Monday, November 08, 2010

Small Revelation about Time Management

Grad school life has been pretty great for me so far, but the major thing that I struggle with is getting work done. I don't usually have an actually overwhelming amount of work to do, but I waste a large number of hours each week procrastinating or trying to start working, when if I just worked I would have more free time to do things like read.

I have, however, realized one thing that has made a big difference over the past few weeks, and that is that I really hate doing things at the last minute. When it's "do or die" and you will stay up all night to finish something due the next morning, it feels like some giant metal rod is pressing against you. Sometimes the thought of doing the work is intolerable but, of course, not doing it at all is unthinkable.

The "correct" way to avoid this is to do the work ahead of time, but I sometimes struggle with that. My revelation is that just moving that "last minute" point up by a day has a huge impact. So my current strategy is staying up all night the night before the night before something is due, rather than just the night before.

You would think it wouldn't matter or help. Staying up all night is staying up all night, right? (I've not literally had to stay up all night yet; I'm using the term loosely.) But it actually makes an enormous difference to me. I have that "I am not going to bed until I [more or less] finish this" urgency to keep me going, but without the horrible iron bar feeling. Instead, I have the virtuous and enjoyable feeling of kicking ass by getting something done early. Also, once I get to the point where I have only a little bit left to do, I can leave off and finish up the next day with minimal stress.

It's sort of exciting to have a working, specific strategy to avoid being crushed by things at the last minute.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Cool. I hope this strategy works out for you.