"Every hour, every minute, every second seemed too precious to waste"Credit to author

As we are currently compelled to stay at home, it sometimes feels like the only sensible and logical thing to do is to work for hours on end. If I get to this point of studying ‘too much’, it is because I feel like it is the only thing I can possibly do with my time. So by default, I sometimes sit at my desk from the morning through to evening with no proper break to speak of.

“The reason why I did not take proper breaks was simple: I was afraid of ‘wasting time’”

In fact – up until recently – studying was pretty much the only thing I’d do when I was at home, until I realised quite how unhealthy it is. Now, when I say I used to work all day long, that does not mean that I was efficient. Most of the time, I scrolled aimlessly through my essays and research papers. This was awfully frustrating and unproductive. The worst part is that during the rare breaks I did take, I kept thinking about work. The reason why I did not take proper breaks was simple: I was afraid of ‘wasting time’. Every hour, every minute, every second seemed too precious to waste. It was as though fifteen more minutes would change the entire course of an essay…

So this unhealthy pattern continued, until I realised that life is about much more than essays and that there is much more to being a student than studying alone. I cannot deny that studying is paramount to me and that it is definitely part of my life. However, the unpleasant impression of watching my personal life elapse in front of me, as well as the fear of missing out on enjoyable moments while I study, has made me question my priorities. What good would it do me to have good marks if I do not feel truly content and alive? It sounds so obvious now, but as I kept my nose to the grindstone, I tended to forget about these basic principles of life.

“As banning work altogether was not a feasible option, taking proper daily breaks appeared to be the best solution”

As banning work altogether was not a feasible option, taking proper daily breaks appeared to be the best solution. If I now study less than before, it is because I study much more efficiently. It totally makes sense: working all day long feels like swimming while holding one’s breath. It can be rewarding, but it is such a huge effort that sometimes you just have to go back to the surface to get some fresh air before going back under water again. Otherwise, you’ll just end up suffocating. Another thing I noticed from taking breaks is that in seemingly working less, I began to be more willing to study. This is a well-known fact : it’s usually once something is no longer there that you start to miss it. Indeed, I discovered that when I stop working for a few hours or days, I experience a most peculiar feeling, which is none other than a certain eagerness to study again.

I think that the key to feeling motivated (again) is to make sure you get to a point where you miss studying; something which can only ever be achieved through taking breaks. This all sounds well and good, but what kind of breaks may we take? Personally, I no longer consider scrolling through social media (except the Varsity Facebook page, obviously!) as a break; nor is responding to academic or university related emails, as the whole idea is to avoid work completely for a while. Long breaks – which I usually take during lunchtime– include: speaking with friends or family, going for a walk or a run, taking a nap, watching a movie, reading a book or a magazine, or baking.


Mountain View

Education, Who is She?

Shorter breaks, which I usually take between each different task, are actually very dear to me as well. They need not last long, but they should be long enough to help you detach yourself from one task before starting another. My short breaks include: doing the dishes or cleaning and redecorating areas of my room (this sounds crazy, but there is something therapeutic about it, advancing my jigsaw puzzle (this is new to me and unbelievably soothing, yet maddening at times because a five hundred pieces jigsaw is no piece of cake), or a small meditation session. As breaks now appear to be just as necessary as a good night’s sleep or healthy meals, they have become part and parcel of my daily to-do lists. Studying is important, but remember that studying for hours on end feels a bit like staying in a house without ever opening the windows. Just like a room, the mind needs to be well-ventilated.