Take a step back from the finals crunch to re-calibrate your approach to the most stressful week of the semester. These 7 TED Talks from experts of all manner of backgrounds are perfect study breaks to help you take down finals like a pro!
1. For when you just need a break: “The power of time off”
Stefan Sagmeister runs a successful New York design studio, and every seven years, he shuts down his operation to take a year off from work. He talks through the theory behind this unorthodox approach to success, proving that his happiest and most innovative moments came when he was “on a break.” His experience also proves that taking a break shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time, but rather as a valuable tool to help you be better at the task at hand when you return to work!
2. For that 1 am slump when you need to be reminded why you’re doing this college thing anyway: “Everyday Leadership”
Drew Dudley starts off by telling his audience about his “Lollipop Moment” (you’ll have to watch to find out!) that took place at his college orientation session. It’s a heartwarming look at the impact that our everyday actions can have on the people around us, especially on a college campus that brings together people from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s also a nice reminder that while academics are at the heart of your degree, there’s a lot of learning that happens outside of the classroom as well!
3. For when you need to be reminded that happiness is more than a test score: “How to buy happiness”
Social science researcher Michael Norton proves that happiness can be bought…up to a point. Once you’ve purchased all your physical needs (like adequate food and shelter), your leftover money will make you happier if you spend it helping someone else. Pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and the way you plan for the road ahead.
4. For when your brain won’t stop churning and you need a quick re-charge: “All it takes is 10 minutes”
Andy Puddicombe is a “mindfulness expert” who knows everything there is to know about how our brains think about themselves. In stressful or overwhelming situations (hello, dictionary definition for finals week!), it’s hard to step back from marathon study sessions or problem sets, even during sleep. According to Puddicombe, “all it takes is ten mindful minutes” to keep you calm and collected amidst a sea of stress.
5. For when you’re running out of ideas: “How to build your creative confidence”
Most classes, majors, and careers are divided into two camps: left brain and right brain, analytical and creative. Legendary designer David Kelley says this is a terrible way to break down our world, because every discipline, from sculpture to electrical engineering, benefits from creativity. All breakthroughs, small or large, come from pushing the mind to think in new and innovative ways about the problem at hand…which is exactly what you need to make your semester paper the best thing you’ve ever written.
6. For when you just don’t feel smart enough: “The key to success? Grit.”
You know the feeling; an exam is fast approaching and you just don’t get the material you’re supposed to be studying. Not only is it frustrating, it can put you off studying all together because it’s so hard to find away around that mental wall. Angela Lee Duckworth argues that while natural brains can get you places, a far more important quality is grit, or the will power you use to get from where you are to where you want to be. The best part about grit is that you can develop and grow it much more easily than you can raw intelligence. She tells you not to give up, and then proves why that works!
7. For when you feel like you’re losing sight of the big picture: “Why you will fail to have a great career”
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of a single final, and it’s easy to forget where all this pressure is taking you. Larry Smith is a professor of economics with a front row seat to the struggles of college students, and makes a pretty compelling case for how to make your degree align with your passion. He says it’s all about taking chances and leaving excuses at the door, even if that means stepping away from your pre-planned career path for a bit.