As USC has mostly transitioned to an in-person learning format, the struggle to adjust from over a year of online and remote learning to in-person is well felt within the student body. One of the hardest adjustments for myself and other students I have talked to is time management. While time management during remote learning was a struggle and adjustment, time management for in-person classes has always been a struggle and an especially big adjustment for freshmen and other first-year students. I’m going to share some tips for time management that I find helpful and hope they either can be of use to you or serve as a source of inspiration to form your own time management habits.
Taking a bit of time to thoroughly plan my days out as much as I can has served me well when it comes to exams, assignments, club and organizational activities, and other deadlines that I have to meet. I usually do this by making to-do lists on my phone notes app and calendar, putting down the time and length for each task (emails, homework, study, etc). I even put planning and random tasks such as grocery shopping and grabbing a coffee, which I find to be super helpful.
While taking the extra bit of time to thoroughly plan out your daily school and extracurricular activities can be extremely beneficial, this will not get you very far if you are unable to stay focused. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about attaining an all-day hours on end laser focus; everyone has different attention spans, so it’s about getting to know your own attention span and things that help keep your focus. For me, I usually like to get my work done in my room or if I do have to be on campus, I usually try to find a quiet place outside or in classroom halls (still hesitant to use the libraries due to COVID). I also find that I usually have to take short breaks in between studying and working. Other things that help my focus include pairing tasks with a particular time of day. For instance, I prefer to study for exams or complete assignments first thing in the morning or late at night. During the afternoon time, I find I am more productive at emails and extracurricular work. I also find that music helps me attain my focus, particularly pop and rock music.
My Grandpa, or “goong goong” – the Cantonese phrase for Grandfather – was a chef and grew up in Hong Kong. He obtained citizenship and immigrated with his family to the United States because of his cooking abilities, which makes me a second generation American. As a result, my family traditions have always been a unique blend of classic Asian dishes and holidays mixed with American traditions. One of these traditions is a soy sauce spaghetti dish my grandfather made all the time when I was younger. The ingredients include green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, spaghetti noodles, chicken base, ketchup, salt, oil, sugar, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. My sisters and I loved it, and it satisfied my other second generation cousins’ tastes too. Thinking about this dish makes me aware that my taste is made up of not only my ethnicity, personality, and family, but also the generation that I was born in.
Being a second generation American has allowed me to live as an American while hearing first hand accounts of growing up in another culture from both of my parents. I’ve heard stories about what it was like in Vietnam to eat raw mangoes with fish sauce- before they got ripe, so the animals wouldn’t get to them first- and what it was like to grow up there during the Vietnam war. I’ve heard what it was like for my Chinese grandparents to immigrate from China, with uncertainty and the drive to create more opportunities for their children.
There is a poet and artist named Morgan Harper Nichols, who writes: “Lessons from Monarch Butterfly Migration…Because the lifespan of the monarch butterfly is only a few weeks, it actually takes multiple generations to finally make it back to the north…The monarch butterfly is a reminder of what it means to pave the way. To carry on on a journey that you might not actually live to see the end of.” After reading this, I wondered what events would happen in the future because of the way I live my life now-at school, at work, or with friends. I recognized that I am like the monarch butterfly who makes it to the north (or in this case America) to live the American dream. I attend a university in the United States and get to study for opportunities that weren’t available to the generations before me. I’m a student at USC because of what my grandparents and parents have worked for. I am living the life I am because of ancestors I’ll never know.
It seems like just yesterday, the world stopped in response to the pandemic. For the first few months of social distancing, I lost track of the days. Before I had time to perceive it, weeks had gone by. All plans were thrown out the window, and the year that marked the third decade of my life has been nothing like I originally expected. I could have spent all of my time dwelling on the lost moments and experiences, but instead I chose to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, after giving myself time to reflect and acknowledge that my home would most likely be the center of my whole life for the rest of the year, I worked to find my motivation and passion.
At the beginning of the pandemic, things weren’t so bad, as I had school to occupy myself with. Society as a whole went on an exploration through the world of Zoom. There was frustration and even hatred towards technology, and for many learning technology has been like learning a new language. However, once we all settled into the basic framework of living in an online world, technology became the bridge connecting everyone via a virtual landscape. Lately, Zoom has been a key feature in my life. From classes to weekly meals with my friends, it seems that we are all in long-distance relationships these days. We have found a way to connect without the need for physical presence.