My interests and time management

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Heart of the Swarm is coming to an end soon, and there really isn’t anything for me to analyse and discuss here. I have yet to play a single LotV game, so I am going to write something different before I pick up momentum again in LotV. If you’re expecting Starcraft content, you will be disappointed.

After all, I have always made it clear that this is a Starcraft blog and not a Starcraft strategy site, so I will simply blog about what is on my mind right now (it’s sort of Starcraft related).

I have many things to do. By that I mean things inside and outside of gaming, and some are clearly priorities, while some are simply interests. Here is a list.

Full time

  • PhD student
  • Teacher

Interests

  • Starcraft
  • Blogging – Terrancraft
  • Go
  • Basketball
  • Arsenal
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Hearthstone
  • Reading

I just returned to Sydney from a conference after travelling for more than 27 hours, and I spent much time in the air reflecting on what I’ve been doing and how I can do better. I notice that I am not doing well in anything I am doing because I have been spending my time in too many things. To put it more simply, there is a lack of focus and it is against my principle of quality over quantity. The image explains my lifestyle pretty well and I am not proud of it.

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I am not exactly making progress in my research, which is a very bad thing for a PhD student. The main reason is that I am always distracted by my other interests. I will go on reddit when something I am working on is loading, then I will only get back to it after 10-15 minutes. That is shit work ethics.

What I am doing is comparable to progaming. The opportunity cost is extremely high and those who can claim that they are successful are the minorities. In short, I need to get my act together and improve systematically.

Teaching is the other priority to me. It is my main source of income (and a huge portion goes into my rent), and I am spending a little too much time on it. My professor has once told me that the reward for teaching (more than just monetary) comes quicker than researching, and it is easy to get suck into it. I think I care too much about it, and prepare a little too much before I go into the classroom. I also spend too much time on marking, and the students can only see their own grade and not realise how much “David Kim balancing job” I have done at the background to ensure it is fair and rewarding. The feedback I write also takes into account of what I want to communicate across and how not to hurt the person reading it. Now multiply it by hundreds of student, and it really takes much time. A friend who has graduated has shown me how he marked exam papers, and I kind of despised him for his “I don’t read and I tick and I give a random number” approach. I can kinda see why even though I disagree. By the way, he told me he maphacks and smurfs in Starcraft, and I am going to brag that he’s no match for me still =) Make me feel like a hero by defeating him.

phd052110sSo here is the thing, I am going to spend more time on research, and less time on my other interests. Also, I will care less about teaching and marking in a way that I will do the job well, but at the same time I don’t compromise my research priorities. The following video also shows you what students think.

My level of passion for my interests listed above varies, and I will cut the time I spent on these based on my passion obviously. Starcraft is definitely right at the top, but interestingly I actually spend very little time playing it. This is my HotS career statistics.

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I was shocked when I saw that I have only played around 200 ranked games, and I think many of you play more than that in a month. Clearly, I play unranked games too to test my internet connection and builds, but the number still surprises me. I spent much more time thinking about the game than actually playing it, and it explains why I’ve decent knowledge about the game but poor mechanics. When you put that together, I’m quite an average player. Perhaps I spend more time in blogging about starcraft than playing it per se, so I guess it is just another way to enjoy the game. Given how much I love Starcraft, I won’t cut it even though I will reduce my time spent on hobbies. So dear readers, Terrancraft will continue.

Let’s move on to other Blizzard games. I play Heroes of the Storm because I wanted to find something to play with my girlfriend, but it didn’t work out as well as I thought. I don’t really enjoy MOBA as much as I enjoy RTS, and the key reason is that it’s not 1v1. I am definitely not someone who can’t work as a team, but my personality demands myself to analyse and improve things I do consciously. I literally use pen and paper to evaluate how I can iron my shirt more efficiently lol. So it’s hard to apply that to MOBA when I always play with strangers. Even though the problem can sort of resolved if I have a team, but I don’t want the responsibility and compromise my schedule for it. Thus, it becomes something that I just play when I simply want to play games, but I don’t want to think much. In conclusion, I shall only play it when I’m too tired for “serious” gaming or when I am playing with friends. As for Hearthstone, I shall only play it on my phone to fill up time when I travel, because I don’t really like it any more. The system emphasizes a lot on grinding, and that doesn’t go down well with me.

Basketball is a rather interesting hobby, because I don’t really “care” about it. It started off as my choice of sports to keep myself fit, as it is more interesting than jogging and I can play it myself. However, I happen to gather a group of people in the office to play it weekly, and it is healthy socially and physically. Great! But again, the sadistic inner self is telling me to improve and play better, and I actually watch videos and think about it more than I thought I would. Sometimes I will get down to the court by myself just to practice myself, and it has reached a point that I think it is more than just to keep myself fit. My plan is to not do anything regarding basketball outside the court (aka don’t think about it).

I used to watch every game of Arsenal, and keep up with the most up to date news. This is a simple fix. Watch only games that are live at the “right” time in the weekend (depending on whether I can find a decent stream).

I like to read in general, and my “job” requires me to read a lot anyway. I shall ensure that I read things outside of my field to be “educated”. Someone once told me, “I was educated before I became an academic.”

Last but not least, I like go. By the way, Day9 plays it, and the American Go Association even follows him on twitter. I like the game because it is 1v1, endless learning, no luck and there is a professional system. It is in many ways quite similar to Starcraft in terms of the attributes (oh, and South Koreans are the best). I used to play it seven years ago for less than two years under professional coaches, and I stopped play it because I spent my time on Warcraft III and card games instead. Few months ago, my interest was ignited, and I don’t know why. I also happen to know someone who is really good at it (not professional) to coach me, and in exchange I will help him with his English. One thing about go is that it is about improvement and improvement (the video below sums it well). In Starcraft, there often reaches a point that the players just figure out the game until a patch or expansion hits, so in a way there are “best moves”. In contrast, in go, the rule of the game has not really changed for thousands of years, and players are still innovating and improving their understanding. We’ve all heard about the story that Deep Blue (computer) defeated Kasparov in chess, but there is yet an AI in go that is comparable to human. The number of options per move is arguably finite and the data is definitely there to develop a good AI, but the constant improvement of human go players makes it harder for the AI to “learn”.

Go really teaches me to learn patiently, and improve steadily. Thus, I shall not stress about it, and get coaching every two weeks. I shall study two to three professional games per week, and play one to two games per week.

After going through everything, here is my new timetable. I shall go to bed no later than 12.30am, and wake up at no later than 8.00am to prevent the vicious cycle. The timing has to be flexible as it depends on tasks I need to complete. I used to sleep late and leave office late, but it’s relatively hard to get the best out of the time.

I shall not play Hearthstone on my PC (just uninstalled it), because I don’t really enjoy it anyway. If I want to play board game, I should play go. Heroes of the Storm should only be played when I want to relax at night after working, and not when I am more energetic and free on the weekend. That essentially means that I drop both of these games.

Discipline is defined as the ability to make yourself do what you have to do or should do before you do what you want to do. – Frank B. Stewart Jr.

I should also cut down on the amount of time I spent watch live Starcraft matches, as I notice it’s not the best way to learn. With the availability of vods, it is much better to be more selective with the games I watch. I also want to increase the amount of time I spend on playing Starcraft itself, so I shall play five games on Sunday morning if my other important deadlines allow me to. Sunday morning is a great time as my brain is fresh – quality over quantity. More importantly, I shall not blog during office hours to procrastinate.

Let’s see how this works out.

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