I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.
Break week is finally here! You’ve survived midterms, made it to mid-October! What hasn’t killed you has made you stronger. You’ve earned a break, so take it by the—oh. Wait. What’s that over there? It’s a huge “To Do” list of reading, writing, and studying looming for break week.
For most of us, break week is not quite a vacation. But after a few collegiate semesters in my pocket, I’ve come to embrace it as a pretty special time—a stretch of days that can save or destroy my sanity for the second half of the semester. Really, getting a head start on final projects and research without having to worry about classes for a few days is pretty fantastic. And it’s not as if you have to spend every waking hour doing work (unless you’re in a really bad spot, in which case, grind away and Godspeed).
This year, my personal goal for break is to have a nice division of labor and chilling by following some personal guidelines.
How to Catch a Break During Break Week
Avoid sleeping in. I know you want to play video games until 3AM and sleep until mid-morning and then stare at your stack of articles with the intention of reading them but figure, hey, well I already wasted half the day, so why not just waste more? (Sorry, I’m projecting.) Getting up and getting work done early will free more of your afternoons and evenings for fun, and bonus: when break week is over, you won’t have to readjust to your class sleep schedule.
Work comfortably. You have to do classwork, sure, but there is one major difference… you get to do it in pajamas. Improve the atmosphere with a strong cup of hot coffee and a cat on your lap.
Create a schedule. I don’t know about you, but a huge portion of my homework time is usually spent trying to figure out exactly what I have to do—which pages to read, how long a paper has to be, when things are due. Lately, I’ve been marking everything well ahead of time, so that when it comes time to work, I can just get to work. Mark pages with Post-its or bookmarks. Lay out everything you need to work the night before you plan to do it (this also works for morning workouts!).
Reward yourself. I academically function on a positive reinforcement system. If I accomplish a set number of tasks on my to-do list during the day, I’ll indulge video games or Netflix at night. If you’re more extroverted than me (what do you expect? I’m a cat), plan some social outings.
When everything is said and done, and break week has ended, just remember… it’s only eight weeks until the end of the semester!
Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.