By PLA Justina
When my parents first immigrated to Toronto over 30 years ago, they were alarmed to find that the entire city seemed to turn into a ghost town every Sunday. By the time I was born and raised there, businesses across the country had long since stopped closing on Sundays for the traditional “day of rest” and the lively bustle of the big city continues right through to Monday.
Time is money and in an increasingly fast-paced society we can’t afford to slow down for fear of losing out on progress and achievement – or can we? What if I told you that it’s possible to take one day off every single week?
I used to find that even during my so-called “downtime,” I was constantly thinking of what I still had left on my to-do list. When I tried to explain the increasing stress that gave me headaches, it all just boiled down to the fact that I felt like the work never ended and I was never able to relax. I can’t take credit for this idea because I learned it from a pastor I met and then tweaked it for myself; I have been taking a day off almost every week for “recreation” since before I started university.
How to get started:
1. Pick a day!
I picked Sunday because that makes the most sense in my week, but if you have a weekday off in your class schedule, or if you prefer Saturdays off, go for it! You could even start off with just setting aside one afternoon or one evening a week, whatever fits best.
2. Identify what it is you need to break from!
It’ll be hard if you just casually decide to “do nothing,” so it’s good to specify what you’re taking a break from. For me, it was strictly schoolwork that was bogging me down, so I decided I would not do any academic reading, assignments, or studying on my day off. Everything else remained fair game.
3. Commit to keeping that day free!
Now simply guard the time you have decided to use as your break.
Note: I certainly do not follow this to a tee — should I have an exam on Monday morning and feel the need to review on a Sunday night, I will and it doesn’t ruin my day at all. The point of my day off is to give me some time on a regular basis where I feel completely justified about not thinking about my work (and believe me, it’s a wonderful feeling).
What am I supposed to do with my day off? Anything, really.
This could be a time to get cracking on cleaning your room that has been cluttered all week, or trying out that new recipe you’ve been thinking about and making yourself a fantastic meal. It could be time for you to pursue those hobbies you always have to put aside for schoolwork, or to meet that friend you’ve been trying to make time for. You could finally read the rest of that book you’ve been trying to finish, or watch the newest episode of that show you haven’t caught up on yet.
The best part is that you can do all this without feeling guilty, thinking that you should be being more academically productive. Although it takes some getting used to, this will train your self-discipline to work harder throughout the week. Then, you can even apply this newfound skill to other areas of your life. You may be astounded by your motivation to get things done “in preparation” to enjoy your day off, reducing stress by giving you a breather at the end of the sprint!
When you have a clear separation of “work time” and “recreation time,” it allows you to focus on what is at hand rather than thinking about work while you play and wishing you could play while you should be working! For more tips on how to stay on track and motor through the week, visit us in the Queen’s University Learning Strategies Office (Stauffer room 143) or check out our online resources at www.queensu.ca/learningstrategies.