Welcome back from a (hopefully) restful and productive reading week. Whether you travelled somewhere on vacation, stayed in your bed watching Netflix or, like the amazing student you are, hit the books and the library every day to catch up and get ahead, midterms are nearing and the end of this semester is in sight. I’m going to share some strategies I employ to stay on top of productivity when I have a lot of free time (such as reading week).
The first strategy I use is to give yourself ONE day. One day to relax, turn off thinking about school, work, extracurriculars, papers, blogs, etc. Be lazy. Read something for pleasure. Nap on and off. Take yourself out to a nice dinner, or meet up with friends you’ve had to bail on plans with because you’re constantly underestimating the amount of time it will take you to complete tasks (ahem, me. Sorry, pals!). Setting this day in the middle of a long stretch of time, such as a Wednesday helps me structure my week as normal.
Secondly, treat the days that you have off as regular school days. Dedicate the same amount of time you would be present in lecture or lab, and use that to catch up on readings, take notes, revisit old assignments and lectures for midterm prep and get a head start on research for all those end of term assignments that will come up faster than you expect. Furthermore, I like to travel to school to study. I find that when I stay home, I am constantly interrupted or distracted by my cats, phone calls, roommates or find excuses to walk away from my books and lay in bed and or/binge watch TV when I should be focused.
On that note, SOCIAL MEDIA IS A MAJOR DRAIN ON PRODUCTIVITY. Seriously. When I’m in study mode, I turn my phone to Do Not Disturb and turn off all notifications for Facebook and e-mail. When I feel like checking Instagram or Facebook, I allot 10 minutes of social media time for every hour of work. Leaving social media open is asking for distraction, and it’s easy to get lost in your Twitter feed instead of your readings. Also, trying to multi-task between reading on screen, books, phone and other mediums is exhausting. I try to stick to one medium at a time as a personal preference.
Breaks are also immensely important. Whether it’s stretching your back and going for a quick run (I like to study at the Hart House Library or First Nations House so that I can hit up the Hart House Gym or Athletic Centre) or grabbing a smoothie to rehydrate, staying too long in the same position cramps your productivity. When you feel that you’ve gotten to a place where you’re no longer focused, try to take a few minutes to physically move and come back to your task at hand later.
If you didn’t make the most of your reading week, utilizing some of these strategies on your days off from class might help to make the most of your time. Stay busy, healthy and well-rested, and I’ll see you all next week!