This is the third part of a (potentially) ongoing sequence of posts, “How Did I Ever.” The first two dealt with living in Engelhart, and the second one dealt with real-time journaling. The third part in this sequence considers the idea of filling in small amounts of time.
As I mentioned in “Middle School Agenda“, I took home no daily assignments during my entire ninth grade year. The streak of no daily assignments lasted from late eighth grade until mid-tenth grade, a run of about 258 school days.
What was my secret? I used every last free second of the passing time and lunch period, and also after Algebra II, often had some time before Mom would pick me up from school. (If it weren’t for that interim between the end of Algebra II and Mom’s pickup time, the streak would probably have been busted much sooner). The assignments in each class were usually very simple and easy, such that it took me little time to complete them. And my GPA did not suffer at all.
I was still pretty efficient at finishing homework assignments, even after the streak was busted. I didn’t start another long string, since my junior year brought four AP classes. Nevertheless, I was never swamped with homework or projects, and knocked them out with relative ease.
As I started college, I was able to use brief interim periods (e.g. one hour or less between classes) to work on reading or homework assignments for some of my classes. For example, I often read for my honors seminar (which was a 09:30 class) between 10:30 and 11:20. The latter time was my Gen Chem class, and I usually got a lot done in those 50 minutes between classes.
The times proceeded, and the work got harder. Therefore, I felt that I needed a longer period of time to focus on assignments and work. Nevertheless, even if my attention span wasn’t that long, I felt that I couldn’t squeeze work into 30 minutes very well anymore.
Fast forward to grad school. Maybe I’m showing a little bit of laziness in this description, but on days where I would have 30 minutes between activities, I would often get little to nothing accomplished, particularly if I was intending to do research. Grading was a chore that I could sometimes do in a short period of time, but research and reading were not. Even journaling was not easy, thanks to the distraction of my computer and my smartphone!
And when I was at Stout, I found it difficult to bring myself to do prep work or other work at any point after I finished eating lunch before a 13:25 class. It must be something about keeping my lunch “hour” sacred, even when that time was often wasted with Web-surfing.
Then again, I feel that the “wasted” short periods of time are not wasted. I have always been Go-Go-Go, and these interludes are not-so-subtle messages that scream to me, “TAKE A BREAK, LEST YOU BEGIN TO BREAK DOWN!”
Though it is difficult to turn my mind off…
North Shore Century: 10 days
NU vs NU: 16 days
High Holidays: 25 days