by Quentin Singer
When coming back from a long break, many students find it hard to return to a steady and consistent work routine. While this is totally normal, considering we’re not doing much or any work for over a month, it can really change one’s mindset and study habits. The last time we were here at Berklee, all of us were working at 150% brain capacity to get through finals week, and going from extremely high to extremely low study and practice intensity can disrupt a good work routine. Given the circumstance, I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips for those struggling on how to get back into Berklee mode.
Make a Weekly Schedule
Before you do anything I strongly recommend creating a weekly schedule. Whether you prefer Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or a physical handheld calendar, write down EVERYTHING you’re doing in a given week: classes, gym, sleep/wake-up time, meal times, homework time, relax time etc. While it’s possible you won’t know everything you’ll be doing in a given week (things do tend to fluctuate) it’s good to narrow it down as close as possible, and I encourage doing so at the start of each week. This will allow you to complete more tasks and use your time to the best of your ability, but also help you plan for more free time! We’re all at college to work, but you can’t have work without relaxation, so definitely keep in mind free time! I recommend at least one point in the day (weekday) where you have an hour of you time: hang with friends, play video games, Netflix, etc. Committing to a schedule is not easy, especially right after a long break, but it encourages you to complete tasks from a day to day basis which is a great start for great habits.
Go to Bed and Wake-Up a Set Time
I can’t stress how important this is, and yes this does sort of fall under the last tip, but I find it so important that it needs its own headline. Part of the problem with not being able to get into a good study routine is a lack of sleep and a screwed up sleep cycle. Forcing yourself to go to bed a certain time every night can be difficult, especially when homework gets in the way, but that’s where the weekly schedule comes into play! If you organize your day correctly then getting to bed at a set time shouldn’t be an issue, and it will make waking up early during the weekday that much easier. Waking up early 5-6 days a week is so important, regardless if you don’t have class/work till the afternoon. Doing so you create so much more time for yourself, time that can be used for homework and relaxing! Having this set wake up time also adjusts your bodies sleep clock, making you feel awake more easily and more frequently.
Turn off Social Media
While this sounds relatively easy, it might be one of the hardest things to do for some people. Turning off or blocking social media websites and notifications in of itself is easy, but being determined in keeping these barriers is hard. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc are the ultimate waste of time when getting work done. They can easily distract you for hours on end! Whether they’re opened every 30 mins or every hour, think about the amount of time you cumulate per day on social media, and think about how much of that was well spent. While that’s up for you to decide, I strongly recommend exercising this tip: block/delete all social media apps off your phone (except for messaging apps like Facebook Messenger etc.), and only use said apps on your laptop or phone during your free time. This sounds pretty brutal, but the outcome is quite the opposite. Doing so will obviously make you less distracted, but will also free yourself from the chains of your phone. We tend to feel so attached to our devices sometimes, it’s good to give them a break and open our eyes to the world around us.
Use the Timer
Right before you begin to do that Harmony homework, or that long overdue pro tools mix, set a timer for 30 minutes. Work these 30 minutes then stop working for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes are over repeat the exact same cycle until 2 hours have gone by, then instead of 5 minutes take a 10 minute break. This timer cycle is a great technique I learned in my General Pyschology class, it exercises your brain to work longer without getting as burnt out. It’s simple and effective, and a great way to force yourself to get work done when you need to.
Drink Water… Lots of it
Water is literally like gasoline to your brain, it keeps it running! If you don’t have one already get a water bottle and fill it up throughout the day. People tend to underestimate how important water is when tackling a busy schedule. Whether you’re cramming for an exam for 4 hours, or running the Boston marathon, your brain is using fuel – fuel that needs to be replenished with water!