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By the time I finish writing this article, you will probably find me immediately turning to my books to study for my exams or opening another document to get started on my paper due next week. As we find ourselves neck-deep with papers and handouts as midterms approach, it is important to remind ourselves to take a break. Take a break, Nyle? -- you may ask in disbelief -- don't you have 3 papers and 2 tests due next week? Do you even have time for breaks? I do -- in fact, I need to make time for breaks.

Studies show that you retain less information when you study without breaks or even try to overlearn (something I really ought to remember the next time I attempt to cram for a test). In fact, rest not only allows you to retain more information, but it also allows you to process it. You will not only know what a2 + b2 = c2 , but you will also know why it always works.

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However, if you're anything like me, you know that taking breaks can be a Pandora's box waiting to open and unleash all forms of distraction and interruption from your study. So here are some tips on how to not only take breaks but on how to take productive breaks



First, we have to know what we have to accomplish and how much we need to accomplish before we allow ourselves to have a break. Go look at your to-do list and see what you have planned for the day. Rather than writing down all-encompassing tasks such as 'study Psychology' or 'write English paper', break it down into bite-size tasks like 'read Sections 1-4', 'highlight and annotate text' or 'create work cited page'. This allows you to better visualize what you need to do in order to complete a daunting task.

Breaking up your big tasks into smaller ones also helps give you an easy sense of accomplishment to see even the slightest of work done. Rather than moping about the fact you didn't finish your English paper in one day, celebrate the fact you wrote an introduction and outlined your main arguments.


There are many ways to break up your workload. You can either read 1 chapter for 30 minutes and then take a break or read 10 pages of a chapter and then take a break. One popular method to break up your work is the Pomodoro method! Work for 25 minutes, rest for 5, and after 4 repetitions of this…take a 20-minute break!



Now, you know what to do, it's time to schedule breaks in between.

Remember -- the longer you study, the longer your break should be rather than the tempting study for 5 minutes and go on Twitter to look at memes for 30 (oh, you know we've all been there). It's important to know how long you're giving yourself a break, but you also need to know how long it takes you to feel rested. For example, although they say a 10-20 minute power nap is enough to recharge, I will probably need 10 minutes more to feel rested after a grueling study session. Knowing that I can work a 30-minute nap into my to-do if needed.

Okay -- let's take scheduling your breaks a step further: schedule what you plan to do during these breaks. If you want to spend your break watching an episode of a Netflix show, go ahead and find that Netflix show and schedule that in. This way you don't waste your time looking through the hundred titles Netflix has and you won't waste your well-earned break.



Especially the day before a test. No matter how much you are on crunch time for that paper or exam, do not risk the all-nighter! At a certain point, your brain is going to stop functioning and stop properly processing information. That last chapter you were trying to cram into the wee hours of the morning? You won't remember it, defeating the purpose of pulling an all-nighter.

Instead of doing this, go to sleep and wake up earlier than usual. From there, pick up from where you left. I cannot tell you how many times this technique has saved me from delirious all-nighters. This allows your brain to rest, refresh, and restart in order to go over the material you missed.

Whether you allow yourself to sleep for an hour or two rather than the recommended 7 hours of sleep, it's absolutely better than nothing at all.


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When midterms count for so much of our grade, we often forget the importance of resting a while and it's so easy to equate taking a break to laziness or procrastination. Despite being in crunch time and my internal drive telling me to 'go go go', we still need to treat ourselves in little ways….Of course, all in preparation for the big 'treat yo self' once this midterms madness is over.

Nyle De Leon

Cal Lutheran '21

Born and raised in the Philippines, and then moved to California, Nyle is CLU English major with a creative writing emphasis. She loves everything that has to do with language, whether it be reading, writing or speaking -- you name it, she loves it. If not writing for herself or others, Nyle can be found talking about her favorite stories and shows, creating decent art, and maybe ice skating.
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