saving my sanity · you're awesome

How was your break?

Or, more to the point, did you even have a break? Do you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the New Year? Are your syllabi all in a row? Is your brand new writing schedule ogling you passive-aggressively from the corner of your (real or virtual) desktop? How about those resolutions?

Sorry if I’m redundant, but how is it only January 11? I’ll tell you how: big breaks are not good for ya! They come with huge expectations and pressures we put on ourselves. (I’ll have time for yoga! running! knitting! reading for pleasure! [insert your favourite pastime here]!) And all they do is destroy the routine we academics fight so hard to construct in order to be able to juggle the interminable projects, the teaching, the life (what life? the one you’d been postponing until the big Christmas break).

Big breaks are no good, I tell ya! They aren’t for me, and I’m willing to be they aren’t for you. Yes, it was lovely to see family, friends, and the neighbour’s dog. How long did you travel for it? Did you make all of your connections? What bugs did you pick up along the way? Now, I’m not trying to be a grinch, but to advocate for something different, and hopefully less stressful. When your holidays become more stressful than your work, something’s gotta change.

How about just taking time off in-between, as part of our routine? How about building leisure time in the daily schedule? Yes, yes, the cynical in me also says I’m only talking such nonsense because it’s the beginning of term, and hence the possibilities seem endless. But really, think about it: take a calendar (paper, Google, iCal, Outlook, whatever your preference) and write in it your favourite pastime: are you a yoga-at-sunrise kind of person or a wind-down-with-a-good-book (whatever that means for you, I’m not asking or judging) people? Write it in, I say! Don’t forget weekends, either. Schedule some good times in there as well, or else, you’ll think you’ve discovered a gold mine of possible work time. Even better, do not work on weekends! I know that might seem revolutionary (and I haven’t been able to do it last term, not completely), but some people can do it, and why should we not strive for more leisure and less working time?

Yes, there are always exceptions, but if you make taking breaks the rule, you might become more efficient, less of a procrastinator (I know the carrot’s coming in a couple of hours, so I’ll just plough through this last little bit), and a happier person altogether.

What do you say? How’s “taking more breaks” for a New Year’s resolution?

3 thoughts on “How was your break?

  1. About being more efficient as a result of making time for yourself—I think it's a pretty common impression in volunteer circles that the people who manage to give the most to others over the long term are people who also manage to carve out time to be good to themselves. I'm not sure if this is evidence for your suggestion, Margrit, or just a sign that the people who don't look out for their own physical and mental well-being have heart attacks before the long term arrives. Either way, it's important to do it. And to provide some support to the people around us so they can do it, too.

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  2. I agree with ddvd about the importance of giving yourself time if you are going to be able to give time to others. As for my break, I finished only a minute fraction of the work I had set for myself. However, I cannot complain because I really needed the sleep. I hope everyone had a relaxing break, and maybe got more done than I did lol.

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  3. I've resolved to do the opposite. I like a certain amount of pressure to function, and want to recommit to some projects that are struggling, or that have fallen by the wayside. I want to spend less time relaxing, and more time running around getting things done.

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