Life Lesson: Prioritize and Execute

After a tough day of school and Tennis, I always enjoy having a break at dinner. I usually take 45 minutes to sit down, eat, and enjoy a book. Recently, I have had the pleasure of reading “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to improve their lives. But last night a particular passage stood out from the rest: Prioritize and Execute.

This particular lesson applied to my homework situation last night. I had two tests, a quiz, a project, and 100 pages of reading all due the next day for school. I was tired after conducting interviews for the school newspaper and giving a half hour speech in Chinese, and I had no idea how I could get all the work done and be well rested for my tests.

While I won’t spoil the book for you, Jocko Willink was in a much tougher situation when he learned this lesson. But instead of panicking, he kept a calm head, gave orders to his soldiers to solve each problem, one at a time, and escaped enemy territory with no casualties. If you can learn to prioritize your tasks, then you can get through the day without suffering any financial casualties, or in my case, GPA casualties.

First, I figured out which assignments would be most important. The two tests made up the highest percentage of my grade, so I spent my first 90 minutes of studying preparing for each test. After completing the highest priority task, I looked at what I had left: The project, the quiz, and the reading. The quiz was to be administered last period, so I decided to skip the review and plan to do it during study hall the next day. Finally, I spent another 60 minutes completing the project and doing 40 pages of the reading, since there would not be a quiz on the full 100-page reading the next day.

Through prioritizing and executing, I took what seemed like an insurmountable amount of work, and completed it in two and a half hours. That’s a pretty good deal at my school, where many students are lucky to get 6 hours of sleep.

Let’s see how much time I saved compared to someone who didn’t prioritize and execute:

Physics Test Review: 45 mins

History Test Review: 45 mins

Chinese Project: 30 mins

~40 Pages English Reading: 30 mins

~60 Pages English Reading: 60 mins

Chinese Quiz Review: 30 mins

Total Time: 4 hours

Compared to the average student, I saved a whole hour and a half on my homework through prioritizing my tasks! And I was able to use that extra time to get a good night’s rest, and stay focused during the tests and the quiz I took today. And now that the weekend is here, I’ll have plenty of time to complete the work I didn’t get to during the week.

When faced with e-mails, meetings, and all the other jazz that goes along with a busy career, things can seem overwhelming, and impossible to get done. But by keeping a level head, you can pick out your highest priorities, accomplish them, and then continue down the list until you complete everything that needs to get done that day. And before you know it, you will have a less packed, more focused schedule, and get more done than you could ever imagine!

-Andrew

Dealing With (Stupid, Annoying, Mean, etc) People

It looks like I haven’t posted anything on this blog in three weeks… Boy, am I lazy! But I’m back, and better (actually more tired) than ever! One of the reasons for my absence has been my high school Tennis season, which requires regular travel and 2-3 hours of practice a day, 6-7 days a week. While I train year round, the expectation my school sets takes it to a whole new level. And to top it all off, my coach is a complete jerk!

He gives me a lot of advice that makes no sense, yells at me all the time, and, in my opinion, significantly depresses the potential of our team. Unfortunately, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, since he’s not breaking any actual rules. And when he yells at me, I get a strong urge to give him a piece of my mind! I could easily tear him apart and escalate the situation to it’s breaking point.

But that isn’t the smartest thing to do. You see, when a young man disrespects an authority figure, things end badly for the former, more often than not. So instead, I suck it up and deal with the situation.

When you are dealing with mean people, you begin to look at things through an emotional lens, and start making irrational decisions. You also think that situations and events are worse than they really are. After a confrontation, instead of acting quickly and rashly, take 24 hours to cool down and look at the situation logically. If you are patient, you will likely find solutions to the problem that you didn’t see in your initial haze of anger.

If you have to deal with someone in the long term, learn to work with that person instead of making your relationship with them worse. Be respectful. Find easy things you can do to make them happy. If they’re your boss, do what they tell you to do, or at least make it look like you are doing what you’re supposed to. As the famous saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

Have you ever had to deal with someone you couldn’t stand? If so, how did you handle it?

-Andrew

 

Get a Job! Not just any Job, though

Exams may be over, but that doesn’t mean I can take a break! There’s nothing like getting up early on a Sunday to clean Tennis courts in 20-degree Fahrenheit weather. Luckily, I get to spend part two of my Sunday shift sitting at a nice, cozy desk writing this article.

And you know what makes this gig even sweeter? I’m getting paid to sit at this desk and do nothing for 75% of the time! Sure, I need to help customers for a few minutes whenever they come into the shop, but outside of that, I’m making money while growing this blog. It’s very time efficient, and if you can find a job where you get paid to sit around, I would highly recommend it.

However, a job like mine is hard to come by. That’s why I am going to tell you about my second job! Outside of working on Sundays, I also teach Tennis to young players at a rate of $20 an hour, or about 2.5x the minimum wage here in Florida. While it’s not possible to book a full 40-hour workweek, I can control my schedule and work when I want to, and make a heck of a lot more than most kids my age.

“But Andrew, I have no idea how to play Tennis, or any sport for that matter! Will I be poor for eternity, or at least until I get a college degree?”.

Well, you don’t necessarily need to teach a sport if you want to have a great first job. Do you have a subject in school that you are good at, or at least have a B in? You should consider tutoring middle or elementary school students in that subject! With professional tutors ranging from $60 an hour to several hundred dollars an hour in places like NYC and San Francisco, $20 an hour (or even more in some cases) will seem like a steal to most parents!

Other ideal jobs include anything that involves sitting at a desk, whether as a clerk or a library attendant, that allow you to work on other projects, such as your homework, when you are not helping a customer or maintaining the facility. You want to find a job that puts you at a desk or reception area just so your employer has someone there, not involving any lengthy periods of work.

Many teens can easily get a job working at a local store or restaurant stocking shelves or cleaning dishes, and while I do believe there is value in menial labor, it’s not very efficient to take such a time consuming job when you already have 40-50 hours of school work! I implore you to seek out more time efficient ways to make money, and leave a comment if you have any other ideas on how to make money on a tight schedule.

-Andrew