Introspecting With the Big 5 Personality Traits

Psychologists, psychology fans, and enthusiasts alike make a huge fuzz about the big five personality traits. Not very surprisingly, it finds its place in the internet community that builds up and keeps ahold of its hype. Sufficient scientific backing and wider approval from the scientific community makes it all the more relevant. I, as anyone else should be, became curious since the time it first reached my ears. This made me take a sharper dig at the whole fuzz and let’s just say I have a lump to share.

So, what are the “big 5 personality traits”?

My mind had the same question running when I first read the title of a related article. I see a similar mind in my reader. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to bore anyone with excessive theory. Neither am I qualified to talk about it. But I have to slip a little bit of detail to keep the article relevant for every reader. The best and popular way to memorize the big 5 personality traits is by remembering the word “OCEAN”. Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These are known as the “big 5” and I assume anyone would have already heard one or two of the traits.

Openness

Openness is just what it sounds like. It gauges a person by his open-mindedness. Openness has sub-traits like Imagination, Artistic interests, Emotionality, Adventurousness, Intellect, and Liberalism.

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is the trait related to self-discipline. It includes sub-traits like Self-efficacy, Orderliness, Dutifulness, Achievement-striving, Self-discipline, and Cautiousness.

Extraversion

Extraversion as already clued by the name relates a person’s social abilities. It has sub-traits like Friendliness, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity level, Excitement-seeking, and Cheerfulness.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness is the personality trait that exhibits sympathetic and cooperative behavior. Agreeableness has sub-traits like Trust, Morality, Altruism, Cooperation, Modesty, and Sympathy.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism deals with emotional stability. It has sub-traits like Anxiety, Anger, Depression, Self-consciousness, Immoderation, and Vulnerability.

Plotting myself on the big 5 traits

It looks weird that I am openly sharing this detail. Maybe that’s because I have a bit of openness? The scientific test offered by 123test had something similar to say. While I took the test for fun which ranks me based on how I answer 120 statements, it has quite helped me inspect myself a lot. I don’t want to completely rely on the test result. That’s why I am individually reviewing all the traits to see where I am placed. Again, I know it is weird to share this detail on the internet. Especially, somewhere someone can easily track my real-life whereabouts. Or someone from my real life may see this and it might be weird to meet again in real life. That aside, I intend to pass the idea of introspection and the big 5 personalities can be a good framework to do so. I am only an example.

Openness has features like Imagination, Artistic interests, Emotionality, Adventurousness, Intellect, and Liberalism. I have always seen imagination and artistic interests as one of my positives. I often love to create digital art and internet memes. I wouldn’t say emotionality and adventurousness is my best bet. It would be too numb to call myself a person of intellect. That’s not up to me to decide. I know I am good at mathematical reasoning. Math is a favorite of mine and has never failed it on my engineering course. I am not sure how much of that purely theoretical reasoning skill played a positive role in my life. I don’t think it did. I have often just ended up overthinking and taking horrible decisions with extremely poor reasoning when it comes to practice. Nor am I going to say I am a liberal. I think I have improved as I have grown up. I used to be the very opposite of liberal during my teenage years. Ever since I entered adulthood, it has fainted consistently replaced with liberal views. But I am not that open to new ideas or tolerant of such changes.

Conscientiousness maybe my weakest trait since it is the trait of self-discipline. That is highhandedly my lowest quality. It gets worse because I was recently practicing to be a day time trader were discipline is the number-one success factor. Conscientiousness accompanies features like Self-efficacy, Orderliness, Dutifulness, Achievement-striving, Self-discipline, and Cautiousness. I can with no doubt say I am pretty much opposite of all these. I hate things with order sometimes and cherish disorderliness in life. Although it is like a flip switch, I can sometimes become highly ordered and a control freak. But that barely makes it two mornings across. I have been recently putting energy to create self-discipline. I identify it as the most lacking but prominently needed skill set in my life.

Extraversion is something I have mixed feelings with. It deals with a person’s social abilities. It includes features like Friendliness, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity level, Excitement-seeking, and Cheerfulness. I am an introvert and I am happy with it. My idea of being an introvert is a person that has his maximum productivity unleashed when he is alone. I am at my maximum productivity when I am in my room with no one around. I also find it hard to make new friends. I find it hard to start a conversation or enter one. Sometimes my social inability has been dumped as ego by few and it kind of hits. But this more like a bridge. I may not able to start or engage a conversation but if I managed to do, I can keep it. I have a good ability to create spontaneous jokes and keep the conversation flowing. But for that to happen, I have to become extremely comfortable with the social circle. My closest friends know how much of loud mouth offensive joke maker I am while my distant friends and family would be surprised if they see me like that.

