Anna’s declassified college survival guide: Tip #10 schedule downtime from school

This tip is different from ones I have done in the past. This tip is one that I haven’t completely applied, tested, and proven to work (at least for me). For this month, I challenge you to schedule downtime from school. 

Many of us get Outlook and D2L notifications on our phones and while many professors and students are working on improving respecting what time notifications are being sent, there are still many notifications sent after the typical business day and on weekends. 

It is easy to feel constantly connected to school when you allow notifications all day. The majority of students this semester have a significant part of their course load online, with a mix of classes being synchronous and asynchronous. While being asynchronous has its benefits, it also means that there isn’t that natural break between school and home. 

As a student who is completely online and only commutes from her bed to her desk everyday, it is very easy for me to spend my entire waking day consumed in school activities: attending classes, doing homework, working with student organizations, and putting in hours for my campus job. I am spending significantly more of my time involved in school operations this semester than ever before, and it’s not good. This tip is as much you, as it is for me.

I challenge everyone reading this to take a stand for yourself; to take a stand against the nature of distance learning, to respect your time, to respect your need to unplug, and to respect your need to relax and rejuvenate. 

It is possible to set “do not disturb hours” for Outlook. I’m sure you can do this for all of your apps, this is just one example.

In the mobile app, once you open it, you can click the circle (with your profile) in the top left corner, then click on the bell graphic, and then you can schedule your “do not disturb hours.” For me personally, I scheduled “do not disturb hours” from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and on weekends, though you can pick hours that work best for you. Now, this isn’t to say I won’t be checking my email during those times, but at least I won’t be getting notifications that give me an additional urge to. 

Being connected to your peers and coworkers is completely acceptable, but there is no shame in unplugging either. Sadly, our world will still be “on fire” tomorrow, so that email can wait until then too. 

The hardest part of this for me, and why I have failed at fully implementing this, is I just love the feeling of having an empty inbox or having a clean to-do list the next day. Based on how quickly and at what times I get email replies from many members of the campus community, I have a feeling many of us are the same way. However, eight weeks into this semester and I am finally accepting the fact that my life just won’t operate this way anymore. 

Also, as a leader for various organizations on campus, and an employee to multiple entities on campus, I feel a duty to respond to questions asked by people I am here to serve. The standard reply time in the business world is 24-48 hours. This goes back to my point of an email can wait until the morning. While I’d love to be able to respond to everyone within an hour like I try to do, there really are very few questions or tasks that can’t wait until the morning.

Again, there are many of us on campus who feel this way and we need to realize that nothing can be poured from an empty cup. Respect your time, respect your need to unplug, respect your need to relax and rejuvenate. 

Lastly, do me a favor and hold me accountable for this challenge. Let me know how it works for you and if you feel more relaxed and less drained at

If you enjoyed reading this, check out my previous tips:

Tip #1 Tip #2 Tip #3 Tip #4 Tip #5 Tip #6 Tip #7 Tip #8 Tip #9

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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