It is truly hard to imagine what life would be like now without the pandemic. There is one thing I’ve learned about our current times: there is nothing more important than staying present and making the most out of my day. This idea comes from a recent book I read, which is Richie Norton’s The Power of Starting Something Stupid. From this book, there was one quote that really resonated with me: “Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
Given that there is so much unpredictability swirling through our days, I recently decided to take inventory of how I spend my days as a business school student so I can make the most of my last year at Haas. The very first lesson I learned is that intentionality for me manifests as productivity. Never before has that been more important than right now during midterm season.
Here’s a look at a day in my life hour by hour with some helpful tips you can pick up along the way.
Breakfast. Truly not the crack of dawn, but 8:00 a.m. is the sweet spot between waking up too early and too late for me. As a bit of an early bird, I like the quiet of the morning as I get myself ready for the day cooking breakfast and listening to a podcast.
Breakfast as a pre-COVID college student is often a cup of coffee and maybe a bagel before I rush to Haas for a morning class. Now, the benefit of online classes is that there is no walking commute through the hills of Berkeley. Instead, I’m taking advantage of the extra 10 minutes by scrambling eggs and making toast.
As I gather the ingredients for a quick and healthy breakfast, I am without a doubt listening to the Robinhood Snacks Podcast. For around 15 minutes every morning, I lend my ear to Nick Martell and Jack Kramer talking about the top 3 business stock news of the day. For those who don’t have the time to read a newspaper in the morning (me included), this is a great way to get your financial news. The most recent episode talked about Quibi, the unicorn startup focused on streaming short videos, and it’s swift shutdown; Bitcoin’s recent surge to $13,000; and the impact of Goldman Sachs’ $5 billion payout for its role in the Malaysia scandal.
Work out. After I have fed my body and brain with food to start the day, I get into my morning workout. Since freshman year, I’ve realized that there is truly nothing better than getting some serotonin in my brain from a good workout. It is far easier to stay productive than start being productive.
During quarantine, I’ve cycled through a couple of different activities depending on my mood. If I am looking for a short intense workout, I’ll go on a 20 minute run in the morning through the winding streets of Berkeley and pass my favorite places like Memorial Stadium and, of course, Haas campus. If I am planning for a rest day, I’ll do an active yoga video to calm my mind and realign my body. On Youtube, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of videos from Adriene Mishler on her channel Yoga With Adriene. There are hundreds of videos and calendars of yoga schedules for the devoted practitioners. And lastly, if I am joined by my roommate, we’ll workout together to fitness videos found on Youtube.com from channels like POPSUGAR, and our favorite, Pamela Reif. There is no one better at getting your heart rate up and muscles burning than this German instructor.
Class. It is time for class. After a quick shower, I fire up the laptop, get situated at the table, put in my headphones, and wait for my professor to start the meeting. I always try to contribute to class discussions at least once per class, a very doable goal and something I want to accomplish as a way to keep up the productivity of the day. Depending on the class, there will be breakout sessions to do econ problems for UGBA 101A Microeconomics and group assignments like persuasive letters for UGBA 100 Business Communications. I think all students can agree that engagement with your fellow students is few-and-far between during these online times. As a result, it is always nice to engage in some conversations.
Before I know it, class is almost over. The professor runs through final reminders for the next class and bids us all farewell. And, not a moment too soon. It’s time to make lunch.
Lunch. Normally, if I were taking classes in the classroom, I’d quickly head to the library for an hour before getting lunch at a Cafe somewhere. Now, because my kitchen — and by extension food — is so close, I choose not to make myself wait. On days where I cooked multiple servings of a curry or butternut squash gnocchi for example, I’ll pop a serving in the microwave. But, on days I’m feeling a bit lazier, I can always count on pan-frying some Dino Nuggets and Tater Tots.
Study Session #1. I am a massive proponent of studying now, so that I don’t have to do it later. Week-after-week, Berkeley assigns a stunning amount of work and readings. There is no “getting ahead” for many students. Rather, it is more “staying on pace”. Especially during midterm season, it is hard to keep track of everything while balancing attending review sessions and keeping up with other miscellaneous assignments and, frankly, eating for many of us.
I’ve found that having a calendar or to-do list is a life-saver in this regard. There is no more effective way to keep track of different deadlines. No matter whether you respond better to crossing off items on a running list or seeing all assignments on a weekly calendar, find what works for you and stick to it.
I like doing both. Seeing all of the things I must do in a week allows me to prioritize my time and make sure I don’t leave any assignment to the last minute. And being able to cross things off a list is a nice tangible way to tell myself that I have completed something.