Posted by: PatrickJL | January 17, 2012

architecture school: if i could turn back time

If I could turn back time?  What’s the first thing that pops into my head?  Well, it’s the same thought that pops into my head every time I look at my design portfolio from architecture school.  It’s not that I believe everything I produced at Drury was crap, not at all.  I just think there were a few projects where I didn’t push myself.  The project was due, so I stopped designing and finished the project…and I’ve come to learn that it’s not about the grade or the degree, it’s about the exploration of an idea.  I could try to blame that I ran out of time on other things…fraternity, friends, girlfriend, etc., but realistically it was time management. Oh ya, that sounds like an exhilarating letter to 18 year old Pat.  I can see myself opening it the first day of my freshman year:

Dear Pat,

This is your future self.  I would like to talk to you about time management…

This is about the time where I would crumple the letter up and say “F— this guy.”  Who does he think he is?  He doesn’t know me.  You see, at this point in my life, I knew everything.  I didn’t.  Not even close.  This, however is a good thing because if I knew everything there would be much in life to look forward to.  But only if I was able to instill in my 18 year old self the ability to manage my time wisely I would have been able to do so much more academically.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks this. How many projects have you worked on where you thought to yourself “If I only had a little more time I would…?”  I always told myself I’d go back and redo the projects that didn’t meet my expectations but of course that hasn’t happened yet.  This thought has crept up more frequently as the opportunity for grad school has become a real option in the next couple of years.  Is it  a misrepresentation to redo a project from college?  Shouldn’t a portfolio show a progression of your work or merely a collection of your most successful projects?  Would it be better to include new projects I’ve just made up to work on instead of fixing the old ones?  These are questions I have been asking myself lately.  No matter which direction I go, I need to have the time outside of work to do them.

I’ve started to look at time management more seriously.  There are a lot of things I’d like to do and not that much time to fit them in (small design projects, train for half marathon, this blog, etc.).  TV has become a lot less important.  Before I got rid of my cable 2+ years ago I would come home from work and plop down on the couch and just surf the channels for the next 30 minutes of entertainment, a similar albeit less lengthy ritual in college.  Suddenly, it’s midnight and I meant to go to bed 2 hours ago.  Now if I want to use the time to watch a show, you better believe I want to be there…and you know what?  I don’t miss it.  I realized I wasn’t really watching anything I was just wasting time.  I’ve learned to tell myself to do things in order of importance.  This has allowed me to start scratching some things off my list that have been on there for years.

What would you change if you could turn back time?



  1. Okay – so you are the only one so far that would turn back time. I LOVE your take on this. Just think how much more I could accomplish if I was in control of my time management. Not really turning back time – but being more control of my time wasted! I LOVE THIS! Thank you for a smack in the head! Have a good day!

  2. Great post, and I couldn’t agree more with your take on time management in school and beyond. My college experience consisted of studio, and whatever else could be wedged inside the remaining time (usually daydreaming through the remaining course load, with drinking and discourse shouted loudly on weekend nights.)

    There is something appealing, and I dare say romantic about fully immersing yourself in the studio environment and sacrificing the normal habits of hygiene and socializing in favor of time spent on design projects. I would pull far fewer all-nighters, the usefulness of which I now seriously question.

    Setting times and time limits for production is a viable approach to getting things done in studio and in the post-work routine. (Of course, I have yet to try this myself.) Your move to prioritize working on your portfolio in favor of cable is a bold, serious one that will surely work in your favor. Good luck with it, and again, great post.

  3. “TV has become a lot less important.”
    That’s a great lesson to learn, any time of life.

    West wishes for you as you pursue your registration goal!

    (What will become of this blog once you leave the land of intern-dom?)

    • That’s a great question since I’m well into testing and nearing completion of my exams. Back in 2006 when I started this blog, I thought I might transition to “Life as Architects” but seeing the immensely popular blog Life of an Architect by Bob Borson, I’ll probably change it to something else as not that doesn’t so closely resemble his blog name. I do have a few ideas in my back pocket so we’ll see when the time gets here. Thanks for reading!

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