Notes, sleep and social life: choose two. We have all seen the triangle shaped meme suggesting that we, as students, must choose one of these three facets of life to give up. And from what I’ve seen among Duke’s students, sleep is the first to go. We ‘work hard’ and ‘play hard’, and rest is never factored into the equation, often to the detriment of the quality of time spent on the other two peaks.
It seems like every time I’m talking to someone or overhearing another conversation, the phrases “I’m so busy” and / or “I’m so tired” jostle each other and meet dull okay growls. . However, I believe I have enough time to do whatever I want – if I really want it enough – within reason. We are only as busy as we want to be, and there is always more time in the day to do our bit. We are limited by energy, not time.
This might sound like an oxymoron, as I certainly don’t agree with the toxic productivity culture of always doing something to get certain aspects of your life going. This “productivity” seems to be nothing more than looking busy. But, there are plenty of ways to maximize time while minimizing tasks that may seem productive or relaxing at the time, but end up inducing burnout and providing minimal benefit. So many activities typically associated with relaxation are not restful and are often more exhausting than doing nothing at all.
Social life is often seen as a break from work. Of course, it’s a change of pace and important for maintaining mental health, but it’s unreasonable and unsustainable to only work and play all the time. While I don’t pretend to agree with the way some Duke students perform the “playing hard” part of the equation, I also won’t try to establish moral superiority by not participating in it. Either way, drinking and partying are not adequate or healthy ways to relax from the stresses of everyday life, and only seem to exacerbate and prolong them.
Socialization is important for well-being, but when done in certain ways, it can do a lot more harm than good. There is no room for rest when you are constantly “” and hyper-aware of what other people think of you. The “game” should not be optimized per se, but rather cultivated to help other facets of the equation. Maybe study with a friend or go on a hike in a group, rather than drinking at The Shooters on a Wednesday.
The job is arguably the most difficult of the three to give up, but often takes longer than it should. The less rested I am, the more time I need to do my homework, which leaves me even less time to rest. Etc. The most optimal way to be productive is to participate in adequate amounts of unproductivity. To be the best you can be, you need to get enough rest.
It might sound pretty trivial, but by resting I don’t just mean getting the required eight hours of sleep. Rest encompasses a wider range of activities away from work and generally away from others. Of course, sleeping is part of it, but so is anything that is done outside of electronics or just for itself, like going for a hike, reading a book, or cooking a meal.
It’s not about surfing Instagram, binging Netflix, or shopping. Passive consumption of electronic media is easy to decide, but brings satisfaction only in the moment without any long-term benefit. As students, we already have to spend more than enough time on our computers. While all of our free time is also spent online, there is no distinction between work and pleasure, which can make it even more difficult to focus on the former.
I used to spend most of my free time in a way that emptied me instead of rejuvenated. But, now that my “time for myself” is significantly more limited than before, I simply cannot afford to participate in these activities with these low barriers to entry and low levels of achievement achieved, otherwise my precarious pyramid of productivity will perish. .
Walking in the gardens, for example, helps generate writing ideas. Doing a craft project allows me to create something tangible without any pressure to be successful. Reading a book gives me delayed gratification and gentle mental stimulation to recharge between homework. Reclaiming genuine, unproductive hobbies is the best way to improve productivity.
We all have the same number of hours in the day and by wasting so many of them mindlessly I was making all of my time less enjoyable and a lot more stressful. Now, I find that by giving myself less time to complete tasks, they actually get done faster and more efficiently. I hope that whatever I need to do gets done because it always has been before, and whatever I want to do will be done if I want it enough.
Balancing the holy trinity of quorum priorities is not easy, but it is quite doable. Prioritizing fulfilling and meaningful rest time generates more creative and efficient working time and more authentic and attentive “play time”. It is only with a reasonable balance of the three that each piece will be produced with the most pleasure and efficiency. For this reason, I would suggest adding “rest hard” to the saying “work hard, play hard”, as none of the latter is completed in a very meaningful way without the former.
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Heidi Smith is a second year Trinity student. His column is broadcast every other Wednesday.