School Prep & Juggling life

prepping for a coming semester, and some tips on finding time to work

Thu Aug 25

Written by: Chris Pohlman

Pick of the week image:

image of the book cover for a book called Make Time



work-life balance

This last week has been a little different from the usual flow of the last couple months for me. I haven’t done as much active coding and have instead been focused on preparing the fall semester that just started and putting together a, hopefully, awesome presentation for the project I’ve spent the last 6 weeks working on.

Preparing for School

One of my major focuses in preparing for this semester has been time management. Between 5 classes at DMACC, Techwise, job-hunting, and working full-time I have plenty to keep myself busy. I don’t want to give up time spent doing things I enjoy however, like spending time with my gf, Kayla, watching my favorite shows, cooking, and sleeping. This means managing my time effectively and prioritizing well. I’ve spent the last weeks listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and reading blog posts all about productivity and time management. Thanks to this I’ve found a few consistent pieces of advice to take away.

  1. Limit all work in progress
  2. Block time to work on things and to do nothing
  3. Write everything down

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Let’s break these down a bit starting with number 1

Limit all work in progress

This one is perhaps the most obvious of the three but it is also the most useful. Don’t multitask, don’t try to work on 10 different projects at the same time, and as Ron Swanson would say never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.

But clearly I’m already splitting my focus between several things as I listed above and I’m willing to bet you are too. So how do we stick to the principal of limiting work in progress while taking on the numerous things life throws at us?

First start by saying no to additional work, activities, and time commitments when they come up, especially if you just aren’t that into them. Hell yeah or no.

Next work on one thing at a time, when I’m doing school work I focus on that, if I’m at my paying job then my focus is on doing that to the best of my ability. If I’m spending time with someone I care about I focus on them. No I’m absolutely not perfect at any of this, but I try to get a little better all the time.

Try to make things overlap. In Techwise we do a lot with Python, so when I was signing up for classes I chose Python for one of them rather than a different language, in my Data Structures class I chose to use Python as my language to do assignments in. Boom now 3 things are a little closer to one thing. Try to batch things together whenever possible as best you can and you’ll see some results.

Block time to work on things and to do nothing

Whatever it is, schedule it.

Simple enough but if you’re anything like me scheduling everything you have going on in life isn’t a habit you’ve developed. Maybe you schedule certain things like appointments or work shifts but you probably leave a lot of the other stuff you do regularly as just a, whenever you have time, kind of a deal. Instead try scheduling the small stuff too and be sure to book time in your calendar to simply be open or to relax.

Having a sort of micro managed schedule for yourself can free you up to be more relaxed moment to moment knowing you don’t need to decide what you should be doing or be anxious about whether or not you are missing something important you should be working on right now. Your past self already took care of all the details.

Write everything down

In many ways this relates to scheduling everything but writing everything down can be much more granular as well. Writing down all your ideas, things you want to watch or read, projects you have in progress, assignments you have due, and what you need to pick up at the store can drastically free up space mentally for yourself. By writing it down, whether on paper or in a note-taking app of some kind, means you don’t have to stress out about remembering it anymore.

It can be a sort of mental de-cluttering, without as many random thoughts bouncing around your head you can be free to have more new ideas, pay more attention to things you’re doing in the moment, and forget less. Writing it down can also help with limiting work in progress because you free yourself up to tackle that thing in the future, without having to commit any mental energy to it right now.


Obviously I’m far from perfect at executing any of the things I’ve talked about here but I try never to let perfection be the enemy of good enough and often time good enough is exactly that. If you want to dig deeper into any of the things I’ve talked about I’ve included some links I’ve found helpful down below.

Write it down

Limit work in progress

Schedule everything

Pick of the Week

Since this week is all about time management and productivity my pick is a book called Make Time. Make Time is written by a couple of former Googlers and is all about how to make time for the things you care about doing. It’s not about how to become a super-human capable of fitting all things into every day no matter how jam-packed it already may be. It’s about how to chose the things that matter to you and take advantage of some simple tips and tricks to create the time you need to do those things. It won’t help you destroy To-Do lists the size of a CVS receipt on the daily but it might just help you feel a little more satisfied with the things you do get done.