Taking Breaks (That Aren’t an Hour Long)

Studying & Writing

Now that we’re almost done with the semester, there’s a glazed look in every McDaniel student’s eyes. It can only mean one thing: we’re burned out. We’ve all had four tests too many, not enough paper extensions, and way too many Starbucks Doubleshots. But you know what? There’s still another paper, another test, another cup of coffee. And in a few weeks, we’re going to have finals. Whenever someone mentions finals, there’re a few phrases you’ll hear:

“I’m going to drop out.”

“C’s get degrees.”

“Grandma said college was a waste of money.”

from Flickr Commons

from Flickr Commons

Now, before you drop out, resign yourself to an average grade, or start believing Grandma, who still thinks you look best with your shirt buttoned up to your neck, take a break. That’s right. I said take a break.

The best thing to do when you’re feeling burned out after a 3-hour study session or a 4-hour paper-writing binge is to take a break. Not a 5 hour Orange is the New Black break. A 30-minute maximum break. That’s the limit I’m going to give you. From personal experience, after those 30 minutes are over, you have a better chance of catching a foul hit at an O’s game than getting straight back into your paper-writing mode.

from baltimore.orioles.mlb.com

from baltimore.orioles.mlb.com

Accept it, you’re not as lucky as the Oriole Bird. Instead, follow these suggestions for 30-minute breaks to take during your finals week:

1. Clean your study space.

You might laugh, but it’s a good way to still feel productive. Part of why it’s so hard to get back to work after a break is that you’ve lost your desire to continue being productive. That break to read the next chapter of your fifth reread of The Goblet of Fire will quickly dissolve into a nap until dinner. And boom! You’ve lost 4 hours of work. So grab the Clorox wipes, vacuum, or dust rag and clean around your laptop or desk before sitting back down and getting the rest of your study guide typed.

2. Watch a TED talk.

Instead of YouTube, where you can get lost watching every Jenna Marbles video she’s uploaded over the past two years, go ahead and check out TED.com. These videos are between 5 and 20 minutes and the library offers a selection of educational lectures on just about anything you can think of. They’re entertaining but will keep you thinking, just so it’s easier for you to get back to work.



3. Fix yourself a good study break snack.

Make it something tasty. Don’t bother with bird food or rabbit food, but don’t just grab a bag of Doritos. Try an apple with caramel or crackers and peanut butter. Make it a reward for working so hard. Make sure you eat it away from your laptop; you don’t want to associate things you do during break time with where you do work.

from kraftbrands.com

from kraftbrands.com

4. Go on a walk.

Stretch your legs. Make it a lap around the school, but not much more. Getting too far, literally and figuratively, from your work will only make it that much harder to get back to it.

5. Play 8 rounds of Mario-cart.

If absolutely none of these options are going to happen for you, play a video game. Not Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Something you can time and actually stick to the time you set up. Something like Mario Cart. According to Writing Center polls, it takes about 8 games of Mario Cart to fill a 30-minute slot.

Rather than catching up on your Hulu queue that you’ve been neglecting for two weeks, try one of the above options. Do your best to avoid the Internet; you’re going to want to cry when you realize you spent 3 hours of your study time watching Cat Man Do videos on YouTube. You really will. I’m not speaking out of personal experience. Really.

Best of luck on finals!

–Cari, peer tutor