Be Productive, Not Busy

Read Tyler Ward’s article here:

Next time anyone asks me about my life, I guarantee 100% I’ll respond with “busy.” It’s a solution word to describe everything at all times and dismiss any problems in order to address them later, if ever. Yet it lingers heavily afterwards – and guilt trips other people to say “same here” to feel accomplished or valued. What does “busy” really mean though?

Throughout my whole life, and especially through college, I made an effort to stay “busy,” to consume as many opportunities as possible that came my way. But I was constantly seeking more. For what reason? Maybe to feel that I was doing something worthwhile, maybe to feel important. It gave me an adrenaline rush, to think I was racing against time to achieve more than I could manage. “Doing nothing” was a toxic phrase for me because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Looking back, in those times I was “busy” I was doing too much and forgetting to make myself a priority. But it wasn’t taking on too many things that got to me, it was getting wrapped up in taking those things and leaving them unfinished – because I was too “busy” all the time.

Like Tyler Ward says, it’s all in my head – the more busy I think I am, the more busy I believe to be, which then causes me to think I have no time for anything. This article challenges us to avoid the word “busy” and replace it with more specific, engaging words to describe our lives. Once we do that, things will seem more real, more connected, and possibly more manageable – leading to solutions for that personal project I keep pushing back or that friend who I haven’t seen in months. Talking about situations in detail makes us think through the process of solving those problems, increasing productivity. I would prefer a productive life over a busy life, thanks.

We all have busy lives. But one person’s busy is different from his best friend’s busy or his neighbor’s busy. And what we often don’t do is un-busy ourselves, to take a step back and think why we’re so busy, what is worth our time, and what isn’t. Then weed out the ineffective and let the essentials grow.

My first sentence is false, then. I’m going to try deleting “busy” from my conversations this week, and instead face those apparently busy issues by thinking through them elaborately. At the end of the week, I will be back here celebrating being queen of productivity with a new blog post.

So life happened, and I didn’t come back a week after. But, I have felt more productive by avoiding the word “busy” and have already gotten back on track with one of my personal projects. This year is off to a good start.

Featured: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

Read Jeff Goins’ post: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

I saw this on my friend’s Facebook page and I absolutely had to repost it. Not only does the author, Jeff Goins, touch on the positives of traveling, but many of his points apply to my life right now. With just 20 days until I become a “big girl,” I have been anything but functional figuring out my next steps. Goins’ words reassured me that I am in fact going in the right direction when my eyes landed on this paragraph:

So if you still have a reasonable amount of control over your circumstances, you should do what really matters. Because life won’t always be just about you.

So true. As the academic year is wrapping up, the most common phrase I hear from my senior friends is “I need to figure out what I want/am going to do.” Another common phrase I hear is “I want to go back to (insert foreign city or country) again.” So DO IT before it’s too late! This is the time when we are young, attractive and healthy individuals, with no back pains to rest out or diapers to change (but don’t get me wrong I adore babies). This is the time when we can just indulge all on our own and figure ourselves out.

While my mom still worries when I go to places by myself, I find it to be the most liberating and valuable lesson. In the times I stayed in Taiwan and Korea on my own, the possibilities were endless. I learned something new every single day in the way I wanted to see it, from the way people communicated to the insignificant differences between mainland China and Taipei. Even traveling with my friends to Southeast Asia opened my eyes up to new adventures. I have never heard from any of my friends who studied abroad to say they didn’t enjoy their time overseas. Squeeze in that last bit of traveling now and maybe you will figure out what you want/are going to do in that time.

I, however, am at a different stage right now. While I would happily book the next flight back to Singapore or take my first walk down Champs-Élysées in a heartbeat, I know this is the best time to take my first serious step towards starting my career. The reason I like Goins’ post so much is because it still applies to my current transition phase. Though I’ve been faced with difficult decisions on choosing what I want to do versus what I should do, Goins reminded me to pursue my real long-term goals which will ultimately make me happy. While I recognize the risk of not liking my decision and possibly taking a complete 180 in a few years, it doesn’t matter because right now I know it’s what I want to do and right now is the best time to make that choice. As Goins says,

Do this while you’re still young. Do not squander the time. You will never have it again.

