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Calling all who successfully manage a busy schedule!

  1. Aug 21, 2011 #1
    I'm shooting for all A's this semester.

    I'll be tutoring chemistry 4 hours a week, tutoring calculus 4 hours a week, working in a lab 15 hours a week, and taking 15 credit hours (Organic chemistry & lab, chemical engineering - processes, ODEs, and economics). My classes are spread out throughout the day, so the only large chunks of time I have are after 7 p.m. I'm also living on-campus, so I'm going to try not doing much homework in the dorm room.

    I've never been this busy before. I hope to be able to handle all of this relatively stress-free and still have free time on the weekends. I'm planning on devoting at least one hour a day to studying/homework for each class (except econ...maybe 1 hour a week for that).

    I hope by staying organized and on top of everything [something I struggled with when I had lots of free time last year], I'll be able to get good grades and do well in my research project (my first experience with research).

    I know many of you all here have even more hectic of a schedule than I do. I'd like to know if you have any tips to share to obtain good grades, good work performance, and a good social life.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2011 #2
    pick one, maybe two.
  4. Aug 21, 2011 #3
    Is it common to have the first two during the week, and the last one on the weekends? I was thinking I could probably work 4-5 hours a day on homework on both Sat. and Sun., then enjoy the rest of the day/night.
  5. Aug 21, 2011 #4
    Learn how to produce industrial quantities of http://www.rough-equivalents.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/caffeine_molecule.jpg [Broken] at home and slip it into all of your beverages.

    In all seriousness, I fully agree with streeters. You can't have it all IMO. Maybe you can handle it, but it depends on how efficiently you study/habits/etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Aug 21, 2011 #5
    Lol, I spent the last three weeks combating my caffeine addiction. ^_^

    Is it time for one of those "pro-cons" lists? I was hoping to hear that other slightly gifted students were able to balance and succeed at everything. I didn't have a job or research last semester, so I didn't manage time well (waited until last minute for everything, because I could...)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #6
    To be fair, if your ODE class is a cookbook class, it'll probably be pretty easy. I think you can manage some kind of mild social life while maintaining good grades and decent work performance. What I'm more worried about is you tearing your hair out in frustration at the calculus students' inevitable dumb questions.

    "I don't understand how to differentiate this."

    *shows function: cos^2(x)*

    "DUDE! Use the damn chain rule! Ferchristssakes!"

    (I'm guilty of being that student)
  8. Aug 21, 2011 #7
    Think of school has a 9-5 type of job. or, in your case, x-7pm job. Many folks do it once they enter the real world, may as well get good practice now.
  9. Aug 21, 2011 #8
    I have quite the schedule as well this semester. I'm excited about it though because its pretty much all the classes I want to be taking. I think its important to have a social time set aside from all that studying. The trick is to find friends who also have busy schedules and good habits. All in balance, good luck to you.
  10. Aug 21, 2011 #9
    This. This works well. You even get weekends off.
  11. Aug 21, 2011 #10
    Lol. I'm sorry but I can't see this being true for any serious university student.
  12. Aug 21, 2011 #11
    Haha, now I remember why I never attended sophmore level math classes.

    You may be able to find some free time if you can do some seriously efficient time management.
  13. Aug 21, 2011 #12
    You can find tips and ideas on how to manage your time by reading Cal Newport's blog called StudyHacks
  14. Aug 22, 2011 #13
    Papa needs his weekends, baby. Football won't watch itself.
  15. Aug 22, 2011 #14
    If you study for 10 hours a day, tutor four 4 hours a day, sleep for 5 hours a day, spend the last 3 hours a day on eating going to the bathroom exercising attending lectures and you should be set...

    10 should be enough but you may have to get up to like 12 or 14 hours of study and cut back to 3 hours of sleep... if I get anything less than 2 I fall asleep during the day and suffer as a result... if i get at least 2 I can function normally without major side effects before crashing maybe 12 hours hours later... and on the weekends try and get like 6 hours of sleep if you can

    I also find caffeine pills to hit the spot when you need the energy... you can get them cheaply at places for like 8 bucks and most of the time it's the equivalent of taking 2 cups of coffee 200 mg of caffeine, they normally give me an extra 5 hours of being awake and alert, only take one every 3 to 4 hours, I can't stress this enough, you don't want to OD on caffeine pills because your heart will give out, take only 1 every 3 to 4 hours and your safe, but make sure you read the directions, each type is different, the only thing you would have to worry about if you took one every 3 to 4 hours and just kept on repeating this is that if you did so over 5 days, once you deprive your body of sleep for 5 days your body starts to shut down, be careful of going longer than 5 days without sleep, doing so can permanently harm you, anything else should be safe but do unless you have to, I haven't gone more than 35 hours without sleep and don't plan on doing so anytime soon
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  16. Aug 22, 2011 #15
    Wow...this is really bad advice.
  17. Aug 22, 2011 #16
    LOL. We really need a like button.
  18. Aug 22, 2011 #17
    I'm not saying it's a good thing to do lol... just that it works for me
  19. Aug 22, 2011 #18
    The last few years I have been in a similar situation: tutoring math and physics about 20 hours a week while attending school full time. Every quarter I had to adjust my work and school hours, but like your schedule, mine was pretty sporadic leaving me only small time intervals to complete my work throughout the day. This actually turned out to be a nice thing as it forced me to manage my time more effectively.

