Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Semester Fatigue

It's week 11 of our 14 week semester at the National College of Ireland and I feel and detect an element of fatigue setting in amongst students and staff. We have had ten long weeks of classes, assignments, projects, as well as corrections. For most people at this stage, the end of the semester can't come quick enough. The holiday season is coming and exams in January seem a long way off. I feel myself getting a little fatigued, but there is still three weeks to go. Absenteeism by students and their leaving class early increases at this time every year - it's no wonder after the 11 week effort that they have put in. This is also (in my experience) a risky time for drop-outs to occur.

For academics, we can take some advice on "Work Life Balance" from Franklin University, who recommend five ways to avoid academic fatigue. These are: 
  1. Take care of your physical body. Eat right. Sleep well. Breathe deep. Get some exercise. Hydrate enough. A little self-care goes a long way.
  2. Pick your peak time. Do the hard stuff when you’re at your sharpest. That may be 4 a.m. or 3 p.m. Everybody’s different. 
  3. Learn to let go. Sometimes you can’t do it all. Remember, work is infinite but time is finite. There’s always more to do. And there are only 24 hours in a day. 
  4. Give yourself a break. Long hours don’t necessarily equate to productivity. While seemingly contrary, a short or long break can boost productivity. 
  5. Reboot. A nap. A walk. A snack. Everyone has something that re-energizes them. Find what works for you and build it into your day. 
Image source: Franklin University.
Some good advice here, but I'm sure we all ignore some of this advice at least some of the time - for example I don't exercise much and never take naps. For me, I believe taking a break is the most important (or "Sharpen the Saw" as Stephen Covey called it) - especially a break between activities (ABBA). Even if is is just taking a glance at headlines on a news website, or checking personal email for a few minutes, or reading a report on last night's match - it is better than going straight from one activity to another.

There is something for everyone in the advice above and at this time in the semester it is important to keep both the energy and enthusiasm levels up. Students are relying on us even though they may be fatigued themselves.

So cheer up everybody - there's only three weeks to go before the the end of the Semester!

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