Agreeableness sounds like something nobody would publicly want to acknowledge one doesn’t have. My weighting on agreeableness is a 50-50. It includes features like Trust, Morality, Altruism, Cooperation, Modesty, and Sympathy. Nobody would want to portray themselves as lacking any of this. But having said that, in introspection, understanding the truth and acknowledging it is more important than imaginative deception. I don’t want to tell lies to myself do I. That would be fatal. I get very sympathetic to pets and animals. I get sympathetic to people suffering far away. But I have often found myself not so sympathetic to things happening in the immediate surrounding. I realized I just don’t notice them as much. I don’t trust people generally and has some bad case of cooperation. I generally have a good sense of what is right and wrong but I can compromise it depending on the reward. When I do accomplish something with the help of others, I have some great indebtedness with them. Sometimes that is taken too far and often ended up in disappointment.

Neuroticism is the trait that factors in emotional stability. It has features like Anxiety, Anger, Depression, Self-consciousness, Immoderation, and Vulnerability. This trait looks like where all of the internets accumulate together. If people with neuroticism became a country, I must be given the crown. The test from 123test.com gave me over 95% for this. The most dominant trait in my personality. Although I am giving out all the negative vibes by saying all this, it is not that bad. I am consciously aware of my overthinking and accompanying anxiety, anger, and depression. I have made it to muscle memory to tackle such attacks immediately by manipulating my conscious mind. I can pretty much get over anxiety and depression. When it comes to anger, that’s debatable. I do have short bursts often but it has diminished from what I experienced during my teenage years. Vulnerability must be my weakest link. I am easily vulnerable to being made fun of or being called names. I hate it and I just may throw a punch at completely uncalled situations. Now that I am aware, I will keep it my conscious mind, rinse, repeat, and try to improve.

My concluding thoughts

I think introspection is generally a great tool for mental exercise. Sometimes people don’t have a clue, then the big 5 traits are a good framework to do so. I don’t buy the results brought to me by the internet tests. It doesn’t look like me in one situation vs another. But independently going through these traits and sub-traits has made me rethink of many real-life situations. It made me give some solid understanding of what went wrong or right in particular situations. Also not to mention I got some serious cringe remembering some past events. I am happy with that, it shows I have matured up to think my past self was cringy.

A word of warning, there is a temptation to lie to oneself about bad qualities while intensifying the good one. Impartial self-analysis is required to get the correct result. Such inbuilt temptations can be tackled by being consciously aware of it. Have a great day introspecting.

What is an emotional void?

So I was there the other day hanging around when one of my friends started talking about how an emotional void has formed in her life due to her relationship. When I first heard the term, I thought it was a generic word people use when they are doing bad. But it turns out that an emotional void is a real thing and it is a big problem in the modern community.

An emotional void is a state of being emotionally blank. It is caused by the lack of meaningful emotions. Feeling emotionally void is a common problem across the globe. Today, it is further accelerated by the rampant use of social media.

An emotional void of each person can be a subjective matter. If you feel like you have lost your reason to live, chances are you have no more reason to be emotional about anything. If your partner is emotionally unavailable for you, over time you can become emotionally void.

Emotional unavailability is caused by the fear of being vulnerable to others. By not caring about your and other’s emotions, you also tend to create an emotional void on people around you. That’s because you make them feel like they are purposeless hence instigating an emptiness in their mind.

What forms can an emotional void take?

As regarded above, an emotional void is a subjective matter. For different people, the reason and how they perceive it is different. An emotional void can take many forms.

Isolation: Isolation just may be one of the most frequent forms of emotional emptiness. Isolation can be a reason and a symptom as well as a form of emotional voidness.

Lost purpose: This is another form of emotional emptiness. In the modern world, this is typically caused by a busy life without clear directions. At one point in time, anyone can feel they have lost their purpose to live. This comes from realizations that life is not all about making money.

Genuinely uninteresting life: So many people lead uninteresting life. People just live for the sake of it. Most people go to work not because they want to, but because they have to. This lack of interest is itself a form of emotional void.

What causes an emotional void?

There is a strictly scientific reason as to what causes an emotional void. This is related to your brain chemical reward mechanism. There are typically three chemicals that dictate your brain’s mood -Dopamine, Serotine, and Norepinephrine. Each has its purpose. Dopamine releases when we experience pleasure, while the serotine is associated with learning and memory. Norepinephrine controls stress and anxiety levels.

It is safe to say that the absence of these chemicals creates the emotional void we experience. While this may be the scientific backing to the whole process, there is inevitably something beyond just brain chemistry. This has more or less to do with human nature and being aware of it can be important for a healthy and happy living.

To say what causes an emotional void in in terms of daily life:

  • Busy life.
  • Lack of self-appreciation.
  • Lack of appreciation from others.
  • Being ignored.
  • Feeling left out.

How to know if you are emotionally void?

  • You want to be left alone.
  • You feel life is meaningless.
  • You are not attracted to anyone.
  • Absence of happiness.
  • You feel like you have to fill your void, typically through addiction to alcohol and drugs.
  • You are always bored.

How to recover from an emotional void?

There is a lot of philosophical ways to see an emotional void. In popular western culture, emotional emptiness is seen as something negative while in some eastern cultures and religions like Buddhism and Taoism, emotional emptiness (sunyata) is seen as something positive. That’s because the eastern culture admires not being bothered by emotional states.

