How To Be A More Productive Reader

Hey! Welcoming Taylor back for another post- this time, she’s talking about how to be a more productive reader. Check out her first post here too.

How to be a productive reader// tips and tricks from Taylor via Opinion9

Our world is full of books, millions upon millions of pages to read. But with all of our responsibilities, whether it be school or work or both, it can be difficult to find time to reduce our TBR (to-be-read) stack. Especially for us readers who are constantly scouting out bookstores and websites for sales, which ends with us juggling several new books. Then our TBR pile is even bigger, but we still can’t quite find the time to read these stories.

After about one and one-half years of reading, I have discovered methods to read my books between the chaos of life. I may not have many years of reading, but I’ve already read 120+ books, with the addition of balancing school and writing a book of my own. Considering my other duties, I would say that’s a fair number. So I’m here to share my techniques of being a productive reader.

How to be a productive reader// tips and tricks from Taylor via Opinion9

  1. Set the mood.

For me, setting the mood to read is an easy process that involves my speaker rolling out instrumental tunes, a “do not disturb” sign hanging on my doorknob, and possibly a cup of steaming rose petal tea.

If you prefer to read in peace, like me, and you’re having trouble finding a quiet space, try wearing headphones. You could simply use them to tune out the noise or turn on music to fill your head with new sounds. I find instrumental music is not only relaxing, but it helps me focus, especially if the tune matches the genre of the book.

In order to sit down and absorb the story in front of you, it’s important to do whatever it takes to make yourself comfortable and relaxed. Think of the things that put your heart at ease and soothe your mind. Whether it be music or a drink or a certain environment, place yourself there and allow your mind to relax. This brings me to my next point.

How to be a productive reader// tips and tricks from Taylor via Opinion9

  1. Find a place to read.

Discovering the proper place to read fits into the theme of setting the mood. It can be difficult to delve into the world in your hands if you’re not comfortable. You want to find a spot to be warm and content, where you can really focus on the words in front of you.

I also recommend having a designated place (or places) to read. By doing this, you train your mind that you’re going to sit down and read, which may help alleviate any scattered thoughts. It’s similar to falling asleep, when you fall into bed, your mind tries to prepare itself for sleep.

I have two usual places to read: my futon or my bed. My futon is my number one place to sit down and read. I occasionally watch films and television here as well, but for the most part, it’s my reading haven. I try to only read in bed during the morning, after I just wake up. Otherwise, my mind will try to convince my body that it needs sleep. So you can usually find me curled up with a book on my futon, a blanket on my lap and a cup of tea on my ottoman.

How to be a productive reader// tips and tricks from Taylor via Opinion9

  1. Read more than one book at a time.

Okay, not that many. But I’ve found that reading multiple books at a time leads to a more enjoyable and quicker experience. I tend to read about two to three books and alternate throughout the day. I find that this keeps me both entertained and more productive. Instead of trying to finish one book at once, I can usually finish about three books around the same time. This is a massive help in chipping away at my stack of 80+ books in my TBR. (It still keeps growing; I need help.)

I know this may sound intimidating, because I used to think the same thing. Before, I believed that reading multiple books at a time would leave me confused and unable to grasp onto all of these stories. Once my TBR pile started growing, I knew something had to change, which is when I started reading two books at once. I found that as long as the books aren’t too similar in genres (like epic-fantasy or science-fiction), it’s not much of a difficult task. Since then, I’ve been reading three books at a time, and some even sit in the same genres.

This is certainly something that is a matter of practice, of being able to immerse yourself in multiple words without tangling them together. But with enough patience and practice, you can learn to read multiple books at a time. If you do this, you’re likely to see a massive increase in the amount of books you read.

Well, these are all of my tips in being a productive reader. What are your tips in being a focused and productive reader? I would love to hear what methods other readers use for themselves. -Taylor

Thanks for sharing, Taylor! Find Taylor on her instagram (@taylormaemarie_).

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Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively

Hello everyone! This is a guest post by Taylor! She’s sharing some tips on how to manage your time effectively- with a personal touch. Take it away, Tay! -Aaria

Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively- a guest essay by Taylor. Via
Life can be quite the juggling game with the responsibilities of school and work and chores. Once time is added to the mix, the levels of stress can (and probably will) greatly increase.

I believe our society is constantly caught beneath a hand of pressure, forcing us to worry about completing our tasks within a certain amount of time. There are always deadlines, and they’re always stressful.

I used to be one trapped beneath that palm of stress.

I was always worrying about finishing school assignments by a certain day, yet I never worked off of a schedule.

I would simply bumble around seeing what I could complete quickly in hopes of gaining free time for myself, but I was often left frazzled with little to no spare time.

Now, this was a major problem.

When people don’t get free time to participate in their loved hobbies or goals, this can develop into stress and/or anxiety.

