Take a break! – Why conscious time-outs and routines are important

The everyday life of many students becomes blurred at the moment: Getting up, watching a recorded lecture in their pajamas, having breakfast in front of the screen. A bit of housework before the next online lecture while chatting with friends and quickly checking social networks at the same time. That’s how the afternoon passes, and that’s how it drags on into the evening hours. And perhaps you too sometimes think that the distinction between studying, learning, private life and obligations such as household & co. is difficult to make during the virtual semester.

Creating new structures and routines

What to do when the days no longer have a real structure? First of all, we recommend the creation of a daily plan and goals. In addition, it is important to find new routines and plan conscious breaks.

During previous semesters, this was certainly easier. In order to go to the lecture, you had to leave the house and automatically got some fresh air: when cycling to the university, when walking to the subway station. You saw fellow students in class and talked about the last weekend. After 90 minutes, your head was full, but a short break between two lectures or a lunch date “aired out” your grey cells before you went to the library to study or, later on, to your home and on the couch to watch a movie.

How can such routines, variety and structure find their way into the student home office? The answer sounds more trivial than it is: By thinking plus making a plan, and by always having breaks and time for yourself. We have a few tips for you:

  • Try to build fixed rituals into the workdays to set anchor points: for example, the alarm clock sounds at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday by default. Plan lunch or an afternoon chat on the phone at a fixed time. Go jogging or walking every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
  • Make a schedule: When do you have live synchronized classes? What time slots do you block for asynchronous lectures or exam preparation? When do you take a break? When do you have free time, hobbies and household chores?
  • Think about what times of day and evening you study well! Even though most people are most receptive in the morning, we all have our own rhythm.

Conscious pause

You should allow yourself a break of 15 to 30 minutes after 90 minutes of learning, tops. There are also learning techniques that recommend short breaks after just 20 minutes, such as the Pomodoro technique. Try out what suits you, but set a time limit so that you can continue studying productively again if necessary and also think about longer breaks at lunchtime and in the evening if necessary.

The quality of your break is also important. I’m sure we’ve all scooped lunch on the side and answered messages on our cell phones while doing it, but the recovery factor is minimal. Think about what is good for you!

  • Fresh air makes (allegedly) smart!
    A quick trip to the bakery or a long walk? On foot or on a skateboard or bicycle? Whatever – at least once a day you should treat yourself to a change of scenery.
  • Stretching, tensing, breathing – do something good for your body!
    In times of YouTube, there are hardly any excuses not to do sports at home. From sweaty workouts to yoga, dance or meditation, you can find a wide range of sports videos online. It’s better to plan small units every day than to do extensive sports once a week. Your desk back will thank you for it!
  • How’s Grandma?
    You get the feeling it gets a little lonely at the home office? You’re not alone with this feeling. A lot of people these days are happy to receive a phone call or a postcard. Or how about a regular virtual games evening with friends?
  • Painting, handicrafts, puzzles, cooking – creative hobbies
    Many people report that they are trying out new creative hobbies during the Corona crisis, which is great for clearing their heads: Hand lettering, creative writing on a blog, baking, drawing or origami. Instructions can be found in abundance on YouTube & co.
  • The classics: reading, series, films, social networks
    You are certainly familiar with these leisure and break classics and of course it is great to spend the evening on the couch with a film or your mobile phone. Nevertheless, we would like to encourage you to try out new things, to do something good for your body in the form of exercises on a regular basis.