Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to Manage Studies + Home


I am the least qualified person to be writing this. But I decided to write out a little tips section on how to manage both these things in our lives (if we have both responsibilities) .. :). I am struggling with this too, but I have experienced this since, erm 2008. So in Nov 2010, this makes it two years and 4 months worth of experience.

The following is what I believe, workable for a lot of people - even those that are zilch at home-management and cooking (like I was in 2008).

1. Its a great idea to write down responsibilities-of-the-day on a piece of paper. The list can be something like this:

Just a sample. You can add in anything you deem important for the day, any assignments you need to work on, homework etc. And of course, the home responsibilities. Just mark out those (like I have done in blue) the responsibilities that can act as ''fillers'' :D. Like, the things that can be done between major things; when you need a break from work, want some rest and wanna stretch your legs.

Er, :$, I don't usually make a list (I make that rarely waisay), but I always make a mental list - which looks like this one - and thats usually in my brain only. So um, lists are important, wherever you make em.

2. Then, prioritize your work. Re-order the list so that you make it according to the time of the day. Here is a sample of re-ordered list.

Um this is obviously for those who have the liberty of staying at home all day. If you are a working person, then your schedule would be definitely different. The point of reordering is to map out your tasks in time, and mark approximately the amount of time that should take for that task to complete (like I have done in black, in the picture above).

If you want even fine-grained task sheet, then you can have timings there, e.g: 9 - 10.30am: Read research papers. Etc. I don't normally do the time thing. But when I did, it helped a lot. Takes a LOAD of will-power.. :). But works in the end.

Now come to the house-work, cooking laundary bit. The thing is, that it always helps when you know what you have to cook, and how long would that food last. Plus, not everything has to be done EACH day. Like, breakfast... has to be done each day. If you're a REAL breakfast person, then you'd go for tea, paratha (always best to buy frozen paratha packs, and store them), eggs, or french toast :P... and umm..cereal. Rotate these around the week, and you won't get bored. :D. But if you're just a cup-of-coffee/tea person, then firstly, that's NOT healthy.. but if you insist, then it er, saves you 15 minutes of preparing-breakfast time... :D

Start your work after breakfast. Always. No checking emails before brushing teeth. Not good at all!

Take a break every 2 hours (again, for health reasons). You CAN work continuously for 4 hours, the brain can be programmed this way. But if you're a PhD student, its no good being wiped out in the first week. You'll get superbly bored. You gotta be consistent. [look whose talking...:o]. Yeah.. so where was I in the lecture?

Two hours, yeah. You need a break after two hours. So keep paper reading in the mornings (if you don't have coursework). Its always good to read complex stuff in the morning, when the brain is fresh. Keep coding in the morning too (you can alternate through the week). So after two hours, think about cooking lunch. If you're cooking for 1 or 2 people, then you have a pretty easy job to do. Do not go for heavy duty items like... karahi and naan ? :D. Maybe you can do that Sundays. But on weekdays, keep it light. You have to work after lunch too, not snore away.

