Life is busy. Along with 18 credit hours of applied math and CS, my internship at Foundry Group Next is in full swing, and Startups2Students is on the horizon. It’s a busy time of year for everyone, and when life is this busy, I try to look back and remind myself of the strategies that have worked before, implementing them so that I have finishing power for each of my commitments.
Take care of yourself
To be efficient, I need to stay healthy. Personally this means getting 7.5+ hours of sleep a night and giving myself 1-2 hours every morning to focus on my health, eating a good breakfast, going for a short run, and meditating.
When I get busy, I make hasty decisions. It is easy to get me to commit to something when I am working on 1000 other things. The more that I take on the less efficient I get due to all of the context switches that are required to focus on a new task. The optimal is 2-3 large commitments at a time, anything more and it is easy to let stuff drop.
A good analogy for this is the decrease in performance computers go through when you start running too many programs. As the system memory approaches zero, the CPU (time) utilization decreases exponentially, causing what is known as thrashing. Don’t start thrashing.
Use Time Blocking
Check email a maximum of twice a day. Every time you check email go to zero inbox. Block time for important tasks like projects and homework, remove distractions. If you respond to a slack message 2 hours after you received it, no matter how important the context is, it’s not the end of the world.
Returns are proportional to the importance of what you are working on and the effort you put in. Prioritization is often overlooked because we expect ourselves to always complete everything, and forget to finish what matters most first.