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  • Writer's pictureAlex Cassem

Oh Boy.

This semester is going to be an extremely long, long, long...., marathon. Let me explain why.

Currently, I am only taking three courses: advanced calculus (real analysis), history of mathematics (like a history course, meant for education majors), and discrete mathematics (intro. to set theory, more for computer science). With this, I was just hired under adjunct faculty to be a Master Tutor under 4 credits equaling 12 hours a week of work, which isn't bad, it's really nice because I am tutoring, and getting paid more, but I also have a lot of "administrative" duties now (keeping track of all the tutors, making sure the department is running well with respect to how well tutors are doing, and what not. I also am studying rigorously for the physics GRE and regular GRE so that if (hopefully when) when I score high, it becomes a "ticket" into graduate school. On top of this, I also TA University Physics 2 (electricity & magnetism). On top times two, I am trying to keep my research ambitions (Swampland and Distance Conjectures) and enjoyment for studying quantum gravity (like the loop quantum gravity problems)....... And it is slowly becoming a lot.... There is of course the basics of lie: eating, driving to school, sleeping,.... which add more and more to a 24-hour day.

However, this post is not to say, "oh, I have all these things going on, this is why chapter 3 (and chapter 4 will be) posted late on the blog [which they are]." This post is a way to sort through my tasks per day, and see how my schedule could be optimized more, or the realization, "something need to be put on old." Or the classic saying, "all work and no play makes Jack (Jill) a dull boy (girl)."

My school course work is of course priority one. First school work gets done, then everything else comes along. However, one could elevate the importance of the physics GRE to the same status as coursework. We then have two priority one tasks each day. Now, my work does not take much time, and if there is any down time during "drop-in tutoring" then that time can be used for studying. Being a TA also does not take long, so with tutoring plus TA work, I would not put them as a priority two, but a sub group of the priority one category (like a 1a and 1b bullet point).

The reasoning behind these being put under a priority one category, is because how well I do in my coursework, and how well I perform on the GRE, are direct correlators to graduate school applications. My TA work and tutoring are also here, but mainly because of the term they share, work (I hold this word with high regards and respect, and as such, certain characteristics come with said regards).

Moving onto designating definitively, items that belong in priority two categories, sadly must be: quantum gravity work, and my research into the Swampland (I also didn't mention I am doing a small side project here at Winona State exploring rigorous explanations of the measurement issue...).

The reasoning for this is because, yes, the work is extremely important, however, its immediate impact on graduate school (which is currently my main goal) is low. It is good that I am doing these things, and keeping up with them, but attempting to dedicate 20 hours a week to them may not benefit myself overall. Consider for example a 6-day work week which holds: 6*24 = 144hours. School work is 9credits = 9hours, then the work outside ~14 hours (which is a little over 1.5 hours/credit, even though academics recommend 2-3 hours (citation)). This brings us down to 144-9-14-12 = 111, including the 12 hours per week of tutoring. Then there is TA work, ~5 hours, the amount of time I drive per day to get to school = 12hrs/week. Now lets include studying for the GRE ~ 3hours/day *6 = 18hours. This brings us to 76 hours. Now comes the life portions: sleep (recommended for healthy behavior) ~8*6 = 24hours, and then three meals a day with prep/cleaning/eating ~ 3*6 = 18hours. Our 6-day work week now has 34 hours worth of free time. But there is of course the things we can't plan for, and the deficiencies all humans posses (distractions, exhaustion,...) which may takeaway more time then most of us are prepared to admit. So, I can find time to quantum gravity and research, at 20 hours a week, but I grossly underestimated time spent on school work, administrative tutoring duties, and time spent doing "life" stuff.

Coming out of this deep dive, I think I truly identified some areas where, I could be more efficient, and found myself wondering, why don't I have time to do these extra tasks? I might be expecting to much out of myself, but I have found places where, yes, it does sound like I am overloading myself, but at the same time, I believe I have thought of areas of my day where, I do seem to become distracted, or questioning, "why did it take so long to complete that homework/task?"

Either way, I hope everyone has a great weekend, we have a three-day break, so use it wisely to either catch-up on work, or take well-earned day off.

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