In my last posts about getting the most from your homework and study, I mentioned that taking breaks is vital for exam success. Failing to take regular study breaks and attempting to power through large amounts of work at once can cause students to burn out and prevent them from doing their best. Study breaks can improve enjoyment and productivity when done right, and the tips below will allow students to avoid common study break mistakes.
1. Take regular breaks
Scheduling your study breaks at regular intervals will give you something reliable to look forward to and prevent you from taking a break every time you get bored. Consider taking a break after studying each subject or between writing each section of an essay – roughly ten minutes for every hour of homework or study is a good rule of thumb. Knowing that a scheduled break is coming up tends to keep students motivated, and taking regular study breaks will renew your energy and lead to better work.
2. Discover what works for you
Different students work best under different conditions, so vary the spacing, length, and content of your study breaks and choose the way that’s best for you. Study breaks that are too short will fail to refresh you, and those that are too long will make it difficult to return to study. Some students take short walks during their study breaks, while others listen to music, spend time on social media, or have a snack. Making your break work for you is vital for getting the most out of your study breaks.
3. Be flexible
Even after you’ve decided what type of break works best for you, remember that no one type of break will be suitable for every task. Some tasks, such as exam-style questions or essays, will be difficult to complete in an hour, and it may be necessary to alter the spacing of your study breaks accordingly. Feel free to try something different if you don’t feel like doing your usual study break activities – it won’t be a break otherwise! Students often find that they don’t want or need to take a break if they’re on a roll and, as long as these students avoid burning out, staying flexible allows students to get the most from their study breaks.
4. Avoid distractions
While study breaks are designed to temporarily distract your mind, avoid doing anything during your break that will prevent you from returning to your work. A common mistake is to start a conversation or video that will be difficult to stop in ten minutes and remain a distraction when you begin a new task. Remember that study breaks are designed to refresh your energy and that anything that may jeopardise your productivity should be avoided. Take the time to try various activities and identify those that will refresh your energy without continuing to be a distraction after ten minutes.
5. Don’t procrastinate
Even when distractions have been removed from your study breaks, it may be difficult to return to study. This can be made easier by stopping at a place where you can easily begin again, such as between sections of an essay rather than in the middle of a paragraph. Try not to take a break if you’ve been procrastinating since the last one, and keep your breaks regular to avoid taking one whenever you get bored. Some students find it difficult to distinguish between taking a study break and procrastinating, so remember that taking regular short breaks only when you need them will refresh your energy and improve your work.
6. Stay healthy
Students are often tempted to load up on caffeine and unhealthy snacks in order to refuel during study breaks, but this can lead to reduced energy and productivity in the long run. Drink plenty of water throughout homework and study sessions and try stick to fruit and other healthy snacks when it’s time to refuel. Having healthy food at the ready allows students to avoid the temptation to grab fast food and caffeine for convenience, and staying healthy is vital for getting the most out of your study breaks.
Study breaks are just as important in the learning process as study itself, and as such optimising your breaks to increase energy and productivity is vital for exam success. Tweet us @adaptemy or post on our Facebook page and let us know your study break tips!