the hang of writing and managing my instagram so we’ll see where I’m at once quarter 2 is over.

  • Read one book every month:

I have read 2 other books since quarter 1 ended, both which I enjoyed a lot. In April I read The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I recommend both to everybody. I want to write a review on both of them but we shall see how that goes.

  • Get my driver’s license and a car:

This hasn’t been a priority this quarter so no progress has been made on it. I’m going to have my license by the end of this summer. However, I’m not really sure about the car. We’ll see.

All things considered for how HARD life came at me in April, I’m proud of myself for at least staying on track with my health + fitness and doing everything I needed to do to go out of the country. I also read 2 out of the 3 books I wanted to read so that’s I’m happy about that to. I do want to get back on track with my blog but I still have 6 months to make it happen. Quarter 3 check-in I will have made some progress on that goal for sure. Overall, I’m happy and that’s what matters.

What are some goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? What goals have you made progress on? What goals could use improvement? Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it!

Goal Check: End of the First Quarter of the Year (Jan-Mar)

The month of March just ended which means that we are 1/4 through 2018. Wow. Time is a flying by! Due to us being 3 months into the year, I decided to check-in on where I’m at with my goals. Now is the perfect time to reflect on what has worked this year and what hasn’t. There are 9 months left in the year which is more than enough time to learn from my errors and still accomplish my goals before the year is over. I have many, many different goals that have sprouted from 8 main ones so I’m going to just tap into some of those 8.

  1. Get my driver’s license and a car: i have not made any substantial progress on this goal besides looking at cars. This is first on this list but the list is in no particular order. This first 3 months I’ve been focusing on getting my health and fitness in order, applying to law school, and paying off my credit card. That brings me to my next goal.
  2. Pay off my credit card debit: So far I have paid a little over $600 into my credit card debt, which is about where I wanted to be by this time of the year. However, my goals regarding this have changed. I’m now more focused on saving money to go out of the country this summer. I will still be making payments on my credit card but not as aggressively as I was.
  3. Save $2,000 in a savings account: It has been hard to establish a savings account so far this year. I’ve noticed I’m really bad at it haha. I have a small amount. I also need to open another savings account because anything I have in this one is going towards my trip this Summer!
  4. Start Law School: This goal is happening! I was admitted into UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law at the beginning of last month. I will officially be going back to school in August which is why I’m taking a trip out of the country this summer.
  5. Lose fat & gain muscle: I’m making great progress on this goal. I hired a trainer in January. Even though he quit and I got a new trainer I had to get used to after taking a 2 week hiatus from the gym, I’ve still managed to lose about 15ish lbs. I can also feel myself getting stronger in every part of my body. I’m excited to see where I will be in the next 3 months from now!
  6. Take my blog to the next level: I like to believe I’m taking steps towards taking my blog to the next level. I created a bi-weekly newsletter (still working on sending out my first e-mail), I hosted my first GIVEAWAY (of many to come), and I’ve started posting more regularly, and I’ve upped my social media engagement. Hopefully in 3 months I will have really made some solid progress.
  7. Read one book every month: I’ve been slacking in regards to reading one book a month. I tried to read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in January but I underestimated how dense and long that book was and I decided to read a little bit of it each month throughout the year. It also took me all of February and a little over half of March to finish The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I highly recommend this book. I wanted to at least finish 2 books by the end of March so I picked an easy ready for the last week of the month. I chose The Defining Decade. I have really enjoyed this book and will be reviewing in a post later this month. 
  8. Move out: so as I have officially gotten into school and given a full tuition scholarship, this has become the least important of my goals. I have to keep a 2.3 (which sounds easy but I’ve never been to law school so I wouldn’t know) GPA to keep my scholarship. My cousin has moved out of my room and this has made living at home much more bearable. I’m in the process of redecorating my room and giving it the personality I wanted it to have when I first moved back home. The only thing that makes me really want to still consider moving out is having company over when they come to town and visit. If I have any updates on this goal they will definitely be towards the end of the year.

All in all, I’ve very pleased with the progress I’ve made on achieving my goals this first few months of the year. I do have some areas that could use improvement (getting my license/car and staying on top of reading for fun). However, I have also had some major wins (YAY for getting into law school and getting a full tuition scholarship). I can’t wait to write this post at the end of the second quarter of the year and see how far I’ve come and what else I’ve done. I might have some different goals listed to reflect the changes in priorities I’ve had since getting into law school but the post will be similar in format. Here’s to working towards our goals all year long!

