What Do Study Habits Have to Do With Work?

5 years ago

I just figured out what my biggest problem was in college.  I studied too much. 

And how did I come to this revelation, you ask?  Especially now, since I’ve been out of school for quite some time, it seems like an odd thing to be concerned with.  If you look at my transcript – especially from undergrad – one would argue that I didn’t study enough.  Those grades sure don’t look like that of the next Einstein. 

I have to credit being laid-off for giving me the insight to see that I studied too much in college.  Try to follow me on this; I know I’m sounding like I’ve either pulled an all-nighter and need sleep or that I’ve lost my mind.  

When the lay-off hit, I began consulting.  I looked forward to setting my own hours and working from home instead of having to commute to an office each day.  Getting started wasn’t too difficult, and before long I had a few clients.  One thing led to another and my work expanded, including some very fulfilling personal projects.  Then I was offered a job that allowed me to work in the office several days a week, while maintaining one day a week for my personal projects.  It seemed like the best of both worlds.

That was more than a year ago, and now I’m exhausted.  While it is the “best of both worlds”, it’s more than a full schedule.  I’ve got four action-packed days at the office followed by three more work-filled days at home.  Somewhere in there I’m supposed to relax and have fun.  Yes, my work for the company is interesting but it’s also intense.  And while my personal projects are very fulfilling, they are also creative in nature and take more time to complete than I thought.  So it feels like I’m working seven days a week. All.The.Time. 

This is exactly the same thing that happened to me when it came to studying in college.  With demanding classes I felt like I should be studying every waking moment.  Sure I had fun, never missing a football game and working in time for friends, yet deep down it was hard for me to relax, even for a night.  It was the feeling that I had, that I needed to be studying rather than having fun that caused me so much stress. 

It’s the same stress I have now, like there’s so much to do that I can never stop working. With both of these great jobs I find myself unable to break away from work, even for a short time. The fear is that if I take time to have fun or take a day off, I’ll miss self-imposed deadlines or that I’ll never catch up.  I find myself not accepting social invitations because I know that I have work to do. Hmmm…this sounds familiar. Haven’t I seen this movie?

If I had been smart in college I would have learned how to handle this situation by paying attention to one of my friends.  On the surface it appeared that this very smart individual didn’t care about grades – and in some respect that’s true. It seemed as though he didn’t worry about studying and had lots of fun.  His approach? He figured out exactly what he needed to do to make the minimum passing grade – and he did that.  Not too smart, huh?  Actually it was brilliant, and I wish I’d followed his lead. He spent his extra time exploring other interests and thinking in a more entrepreneurial way about life after college rather than feeling guilty for not spending all his time studying.   Yes, he graduated. Not with honors but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care.  Now a successful businessman, he’s flying his personal airplane around the country while I still have to hunt for air fares and fly commercial.

My hunch is that if I had allowed myself the freedom to take time off in college, without worry, that I would have been happier and my grades would have been no worse.  They might actually have been better, since I would have been rested and rejuvenated.   Yet here I am years later, struggling with the same issue again, this time without the threat of a poor GPA.  I simply can’t seem to let myself relax, even for one night.  Poor Hubby; we haven’t had a “date” in ages.  It’s no fun to go to a movie when all I want to do is check my email or scribble notes for one of my projects.  

Hard to believe it’s taken me all these years to figure it out.  Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to adjust my work/study habits while I was still in college.  Imagine the fun I would have had, the memories I would have made and the grades I would have seen at the end of each term.

Even now, I wonder what kind of great work I might accomplish, if I just allowed myself some time off?  It’s worth a try.

Read more at my blog, www.talesoftheterminated.com

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