Time management, and why I never get anything done.

As the end of the second semester of my university career comes to a close, I am experiencing a sort of a personal crisis. I've realized how much I've let my own life slip away from me. I'm no healthier than I was when I first came; in fact, I've gained the notorious "Freshman Fifteen" from sitting at a terminal day in and day out. I've made it through my courses with acceptable if not excellent grades, but in my mind I know how much I've slacked off. While packing up to move out of the dorms, I've realized what a mess I've made of the place though I've kept it looking "clean." As for my personal projects, I've come up with plenty of ideas, some of which I've written about here, but none of them have been completed. Every one has just been a temporary distraction that ends up getting replaced by my next great idea. All the while, I haven't taken care of my finances, succumbing to spending on impulse while my parents bear the weight of the majority of my tuition and housing costs.

At the root of all of these issues is my tragic flaw: I'm terrible at time management. I've never had to learn it as a child, and that has made me impulsive with a very short-term attention span. The Internet hasn't helped either; it makes it very easy to reach anything, from cat videos to Flash games, to satisfy my desire to be preoccupied. It's hard for me to "just sit down" and focus on something without obsessive-compulsively checking my notifications to see if that latest podcast has been posted or that item I ordered has been shipped. I'm fed up with that.

In hopes that I can help others who suffer from the same problem, here are the ways that I intend to improve my lifestyle.

Jot it down.

A while ago, a friend of mine introduced me to journaling, particularly bullet journals. I loved it, but I never developed a habit. While it isn't perfect for every use case, the ideas he provides are a great starting point for building your own journaling system. For example, I personally need to track assignments on a week-by-week basis, so I add a weekly spread for that.

Journaling is one of the most crucial parts of managing time well, as I often find it hard to remember exactly what my priorities are or when that assignment is due. Being able to quickly reference that can help me stay on top of the things that need to get done. In addition, as someone with such a short attention span, writing things down when I think about them can help me recall them later when I actually have time to work on them.

Flashback to the 90's.

One of my favorite content creators on the internet is Bryan Lunduke. He is a daily podcaster and blogger that I enjoy listening to because of the many values that I share with him, particularly his interest in Linux and free software. Recently, he documented his progress in a 30-day challenge to "use modern computers like it's 1989." He removed his cell phone from his pocket, disabled push notifications, and just lived his life disconnected from the world of instantaneous status updates. If he wanted to use a computer, he would have to sit down and use one as if it were a desktop workstation.

I intend to do a similar thing. Facebook has long since left my circle of social networks, but I will also be limiting how much I use Reddit and YouTube. In addition, I need to break the habit of constantly checking my email and other messages, so I will be setting a dedicated time to do such things. By eliminating those impulsive and interrupting distractions, I will be able to focus better on my present task.

Pick one thing and just do it.

I've posted about a couple of projects that I've been interested in, and there are still many more ideas that I have. With all of these inspirations, it's hard to work on every single one at the same time, but that is what I'm naturally led to do because of my short attention span. As part of my journal, I'm keeping an "idea log" where I can write things down for later inspiration when I'm actually not busy. Besides my priorities like school, work, and housekeeping, I will only be working on one or two projects at a time.

For now, I've decided to work on my voxel engine/sandbox, so stay tuned for a blog post about it later this month!

Take some time to enjoy life.

While it's great to try to stay productive and on task all the time, it is equally as important to not burn out. Working long hours every week can have a negative effect on mental health if there is no time spent leisurely. Finding the right balance between the two ways to spend time is very important to making efficient use of your time.

Last summer, I spent a lot of time long-distance biking on the trails. I plan on continuing that routine this summer and hopefully retaining it during the upcoming semester. It's a great opportunity to get outdoors, see nature, and also get some exercise in!

A lot of mistakes have been made in this past year. However, I'm not going to dwell in them; instead, I need to look forward and stay focused on what needs to get done. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading this slightly longer post. I hope it was helpful to you in some way!