Hack Your Brain To Increase Your Productivity

The neediest thing in my life isn’t a person – it’s my phone. It constantly demands my attention through push notifications and little red numbers on the top right corner of apps. My rude awakening came when I tracked how much time I spend on my phone. At my most distracted day I spent 7 hours on my phone. Which means that after factoring in 8 hours of sleep, I spent 50% of my day on my phone. And I don’t even remember what I was doing.

Things needed to change.

Being on the phone is so addicting because social media apps are literally only showing you articles, videos and memes that you like. It’s tough to put down the phone when a cute cat meme pops up on your newsfeed. But the distraction is costly. More time on my phone means less time to create & focus on more important and meaningful tasks.

Creating and contributing to projects makes people happy. So why do we sabotage ourselves by giving in to distractions? The reason is time-inconsistency – a behavioural economics principle that describes our lack of foresightedness. We do things in the present moment that we will regret in the future. So how do we overcome this insanely natural tendency? By taking a moment to notice and be present. The next time you’re on your phone and you realise that you’re almost falling down a spiral of mindless content consumption — take a deep breath and note how you’re feeling in that moment. If reading that article, watching that video isn’t giving you joy or adding value to your day put your phone down.

It’s hard and the first time is the hardest. What helps is thinking about the second & third order consequences of staying on your phone for any longer. Don’t let your natural tendencies sabotage your future happiness.

An easy way to start is by putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode for a few hours every day. Add all the important people in your life to your ‘Favourites’ list so that the phone will ring any time the call or text. All else is not important.

Next, divide your day into focus & rest periods. Numerous studies have shown that people are most productive when they focus in bursts and then fully rest in between focus periods. However, keeping track of the time is counterproductive so the best way to do this is to download a desktop app.

Ultimately, noticing distractions and slowly minimizing them to avoid temptations can vastly increase your productivity and even make you happier.

All you need to do is change the settings.

An Ayurvedic End To The Day

Ayurveda dominated the wellness space in 2017 and is here to stay in 2018 (moringa, anyone?). But while most of these wellness trends are suggested to everyone, the real magic unfolds when you choose the right treatments for your dosha. This is easy when it comes to food, difficult when it comes to skincare. So imagine my joy when I found an oil cleanser for Pitta, my dosha. Pitta skin type is super oily which makes finding the perfect oil cleanser slightly challenging. Samaya’s Pitta Hydrating Cleanser is creamy, removes makeup almost instantly and, leaves my skin feeling hydrated AND clean. Also, this cleanser leaves virtually no residue which makes it literally magic. My quest for the perfect oil cleanser has officially ended.

I follow the oil cleansing with Purearth’s Turmeric Exfoliating Face Sand because double cleansing is life. It instantly brightens my skin and unclogs my pores. On some days I spread an even layer of the sand on my face and leave it on as a face mask for ~20 mins. The routine ends with heavy moisturizing of my squeaky clean skin followed by (on good days) a sheet mask while I lay on the couch binge watching Season 2 of Hello! My Twenties.

Where To Find The Best Candles In Bombay

Anyone who knows me, knows that my perfect evening includes: candles, my cats (Leo & Bagheera) and a good book (usually a fantasy novel – this is what I’m currently reading). The second two items on the list are easily acquired in Bombay (not a spelling error). The third, however, has been more of a challenge since I moved here over 4 years ago.

The perfect candle is equal parts visually appealing and strongly (but not overbearingly, allergy inducing) scented. Having one without the other is a disappointment… and unacceptable. My favourite candle brands in the whole wide world are Diptyque, Byredo and Cire Trudon. Buying these candles in India, however, comes with its own challenges – limited options and exorbitant prices (usually twice the USD value). Which  means, for the last ~4 years I’ve been asking my parents to ship these candles to me from the US — no hefty Indian import duties can come between me and my candle relaxation time. So, I thought that this is the way of the Bombay (candle) world and the only way to pacify my olfactory sense.

And then, Jo Malone opened their first Indian store in Bombay. And within that same week I discovered an the Maroma candle range at Good Earth.

Jo Malone candles stay strong throughout their burn time – Bergamot & Oud is my jam. Can’t say the same for the Good Earth candles but the scent is a-mazing for the first 8 hours so I’ll take it. I tested the Maroma Sandalwood Pillar Candle and I was sold (can the good folks at Auroville do any wrong?). These options are wayy  more affordable than shipping my usual faves so my wallet is definitely happy.

Moral of the story: Yes, the Universe does listen.

The best natural and cruelty free skincare – India Edition

India is the country that brought Ayurveda to the world. The centuries old Indian system of medicine provides super effective solutions for all your pitta, vata and kapha problems.

However, when it comes to skincare, super natural = preservative free = can last up to 30 days only if refrigerated. If you’re into that, check out Waterline – skincare so pure you can eat it (seriously).

For those who lack refrigerator space or prefer to store their skincare stash in their bedrooms/bathrooms – Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials give you all the Ayurvedic luxury minus the high maintenance. (On a side note, both of their hair care lines are top notch and I personally vouch for Kama Ayurveda’s Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment Oil.)

Ayca is another all-natural Ayurvedic brand which brings more of a modern twist to Ayurveda by incorporating new-age aromatherapy to their products. Their Jasmine and Rose Body Oil is light on the skin and olfactory system. Perfect.

Moving on from Ayurveda to their Korean counterpart – Innisfree. (Note: Innisfree isn’t doesn’t have any ancient Korean medicine roots.) With stores around the country, they are definitely the biggest Korean skincare company in India — and I love them. The Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum is a best seller in its own right — use it as an essence and apply right after toner before serum.

