“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” // Robert Allen - The One Minute Millionaire
You’ve committed to doing something really, really hard. Let us give you some pointers.
Create Rhythms, Plan, Reflect, Rest
The most productive people do not have to ask themselves what they’re supposed to do next–they already know. Regardless of their industry, they accomplish this with four tools:
Rhythms are the only thing better for productivity than having a plan. Life won’t always fit into them. But when we can use them, rhythms allow us to organize repeated series of actions into highly effective habits. Some ideas:
- Get up early, exercise, have breakfast, and get to class early to study before 9 AM.
- Need inspiration? Steve Jobs wore one outfit to work every day. Mark Zuckerberg wears the same T-Shirt (multiple shirts, same brand/color).
Planning is how you organize the things that aren’t the same each day. It’s the sand between the stones.
- Plan the order you’ll do tasks in. If you’re bold, put the hardest ones first. Then everything will be downhill for the rest of the day (Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy).
- Don’t forget to execute the plan after you create it!
Reflection gives us space to assess our actions and interactions before we internalize them.
- The fact is what we do, learn, and experience today affects the way we think tomorrow and the next day. By taking intentional time to process at the end of the day or time period, we’re better able to parse the facts from the feelings and assess outcomes.
- Reflecting on what we learn helps us comprehend it better. Comprehension is always better than rote repetition, because it allows us to take the concept and apply it in new ways.
Reflection works best as a rhythm: daily, weekly, monthly, annually
Rest gives our brain time to integrate new information, much the same as reflection.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Sleep debt is real.
- Schedule time to work on projects and review over the weekend. And plan one full day off. If you keep a rhythm of working hard the rest of the week, this is totally possible and will help you keep stress down.
A little science to support these suggestions…
- Google benefits of working out before work for more.
On decision fatigue
- Google Decision Fatigue for more evidence.
On sleep debt
This section will be more anecdotal, based shared experiences of V School team members. We on-site, remote, and traveling team members. Here are our pro tips.
- In addition to the above, make a distraction-free (or -limited) place to work. You’re not physically in class, but your head has to be.
- Actually take your lunch break. This could be said for everyone, but it’s even easier to slip into this habit when working or studying remotely. Once in a while a working lunch can help you catch up. But taking time to eat and rest will enhance the quality of your work for the rest of the day.
During Class Time
- Create relationships with the other students
- Reach out to other students FIRST before asking an instructor.
- Compliment others on their good work when they tackle a warm-up or present a cool project.
- Ask for advice or opinions on things.
- Try to solve what you can on your own. People generally like helping those who carry their own weight. They don’t like helping people who clearly didn’t pay attention.
- The fact is it’s easier to be an in-person student. But you didn’t pay for easy. We will do our part. But it will also be on you to overcome the distance factor. Other students have a dozen or so others they can talk to easily. Reach out and be a friend.
- Don’t ditch out during lessons or work time just because we can’t “see” you. Ideally, everyone should be putting in 45-50 hours a week total. Don’t be that person that leaves early. Arrive early and/or leave late.
- Get good at Zoom etiquette:
- Do speak up, but don’t dominate the conversation.
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
- Use headphones if you have kids or loud noises around.
- If the loud noises aren’t just temporary or infrequent, you may want to rethink your workspace location.
- Keeping your video on is up to you, but we will see if you’re picking your nose.
- Wear pants/shorts/something–not just a shirt. I hate adding this to the list, but we’ve seen it...all…
Outside of class
Network. Now. Early. Often. More.
If you’re not in Salt Lake, V School won’t be there with you, but you can still do the same things! In fact, you’ll stand out a bit more. Make the most of it!
- Networking is...
- Meeting and connecting with new people
- Learning from them and asking advice
- Offering others something real: hearing them out, asking genuine questions, helping them make a connection
- Receiving and paying it forward
- Networking isn’t...
- Talking other people’s ears off
- Getting talked at for 40 minutes in one unproductive conversation (practice breaking away politely)
- Taking from others
- Asking outright for a job
Set expectations with family + friends
- Studying/working from home? Talk with everyone you live with about how it will look for you to work from home. Clearly communicate when you’re on a lunch break (i.e. available) and when you’re just grabbing a quick snack or something.
- Personally, I tell my wife and kids ‘goodbye’ in the morning, ‘hi’ on lunch, and so forth. I tell them how long I have for breaks when I come out of my work area. I even tell my kids exactly when I’ll be free to play with them." - Jamie Woodmancy
- Get some quality time with your friends. You’ll need them during and after V School, but also practice defending your study and class time. The attendance policy applies to online students too.
- Make the most of the time you’re not studying/working. Invest your full attention with friends and family when you’re with them.
- Talk about your V School experience...but not all the time. They know the gist of what you’re doing, but they won’t get it. Take time to listen and show them you care about them, even when they don’t know why it’s so exciting that you made your first successful API query.
Simple, straight-forward stuff
- Get a second monitor. More screen space => more productivity => fewer headaches.
- Invest in a reasonably-priced ergonomic workstation. Consider it “book money” now instead of paying for a chiropractor later.
- Reach out if you have questions. We have remote team members who love it and rock at it (says the guy who wrote the guide). We’re happy to answer your questions and give recommendations [=
Remember why you’re doing this
If you’re studying remotely, chances are you have roots where you’re at. Don’t neglect your family and friends. They need you as much as you need them. If you communicate about your needs and respect theirs too, you’ll do a lot better than if you just drop off their radar and reappear months later.