Beat the Three Biggest Productivity Drains: Part II

In Part I of this productivity series I discussed two of the biggest productivity drains – inability to hold attention on a task and fleeing from negative emotions. The third biggest productivity drain is physical and mental fatigue. During bar study most people push their minds and bodies into threat level orange. Even when not studying, your mind is probably racing with thoughts about the exam and the material. If your mind and body do not get quality down time, your productivity will probably decrease as the exam gets closer.

The quality of your break time is directly correlated to your productivity. When your body is refreshed and your brain is alert, you learn faster and easier. Following these simple guidelines will improve the quality of your break time, increasing your productivity.

Be Mindful During Breaks

Mindfulness, in its simplest form, is paying attention on purpose to the present moment. Being “mindful” during a break requires that you focus only on your break activity. For example, if you are cooking lunch, only focus on cooking. During my work day lunches I like to imagine I’m doing a Quick Fire Challenge from Top Chef, which keeps my mind away from stressful thoughts.

Focusing only on your break-time activity moves your awareness out of your head and into your body. When you stop thinking about the exam or worrying about being behind, your brain gets a rest from the noise. By holding your attention on the present moment, you are also training your mind to focus on one task, a productivity skill discussed in Part I of this series.

Pick Break Activities That Make You Feel Good

Breaks are also time to rejuvenate and improve your mood. Studying all day can make you grumpy and heavy. So when you take breaks, pick a break time activity that makes you feel good. Don’t just do things to escape.

For example, watching your favorite TV show may make you happy. But flipping channels or mindlessly watching MTV is simply escaping and will probably not rejuvenate you. Make a list of things you enjoy, like listening to music, gardening, being outdoors in nature, dancing, painting, playing piano, or just lying flat on the floor. Even if your breaks are only 5-30 minutes, use those minutes to fill your emotional cup.

If you are exercising regularly, pick an exercise that you actually enjoy. If exercise is becoming something you “should” do, change it up. Play basketball, take a dance class or go for a hike. Your exercise time should not be another time to strive for perfection, lose weight or push yourself. To rejuvinate, pick something that feels good.

If you have break time activities that you already enjoy, please share them below!

Want to learn more mental tools to rock the bar exam? Lauren Fire is the founder of the Mind Over Bar Course, an innovative course that focuses only on the mental challenges of the bar exam. The course teaches in-the-moment practices you can use to improve your study productivity instantly.