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Mr Chen's anecdotes.


Updated: Nov 30, 2021

"... yours truly sleeps at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:20am, with all my work completed."

The quote from the previous article caught the attention of several of my fans (Okay, fine. Just one fan. Okay fine, she’s my student.) which made me feel obliged and inspired to write an article on time management. (Thanks, C)

I understand, it feels like the whole world is crashing down on you when the to-do-list doesn’t seem to get any shorter despite your efforts. It’s common to feel helpless, breathless and burned out when this happen. I am not going to give stupid advice such as "sleep less" or "just work harder". These are not necessarily proven life-hacks or some NLP techniques but simply my own experience with time management as a student and adult.

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I’m not 羅志祥 A.K.A. 時間管理达人 but I think I am pretty good at managing my time when I was a student and even now. My priority in any given day is always 8 hours of sleep. We don’t need an article from the Journal of Science to know that lack of sleep affects our cognitive abilities. I’d rather go into class with a clear and alert mind, ready to absorb knowledge and tackle any questions that come my way than trying to play catch up on work that I struggle to finish. (Which if you planned properly, that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.)

Then again, maybe that’s why I only got 3 H2 distinctions.

I slept "too much".

Have a routine

"...but most of a person’s everyday life is determined not by their conscious intentions and deliberate choices, but by mental processes put into motion by the environment." -Psychologist John Bargh of Yale University

We are all creatures of habits. For most students, they wake up, reach out for their phone first, roll around in bed for awhile before heading to the showers. All this occur without conscious effort and yet, when we try to maneuver out of it, it feels difficult.

Does routines ever get boring? Occassionally.

I can’t explain the precise science behind it given my limited knowledge. (Feel free to do your own research and educate me.) But what I know is, we can take advantage of this. Habits usually take 30 days to develop. I have a habit of running and lifting on certain days in which, when unfulfilled will leave me uncomfortable throughout the day.

This routine or habit doesn’t have to start big but it has to start strong. Setting aside 45 minutes to an hour daily dedicated to nothing but work. During the allocated time slot, keep your phone away and have only your assignments in front of you. This will allow for minimal distraction. Get started with any of the assignment in front of you and stay engaged for as long as you can. Try to achieve a state of "flow" (It is a real concept, do your own research) and you might even go beyond the time slot allocated.

It doesn’t matter if there are still assignments undone. (That will be another article altogether.) That is fine. But you need to develop a sense of discipline and habit in having protected time to focus entirely on your assignments.

In addition, when you develop a habit of doing work daily, not only will you engage in academics daily but also you increase your chances of entering the state of "flow" significantly. When you’re in a state of “flow”, it will only encourage you to go further and longer. A positive feedback loop is then created where it will further reinforce the benefits of such a routine endlessly.

Here is my example when I was a JC student.

4pm – End of school timetable

5pm – Arrive home

5:30pm- Showered with a clear idea of what is to be done that day

5:30pm to dinner – Protected time to do assignments

7:30pm to bedtime 10:30pm - Flexible

This is my ideal timetable after school. It worked well for me simply because I spent my time on the way home deliberating over what is to be done that day and in what order. In addition, my protected time is specifically allocated to be prior to dinner such that I have a reason to stop and no timer is required. (Phone is kept away. Completely.)

Get A Mentor

It’s no longer a luxury for most families to have tuition for their children. It is actually becoming a norm (some might argue a necessity), a permanent fixture in your already congested timetable as a student.

I was no different. I had group tuition when I was in JC for Math & Chem. I attended tuition religiously even though I never saw a pressing need for it.

Never asked for extra lesson.

Never asked for homework.

Never milked my tutor.

Most of my math tuition session as a student was practising questions from old textbooks (boy, was it old) and just having my tutor go through questions that we would get wrong. It wasn’t anything spectacular and that is why most of my tuition classmates did not benefit as much as I did. Yours truly would get multiple questions wrong (I know, so hard to believe right?!) but I would sort out the thought process of my tutor before applying it to the subsequent questions.

