I approached my final undergraduate semester expecting it to be difficult. I designed my course load to be challenging — probably the most challenging to date. I did this for the same reason people attempt to climb Mount Everest: stressing one’s self to the breaking point, every once in a while, is the only way to really get to know what you’re made of.
Another reason for taking more courses than necessary is as an intertemporal commitment. Deciding ahead of time that I will be disciplined in my productivity is cheap. Choosing a course of action that will require I be disciplined in my productivity is the only way to ensure it happens. You may hear people say, “I could be like that high achiever over there, if I were more organized.” Or perhaps, “I could get better grades than him, I just don’t feel like studying.” That’s a cop out, folks.
In preparation for this semester I decided I needed a pretty serious schedule. Now that a few weeks have gone by, I feel comfortable assessing how the schedule is going. First I’ll describe it as planned before the semester started. Then I can analyze what worked and what failed miserably.
I planned on waking up at 7am every day, and going to the gym. Every day. This was ambitious, and in order to ensure I would get enough sleep, I needed a similarly ambitious bed time: 10pm. I would turn off my computer by 9pm every night to facilitate the ridiculously early bed time. Every day I would have a set number of “work” hours, like school was a job. Each day there would be a different subject for me to do — to make sure that my work in that subject was up to date. And Fridays would be a full day to review my whole organizational system.
Most of the elaborate plan was untenable. I never wound up sticking to the one-subject-per-day rule, nor did I ever count the number of “work” hours I would have every day. Luckily, Friday has been a consistent review day, though not always perfectly. For the first week I stuck very closely to the 10pm-7am sleep schedule with gym every day. Later it would be more difficult to be in bed at that reasonable hour: having friends is a terrible way to ensure a solid bed time. Similarly my computer was only off at 9pm for the first two days of school. All in all, only a few tenets stayed with me, and those were subject to habitual inconsistency.
Still, a lot of good came from this schedule. I find that when my homework gets me hectic, I can take solace in getting it done and then getting to bed early and hitting the gym at 7am.