Managing Time Without School

By Sid

As a part of the Duke Gap Year Programme, I have learnt an important lesson over the last few months: the freedom that a gap year affords you, while liberating, can also be dangerous if not managed properly.

It started out a few weeks ago, after the initial excitement about the prospect of being enrolled in a gap year programme subsided. I’ve always considered myself a ‘night owl’, achieving peak productivity in the eerie silence of 2 am, devoid of any distractions. For the first few weeks, these nights witnessed a productivity-fueled Sid, rapidly typing away at the keyboard. However, the bubble had to burst sometime, and around 3 weeks ago I started to slip up. Netflix slowly started to replace Coursera. David Dobrik videos began to pervade the YouTube recommendations page. The procrastination that accompanies a lack of a schedule (and a raging global pandemic) had started to set in.

I first noticed the warning signs as I began to fall back on my reading list. The one book per week target I’d set for myself was slipping through my fingers, and if left unattended it was soon going to be out of my reach. I realized that unless I sat down and set a schedule for myself, something for which I had relied upon my school for the most part of my life, these short bursts of productivity followed by days of indolence was going to set in as the theme of my gap year. And so, being the millennial that I am, I turned to YouTube to solve my problem. Ali Abdaal, John Fish, Matt D’Avella, you name the ‘productivity’ channel run by an ambitious and successful college student, and I’ve seen it.

In the end, I settled for a mixture of all of their approaches. The mainstream productivity application ‘Notion’ became the backbone of my recovery to the old productivity-fueled Sid. Slowly, but surely, I have started to make progress in that direction. As I start to get into the rhythm more, I’m finding it increasingly comfortable to settle into a schedule without any college deadlines hanging over my head. While this may not be the last time I fall off the wagon, I am sure that the next time I do, it’s going to be much easier for me to get back up. Setting my own deadlines has in some ways made me much more responsible (and accountable) in terms of how I choose to spend my time to most effectively accomplish my goals. I’m excited to see what else the gap year has in store for me, and to mature further in the coming months.