In high school, I used to read lot of biographies about successful people which helped produce a strong desire in me to achieve extraordinary success as well. The major lessons I gained from these biographies was that all of these individuals worked hard and never gave up. Thus, I had convinced myself I would have a high probability of success for as long as I stay focused on the ultimate goals. But only the recent experiences have made me realized success also requires planning and organization.
When I was in high school, my only major worry was grades in school. My parents provided shelter and food for me and took care of most other tasks including laundry, thus, I could afford to ignore the importance of planning and organization. But when I started college, I didn’t only have to worry about course grades but also financial affairs as well as other daily chores. Since most classes I enrolled in had same credit hours, I assumed they will have similar workload and, thus, require similar time commitments. I worked about twenty hours a week and weekends were reserved for social hangouts with friends, thus, I estimated I would have about twenty hours a week for study which I divided equally among all courses.
I did an ok job of managing course workload, job, and social life for a while since there are shorter and fewer assignments in the beginning but after a while I felt things were getting out of control. First of all, different courses had different workloads and in addition, some turned out to be more challenging than the others. It was soon apparent to me that despite having same credit hours, the courses demand different time commitments. It was also clear to me that not only my daily life was poorly organized but I also lacked any specific plan to make the most of my time committed to studying. Even though I was studying about four hours a day and five days a week, my actual productivity in studying didn’t reflect the time committed. I would study with friends and more than half of the time would be wasted in chatting and gossip. In addition, I would often be listening to music to avoid boredom. I assumed since other people could study while listening to music, I should be able to as well.
As the assignments and tests started piling up, I did little to change my routine because I had resigned myself to the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day. Poor performance in academics also started negatively affecting my job such as not paying attention to the tasks at hand or being late/missing work. Fortunately, one of my friends recommended seeking help from the academic writing center who finally helped me regain control of my life.
The academic counselor at the writing center asked me to make a detailed record of my daily routine for a week. Once I had the weekly data ready, my academic counselor pointed out I didn’t follow any proper schedule. When he asked me questions about my learning style, it was apparent I had no idea what worked and what didn’t work for me. He suggested I change the way I study for a week and observe if it changes anything which means I were to study by myself, without any friends around and also avoiding listening to music. In addition, he advised me to allocate time resources to courses according to their degree of difficulty for me and not credit hours. My advisor also suggested sacrificing few weekends if academic commitments may demand so because I need to be clear about my priorities.
As I followed the counselor’s suggestions, the results took me by surprise. I discovered I study better without any distraction and it is especially true when I am studying difficult courses. I sometimes require reflection upon the concepts I have studied in a quiet environment to better grasp them and it is not possible with people around me. Similarly, music also distracts me because music ensures my concentration is divided between the song and the course material. While listening to music may be less distracting when studying easy courses, the same could not be said for difficult courses. My performance at the job also improved because my morale would be higher due to newfound control over my life.
I now also make a weekly schedule for assignments, especially long projects. As soon as I get assignments, I carefully go over them to estimate the level of difficulty as well as the time resources required to complete them. This strategy helps me evenly spread assignments workload over time and ensures unforeseen events do not throw me off-track at the last minute.
As mentioned earlier, I hope to achieve extraordinary success and leave an imprint on the society which means I would have to work much hard and maintain a greater degree of focus on goals than most of my colleagues. Life may be harder in college than in high school but I am actually glad at this opportunity. These experiences are pushing me to the limits and increasing my self-confidence that I am capable of successfully taking on numerous challenges at a time. I am also learning that it is possible to increase time resources even though a day continues to have 24 hours. The key is not to focus on actual time duration but how efficiently one uses his time resources. I now achieve more during my two hours of study than what I used to achieve during four hours of study. I have also learnt that it is important to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses because not everyone is same. I simply copied others without understanding my learning style.