What are some goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? What goals have you made progress on? What goals could use improvement? Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it! 

 

How I Chose My Word for 2018

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Now that we are a week into the New Year, we should be well aware if our New Year’s Resolutions are realistic or overwhelming. Everyone is different and I understand that. I had every intention of accomplishing all of my New Year’s Resolutions last year and honestly I only accomplished 2 or 3 of them, which is still good. The one way I was able to accomplish what I did accomplish was by choosing a word of the year. While the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions is common, that doesn’t mean that it is the most effective of achieving your goals. Another method I used to reach my goals last year was choosing a word to guide me throughout my various goals of the year. No lists, no action plans, just one simple word I could keep in mind. I believe this was one thing that really helped me reach more of my goals and tasks then previous year.

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My word for last year was MANIFEST. I thought long and hard about which word I was going to choose before I made my final decision. I chose the word Manifest because I was guilty of over-planning and not taking enough actions related to my plans in 2016. I had launched my blog but wasn’t making it a priority, I had started taking classes for the LSAT but wasn’t actually sure if I wanted to take it or not, thus wasting my money, I had wanted to do a bunch of things I planned but didn’t do. The word manifest is defined on Merriam Webster’s dictionary as “to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.” I wanted to make all of my goals certain by displaying behaviors that would allow me to achieve them. So that’s what I did. I studied diligently for the LSAT and got a 160 (in the 80th percentile) which is wayyy better than I thought I’d do. I started posting on my blog more and learning skills to take it to the next level in the next year through webinars and reading articles. I fell short in the area of weight loss, but I did gain the knowledge to allow me to achieve those goals this year.  I also was able to come up with my word of this year by figuring out what I was lacking last year that made me fall short in a couple of areas.

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My word for 2018 is DISCIPLINE. After reflecting on what did and didn’t accomplish this in 2017, I realize that the thing that helped me do well on the LSAT and what I was lacking to reach the levels I wanted to for my blog and weight loss journey was all the same thing, DISCIPLINE. I can plan all I want but if I don’t have the discipline to do what I’ve planned or said I’m going to do then it won’t work out. I changed my phone screensaver to a quote I found on google that reads “discipline is doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it” and I feel that was one of my biggest weaknesses last year. I only did things when I wanted to do or when they were convenient and that is no way to take anything to the next level.

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This doesn’t have to be the way you choose your word. I was telling one of my coworkers about this practice and she chose the word Patience because she decided that would be a guiding principle that would help her the most in this upcoming year. What’s important is that YOUR WORD is chosen by YOU after reflecting on your principles, values, and goals for this year. Once you do this you can take out the sense of overwhelm with long lists and just ask yourself “does this action align with my guiding word for this year or bring me closer to my goals?” If it doesn’t, you know you might need to make a better decision. It won’t be easy at first, but it might be easier for you than keeping a laundry list of resolutions and things you don’t want to do this year.

So get out there, reflect, and choose your guiding word for 2018!

Did you have a word or two in mind when you read this? Leave your word(s) in the comments and tell me why you chose it!

 

 

My First Time Running A 5K

When I was in college one of the annual events my sorority would do was the Breast Cancer 5K walk/run and we always walked it as a group that would eventually spilt up into smaller groups due to different paces of we all walked. I always wanted to try to run it but I was never in good shape enough shape (so I thought) until maybe my last semester of college when the 5K had already passed. I also have a sorority sister who was runs 5K, 10K, Half Marathons, and everything else. Seeing her train for these and reach her goals inspired me even more and this year I added “run an entire 5K” to my bucketlist. 


My first 5K was pretty cool! The 5K I chose was the Sugar Rush. When I was picking a 5K to run in December (because the LSAT would have my attention until Dec 2nd) it was between this one and the Resolution 5K. Sugar Rush just happened to be really close to where I live and I was familiar with the location so I went with that one. I’m glad I did! While I didn’t run the whole thing (I definitely walked/jogged more than I ran), I never stopped moving and I can say that is a big step up for where I have been health and fitness wise throughout these past years. 


The Sugar Rush 5K was cute because some enthusiastic runners dressed up as different candy-themed costumes. Lowkey, they were #RunningGoals. I decided if I do this one next year I want to dress up too. The thing I loved about the pre-race and post-race is that everybody was in such a good mood. I mean I know exercise creates endorphins but still…I haven’t that many people happy all at once as far back as I can remember. I even made a new friend after the race. Eveybody was just there to handle their 5K and enjoy themselves.


