This post was written by an external contributor; Sarah Wilson discusses four different ways you can maximise your productivity in a study break.
When it comes to study breaks, it’s no secret that students love procrastinating. You’d hardly qualify as a modern-day student if you hadn’t thought at least once just how much easier this uni stuff must’ve been before the advent of smartphones and the internet, always tempting you with just one more video/snapchat/casual instagram stalk.
The worst thing about the zombie-like scroll we’re all so accustomed to when we get bored is that it so often leaves us feeling guilty. Social media can be anxiety-provoking at the best of times, and if you’re feeling stressed to begin with, logging on isn’t going to help anything
Aside from anything else, the never-ending feeds on our favourite social media platforms makes it difficult to force ourselves to stop scrolling and get back to work. But there are plenty of ways you can avoid falling down that rabbit hole and instead get back to your work on time and feeling refreshed. Whether on your phone or off, the trick here is choosing an activity that’s both all-absorbing and has a natural end-point. Master that, and you’ll be acing your study breaks in no time.
Language apps like duolingo or memrise are perfect for a study break project to develop over time. They’re set up like games, so it’s the perfect idea for any smartphone addicts who are trying to avoid social media. Typically, they offer “lessons” on your smartphone for different parts of the language, each of which takes around 5-10 minutes – depending on how good you get, of course. Duolingo targets listening, speaking, writing and reading, but when you’re in public, speaking can be bypassed – to avoid any strange looks in the library.
For anyone who just wants to listen, there’s a whole world of language-learning podcasts you can access easily – the aptly named “coffee break” language podcasts are a great place to start. More generally, podcasts are a perfect all-consuming activity for taking your mind off the work you were just doing. Whether you’re listening to a true-crime series or an episode of Desert Island Discs, focusing your attention on something else for 30 minutes will do wonders for clearing your head when you do get back to your desk.
Similarly, mindfulness exercises are a great way to shift your focus on a study break, especially if you’re feeling super-stressed. Most exercises are fairly short too – ideal for anyone pressed for time. Guidance can be found through phone apps, online, or in mindfulness books, and instructions are simple to follow, encouraging you to focus on your own breathing and the sounds and sensations in your environment. Believe me, it’s far more relaxing than poring jealously over other people’s holiday snaps…
I wouldn’t consider myself an artist by any means – and I’ve got the low GCSE Art B grade to prove it. But last year, when I was offered a paintbrush for the first time in what must have been years, I was surprised by how theraputic I found the experience of painting absent-mindedly on the canvas. If you are a creative person, great! If you’re not, why not give it a go anyway?
Drawing, painting, knitting and playing music are perfect ways to keep your hands and mind occupied during a study break. Like language learning, doing something creative in your time away from work is a great way to set up a project or goal to work towards, leaving you with something other than eye strain to show for your work breaks. And who knows, you might even discover a talent you never even knew you had…