WHILE MESSING AROUND WITH AN unforgiveable email backlog, I received a "blog post in waiting" from Steven Gill. "It’s two in the morning.", he writes from his computer. I invited Steven to share thoughts here on my blog about life in the highly ambitious third level creative multimedia programme. He remembers starting the programme just six weeks ago. Now, he's halfway through his first semester at Tipperary Institute.
Folks in my office told me about Steven when he first "enquired about this strange course." I think it would be interesting to talk back to Steven through a blog post that he has filed for my review in the embargo area of Inside View. Here goes.
Steven has "noticed a lot of changes in my environment since I started this course. Firstly is my sleeping pattern. I am currently surviving on about four to five hours sleep a day which is quite short." I have the same pattern of activity. Most mornings, I'm up before five but I'm not sure I'm as productive as Steven. I get my best work done between 0610 and 0640 every day. Steven's highest level of productivity is "at night, (when ideas) seem to flow just when I am about to shut down the laptop and go to bed. I know that I should consider just closing the laptop and heading to bed, but I cannot let a good idea go without noting it, or bringing it to life, because I know that it will probably not exist by morning. I have made that mistake all too often."
Sage words but I'd offer another perspective. Ideas, when written down, can distill themselves into great actions. It's up to you to keep a jotter. You can use a phone's on-board audio recording system for that kind of function. Or if you have an Android or iPhone operating system, you can leave you scratch work online through Audioboo.
What about Steven's household? "Before I started this course I would do a lot of cleaning and tidying up. Now I am struggling to find the time to fit it in. I am not intentionally trying to ignore it. It is just that there is so much going on in my head that I can easily forget it. Now the house is not a disaster, but I could probably do a lot more than I currently am. My wife and kids are helping pick up the slack, but I must work on doing more. It is great stress relief." I've discovered that a three year old under our roof generates at least one hour worth of clean-up every day. Steven has four kids. The tidy-up deficit has to be double our challenge in our home.
One of the problems with the current semesterised programme is that most of the continuous assessment assignments are due within three weeks. Right after that come semester exams. Looking back on his own work patterns, Steven offers some advice.
-- Don't procrastinate. Do not leave an assignment till the very end. This is a very bad practice which can leave you without the time to create work to the best of your abilities and also limits the constructive feedback you could receive from your tutors.
-- Prioritise. Allow more time for those larger or more complicated assignments will benefit in the long run as well as looking out for those quick and short dated ones. You need to keep on top of them though. There is no point working on that fantastic color coded Technical Diagram for extra credit if you have not looked at that essay due in the day after next, or worse the next morning. A little careful planning would make the world of difference to your schedule. Keep a calendar and record all your assignments or even reminders on your mobile will work the same way.
-- Finish what you have started. If you have a good idea try to roll with with it. Or if you begin writing a story at 2:16 in the morning try to follow through to the end as this will give continuity in your work. Keep the idea in your head. Leaving it till the next day might affect your train of thought.
-- Have fun. As a student in third level school you are prone to high amounts of stress relating to both the course and external pressures like rent, flat-mates, family responsibilities, etc. To this end it is important that you give yourself the time to refresh and relax. Try some exercise, chill with the guys or go clubbing. It is very important that you look after yourselves and the environment you are in. You should also make sure that you eat well. Don't do what one of my previous fellow students did and eat just porridge oats for six weeks solid. You need to eat properly.
--Really have fun with it. This is a third level course after all and, as already described by the staff, your career starts here. You need to enjoy your work and benefit from its creation. Share ideas. Make study groups. Build relationships. Bring new and different ideas to the table, Challenge yours peers. Shake it up. The world is yours to create.
Those strategic ideas are Steven Gill's. I have learned a lot from student perspectives and I deeply appreciate Steven Gill sharing his ideas with readers of my blog. If you've read this far, I'd encourage you to head over to smpgill.blogspot.com to read more of Steven's stories. He is a busy man with four kids, First Aid training with Civil Defense, Taekwondo and all sorts of extra stuff going on in his life. His lifestyle is going to be different. He's managing time by planning and having fun with it. And because a lot of lecturers read this blog, he's helping improve the way we teach creative multimedia to third level students in Clonmel.
Inspiration for this blog post comes from Steven Gill, currently taking the creative multimedia degree programme on the Clonmel campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology.