Setting Aside Thirty Minutes

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Throughout my time in the Interactive Games and Media majors, I’ve seen tons of opportunities to start projects and join incredibly interesting classes. On top of that, there’s a huge amount of encouragement to start passion projects and really just go out and make things. And that’s great. But one important thing I’ve learned is to always set aside time for yourself.

In high school, one of my seniors gave me a fantastic piece of advice - “Give yourself thirty minutes a day to relax.” This small chunk of time can be found pretty easily, and does wonders when used properly. Heavy workloads and the need to maximize time is something every IGM student faces at some point (and there are other blog posts more about managing that), but it’s equally important to find that time for one’s self.

Knowing that I have a set time to relax each day has been incredibly nice. I don’t feel guilty about taking a break from work, and I don’t worry about falling behind in my workload because I can keep myself to the thirty minutes. And I don’t always avoid programming or design during that time. While taking Game Design and Development I, I used the games I played in my breaks to work on my homework about evaluating various games each week. In Level Design, my thirty minutes gave me a chance to playtest a map fully. Sometimes, I just want to see if I can design or program something interesting in that chunk of time as a challenge. Other days I just go for a run at the gym. But the key is that I get to dictate what happens in that half hour, rather than worrying about a deadline or exam. And taking that chance to relax often helps my study efforts and work in the long term, as I get refreshed by my break. Also, taking a step back from hard problems allows you to approach them in an interesting way on your return.

Now, this method might not work for everyone, and I understand that. Everyone approaches time management and workloads differently. But the key part is to have an approach, rather than try and create one during those points of stress and projects. If you have a plan before the need to hyper-manage your time hits, then you have a way of dealing with it. My senior’s advice of “thirty minutes a day” proved the right framework to me, and some people might want more or less. But having a dedicated chunk of time for yourself each day (even at different times) ensures you have a daily plan that includes self-care and stress management. Through my work in Resident Life, my advice of finding even a small chunk each day has helped my residents as they’ve managed stress, and assisted me in combining the workload of a full-time student and a resident advisor.

Regardless of if you follow my suggestion or use another technique, just remember the importance of having a plan. It might sound weird to plan out how you relax, but having the right method for you really helps the college experience.