I originally wanted to run with someone but I have this thing about not liking to run or hike in partners/groups when I’m out of shape. I hate feeling like people have to wait on me when I need a break. That being said, I ran it by myself. Running by myself was actually quite therapeutic. It allowed me to have me-time and engage with nature. One challenge of running by myself is I could have totally walked the whole thing if I wanted to and nobody would know. I’m a woman of integrity so I did run whenever I could but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted haha. The race was quite interesting because at each mile we were given a full-sized chocolate bar and water. I left with a Twix, Reeses, and collected my medal after crossing the finish line and being given chocolate covered pretzels, one mini-donut, a chewy bar, and a candy cane. I didn’t eat it all but instead saved some of it for my family. 


All and all, I’m happy I was able to do this 5K even if I didn’t run the entire thing. I now know that if I can do it without training, I will only get better as I train for next year. I have now made it a goal to run one 5k every month of 2018. I will be tracking my progress on instagram with my hashtag #MaraRunsMoreThanHerMouth so keep an eye out for my posts on there. 
What are some health + fitness goals you have for 2018? Let’s talk about em in the comments below! 

2 Things You Must Do Now For A Successful New Year

Towards the end of the year EVERYBODY and they mama wants to tell you what you need to do before the New Year. Trust me, I get it. I listen to a lot of podcasts (A LOT) and a majority of them have told me what I need to do to get my sh*t together for 2018. BUT SERIOUSLY, if you don’t do anything else, these next 2 things I’m about to tell you will help you set the momentum for 2018. These are literally the most thought provoking yet simple things that will get you on track for having one of the best years of your life and you HAVE to do them before next year. I actually think you should do them now before November is over.

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  1. Write Down Your Wins of This Year (and continue to do so, forever)

The idea for this one I got from one of my most favorite podcasts, Behind The Brilliance by Lisa Nicole Bell. (sidenote: check out this podcast, seriously! Lisa Nicole Bell is so knowledgeable and gifted at telling you what you need to hear while being funny as hell and relatable) Anyways, on one of her most recent episodes titled “8 for 2018”, one of her tips was to track your wins in the New Year, every week. If you’re like me, when you first try to think of your “wins” for this year, your mind goes blank. You might still have credit card debt even though you said you were going to pay it off (guilty) or you didn’t hit that weight loss goal you set back in January (also guilty), BUT I guarantee even if you had your roughest year yet, you still have some wins you can write down. If you’re reading this I’ll give you a free one. In all the craziness that has happened this year a solid WIN would be “I survived this year so far!” Honestly, as someone who has lost two people in my family this year, I’m so grateful to be alive and able to pursue my passions and dreams. Your WINS don’t have to be large scale. They can be as simple as you finished reading a new book that taught you something new, or you fell in love with yourself. Think of the small things that you didn’t give yourself credit for this year and WRITE THEM DOWN. I personally believe November is an excellent month to do this because 1. It allows you to see all of the greatness you’ve accomplished so far 2. It motivates you to finish this year out strong. 3. It helps you keep up the positive energy going into 2018. That being said, you should go ahead and write those WINS down, NOW!

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  1. Write Down Your Goals for 2018 (yes, already!)

Now if you’ve been following my blog for a while you know I am totally the person who starts thinking about what I want to get done the following year in November before that New Year’s Eve. That being said, I encourage everyone to write down their goals for the New Year NOW! Not tomorrow, not next week, not New Year’s Eve drunkenly on a bar napkin, RIGHT NOW. Procrastination is the enemy of progress so the sooner you start writing down those goals, the sooner you can start writing down the steps you need to take to reach those goals. One you write the steps down you can start taking those steps…you guessed it, THIS YEAR! This process is all about establishing our good habits and getting some trial and error out of the way that way come January 1st we don’t look like a dear in the damn headlights.

The end of the year can be a tad bit overwhelming and the possibilities of the New Year can be intimidating. However, if you look at all the wonderful things you’ve done so far and plan for the even greater accomplishments in your future, this time of the year can exciting and inspiriting. Take time to reflect, organize, plan, and even start executing so you can live your best life now and continue to do so into the New Year. Go ahead and drop whatever you’re doing and write down those wins for this year and goals for next year. Do it! You won’t regret it.