    I would suggest keeping your work with you and completing as much as possible during these short periods in between work and class. Also try and remain comfortable, it's a long day and if you need a break then take one, eat something, etc.

    Doing this should considerably lighten your load for the evening. Personally I don't really like to work/school all day then come home and do more homework. By completing various pieces throughout the day I was able to complete the remainder during weekend mornings while pretty much leaving me evenings and weekends free.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  20. Aug 22, 2011 #19


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    Before the semmester starts, find someone who has at least two children, preferably under the ages of 4 and convince them to let you babysit for an entire week.

    At the end of this exercise, you will become accutely aware of every minute of time you have and should have no trouble managing your own individual schedule.
  21. Aug 23, 2011 #20
    I thought I was busy until I read your post Null_ :). ODE's are really not difficult...I wish I would have realised that before the semester came so close to an end -_-

    The only thing I would recommend is to get some activity you enjoy in, and take an actual break during winter break so you are refreshed for spring.
  22. Aug 23, 2011 #21
    This reminds me of my last semester's schedule :) I managed to get a 3.68 GPA ( I was shooting for at least an A- overall, which I achieved).
    Last semester I took an extra class again which equaled about 27-28 credit hours PLUS commuting to college (eh, I hate that 1/2 hr drive). I also tutored about 5-6 hrs a week on top of working a part-time weekend job (~15 hrs) and exercising twice a week (~5 hrs).

    My attack method was I would set a certain time each night and VIGOROUSLY attack my studies. For me, this meant drinking ~ 40 oz of tea and either blaring music (depending on the subject) or sitting in complete silence.
    My method was simple. Every night when it hit a certain time, I would make sure I was sitting down and ready to go. This didn't always work out, but I tried to stay on track as best as I could. The nights I felt I didn't get enough studying in, I would wake up early.

    One thing I can tell you, don't skimp on sleep. A lot of people say how they only got 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night... not a good idea. When you get less sleep, you won't retain as much, you'll be cranky, and you'll have to go to bed earlier the next night or intake more caffeine than you normally would.

    Maybe not the best advice, but it worked for me! I had two days where I had all my classes right in a row... that was death. The homework for those nights were brutal.

    Another thing, set a time limit for yourself. I give myself about an hour per subject. If I can't finish the homework in that amount of time, I stop and move onto a different subject and later come back to it. I find that if I work on something for more than an hour straight, my concentration and my performance drops; I wind up trying to 'just finish it' than try to do it correctly.

    Best of luck to you!
    I managed to get either all A's or A-'s last semester... except for my last semester of Humanities. Got a B. I hated that class lol.

    And, I'm doing the same exact thing this semester. I find I do better when I'm busier/more stressed. I stay more focused.
  23. Aug 24, 2011 #22
    Thanks for the tips, everyone. I don't really have time now (about to head off to deh lab), but do know that I appreciate every response. I really like the suggestion about keeping work with me at all times...those 15 minute bus rides really add up.

    First week survived (tutoring hasn't started yet). I think I'll try to get way ahead during the weekends. It's the only way I'll be able to sleep 7+ hours a night. :)
  24. Aug 24, 2011 #23

    Stephen Tashi

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    The best advice for Null_ is to drop some of his activities.

    This page has a link to a video of a famous talk on "Time Management" by Randy Pausch. In the interest of time management, I suggest you fast forward through the sentimental introductions. http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/Randy/
  25. Aug 24, 2011 #24
    I second this! I had been working extreme schedules and I know that it is doable - for a while. But I had also experienced that you are accumulating a 'debt' in terms of real life or health that my haunt you later, especially in the first weeks after working like crazy. (I usually feel ill at the beginning of vacation - after having carried out all duties and met all deadlines).

    The second best option (that worked for me) is to focus on a deadline set to a date in near future - it is the magic of the date in the calendar that keeps you alive. If I knew that insane work load would end in X weeks or maybe Y months than it was doable / successful. Of course the disadvantage is that you live and work like a robot or zombie deferring all you really want to do to the future.

    I would also take some time to evaluate if and why you want or need to work following such a schedule. I know that there are or seem to be all sorts of constraints. Personally I would say that I was too much influenced in my younger years by people that told me (or demonstrated through their own life style) that you absolutely need to work that much to be successful and accepted by professors, colleagues, employers, clients....
    I can assure you that mantras like 'You need to put in 60/80/100 hours per week to become a successful <whatever>' are simply not true in general.
  26. Aug 24, 2011 #25

    Stephen Tashi

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    In addition to the risk that bad health can be caused by a schedule, there is also the consideration of health problems as a normal risk in life. Someone with a busy schedule might get the flu for a couple of weeks or have a family emergency. Planning a busy schedule by visualizing yourself in perfect health for several consecutive months is an optimistic type of planning. A more pessimistic scenario would be that you are out sick a week, you have two tests coming that you need to study for, but poor Timmy needs you to tutor him for his Calculus midterm and the lab has an important series of tests that must be complete even if it means the staff must work overtime. Reality could follow an optimistic or pessimistic course.
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