With Spring Break around the corner for many law students (and as I am about to depart on a two week trip to California) I am thinking more about the benefits of study breaks.
Study breaks, in general, are a very good idea. Do not try to force yourself to sit in the library and study for eight (or even three or four) hours in a row without a break so that you can study longer. Diminishing returns will set in and by hour four you will not be focusing nearly as well as you were focusing during hour one. Instead, make it part of your routine to break up your study time into one-hour or one-and-a-half hour increments with a break at each increment. You don’t need a long break – just a brief 5 or 10 minute break to grab a healthy snack, briefly get up and walk around, or do something else to give your brain a break.
What are the benefits of study breaks?
Several studies have shown that breaks during a workday boost our level of concentration, and increase our creativity, and productivity. In contrast, skipping out on breaks can make us feel burnt out and unable to think clearly or concentrate.
If you are not in the habit of taking any breaks when you study, try adding in a couple of breaks here and there for a week or so, and see how you feel. You will probably notice the benefits of study breaks firsthand and find that you are concentrating better and remembering the material better.
Note that if you find that you are frequently “on a roll” and feeling very focused and productive for a long period of time when you study, there is no need to force yourself to take a break during that time. However, as soon as you start daydreaming or losing focus, you may want to take a break then. There is not one set study break schedule that works for everyone. The point is simply to get into the habit of at least adding some breaks to your study routine so you can recharge and increase your concentration and productivity while you work.
Do the benefits of study breaks throughout the day also apply to longer study breaks (like a week off for Spring break or vacation)? Yes. A longer break helps your brain to relax, recharge, and get ready for the next task ahead. Anyone who has taken a break to go somewhere during college, law school, or work and has come back feeling ready to tackle the next task ahead of them can probably vouch for this.
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