In the spirit of self-improvement and the onset of the month of September, I've decided to revamp my life and try something completely new. A Rajesh 2.0 if you will. Astute readers will notice I started this new posterous blog on September 1 not without good reason.
I've spent 8 months thinking about this solidly, encountering first-hand, people who do this sort of stuff day-in and day-out. I've also read hundreds of blog entries and essays by other students (or ex-students) who do this kind of challenging academic stuff again and again successfully. Finally, I feel I'm ready to take the plunge into some more exciting challenges!
Fall '09, which is 4A in Waterloo speak, looks like it's going to be even tougher than Spring '08, and that too by quite a far shot. So what does Fall '09 have in store for me?
- I'll be writing my last work term report, a 6000-word (or more) report I haven't started yet.
- I'll be taking 6 courses, 4 of which are at the 400-level.
- I'll be in 2 labs, one of them being an advanced 6-hour lab every other week.
- I'll also be spear-heading a final year engineering design project I have no clue about. Looks like we might be doing something related to high-performance water filters or maybe thermal shirts?
- I'll be maintaining and improving Fotavia, a photography website project my friend William and I started earlier last month.
- I'll be applying to top graduate schools. This implies I'll have to lobby my professors and mentors for reference letters and write well thought-out personal statements and essays.
- I'll also be applying and interviewing for graduating jobs that are challenging and will probably require many hours of interview preparation.
So it seems like I'll be needing some real ninja skills to pull this term off without regret. It'll also be the first time I'll be living off-campus during an academic term. This has a huge impact on my productivity. And finally, I'll be working out of a tiny room that has no natural light whatsoever. This will be a huge hit to my productivity during weekend mornings which happen to be my most efficient working time because of the availability of contiguous blocks of free time and the availability of natural lighting.
So what does this mean for me?
- It means no more snap decisions. Everything I do will have to be explicitly planned, scheduled and instrumented carefully. My Google Calendar will prove tremendously useful here. Also, my schedule.txt (ask me about it) that my good friend Devin helped me implement 1.5 years ago will be crucial to ensure I don't miss any due-dates. But, stuff will still come up all the time without notice, but everything that can be planned will be planned. Everything else will be decided and acted upon on the fly, in true engineering fashion.
- It means careful and conscious implementation of all that I've read over the last 8 months.
- It means taking time to celebrate each mini-success, no matter how small. I'm all too used to finishing a task, and then asking what's next immediately after. Every little success needs to count and will provide the motivation to keep pushing further without burning out. Reward-based performance is something that works really well for me.
- It means taking some real risks and doing things that force me out of my cushioned comfort zone.
- I simply can't afford to waste any more time on random websites (like youtube) like I used to do in previous terms. Even a few wasted hours before a midterm can make the difference between getting a 95% on a course versus failing that course.
And as usual, expect a post-mortem of the term at the end of December. It's going to be an interesting one I think!