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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Ditch the ‘grindset’

Show up for yourself before you show up for your midterms


By MOLLY THOMPSON — mmtthompson@ucdavis.edu


It’s November. The sun sets earlier, but you go to bed later. Assignments roll in like the fog on ever-cooling mornings, flooding your Canvas dashboard like the floor of a faulty dorm shower stall. You’ve spent enough time in the library to consider bolting yourself in one of those timed locking study rooms for good, and there’s more caffeine in your body than serotonin (Peet’s Coffee is rolling in your Aggie Cash). Welcome to midterm season: you’ve fully submitted yourself to the grind. But before you get your next refill of mediocre, dining-hall coffee, consider the following. This is my case for you to ditch the “grindset”— your body, brain and GPA will thank you.

Here’s the thing: you will, objectively, perform better if you have a healthy balance between your schoolwork and the rest of your life than if you don’t. No ifs, ands or buts. Firstly, sleep. Yes, Health, Wellness and You was right. The fact of the matter is, when you sleep (and I’m talking seven-to-eight hours, full R.E.M. cycle, dream-that-your-kindergarten-crush-is-proctoring-your-drivers-test sleep), your brain goes through and flushes out all the icky gunk that you built up in there all day. All of the things you didn’t know you took in and won’t remember tomorrow? Gone. It’s beautiful. Even better, all the important things that you actually need? They get tucked in nice and cozy, safely seatbelted for the long haul. If you don’t sleep, that gross build-up will get in the way of the good stuff, and you won’t do well on your tests. Cramming isn’t going to do you any good if you can’t remember any of what you read — go to sleep.

Similarly, you need to take breaks. I know it feels like you’re procrastinating, but breaks are crucial. Experts vary in their verdicts on how long the human brain can focus without a break, but the general consensus is that you’re actually more productive if you work for shorter periods of time with substantial breaks in between. As counterintuitive as it seems, that means no more long blocks of hours on end at your desk. Go get a hot chocolate. Go see the cows. Give Peet’s Coffee more of your Aggie Cash. I don’t care what you do, just set the work aside for a bit. Then open your computer again — you’ll be amazed at how much more approachable your workload seems from fresh eyes. Your productivity will improve, your quality of work will improve, your understanding of the material will improve and (get this) you’ll probably be happier too.

The bottom line is that you have to take care of yourself. If nothing else, let your motivation be that your performance will only benefit from it. We all hear those sentiments from everybody right around this time of the quarter — professors, TAs and even the UC Davis Instagram page. They all say “drink water, get enough sleep, spend time with your friends and go to the ARC,” but you can see behind their eyes that asterisk that means “only after you finish that midterm paper.” In reality, your degree doesn’t mean anything if you’re not in a state to do anything with it, and you won’t be if you don’t start being your own best influence. Be nice to yourself. Be gentle. Here’s the tough love (emphasis on the love): you have to come before your school work, you have to eat food, you have to drink water, you have to sleep and you have to relax. Live your life. Do your best. Ditch the “grindset.”


Written by: Molly Thompson — mmtthompson@ucdavis.edu


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