I know, shocking that I'd actually made mistakes in school work.

Alternatively, I would discuss the possibility of an alternative method. We would consider many aspects such as why it would be wrong, which is more time efficient or even weigh the risk of potential hurdles that could cost me the entire question. This is also the only time I consult my tutor on questions that I have gotten from my school materials. You don’t want to have overlapping content between school and tuition. Again, time efficiency. Time management.

Fortunately for most of my students, the structure of my tuition lessons follows exactly how I used to have tuition. My iPad contains a whole host of materials from different sources. During the lesson, we would breakdown the content taught in school briefly and only explain parts which we feel is essential. I pinpoint for them how each concept is important before demonstrating it in a question. We would go through questions after questions that are similar in structure and ideas under my supervision, discuss the alternatives and deliberate over the risks and time management aspect.

Furthermore, we always have a discussion revolving around our battle plan for the next upcoming assessment and tests. We discuss the number of weeks left and how to allocate the session for the topics that is to be tested in the most time efficient manner. By having a clear plan deliberated with a senior figure, all you have to do is just follow and believe in the plan. Essentially, we at Vantage Tutor are more than tutors.

We are your strategist.

We are the Zhu Ge Liang to your Liu Bei.

8 hours of sleep daily.

Sleeping Dragon indeed.

Now, aren’t you little shits lucky to have me.

List out your priorities

This is essentially a no brainer. However, it is not as simple as you make it out to be. Your teachers would tell you to list out your priorities. However, different people would have different metrics for their priorities. Allow me to suggest you a possible metric based on my own experience.

Students past and present all take multiple subjects with varying aptitude towards each subject. Some find Math a breeze, others can write an essay that flows like a river. Most students would usually list their priorities of work based on difficulty. Starting from the easiest assignment to the hardest assignment or the converse. Both has its merits.

For the sake of simplification, alI explanations below are under the assumption assignments are of equal length and given same amount of time before due time.

If one were to start from the easiest assignment, you are likely to enjoy the process of engaging in the assignment. It would take minimal to no effort and you enter into the state of "flow", which I mentioned earlier. Take advantage of this state of flow by engaging into the subsequent assignments immediately. When your mind is in the state of flow, your brain neurons are engaged and the probability of you completing the more tedious and thought provoking task suddenly requires less effort.

If one were to start from the hardest assignment, you get it out of the way early while knowing, subconsciously, your day is going to get easier. The experience for your day is going to get easier over time and you could enter into a state of flow, assuming you get past the hardest task.

Both metrics has its own risk. You might run out of steam after clearing all the easier task and end up struggling to finish your harder task. While in the other metric, you might not even get past the hardest task and end up not finishing any task at all.

Personally, clearing the easiest task of the day is my preference in terms of academia. My goal in mind is not to complete all my tasks but to enter the state of flow when engaging my tasks. If you are intelligent enough, you would be aware that usually the hardest task is the hardest precisely because it is unlikely that you can complete it to a satisfactory standard. Then you might question, what am I supposed to do with the hardest task then? That’s a story for another article.


I have never seen a need to stay up late. For anything.

There is always a way around juggling the multiple responsibilities you have at hand. However, I do agree that times are different. Distractions today compared to that of the past are more compelling than ever. I struggle to focus on my task at hand occasionally especially when my phone is within sight. What matters is whether we have the discipline and the drive to push through. Discipline is not something I can teach you easily. I can only advise you on time management.

But of course, what do I know about time management and your mountains of projects and homework in school?

I only workout for 45 minutes minimum every day for the past 5 years, teach 7 hours of tuition daily 7 days a week, manage my tuition business’ finance and marketing, write articles to help students while sleeping 8 hours a night and maintaining IPPT fitness of Gold.

What do I know about time management.

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