E-Calendar or Paper Planner: A Comparison

We all have our favorite way to planning our hectic lives, whether it be on a paper planner or an online calendar. Or if you’re me, it’s both! I use Google Calendar (as well as just about every other function Google offers) for my online calendar and a Passion Planner for planning on paper. They offer different options and I’m going to outline some differences between the two.

Society is moving greatly to a fully electronic record nowadays. Its scary, but it sort of works, which is wonderful. I find my online calendar very useful as I can always access it, don’t have to worry about carrying it around, and can easily repeat events instead of writing them in every week. However, probably my favorite aspect of an electronic calendar is the ability to block off times. For instance, if I’m working from 7am-3pm, I can’t really plan anything during then, so having this type of layout allows me to see my available and busy times. As someone who tends to be on the busier side, seeing my free time is a breath of fresh air that I didn’t exactly find in a paper planner.

Paper planners come in all different shapes, sizes, and forms. The one I use has space to make to-do lists, note-taking space, goals for the week, and so much more. It’s meant to plan your life in a more goal-orientated manner, which works really well when I have plenty of projects to do. However, it’s not the best layout for planning all of my time.

That’s why I use both. I have one to plan my time and one to plan my projects and outline my weekly tasks. Having them separate allows me to make sure it all matches up and gives me options depending on the task at hand. For work tasks and projects, I tend to use paper planners, as I usually have projects and tasks to do. For scheduled shifts and class times, an online calendar is my best friend.

So, use one, use two, use none, it’s your choice! I do recommend using at least one as planning your day-to-day activities is crucial to staying on top of your tasks.

Images from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.calendar and http://www.passionplanner.com/buy/passion-planner-undated-compact-sunday.

Motivation: A Practice

Motivation is something we all need to keep us plowing through whatever the task at hand may be. Currently for me, it’s about the finals that I describe as slaying me. It might be a bit harsh, but I definitely need motivation to keep me going through this entire finals week. For you, it might be a hard deadline at work or a tough project that you just can’t seem to get it done.

I call motivation a practice because it’s not something that just happens naturally. Motivation is how we all keep moving forward in whatever it is that may be in our way to the next thing(s). Motivation, however, is something we have to practice. It seems silly, but keeping your head up throughout tough tasks is not easy. I find it easier to keep myself motivation once I’ve already started, but how does one motivate him/herself to start?

Break it up into smaller pieces. A lot of us tend to think of a large project as one thing, and while yes it is one thing at the end of the day, break it up into its smaller, more manageable components. For instance, I might have to write a report, so I have my introduction, conclusion, and everything in between, from methods, results, and analysis. If I think of it as a paper, I get scared. If I think of it as writing my methods and then results first, then the introduction, and finally the analysis and conclusion, it is SO much more manageable and any anxiety I had reduces immensely.

Make an outline and plan out the time. It helps to create an overarching plan for what’s ahead. I’ll write out in a notebook what I plan to do everyday for a week or so, especially if its a busier week than most. I’ll relax about it and know what I have to focus on that day. This will help also break down the project(s) (see above) as you’ll only be working on smaller parts each day instead of one big thing.

Head up, practice that motivation, and you’ll get through it! Be like a bird, you’ll fly right through it.

Logistics of International Co-op

Last week, I was a panelist at a global co-op event held by GlobeMed. A lot of the questions directed toward the six of us (students who had co-oped in Uganda, Ghana, and South Africa) were logistical – what resources we used on campus, how we set up our living situation, how we chose our co-ops – so I thought I’d write about that since there might be some people who are curious about the application process itself.

hands-way-guide-tourist

Pursuing an international co-op was not as difficult as some people make it out to be. Instead of my college advisor, I worked closely with the advisors at the international co-op office, newly reformed as the “Global Experience Office,” since they were more familiar with the process of applying to international programs.

With most international experiences, it is a lot easier to work with what is called a provider. Providers are agencies that link volunteers with on-ground programs. Each site has a local coordinator, who sometimes becomes your host upon your arrival. In my program, I had a host family so I did not have to worry about food or accommodation for the entirety of my stay. As such, you do end up paying to volunteer, but the funds go toward your accommodation, placement into the program, and support from international coordinators. When I went to the international co-op office, I was given a long list of clinical-related programs through many different providers. I chose my provider based on affordability, type of work, and past reviews.

Choosing the country I wanted to work in was another ordeal. The provider I chose, Experiential Learning International, has sites in 28 countries, giving me plenty of options to choose from. I worked in a process of elimination. Growing up, I lived in six countries, mostly in Asia, so I decided that I wanted to visit another part of the world. I also wanted to avoid very developed areas that were similar to the US, so that eliminated Europe. I found that a lot of the Latin American countries required Spanish skills, so that was also off the table. What remained was Africa. South Africa was too developed for me – I wanted a very rustic and real experience. I also eliminated countries in West Africa due to the Ebola scare. So I was left with East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kenya was on the US no-travel list due to unrest and occasional terrorism acts, so I decided against petitioning with Northeastern to attempt to go anyway. They do not speak much English in Tanzania, so I was finally left with Uganda. In hindsight, I am very happy with the choice I ended up making. Although I had no idea at the time, this co-op turned into the most eye-opening experience I’ve had yet and gave me opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

I cannot recommend international co-op enough. Whether you choose the country before the work placement or vice versa, there is so much to learn from living and working in a place that is completely outside of your comfort zone. If you do decide to pursue an international experience, good luck and enjoy it!