This is it; the home stretch: a.k.a. post spring break. It’s the last bit of the semester you’re trying to wring out of your brain after a week of traveling or sleeping, the last bit of concentration you desperately need to close the year or graduate for good. It’s so close yet so far.
Some people try to hang on by barreling constantly through their work like a sprint. The end of the semester seems to be just around the corner, so they think they can make it tearing through whatever work comes their way. Just one more chapter, they think, just one more math problem. This is a dangerously easy loop of one more’s to get caught in.
Really, the distance is longer than they think it is. And just like in any lengthy race, sprinting too quickly will just end up tiring you out part of the way there. Working constantly at a fast pace is more likely to run you into the ground than to help you get ahead on your workload. There’s always more work to do, so when we continue working in attempt to reach a break in the flow, we’re tricking ourselves in thinking that a reprieve has to be near.
Sometimes this does work and you get a night or two off. It’s just not as likely as you’d hope. Even if this does happen, you’re right back to working constantly, wishing you had time to relax a little more.
The bad news is that the time isn’t going to magically appear. The good news is that you have the power to wrench yourself out of the work and take that time for yourself. You just have to accept that a break is not going to come to you willingly; sometimes, you have to drag it out kicking and screaming.
Some people don’t fight for their breaks. Instead, they make the mistake of halfheartedly working through them, the prevailing thought being that getting some work done is better than none. This is actually a flawed mindset. While multitasking seems efficient on the surface, it’s really just an easy way to do multiple things inefficiently. You’re never actually fully focused on any of the things you’re doing, and since multitasking usually involves spreading your focus to unrelated activities (like eating and calculus), most people are naturally bad at it.
This combo produces mediocre results and leaves you feeling burnt out. Halfway finishing several small tasks rather than devoting your time and attention to one larger task makes you feel like nothing was really finished at all.
Additionally, if you’re always multitasking, you’re never actually relaxing. No matter how much you fool yourself into thinking that working while relaxing is an acceptable substitute for actual leisure time, you’ll probably be left feeling unsatisfied. This is why it’s better to set aside a specific time to fully focus on working. Ignore the temptation to work while watching Netflix or chatting with your friends. Once you finish the assignment or work through the time you’ve set aside, you can take a real break — one that doesn’t involve any working.
What if that’s not enough? If you’re still busy after your work time or you feel stressed out about the amount of work you have remaining, take a break anyway. Unless the assignment is time sensitive or you are otherwise in a major time crunch with a make-or-break grade, it can probably wait. Take a break. Without it, you’ll eventually just burn yourself out.
The length of the break can vary from ten minutes to the rest of the night. What’s important is that you take some time to save yourself from exhaustion. Talk with your friends, watch a movie, listen to music, make something new and reach the end of the semester at a steady pace.