Yes, this article is about skincare but a little organic, cruelty-free makeup never hurt anyone. Ruby’s Organics lipsticks and blushes are DA BOMB — super high quality at an unbeatable price point. Must buy.

The best skincare for oily skin

You know how you’re never supposed to pour water on an oil fire? When it comes to skincare for oily skin, the same principal holds… almost.

The media, a few dermatologists and your aunt love to tell everyone how oil-free cleansers, moisturizers, everything are the best way to go for people with oily skin. Not true. As someone who has had oily skin from literally day 1 of life, I can attest that this is just not true.

In fact, the renaissance of my skincare routine began the moment I added an oil cleanser, facial oil, oil-based moisturizers, a weekly oil hair mask and oil serum before styling my hair. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Adopt a 2-step face cleansing routine. Start with an oil cleanser and end with a foam cleanser. Your skin will thank you. (Oil cleansers are magic because only oil removes oil… from your face.)
  • Use an oil-based moisturizer during the day. It sounds intimidating and probably not the best idea if you live in a hot/humid climate but this is a total win for the winter/colder climates. I really believe that too little moisturizer makes my skin over-secrete oil thus making it look wayyy oilier than it is. The key to keeping your oily skin at bay is to make sure that your skin is nice & dewy (counter-intuitive, I know).
  • !SKINCARE GAME CHANGER ALERT! A wonderful, aromatherapy inspired, soothing cocktail of face oils for the night. Almond oil + rosehip oil + argan oil = THE BEST your skin will ever look in the morning. Puffiness be gone! Acne be gone! Dark circle be gone! I can’t even begin to tell you just how amazing this blend is — try it and let me know how it works for you! (Any face oil at night is great – lots of options out there!)
  • Weekly oil mask – I usually massage some warm coconut oil into my scalp on Saturday night while I’m binge watching something on Netflix. Coconut oil is my fav and it smeels soooo good that I sleep with it on and wake up to lightly scented, moisturized hair. The coconut hair dreams must end so I wash it off and then let my glossy locks air-dry. If coconut oil isn’t your thang, a cult-favorite (and mine) is the Bringadi hair oil by Kama Ayurveda.
  • Oil on wet hair + before styling. I love love love Ouai Hair Oil. It is seriously da bomb. I can rub it on wet hair, dry hair, semi-dry hair — it just always works.


Supplements that REALLY work

I am obsessed with self improvement and I try almost anything that is a) safe b) recommend by the internet c) comes from a reliable source. As a result, I’ve tried almost every supplement out there and continue to take the ones that prove their efficacy over time. Here are the supplements that have really worked:

  • Zinc to prevent colds. This is an absolute miracle pill. I pop one as soon as I feel the sniffles and voila – after a good night’s rest I am virtually sniffle free.
  • Fish oil is amazing for my hair, my skin and my brain. Enough said.
  • Marine collagen makes my skin glow, my hair grow faster & thicker AND reverses all the damage done to my nails through the numerous acrylic nail sessions. I drink it first thing in the morning but it’s also a popular addition to my smoothies.
  • Magnesium – I take it right before I sleep and wake up feeling ah-mazing. 

What supplements have worked for you guys? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

When Mainstream Media Betrays Feminism

I was going through my email today and stumbled upon an article from my daily list of Bloglovin’ blog recommendations. Men Are Intimidated by Women With This Trait, Study Suggests is about a study that compares female and male preferences for characteristics they look for in a potential mate. This blog also references a Psychology Today post that arrives at the same conclusion that men are not attracted to intelligent women. This study from the Warsaw School of Economics uses data from the speed dating experiment which was run at the Columbia University, New York.

Both the articles concluded that “Men are intimidated by clever or intelligent women, and generally prioritize beauty over brains”. I’ve read similar articles over the last couple of years so was going to accept this finding and move on. Instead, I clicked on the link to read the study. Lo and behold – completely contrary to the blog post conclusion, according to this study men are MORE likely to be attracted to a women who they perceive to be more ambitious than them.

This blog post states that the study’s “…findings suggest that men desire a smart or clever woman—up to a certain point. Although the sky is the limit for women in terms of valuing intelligence in men…”. The PT post also says that “there is a clear point at which men stop valuing a woman’s increasing intelligence.” This again, is not the case in the study — sure, men are more likely to date women who they perceive to be attractive but so are women! According to the study, both men AND women “give greater weight to perceived physical attractiveness than intelligence in their mating choices”.

The study ran a logit model and found that if the male is rated low on attractiveness and intelligence, the chances of him being chosen as a mate falls drastically. The same holds true for males rating females. However, the coefficients in the logit model were higher in the male’s ratings of the women than the women’s ratings for male. This would ordinarily mean that men are more “picky” than women and less likely to choose a women who is perceived to be less intelligent and less physically attractive. However, 95% percent of the observations recorded by men rated rated women’s perceived intelligence higher than or equal to 5 or physical attractiveness higher than or equal to 3. The images below taken from the study display the Male’s and Female’s physical attractiveness vs intelligence ratings. Which means, that although the coefficient in the male’s model is higher, most of the women just won’t fall under the rejection pool.

Posts like these really hurt feminism because they incorrectly shoot down men to prop up women. Feminism strives for equality. Putting men down to make women look better is NOT feminism.

If you come across an article like this in the future, I would suggest reading the corresponding study.