The first half of my junior year at DigiPen has ended. It was a really rough road, and I think reflecting back on it has helped me notice some interesting things about myself and about what I consider to be some “universal truths” I’ve heard. I’d like to outline what happened, wax poetic about it, and then explain some principles that may help others organize and maintain their own lives.
So the first mistake I did was a lesson I’d already learned, but didn’t properly plan to avoid. I did plan to avoid it, it just wasn’t properly planned to be avoided.
The lesson was that I can’t handle outside projects and go to college at the same time. At least not DigiPen. So when I was planning the schedule for the dragons I made in Second Life, I planned to be able to finish during the summer, a month before school started.
Well, two months into the semester, I finished the project. It was actually only two months behind schedule, since I’d spend the first month of summer doing some work on Booster Logic. All in all, not very well executed on my part.
Before I talk about the aftereffects of splitting my time between school and a project, I’d like to mention three things. One, how I tend to handle projects before me. Two, the “worker’s guilt” I grew up with. Three, the concept of three (or four) elements of the body and maintaining a balance between them, which you may consider a universal truth if you want to play with the idea and test it yourself.
So first, when I approach a project I approach it single-mindedly. Eating, sleeping, whatever else — it gets in the way. Naturally this doesn’t work very well on long-term projects. Fortunately, I can dial my obsession back a bit and make it a “normal job” thing and spend a few hours each day relaxing (read: gaming) and sleeping, so I can preform the job better from a rested state. That tends to work well.
Second, due to religion and other factors, I was taught to accept tasks, my own or otherwise, if I “could” do them. Working and staying busy is a good thing. However, when is the point where you can’t do more? To find your limit, just do as much as you can, and see when you can’t do more. Until now, I’d never found my limit. I was always capable of more.
Third, I’ve heard say that the body has four… let’s call them reserves. Four reserves. They are: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. If you’re not religious, just lump spiritual into emotional. It’s important to maintain a balance between these. If we’re making it a game with little health bars, let’s say when the a reserve bottoms out, you can still preform activities that drain that reserve, but it drains all the other reserves twice as fast as it would the original.
So here’s what happened. Those two months of doing this project and school drained my physically (no sleep), and mentally (full power to school and this project). My emotional and spiritual reserve then bottomed out, and I broke. For the first time in my life, I simply could not. I was bedridden for a week. The week after that I was useless.
When I made it back to school, I was limping in everything. I could hardly focus or motivate myself on school tasks, let alone anything else. I’d “crashed” before, but never this far, this hard. For the first time in my life, when faced with the option of more tasks, I simply could not. I was barely able to do what I was already obligated to do.
I’ve decided to take winter break off rather than try to do some kind of work. My reserves are totally shot, and hopefully I can bring them back up by having a real vacation.
The whole situation is actually really scary, and hopefully something I’ve pulled a lot of lessons away from so I don’t make a mistake like that again.