Time Management

There’s this time management technique where you categorize all your “todo”s into one of 4 categories along 2 binary dimensions.

One dimension is important vs. unimportant. The other dimension is urgent vs. not urgent.

Obviously important and urgent todos get done first. Less obvious is that the next category of todos to work on is not unimportant and urgent, but is instead important and not urgent.

This sounds well and good in theory, but in practice things get messy. First of all, urgency gets conflated with importance. Secondly, important is more analog than digital. Importance exists along a spectrum that often varies with mood.

It annoys me to see some of my fellow grad students stress so greatly about homework, tests, and class projects. Once you’re past comps, these things are not important. What is important is research. That’s why I’m dedicating my time first to research work and only when I tire of that do I transition to less important class work and such.

I have a reminder in my calendar to write these blog posts. As you’ll note by the post dates, I’ve been postponing doing so with a vengeance, because it’s just not important.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to do the important work first, preferably in the morning, and then do everything else as a “break” from that activity or in a half-assed manner when you can fit it in.

Neal Holtshulte

Neal Holtschulte began graduate studies at the University of New Mexico in 2010. Neal graduated with a BA in Mathematics from Williams College. He works with an amiable and talented group of people including his advisor Professor Melanie Moses. Neal is currently working on automated software diversity with network security applications. Neal makes time to run and occasionally race in the 5k to 1/2 marathon range. He enjoys video games and maintains that while any bachelor can boil noodles, sauteing vegetables officially classifies as cooking.
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