Working Smarter not Harder

Gotten a little behind on the posting schedule I created mainly because something had to give in terms of write a blog post or sleep.

This semesters getting on top of me already and a day into week three I finally feel like I am beginning to get back on track. Second Year is definitely harder than first year and I am learning a lot about time management and how much work needs to be done in order to learn and investigate the tasks I am being set. Having five modules out of eight in my first semester is not helping either; and three of them have double two hour lectures a week thats eight lectures a week each requiring ten hours of study time with possible essay work included. Thats like a hundred hours a week; not including commuting time and the fact I need to work to afford to travel and the costs of textbooks and clothing and food.

As I young teen and until quite recently I was an avid NCIS fan. I loved that they had a quirky forensic scientist named Abigail; but my favorite character was Antony Dinozzo Jr. He worked exclusively by the quote:

work smarter not harder”

Tony always having his paperwork done ages before everyone else despite often messing around for hours. I want to have the time to do the things that interest me; such as exploring my interests and writing skills within this blog; so I have taken the words of Antony Dinozzo Jr. to heart.

My first step to this is multitasking. Lectures are really useful but some of them require a little less listening and a little more learning about whats on the slide via textbooks. Take my Molecular Biochemistry lectures for example. I struggle enough with the topic as it is and the speed and depth my lecturer goes into means I am unlikely to absorb or even make note of all the information that comes out at the speed of light. However, the lecture slides always go up the day before and always contain the recommended reading for the slides in question. I take the textbook with be to the lecture and read the corresponding textbook pages during the lecture as he talks making notes on both the actual chemistry and anything interesting that the lecturer brings up about exam theory or extra reading areas. That way I reduce my learning time as I am making notes quicker and more accurately often learning as I go. This prevents me having to read through incomplete lecture nots trying to determine context and missing key points that I failed to get down.

My Second technique involves fighting the war on typing. I learn better writing things down than I do typing. But frankly my words per minute on my laptop is much faster than writing it down. So despite what people say about writing it down in lectures and then typing up afterwords I do it the opposite way around. Typing in the lecture means I am more likely to get all the information down accurately and concisely. Then at home I write the notes down neatly ready for my revision methods and exam preparation. Doing it this way is quicker and reduces the pain of writing super quickly for multiple lectures in a day which would really hurt my hand.

My final step is audiobooks. Today you can find a number of free lectures or audiobooks relating to your textbooks or the lecture subjects. Listening to those on the train during my commute means I am learning without having to drag huge textbooks out on a crowded tube to read. It also helps with the motion sickness to!

I am hoping that my ability to work smarter not harder will help me battle the work life balance crisis I am currently facing and allow me to not feel so out of my depth in my second year. I really believe that second year is where you need to cram as much information into your head as you can so you can be fully prepared for your final year projects and I hope that I can fit enough in, might have to throw a few things out…

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