Whether you are from the east or west, it would be great if you can get over your emotional emptiness.

Embrace the emptiness

This comes straight from the east and it may just be one of the best ways to cope up with inner emptiness. In eastern cultures, people try to achieve emptiness in their minds. An empty mind is seen as more holy compared to the polluted ones.

As referenced above, what might constitute a negative thing in the west is something people often try to achieve in the east. It is a life’s quest for Buddhist monks. So if you just embrace the emptiness and accept it as an achievement, you will develop a more positive approach towards it.

If you stop seeing emptiness as something bad and instead start seeing it as something pure, you don’t need to be bothered about it. The ball is in your court.

Writing things down

The benefits of writing are something that’s quite researched and made evident throughout the centuries. Writing down things can cure emotional emptiness as it is a form of self-communication. It is a great way to reflect and understands oneself.

As emotional voids can be a result of being alone and feeling that one doesn’t have to communicate with anyone, writing can help fill that gap. There needs to be a bridge between you and the people that you may want to communicate to stop being emotionally void. Writing just might help you cross that bridge.

Light yourself up

(Without them chemicals, obviously.)

Some things can make you happy, some things can give you that dose of dopamine rush that can lighten your day. You know that one thing from childhood that always made you happy. Identify it and try to repeat them.

Is it playing football? Or was it sliding down the stairs? Just do that stupid thing even if you are an adult. Just don’t do it in front of others, that will be awkward.

Finding what specifically gives you joy and doing it is a healthy way to hold yourself together. Those could be small things, those could be stupid things but as long as it makes you happy, it doesn’t matter.

Feed nostalgia

You are feeling emotionless? Here is something that can make you emotional. Open your childhood album, search up movies that you watched as a kid or hear music that made your childhood or my personal favorite, download games you played as a kid and try to play it again. It hits me with a hell lot of nostalgia.

Another way to feed nostalgia is to travel to places that you went as a kid. If it’s a Disney land or an old park, go there. Go to your old school premises or a hotel you used to go to as a kid. So many things can feed you nostalgia and it can cut the emotional void in your mind.

Stop soul searching

A lot of people, most probably early adults wants to determine what they are supposed to do. They think they have some specific purpose on this planet and it is predetermined. These comes straight from our ancient cultures and religions but it is to be evaluated that to what degree is it actually true?

Nobody on this planet is born to do any specific tasks. You are being emotionless and numb not because you are doing the wrong things in life. That’s how life is. There are no well-defined wrong and right things to do. If you are physically strong it doesn’t really mean you should try Olympics or if you are physically weak does not mean you should ignore it. If you want to go to the Olympics, then go for it regardless of any factor given to you by birth.

Stop soul searching, there are no things you are “supposed” to do. Do things you like and stop letting your mind wander around.

Watch an emotional movie

Some movies can work your heart out. Emotional numbness is something that can be treated by doing things that can make you emotional. Watch an emotional movie that might just be one of the best and easiest ways to do it.

First off, watching a movie is an easily accessible option. You can easily get movies via a multitude of online sources (Not vouching for piracy here). You can watch it in the comfort of your phone or laptop without bothering anyone.

An emotional movie doesn’t always have to be a romantic movie with ups and downs. Watch motivational films, comedy films or documentaries. Generally, people associate the word “emotion” with sadness. While it can trigger emotions and help you recover the emotional void, it is rather best you treat your void with positive emotions rather.

Conclusion

An emotional void is a common problem and in most cases it is short-lived. Understanding that emotional void is not a permanent problem can drastically improve your optimism levels to move forward in your life. Emotional voids are caused because the human brain is designed to and can even be a coping mechanism.

There are many ways to deal with emotional emptiness none of which requires extensive use of money or high modifications in your daily routine. So you should let time figure it out and let the day pass. Stay safe and stay healthy.

10 Morning Super-Habits to Adopt Right Away

How you start your morning will define your entire day. And how you live each day will define how you live your life. So it is important to start each morning accordingly. There are some great habits to kick off your morning just the way you want so you can live a happy and productive life. Morning habits are crucial and it is easy to adopt but hard to sustain. You will have to force yourself for a long enough time until eventually, you feel disappointed if you miss any of it.

According to the famous book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, it takes the least 21 days to develop a new habit. There has been a message that’s been floating around the internet claiming that new habits are formed in 21 days. That’s incorrect information, the author mentions that it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. The false message (which seemingly evolved form this book) suggests someone can adjust to a new condition within 21 days which does not hold fact.

There is no solid scientific backing to a magic number of days that helps you adopt a new habit. However, this study from the European Journal of Social Psychology approximates it to be 2 months or more specifically said 66 days. But everything depends on the person and type of behavior they are trying to adopt. There is no solid number, but there is a range. A range of hope you should be looking forward to while trying to adopt these habits.

