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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Myth: School Takes Up All Your Time!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's a bad excuse. The problem is actually you.

I get told sometimes in my direct-marketing campaigns, "Oh, your site looks really interestin' Mr. Koopa, but I'm too busy with [excuse here] to read it." And that excuse tends to be academics-related, probably because this site attracts mostly teenagers. People just have bad time management skills. Time management is a skill that you have to develop and practise. The good news is that that means it's obtainable, not something you need to be gifted with. People would love to be good at time management — if you're efficient with your time, you get time-savings that you can use as you choose. It's the same with money and cost-savings.

So because I want you to vaporise the notion that you just don't have the time to read KoopaTV 'cause you're so busy doing something else ("I'm in school and I have mid-terms every week until finals!" — seriously, it doesn't matter when I ask, you're always having a mid-term. Back in my day, people had one mid-term and it was in the middle of the term!) I am going to drop some time management knowledge on you. Then maybe you'll have the time to watch the debates on Fox Business Network tonight, or you can watch them on replay later.

The Correct Way to Multitask

There are two kinds of situations where you would do more than one task at a time:
  1. Two or more active tasks
  2. One active task and one or more background tasks
It's pretty easy to figure out which one is the correct way. If you're doing more than one active thing at a time, you're going to take longer to do them and with worse results. Your middling human brain (and even my highly advanced Koopa one) suffers when it can't focus. If you keep switching between Task 1 (let's say, playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All) and Task 2 (writing a
KoopaTV article Biology lab report), the brain is going to quit suspending its disbelief that Maya Fey can channel someone's spirit and have her whole body and change; and you're going to start writing OBJECTION all over your results analysis because your hypothesis was totally wrong and refuted by the evidence. Neither of those results are going to help you go through the trial or finish your lab report.

If you don't believe me that if you just did your lab report and THEN played Ace Attorney and still have time left in the day (and this is backed up by research and anecdotes), consider this strand of logic: Your brain is inefficiently and repeatedly switching "modes". When you're set on doing something, your brain goes into that "mode" of operation. "Well, better start thinking like a lawyer!" "Gonna start thinking like a biologist student!" You become engaged into that, and you're actually emotionally and thoughtfully invested. It takes time to get to that state. Think of it like a "set-up cost". But once you get into that "flow" (which is an actual and vital game design concept that is absolutely applicable to your life) you become efficient and lose sense of time and self. You're not wasting time looking at the time over and over. You just do it and do it well.

If you keep cutting off your brain before you can reach "flow" in an activity and rack up the "set-up costs" for doing so, you're going to get audited by your human resources department. You're also going to waste a lot of energy and time. Multitasking means you're sabotaging your performance.

That said, if you're writing your biology lab and you're also doing something passive like listening to a thought-provoking song from the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All soundtrack, then that's fine. You actually can have both of those running at once and not suffer from it since your brain isn't dwelling in that soundtrack. It's just present as a background factor.

That said, background factors can be a critical factor to how efficiently you're doing work.

Having The Right Environment

Here's the reason why workplaces ban enjoyable websites, though I don't think KoopaTV is on any blocklists yet. I don't want to find out because blocklists grow bigger based on sites that evil IT administrators see are taking up a lot of your time. So don't ever look at KoopaTV on company or school Internet, because a bored IT admin will look at your activity and ruin it for everyone.

Anyway, the point of workplaces is to have an environment with potential distractions minimised or eliminated. So if you bring your Nintendo 3DS everywhere you go (like I do — and the StreetPasses I get justify this even if I don't actually play with it), then in order to be effective it needs to be in a hidden place. With people around you that will shame you for taking it out.

While it sounds harsh and dehumanising, the best way to get your work done is a no-frills environment. So basically a locked white room where you can't open any other applications or do anything other than your task. You'll grumble and not want to start it, but if you do start it (do low-hanging fruit first — this is why KoopaTV articles start with conversational tangents because those are pretty easy to write and I don't bother editing them out. It's also why our article template has [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] because at least you know what to put there! Even if it's just my name 95% of the time it's ever used!) you'll get into that flow.

There actually is a danger in having that YouTube video of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All there. Like, I was distracted from writing this article just trying to find the right video, and then I read the dang comments section of every video I was looking in. Which totally isn't rational, because there is rarely ever anything insightful you'll pick up from a YouTube comments section. So the end product is background (the music playing), but the actual journey to get to that end background product was quite distracting from this article. And it'd be distracting from your hypothetical lab report. (Recommendation: Use an auto-playing playlist and don't touch it. This is pretty much what a radio is, if you still know what those are. Keep it out-of-reach after it's turned on.)

Examination Moderato 2002 Justice For All YouTube comments
Twitter is begging me to check out that notification.
Also, yes, trash YouTube comments like that Turnabout Big Top fanboy.
...And KoopaTV reader Bala cameo?

The Internet is pretty much designed to get you to multitask and be distracted with value-subtracted clickbait. That's the purpose of tabular browsing. It's why in-line hyperlinks exist, resulting in things like TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. (Hey, did you know KoopaTV has a TV Tropes page? YOU BETTER DISTRACT YOURSELF FROM THIS ARTICLE AND CHECK IT OUT!) The web bombards you with all of this to try to get your clicks and your attention. One of the metrics web owners look at (including me) is how much time you're spending on a page, and how many pages on the site you look at per session. Your site is pretty valuable if you got high scores in these particular categories, because it means you have engaging content that is useful enough that people are staying and reading it. And they also have a positive enough impression of whatever page they're on now that they will want to view similar pages on the same site afterwards.

