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?


Halobenzene said...

Hey Googling for everything you don't understand is useful ok! I don't take econs, but it helps to know what Purchasing Parity Power is and how it works and how to work it out.

Aside from that, I prefer efficiency over cutting crap out. I work on a chiong-by-choing basis. It doesn't mean I'm always rushing deadlines - I simply allocate less time to specific tasks than most people do.

The truth is, most tasks actually don't take all that long to do if you're intent on finishing them quickly. But... we draggggg out tasks longer than it should take since it is supposed to be "big" and thus should take "more time". Bullshit.

Efficiency is the name of the game.

Kevin Chan said...

Yes I totally agree with being efficient, but the thing is that sometimes we just don't have the time to do all that we want to do (as efficient as we are) if we're still stuck doing all the crap, low value activities.

And chionging all the time doesn't really work for everyone. Thought that it worked for me, but after having big deadlines to meet nearly every week (and nearly dying in the process), I've decided that it's just not my thing. Seriously.


su said...

easier. said. than. done. can't. move. ass....

Kevin Chan said...

Sadly, even if I don't want to, the forces of nature are pushing my ass real hard, even as I type this reply. What to do?