1. Drinking water

Our body is made of 60% water, which means water is the most essential component of our body. It is not necessarily supplied by our own body, so we have to supply it ourselves. Just by knowing the shear volume of water in our body should be enough to learn its importance. So drinking enough water is a mandatory task without any appeals.

This may just be one of the easier habits to adopt since you can just place a glass of water right where you sleep. You can wake up looking at a glass of water and effortlessly drink it. There isn’t a lot of physical or mental stress evolved here, so you better not be thinking of any excuses.

Drinking water in the morning comes with a package of enormous benefits. This includes rehydration that can maintain your body water levels straight throughout the busier day time or help increase weight loss because of increased metabolic rate that accompanies it. Drinking water can also improve mental performance as decreased mental performance is often associated with dehydration.

2. Expressing gratitude

Giving thanks can make you happier and if it isn’t happiness you want, then seriously what do you want? Expressing gratitude every morning is one of the best habits you can adopt. This may be a little mentally demanding for a lot of you who could be going through tough times. But benefits are both mental and physical. Being thankful for each day can significantly improve your mood throughout the day.

Improving your mood can also help significantly improve your physical being. People with higher gratitude are more likely to keep their bodies healthy. They are more likely to exercise and generally lead a healthier lifestyle including in food consumption. Mental wellness and physical wellness are correlated, hence being grateful for each day is free real estate for health and productivity.

There are many ways to express gratitude in your daily lives. One of the easiest ways would be to keep a gratitude journal. There are other ways like thanking someone mentally or writing a thank you note you can easily adopt. Waking up and expressing gratitude in some form can affect your life positively. So, try doing it from tomorrow.

3. Asking important questions

What exactly are you waking up for each day? And what do you plan to achieve in the long run? There is a lot of things you need to bring clarity to yourself before you can grow successfully. As long as you are not asking yourself these questions, you are doomed for failure. Because asking them gives you a direction to take your day. And if you don’t know what to do, what’s the purpose of waking up even?

One of the best first things to do in the morning is to ask yourself important questions. You don’t need to ask new questions every day or try to recollect everything on the go. You can keep a list of questions you are seeking answers to and read it every day. That will give you a quick boost of determination and a sense of proper goal to achieve. Vaguely defining your goals is a trap, you must be very specific about it. So repeating what you want every morning is a great way to keep it embedded in your mind.

4. Making your bed

You may have seen this video that went viral on Facebook and other social media platforms way back in 2014. It was a speech by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, BJ ’77, ninth commander of U.S.Special Operations Command (full speech). If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed says the admiral while addressing his gathering.

Making your bed has a package of benefits. If you have nothing to do and don’t know how to start your day, start it by making your bed. Seeing a made bed gives you a sense of accomplishment. And if you had a terrible day, as the admiral suggests, you can always go back to a made bed. Little things in life matter.

Making your bed every morning could be a gateway for cleanliness. You will be subconsciously prompted to keep your room tidy. A tidy room encourages productivity and helps reduce stress. It can also help you save embarrassment (you know what I mean). Most importantly, it can lead to developing other positive habits.

5. Prioritizing tasks for the day

Sure, you want to lead an awesome and productive life. That means you should do the most important task first. It is a no-brainier to come up with a mental image of how your day should look like. One of the best habits to adopt in the morning would be to prioritize tasks for the day. Identify the most important task and do it first. Then follow the rest of your priority list accordingly.

Coming up with a priority list also helps you develop a sense of direction. There will be a sense of your end goals for the day. This can help improve motivation levels. Passing through a vaguely defined set of events every day will get you to lose your motivation. A priority list helps keep track of your day and helps realize what it achieved by the end of it.

You can set up long term priorities for your life and divide them for each day. You can revise it each morning, mark your progress at night and redo it the next day. It is very important that you know what you want to achieve any given day. It doesn’t need to be a big achievement, but there must be something small to achieve each day. You will, in time earn the long benefits.

6. Reviewing goals

Goals are why you live but the relevance of your goals can change from time to time. If you are a skinny person and want to build a body, the goal is set straight but at some point in time, it will become irrelevant. Not all goals are meant to stick around forever and have to be changed. That’s why reviewing your goal once in a while is important. Or better yet, you can review your goals every morning to make sure you don’t miss the due date.

The best thing to do is to divide your goals into different categories. There should be your financial goals, relationship goals, and personal goals. You can review them every day, change or set new goals. You can also make sure that your quest to meet one goal isn’t necessarily interfering with your other goals. Sometimes work-related goals tend to interfere with your personal and relationship goals. Reviewing and prioritizing can help you balance your personal and professional lives.

7. Shaking your body

If you track successful people, you will find a common trait among them. They all engage in some kind of physical activity every morning. That’s because physical activity helps you release endorphins that improve your mood and keep you happy. For the busy ones, you can do this without having to go to the gym. Physical activity does not mean you have to do physical exercise with standard equipment. It can be simply playing badminton or doing some dance moves.

