But even for those of us who aren’t giving themselves stress-zits and grey hairs over the meaty biological sciences, school can be a challenge of time management. (And for those of us who are studying some flavor of biology/medicine/chemistry/etc, well, our society is one that worships technology, and the science of
Here are the responsibilities I’ve had to juggle the last few weeks:
- Schoolwork and classes
- Professional/internship acquisition
I’m performing important responsibilities
Managed fun is a necessary component to maximum productivity. Too little fun, and you burn out. Too much, and you’re using time on a process which produces diminishing gains. When I was in undergrad, I ran some experiments on myself to see which sorts of fun were invigorating (video games, working out, sketching pictures, writing short stories, blogging) and which sorts were ultimately draining (scrolling through Facebook or reddit).
I chose video games as my testbed, and started experimenting with different lengths of time for recreation. (If you’re having trouble keeping track of time, do what I did and set a timer on your phone). Fifteen minutes did the trick for me, starting from the point where I was too drained to continue working on schoolwork.
You can tell how old I am, because the game I used as my testing ground was the original Mass Effect. It was great because you can (mostly) save and quit at any time.
The sweet spot I found since then was to spend my day from 8AM to 5PM (probably good practice for holding down a 40hr/wk job) on schoolwork, with 15 minute breaks for gaming and food. 5PM was dinner time, and after that, I handled my chores and spent the evening doing unmanaged fun.
Of course, now I am a graduate student, with labwork and the never-ending hunt for an internship. As with most important but long-term tasks, the temptation is to put it off, ignore the job hunt in favor of more urgent tasks and responsibilities. Last semester, I dedicated the first two hours of my day to serial job applications, and this last week I’ve had an unending string of interviews, so what does that tell you?
This semester, my mornings are spent in lab, so I handle the job hunt at noon, sandwich in hand as I type out cover letters. More advice on interview tactics is hopefully forthcoming in a later post.
Of course, this all falls apart if you don’t have the emotional strength to hold your life together so strictly. Your body is an engine that sustains and supports your mind; treat it like one. Get enough sleep – if you sleep properly, if you manage your time aggressively during the day, you will not need to spend your nights working. There’s also the general advice that everyone knows but everyone ignores – eat enough and properly, hydrate yourself, blah blah blah. They’re boring but effective – all the people claiming that they don’t bother eating breakfast should try it for a bit, and try to notice any difference in the quality of their lives and focus. If it’s not worth it to eat breakfast, then don’t eat breakfast – but we are scientists, and if you really think that you can survive on 2 meals a day/6 hrs of sleep/whatever, then you should be willing to test this.
And always remember: play lots of video games (in strict 15 minute intervals). It’s good for you. Seriously.
Stay meaty, my friends.
See it here first: https://appliedmeatsciences.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/the-toughest-major/
Elizabeth Broadwell is a Biomedical Engineering student in the College of Arts and Sciences