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Having an (Almost) Relaxing Mid-Semester Break

People walking on a beach

You’re probably thinking about mid-semester break by now. It’s a break that always promises so much and delivers so little. You hope to get all your assessments done and relax a little. The reality is that you usually fail horribly at one or do so-so at both.

My research thesis is my only subject this semester so I’m a bit of a free agent. I have no classes to worry about so I’ve decided to pack my books and bikini and head up the coast for an early mid-semester break. I’m vowing this study break will be more productive than the last.

Here’s how I’m going to make it work...

1. Get away from the library

Spending the break at home or in the law library with my books is a boring prospect and I know there are too many distractions there for me to achieve all my study goals, let alone any of them.

There very few distractions at the beach house where I’m staying and the view of the ocean from where I’m sitting is making this the most relaxing study I’ve ever done. It seems you can study and relax at the same time.

2. Plan ahead and spend the mid-semester break doing “relaxing” study

I normally spend the break doing a couple of last minute essays. The outcome is that I never finish the break feeling relaxed and I rarely feel that my hurried assignments are as good as they could have been.

This break is going to be different. Knowing that I’ll still need to study, I’ve planned ahead for this trip and made sure that the study I have to do on this trip is easier, “holiday-mode” study. If there’s a subject you cannot stand, try to do all the work for it before the break and only study your preferred subjects over the holiday.

I’ve completed most of the research for my thesis and will spend my week away doing readings and note taking. It’s necessary work for this assignment, but for me mentally I also find it the least strenuous. That’s the sort of work you want to spend your mid-semester break doing.

If you’ll be at a different stage of your assessments at mid-semester, consider:

  • Editing an assignment you’ve already drafted

  • Doing the footnotes and bibliography for your assignments.

  • Catch up on your class readings

  • Start researching an assignment that’s due towards the end of semester

  • Make the PowerPoint for an upcoming class presentation

Mid-semester break is far more relaxing and satisfying when you’re fine-tuning an assignment or starting to work on a project that’s NOT due in four days.

3. Switch off your phone, TV and laptop

This is pretty hard to do, but have you ever thought about how much time you spend on technology? It’s insane. If I’m at home working on an assignment, I have Facebook and all my email accounts open for the entire day.

I know I’m failing a little bit in this by blogging while on holiday, but I won’t be spending the entire week connected to the net. I also (accidentally) left my phone charger at home.

The by-product of this is that I’m feeling really relaxed. I’m also getting a lot more work done, as I’m not spending lots of time on Facebook.

4. Go outside

I spend most of the semester inside: in class, in the library, at work, at home in front of the computer, but there’s there’s nothing like going for a walk to help you feel refreshed and refocus. A bit of time in the sun each day (although not too much) has also been proven to help you sleep better at night, and mid-sem break is a great time to catch up on sleep.

5. Plan your time

Work out what academic and non-academic things you want to achieve on your break and make sure each day balances work and fun. Leisure activities shouldn’t be an afterthought.

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