Chris Liu, Feb 12

I have always been a busy person since I started self-teaching a lot of things. Most of these things are either online courses from universities like Stanford, MIT, and UCB (and also some from platforms like Coursera), or knowledge helping me grow from books. So the question is, how do I balance my self-teaching and my school work? And how do I balance these with my life. It’s a complicated question involving complicated process.

My Priority of Life 🔢

I divided my life into four sections: self-learning, school, entertainments, and others. My priority is ranked by the value it offers me for the long term. Inside every section, it includes many subsections and some of them have its level of difficulty. The priority of these four section is ordered as:

  1. Self-learning
  2. Others
  3. School
  4. Entertainment

Inside each subsections, those specific tasks are connected to my GTD system (I use OmniFocus 3 for it).

Learning 👨🏻‍💻

I consider self-learning as the top because what I learn in this process is directly related to my future career. I may not learn machine learning courses until grad school and Ph.D., but starting them early is essential to my understanding of those advanced concepts. My personal experience tells me that I learn better in the second time I learn it (or review it). I use OmniFocus to manage all specific tasks those subsections and continuously make a deadline for each of them.

Others 📂

Without explaining why eating and sleeping are important, I believe you all understand it. Recently I’m reviewing for my midterms, so my daily sleep time is shorter than usual. I usually sleep for about seven and a half hours (eight to nine hours on weekends) to make sure my brain has enough time to rehearse what it learned during the day (chapter 6 of Learning How To Learn).

If I don’t get enough sleep, I think those dendritic spines and synaptic links in my brain can’t grow well (LOL). Besides, I will spend some time doing some thinking about tweaking all these stuff and squeeze a little bit of time for my errands.

School 🗓

Honestly, I put it in the third position not because I underestimate it but because it’s just not important as the previous two. The courses I am taking current won’t take me much time, and I also don’t want to spend extra time on them. I am happy if I do them okay, but if you require me to try my best, I won’t do so because I have other hard stuff to do.

Entertainment 👾

It’s called entertainment but I consider it “learning” at the same time. I use Twitter to know about the latest news and progress of the things I learned from courses, and I follow many PhDs to know their opinions about the state-of-the-art. I use Instagram to document my life using pictures. As for 知乎 and Quora, I use them in the similar way as Twitter. I think the only two can be considered real entertainments are TV series and movies (ironic haha).

Why? 🤔

Indeed, to complete this many serious works, I have to give up most of my spare time, but I am willing to do so to be responsible for my own future. I believe I will not regret after ten years when I look back and think about all these tasks I complete but will definitely thank the old me for knowing the meaning and value of lifelong learning.