Chris’ Brief Intro to Joshua
May I introduce you all to the wonderful Joshua Snyder (see smiley photo to the left.) Josh has just graduated from his masters in Mathematics from Cambridge and is, well, he’s just great. If I was to sum him up in one word it would be: wholesome. If I was to describe him in a sentence I would say that he is a peacefully joyful young man, who loves being honest, authentic and having deep conversations about everything from philosophy to finance. Oh, did I forget to mention he’s a great friend as well and a sublime coder! Yep, he’s great and I may like him more than his fiance, Hania. #bromance #don’tgetmarried #bachelorsforever
About halfway through writing this blog Josh described the process as “Torturous” and I think “One of the hardest things I have ever done.” I mention this not to embarrass him,
(although if I wanted to do that I would mention that his morning routine involves reading the financial times while wearing a white vest and doing weights to strengthen his gangly arms – hence the title about ‘Buffer’) but so that you can appreciate the article all the more in light of his persistence. (By the end though he was saying that “It wasn’t actually that bad, I quite enjoyed it.” So, who knows, we might see another post by Josh in the future.)
Josh, keep being awesome,
Scheduling Buffer Time
So… I am a student at Cambridge University, in particular I am a mathematician at Cambridge, and one of the great things about this city is that I had the privilege of coming across all kinds of inspiring, intelligent and driven young people. The place is bristling with enthusiasm and debates around the intricacies of quantum physics, philosophy, behavioural economics and so much more – you name it, it is debated. What most of these astounding people lack though, and what I lacked at the start of my time at Cambridge, is the skill of ‘managing my time well.’
We’ve all been there: late night work marathons and not having enough time to meet those looming deadlines, 10 empty red bull cans and too many coffees. Sometimes it felt like a real mess, especially when waking up in the morning meant facing the realisation of a long list of backlogged work. Looking around me, I soon realised that I wasn’t the only one facing these issues. I only had to look at some of my friends, or the plethora of students posting on social media about their workload and distractions, that I was not alone in struggling with my time management skills.
Here is the beginning of the ‘New year, new me’ part of this blog but, as you might guess, it doesn’t all go to plan. So I, the bright-eyed Josh of the past, started to plan out my days, hour by hour, in a calendar. This was a very foreign thing since I’d never been the kind of person that uses a calendar or diary. The concept of planning time seems counterintuitive in many ways, spending time managing my time, what was the point in that? A close friend put it to me like this: When you start a project, would you do the whole project without ever planning it? Life is a pretty big project so from that perspective, I realised it was probably worth me getting a plan together.
Life is a pretty big project so, from that perspective, I realised it was probably worth me getting a plan together.
I started by creating a colour coded schedule in which I would work around 50 hours a week and got everything done. “All fixed” I thought, “I’ll never miss a deadline again.” Oh, how wrong I was. My calendar reflected the perfect revision timetable of my 16 year old self: all plan, no action. You and I both know that we aren’t going to wake up at 6am and start studying and no plan is going to change that. Sure enough, the plan was trash and my work week was a stressful series of disappointing days, highlighted by how miserably I had failed to live up to the expectation of my calendar.
I’d done it, right? I had created a nice looking schedule but sadly, it provided me no results. “This time management business is a waste of time” I thought and back down the hole of ‘time-blindness’ I scurried. Maybe you have been here before? Here’s what saved me: I started creating ‘Buffer Time.’ This was the small realisation that my day is never going to look how I planned it and so I might as well embrace that fact and allow ‘wriggle room’ for things taking too much or too little time. I started scheduling 70% of my time instead and, even though it can be tempting to, I didn’t plan everything. It’s tough to realise, but most of us underestimate how long tasks take so this buffer time helps to account for that. When things take longer than I expect (and they always do!) I can just work on them during the buffer time.
After a while this helped me to feel good about how I was spending my time, my calendar no longer accused me of failing to live up to my expectation but was a kind friend making room for the unexpected joys of my day. It wasn’t perfect but I am definitely happier and more content with my work now. When a spanner is unexpectedly thrown into the works, I can, if you like ‘roll with the punches’, take them in my stride and still enjoy my day and get stuff done. I recommend creating buffer time in your schedule, it really helped me!
Suggested action points:
When scheduling leave time in-between events.
Create “flexi-time” in your calendar to be blocked out time for whatever you need it to be.
Enjoy the unexpected things in your calendar!
For more time management tools and tips please visit our website at TimeNavi.eu.