Psychological Self-Help

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Many college students don't get motivated until they flunk out and
have to work in a miserable job for a year or two. 
Thirdly, as Covey, Merrill & Merrill (1994) point out, many of us
spend our days handling what appears to be "urgent" problems, such
as answering the phone or mail, beating deadlines for never read
reports, attending meetings, impressing the boss, etc. which are not in
a broader sense very important or useful. If your schedule is filled with
unimportant urgencies, you won't have time to learn new things, to do
long-range planning, to be creative and original, to do research, to
exchange ideas with others, to re-think your major objectives, to
invent new opportunities, to try to prevent future problems, to help
others, and so on. These latter activities result in greater productivity
and more benefits to everyone; they are the essence of a thoughtful
life. It is said, "the person who concentrates entirely on sawing wood,
is likely to forget to sharpen the saw." Our goals should be selected
with care, as in step 1, and Covey, Merrill & Merrill help us do that. 
Fourthly, some people make their daily schedules too rigid and
overly demanding. Your schedule should make you feel as if you've
"got it together," not like a failure or an incompetent. It would be
foolish to plan every minute of every day. An opportunity--a chance to
talk with the boss, a chance to become involved in a project, a chance
to meet someone--may appear at any moment. You must be ready to
explore any good opportunity; otherwise, life can become a drag.
Priorities and assignments and deadlines change every day; thus, the
use of your "free" time every day must change a little, too. 
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
It seems logical that a planned, organized day is more fruitful than
one lived whimsically without any carefully considered goals. To my
knowledge this has never been researched, however. Maybe the
benefits are obvious. If you can avoid getting trapped into doing
unimportant, unnecessary chores, the dangers of living an intelligently
planned life are minimal compared to the risks of wasting time if you
don't use To-Be-Done Lists. There is some danger, of course, that you
might make a bad decision, e.g. you could decide to study hard in
premed only to gradually realize two years later that you can't make
the grades necessary to get into medical school. Then, you might
regret having lost that time. The advantage is that you have at least
given your brain (and your values) a chance to influence your life. 
Additional readings
Culp, S. (1986). How to get organized when you don't have the
time. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books.
Mayer, J. J. (1991). If you haven't got the time to do it right,
when will you find the time to do it over? New York: Simon &
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