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Planning your academic battle

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It’s the big week. You figured as much; your vigilant scouts reported enemy troop mobilization on a massive scale. They’ve begun to gather near the east border, already drilling in anticipation. According to your precious intel, they’re going to blitz through in staggered waves, timed just so that your defenses will be perpetually inundated. It’s midterm season, and you’re at risk of being surrounded by POLISCI 1’s boundless infantry, CS 107’s mesmerizingly complex unit formations and the enigmatic onslaught that is PSYCH 50. You can’t deal with all three at the same time — if you don’t intend to organize all your information and plot the most tactical course of action, your career as Commander Leland Stanford, Jr. is over. But you possess a precious ability that can turn the tide of battle, like Bastila Shan of the Star Wars universe: You can use your Battle Meditation.

Battle meditation is flexible and simple: All you need is some form of planner to write in. Big or small, your planner takes whatever form best permits you to make your thoughts real. Newly a scribe, you give voice to your previously mute thoughts, goals, events, to-dos, skateboarding lessons, appointments, lunches and frat parties. Whoa, you’ve endowed your life’s battle plan with tangibility! You now know what you’re up against, but be forewarned that supernatural awareness and mind-reading are highly unlikely benefits of using a personal planner … unless you’re really good at it. For the greatest advantage, you experiment like a mad scientist and are constantly evolving; Darwin doesn’t stop for anyone, and everyone has a different style of thinking. Big planner, small planner, short planner, tall planner. You try out your powerful built-in Google/Apple/Microsoft Calendar, the sassy-smooth edges of Any.do, the righteous dreams of Kin.today and the magic circles of CloudCal. The magic of your flexibility sparkles when you find yourself checking your friend’s schedule because you’re near their class/dorm/drop-in office hours or when you bumble into that class you didn’t think you’d have time to audit this quarter. These are battle-winning sparkles.

I enjoyed reading about your experiences with your blossoming planning skills. I’ll reproduce (and lightly editorialize) your poetry from the battlefield below:

  • My dread of the unknown shrouded my vision of past and present, obscuring the two into a disorienting fog. With every assignment, a trail of disproportionate fear and a dearth of direction. I knew not whether I was ahead or behind of the endless tide. Then I channeled into my Battle Meditation.
  • My feelings betrayed me all too often, a wolf in sheep’s clothing imploring me to believe I had time to watch entertaining videos in rapid succession. With every assignment, unusual deadlines caught me by surprise. I knew not whether I had a week or an hour to train my skills of rote memorization. Then I focused my Battle Meditation.
  • My mornings never ceased to challenge, each one a scramble to ascertain and execute the various anticipated events. With every day, I found I was again at square one — perhaps a prime launchpad for success but also the most difficult step of the journey. I knew not whether I would achieve my personal goals necessary for survival. Then I picked up a planner.

 

Contact Coco Hergenroeder at codyhergenroeder ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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