Tag: Time Management

See you in a month

(I don’t always take a break, but when I do…)

Long story short I can’t be doing this blog at the moment. I’m not doing so well currently, and am basically in the process of stripping down my life and rebuilding it somewhat from scratch. And if I’m gonna do a cold reboot of my life, I don’t want something like this blog bridging the gap, stopping me from moving on from my old, shitty way of doing things to a newer, less shitty method.

So I’ll see you again at the start of December.

I need reading week

(much like I need oxygen or the excitable voice of Superjeenius as he plays Phoenix Wright blind)

I know that medics, lawyers and anyone doing a degree slightly more employable than a BTec in remedial knitting will take reading week as just another seven-day span of revision, stress and underappreciation that mirrors about 98% of adult employment, but for a special creative snowflake such as myself, I need this bloody week.

It’s not that I’ll be noticeably freer over these seven days; I visit uni less frequently than one uses Kanji as a party member in Persona 4. And my writing and society responsibilities aren’t going to bugger off into the either just because some administrative bigwig at UCL arbitrarily circled this upcoming stretch of days as ‘days off’. It’s just the concept of ‘no classes’ that sings to me, like a siren dragging me towards evenings of Football Manager, Doritos and sandwiching my feet under my desk between two pillows like giant monolithic slippers.

Often, I feel that stress only has an impact on your life if you define yourself as ‘stressed’. I’ve worked through the hell of A-levels, which is objectively the busiest few months of my life, but never felt strained or stretched as I didn’t think that I was getting stressed, only that I was getting work done. Similarly, hammering out a dozen articles a day can feel rather easy if I don’t think about the scale of work I have to do, and instead focus on that work. Without context, stress ceases to exist, as one’s to-do list becomes nothing more than a series of individual tasks.

Yet recently, I’ve had to contextualise my actions. Whenever I’m reading a piece in Old English, I’m aware that my work counts towards my degree, and immediately start questioning if this degree is worth the tear-inducing debt I’ve racked up to pay for it. When I write for The Game Shelf, I’m not just thinking about the article in question, but how that article feeds into the broader identity and appeal of the magazine, it being the project I’m most serious about pushing to a profitable state (at least on a part-time basis). As my life becomes more real life, it becomes harder to focus on tasks and distance them from their scary, stressy contexts, and panic and fatigue quickly sets in.

The best part, however, is that there isn’t really a solution as far as I can see. I can’t be oblivious to the broader consequences of my actions, because they’re more real than ever before; if I don’t take paying my bills seriously, I won’t have a home; and if I don’t take my degree seriously, I won’t have a job. I’m aware that I’m defining a lot of my future in the negative, but that’s just how responsibility makes you think. Instead of doing task for benefit y, you’re doing it to avoid consequence z. Equally, I’m not going to let off on any of my activities, because they’re all engaging and fun and I’d honestly struggle to justify dropping one instead of another based on arbitrary and subjective definitions of ‘usefulness’ (apart from my addiction to Persona 3; I’m pretty sure I’ll only get better grades if I cut down on that). So in the absence of an answer, I’ve stuck it out, to wait for a temporary reprieve from the madness and fear. This seems to be the default response for a lot of people my age, and until I graduate, and have time to consider my experience, qualifications, interests and dreams, that’ll have to do.

Of course, by then it’ll all be too late, and I’ll have to give up, become a secondary school English teacher and get a cat to keep me company.

My sleep schedule is breaking down again

(still keeping to the writing schedule though)

Last year, my sleep schedule was infamously shite, combining 36-hour periods of squinty-eyed waking with five-hour naps at like three in the afternoon because there are no easy life choices. This year I’ve been mostly exhausted, but until today I’ve at least been diurnal; now, however, it’s five in the evening and I’m going to bed for eight hours, so I can wake up for a seminar at ten tomorrow morning.

Sigh.

As ever, my busy schedule is an important factor, but not the critical one; I’m doing things, sure, but people have overburdened themselves with projects for as long as others have kept their schedules blank, so I’m hardly a trendsetter in having little down time. My problem is my inability to do anything in small quantities, or at half measures. I was burned out yesterday, so instead of having an afternoon off and doing some light work in the morning, I stayed up until three off the back of a 14-hour gaming marathon; similarly, right now, I’m hitting the hay so I can wake up early to publish an interview, translate some Old Icelandic, learn two verb tables and work on Game Shelf articles, all before breakfast. Whether it’s work or rest, I do things in big chunks, and with maximum effort.