So what do I suggest you can cook for lunch? Er, it totally depends on your taste, but lemme suggest some really simple things that can serve as pretty fulfilling to a beginner cook.
  • Baked Chicken: ALL you have to do... is get a boneless chicken (whole) pack from the grocery shop. Take a quarter (or half, it depends on your appetite really) of it. Defrost it. Place it in a platter. Don't forget to grease the bottom of the platter with 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover the chicken with salt [1 tsp should do], chicken tikka masala [or broast masala, or green masala anything works :D but tikka masala is the best]...Then take a packet of frozen veggies... defrost it, and sprinkle them over the chicken, covering the pieces. Simple sprinkle some soy sauce, some veggie masala if you want, and bussssss. Place it in oven, bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Check on it after 20 mins though. The chicken might be stuck to the platter.. :S Happened with me a lot. 
Once you've gotten baked chicken, you can have it with/without roti and enjoy a simple meal! If you make enough, you can eat that for dinner too.
  • Chicken Salad: If you put the baked chicken (same dish as cooked above) in a bowl and mix cream and mayonnaise in it... you get a chicken salad! Yummilicious :D
  • Chicken Salan (curry): If you brown some onions [cut 3 onions into slices, place in 4 tablespoons of oil, and fry them till they're golden], cut 2 tomatoes in that golden onion, and mix the baked chicken (same dish as above) in it, you get chicken salan :D. Just underbake the chicken a lil [say, 15 mins, instead of 30]. And then, all you have to do is add a lil yoghurt [3 tablespoons], and half a cup of water ... and put on stove [halki aanch] for 15 mins. You're done. Salan ready to tanawul-ofye with naan/roti/rice. 
  • Chicken Pasta: If you boil some noodles (umm, take 1/4ths of the whole box of spaghetti at a time -- the way to boil em is to add 2 tablsepoons of oil to the water in which noodles are boiling, in order to keep them separated), and mix them with the baked chicken (same as the first recipe), you get chicken noodles! Put some ketchup on top (if you like pasta with ketchup), and there you go. Another lunch meal done.
Okay. Enough chicken. Remember all this chicken stuff takes 30 mins - 1 hour to prepare [depends on how experienced you are, and how idiotically slow/fast you are at cutting piyaaz *scowls at herself*]. You can plan like this: Monday, Thursday and Saturday --> Chicken!! [alternate between any simple dish you like. Remember, you can try other stuff with chicken too... just google chicken recipes pakistani :P, and you're good to go].

I just mentioned chicken recipes, but of course you can get red meat recipes too. Or others. Try very simple bachkana ones first. But planning is what's really really important. If you plan out properly, then you can do this meal-cooking thing fairly easily. All you have to do is find a 2 hour slot in your whole day [preferably before meal times], and then go for it. By the way, you can download printable meal weekly planners here.

Good luck!

PS: One other thing that can be done is cooking in large amounts on weekends, and getting by on that one dish, the whole week. But one can get pretty bored, and not very happy at eating the same thing (like chicken salan?) the whole entire week! So not cool.

PPS: A good thing you can do with leftover curry is to make rice (plain), and after cooking them, make layers with rice-and-salan in a pot - put the pot on dumm (stove with slow heat) for 15 mins, and you have some nice biryani-style rice! Eat that with yoghurt, and doneeee.

I'll stop now. Sorry I cannot provide any more variety than this. For recipes more er, spectacular than the ones described above, I have to have a recipe-book (or Mum's instructions :D), and lots of timeeeee. And maybe this website :P.

Sorry, things are coming into my mind now. DO not waste time in:

1. MAKING roti.
2. MAKING paratha.
3. Buying all veggies, and cutting them painstaikingly - it takes me an hour!! Believe me, don't be this foolish.



majworld said...

OH what a post :D..i hve saved it in my computer, its like u hve written a cooking and time management wirless standards 802.11 :D...
i m a planner in mind plan my things in mind..
and ya, taking break after every 2 hours or so is really necessary..I am trying to schedule my time as i settle in too..nd thansk ur post has helped me giving a direction for it :)
cooking tips were great :) wud be my reference now before cooking :p..i didn't know abt baked chicken before :S..
thanks for such a nice informative post..JazakAllah..its in my comp now for reference..:)
it shud be published in some magazine may be too..

majworld said...

waisay i never used baking chicken in oven..i just put it after browning the onions and tomatoes in the pan..wats adv of doing it in oven??

Uni said...

Well, lol at you comparing this post to wireless protocols :D...

In study involving research, a person can function correctly given proper breaks.. these can be lunch/dinner/namaaz/cooking breaks ..:) and its very relaxing too.

This baked chicken thing, basically I tried this only recently, for healthy-eating reasons, and it worked for me. Its not strictly necessary you stick to baking.. of course, you can just COOK it on the stove, like a normal salan thing. Sure. But then, you will have to follow the proper steps of making salan, and yeah, you cannot use the salan and morph it into chicken salad :D. This morphing thing can only be done with baked chicken (or maybe grilled chicken too - am not exactly sure how to grill :$:$).