While standard exercises like doing regular pushups do not hurt and can help you build your body. It isn’t necessary if you don’t want to do it, especially if you are not looking to build a body. Many people are interested in dancing or playing physical games. Utilize what you like, as long as you are engaged in some sort of physical activity every morning, you will get the endorphin kicks.

8. Reading something positive

We all read the news in the morning but the news is filled with negative things for the most part. While it is important to be aware of current affairs, it is a bit damaging to consume negative things in the morning. If you want to go for current affairs, find something positive to read. That could be something inspirational someone has done. Don’t read about politics or crimes in the morning, it’s not the best way to start your day.

I avoid news altogether in the morning and just read inspirational books or stories. I also love watching science videos which energize my inner mind for some reason. Inspirational Buddha stories is another of my personal favorite. You can pick anything that you find positive. If it’s stories of successful personalities to the latest technology news, whatever you feel good about, it is okay. The only condition is that you must feel good after reading it. Only then the effort will pay off.

9. Visualizing success

How you want the end of the day to be? And how you want the end of your life to be? Visualize it. Success can be hard to achieve, especially when motivation, by human nature, degrades with time. Visualizing you succeed is one of the best ways to do so. Visualizing success every morning can lead to improved motivation levels. That is a great way to cope up with diminishing motivation over time. What motivates you makes you stronger.

You probably have some idea about how your success should look like. Not just how it looks like in terms of monthly income, but also other ways. Like your car, your house or anything else luxurious or not. So, visualize your success as driving yourself a Lamborghini, or anything that makes you very tempting towards achieving success. I am not asking you to live in a dream world. I am asking you to imagine your dream world every morning and then start working for it. Your motivation levels for the day will be noticeably up.

10. Eating proper breakfast

You are what you eat and your day will be what you eat in the morning. For the very busy people, no matter what you skip, do not skip your breakfast. It’s called breakfast for a reason.

Eating a proper healthy breakfast is extremely important. Your eating habits dramatically affect the way you think and work. If you are leaned towards eating just fast food every morning, it can end up hurting you in the long run. Eat healthy nutrition-rich food, if you are confused about personal recommendations, consult an expert. But whatever you do, you should not skip breakfast in any case. And you must make sure that your kids don’t skip them either.

6 Handpicked Free To-Do List Apps for 2020

Gone are the days we are frustrated about writing down the minutest task in a piece of paper and keeping it on your pocket all day long.‌ Now we have apps to do anything and actively remind us of our tasks.‌ This post aims to rank 6 apps that are either completely free or has free versions we can use for our day to day lives.

The apps will be rated based on 4 qualities.

  1. Pricing:‌ Some apps are completely free while others have basic free versions.
  2. Easiness to use: Some apps have simple to use interface, suitable for casual hobbyists, school children, etc while others are advanced and have terrible learning curve.
  3. Multi-platform support: Almost all apps have cross-platform support.‌ It is important that you have access to your task list in phone, tablet or PC.
  4. Advanced features:‌ Won’t be very specific on this one but this is valuable for groups/organization especially when it comes to collaboration based features.

1. Microsoft To-Do

Microsoft To-Do is a cloud-based productivity app from Microsoft. It is developed by the team behind Wanderlust which is an amazing premium productivity app. Microsoft To-Do is free and minimalist. It is cloud-based, which means it’s also cross-platform. Access your Microsoft To-Do anywhere on‌ Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and even on your browser. You can access it with your personal Microsoft account or Office 365 account.

Price

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The product is completely free to use.

Easiness of use

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The product has fast learning curve.

Multi-platform

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The product supports all major platforms and is well integrated with Office 365.

Advanced features

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lacks some advanced features especially in collaboration.

2. Todoist

Todoist is an increasingly popular productivity app on the market. Todoist was launched in 2007 and is one of the oldest continuing successful apps out there. The distinguishing feature of this app is an AI-powered feature called Smart Schedule which helps you schedule or reschedule tasks in a smart way.

Price

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Free version is available with limited amount of projects and users. Premium and Business plans are only $3 and $5 per month.

Easiness of use

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The product is fairly easy to use and has moderate learning curve.

Multi-platform

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The product supports all major platforms.

Advanced features

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Typical advanced features and group collaboration available.

3. Any.do

Any.do has a differentiating character that sets it apart from rest of the apps on the list. It lets you use your voice to enter your to-do list. So if you don’t wanna type long lists, this app is your cup of tea. Any.do has a very simple interface and lets you share your list with other people. You can set different colors for different tasks depending on your priority.

Price

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Free version is available but many advanced features are premium.

Easiness of use

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The product is easy to use and has fast learning curve.

Multi-platform

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The product supports all major platforms and has cross platform sync.

Advanced features

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Many features available with premium.

4. ToodleDo

ToodleDo is a simple to use app that is concentrated on task management. It allows you to add tasks and sub-tasks. It also has habit tracking capabilities and can be monitored through graphs. Interestingly, it has a feature to set a remainder based on your location.

Price

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Free version can handle unlimited tasks.

Easiness of use

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The product is fairly easy to use.

