Better over time
We all get better by doing something repeatedly, don’t we?
And that’s how I eventually got better at organizing myself.
I’ve already gone through 8 previous semesters in University, so at this point, it does become a little easier.
BUT, only because I was able to learn from past experiences.
To tell you the truth, in high school I was at the bottom of the class.
Now, I’ve been consistently at the top of the class (and I’m 100% objective).
And honestly, it’s not as much as the difference in effort, but rather, a difference in thinking and organizing.
I’ve done this preparation in an Excel spreadsheet for the first time and I have to say it’s been really effective.
The main reason is that it gives you a sense of control.
You know what’s coming up, and thus, are able to plan ahead.
Even if you half-ass it, your brain will unconsciously give you a feeling of security.
You know what’s coming and this decreases the possibility of becoming anxious in any way.
That is how I was able to create an Excel spreadsheet that basically helped me finish an entire semester in 1 month.
That’s not that bad, right?
If you’re wondering how this happened, let me explain.
Our standards shape us
It was October of 2018 when the semester started and because I wanted to prepare my master’s thesis at the same time, I decided to get more organized.
Sure, the thesis should be prepared by the end of July 2019, but after losing my laptop a month earlier, which you can read more about here, the unexpected free time and attention, made me start writing a little earlier.
Although there was no urgency for either starting the thesis or even doing class work ahead of time, I created the urgency by putting more things on my plate than I could handle,
When you are trying to do many things at the same time, as you may know, you may get a little anxious at times or lose track of what you have to do.
That is why, I had o start organizing myself properly since I had to attend 9 classes and also wanted to finish my thesis in record time.
If you want to see how I selected my classes, you can check out this post that covers some basic principles I used for the new spreadsheet, that you’ll see in a couple of moments as well.
As the semester starts, you get to know the professors, what they require and even what you’ll need to do, 3 or 4 months from now.
Fortunately, there are only around 5 things that are required
- case studies
- final presentation
- final exam
Attendance was an easy one. Not counting transportation or preparing to go out, it was 15 hours a week.
But then it gets a little harder.
Case studies usually require attendance as well, so they are closely related.
The other 3: assignments, final presentations and final exams, can be prepared ahead of time – at least most of the time.
So after finding out everything, I started to plan out the weeks and months ahead.
It took around 2 weeks to get to ask the right question, but eventually, I was able to map out how the semester was going to look like.
- specific dates for final presentations and final exams
- when assignments and case studies should be done (many were given during the classes)
- who were my partners for PowerPoint presentations
As you can see, some things required to communicate with other people or actually wait for the class or assignment to be given out, which meant at a later date.
The good part is that you know exactly what and when to prepare, and when to actually stay relaxed because there’s nothing more you can do.
3 months later
As I said, this was meant to cover an entire semester, which give or take, takes around 3 to 4 months to end.
So although the power of the Spreadsheet lies in the beginning, it’s easier to see how effective it is when it’s all said and done.
That’s why, right now, when I recently finished the semester and completed the spreadsheet, you can see it’s effectiveness.
As some things may make more sense than others, I’ll have to give a short explanation on what each thing means.
However, as you’ll see right now, the power of using colors cannot be understated.
Below you can see the final result.
(tap on image if you want to zoom in)
As you can see, what I did is the following:
- Write “Yes” when I attended
- Write “No” when I didn’t attend
- Write when I was paired up with a new project partner
- Write when some classes were cancelled
- Write dates of exams and holiday breaks
Most importantly, the presentations which I called them “Showtime”, for the purpose of getting more excited about them
It’s obvious I didn’t attend 100% of the classes, but that was less important.
More or less, from the first 2 weeks, I already knew when I had to present, when I had the exams, and when I should prepare some case studies which were available on the online platform of the University.
To tell you the truth, by the end of October I already finished all of my presentations, case studies, and organized the material for the exams, knowing when I’d have to start looking into it more thoroughly.
It’s not necessarily something groundbreaking, but usually what should be common sense, is less common.
As I said in the beginning, the most important aspect of having such a spreadsheet is the fact that it gives you control.
Control of knowing what to do and when to do it by.
For many people, University, or even any type of work for that matter takes too much time, just because there’s no clarity involved.
Imagine that you want to buy a home, a car or just finish a longer-term project.
Wouldn’t having a clear deadline and specific dates for specific targets give you a confidence boost?
If you’re like the majority of the people in this world, it probably would.
I’m not saying I know best, but many times I do one thing that gives a perspective which I can almost guarantee, is well-researched.
I look at the business world in order to see what the brightest minds in the world have come up with, in order to make work more efficient.
You know, those people who are willing to spend millions of dollars on finding the best solution to a problem.
And as you might’ve already guessed if you read the title, I’m talking about Project Management.
This is not necessarily something new in the business world, but how things work today are quite different from how they worked a few decades ago or even a few years ago.
Considering that what some may call the most efficient style of doing project management, called Agile, first appeared in 2001, we might understand just how many fields (or people) have yet to fully understand this concept.
And by that I’m referring to real life situations, outside of doing projects and increasing business value.
Imagine a project manager who is doing a great job at work but has a messy life because they aren’t able to implement the same concept in their own life, where we all know, there are other things to take care of as well, such as:
And many more you can probably list in a heartbeat.
You probably know by now that if we don’t pay attention or plan any of those properly, it’s coming back to bite us.
They definitely won’t get better if we just hope.
But with a more calculated approach, as you’ve previously seen, you can get better results, without overdoing it.
Sure, you won’t be able to do everything perfectly, but at least you can concentrate on what is most important to you.
For a balanced life, sometimes it’s better to have a 70% accuracy rate across different aspects of your life, rather than having a perfect 100% in only one of them and then a 20% accuracy mark on the rest.
Different things work for different people so it’s always an advantage if you are self-aware and you know yourself because you can tailor everything to your needs.
However, as much as I am capable to understand this myself and try to implement it in my life, it takes practice and you have to keep on trying until you can see what works and what doesn’t.
As long as some things stick and they make you happy, go with that.
Of course, be intelligent and don’t think that if watching Netflix or YouTube makes you happy, you should do more of that, unless it really improves your life significantly – which it rarely happens.
But that’s enough for this post, as the value lies within the small bits of information that you can get away with.
I could just as well write a blog post of 10k+ words , but I’d be surprised if anyone is able to digest so much information in one sitting and properly implement it.
So that’s why I’ll end this post by leaving you with a link to the actual spreadsheet, which you can access by following the link below.
Give it a try, no matter in what area of your life you might need some planning.
As always, enjoy the fact that you improved your knowledge and don’t forget to take at least one tiny action that makes the time spent on reading this piece of content worth every second and your time more valuable from now on.
As Benjamin Franklin once said: “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned”
If there’s anything on your mind, don’t be shy, you have the comment box down below ⇩⇩⇩ Promise I won’t bite ⇩⇩⇩
Life enthusiast with a great desire to constantly perfect myself, get in better physical and mental shape, while also helping other people by sharing everything I’ve been able to learn.