What all of that should tell you is that the Internet is the absolute worst place you can be if you're trying to get something done. You're being distracted by design. Being distracted means that you are massively inflating the amount of time it'll take to write your lab report, and then you come to me at 1 AM after you finally finish and tell me you didn't have enough time to read KoopaTV because of all the homework you had. Well, if you're going to be distracted on the Internet for hours, you might as well spend some of that time here!

KoopaTV no comments post a comment form Blogger
C'mooooon. We shouldn't see any of these.


I Promise There Is Enough Time In Your Day

If your issue is school, then yes, you have enough time. Like a videogame or a website, your school day is carefully designed to actually allow you to live a balanced life if you manage your time correctly. Now, not every designer is equal in skill, (and of course everyone is going to be the one to claim they're in the worst school ever) but if the teacher/curriculum designer is actually trying to be decent at what they do, they'll look at the data and iterate from it. And if you're in a bad school with uncaring/cruel administrators/teachers, then why are half of videogamers against school choice?

You can budget your day accordingly. If you're in school from 8 AM to 4 PM and you want to sleep at 11 PM, you have 7 hours of free time. Say every class you're in assigns half an hour of homework a day due the next day, and you have 8 classes. Which is absolutely unrealistic and totally absurd because school doesn't even work that way. (Pro-tip: Have a study period and do your work in it. It's always best to screw the "home" in homework and do it while you're in school and on the bus or whatever.) Now you have 3 hours of free time. You'll want to eat and shower because you don't want to be a stereotypical smelly starving gamer like me. That'll be another hour, so you have 2 hours to do things. Being a gamer is important to you, so you spend an hour and a half a day playing your videogame, which in this article's example is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All. And hey, an hour and a half of playing a day is way more than you need to be a gamer, according to that Entertainment Software Association article I linked in the above paragraph. Now you have another half hour left. You go to KoopaTV's site and read this article, which will take you five-to-ten minutes. You leave a comment, which will take you...two minutes, if you're trying to be thoughtful. And since you also want a social life outside school, your interactions here can count as that. KoopaTV's staff are your best friends, after all. ...Right?

I just raised a good point (as always): While you don't want to multitask, you do want to do tasks that will accomplish multiple goals at the same time. So you can bunch up your grocery shopping in the same trip as when you go videogame shopping (presuming they're on the same path) so you only have to make one trip and don't have to deal with the set-up costs of multiple trips. This is also why multiplayer gaming is efficient: You get your gamer cred from playing a certain amount of time a week, and you also get your social cred because it's with other people. The Pew Research Center actually got data on this, too, and the conclusion was that for many (male) teenagers, online gaming is an important way of friendship-developing. 

Basically: If you make your time valuable and treat it like a scarce resource, you stop trying to do this multitasking crap (do one thing and finish it, and then move onto the next), and you get rid of your distractions (close that Twitter tab, even if I justify it with "KoopaTV responds to you really quickly look at our customer service!") then you will have enough time to ace school, be a gamer, and read and contribute to KoopaTV.

As proof of his time management skills, Ludwig wrote this while being compensated for his (princely?) work, since he knew he wouldn't have enough time to finish this article AND watch both Republican debates if he started it once he got off the clock. Just don't tell payroll. So yes, this was published relatively earlier.


  1. What's pretty cool is that I'm actually doing this whole time management thing right now with commenting on your articles! I pick an interesting one while I study and read it over, then I come up with a response that has good insight. Funny thing is, it kinda helps me in improving my writing skills. I'm being graded on each comment, I gotta include Truth and Levity as much as I can. It's like a writing prompt is supplied in each article in comment form, which is pretty helpful!

    1. While it's great that you're improved writing skills (which is a very important skill!), I'm not sure how time management gets into that. :o

  2. "Back in my day, people had one mid-term and it was in the middle of the term!"

    You jest, but I had a class in college where the professor called every test a mid-term. So we really were constantly having "mid-terms" in that class. xD

    Since you're so keen on this time management thing, maybe you'll manage to find the time next November to join us in NaNoWriMo!

    1. Hey, that's truth & levity for you.

      I know people who have three mid-terms in college and no tests. Rough stuff. comment on NaNoWriMo. >_>

    2. Yeah. XD

      What's the worst that can happen? You don't complete NaNoWriMo. No harm in trying.

    3. There is personal honour lost in doing something and not completing it.

    4. What the fuck is a NaNoWriMo

    5. National Novel Writing Month.

    6. Who the fuck has time for that bullshit goddamn now I really know for sure this bitch a nerd lmao what a thot

    7. I'll tell you who has time for that: writers! xD

    8. Bitch shut yo ass up how many novels you ever sold in your life like 3?

    9. I haven't sold any novels yet. But I'm working on it!

      ...I've sold a few novellas and short stories, though. :)

    10. Nigga that's worse than three fam you should honestly just give it up real quick like Wallahi just save your time while you ahead of the game

    11. No, you fucking aren't

    12. Cause you're the most irrelevant person I've ever met?

    13. So... every writer is relevant to you?

  3. I managed to balance marriage preparations, marriage itself getting used to married life with schoolwork. I am ready for anything.

    1. Well, I presume not all of those were at the same time!

  4. school is fucking stupid Koopa you don't know the struggles me and my niggas have right now man wallahi it's stressful man

  5. Great article, Ludwig! I learned a lot. Thanks.


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