I have watched people suffer through this—including myself. It’s toxic to our mind and soul, and it needs to be stopped, which is why I decided to make a change.

One day, after reading tips about time management, I decided to make a schedule for myself.

Despite being an organized person, I wasn’t sure how well I would adapt to an agenda, but after a few altering the times to suite my needs, I finalized a schedule for myself, as pictured below.

I do change up the routine a bit depending on the time of year, but this is a steady pattern of my daily activities.

Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively- a guest essay by Taylor. Via

Because I’m enrolled in a private school, I have a little more flexibility, which is why I dedicate an entire weekday to writing (and usually the weekend).

This allows me time to unwind from school and work on my novels or blog posts.

In between activities, I tend to eat or read—usually both.

Again, this gives me several moments of freedom to clear my thoughts before delving back into another session of work.

This may seem unrealistic for those of you who attend a workplace or school, but allow me to assure you it’s very possible.

The trick to creating a schedule that will work for you is to make something reasonable that gives you an equal amount of time towards your work and your hobbies.

It’s important to make the schedule custom to you.

Include your mandatory duties, such as homework, and follow it up with a chunk of time towards a hobby.

To those who must travel to a specific place to complete their work, bring along something you love, like a sketchpad for drawing or a book to read.

Consider adding an alarm or a reminder on your phone to notify you when it is time to pull out your pen or your paperback—whatever it is that makes your heart happy.

Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively- a guest essay by Taylor. Via

That’s a wonderful thing about technology—the amount of productivity it can bring. (Yes, it can also be very distracting, which is why I recommend steering away from social media during work hours.)

There are hundreds upon hundreds of applications that can motivate you to pursue the aspirations of both your work and your hobbies.

There are a variety of apps that allow you to set a specific goal and motivate you to work harder, like FocusList, Task Player, Pomodrone, and Forest—used by author Elizabeth May.

Personally, I use paper and a pen, placing my schedule directly in my line of sight. And no, I’m not necessarily old-school, I just don’t have enough storage on my phone (sigh). Whatever you decide to use, be sure to keep notes around to motivate you.

In order to maintain your inspiration, make your work space comfortable. Below, you can see a picture of my office space in my bedroom.

Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively- a guest essay by Taylor. Via

I’m surrounded by things that I love: books, pencils, pens, candles, and my computer. Not only are these things beautiful, but they also keep me motivated.

I have a small stack of books just beside my computer that focus on writing and creativity, and as an aspiring novelist, they’re extremely helpful.

I also keep a planner and a journal by my side to jot down notes and plans.

On top of it all, I always have my headphones in playing a tune to keep me going. Oh, and the Peter Pan picture reminds me to stay youthful, and to always believe in magic.
Be sure to surround yourself in objects that will keep you happy and inspired.

Place around little knickknacks and books and pictures that remind you of what you love and what you are working for.

This will help relax your mind and your heart, letting you focus on your task.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my time management tips.

Comment any of your thoughts or techniques down below. Tell us how you stay inspired and motivated to continue the pursuit of your dreams.

And most importantly, love yourself and love what you do.

Tips to Managing Your Time Effectively- a guest essay by Taylor. Via

Thanks for sharing, Taylor! Find more of her work on her blog and be sure to follow her on instagram too 🙂

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Baby, You’re So Classic

Baby, You're So Classic- an essay column via Opinion9.comAnd we buzz through everyday, barely aware that we are writing the history of tomorrow. Minutes counted down,  days ticked off calendars and before you know it, today becomes yesterday.

That philosophical feeling came to me as I listened to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ on my old playlist.  Here I was, singing along to a song from 1982 (yep, just googled that) when I caught myself thinking “Ah! This song really is a classic!”.  The song has proved to be immensely popular, timeless… but a ‘classic’ – is it really one? Or is that territory only reserved for Beethoven’s and Mozart’s of earlier eras?

What does it take to make an artwork a classic? What does it mean to be a classic? And… which songs or books do you think will be the classics of tomorrow?

We often refer to something classic to say that it is timeless – like in my case, with the Thriller track. I thought of Jackson’s song as a classic because it was still enjoyable even now. Several years after its release, it still retained its charm.  Another key factor is that a classic is usually relatable – although in an indirect way. The song is still relatable – its subject of ghosts and zombies is an age old story that we would have all heard before and yet, a story that never goes out of fashion. It contains a message that we can relate with in a different time period.

Baby, You're So Classic- an essay column via

The same goes for books. Shakespeare’s tragedies haven’t lost their charm because of their extensive portrayal of human emotion – a subject that is once again, timeless. We can feel jealousy like Othello, and crave power like Macbeth even though we don’t dress or talk like them.

