I know what you’re thinking… what’s Emily up to this semester? Actually in all likelihood you weren’t thinking that at all. But now you are. And as a bonus, I’ll tell you all my (time saving) secrets.
Fall on campus... the joys of school again (photo by me).
This semester I’m keeping up with my usual schedule by holding down four jobs and taking a full load of courses. I have four “thinking” jobs, ranging from updating websites to covering legislative committee meetings. I work 30 hours per week. I’m also taking classes on Jewish Literature, Christianity, Accounting and Public Policy. A pretty typical school schedule for me.
But here’s something I learned in high school, when I did swimming and marching band and student council and theatre: I work better when I’m busy. How? When I know I only have a couple hours free in any given day, I use each minute like it’s made of gold. Or platinum. My five tips on how to use time like I do are below.
1) Condense normal tasks. I have a routine where I can work out, shower and eat food (ok, cereal) in one hour. So if you plan when your power hour is going to be in advance, that’s three daily tasks you can get out of the way and not have to worry about sneaking into other parcels of time.
2) Claim class/meeting time. I’m a born multitasker, and it’s my belief that if you can serve two causes at once, it’s your right to do more than one thing in classes or group meetings. One thing I do is read for class during class. It’s great, because your brain hears stuff and sees it at the same time. And if you take notes in the margins of your book from the lecture you’re hitting three birds with one stone. Also, I’m writing this post in class.
3) Find your perfect point. In every class and activity, there’s a point at which you get the highest amount of achievement possible with the least amount of work possible. As in, if you can get a 3.5 studying 1 hour per week and a 4.0 studying 4 hours a week, it’s not worth it. Because unless you have that time lying around, you’re quadrupling your input for a relatively small increase in output.
Actually, my grandpa taught me this lesson. His pistol team was one of the best in the nation, and competed (and won, if memory serves) in the 1960′s. He said that with a little bit of practice, he was a good pistol shooter and could place at competitions. It took him four or more hours of practice per day to be a great shooter. And it paid off, and he got his title. But after that he settled for being a good shooter so he had time to do other things.
4) Use your friends. None of my friends really bum around with me. Sometimes we go out for a drink, and I sneak in a media conversation I want to have. Other than that, I try to eat or work out with my friends. That way I’m not gulping down dinner and running to hang out with a friend. We’re both doing something we would have needed to do either way, it’s just more enjoyable and less lonely.
5) Drive distractedly. Ok, not a good social policy. But if you live far away and have gotten a call from me recently, it’s probably been around 7 p.m. on a Friday. Because about once a month, I make a hour and a half drive back to my hometown, and that’s my call-and-catch-up time. As a rule I only talk to my mom on the treadmill, because she demands more frequency.
Alright my new time-saving friends. You can take these tips straight to the time bank. I have faith in your newfound abilities, and call me around 7 p.m. on a Friday if you have any questions.