4/18/2007

Paradigms for Religious Success on Campus, Part IV: The Micromanager

Continued from part I, IA, II, III

Before anything else, I wanted to call attention to a new initiative to solicit essays by Orthodox students and recent graduates about the Orthodox experience on campus. I know that I have many collegiate readers, so I hope I can help encourage some of them to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor. The website is here. I hope that this initiative meets with success. Similar plans have been hatched, but haven’t totally caught on. See here, for example.

On to the regularly scheduled programming.

The hallmark of the micromanager is self-control, particularly when it comes to temporal matters. In college, the amount of time spend in class and doing homework is, at the end of the day, not that much. The average student has four days of classes per week, thirty weeks a year. That works out to about 120 days a year, or once every three days. That’s kinda ludicrous. Homework and papers are significant, but not that much. Thus, you are left with oodles and oodles of free time.

To a great degree, religious success and failure is directly linked to management of free time. Everything is vying for that free time – student organizations, friends, leisure, studying, etc. Successfully managing the clock can easily translate into religious growth. For example, college students are notoriously nocturnal. This does not bode well for minyan. The student who is disciplined enough to get to bed early can begin the next day in a more religiously productive manner – maybe even a shiur before shacharit.

The micromanager also might schedule classes to begin earlier in the day so that he has the afternoon to learn, or late in the day so he can learn after davening. He might schedule classes in blocks so that there’s no loss of time between classes – and nothing is as big a waste of time as a 45 minute break between classes. On the other hand, the mikcromanager might set up a chavruta in that 45 minutes. I know people who had set up 7 or 8 chavrutot per day, sometimes for as short as 15 minutes.

This method is for yekkes. People with ADD need not apply. It doesn’t seem to work very well at party schools. Distractions there seem more intense, though distractions are everywhere, and they can suck up time like nobody’s business. Rare – but successful – is the person who can remain disciplined.

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