Section: Opinion

Self-reflection by visualization: tracking how we spend time

With eight 14-week semesters, we all have about 112 weeks at Kenyon total. I have about 24 left. In the bubble of isolation and repetition that seems to have no end, it’s brutally easy to get lost in the cycle of work and school. It’s easy to start feeling like all your days are the same, or that things here aren’t that exciting. But rather than watch your weeks disappear, you can think critically about how you spend every day.

This doesn’t mean losing sleep over what time you go to the KAC or which library mod you’re going to study in, or what you order at Wiggin Street Coffee. It just means that being aware of how you spend your time can help you get the most out of every day and treat it as an opportunity, not a chore.

I’ve found that most time at Kenyon, and as a student in general, can be broken down into one of four categories:

Q1: This, along with Q4, is  probably the best place you can be. This is when you’re doing school work, or some other productive activity (writing, playing music, playing sports) that you truly enjoy working hard to improve upon. These are the things you’re most passionate about and are constantly looking to get better at. Q1 time is often also where you get into a state of flow — energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment of the activity.

Q2: We spend a lot of work time and class time — and some people spend their entire careers — in Q2. You’re working hard, taking good notes, doing all the assignments on time, but the content doesn’t really stimulate you. You’re spending time here because you feel it will benefit you in the future, but in the moment it just feels like a grind.

Q3: This is the danger zone that procrastinators know all too well. You have to finish this English paper due at midnight but you’ve just been scrolling through Instagram for the last 30 minutes. Then, your friend really wants you to walk to the Market with them so you say, “why not?” You get some chips at the Market and eat them, feeling nice and relaxed, talking to your buddy until you get back to Mod C and realize it’s now 11:08 p.m. It will take nothing short of a miracle to reach that 1,500-word minimum. In short, Q3 is not a good place to be.

Q4: Luckily, Q4 is a great place to be. This is your most fulfilling leisure time. Q4 is just spending quality time with your friends or watching your favorite show, feeling in control of and satisfied with all the other things you’ve been doing. My best memories at Kenyon were probably enjoyed in Q4.

So what does this all mean? Well, nothing. It’s just another way you can look at how you spend your time. We’re only human, so naturally you will end up spending a decent amount of time in all four quadrants. Many classes will have you spending a lot of time in Q2. Hopefully, over time, you find classes and activities that start to give you more and more Q1 and Q4 time. At the beginning, it’s good to try a lot of different things, keeping in mind there are some you’ll enjoy, and some you won’t.

Is there one friend that is constantly dragging you into Q3? Maybe it’s time to give them a little distance. Maybe your parents really want you to be a biology major and go to graduate school, but the art class you took this semester has you spending more time in Q1 than ever before. Take more art classes. Maybe you’ve played a sport your entire life and used to love it, but now you dread walking down to practice every day and it’s become an exclusively  Q2 activity. Think about what else you could be doing with your time.

At the end of the day, this is just something I drew on a piece of paper one day. I think about these four categories all the time, but I’m trying to figure out how to spend more and more time in Q1 and Q4. Just keep in mind: We only have 112 weeks. Think about how you’re going to make the most out of each one.

Carson Weisbord ’19 is an economics major from Brooklyn, N.Y. You can contact him at weisbordc@kenyon.edu.

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