Multi-platform

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The product supports all major platforms and has cross platform sync.

Advanced features

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great features available with upgraded plans. Especially on collaboration front.

5. Habitica

Habitica is probably the most interesting app on this list. This app is designed for game lovers. You will get achievement unlocks when you complete your tasks and punishment if you fail. Interesting enough? At least for your kids.

Price

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The app is completely free.

Easiness of use

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The app is easy to use.

Multi-platform

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Available in iOS, Android and Desktop.

Advanced features

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Not the best app for serious people looking for their task management.

6. Google Keep

Google keep was kept for last on the list. This is probably the most minimalist app in the entire series. It is very basic and simple. The core reason it was kept last was because of its lack of advanced features. But it’s extremely easy interface made the cut. Best app for causal hobbyists as it also supports audio input.

Price

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The app is completely free.

Easiness of use

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The app is very easy to use.

Multi-platform

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Available in iOS, Android and browser.

Advanced features

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Severely lacks advanced features.

Conclusion

There are way more than 6 apps on the internet that can help you get through your life. If you are a casual hobbyist or a simple user, I recommend completely free to use apps like Microsoft To-Do or‌ Google Keep. That’s because they are not only free but have very short learning curve.‌ You can start to use these apps almost immediately.

If you are more of an advanced user or want apps for your company/group/organization, it is best to go for any feature-rich premium apps. You should research more on the internet about apps this post hasn’t covered. There are many completely premium (not covered in this post) apps that have advanced features that could help your journey.

How to Organize Your Thoughts and Ideas

Has your mind ever been cluttered by overwhelming thoughts and ideas? I know mine do all the time.

Have you ever felt trying to organize them inside your brain is a mentally demanding task?‌ That’s because it is.

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, an essay or try to do something creative, I get bombarded with random thoughts and ideas.

It does not help when these thoughts or ideas come highly distorted without any meaningful connections between them.

To make maximum use of our brain, it is important that we organize our thoughts and ideas clearly.‌ One easy way to do it is to create a mind map.

The technique I am about to discuss can be fully utilized just by using a pen and paper. I used digital infographic for the sake of better clarity.

This shall help you organize your mind and maximize its creative potential.

Organizing your thoughts

As I already mentioned, organizing your thought is really important. Thankfully, it is easier than you think.

For the sake of better understanding, I‌ made an infographic. This shall give you an instant idea about mind maps. But if you want to walk through step by step process or see an example, read below.

Mind map template

Step 1:‌ Main topic

What exactly is the center of your thoughts? This is your main topic. In the example below, I wanted to make a post about blogging.

So I chose ‘blogging’ as my main topic. The rest of the ideas branch out from this specific topic.

Step 2: Subtopics

These are your thoughts that branch out from your main topic. This will effectively help build a second layer around your primary motive.

This step will make your understanding concrete. You can establish the relationship between the distorted sub-thoughts and your main motive.

Step 3: In-depth details

This is the step to become a bit more descriptive. What are the best features of each subtopic? Include them in the yellow space.

Normally I stop my process at this final step. Going above 3 layers can make things complicated. But if you have a bigger broader idea, you should try it.

Once all the necessary steps are taken, you have a logical flow in your thoughts and ideas. Now you can start writing them down, or if you are trying to study, remember them way more easily.

Mind map example

So I want to write a blog post explaining ‘blogging’ to newbies and how they can get started. Here is how I do it.

Here is a basic mind map I came up with. Looking at it, I can now easily write the blog post. I got my ideas organized. That means writing them down is a simple task and I don’t have to deal with all the noise while doing so.

Mind map for idea “blogging”

Note: As I said above, you can do this with pen and paper. It’s better.

Now, this is not the best map I can come up with, it’s a 5 minutes job. Pardon me for any inconsistencies. I hope you understood how it works.

Tips

  • If you are doing this on paper, start at the center. I have innumerous times went out of the paper as I unevenly branched out.
  • There maybe mind mapping apps you can download on your phone. I have tried one called “Mindly” which is a great app. But I can tell you from experience that our thought process isn’t as good compared to writing on a paper. I prefer paper and always use it.
  • Adjoin small description along with the topic/subtopic. That way you can solely concentrate only on the main points as you branch out.

Conclusion

Mind mapping is an effective way to organize your thoughts and ideas. There are no doubts about it. One thing I have learned about mind mapping is that you actually learn more trying to do so.

Once your mind mapping phase is complete, you are automatically ready to write your blog post, essay or whatever you were trying to do. You are less blurry as you sharpen your ideas. You have a logical structure in your mind and can easily present it.

How To Learn Anything Like a Pro

Learning something can be a difficult task. This is especially true when the topics you are trying to learn is boring, which it normally is. This post aims to breakdown various practical methods you can implement right now to help you learn better and faster.

Now before we go in to actual topic, I would like to address you about what you are going to read.