Btw, oven baked stuff is wayy healthier. But since I am writing with the target audience of people doing study abroad, then its best not to dwell on healthy/not healthy debate, and just eat whatever you can :D.

Thanks for dropping by!

majworld said...

haha..ya got the tips and adviced glued to the brain :D..thanks..i think baking will be my target in few months after i get bit settled in i made potatoes by juz putting potatoes in oil and turned out to be tasty :)..

Tazeen said...

This post made me giggle because I don't think I'll ever feel active enough to manage stuff like this. I do, however, keep a list in my mind, which I follow more often than not. Yes, it's another issue that I don't finish my tasks completely. =/

I love the yummy image of food. It's making my tummy growl. :$

P.S.: This post is amazing btw! :O

Uni said...

Lol. Sure, do it whenever you feel comfortable. And good going on the aalo!! :)

Btw, same case with bhindi, loki, aalu, baingan - oil + masaala deal :D. Or you can mix them all and have a nice subzi salan. Subzis are nice... but not nice when one peels them :@.

Thanks for the comment.

:) .. I'm going to say what ALL my elders said to me (still say to me) ..'Beta, jub sur pay parti hay to....'


Yeah, me too often leave out things :S..but thats my own darn fault, not the list's :P. Image of food..yeahhh..wish I could have made this :D.

And thanks so much!! :)

Thanks for dropping by!

Adnan said...

yeh tumhari hand-writing hay? bari gandi hay but.. meri konsi achi hay.

Interesting post and I 200% agree with writing the activity you are gonna perform. I would recommend you to grab EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy from anywhere you can. It's really an awesome book. It's not available at Liberty.

Uni said...

Yeah, its my handwriting of course.. :) lol..its MS Paint, what do you expect.

And thanks. The book sounds interesting. Where would it be available then?

Thanks for dropping by!

majworld said...

sabzi peel kr k nhi khayi jati aalo toh peel hi krte hain..waisay here u get cut vegetable pack jise sirf fry krna hota they all hve same sort of things..peas, corns, carrots etc..

Uni said...

Noo :). I meant.. its not nice when one HAS to peel them.. cuz Im slow in the peeling business...

Vegetable packs are great. But my mum says that fresh veggies kee jo baat hoti hay woh supermarket key packets main nahi hogi... :)

majworld said...

haha..ya i m slow in peeling them fast speed i peel most of the vegetable too :)
nd ya ur mum is right..pak mein tu kbhi mein ne suna hi nhi tha such packets ka..

Ahmar said...

Interesting :)
I came across this new software (not new but I found it useful recently) after I got hold of MS office 2010. So there is this Microsoft Onenote and I think it is incredibly useful for keeping a digital notebook, better than hard copy one for it offers more features and can be stored on web so is accesible from anywhere.. I have switiched to that for my work. I thought I will add that to this post since its about management and organization..

Start your work after breakfast. Always. No checking emails before brushing teeth. Not good at all!
:D, in the past I used to be so addicted to email checking that, that used to be the last thing before sleep and the first thing I would do after waking up..And I remember trying to get over it back then..Now, the only reason I don't feel that as an issue is because my phone has push email service so I always know if there is any email without having to turn on my laptop (not that I ever shut it down :P)

Having food recipe inside the post was interesting :D..maybe, one day I will try one of the chicken recipe ;)
You should take picture of actual food you cook and keep it in case you don't keep for now , just a suggestion :)

Uni said...

This Onenote thing sounds interesting. But Im a lil ware of cloud-based apps to jot down my personal notes etc .. :S. Just a thought.

Oh good to know about the push email thing. Must be useful.

Sure, try it out and post the results. Will try taking pictures... but Im camera-less these days, and cell phone memory is full..!

Thanks for dropping by!

Uni said...

ware = wary*

Ahmar said...

Sure, try it out and post the results
ya well, when and if I ever get my blog back up and running ;)

Uni said...

Yeah. When Zardari turns over a new leaf, and decides to give back all his money to the nation ..


Have a nice day.