How to Make the Best of Those Annoying 40-60 Minute Breaks

If there’s one thing college students are short on, it’s time. With classes, homework, clubs, socializing, staying active, and trying to fit in a decent amount of sleep, we can’t afford to waste a minute. Which is why I find the breaks in my schedule that are only 40 minutes or an hour to be so annoying. On one hand, it sounds like a lot of time (especially when you’re sitting in a fifty-minute lecture with a professor who speaks in monotone), but on the other, it never feels like enough time to get something done (especially if you have problem sets that tend to take several hours apiece). Because of this, it’s easy to end up not accomplishing anything during these breaks and then feeling overwhelmed later by everything you have to do. As someone who had way too many of these breaks during my first semester at college, I’ve come up with a few things I find fit into them really well and allow me to use my time as wisely as possible.


1. Lunch

Okay, this one’s probably pretty obvious, but at some point during the day you should eat lunch, and between midday classes is as good a time as any. Isn’t that what they trained us to do in grade school?


2. Deal with emails

College students get a ton of emails: reminders from professors, newsletters about campus events, and of course many, many ads. Sometimes seeing your inbox, it’s tempting to put everything in the trash without reading anything. But that definitely runs the risk of missing those grains of truly useful information among the ads. So spend some of your 40 minutes skimming through your inbox. Plus, it’s usually not too stressful, so it can be a nice break from complicated lectures.


3. Small errands


Depending on where your classes are and what kind of errands you have to do, short breaks can be a great time to check a few things off your to-do list. Things like picking up packages, grabbing a few necessities from the campus store, or printing out assignments don’t take too much time, and you’ll feel better having them done.


4. Short assignments, especially readings

It can be hard to start working on a long assignment when you know you’ll have to stop soon. Instead, use your short block of time to do something quick like a questionnaire or a class reading. Readings are really great because you don’t have to worry about losing your train of thought the next time you pick up the assignment, as long as you mark where you left off.


5. Homework in general

Even though I often find it hard to split long assignments into these small chunks, some of you might not. That’s great! If it works for you, use you little breaks to keep chipping away at your big assignments, and you’ll finish them that much sooner.


6. Taking a legit break

In spite of all the craziness we have to keep up with all the time (check that, because of all the craziness), it’s important to take breaks and relax. For some of us, that’s easier said than done, and for others, it’s more difficult to stop taking breaks. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s important to stop and recharge. The good thing about using a short gap between classes for a break is that it isn’t very long anyway, so you don’t have to feel like you wasted a lot of your time. And it has defined start and end times, which relieves you of the difficulty of forcing yourself back to work.


So maybe next time you have a quick break in your schedule, try filling it with one, or a combination of, these suggestions. Hopefully you’ll find yourself feeling more productive and maybe, just maybe, that you have more time for yourself. We can hope, right?