Accelerating through my first semester, the ever-growing piles of work, assignments, practice duties, and expectations can be overwhelming. There simply isn’t enough time to do everything that needs to be done. But most of the battle is in my head.
I must be vigilant against psyching myself out. Otherwise, I run the risk of getting lost in a fog of flurried and frantic thoughts and forget to work. Number one on many of my discarded to-do lists should have been "DO NOT LOSE." Though I know how important it is to get enough sleep, sleep is easily sacrificed in exchange for getting a few more boxes checked. The clutter of my dorm desk cannot be helpful. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the natural chaos of my mind. Sad. But, organizing that clutter would save time.
Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that the seemingly extra effort of staying organized and on top of things pays off. It’s hard to remember this, especially during the height of the mid-semester crunch. Whenever I put things off until the very last minute, I put myself in a position to not get the sleep I need. This is telling myself and my body that my well-being isn’t a high priority. Also, procrastination doesn’t always lead to the best work. However, getting organized can take a great deal of discipline and patience. I’m actually not very organized, but I’ve been trying. I have to do this because Juilliard has challenged me to step up my game.
I finally purchased a physical planner where I can actually write down everything that is going on. It has saved me time, sleep, and hours of ruminating about what I’m really supposed to do in the practice room and room.
My teacher Li Lin has been making me videotape our lessons. This has really helped! I review the video on the same day and take notes. This way, I have a much more organized and clearer idea of what needs to be worked on in practice. I also follow along the video and play through the ideas using my violin that he wanted emphasized so that it remains clearer in my mind. In the past, when I didn't review my lessons, I would often forget a lot of what the teacher said. I would then come back to the next lesson having missed many opportunities for improvement. Another benefit of recording is that I have been able to play back the videos during practice to remind myself of how he wanted things to sound or otherwise done.
Another thing I did that really helped me during this semester was to not only abide by the deadlines our teachers have given us but also give myself my own deadlines. Honestly, I could have managed things better in high school. Without a big picture of my priorities, I would often spend an entire day on one task that should have taken an hour. Now, I impose specific times during the day when I’m supposed to be practicing, eating, doing homework, going to the gym, and sleeping. Setting my own deadlines is incumbent for someone like me, as I would otherwise stupidly dilly dally time away.
For all of you folks reading this who like to spiral into procrastination but still want to be on top of things, I get you. That is me in my natural state. The struggle is real.
College applications for fall 2020 are now open.