I recently had a conversation with someone where they asked me if I tended to plan out my day, or even my week. She looked slightly taken aback when I confessed that I actually had a colour-coded timetable with all my revision for the next two months planned out. I made it in a rare burst of optimism and productivity, and it is both daunting and comforting to look at.
The problem always comes with trying to stick to a schedule, and I’m usually pretty good at that. I factor in enough breaks and nice things to do to make sure I’m balanced, and I – after some trial and error – have a reasonable idea of what I can accomplish in a day. I used to actually stick to my timetable. But now, for some reason, I just … can’t.
I’ve been plugging away at work, writing a bit of an essay (even writing 500 words under the heat lamp at the hairdressers, getting my highlights done), typing up lectures, glancing at a text book or two. But for some reason, I can’t seem to focus. I can’t look ahead. My timetable fills me with dread rather than comfort.
But is this really such a bad thing? I’ve written before about how I had a tough first term, and second term was a little better, but I’m still incredibly burnt out. Maybe my inability to work isn’t a symptom of laziness or a lack of productivity – maybe I physically can’t. I am tired. My brain won’t work.
So – I have a new plan. I’m not throwing away the timetable, but I’m being more flexible. I’m squeezing in some work when I can (at the hairdressers, for an hour in the morning) but I’m not going to feel bad about taking a week or two off in order to relax. We have, after all, five weeks off this Easter. I’m planning to go back to Uni for a week halfway through, but until then, I’m treating myself gently.
We are told, I think, that we need to work every second in order to achieve things. But term three is so laid back, with its lack of lectures and its sunny days, that you achieve more than you think. I’m not saying to stop work completely, but don’t kill yourself. Take a break if you need to. Enjoy the sun (I’m sure it’s coming!).
You can get more work done if you’re relaxed and focused than if you’re burnt out and running on empty, and you reach that state by knowing when to step back and rest for a little while.
Saying that, my timetable is still up on the wall, and I’m working on the one for April. What can I say? Rome wasn’t built in a day.