  1. This blog post has many elements that is subjective. Implies, I have tried it and it worked for me. I hope it will work for you, which I am pretty confident it will.
  2. This post is a lengthy and I have tried best to keep it precise. You can easily scroll and just scan the headings if you don’t want to read through all of it.
  3. I aim to provide a 3 step formula for learning. This breakdown is to keep things simple and less overwhelming.

So, let’s get started…

STEP #1: Understand why the subject feels difficult

The first step about learning anything that is hard is to understand why it is so. It can be an easy subject but you are feeling it difficult because you are lazy and distracted. This is one of the core reasons for aspiring young students because they are easily occupied by modern tech.

However, it can also be because you have a hard time understanding a certain concept, or you do not have sufficient background knowledge about the subject. It can be due to the bad presentation of content on your study material. These are all usual factors.

As already explained, you cannot study a difficult subject until you understand why it is so. Normally it comes in to any of the following category.

  1. You are genuinely not interested in the subject.
  2. You lack knowledge of the topic’s background information.
  3. The concept is too hard to understand for your caliber.
  4. Your material is badly presented.
  5. You are distracted by modern day junk. (Too obvious)

1.1 How to figure out what’s wrong

In case your subject isn’t making it obvious why it feels hard, then you have to take some rest, sit back and relax. The chances are you will find out what is wrong. Try this:

  1. Do an introspection about the subject in your mind. This can help reveal your relationship with whatever you are trying to study.
  2. Try downloading notes from different sources for the same topic to see if it isn’t the bad material.
  3. See if you understand small parts of the topic, like how they wrote this equation or came to this assumption. If you don’t, chances are you are missing out on sufficient background knowledge.
  4. If the topic is beyond your brain’s caliber, it should be obvious by now. Don’t worry about it, I have some practical ways below to counter it. There is no such thing called “beyond one’s caliber.”

Step #2: Take practical steps

Understanding why your subject feels difficult is the easy part. Once you clearly understood what causes your subject to be difficult, it is now time to implement practical steps to improve your learning. This is where you have to take some strain, do trail and error and come up with creative ways to learn something.

Below are some key ways to address common issues when it comes to learning.

2.1 How to tackle an uninteresting subject

This is the most popular reason why most of you are reading this post. Being not interested is not something that you can actually tackle with a brain hack. Unless of-course, if you can make the subject interesting again. There are some ways I personally used to get through my engineering. I had to be at crossroads with many subjects I didn’t like and was completely off-topic and irrelevant to engineering. Here are two of my ways to tackle uninteresting topics.

  • Learn real life practical side of the subject.
  • Going out of syllabus

2.1.1 Learning real life practical side of a subject or topic

I remember when I stepped in to the fourth semester of my engineering degree and I had to learn business economics as a mandatory paper. This was an absolutely boring, clearly off-topic subject for me at that time. I had a hard time studying it because I couldn’t find any meaning to do so. Everything I cared about started and stopped at the flip of a switch.

I soon identified the biggest problem with this business economics paper was that it was a complete theory. There were only definitions, laws and graphs. So I decided to dig deep in to what exactly is the relation between this paper and mechanical engineering. I am not assuming my university is just too apathetic and added a subject out of the blue.

I researched my paper thoroughly and it’s applications in real life. I soon found a logical way to connect business economics to mechanical engineering. There is a lot of things a professional mechanical engineer should know about economics in general. This is related mostly to supply of rare earth elements, cost of power production, taxes in machined goods, labor charges and much more.

This has turned a light on me. I now know how most of the laws and graphs apply to my would-be carrier in mechanical engineering. I understood how things like recession can cost me my future job. Suddenly my subject turned interesting and I could study it, relate it and apply it.

So my piece of advice for uninteresting subjects is to find the real life applications of the same. See how it affects your life, job or business. This will get you inspired and interested in the particular subject.

2.1.2 Going out of syllabus

I know what you are thinking, you barely want to study what you are assigned to let alone going out of syllabus and covering topics that aren’t propping up your internals. But what if I tell you, it will in turn prop up your internal marks or finals, whatever you are dealing with.

Your syllabus is a fixed document and if you study only your syllabus, you are pretty much limiting yourself from the liberty of knowing more. Your syllabus can be uninteresting and boring but your subject will have many things that is interesting but beyond the scope of your syllabus.

If you are studying Fourier series and you find it boring, please learn how this mathematical concept is helping you read this article on your screen. (Fourier series applications in signal processing.)

Going out of the syllabus can get you many things. You probably never thought Fourier series has applications in such scale. There are also side topics that isn’t in your syllabus but that is quite interesting. Chances are, you can learn your topics better after seeing grand scheme of things about your subject. This is closely related to what I said above where I specifically mentioned learning real life applications.

However, going out of the syllabus is not just looking out for applications you can relate but also look for theoretical topics that you can learn that supports your syllabus. This will increase your chances of retention and knowledge.

This also helps you get background information about any particular topic you wish to study which makes it easy and interesting. This can also help you get through a badly presented material since most of them exists due to lack of necessary supporting information.

