Take a Break, Orange County

Tutor-Nerds-SATEveryone needs to take study breaks at some point. Endless studying helps very few people, and frequently exhausts most of your energy. Instead, find out when you should be taking breaks and what you can do to maximize those relaxing moments. Today we’ll be covering just that, so kick the habit of “quick” Facebook updates or “short” phone calls to friends. Learn how to take breaks like a professional, eventually getting more done in less time.

Determine Your Maximum and Minimum Study Sessions

You may need to first change your concept of a “break.”  Study breaks are not large chunks of time; instead they are frequent pauses throughout your studying that allows your brain to unwind. The amount of time you take a break is just as important as how long you study. Therefore, you’ll first figure out how long your study sessions should be. Your study session is the maximum amount of time you can spend in full concentration with a subject. Complete the following steps with readings from your favorite and least favorite subject.

1. Find material you need to cover for class, preferably something from a textbook you haven’t seen before.

2. Note the time you begin reading.

3. Really focus on learning the information and understanding the bigger picture.

4. Be aware of when your mind first gets distracted. Note the time, and then repeat the same steps with your other class.

You now have your maximum and minimum study session intervals. Write this information down and use it whenever you plan on studying. Even if the interval is small, try not to go longer. You will likely find yourself (we’ve all been there before) reading but not absorbing any information. Even at a young age we learned to move onto other activities when we got bored; have you ever seen a toddler become instantly frustrated with one toy and move excitedly to another? Don’t fight your natural instincts; use them to your advantage!

Fruit, Not Facebook

Now that you know how long you can study, use these tips to maximize your breaks. First, and most importantly, breaks should last approximately five minutes. Any longer and you may not be able to focus again. Use a timer so you can take breaks when necessary, and enjoy them without distraction. Spend your break on relaxing or energizing activities, such as eating a healthy snack or going for a walk. Things to avoid at all costs include naps, junk food, phone calls and social media black holes (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).


Treat Yourself to a Change of Scenery

In science blog, “Cognitive Daily“, Dave Munger discusses ART, short for attention restoration theory. The theory looks at how people best calm their minds after focus from studying or working.

ART says that the natural world engages your attention . . . by features of the environment (e.g. a sunset, a beautiful tree). The artificial world demands active attention, to avoid getting hit by cars or to follow street signs. Since intellectual activities like studying or writing also demand the same kind of attention, taking a break in the artificial world doesn’t really function like a rest.

The idea is that we need to spend our breaks in a natural environment as opposed to our standard artificial one. Take a walk around the block, or sit outside in the sun to recharge. Changing our environment, even for just a few moments, allows our minds to truly relax and makes learning easier once you return. Feeling adventurous? Irvine Walking Routes.

Remember to stay focused when you return. First review the information you just completed to start the process of quick recall. Take note of the main points, and then continue on to the next topic. Make those study breaks work for you, Orange County.

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