Using your Awkward Hour

Being in college means that you have total control over how you spend your time. Beautiful, isn’t it? You could easily spend time between classes catching up on Netflix or spending hours scrolling through your news feed while simultaneously eating an entire box of cookies. While those things may often seem to be essential to your relaxation, and are totally acceptable from time to time, they aren’t exactly the most productive uses of every break.

It is SO easy to get sidetracked when you find yourself with solid free time during the day. Even with two or three hour breaks between classes, you may feel as though you cannot get anything done. If you find yourself doing the same thing with each break you get, please take comfort in knowing that there are other options. Check out this list of 10 things to do with that awkward hour.

1. Do homework. Early.

Okay, probably very obvious and most likely not want you want to hear, but it is important to get your homework done so that you don’t fall behind in your classes. The great thing about homework is that it’s portable, so you could literally do it anywhere. You could take it to the park, the library, the residence hall lounge, the UC, or even the pool. However you work best, use it to your advantage and switch it up. Plus, if you get done with your homework early, it will free up the rest of the day for fun activities!

2. Call home.

Sometimes it’s just good to hear a familiar voice.

As busy college students, it can be daunting to find time amidst tasks to call your relatives. However, it’s important to realize that taking a few minutes to talk to your families could serve a dual purpose by making their day and maybe even making yours, too.

3. Visit a professor at office hours.

If you find that you have questions about a particular class, or if you would simply like to get to know your professor more, take some time to visit them during their office hours! The purpose of office hours is to give busy students access to busy instructors. They set aside this time for YOU to come if YOU need guidance– make the most of it!

4. Review notes from last class.

…. do more class after I leave class…?!?!?


I have to admit, this one takes some serious self-discipline but will genuinely aid in the retention of material within your brain. The information you learn in class is automatically saved into short-term memory. Sitting down with your notebook and reading through your notes sends a signal to your brain that the information in front of you is important.

The more that information is repeated and used, the more likely it is to be retained. Hopefully, your ultimate goal is to retain that information in your long-term memory. Why not use your awkward hour to speed up the process?

5. Take a power nap.

Here is a quick equation for you math lovers out there:

classes + studying + everything else = x

As you may have guessed, x = sleep! You’re already a genius for understanding that sleep allows you to perform mentally and physically throughout the day. But if it takes you less than five minutes to fall asleep at night, you’re probably sleep-deprived. While sleeping during every break could decrease productivity, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using some free time to nap here and there. So if you have a break, don’t be ashamed to go back to your room, hit the lights, and set the alarm for 20 minutes.

6. Workout.

If you want to stay fit (or if you’re anything like me: get fit), use the break to hit the gym in the University Center. Another great way to workout is to grab a buddy and go for a walk around campus. Whether you lift, walk, use the machines, or swim, exercising is a great way to de-stress in the middle of a busy schedule.

7. Campus Biz.

“Biz” is short for “business.” Being in college means that you typically have campus errands to run, and if you are like me, they pile up pretty quickly! Breaks between classes are perfect for taking care of business without having to leave the actual campus.

Have a question for the Office of Financial Planning? Stop by their office. Need to meet with Academic and Advising Services about your four-year plan? Schedule an appointment. Maybe you need to return a library book, mail a birthday card to grandpa, answer a professor back via email, deposit a check at the ATM,  or pick up twelve packages at Auxiliary Services. GO DO IT.

You may even want to get paid for not hitting “snooze” in-between classes, in which case you could apply for an on-campus job through the Office of Student Employment. Having a job on campus is super convenient and allows you to make money while developing a network along with new professional skills.

No matter how many errands you have on your to-do list, be sure to take advantage of your awkward hour and start crossing things off!

8. Plan out the rest of your week.

This can be fun…

There is something so satisfying about writing down everything you must accomplish and then crossing it off once it’s completed. You don’t have to write down what color shirt you’ll wear on Thursday or how many slices of pizza you’re going to eat at the caf tonight (although by all means, feel free!), but you can definitely write down a basic list of things you’d like to get done each day. Add to that any major events or reminders, get to work on that list, and you have a one-way ticket to a less-stressful schedule!

9. Study & Snack.

Let’s be real. Any time is a good time for food. Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury because their classes are packed together. If you’re lucky enough to have a break, grab a friend and eat a meal! If you really want to earn a gold star, you can study while you eat. Extreme productivity at its finest, my friends.

10. Read for pleasure.

Occasionally we need to escape to a different world for a little while. Consider using your awkward hour to ditch the textbooks and read something that you choose for yourself. This peaceful yet much needed break could make focusing on schoolwork a lot easier when the time comes.


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