Key Tips to Students and Young Achievers

Few months ago, I shared some of my key tips with students at UoK to be successful in their academic and professional life. Now just to be clear I am not truly a professional coach or mentor but I am glad to share essential tips which I have learned with my experience in personal development and career.

#1 – Determination to TRY and ACHIEVE

A lot of individuals fail in the beginning. They are just not determined enough to try and achieve their goal. Your goal would be hard or at least it seems to be hard but trust me it’s doable with the courage to try.

I mentioned this point in the context of learning computer programming for students of computer science who are really afraid to accept that they can do programming and this fear stops bunch of them to try few times.

If you’re not brave enough to take the first step, then you’ll never know how far you can go.*

I would like to share my experience here, I was once an awful programmer at that time I was in high school and even when I took an optional IT course in college. I couldn’t just get it, even though I feel like I have interest in computers and machines overall. Then after I got admission in undergraduate program at University of Karachi, for first several weeks of semester I was trying to grasp what programming was all about however couldn’t really do well in writing programs and logic on my own. Until one day I picked up one of the reference book and just sit down in lab to TRY with strong feeling that I would be able do it and after spending some time I achieved the output. I still remember the output of the program

1234554321

1234    4321

123        321

12            21

1                1

Yeah it’s peanuts today but at that time it was real challenge for me! On that day the confidence that I got gave me the boost to aspire to become a software craftsman.

# 2 – Learn to LEARN

This is truly the key to success. You must get the ability to learn about anything in life. It’s not just about technology, it’s about any field. The world has changed, your learning is not going to stop once you graduate… it would just start in a new way!

In your career, especially in technology, every decade brings a drastic change in the field, at least so far. I have seen a lot of students discussing silly topics like which technology/platform to learn or one is better than other. That’s old school. You need to learn to learn any tool, technology or platform you need to achieve your what you want to do, get the in-depth understanding of how things work, learn the science or practice the art and above all be a craftsman and aspire to achieve mastery.

So invest in learning and development, make it a habit, identify the learning methodology that suits you. Eventually you will gain the confidence that you can do anything by learning about it.

#3 – EXPLORE yourself and DO what you ENJOY!

At times take some out to try out different things, explore what you like doing and settle yourself doing what you enjoy! It can be just side hobby or area with in your field, you decide!

You must not end up spending a big chunk of your day doing what you don’t enjoy!

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*Couldn’t find author name of quote

Measure your day with Rescue Time

I am not a time management expert however like many of us, you probably struggle, at times, with time management and distractions at work place. For example, we observe that some of us spent their time in social networking, which is distracting for most of us at work and perhaps such activities need to be managed. However, the real problem is that at the end of the day we don’t know exactly how much time we spent doing what? We need some facts and figures so that we can work on it. As they say,

  “You cannot improve what you don’t measure”

I found a great tool Rescue Time (courtesy of Scott Hanselman for adding in his Tool List). Rescue time gives answer to one of the most fundamental and important question.

Am I really spending my days the way I want to?

Rescue Time helps you figure out the answer by showing you how you spend your time on the computer. (take a tour).

So the way it works that it keeps track of application running on your computer, categorize them, and mark them as either ‘productive’ or ‘distracting’ or ‘neutral’ etc. which we can definitely configure our self. So at the end of the day/week/month it gives us a nice dashboard to know that each day how much productive time we spent and further drilling down to category-wise activities  we have done.

As an example, below are few graphs copied from my dashboard (this week).

RescueTime - Productivity

RescueTime Categories

The good thing about the tool is that it lets you customize it. You can categorize activities, mark them as productive or not and you can set monitoring timings as well.

settings

So I would suggest you to give it a try, measure your day, track down your activities and start improving. As quick start just install the software and forget it, few weeks later check your dashboard and I am sure it would surprise you to some extent. Register and download Rescue Time.

Disclaimer: Please note that I have no association with Rescue Time. I am neither paid by the company nor do I take any guarantee of the software. I am just sharing my experience because I like using it.

Further Reading: There is a great book I came across some time back on productivity and time management “Getting Results the Agile Way”, a personal result system for work and life. It’s available free online and it’s very practical. There is a highly recommended chapter in it “Monday Vision, Daily Wins and Friday Reflection”. Go for it.