When a machine stops working properly, the first thing you do is turn it off and turn it back on again.
Students should reboot as well. Instead of waiting until we break under stress, we should take a weekly sabbath — and do no homework for a day — to reset our mental machinery and rest.
I mean actually rest.
Students are good at multitasking. Too good, in fact. We think we can work and rest simultaneously, by doing homework in bed late at night or browsing for shoes on the Internet in the middle of writing a paper. Even when we take a break, it’s a distracted kind of rest: tapping through Snapchat stories, squinting at news articles on our tiny screens, or reading President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.
We’ve blurred the line between work and rest to the point of nonexistence, and like the alarm clock you set for 6:30 a.m. and then snooze until 8 a.m., the trick hurts rather than helps. We’re too tired to be effective and thus too inefficient with our time to afford taking a meaningful break.
What’s more, we feel guilty for doing something truly rejuvenating, like taking a nap or curling back the pages of a paperback novel for fun, telling ourselves any free time spent on something other than homework is time wasted. Never mind all the time we waste on social media while doing said homework.
To do good work, we need to take breaks. Every night we sleep so our brain can rest and digest, and we work better the next morning because of it. A sabbath works the same way: it’s a necessary reset period at the beginning of the week.
New York filmmaker and YouTube sensation Casey Neistat arrived in the “city which never sleeps” with little more than a camera and the clothes on his back. Only by working multiple jobs during the day and editing films by night did he eventually profit enough from his creative work to quit his day jobs. His story — and the “do more” tattoo scrawled on his forearm — are an inspiration to artists everywhere, a testament to his success.
But even at the height of his proficiency as a filmmaker on YouTube, when Neistat produced a new video almost every day, he took a two-day break every couple of weeks and didn’t post anything.
The benefits of intentional leisure are immense. Often, it takes us a full day of sleep when we go home for a break before we feel rested enough to do anything. By taking a day off from homework weekly, not only do we rejuvenate our minds to be more effective when we return to our studies Monday, but we also slow the snowball effect of sleepless semesters. When the next break rolls around, instead of spending it sleeping, we can read that book we’ve been meaning to read or apply for the next job or internship.
Ironically, the reason many of us don’t take a sabbath is because we need it the most. We feel we have no time to take a full Sunday off, and rush out of church to continue picking at the paper we slogged through all week and still haven’t finished. If we had taken a sabbath, however, we would have been rested, and therefore more productive during the week. As a result of that rest, by the time Sunday rolls around again we’re in a better position with our responsibilities to continue using the day as it was designed.
Nevertheless, taking a whole Sunday off from homework still sounds daunting. No matter how much we know we need it, most of us still don’t believe we have the time.
But if former editor-in-chief of the Collegian, Nicole Ault, ’19, can do it for all four years of her college career, while balancing an economics major, choir, teaching Sunday school, and eventually running the entire school newspaper, we are without excuse.
If anyone had a reason to work through Sunday, it was Ault. Instead, she rested.
It’s not about having enough time. It’s about managing your time well, so your work hours are productive and your rest hours restful.
Turn your machine off and then on again. Take a sabbath.
Carmel Kookogey is a George Washington Fellow and a junior studying politics. She is the Culture Editor for The Collegian.