scheduling

Think Schedules and Fun Don’t Mix? Think Again! TUB-Thump 028

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When we aim to have fun, we want as much fun as possible from the activity. That’s obvious!

But when I heard that scheduling your free time can take away some of that fun, I thought “Uh-oh…How do I deal with that?”

Since I go on so much about making sure you plan your time well–including your free time–I was worried that the sensible advice may be inadvertently spoiling your enjoyment.

Luckily, the study by Selin Malkoc and Gabriela Tonietto also suggests how to have the best of both worlds. That’s what I talk about in Episode 028 of TUB-Thump.

Even better, the study seems to confirm what I recently talked about too. You can combine routines and spontaneity in student life.

In fact, that combo could be the answer to ALL THE THINGS. (Okay, okay. Some of the things.)

Now you’ve got no excuse for not scheduling!

And I’ve got no excuse for double negatives…


Here are the show notes for the 5-min episode:

  • 00:50 – How much should you schedule your free time?
  • 01:10 – Scheduling specific leisure activities can result in having less fun.
  • 02:00 – How can you schedule your free time and still have fun with it?
  • 02:45 – On being partially impromptu.
  • 03:50 – The focus of the study was on short activities, rather than preparing for something bigger, like a holiday.

Here’s a video with the authors of the paper explaining what they found:


Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

How long should you take to prepare for class?

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Last week, I talked about deadlines.

Deadlines are usually reserved for coursework. But it helps to think about the smaller projects and preparation you need to do before class.

The deadline for seminar preparation is the day of that class. Pretty simple. But not always obvious. If you haven’t thought of it as a deadline until now, maybe that’s enough to see it in a new light.

Lectures and seminars usually rely on you having done some work beforehand. It could be some reading, a small quiz, a survey, an experiment, an exercise, or something similar.

I remember it being standard to fit prep in at the last minute. The same day was no surprise. And some people would even do the work as they walked to campus, moments before class started. A frenzy of reading and walking.

That’s not enough time to do the work. Glancing isn’t engaging.

At such a basic level, there’s not much chance to ask relevant questions and properly interact in seminars.

It doesn’t feel like so much rests on doing this work. “I can always catch up and do it in my own time,” you could say.

Problem is, the idea of preparation is to bring out the best in our abilities when the more important work does come along.

So while last-minute preparation for class is clearly a less important version of the all-nighter, it could still leave you worse off than you should be in the long run.

The way to combat this is to prepare for preparation.

What does that mean!? Essentially, it means that when you know what’s expected of you before you attend, do these 3 things:

  1. Plan what you’re going to do (if it isn’t already explicit);
  2. Estimate roughly how long it will take (and leave room for extra time just in case);
  3. Schedule when you’re going to do it.

It’s amazing how free you’ll feel when you prepare for preparation. All it takes is making that solid schedule and having a full understanding of what’s expected of you.

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You don’t need to schedule it all in one go either. Let’s say your course is heavy on the reading. You have 100 pages to read before next week’s session. Why not find four slots in your schedule to read 25 pages each time? Or five 20-page sittings?

The more you’re in control of your plan, the better you can engage with your learning.

My worst experiences have been the times when I put off the inevitable. My best experiences have been when I have all the preparation laid out in readiness.

Think of your own best experiences. When you enjoy the work and get stuck in, the learning feels easier. The preparation seems to fall into place without effort.

Why does it feel so effortless? Put simply, your enthusiasm allows you to naturally prepare the groundwork.

And since we can’t feel as enthusiastic about everything we do, we need to be a bit more considered in our approach.

The execution is always the same. Set out what you’ll do, prepare for everything, and make it happen.

You can’t fake the excitement, but you can always stay ahead with your prep.

One Thing to Install, One Thing to Delete – TUB-Thump 025

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Episode 025 of TUB-Thump is a head’s up to a great tip from Brian Johnson.


If you’ve not heard of Brian, he’s on a mission to help people change the world through optimal living, which is “integrating ancient wisdom + modern science + common sense + virtue + mastery + fun”.

The tip I refer to is one that I’ve never considered in quite this way. Perhaps it’ll resonate with you too.

 

“Any time that I’m feeling less than optimal, this is what I come back to. What one thing do I need to start doing, and what one thing do I need to stop doing to take it to the next level?” – Brian Johnson

You should check out his other videos too. Lots to explore!


Here are the show notes for the 4-min episode:

  • Brian Johnson’s site, Optimize.
  • Below is the video where Brian briefly talks about adding one thing to his schedule and removing another thing:


Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

How to combine routines & spontaneity in student life

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In yesterday’s TUB-Thump, I gave a bonus tip on planning and scheduling.

It was a bonus tip, because you probably already schedule some (if not all) your stuff.

All this timetabling and commitment to regular tasks is useful. But how do you let a bit of spontaneity into your experience too?

We’ve all had moments when we decide to drop everything and do something fun on a whim. It’s not rare. Last minute decisions can be weekly. Daily, even.

When you take that spontaneous risk, do you get away with it? Or does it bite you on the bum?

Maybe you’re lucky most times. But every time you take the risk, you may not be so lucky the next time.

No matter how “in the moment” you plan to be, you’ve got lectures to attend and essay deadlines to meet.

Here’s the weird thing: Those scheduled events are a good thing.

Seriously. The more focused you are on your schedule, the more spontaneous you can be.

I know that sounds strange, but there’s a logic to it. When you’re in control of your day, you’re able to manage your free time and available gaps far better. You’ll know exactly when you’re at a loose end.

So far so simple. But there’s a big ask if you want it to work well. You need to be in control of YOU.

Just because someone else suggests an impromptu outing or social session, that doesn’t mean you should always agree.

So how do you work out the times when you *can* agree to some impulsive fun?

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When you know you schedule intimately, you can rearrange it without fuss. The more you’re in control, the easier it is to make changes as you go along. When an impromptu session strikes, some are clearly possible and others aren’t. And when you’re at a definite loose end, you can choose the impromptu sessions yourself!

Every step of the way, this involves you being in control. Nobody else controls your situation. Peer pressure is a no-no.

Happily for you, peer pressure won’t feel so much like pressure anyway. When others try to overpower your initial decision, you’re swayed through uncertainty. By taking control of your timetable, you quickly know what will budge and what won’t.

If you’re determined to fit in something new when there’s no room left on your schedule, you’ll have to sacrifice something else on your list.

The good thing is, it should be clear what you can sacrifice, if anything.

Take these two situations:

  1. I was about to start working on an essay. I was starting early, so I had plenty of time to take a relaxed approach. It was a hot morning and it seemed like half the student village had decided to make the day an outdoor party. I could tell everyone was in a good mood, because friends were calling up to me and offering me free drink.
  2. I was trying to get my head around some concepts for an upcoming exam. There wasn’t much time left and I was still trying to work out best approaches and draft some test responses. Some of my mates decided to go to the SU for the evening and wanted me to come along.

Guess which of the situations I changed my plans for and which one I didn’t.

With plenty of time in the first instance, I rearranged my schedule so I could enjoy a day of debauchery fun in the sun. And as much as I wanted to go out in the second instance, there wasn’t the same wriggle room.

I had to say no in the second instance. It wasn’t important enough to sacrifice something else, and time was running out for the exam preparation.

Remember, no matter how much you’d like to sacrifice your academic work, that’s not the best plan… 😉

Do you feel in control of your schedule enough to let impromptu sessions into your life? And what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever had to say no to, even though you REALLY wanted to do it?