I’m fairly sure all of you are familiar with the fact that MIT has some pretty awesome classes and extra-curriculars to participate in. (If this comes as a surprise you may have been looking for that other Institute of Technology……) But one of the largest challenges, at least for me, has been finding the time to try and pset all that needs to be psetted, whilst having plenty of time for movie-thons and Guitar Hero on a 60″ HDTV. There’s a popular saying around campus: “Academics, Friends, Sleep; pick two” and just having been here a few months I can certainly see how that applies. But it IS possible to balance it all, and in fact that can be part of the challenge that’s so exciting. I mean, would you really want to do nothing but study all day? Of course not! And neither would anyone else. So with all this awesome clammering for my attention, it’s not surprising that a flyer for a Time-Management seminar caught my eye.
Of course the first thing I thought was that Time Management would be a class about manipulating time to your whim through various means of DeLoreans and quantum what-have-you.
|“But Doc, I already turned in my homework….in the future!|
Perhaps surprisingly, it had nothing to do with DeLoereans. And perhaps thankfully it had nothing to do with high-level physics. Most thankfully though, they served dinner.
As it turns out, managing your time is a fairly easy process. Here are some basic principles I’ve gleaned from my notes and handouts:
1) Make a schedule. You really do have more time than you think if you write out all the things you do in a week. You’ll see gaping swaths of time that you don’t know how you wasted. Start by taking a weekly schedule and putting in all the things that don’t change from week to week. Like, say, class times, homework times, and excercise. Then make photocopies, that way when you go to schedule your week you don’t have to try and remember all the same things, you can focus on the new stuff you have to make time for.
2)Find a method that works for you. Some people are post-it note people. Others are calendars, some using Franklin-Covey stuff (that was me for a while) and still others use digital calendars like Google Calendar, Outlook, Blackberries and iPhones (yea, THATS why you own one….=). Your particular system of organization doesn’t really matter to anyone but you, but make sure it’s working for you. If it isn’t don’t be afraid to try something else (use it as leverage to get a smartphone from your parents: “mom, you want me to be organized don’t you? I’ve tried competing alternatives, and they don’t fit my lifestyle…”). One word of caution for digital mediums though; as you youth hear so often in rap songs these days, BACK IT UP! save it somewhere, print it out, something. Technology in it’s ceaseless efforts to eventually control us ala matrix means that every once in a while weird things happen, calendars suddenly go blank, appointments are lost. If this happens to you, you will be sad. You don’t want to be sad. Back it up.
|A peek into my typical Sunday Schedule. Mondays I cure cancer.|
3)Stick to it. By far the hardest part. It’s easy to get inspired and motivated from a seminar or a new technology, but you’ve got to stick with it after the newness fades. Generally speaking, most people form habits after 21 days, so if you can stick with it for 3 weeks, you’ll be well on your way.
4) Find things to do in small blocks of time. Did you know that making notecards the night before a test is stupid? I didn’t! (That’s usually how I made notecards in high school). Notecards are meant to be made as you go along, so that you can review during those small breaks you have where you don’t have enough time to break out a book and do homework or something. They’re pretty handy to have, and invaluable for use in small time intervals. 5-minutes can get you through a surprising number of notecards. For the technologically-enabled (read:nerd), there are even notecard applications that you can download for your iPhone.
If you can manage all that, you’ll start reaping the benefits soon enough. Grades will improve, you’ll get more sleep, emotionally you’ll feel better for being more productive, the blind will see*, and Ol’ Yeller won’t have to die*.
|If only he had used notecards correctly…..|
And now that you’ve got so much time, maybe that cute kid from Calculus will want you to share some.
(sorry about that last joke)
*I have no evidence to back up these claims.