Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brain Farts

I usually don't post short little brain farts as I usually strive to write long, complete and meaningful blog posts, but the stresses of university life are not too kind on my personal blogging time.

Anyway, I'm almost done with most of my quizzes and presentations this week, with the last one being my statistics quiz (yay! testis-statistics!) later this afternoon.

It's already November 30th, and I still can't decide if I should give NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month thing, a try this year, as I have exams all throughout the month of November. But then again, won't I always be busy anyway, and should I just give this 50,000 word novel thing a shot?

I've got two days to decide. Lets see how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One small step at a time.

I just feel so overwhelmed right now - I've got two quizzes coming up next week (and one of them is a dreaded statistics quiz!), a statistics presentation and an important marketing project presentation that is worth 20% of my final grade.

"There's so much to do!"

Just thinking about all there is to do gives me a headache, really, but then this whole thing reminded me of how my group for Organizational Behaviour (OB) handled our last 3000 word report.

Everything seemed to have gone wrong with that report. We started late, misread the question and when we finally realised that we had to get it ready within a week, my group members and I found ourselves caught up with a whole range of equally important commitments, making it difficult for us to even meet up and get the report done.

And thus the week flew by, with us just having a few unproductive meetings and a whole big cloud of impending dread hanging over us, and we found ourselves with just three days till D-day. With just three days left, we put in all we could. We stayed over at one of my groupmate's place and worked on the report an entire night. But that just wasn't enough, and after all the work we put into it, the report was still a mess. And somehow we found ourselves with a half done report with only one night remaining. That was Wednesday night and the report was due on Thursday morning. There was just no more time left to waste.

So in a last ditch effort to save our skins, a teammate of mine and I decided to meet at my place and work on the report all the way, and do whatever it took to get it done. So we worked, and worked and worked through the night. That night never seemed to end. Fatigued by not sleeping well the past few days as we spent so much time working on the report, we really struggled to keep working. I just kept reminding myself that 20% of my grade for OB depended on this report and just kept working on the report. There was no time to even catch a short nap. We were really running out of time.

It was hell, but as we really poured our hearts out into the report, the report begun to take shape, and it started looking better. And better, and better. But the report was still too long, and we worked in the early morning, cutting off every single unnecessary word, so that we would satisfy the lean word limit of 3000 words.

And at 6am, after working through the entire night, we did it. I cut down the part I prepared to a mere 1000 plus words and my teammate edited the rest of the report down to 2000 words, making the report just slightly over 3000 words. Or so she thought.

When we put the two parts together, and my teammate did a final word count, all the colour suddenly dissappeared from her face.

"Kevin, something's wrong, very wrong!" she shrieked.

Apparently we were still somehow 500 plus words above the word limit due to some reasons still unknown to us. The time then was about 6:05am, and we had to send the report to my other teammate who lives in Woodlands to print before she leaves the house at 6:30am, or we'll never get our report to our tutor by the 8:30am deadline.

"How are we to remove 500 words in 25 minutes? Is it even humanly possible?" she shrieked again.

We really didn't have a choice, and 20% of our grade depended on this report. We had to get it done, by hook or crook, and panicking wasn't going to help.

And then I had an epiphany.

"Hey, it's alright. Just calm down. See, we have 30 pages in our report, and we only have to cut off 16 plus words per page and we're done. It's possible. We can do this."

And so began the most stressful 25 minutes I ever had editing a report. We ran through the report and cut down as much as we could out of it. It wasn't easy, but we managed to cut off a line or two every page, and make the necessary paraphrasing to shorten our sentences. We even cut of several paragraphs which weren't particularly relevant.

And then after going through the entire report, we did a final word count.

"3014 words."

We did it! At that moment, the adrenaline was pumping so hard in my system that it felt like I just bungee jumped off a cliff, or just jumped off a plane, skydiving. We really did it! We managed to do something that seemed impossible by just doing the best we could, one little chunk at a time.

"We did it!"

By looking at the gargantuan task of reducing the report by 500 words as just cutting away 16 plus words per page, we made it manageable in our minds, and that just made all the difference.

When life's challenges all seem to come at you at one go and threaten to overwhelm you, just remember that it's all in the mind, and we can take things one small step at a time. A large challenge always seems so much more achievable when you split it up into many tiny bite size tasks to be worked on.

So if you're out there feeling stressed and overwhelmed too, just remember that things always look better if you take them on one small baby step at a time, and that if we really believe that we can, we are able to accomplish even that which seems impossible.

There's just so much to do, but I'm going to survive all this, one small step at a time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cutting out the Crap.

University sure ain't as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, classes aren't as long as they used to be back in JC, but it only means that we have to spend more time understanding schoolwork on our own; I only have lessons four days a week, but it only means that a huge portion of time is spent on completing assignments or meeting up with project teammates to meet yet another deadline.


There's just so much to get used to - you have to get used to learning a whole new subject with minimal guidance, you got to get used to the increased travel times whenever you want to go to town to meet a friend, and you just got to learn how to meet project deadlines which always are conveniently near each other.

Many of the people around me are feeling stressed over university life due to similar reasons too, so I just thought that I should share my insights on a self-management article that I read today.