Relatability is perhaps a criteria that people take with a pinch of salt. Many times we refer to books as classics, not because they were very popular or because they describe a relatable human experience – but simple because they are… old. Mark Twain seems to agree with this. He once said, ” Classic: a book which people praise and don’t read.”

Baby, You're So Classic- an essay column via

Not to disregard classics, of course. There may be many works which are exemplary forms of literature despite being un-relatable. Dickens’ Great Expectations is often described as a classic although in my personal opinion, I found the story quite hard to relate with. But then, is ‘classic’ truly the right word to describe them? Or maybe it’s just me.

Either way, it’s interesting to wonder what parts of our present life will become classics tomorrow! I wonder if Justin Bieber’s ‘What do you mean?’  will become a “classic” in pop music. In the future, perhaps safari scenes in films depicting this decade will play Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”. If only we could take a sneak peek and find out!

Baby, You're So Classic- an essay column via

Well, for the time being- we could just borrow MKTO’s upbeat definition. If “they don’t make you like they used to” and “You’re never going out of style”, then…. Most certainly I’d say, “Baby, you’re so classic”.

Essay by Dee & Photos by Aaria Baid

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To Print or Not to Print?

To Print or Not to Print? via an Essay columnA habitual note-taker, I find it hard to focus in my classes at university without a pen and paper. And yes, I’m one of those students who turns up with a printed copy of the lecture material every time. But the environmentalist in me keeps urging me to embrace technology, stop printing every single set of notes and just read it off my computer. In vain, however. Usually it’s a passing feeling, and before I know it I’m standing in queue to use the library printer once again.

To be fair, I’ve tried it one too many times. Each time it’s the same. I resolve to read a set of notes online instead of printing. Type out my notes during class instead of writing them. But I just can’t get used to it – I find it hard to organize my thoughts without a pen and blank paper in my hand. And even when it comes to reading materials, it frustrating when I can’t flip back and forth between pages smoothly, or annotate with the freedom that handwritten marking provides.

I often see my tech savvy friends come to class just carrying their tablet – one place for all notes, all readings, and even an entertainment source during study breaks. Seems extremely effective –  but I wonder: does a physical copy to read or handwritten notes have a charm that hasn’t yet been recreated by technology?

Just the way our grandparents always say that an email can’t replace a handwritten letter – indeed there seems to be some unnamed charm in the feel of paper instead of a type-face on our laptop screen. It’s funny how touch, enhances our sensory perception of something we read in a book despite the fact that the content written doesn’t change.

But it’s also possible that the charm of paper only exists for grew up with that tradition. To me, books and e-books feel different – but perhaps not to the millennials who were born into a more tech savvy world. Maybe  I associate the pleasure of reading with the experience of reading books as a kid, snuggling in a bed with a book in my hand. Maybe I just can’t type fast enough as I think and that’s why handwritten notes are the more effortless alternative.  Maybe.

The gap between my laptop screen and notebook seems to stem more from my mind  than actual differences between the two media. If that’s the case – I think it’s time to step out of my comfort zone, and start embracing the virtual world in small steps (like typing out this blogpost on my text editor for example hehe). That way the sudden change won’t tempt me to resort to pen and paper all the time, and let me adapt to the change gradually. Well, it’s definitely worth a try! -Dee

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Uncovering the charm of Mafalda

Hello! I’m VERY pleased to introduce Opinion9’s newest contributor: Dee! This is also her own column: EXPRESS. Enjoy! Let’s begin with uncovering the charm of …Mafalda!

Mafalda Cumple

So, I started learning Spanish a few weeks ago as an elective for college. It was one of the first few classes, that my professor introduced us to Mafalda.

For those of you who have never seen this charming little girl, here she is:


Mafalda is a cartoon kid among the spanish-speaking countries – and being introduced has been one of the best bonuses of my Spanish classes.

After persistently looking for Mafalda between study breaks for a few days I started to wonder – why did I like this cartoon so much?

The charm didn’t seem to be coming from the art, or the rather mundane household scenes depicted. It wasn’t particularly witty language, and neither was it involving any politically charged themes. What could it be?

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 8.42.25 pm

After some thought, I think the answer is this: Mafalda’s charm is in her character – she is not a child trapped in adults world.

It’s hardly a surprise that she appealed to a university student like me- curious and confused about the adult world of job hunting, MNC jobs and work-life balance.

Mafalda’s reactions to the world – be it laughing at the definition of democracy or literally trying to find the ever-so evasive notion of ‘happiness’ – captured my confusion, and often frustration, toward the real world situations I’ve often faced.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 8.42.05 pm

Maybe you’re a student like me, and can relate with Mafalda.

Maybe you’re more of an adult, who could reminisce the feelings you first experienced as your grew up.

Maybe you’re just someone learning Spanish like me.

Either way, Mafalda could bring a smile to your face (especially if you’re learning Spanish)!



picture credits: 1/2/3-6/7

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