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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SWArticle: What is the time-drain trap?

<t part of fall term. Midterm break has since passed us by all too quickly, leaving lagniappes loaded with to-do’s and days flying with a whirl of obligations. As finals approach, paper deadlines are assigned, and the thermometer reading starts hurriedly dropping, most of us are probably spending more time hunkered down indoors getting work done. This article is about avoiding the dreadful situation I refer to as the “time-drain trap”.

The “time-drain trap” usually occurs when a big deadline is approaching. It is far too easy to spend so much continuous time working on a single assignment that your cognitive abilities start to wear out. Planners and procrastinators alike put their proverbial noses to the grindstone and begin to churn out papers and projects in a single sitting. In reality, however, spending continuous hours working on a single assignment can be more than just agonizingly taxing and stressful, it can be downright inefficient, and a waste of precious college time.

Exercising your mind is like exercising your body, it is a healthy activity but only when done in proper proportion. Just as it would be unwise to lift weights for hours on end, or to limit a physical workout to only a few particular muscle groups, it can be equally unproductive and unhealthy to flex the same cognitive muscles for a long time. For the sake of your paper, and your health, I recommend the following remedies.

One, switch things up when getting work done. This may consist of taking a break from your paper to immerse yourself in a math problem set, or taking a break from Chinese homework to review your religion notes.

Two, in addition to switching up subjects, simply changing the place where you are studying can often leave you feeling less stressed and more rejuvenated. From coffee shops to upper Sayles to the link between Olin and Mudd to the lounge in Boliou, Carleton’s campus has many lovely locations to choose from. A personally favorite is The Hideaway, a less crowded coffeeshop further down Division. Even if you cannot or do not want to move your things, simply changing the music you are listening to while working can lower your stress level and refocus your mind.

Three, take breaks. Leaving work behind, whether it involves a walk around the bald spot or an episode of your favorite TV show, can be refreshing. A trip to the Rec or an IM sporting event are other great ways to get your mind off your work for a bit, and let’s not forget about the incredible healing properties of SWAffice hours!

Breaks that take you off campus, for example, a brief walk into town, can be particularly effective at rescuing your motivation and eliminating brain-strain. Take it from this senior, there is something truly therapeutic about closing the books for a bit. Whether it is planning to attend an evening in the cities with a group of friends, or a walk down to the Cannon River, breaks are an important part of the College experience that often get lost in the “Carleton Bubble.”

In the end, switching things up, like your work, location, or music, and study breaks will not only provide you with good memories and diverse college experiences, but they will also improve your efficiency when you do sit down to write that term paper.

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