Was just browsing the Presentation Zen website (an awesome website on designing presentations with the Zen aesthetic in mind) and I was reading this article on how people should keep in mind to cut out the irrelevant and focus on the important details when designing a presentation.

It was a cool post and all, but what really caught my attention and got me thinking was this picture:

"Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap."

And I so totally agree.

Most of the time, the reason that we feel like we don't have enough hours in a day is because we spend our time inefficiently. I took a moment to reflect on the way I spend my time and I realize that I spend too much time on crappy, useless activities which are just a total waste of time. For instance I rather frequently spend precious time playing totally stupid facebook games, browsing for esoteric knowledge on Wikipedia and searching for the lyrics to the songs on my iTunes playlist so that I can sing along.

Would I have a lot more time to do the things I really wanted to do if I just cut these things out of my life? Definitely!

And there's a whole long list of crap activities that don't do me much good that I want to cut out!

Crap Activities (to be removed or cut down):
1. Playing stupid games like Elven Blood and MouseHunt on Facebook! God knows why I even started mindlessly playing such games just so I could see my character level up or earn gold to buy bigger mousetraps!
2. Lazing around in bed in the mornings just because I can't bring myself to get up.
3. Spending way too much time being distracted doing other things when I'm trying to reply emails or wall posts.
4. Checking my Gmail, Google Reader and Facebook account just one too many times every day.
5. Googling or referring to Wikipedia the second I encounter something I don't know enough of.
6. Spending too much time just 'cyber-loafing' on MSN messenger as well as allowing myself to be distracted by incoming conversations when working on something.

The thing is that even though the activities mentioned here may have low intrinsic value, the fact remains that removing them isn't an easy task because they have become habits. These bad habits are in actual fact insidious time eroding barnacles which have to be removed on sight!

I believe that bad habits are best dealt with by taking drastic action and 'installing' a new, more positive habit. So now lets just take a look at the things that I would be doing with all this extra time due to better time management habits:

Good Activities (to do more of):
1. Study. Exams are just around the corner and I really need to do well.
2. Exercise. Without sufficient rest and exercise, the stress of never ending deadlines can really get to you and dampen your productivity.
3. Blog. More free time would mean more time for me to keep this site updated, as I always wanted it to be.
4. Read. I love reading, be it fiction or non-fiction. Reading of all kinds stimulates the mind and it just makes me feel more creative and happy.
5. Get adequate rest. When you're well rested and all you are able to be more productive and get more things done. If you're sleepy and all you take forever to complete a task.

I've already taken the first step and deleted my Elven Blood account on Facebook as well as made it a point to switch off my MSN whenever I'm doing something important to help me focus.

Cutting out the crap is good because it allows you to stop doing the things that waste your time and focuses your attention on the things that really matter. Cutting the crap out of your life may just give you that extra time to understand a concept or to complete a project. It may even give you the extra energy you need to prepare a top grade speech for an upcoming national level debate (you know who you guys are, my Wira-ers)!

Cut the crap out of your life today! What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Southwest Airlines

The module that I am taking now that excites me the most is Marketing. I really find it so much fun! I just love the whole process of coming up with a novel new strategy to market something. It just fulfills my inner need to express myself creatively!

And it's just great to work with teammates that get as excited over the project as much as I do - it just makes the whole marketing process feel like play! And presenting it all tomorrow is just going to be fun!

This is just how wacky my teammates are!

Introducing, the founding fathers (and mother) of Southwest airlines!

Didn't I say earlier that marketing was fun?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reviving this shark.

I've been so busy lately that my blog seems abandoned. My hits drastically dropped, and somehow my friends don't seem to be saying hello on my tagboard with the same frequency as they did in the past.

I just read today in a book that I was browsing in popular that blogs are like sharks - if they stop moving, they die.

I'm gonna fight to keep you alive, baby!

This blog really is my baby, and as busy as I was with all my assignments, I'm not going to let my baby die.

Uni has really been hectic with all the project deadlines coming up. I've had to rush to finish a group report so bad recently that I've had to stay up all night, three nights in a row just to get it done. It's that bad.

"Good night.... wait, it's morning!"

Yup, been going crazy from lack of sleep till I start drawing random stickmen, just when the sun begins to rise.

But after all the work (and screaming, and instant noodles, and ALL the thing that went awry), we still managed to get the report done at the very last minute.

After untold suffering (and trying to cut 500 words off our report in 20 minutes), we finished it at 6:35am, 9/10/2008.

But just as one assignment ends, another assignment pops up. Yup, and after just one day of rest, it's back to work on yet another case study. But thank God that it's marketing this time. Did I mention that I LOVE marketing? Haha.

But really, uni isn't that bad. As tough as it is, it really is still a whole big deal of fun. (:

Now I better hit the sack before I incur any more sleep debt!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tired Eyes

Man, I just feel so damn tired. And even though I'm done with my stats quiz, which I happened to royally flunk, there's still so much to do.

One day at a time, one day at a time...

I'll just do what I can before I pass out and go to bed. If someone's going to survive all this and still come out strong, it's Kevin Chan.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Note To Self:

Do not invoke another FAIL by viewing the latest FAILS on right before a difficult quiz of any sort.