Here is a fun fact that’s not so fun: spending all day on the computer for class can be mentally and physically exhausting. Now, that’s not a surprise. The big surprise for me has been just how easily I get bored and antsy during the school day! Based on my misadventures and attempts to take care of my brain during busy days, here are some tips to stay on top of your work while fueling yourself with free time:
- Put Free Time on the Schedule: Each morning, I make a to do list for all of my tasks during the day- classes, homework assignments, chores, errands. Because I write them down, I know them to be important and put a lot of effort into getting them done. This usually means that I make it the whole day without doing anything for myself or taking a moment to breathe. I’ve since learned that it is very important to include self care and free time in my daily schedule and have noticed a big difference in making down time a must. Even a small time slot of 20 minutes to read your latest book can make all the difference in the energy you have to give to your next assignment.
- My personal book of choice is Suzanne Collins’ new book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which I found to be the perfect combination of a fresh story and return to a tale I love. Taking readers back 65 years to the 10th annual Hunger Games, Collins reintroduces us to a character we thought we knew and weaves a complicated plot that both answers questions and raises new ones. With each chapter, I find myself more and more invested in the making of a vicious old tradition. When taking my scheduled reading breaks, this book has given my brain the rest it needs while lighting my imaginative side on fire. I highly recommend this book for new and old fans of The Hunger Games Trilogy!
- Rewatch an Old Show: If you haven’t grown tired of looking at a screen, take a trip down memory lane and put on an old favorite TV series. I recently restarted Merlin and have found a sense of comfort in hearing familiar voices and getting lost in favorite episodes. I once read that the predictability of returning to entertainment we have already enjoyed is comforting to the human brain because it is easy to process. When I heard this, I no longer felt bad about refusing an opportunity to find a new show. So go give your brain a break from the hard work it’s doing and enjoy some nostalgia!
- Pick a Good Playlist: As a creative writing student, I know the value of good background music during writing sessions. My personal favorites end up being movie scores or any playlist labeled “Writing a Fantasy Novel” as they provide me a combination of focus and pleasure. For your study playlist of choice, select music that won’t distract you, puts you in a focused mindset, and brings you just enough joy to keep working.
I hope these tips are helpful to you and bring a little more life into your study sessions. Most of all, make time for what will let you breathe a sigh of relief. Best of luck!