New Semester, Same Level of Procrastination

I’m starting a new semester of college at Virginia Tech. I’m a junior in Computer Science. I’m also incredibly unproductive because of my habits. This needs to change. Fast.

I’m blogging about the changes that I want to make to my life this semester. I am choosing to keep this info public because it will guilt me into staying productive and hopefully help someone else trying to do the same process.

Here are some problems that I have, and the solutions I am implementing

Estimating and Scheduling homework time

I need to spend time this semester figuring out how much time homework and school projects will take and balance my schedule accordingly.

Here is what my schedule for a week currently looks like:

In all, this gives me a slot between 9–10:30 every day to study and a slot between 1–4 on M, W, F and 12–2 T, TH for things to do. This gives me about 8 hours of schedulable time every day per week.

I need to learn how to devote time properly on each of those days to better suit my needs.

Plan of Attack

I don’t know how stupid and/or idealistic this is going to be, but I am going to try to bring some agile concepts and apply them towards my life.

Based on my schedule above, I have roughly 8 hours of free time every day. Realistically, with clubs and other activities, I would say that I have 4 hours per day that I could use productively. I’m going to go into this semester treating these 4 hours as “billable” hours. That means that I treat this time as a full time job. No slacking, no distractions, just work.

In addition, I’m going to try to steal the idea of points and try to use that towards my homework and assignments. I personally don’t know if I can accurately estimate homework points, but, we will see! I will treat 1 point as a full day’s worth of work. This will hopefully help me in the future in time estimation and will help me from drawling on with work.

Finally, I need to use one hour per day to read notes, lectures, or do sample problems. This is going to be essential in getting me up to date for the latest chapters and getting me through my higher level courses (AKA I’m going to fail guys)

Diet and Exercise

Another thing that I need to consider is diet and exercise. Controlling and managing both of these factors is very essential for a balanced life. I am weightlifting 3x a week trying to do a 4x8 style program. In order to lift at an optimal level, I need to keep a decent hold on my diet.

For this, I am going to hit 1950 calories per day. This was calculated using a TDEE calculator and is based on my body weight and my activity levels per day.

In terms of macros, I am going to try to eat about 120 grams of protein per day and do about the same in carbs.

I think I can hit these goals because I have a kitchen now and I can cook to meet my macro goals optimally.

The only problem I foresee is that I am not considering vitamins and minerals in my macro plan. I hope to eat the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, but, that might turn to be an issue if I do not learn how to properly track eating that well.

Tools of the Trade

I am going to try to track myself as much as possible and try to quantify my life. This will help me analyse and adjust my plans in the future.

For Fitness, I will be wearing my Fitbit and using the Fitbit iOS app to track my steps and exercise. In addition, I will be using myFitnessPal in order to track my calories, macros, and H2O levels.

In order to track my homework and keep a system of points, I am going to use the reminders app on iOS/OS X.

Why Reminders?

  • Reminders is straight forward to use and it’s available on iPhone, iPad, and OS X, which means that I can use it on any of my devices.
  • I’ve also invested in Fantastical which means that adding a reminder is stupid simple. It’s a keystroke away. I don’t want to spend time figuring out a task management software like Producteev and end up not using it

How am I going to use reminders?

  • I’m going to have a reminders list for each class kinda like an Epic
  • I’m going to use the urgency field on each reminder as point estimations

Finally, I am going to try to quantify my internet usage using rescuetime. I’ve used this service for a while, but, I haven’t reflected on the data that I get back from it.

Essentially, I have all of this data, but I have great way on using or reflecting upon it to better my life. Hopefully, this article will be a great way to jumpstart that problem.

I will try to write a follow up article in a couple of weeks on how this is working out for me.

If you have any suggestions or services for me to try that will help me reflect or further quantify my life, feel free to leave it as a comment or share it with me on my twitter!