Finals week at college consists of work, work, and more work.  It seems like everyone is buying energy drinks and staying up all night to complete their finals.  This is not the only way to do it, especially if you don’t want to burnout.

I have this (probably cultural) assumption that the best way to work is to put yourself to the grind, not take any breaks and solder on until you’re finished.  I don’t do my best work that way. Does anyone?

Despite acknowledging the problems with doing work this way, I decided to do it anyway.  It was a combination of wanting to get all my work done fast and the pressure of seeing everyone else do it.  As expected, there were some bumps in the road.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fine I think because I was just getting started. I woke up at 8 am each day, got breakfast and then commandeered a classroom in an academic building on campus.  I would work all day besides getting meals.  I was so uncomfortable though.  I was on overdrive.  Even at my meals, I was grumpy, spacey, and not “with it”.  Needless to say sleeping was difficult those two days.

Thursday, I woke up particularly tired and irritable.  I went to my usual spot to get work done and my computer’s hard drive crashed.  I didn’t lose any of my files, but it did set me back for a couple hours when they replaced it.  I had worked myself to the point of tears and this forced me to relax.  I took a much needed nap and watched some downton abbey.

The hard drive breaking made me change up my finals routine.  Here’s what I did:

I still woke up early and got a classroom and I invited a couple friends to work with me.  Every hour we would pick a song, hooked up one of our laptops to the sound system in the classroom, and dance.  I cannot tell you how much it helped to laugh and get our hearts pumping each hour as a work break.  It put our work in manageable chunks with something to look forward to as an incentive.  It also made working fun.  Why not make it fun?  Why do I (we) insist on working without it?  I worked harder, more productively, and more creatively on the days where we danced.

What do you do to avoid burnout?