Saturday, October 11, 2008

Managing my Time: Finding Incentives

So I've had some issues come up with time management which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. After doing a little bit of a time assessment, the realization came to me that I am juggling a lot more than I anticipated and still not exploring some of the key things that I wanted to be a part of. I did a little audit and I'm not sure exactly how I managed to do so, but I have somehow amassed 7 classes, two student groups, countless hours of Facebook time and have still managed to have a social life. While this appears to be impressive, or insane for those who have had experience with tightly packed schedules before, I have noticed that all of this overloading may be a primary contributor to my increasing lack of motivation. I've decided that before I continue to regress any further that I may want to take a moment to re-evaluate my primary objectives for being here and participating in the activites with which I am involved and formulate some new strategies for managing my time and my priorities better.

Currently our school is a proponent of the Quadrant Time Management model:

Which would probably be pretty effective if I used it more. The question then arises, when do I make time to map out my activities according to this quadrant model and integrate them into my schedule according to these goals. Currently I'm using a highlighting system in my agenda, when I use it. But I've noticed that as my schedule increasingly becomes more repetitive, that I am slacking on really even using all of the time management systems which I've implemented. The one exception being the Time Left alarm system and that's only because I customized an alarm that plays the most aggravating ringtone I could possibly come up with. Thank You Eric Cartman.

Honestly, I've noticed the past few weeks that I've been going to bed so late I've actually been waking up to my 3 am wakeup calls and rolling back over and going back to sleep which has thrown my schedule off the rest of the day because I put off my best quality of study time into the wee hours of the night. Because we had midterms this week I made myself go to bed around midnight, but I honestly felt as if this affected my ability to be prepared more so than sleep deprivation would have. So clearly I'm going to have to come up with ways to better manage my time and interest to make sure that I'm honoring my body's needs as well as accomplishing my academic objectives.

I haven't been able to really put all of my personal interests aside because I realize that pursuing them often seems to be the one motivating factor of reminding me why I am here. Where the problem lies, I think is that I am becoming less inclined to "stick to the gameplan" thus increasing my distraction level and reducing the amount of time that I spend getting things done within the time frame that I may allocate to do these things.

Ironically, I went to the Learning Center to see if they could give me some pointers regarding better time management, and despite my newfound tendency to procrastinate, it seems that I pretty much have been following their program fairly rigorously on my own. I do appreciate the input they gave me about skimming, but Ironically, I end up reading the full context of the material anyway but at a faster pace for fear of missing something.

While it may be no surprise, the biggest waster of my free time seems to be FACEBOOK which is ironic because for years I refused to even indulge the idea of signing up for it because I assumed that it would be a different kind of time waste. Having been out of school for 7 years and having known a lot of people whom I wish I could've stayed in contact with has resulted in my being much more engaged than I had initially anticipated, but I am thankful for the opportunity to re-connect with old classmates and friends. It has definitely enriched my experience here and kept me in a relatively good mood.

That being said, now that I have a free moment, I am going to have to really take into consideration the size of my ri-DON-culous workload before I kill off any last vestage of enthusiasm that I conceivable have left this semester. I did apply to participate in a contemplative writing course since the companies that I contacted did not respond about internships. But I do think that would be a beneficial experience to have just to unplug for a while. I wish I could schedule some contemplative time throughout the week just to decompress for a moment, but more often than not that's when I remember that I have to print off that paper or I opt to spend a little more time reviewing Chinese or talking with a friend instead. Now I see why people opt to go to church.

So what are some things that I could do to try to regain a little bit of focus for a while? It sounds like this would be a good area to consider during my contemplative time. I could even do a little bit of preliminary research to maximize the efficacy during some of my facebook time.

SCHEDULING DOWNTIME would be beneficial for sure, so that there is a distinct separation between when I am actually taking time for myself to veg out versus taking a scheduled break to get my mind clear enough to stuff it full of more information

like finding better study locations, regulating my hours a little better
and breaking up my study time with constructive activites rather than vegging out might be a better avenue than spending time online and inevitably losing track of it.

BALANCING THE TIME SPENT LEARNING HOW TO DO THINGS VS ACTUALLY RETAINING THE INFORMATION is going to have to be worked upon for sure. Because at this stage of my development, one is sort of interdependent upon the other. Currently, though I am spending a lot more time learning how to learn things but I think that once I begin to follow through that I may actually do better on my quizzes and exams.

I'm also going to need to come up with some way to measure (quite freqently) my progress and whether or not I'm staying on track and some sort of incentive to correct it. Perhaps I'll establish some sort of point system where I add and deduct points for making sure that I'm working upon what I should be focusing upon and weighing those priorities and perhaps rewarding myself at the end of the week if I accomplish those objectives, with like an extra hour of sleep or a cocktail fund or something. Actually, I cocktail fund might work for me. I've been pretty dry since I've been here and even though there isn't much acessibility toward it, an occasional outing as a reward for staying focused might not be a bad thing....

I'd be grateful to hear any feedback if you can come up with better ideas


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