The Student Balancing Act

So we picked up an extra hour last week. Nice. While driving to work recently I was thinking how lovely it would be if there was always an extra hour that we could pull into our day when needed. Wouldna��t that help with getting our “To Do” list finished?! Students would have an extra hour of study time, moms would have more time for errands (or maybe even a nap!), and commuters could get back the hour they wasted on the highway.

It isna��t always the amount of time available or unavailable to us but more the decisions we make about how to spend that time. For years now I have been reminding students that the objective is not to pull an a�?all-nightera�? to prepare for a test or presentation. The objective is to balance the time spent preparing with the time spent sleeping. Getting 8 hours of sleep before an important exam is preferable to staying up another three hours. The mental alertness gained from a good nighta��s sleep is likely to help a student more on an exam than those last hours of cramming.

When I talk to students about study skills I suggest that they study 45 minutes and take the next 15 off. Do something completely different; play with a pet, listen to music, walk around the block, then go back for another 45 minutes and so on. Building in a�?alternate stressa�? ensures that there is time for reflection, mental filing and the sorting through of new material that we do without being aware of it. Wea��ve all had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with the answer to a pressing problem or the name of someone that had escaped us for days. That is a perfect example of our mind presenting us with something that bubbled to the surface while we were sleeping. What a great machine-take care of it!

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