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The Importance of Scheduling

Ahh yes, the almighty calendar.  Both a blessing and a curse.  Since its inception, it has provided people with the ability to peer into the future; to map out the days, months, and even years ahead.  It supplies us with an ever-present backbone of rigidity in which we can use to successfully meander through our hectic lives.

On the flip-side, it is this very rigidity that, at times, constricts us.  An inflexible calendar, much like an inflexible backbone, does not allow for much spontaneity, does it?  Henceforth, we must strike a balance between the two.  An ideal schedule ought to contain a certain degree of rigidness, coupled with an element of plasticity!  Who’s with me?!  …  Just me?! .. Ummm, yeah, well .. I’ll just carry on then …

Anyways, all verbosity aside, today’s post is going to focus on none other than my (frenetic) first year timetable.  You should note that: I was given full reign over the construction of my schedule.  The times of the courses, and even the courses themselves were selected solely by moi (at the end of grade 12).  Looking back at my decisions, I can safely ask myself: “What was I thinking?!”  It appears as though I was attempting to brew the perfect recipe for disaster … I mean, who in their right mind would select only morning labs?  *You will see exactly what I’m referring to in the images below. 


This was my Fall 2009 Schedule ... Ain't it a beaut'?


This was my Winter 2010 Schedule. Whose lame-brained idea was it to choose three 8:00 a.m. labs? Oh yeah, it was my idea.


Now that you’ve witnessed this menacing monstrosity with your own eyes, let’s begin with our analysis.  Before I go on any further, however, I have to point out that I’m not particularly a morning person.  I would very much prefer to sleep late than to wake up early.  (I know quite a few people who are entirely opposite!  Go figure!)

In order to make it to my morning labs on time, I had to force myself out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and be out the door by ~ 7:00 a.m.  Now, the commute in and of itself wasn’t too bad; but waiting outside, for the bus, in the dead of winter, was not something to write home about.  Just to give you a glimpse of perspective: winters in Edmonton can reach a bone chilling -40°C with wind chill (or -40°F, for those used to the imperial system).

The first month and a half or so, was surprisingly bearable.  I was able to stay on top of all of the labs and lectures without experiencing any negative repercussions.  Then came the winter, and a swath of midterms, all at once.  It felt as though the two had been conspiring for ages; just waiting to catch us newbie undergrads off guard and unarmed.  I’ll be the first to tell you that the first wave of midterms hit a lot of us really hard.  Our old high school schedules were definitely looking very wimpy in the face of our new ones!  C’est la vie; indeed, a ‘welcome to the real world’ moment!


If I were given the chance to change my first year schedule, I would no doubt switch my lab times from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.  In addition to this, I would eliminate all of my ‘spares’.  These proved to be nothing more than an unnecessary time-waster.  As subtle as they may be, these alterations would probably have resulted in me getting higher grades. (Whew!  It’s a good thing I caught on for second year, and managed to create a killer timetable that allowed me to get some awesome marks!)

Words of advice:  Find out what type of ‘person’ you are.  That is, make sure you know whether or not you’re an early bird, or a night owl (or something in between).  Create a schedule that plays to your strengths, and not to your weaknesses.  Budget your time effectively, lest you will overwhelmed at the last minute!  Work smarter, not harder!

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