Thank you Goins. You just made my day. And now I’m craving fresh crab from Malaysia.

Missed Goins’ post up top? Click here to read: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

2012 Highlights

While my posts have been less frequent this year, I wanted to share my blogging summary of 2012 to those who are still reading. Thank you to those who have followed me since the beginning when I first joined WordPress in 2011, and thanks to the new subscribers who have shown interest along the way. Below, you will see that some of my popular posts are from earlier times when I first talked about my dancing in Taiwan and other travel experiences this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

My blogging New Year’s resolution is to revamp this blog for my new research project for spring 2013, and sit down to write those much-needed posts of my last days in Taiwan. There are 21 days left of winter break, so I hope to whip these out before my last semester of undergrad begins!

In terms of my personal accomplishments, 2012 has been a dynamic and successful year. The same time last year I was frantic about preparing for my semester abroad in Beijing. In this year, I have completed my semester abroad, traveled to multiple cities in China and Southeast Asia, interned in Beijing, came back and completed my first semester of senior year. In between I have met incredible people throughout the world, built stronger relationships with the ones back home, and had a lot of fun all around. There is much more that differentiated this year from others, but I’m just happy to have had the chance to share these moments with family and friends. I am more than ready to take on what 2013 has in store for me.

Happy New Year everyone! Have fun and be safe :)

Beijing: Reflecting on the First Eight Weeks

Lotus Lake attracts many tourists, especially the 老人. This was taken in late February when the snow was still melting - it will be much prettier in the next few weeks!
I forget the significance of this temple, but I will edit once I remember! :)

Ok, let’s face it.  I’ve failed miserably at updating my blog in congruence to my life in real-time.  But my last post on food was satisfying, no?  Today, I realized that I’ve been in Beijing for 8 weeks but my blog has shown no signs of my presence in this city.  I can construct a long list of excuses on why this is, but it all dwindles down to not knowing what to write about or how to write it.

A lot has happened in the last two months – I turned 21, joined the school’s hip hop team, traveled to Malaysia and Singapore for my first break, and my dad visited just this weekend.  Though, whenever I clicked on “New Post” to start writing, I wasn’t ready to organize my thoughts and share my stories quite yet.

Coming to Beijing this time around has been, in short, very different from my month-long stay at Beijing Language and Culture University two years ago.  I had much higher expectations before starting this semester and I honestly can’t say that they have been completely met.  Some say to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but I think that sometimes it’s better to have no expectations and jump into a situation with a clean slate, because that’s exactly what I did at BLCU which turned out to be an unforgettably amazing trip.

I’ve met many students who are in Beijing for their first time and are fascinated with every inch of Wudaokou and Sanlitun, but I’ve already gone through that scene so it’s all semi-old news to me.  And I’ve visited most of the tourist spots so I’m not wowed by the Forbidden City or Temple of Heaven.  This time, I was ready to go on more local adventures with people as motivating and influential as the last.  Which, of course, I am.  But I want much more in terms of networking and finding opportunities that I wouldn’t normally come across in the states.  I thought it would be easier but it’s just as difficult here in China, which wore me down and caused me to have no energy to write about this city I praised about so much before.

Though, I can only blame myself for being so disappointed recently.  Granted, I’m here for a short semester, but it also means that I have four more months in Beijing.  What’s the rush?  I have plenty of time to explore and gradually create relationships such as the ones I cherish from BLCU.  If I continue comparing these two experiences then there’s really no reason for me to move forward with this program.  My month at BLCU was meant to be enjoyable on a short-term, but here at Tsinghua I need to be patient for things to come together.  It took a long while for me to fully admit this, but I can finally get over it now and take advantage of my time here.

Alright, sob story of my soul-searching is done.  My next post revisits my hometown for the last time before I update on Beijing, which I promise will be more positive and interesting than this one.  Til next time!