When you’re going to school, it’s all too easy to dedicate an enormous amount of time to your studies. This is particularly true if you are in a difficult program and want to get the best marks possible. When you have your mind set on getting a certain average, it doesn’t always seem that unreasonable to push other things in your life aside in order to achieve that goal. I know this because I am in a constant struggle to stop myself from doing that, and I can see the effect it has on others that I know.
The problem is that we aren’t machines. After a while, we do get tired. I can’t keep on studying for hours and hours. After a while, I burn out, and I doubt it is only me. We can’t be hyper-focused on one thing all the time. Apart from getting tired and not having enough energy to focus anymore, there’s also the issue of stress. I’ve seen firsthand how stress can affect those who spend a lot of time on schoolwork. The most dangerous example of this is when students start skipping out on sleep in order to finish homework. I am saddened each time I hear of this, because it points to a shortcoming in how they’ve set up their lives. If one is cutting their sleep in order to finish schoolwork, their situation is not good (and I can imagine some scenarios where students don’t have a choice, but those are not what I’m referring to here).
It shocks them when I say I go to bed so early (compared to them), and that in the mornings I run for over an hour on average each day. They don’t get how I can still get my homework done, or how I choose to go to bed before a big test even though I didn’t get a bunch of time to study for it.
To me, the answer is simple: the best way for me to achieve my goals is to treat my body and mind well. That means taking a break from schoolwork at regular times and doing other things I enjoy. That’s why I go running each day and go to bed early. Running gives my body something to do and my mind a chance to just wander. It’s cathartic in a way. I’m not forced to think about school or methods of solving problems (though that is what I sometimes do). More often, I can just focus on the effort, which is a nice change of pace and one that I deem absolutely necessary for my well-being.
Therefore, my best advice to those going to school is this. Study regularly and become knowledgeable at your subject, but never sacrifice your time spent away from studying in order to do more school work. Without giving yourself something else to do to rest and recover, you risk burn out, which will be much worse than taking a regularly scheduled break.