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On Balancing Breaks


It is the end of April. Spring is in the air, and summer is just around the corner. Those of us who are instructors or teaching assistants will soon be free. Free from preparing for classes, giving lectures and tutorials, and marking. Finally, it is time to focus on our own work – the thesis/dissertation. Before we go headlong into planning for the spring and summer months, let me share what I discovered from reading Joli Jensen’s Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics. If anything, it’ll serve as food for thought as we plan for the next four months.

Write not matter what

Jensen highlighted that academics tend to approach their breaks in three different ways:

  • Workhorse model – draconian schedule of working many hours per day
  • Clear-the-deck model – clear off all the other tasks that we didn’t get done before, and then work
  • Vacation model – get the full rest that we deserve first, and then we will be ready to work

Each model has its downfall. The workhorse model is unrealistic. We will end up feeling guilty when we are unable to achieve our goals. The clear-the-deck model is also unrealistic because there is always something (other) to do. The vacation model will lead to dissatisfaction after what should have been a great vacation. The time to enjoy ourselves will likely be filled with intrusive thoughts about work.

Jensen suggests that we balance our breaks to include:

  • Work
  • Relaxation – do things that are enjoyable such as listening to music, watching movies, sleeping, or lazing around.
  • Restoration – spend time purposefully to achieve personal goals such as spring cleaning, joining a sports league, or volunteering.


So, go ahead and block your schedule to work on the thesis/dissertation, but remember to carve out time for relaxation and restoration.



Posted in Overwork, Productivity, Staying Well, Thesis, Time off Tagged with: , , , , ,

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