The Post Grad Life

Seeing as my original goal of this blog was to write about life after college, it seems about time that I post something on that subject. In a way, the fact that my posts took a turn away from what I expected is much like my experience of life after college. Life as a post grad can be fun, overwhelming, exciting, and scary… but it’s anything except what you expected it would be.

I think we all hold certain expectations of how our lives will run their course. Certainly, I expected to jump immediately into a full time, salaried position. I would eat on real glass plates and sip wine at dinner from actual wine glasses. I would decorate my walls with framed, original art. Basically, I had very high expectations.

Only a few months after graduation, I certainly have much to learn. However, I have learned some valuable lessons so far.

Don’t Focus on How Things “Should” Be

Right now, I’m working at a contract job at a startup and loving every minute of it. Many of my friends, in fact, have taken jobs such as paid internships in order to do what they love or enter the field of their dreams. While taking an internship or temporary position may not have been in your game plan for your post-college life, these opportunities can really teach you a lot. Also, despite my ideal life involving non-plastic dinnerware, the reality is that I have no dishwasher and am a bit of a klutz. (When I subletted an apartment last summer, I actually think I dropped and broke 3 plates and a glass). So, for now, I’ve come to realize that I am perfectly happy with my kitchen as is.

Stay in Touch With Friends

It can be very easy to become caught up in the stres of life after college. What keeps me from going to pieces is my friends. Even if you just send a text or chat for a few minutes over the phone, you will see your mood improve immensely. If you still have friends in the area, make some plans to explore your city or town. Grab a cup of coffee, go to dinner, go shopping. Do whatever it is that makes you happy.

Try New Things

Now that you’re on your own, it’s time to find out everything you can about yourself. Convinced that you could never like a new type of food? Take a deep breath and be daring. Another great thing to try is going to networking events and seminars. I recently attended Mashable’s Social Media Day at Boston University. Nearly everyone I met there had majored in Communications. That, combined with the fact that people were listening to the panel of speakers, live tweeting, and playing Bingo, all at the same time, was quite intimidating. However, getting to try my hand at live tweeting was very fun. It even earned me a few cool followers.

All in all, the most important thing to do is enjoy your time as a Post Grad. Even though things may get tough, remember that you always have the support of your friends and family to get you through it.

Cleaning Your Room: A Guide for the Person Who Just Has Too Much To Do

Ever since we were children, we have been told to do certain chores. Clean the dishes, pick up your things, make your bed. Many of us begrudgingly performed these repetitive chores without question. To me, these chores seemed to matter very little in comparison with things like school, extracurriculars and my friends. When I entered my freshman year of college, I rebelled against the little rules like making my bed. “What’s the point?” I used to say, “I’m just going to have to make it again the next day.”

In reality, I think that I was giving in to the habit of all or nothing thinking. I believed that because I didn’t have enough time to make my room into the perfect Martha Stewart paradise, it would be better to embrace the clutter. So what if my bed isn’t made? So what if I have a few dirty dishes? I was doing well in school, making friends, joining clubs, and working a part time job. The turning point for me came when I realized that despite looking successful on paper, I felt completely stressed out. Stress was a common thing for me. I began to notice that when I was feeling stressed out, I neglected household chores. Then, when I saw the state of my room I would become even more stressed out. So, there it was… a cycle of clutter and stress that was begging to be broken.

Making my Bed

In 2009 I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project, which completely changed my perspective on clutter. In her article, “Make Your Bed”, Gretchen writes about how one small action can make something seem much better. I decided to try making my bed and appreciating the way it made my room look better almost instantly. Although making your bed will not make your entire room clean, it is, as Gretchen points out, a wonderful way to start. Since moving out of my college dorm and into my first apartment, I have started to develop more guidelines for how to keep my room clean.

Pick Up 50 Things

First, I made up a kind of game that helps me remember to put things back where they belong. When I get home at night, I look around the room and try to find 50 things that are out of place and move them back. I count every little thing, so that I pick up that scrap of paper that my puppy ripped up and those three pennies that fell under the bed. It’s surprising how clutter can often be the magnified effect of just a few items out of place.

Belt it Out and Dance Like Crazy

That’s right, I said it. I’m that person that sings while cleaning the dishes and rocks out to some Kesha while cleaning the floors. Not only does it make the time go by faster, but it brings a whole new energy to my cleaning routine.

Attack the Problem

Sometimes, I have to admit, I still let my room get a bit out of control. When that happens, it’s tempting to do only the easiest of chores. But, when your sink is full of smelly dishes and your trash is begging to be taken to the dumpster, you just have to suck it up and attack the biggest problem. If you’re blessed with having a dishwasher or are on top of your game with the trash, your biggest problem could be unpacking a suitcase you left in the middle of the floor, or cleaning up after a big project. Simply organizing the contents of your bathroom cabinet or rearranging papers is not going to cut it. So, save yourself the disappointment and focus on the things that will make a big difference on the status of your room.

The reason that cleaning can be so frustrating is that it’s something that we always have to do. How do you make sure to keep a clean house, despite a busy schedule? Let me know by commenting or tweet at me @cohalls.

The Writing Process

Lately, I have found myself thinking of many ideas that I would love to blog about, only to find that I could not settle on any one thing in particular. Speaking with my friends and others who enjoy writing, I have realized that this is a common problem. Writing without focus often leads to writer’s block. Part of the reason that having so many ideas at a time can actually be an impediment to writing is that I often find myself searching for that perfect idea. Idea #1 is fine and enjoyable, but what about Idea #2? Then, if I was able to come up with a second idea that was better than the first, why shouldn’t my third be even better? Unfortunately, if I allow myself to continue in this way, the end result is that I don’t write much of anything at all.

So, what is the solution to this kind of self-destructive perfectionism? From trial and error, here are some solutions that I have come up with.

Watch the Clock

Try using a timer and give yourself 5 minutes to write. If, at the end of those 5 minutes, you are still stuck, then you are allowed to take a break. This works a lot for me since I find that once I start writing, it’s easy to just keep on going.

Write Badly

Give yourself permission to write badly by actively trying to write badly. Afraid that your writing is cliched? Take a few minutes to write the most cliched and boring paragraph you have ever written. This exercise does two things. First, it confirms that your writing is not nearly as bad as it could be, which should provide some encouragement. Second, it allows you to see that even if you write something awful, the world is not going to end.

Limit Revisions

When it comes to blog posts in particular, you don’t want to take too long writing your posts. After all, if you write an amazing post but never publish it, then what’s the point of having a blog in the first place? What I try to make myself do is check it over once to proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes, and then revise for no more than 15 minutes. 15 minutes should be plenty for the average length post.
What are your thoughts on becoming a better blogger? Let me know by commenting or by tweeting at @cohalls