Often, this is a good thing, as I work much faster and more efficiently than I used to, and when I relax I’m able to properly enjoy myself, instead of existing in that half-working, half-chilling, all-guilty combination of watching Persona 4 let’s plays on YouTube while making notes for a Middle English seminar. But these large, aggressive blocks of time do make scheduling my days difficult, as I’m moving a few huge jigsaw pieces around, instead of lots of little ones that can be manipulated and rearranged in a variety of patterns. My rigid scheduling of my life has only really broken down twice: my first term of university this time last year, and this last fortnight or so, both of which are one-offs: last year I was still getting used to the whole ‘living alone’ thing, and this year a series of unrelated but unfortunately timed poor decisions and deadlines have rather frakked with my head.

Whenever I run into this problem, or even think about it when I’m not trading logistical water, I wonder if the problem is that rigid approach to my time, rather than being a series of one-offs; and every time, I decide it’s the latter. I don’t stick to this way of applying myself to work because it’s easy, or because it’s what I’ve always done, but because I feel comfortable when I’m actually working the majority of the time. Looking at my timetable from a distance – on a Sunday afternoon as I assess the success of last week’s planning – it’s easy to spot these holes, and point out these flaws; but when I’m on Wednesday powering through some translation, two magazine articles and dodgeball training, I feel productive, satisfied, and that the resource that is my brain is being effectively deployed.

I might be wrong, but I think I’m doing fine, I just need to crash every few months or so; sadly, this crash takes place two seminars before reading week. So close.

My bloody emulator crashed

(a poor end to a wonderful nerdy day)

With my friends playing through the first five hours of Persona 4, bouts of Mario Kart to break up the single-playering, and me booting up my emulated copy of Golden Sun, today promised to be a wonderful day. And, for the overwhelming majority of it, it was! Right up until my emulator crashed and I lost two hours of progress.

And this isn’t a ‘remember to save often, kids!’ narrative; I’d been saving every fifteen minutes or so, as I always do; the emulator itself broke down, losing all of my progress from the two-hour session I’d just trawled through. Because the gods of gaming are cruel masters.

But I’m not too pissed off. Obviously the loss of progress is annoying, but getting through Donpa’s Fortress wasn’t the main attraction of the day. I’ve been stressed out a lot lately, not because I’m doing a lot of things but because a lot of those responsibilities have had deadlines or big projects all happening at once, and while I’ve kept on top of things it has been at the sacrifice of free time, and relaxation. Effective time management isn’t about cramming lots of activities together like a jigsaw, but factoring in recovery periods, and setting aside days where you don’t plan anything and just let the day take you somewhere; I’ve missed out on these important times for a few weeks now, and it was awesome to get one of them back.

Because over-scheduling can be a killer; I’ve been going to a few social events recently that have been scheduled well in advance, and were structured ‘events’, rather than spontaneous hanging-out. And while I enjoy those kind of things more than, say, work, they’re not very relaxing (especially if they involve ‘going out’, which requires on my part a conscious effort to be sociable or friendly because God knows those things don’t come easily to me).

But today was relaxing. And fun. And spontaneous; it’s impossible to schedule spontaneity into one’s routine, the best we can do is hope for random awesomeness when we need it. Fortunately this time, I got to chill with my friends when I did need it.

I’ve accidentally stayed up for 23 hours

(and I’m too aware of my own flaws to want to push myself to the full 24)

Last year my sleep schedule was a wreck, but at least I knew it. I’d go whole weekends without seeing the sun, or go to bed at one in the afternoon so I could get up at nine for a night out; I was a mess, but it was a planned mess, with motives and objectives behind them. Last night, however, was a messy mess. Having slaved away over an essay for the best part of a week and a half, I came home from uni on Tuesday exhausted, and crashed out at about six in the evening; then, as my body was caught halfway between wanting a nap and a proper sleep, I woke up at eleven, where a combination of Football Manager and high blood sugars stopped me from nodding back off.

Long story short, it’s now 10pm the next day, and I’ve spent most of those 24 hours playing Football Manager, writing, or at a scrimmage with the University of Westminster Dragons American football team. All of these things are great fun, and are deserving of their own posts in due course, but have managed to exhaust me logistically, creatively and physically; it’s a trifecta of feeling like shit, and I don’t much like it.

Of course, tomorrow is a new day, and when I get up at seven I’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle all the things I blew off this morning as I recovered from my essay hangover. But right now I’m going to bed.

And it’s 9:48pm.