On balancing work & playSat, 11th Feb '06, 1:20 am::

Almost a week since I posted. Turns out there were some big issues with my cable Internet at home and as a result, I wasn't able to get online for most of this week. Everything's fixed, for now.

On Sunday Feb 5th, I went up to Orlando to see my friends Jeff and Wes. Chilled with them all day and watched the Superbowl in the evening. While I'm not a big sports fan I love chilling with people and eating/drinking for free :) Orlando's about a 2.5hour drive for me. Disney is about two hours.

Wednesday night I to see standup comedian Chris "Boom Boom" Johnson at the Tampa Improv with Lanie, Natalie, and Mike. I laughed so hard my head was hurting. Literally. Had some good food too, courtesy of Lanie & friends.

Work's going great and I'm excited about the projects I'm working on right now. Things are definitely getting busy for me and as I spend more time in my office, I'm also consciously making sure that I don't end up becoming a workaholic with no social life. It's too easy to concentrate only on one thing in life at the cost of everything else. I know too many people who never learnt the quote "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It's hard to believe that some of my friends who are much older don't know how to balance work and fun. Sure, if you love your job even half as much as I do, work IS fun. But nevertheless, you still need time off from everything and let your mind relax.

I have a lot of friends in college who don't go out to party/movies/relax because they have so much homework to do and so many projects to complete. Sure, I understand, I went through that, in fact, much MUCH more just a few years ago. However, every time they decide to give up on the fun activities in order to study, they sit at home and do EVERYTHING except study. How can they concentrate anyway?! They're fatigued and stressed because they haven't had a laugh and a good night's sleep in weeks & months.

Here's what I used to do and it worked great for me: When I had three exams & two projects due, and only one weekend to study, I'd map out the work hours and the fun hours. If I had 60 hours before chaos broke out, I'd decide, ok, I'll sleep for a total of 20 hours in 3-4 naps, and of the 40 waking hours, I'll devote 30 to study and 10 to relaxation. Then I'd begin by using some of my 10-hours by watching a movie. Having just spent some time partaking in guilt-free fun gave me the energy and motivation to actually study honestly without any distractions. Once I studied for 5 hours, I'd take a well-deserved break and then get back to studies. Rinse repeat for 60 hours with short but adequate periods of sleep.

What everyone does is instead of sleeping 20 out of 60 hours, they sleep less than 10. Now that you're lacking sleep, you can barely study well during the remaining 50 hours. Of the 50 hours, you spend 20 wondering if college is REALLY what you want to do in life, whether this is the purpose of your existence, and if there is anyone whose life is harder than yours. Of the remaining 30 hours, another 20 are spent pretty much staring at books and notes while you wait for friends to sign on AIM or call you so that you can tell them how stressed you are and how badly you want to go to some house party but can't because of studies. Another five hours are spent looking for food, coffee, pills, and whatever it's gonna take to keep yourself awake like a zombie. And I guess if you try really hard, you can manage to study something in the final 5 hours. Of course, then once you've been through a weekend like this, you realize that even 60 hours aren't enough so you start acting like this 90 hours before the deadlines.

I know I'm being extremely judgemental and critical but the sad truth is, I haven't made any of this up. I actually know people who do exactly what I mentioned above and no matter how hard I try to explain, they never learn. What people don't realize is that motivation isn't always inherent - you have to actively reward yourself and keep monitoring your progress if you want to gather the energy to reach your goals. Unless you have serious external reasons to do something (need money for kid's operation) it's very hard to motivate yourself in the long-term. That's where discipline comes in. You decide beforehand how you want to split your work/study and fun times and stick to that. It's all about discipline. True disciprine... come from within.

Anyways, I have a lot of little chores to complete before I can start doing the things I really want to do, like visit national/state parks, go on road trips, take up a few more hobbies. I'm waiting for the weather to get warmer so that I can start fixing my backyard. I have so many plans for it. I want to go to the beach more often too. I went to the Treasure Island beach today after work to watch the sunset. It's so soothing. One of these days I'm going to drive five hours across the state to the East Coast just to watch the sunrise. I miss those.

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