2.2 How to out perform your brain and learn things that is off your capacity

I have been to situations where I have to learn difficult concepts and I couldn’t do it. It was beyond what my brain could digest. Whenever I encounter such topics, I do a few things that gives me a boost.

  1. I read the entire topic even if I don’t understand it:
    This is because a lot of the reasoning about particular topic is probably towards the dead end. Knowing the topic in general as a whole is important to start with.
  2. I teach an imaginary student:
    Whenever I encounter concepts that is difficult to digest, I try to teach them to an imaginary student. This may sound weird but this works and I bet it. My thought process flips from being a student to a teacher. When I came up with ways to explain something, I understand it thoroughly.
  3. I Keep re-reading it:
    This is a boring task but I assure you this works. If you don’t understand something, keep re-reading the topic from top to bottom. At sometime, you are going to get a click and eventually you will grasp the concept.
  4. I try to make analogies with concepts I already understood:
    You will be amazed how much your topics actually compare. For example, if you know linear motion, you can learn circular motion by drawing parallel analogies. If you dig deep, most of your topics have analogies in other subjects or concepts that is pretty interesting to compare and learn.

Step #3: Rinse, Repeat

Your third and final step is to keep revising whatever you studied. I am not giving you a typical advice to casually revise everything. Students usually revises once they are completely done with their study material. That’s probably going to take too long and you will stop in the mid way.

What I want you to do is to stop whenever you feel the subject is difficult and start learning from wherever you began AGAIN.

When you start reading things that you already understood, it will give you a short burst of energy and motivation.

I do this a lot whenever I get hit by a wall and I easily make it through. This helps me retain my information and also break the hard concepts that was bothering me.

3.1 How to revise: Use hand notes

If you are that kind of guy that writes hand notes while studying, you are doing the best thing you ever can. If you aren’t, I highly recommend you do. This is because taking notes in a laptop or phone, while it is easier and fast has very low retention rate. That means you are less likely to recall it.

Hand notes is a time tested method for studying. Whenever you write something by hand, you are more likely to recall the information. It is easier to revise using hand notes than going through your text or printed material all over again.

I know you hear this all the time, but don’t underestimate this method. Make sure you use it whenever possible.

3.2 Prepare a study chart

This sounds time consuming but it is not. I am not asking you to make a big chart that comprises every element of each topic (Although, if you want, you can). I am just asking you to make a chart that covers each topics in order you studied.

Basically just list the names of all the topics in order you studied them. I use this when I have to cover large portions.

What I do with this list is, when I am done studying, I remove all the study materials from my table. And take this list and start recalling anything I remember from each topic. I usually don’t recall half of them right off the bat. I go through each topics and try to recall it individually.

Once I am done trying to recall each topic, I start revising the topics again. This time, when ever I see anything that I didn’t recall, I get a hit. It works like magic and chances are, these points that gave me an adrenaline rush actually acts as my reference to recall the entire topic during exam.

3.3 Making graphical representation

I do not recommend this for students that are doing professional degree. I have been through engineering and making graphical representation for something so lengthy is not possible. It’s time and energy consuming.

What is graphical representation?

Whenever I study a concept, like a force acting on a static body, I try to represent it with an image. More than equations and definitions, this image has very higher chance of retention.

But if you are doing professional degrees like I did, it will be very hard to keep with the limited time. So I urge you to search up graphical representations of any concepts you are trying to learn. Then learn that image first before going to definitions or equations.

Because during exam, and this happened to me many times, I always end up recalling those images. This helps me come with any definition or equations that need to support it.

These images are very easy to revise and recollect than the usual notes. So, always remember, visual information is much easier to understand and retain.

Bonus step: Make sure you aren’t missing out on these tips.

  • Study on short intervals instead of going for long hours: I study for 50 minutes, then revise the whole thing I studied in the next 10 minutes. After that, I just wander off for 10-15 minutes before coming to my next session. I can tell you this works.
  • Sleep is important for retention: Scientific studies have proved (if it isn’t already obvious) that brain develops permanent memory during sleeping. Sleeping is when things move from your short term memory to your long term memory. So without proper sleep, success is next to impossible. (I know schools have their own theories, but make sure you take care off yourselves.)
  • Stick to the same text/notes: A common tendency especially for students pursuing professional education is to refer to to multiple texts or switch their material from time to time. This is a disastrous move in my strictly personal opinion. Revising the same book 10 times is more important than trying to study 2 books. Please make sure you aren’t wandering off and being overwhelmed by plethora of information out there.

Conclusion

You can learn anything. If one human being can conceptualize a certain topic, then another should be able to understand it. Do not fall for things like “average”, “high IQ” etc. First of all, these aren’t exactly scientifically agreed up on. There are no solid reference lines to compare one person to another. I see so many people fall for comparison traps and that isn’t any good for you or the society. This kind of system, especially enthralled by grading in schools keeps too many talents away from pursuing what they love.

They underestimate their capability to learn programming or pursue a career in engineering because apparently they got bad grades for math. You are beyond what some grading system rate you to be, go up and conquer your world.