Life @ U of T

Introduction

Taking Breaks While Staying Focused

Taking Breaks While Staying Focused

Okay, we know that taking breaks is important when you’re studying. But, what if you’re like me, and a short 5 minute break instantly sends you into a one hour Netflix or Animal Crossing session? Especially with school being online and my studying occurring solely in my bedroom, the distraction level is high! Recently, I’ve been trying to find ways to take time off in a day but not getting distracted. Here are a few tips that have really helped me stay focused when taking breaks. 

A picture of a forest of trees

First, I’ve found that designating where my work spaces and break spaces are is very important for establishing that there’s a time and place for working, and a time and place for relaxing. With school online, I used to work in my bed a lot, but found that I could get easily distracted without even noticing.

A picture of a computer with Netflix on the screen in a bed.
I associate my bed too much with relaxing to work in it!

So, I decided that on my desk, I only ever work, and on my bed, I only ever relax. That way, if I’m taking a break, I need to physically get up and move to my bed. I find it harder to get distracted and take too long of a break when I’ve moved to a different location. Also, when I’m at my desk I’m less likely to start doing something off-task because I associate that space with working only. 

A picture of a person sitting at a desk working on their computer

Second, I’ve found it very helpful to realize that some types of breaks are just too distracting. Animal Crossing (as I’m sure many can relate), is my guilty pleasure and if I start playing the game I’ll completely lose track of time. So, I’ve realized that picking up Animal Crossing during the work-day isn’t the best idea, even if it’s super enticing!

I’ve found that more active breaks, like taking a walk around the block, putting my laundry in the laundry machine, or making a snack, give me mental energy but don’t break my focus in the way other activities do.

A picture of a person playing Animal Crossing a

 Finally, I’ve found break timers to be very helpful for keeping me on task. You can find various break timers on google or download break timer apps. They allow you to set periods of working and periods of breaks to whatever durations you want— a timer will go off when it’s time to break or time to get back to work. I find these helpful because they keep me accountable to how much time has actually passed—they make me realize if I’ve spent my 20 minute work period not doing much work, or if I’ve overstayed my break time. I find them very helpful for not forgetting that even when I’m relaxing, I need to get back to work. 

A picture of a break timer app

 What are your top tips for taking breaks but still staying focused and ready to work? Let me know in the comments below! 

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