Scared of being unproductive over break? Follow these tips to start working

April 29, 2019 — by Selena Liu

Every Friday before a major break I always tell myself: This is finally going to be the week where you’re going to get things done. You’re going to catch up on all the homework that you didn’t do this week out of excitement for break, and you’re going to finally start a hobby that you’ve been keeping off doing forever because you have no time.

Instead, I find myself spending the entire week binge-watching Netflix on my bed, stuffing my face with potato chips and after a week, regretting not doing anything.

I can imagine a lot of students go through the same struggle. So here are the top three things that you can do to get off the couch and actually do something meaningful with your life during the next break.

  1. Write a to-do list by hand and stick it in a place where you can see it most often.

The thought of having a pile of work to finish before the end of break never sounds appealing, and it’s even overwhelming at times, but having a written to-do list will really help you organize your schedule and put your tasks in order. It’s satisfying to be able to check off things on your list as you do them, and by the end of the week, you’ll feel like you did a lot. Also, by sticking your to-do list in a place where you commonly access, like next to your desk or your laptop, you can remind yourself that you need to work before doing other things.

  1. Just get off the couch and exercise for a while.

It may seem more time-efficient if you spend all your time doing work, but believe it or not, including an hour of physical activity can actually improve your concentration and efficiency. A study by Harvard Medical School even proves that regular exercise can “change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.” So if you want to be more productive and work smarter in the long run, exercise is the way to go.

  1. Find something that inspires you to improve yourself.

If you’re someone like me, you’ll get easily frustrated when you realize that you’re not spending your time productively. At that point, try reading a book, watching a video, or listening to a podcast that inspires you to keep moving forward. There are so many people doing great things in the world that it’s hard not to be inspired to do something with your life as well when you learn about it. Sometimes, a little motivation from an outside source is just what it takes to inspire you to do a lot.

Hopefully, these tips will help you get off the couch during your next time off. But, if you’re always this productive, don’t forget to take a break sometimes too. All things in life need balance, and some days, being a total couch potato isn’t that bad either.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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