Time management

This post is going to be a different one, but I have been thinking about this for a while. How to get more out of my time? I would like to think that I’m pretty efficient, but this summer I have not been studying Korean nearly as much as I wanted to before the holidays started. I guess that is the case for many of us?

Granted I have worked like a mad person during the holidays, which nobody forced me to, but that doesn’t answer the question of how to make sure I can catch up with Korean during the semester? How to make sure I get around to doing the things I really want to?

Adding to the sense of urgency: now there are rumours that the format of TOPIK will change and that the difficulty might increase too. Even more reason to manage my time even better so I can get around to studying Korean a lot more.

During my first MSc I watched a talk online about time management held by the late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch at University of Virginia and last night I came to think of it again.

I recommend you all to watch it. Yes, it’s 1hour and 16 min long, but trust me, time will fly.

When Professor Pausch held this talk, he knew that he was terminally ill, so most would think that “time management” has slightly different connotations in that context and that might make it a depressing video. However, rest assured that the circumstances do not make the talk melancholic, quite the opposite. It’s humorous and it’s very relatable since he talked about time management, efficiency and effectiveness in relation to colleagues, advisers and bosses.

When I watched it the first time, I did actually bother to change the way I did a few things.

Before letting you know which things I changed, I should probably start out by saying that at the time, I studied with some people who were big fans of “face time”. They would send mails at the strangest hours or update facebook in the dead of night about how they would soon fulfill the requirements to change official adress to the study halls due to spending so many nights there. I didn’t quite share their passion for 24/7 accessibility so sometimes I had to be creative to make sure that I got to control my own calendar so I could get stuff done for my teams as well as individual studies.

Cutting people off
It’s not as harsh as it sounds, but Randy Pausch was right. “I’m sorry, but I really have to go now since I only had 5 minutes” is an excellent phrase. And really, people don’t need to know why you only have 5 minutes.

Book time for when to work on your own
This was inspired partly by the video just mentioned and partly by a manager who came to give a talk to my class at grad school. Professor Pausch was right when pointing out that the hour between lectures is a prime candidate for procrastination, but by scheduling a fake class for yourself, you might actually manage to get to the library rather than donkeying around on campus, drinking coffee.

The manager who came to speak to my class added a dimension to that idea. He told us that after he got to a managerial level where he got to have a secretary, he started to pre-schedule some time in his own calendar so his secretary wouldn’t hijack it and put meetings just because “there was a free slot in the calender”. It took me a while to follow his lead, but it’s great!

As a student, you’re never really off since there are no official working hours, but at some point you need time that you can spend to just get stuff done; Whether to get actual work done (rather than just talking about it in meetings) or to go grocery shopping so you don’t wake up in the morning and belatedly realise that your fridge contains only butter, some kind of pickled vegetable, and a bottle of soya sauce (I have been there…).
At some point I was part of a team that wouldn’t take no for an answer unless they could literally see in my calendar that I was booked for something else. They would take out their planners, line them up at the table and compare. In the beginning I just followed along, but after a while I got so annoyed about not getting around to do the things I had to do due to other people to a large extent planning my time for me and in a way that benefited only them that I began to put fictive appointments in my calendar just to get some proper me-vs-work time.
It works best if you mix and match languages and pen colours so they are none the wiser if they actually do look at your calender to compare free time slots ^^

So what is missing? Obviously I didn’t study during the summer so something must be wrong. Is there something I stopped doing?

Important? Soon?
I think I may have lost track of how my to-do list fits into the important/not important/soon/not soon matrix lately. This was not intentional of course, it just slowly happened.
To me, Korean is “important” as well as “due soon” since it’s something I really want to do, and there is still so much to learn before the next exam. Also, we all need to have time to do something that “recharges our batteries”. This qualifies as important.
However, lately I have failed to schedule my Korean studies. My work hours are scheduled, so are my lectures, and I have always been fairly structured about my university studies. I did schedule my Korean studies during the last academic year – maybe that’s how I got so much done – but I haven’t for a long time, and as a consequence my Korean has suffered. Studying while commuting is not enough.

I’m not that bad at procrastinating, but I should probably just go to bed early rather than trawl the internet if I come home and I am too tired to do something useful.

Did some of you watch the video? What did you think? Have you used some of it already or is there something you will begin to do differently?


3 thoughts on “Time management

  1. hana1220

    Thanks for sharing the time management video. While watching the video, I realized Randy Pausch is the author of the bestselling book The Last Lecture. I am amazed of how passionate he is despite his illness.


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