Time is important at Westtown, with so much of each day filled to the brim with classes and sports. Most of our free time ends up being spent staying on top of our work. So. I want to use this post to talk about the lessons I’ve learned at Westtown and through my independent. It’s a bit of a tangent, but I am still working on developing my procedure, and I didn’t want to retread so much of my last post.
The most important of these lessons is the flexibility of time, which can be incredibly helpful. One aspect of this is understanding and managing how my studying effectiveness often changes at different times during the day. Often during the first period I am still getting my brain started, and it’s harder to focus on my work. Yet in contrast, I am often most focused during the two periods after recess, as I am fully awake and not yet starting to get tired from classes. It is useful to be conscious of when I can best focus, as then I can be more deliberate with my studying habits. For instance, if I have a free and an independent period, I might work on my independent during the free since it is during a better time and instead use my independent period to relax.
There is also the danger of too much flexibility that needs to be kept in check. I have noticed that at least in myself, too much flexibility ends up being a bad thing, as it makes it too easy for me to procrastinate. However, during my independent, I have discovered and been practicing a couple of methods that help me stay on track. The first method is setting clear goals for myself. By doing this, it becomes easy to notice when I am getting off track as I can hold myself accountable. The other method is checking in with my mentor about my progress each week. Knowing that someone else is also there to hold me accountable can be helpful for difficult weeks when I have a lot more work than normal.
This leads into another important topic, working ahead. Sure, this is an obvious one, but that does not mean it is not important. The importance of working ahead was easy to notice during the first semester while I was working through my game theory course. Sometimes a topic would take a while for me to understand and I needed to do extra research, or occasionally I would get stuck on a problem set. This is when working ahead can come in handy, as it gives me a buffer zone so that when those sorts of things happen, it doesn’t harm the progress of my independent. Sometimes this would extend beyond my independent, as during stressful weeks I could use my buffer zone to help alleviate pressure from other classes.
During my independent I have started to realize that things often take longer than I think they will. Even when I try to plan out when I will work best or even if I work early, sometimes stuff simply takes more time. Even this blog post I am writing right now is taking an hour longer than I thought it would. But I have found that all I need to do is be conscious of that when I plan my work schedule. All I need to do is mentally add a bit more to how long I think each assignment for the day is, and then plan with that buffer time built in.
I hope you were either able to learn something or empathize. Thanks for reading.
For those who want to read some of the studies I have been using: